This week’s Wednesday Vintage is all about corsets. This breathtaking garment has captivated women for hundreds of years, with its beauty and slimming functions.
Some ascribe the corset to Catherine de’Medici, the wife of King Henry II of France. She allegedly banned fat waists from court, leaving women no choice but to hold their breath and lace up. The corset stayed in fashion for nearly 350 years.
The function of the corset is of course to shape the body. The most famous shape is the wasp-shape that was fashionable during the 19th century. Corsets were usually made of linen with whalebone to keep the shape and with lacing in the back.
There are different kinds of corsets. And overbust corset encloses the torso, extending from just under the arms to the hips. An underbust corset begins under the breasts and extends down to the hips. Some corsets actually extend over the hips and in very rare cases reaches the knees (I don’t know how one would walk in one of those though). A waist cincher is a corset that only covers the waist area.
Today corsets are mostly used for dress up or fetish stuff, and by certain subcultures, but you can find them in all kinds of coulours and patterns.
I feel obliged to note that corsets can be bad for you if you lace them too tight, but with a little bit of common sense there is no reason why this fabulous garment should not come back in style.
And corsets are not just for women. Yes, men can, and did, wear them too.