Tight Laced A brief introduction to the history of corsetry
Corset from the Latin ‘corps’ meaning body
Key components are;
Fabric- usually something firm.
Ribs- made from wood ,bone, or metal.
Lacing- usually at the back is used to tighten or loosen the
Busk- larger rib at the front. Can be straight or spoon shaped. Was originally one piece but is now usually split for easier fastening.
Evolution of the corset Minoan corset 1700 b.c. 13-14 th century 15-16 th century 16 th century iron corset 17 th century 18 th century 19 th century Early 20 th century Late 20 th century
Development of the corset: part 1
1700b.c.- ancient Minoan artefacts depict women with a cinched in waist.
1400a.d.- medieval corsets where incorporated in to the clothing. Stiffened fabric was laced tightly to the body.
1500a.d.- heavy dress fabrics meant that extra support was needed to enable the wearer to stand upright. The first busk was produced in Italy provided this additional support.
1600a.d.- corsets were constructed of a paste stiffened linen and were supported by busks made of wood, bone or iron.
Development of the corset: part 2
1700a.d.- during the regency period corsets were made of cotton with less support, favouring the softer more natural lines that where favourable in that period.
1800a.d.- the invention of the metal eyelet meant that corsets could be laced tighter without damaging the fabric. Also the busk became split with hooks so the wearer could dress themselves without the aid of servants.
1900a.d.- women developed an interest in athletics so corsets became lighter with little or no boning, at this time a boyish silhouette became in vogue so corsets became longer to bring in the hips creating less of an hour glass shape.
Specialist corsets Maternity corset designed to be worn during pregnancy these corsets laced up at the sides and could be loosened as the abdomen expanded. Childs corset Children wore corsets from as early as aged 2. it was used primarily to disciple unruly children as a child in discomfort was less likely to misbehave Men's corset From time to time it became fashionable for wealthy men to also wear corsets. Although this was optional and unlike women was not seen as indecent to be without one.
Decline of the corset
During the early years of the 20 th centaury health officials called ‘the society for rational dress’ launched a campaign against the corset, believing that it caused a multitude of illnesses. Mainly organ displacement.
However recent studies have shown that the only health issue there is with continuous corset use is atrophy, the muscles normally used to support the spine become weak due to lack of use.
Organ displacement is believed to be no worse than that experienced during pregnancy and just as easily reversed.
Correlation between wealth, corsets and fainting. Wealthy women were expected to tightly lace their corsets. A loose corset implied loose morals The tighter the corset the smaller the chest cavity became. Leading to shallow breathing and as a result fainting Frequent fainting spells lead society to believe that women were weak, and needed corsets to support their fragile frame
Corsets the Renaissance The corset made a come back during the 1980s thanks to designer Jean Paul Gautier designing the costumes for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, leading to many other designers using corset style lacing and boning in their designs. Corsets today are most popular amongst fetishists especially those who practice waist training. The ultimate goal is to achieve the smallest waist possible. Most notably is Cathie Jung who has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the smallest waist at 13 inches.
Corsets; historical patterns a techniques- Jill Salen