History of Corsets
The term “stays” was frequently used in English circa 1600 until the early twentieth century and was used interchangeably with the corset in the Renaissance. In 1777 a corset was described (in French) as “a little pair of stays usually made of quilted linen without bones that ladies fasten in front with strings or ribbon and that they wear in deshabille.” By the 1780s the term had reached England via fashion writers describing the new French garments as ‘a quilted waistcoat which is called un corset, without any kind of stiffening.”
In the Elizabethan era, whalebone (baleen) was frequently used in corsets so bodices could maintain their stiff appearance. A busk, typically made of wood, horn, ivory, metal, or whalebone, was added to stiffen the front of the bodice. It was then carved and shaped into a thin knife shape and inserted into the Elizabethan bodice, then fastened and held into place by laces, so that the busk could be easily removed and replaced.
The most common type of corset in the 1700s was an inverted conical shape, often worn to create a contrast between a rigid quasi-cylindrical torso above the waist and heavy full skirts below. The primary purpose of 18th-century stays was to raise and shape the breasts, tighten the midriff, support the back, improve posture to help a woman stand straight, with the shoulders down and back, and only slightly narrow the waist, creating a “V” shaped upper torso over which the outer garment would be worn; however, “jumps” of quilted linen were also worn instead of stays for informal situations. By 1800, the corset had become primarily a method of supporting the breasts, as the waist was raised to just under the bust line. Corsets still slimmed the torso but this was not their primary purpose.
During Victorian Era the Corset, When the exaggerated shoulders disappeared, the waist itself had to be cinched tighter in order to achieve the same effect. The focus of the fashionable silhouette of the mid- and late 19th century was an hourglass figure with a tiny waist. It is in the 1840s and 1850s that tight lacing first became popular. The corset differed from the earlier stays in numerous ways. The corset no longer ended at the hips, but flared out and ended several inches below the waist. The corset was exaggeratedly curvaceous rather than funnel-shaped. Spiral steel stays curved with the figure. While many corsets were still sewn by hand to the wearer’s measurements, there was also a thriving market in cheaper mass-produced corsets.
Various Types of Corsets
Corset has been a vogue for several reasons. From posture improvement to waist training, the corset has helped women look gorgeous for hundreds of years. There are various types of corsets today, and unlike the ones of olden times, these can even be worn to make a fashion statement. These garments were once used just to enhance the woman’s shape or keep her from jiggling. Today, they are sexy, fun under and outer garments, helping women feel feminine and sensual. They are made from a variety of fabrics and have trimmings such as lace and bows.
These tops look like corsets but are not meant to be worn under clothes. Instead, they are supposed to¢ be seen. Wear these for casual daywear or some are elegant enough for evening wear.
These are white to capture the bridal style. They make you look and feel gorgeous on the wedding day. Bridal corsets can be worn under your wedding dress, as part of a wedding dress, and for the wedding night. These can also be worn similar to the corset tops. Styles of these corsets are designed with femininity in mind.
A bustier is traditionally worn under the clothes, to push up the bust and shape the waist gently (basically a bra + shapewear combo). They are often confused for corsets, but there are important differences: a corset provides the hourglass “cinch” in the waist, while a bustier doesn’t, corsets are more expensive etc.
These are fantastic for shaping the body. It holds in what needs to be and pushes the bust up to accentuate it. Corset bustiers can be used¢ for bedroom lingerie, under clothing or even for costume wear. These come in many styles and colours as with the other corsets listed here. Some styles come with matching G-strings.
These are fancy enough for costumes for a Burlesque show hence the classification. Along with being worn as costumes, these are perfect for the bedroom or wearing under or with other clothing. They are even suitable to wear with blue jeans. Many are trimmed with lace and bows. Some have garters so that stockings can be worn with them. One style even has a skirt attached.
These provide the hourglass figure so in vogue during the 19th century. Satin, lace and boning, as well as other materials, are used to make the various styles of these corsets. These can be worn as underclothing or standing alone as a top depending on the style’s cut. As with most other corsets, they can also be worn as nighttime lingerie or as costume wear.