Corsets have been worn in various forms since the late 1400s. The first bodice and skirt was separated into two garments and stiffened to keep the upper body erect, the tight bodice raised the bust line and pushed the breasts up.
In the mid 1500s the first corset was invented, it was made out of metal, whale bone, horn or buckram worn as an undergarment.
Catherine De Medici an Italian noblewoman, wore the corset, and banned her ladies in waiting to have a waist less than 13inches round. The framework of the corset would help her get the desired shape.
She introduced the corset to the ladies of the french court who embraced it, gained popularity and named it the corset.
From this point through history the corset is worn in various shapes and changes of style as undergarments and as pieces of clothing.
Here are some ways the corset has changed over time;
- 1822, The biggest change for the corset we know today. Metal eyelets are invented allowing the corset to endure greater stress during lacing.
- 1830, the shape of the corset changed as the hourglass figure became fashionable, with emphasis on a full bust, small waist and full hips.
- 1848, Joseph Cooper invents the front fastening busk, making it easier to put on and to take off, only loosening the laces.
- 1851, Roxey Ann Caplin, a British writer and inventor who is credited with being the designer of the corset we are familiar with today. Her unique corsetry designs were exhibited at the World Fair and would become the Victorian style of corset.
- 1860-70, The construction of the corset changes to panels and pieces.
- 1900s, a new S bend shape corset is marketed in Paris as a health corset for alleviating pressure on the ribs and supporting the abdomen.
- 1902, corsets begin to slip below the bust line extending down to the hips brassieres are worn along with the corset, suspenders for stockings are attached.
- 1914, the corset is at its lowest point changing from the hourglass figure to very little distinction between the hips and waist.
- World War 1 – 1914 till the end of World War 2 Women enter the workforce, corsets go out of fashion, very few women wear a corset.
- 1947, Christian Dior reintroduced the wasp waist corset to women’s undergarments, the hourglass figure is back.
- 1970’s – 1980’s, Vivienne Westwood began using corsets as part of her punk fashion in the 70s, in the 80s it was Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and more.
Corsets have remained constant in various styles, shapes and forms made from various materials over the centuries.
Are corsets popular today?
Yes and just as relevant. Corsets are built for every single body shape,come in a range of styles to suit every taste and can be incorporated into today’s formal and everyday look.
Corsets are still popular as a statement piece of undergarment, there are subcultures where corsets are
popular, the goths, steampunks, burlesque, victoriana and punks.
Corsets can be incorporated into everyday wear, but it is corsets and corset dresses for formal wear and wedding dresses where you can create an illusion of an hourglass figure.
Petite women will find corset dresses enhance their figures, while dresses with a longer corset can lengthen the torso.
The corset has the ability to pull in your waist and give you curves in all the right places.
The corset has been an indispensable article of clothing for centuries, fashion trends have changed women and some men to change the appearance of their bodies. The corset is in a permanent state of reinvention, its timeless appeal still endures.