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Tight-Laced Corset With Steel Boning

“Do I really want a tight-laced corset with steel boning?” you ask yourself. Okay, so you’ve finally set down that romance novel with the beautiful heroine wearing the tightly laced corset with steel boning that trims her figure to a waspy 18” waist. She is tiny, gorgeous, and she has “the man”! Now you’ve become that damsel, swept away by the handsome rogue. “I need that damn corset,” you say to yourself! “But do I really want a tightly laced corset with steel boning? Does it need to have steel boning?” So you begin your pursuit on the internet to find something that will make your dreams come true.

You pour over all the websites offering corsets of many kinds with a very wide range in price! Some will insist that “a corset with steel boning is the only kind of corset to buy”! What’s all the hype about the steel in a corset anyway?  Your curiosity leads you to follow the trail.

You do some research. You discover that corsets have been around for a very long time! There must be something to that “waspy figure” that the heroines have.

There have been many types of boning and support used in corsets over the years. Tightly laced corsets have not always had steel boning. Other forms of corset support were used at first. Reeds, wood, whalebone, and even carved ivory were some of the options.  “Why is steel boning better for a tight-laced corset” you ask yourself?

Types of Boning Used:

Let’s delve into this subject and compare the various types of boning and their uses, starting with the most popular or well know types of boning used today. The topic of tightly laced corsets with steel boning is a popular subject today.

1) Flat steel Boning:

Flat steel strips are strips of steel that are painted and cut to a variety of lengths.  There is also steel sold in a continuous roll format, sometimes known as “sprung steel”. These can be found in basically two widths, ¼” and ½”; galvanized and fusion coated to prevent rusting. After cutting, the ends must be covered with end caps or dipped in a rubberized coating to prevent the sharps edges from cutting through the fabric and possibly impaling the wearer of the corset.

This type of boning is very strong and rigid and has a fairly flexible bend in two directions. It provides strong support for keeping the body properly confined while retaining the shape of the corset. Since it does not have the ability to curve sideways, this type of boning cannot be used on curved seams. It is perfect for the front and back openings, however, where there are straight seams, thus producing the tight-laced corset with steel boning.

2) Spiral Steel Boning:

Spiral steel boning is a type of steel boning has the appearance of wire that has been coiled in a tight loop repeatedly to form a long steel strip. It is sold in ¼” and ½” widths by the roll or precut strips. It can be cut to the desired lengths with a strong pair of wire snips. End caps are then used to prevent the sharp cut wires from cutting the fabric or poking the body. This type of boning is flexible in four directions. It can bend sideways and can also twist.

The ability of this boning to flex sideways makes it perfect for seams and curves in the corset. The emphasis on spiral steel is the flexibility, and not necessarily the ability to retain the shape of the garment. (‘The World of Corsets; Steel Boning, Why, How Many and What Does It Do’, by Another Lone Gunman)

The design and seams of the corset will limit how much the boning can mold out of shape. Because of this, there will be a “compromise between the corset and your body”. Some corsets are inexpensively made with little emphasis on actual support. Lined or unlined makes a big difference. Steel boning, the weight of the fabric and the strength of the lining all have an impact on the strength and shape of the finished corset.

3) Plastic Boning or “Zip Ties”:

Plastic boning is a type of boning that many seasoned corsetieres are getting to know and love. Zip ties that are used in corset making, however, are not to be confused with the thin, flexible, zip ties that are used to bind your stereo wires together. The only plastic zip ties that are useful can be found online through a company that manufactures heavy duty construction cable ties. Cable ties of this form are produced incorporating stabilizers in the nylon resin, giving them strength to hold up to 175 pounds each strip!

This makes them a fairly thick and definitely resilient, strong form of boning. I have found this type of boning to become more comfortable than steel with body heat, yet it retains its strength and shape without the fear of breakage. The ties can be cut with tin snips and the edges filed down with a 100 grit nail file until smooth. This means no edges to cut fabric or poke into the body.

While I continue to use the steel boning at the front and back openings, I sometimes back it up with an extra layer of the cable ties. I can ride all day on a motorcycle and then dance all night, still in comfort, without losing any support. And best of all my corsets stand the test of time. They are still beautiful and hold their shape after many years of wear. I definitely do not agree with people that say the corset is cheaper when made with “plastic boning”. It can last even longer than its counterpart while providing much more comfort in the process.

4) Rigilene Boning:

Because it is sold in fabric stores and referred to in articles on corset making, I will talk about Rigilene boning. It is made of polyester “threads” which are fused together to form a somewhat stiff, but flexible form of stiffening for a garment. Associated with Rigilene is the Featherlite or polyester boning also sold in fabric stores. Because of the scant thickness, however, it will conform and stay out of shape with applied pressure over time. It can be used for lingerie and costumes. I would not recommend this to be used in a corset of any durability that would otherwise stand the test of time. Even with many layers of fabric,s the rigilene boning will not be sufficient support for a corset.

Other Types Of Shaping Materials:

Fosshape:

Exciting products in the design world are the use of Fosshape® and Wonderlflex®. Industries such as “theatre, costumes, millinery, mask or armor making, puppetry, props, cosplay, craft work, model making, set design, and the entertainment industry” use these materials.  Fosshape® is “limited by your imagination material”.  This inspirational material can be heat shaped and formed with steam. In appearance, Fosshape is a fluffy white filler resembling quilt batting. When steamed it shrinks and becomes dense and conforms to the desired shape. The benefit is that it is durable, lightweight, breathable and you can sew through it!  Costume professionals call it the “buckram replacement”. If you have never tried this product I highly recommend it. But be careful as you may become addicted.

Item from Wonderflex® material

Wonderflex:

The other product sold by this company is known as Wonderflex ®. It is a different form of support or stiffener in that it is sold as a “thermoplastic composite sheet. Made of a unique synthetic polymer that when heated in the range of 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit, Wonderflex® will soften and activate a built-in adhesive for molding and forming”. The Wonderflex® can then be cut with a good pair of sharp scissors or a utility knife and shaped with a heat gun so is easy to use. Wonderflex® cannot be sewn through. But it can be formed to shape, and inserted into those high bust sections that would otherwise be unsupported efficiently. If you have not yet discovered these fascinating products I highly suggest you check out the website: http://www.wonderflexworld.com

In Conclusion:

So once again you ask yourself, “Do I Really Want A Tight Laced Corset With Steel Boning?” From my own personal experience, I have discovered that a combination of various types of boning in a corset provides the best form of support and structure. I use strong and durable fabrics, often having 3-6 layers in the body of the garment. And, do not underestimate an authentic coutil lining. It is perfect for structure, support and comfort for your corset. At the front and back openings, it is best to use strong steel where strength is required for support. This will prevent your corset from breaking and creating an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

If the front steel busk is not thick enough, the thickness can be enhanced with plastic zip tie boning. In the curved seams or where you wish to provide the curve in your corset, the spiral steel boning would be the best choice. For design, or to strengthen weak fabric, I have used multiple rows of cording along with boning on a separate layer of fabric. The options are endless. However personal preference should be left to the discretion of the skilled corsetiere. Not the client that is requesting a tight-laced corset with steel boning due to the internet hype.

A good corsetiere with knowledge and skill can make the corset of your dreams. It is an investment. You want that investment to last for many years to make your dream come true.

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Dressing For Status

What is dressing for status?

When you get dressed for a special occasion meant to impress, do you feel the anxiety of dressing for status? Whether applying for a job, going out with the girls or attending a special event, wearing the appropriate “uniform” has always been a signal to gain acceptance in a particular social circle.

The way we dress is more complex than just wearing the latest outfit featured in a trendy magazine. There’s a whole psychology that revolves around our clothing choices.

The First Impression

So how does clothing impact a person’s first visual impact? We only get about seven seconds to make a first impression. What you wear gives you an added boost in making the right first effect.

Clothing is a non-verbal form of communication that gives clues about a person’s background, financial status and personality. It can also be a statement reflecting your mood, culture, interests, age, level of confidence and authority.

The Impact of Status

Status is different than class or caste. It’s based on the cultural position, the prestige of holding certain occupations or the family background and carries with it a particular anxiety of dressing for status. Throughout history, poets and painters could be considered high in status but might be as poor as church mice.

In the industrial revolution era, wealth did not ensure moving up in status. A successful businessman could dress his wife in the latest fashion. He could entertain high society with extravagant parties, but his social status remained the same; he was a tradesman.

In Victorian times, widows could only wear black for one year and one month.

An early example of a dress code is ancient Rome. Only senators could wear garments dyed purple.

In the early Roman and Greek culture body shape and weight were also a sign of status and social standing. As early as 2900 B.C. both men and women were concerned with a slim silhouette. Artifacts suggest young men wore constricting belts that confined their waistline. And there have been periods throughout history when it was perfectly reasonable for a man to wear a corset.

In China, the centuries-old tradition of foot binding included breaking the foot and reshaping it to resemble a lotus bud. This gruesome-shaped appendage raised the likelihood of marriage among women and increased their social status.

Society and Status

Throughout history, the clothing we wear has been capable of displaying and epitomizing a person’s culture, financial status, and social power. Perceived status gives a person power and along with that, there is an anxiety of dressing for status. Your needs and opinions along with what you say and do hold more weight than others around you and gives you more influence.

This carries through into a person’s career, the ability to earn and achieve wealth. These advantages may be derived simply by our gender, the way we dress, our race, age or religious affiliations. Society teaches us to conform and be part of the crowd.

Notoriety and Status

Celebrities, with their sometimes-inflated conception of self-worth, often flaunt their lofty status by ignoring social constraints and conformity. In an attempt to keep the celebrity wagon rolling, these people continually draw attention to themselves by various means. Whether it’s outlandish fashion, acting bodacious or being diva-like and ungracious. Public figures use every tool available to maintain their status.

It’s sort of an ongoing battle; if you free yourself from social constraints and conformity, you’re more likely to achieve a level of notoriety and status. If you don’t continue to push the envelope, that celebrity status will quickly wilt. A celebrity is constantly making sure their public presentation garners attention and reinforces their status.

It’s all well and good to follow fashion trends, but sometimes bucking the trend goes a lot further. If you radiate the confidence that you’re someone who already has high status, you’re more likely to be perceived as a person with high status.

Fashion can be a form of art. It encourages creativity and expression. The freedom to wear whatever you want is also a liberating experience that’s available to anyone, regardless of class or social status.

What Class Do You Fall In? 

Quietly, or yelling at the top of your lungs, everyone has at least a little concern about making an impression and rising in social stature.

Some folks do this by wearing the latest in fashion and spend far above their budget. Other people are into anti-fashion and make their point by wearing outrageous getups. Another group just goes with the flow and hope to fit in.

Maya Angelou wrote, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

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For The Love Of Custom Corsets

For the love of custom corsets, women keep wearing them! First Impressions: A woman walks into a room and every head turns. The glances of the crowd may flicker away in an instant or they may linger and admire.

The way a woman presents herself gives her the power to choose whether to deflect attention or to draw it. When she chooses to walk into a room and say, “Here I am,” her clothing is part of the equation.

The well-dressed woman knows that clothing conveys status. Fabric with a sumptuous hand and design with a fashionable cut, speaks volumes. And above all, a garment with an impeccable fit sends a message: high quality.

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High Concept Fashion:

High concept fashion is the product of the foremost couture houses throughout the world. The annual collections are brought out each new fashion season by talented designers with bold ideas.

The goal of an haute couture fashion show is to make the theme of the collection stand out. They strive to capture attention and turn the head with a gasp from the lips. It’s usually more of an appeal to “look at me!” rather than actual functionality. Very few designers expect to sell a look “hot off the model.” The love of custom corsets with dramatic flair has kept it on the runway.

The overall control the tailor/seamstress has over the final outcome of the corset garment is extensive. From the fitting to the refined and detailed finish, it speaks volumes to the client and overall audience. It is the highest degree of bespoke tailoring. Experienced seamstresses and tailors can produce exquisite garments that reflect a designer’s concept. They can beautifully execute any design that a woman conceives independently. The translation of the runway looks into wearable high fashion is the result of bespoke tailoring.

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How Corsets Fit In:

Over the centuries the flow of fashion is often charted by the look of the dresses, coats, skirts, and slacks. As these pieces have evolved, however, so too have the undergarments. Working alongside the tailor and seamstress was the corsetier. Corsets have been shaping, slimming and flirting from ancient times to the present day.

The function of a corset has changed through history. It has been used to support an upright posture and to hold a woman’s body in the desired shape. Often it is simply used as a fashion statement. The woman of today is neither compelled nor forbidden to wear a corset. She can choose for herself the purpose for which she will wear it.

Many women like the support a corset gives them in situations where they desire a straight posture. They feel it gives them a more elegant line that suggests high status. Some women want a corset that will nip in their waist and give them the classic hourglass figure. Still, others are not interested in the function of a corset but just enjoy the fun of wearing it.

Bespoke corset being made

Why Custom Corsets:

So does a custom fit maintain a certain superiority? A woman who decides to explore the option of wearing a corset will find many ready-made options on the market. Unfortunately, they are made to fit the average woman with industry-standard proportions, which the average female body rarely follows.

She may also find that the seams begin to pull apart and the stiffening begins to stab before she has even begun to lace the corset tightly. This will not do. In no time at all her desire will be to remove the corset as soon as possible.

For a garment as close-fitting as a corset, the only way to get a piece that is both functional and comfortable is to have it custom made by a bespoke seamstress.

Every woman’s body is unique. The bust may be higher or lower than average, her rib cage may be longer or shorter, and her back may be wider or narrower. Only by having a custom-fit corset can all of these individual measurements be taken into account.

A bespoke corset is a gorgeous creation that will last for years. It is an item that will never go out of style. The love of custom corsets is acquired when worn to an important engagement.

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“What Shall I Wear”?

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“What shall I wear”? , you ask as you look through your closet full of clothes. Have you ever wondered why we humans are so concerned about our appearance? Why do we have different kinds of clothes for different kinds of places? We wore makeup today but not yesterday? Do we need to make an impression or statement with our fashion? Why do we stress over how we look when we’re meeting up with Bob and Cindy, but just leave the house looking like ‘whatever’ when it’s Katie and John?

Caveman DNA?

Seriously, although fashion rules are often mocked today as being superficial and silly, the fact that we care about how we look is very deeply rooted in our ancient ancestry. Fitting-in was a life-or-death proposition back in the day. Our DNA is our driving force, no matter how modern and sophisticated we think we are.

I have one more question for you: Did you know you can have a test done to find out how much Neanderthal DNA you have?

I always find it fascinating to see my inner cavewoman bleeding through into my 21st-century life.  So come with me on this brief sojourn into the past and perhaps you will see your own gazing back at you from the mirror. Give her a wink and a smile; she is serving you well!

Caveman Dynamics

If you could be transported back to the early days of humanity, you would find yourself living in a small family group or small tribe. Because everyone in the group is related to you, they have your back. They share their food with you, they teach you how to get along in the world. The whole tribe is there to get mean and stabby when you’re attacked by a cave bear.

On the other hand, if you displease your group, the consequences are horrible. They shun you, exile you, then drive you away. Wandering alone is no way to live – literally. You can’t make it on your own. Even if you do encounter another group of people they will probably kill you instead of saving you. All this because you wore a red feather in your hair when only the tribe leader’s daughter is allowed to wear red feathers. Do you see where I am going with this? Following the rules of how to dress, how to speak and how to behave keep you in the tribe and keep you alive.

Social Dynamics Today

Now flash back to the present. Whew! That was getting intense. Your life no longer depends on fitting in with a group or making a statement. But you also have not lost the need to feel that you belong. You have not lost the fear of being shunned socially and cast out of the group. Fortunately, today we have access to so many groups from which to choose that even the quirkiest among us can find her “tribe.”

You are most comfortable when you are with your peeps. You all dress in a similar way, talk the same way and enjoy doing the same things. However, when you are going into a situation where you will encounter different people or even the same people in a different environment, you start to wonder about how you should present yourself.

Making A Statement

How do I make that statement? Most of us want to be accepted, so we style our clothing, hair, and makeup in a way that we hope this new group will approve of. Some of us are more contrary and prefer to make no adjustments. This sends the message: “This is who I am, take it or leave it.” Either way, consciously or subconsciously, we are arranging our appearance to have an effect. We will have to face the consequences of our choice.

Why Do We Care?

So, to go back to the original questions: Why do we care what other people think about our appearance, and why do we stress over how we look? “What shall I wear?” you repeatedly ask yourself. The answer: Because the fear of being exiled from the group is buried in our DNA. Even in the modern world, there can be negative consequences for looking the wrong way in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may lose a job or negatively affect a date that you really liked. You may turn a jury against you or be shrieked at by a sobbing bride that you ruined her wedding. Yikes!

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Is there a positive side to all this? Of course, there is! Ralph Waldo Emerson once quoted one of his friends as saying, “Being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow.”

There is nothing like walking into a room and knowing that you nailed it. Knowing that not only have you been accepted by the tribe, but that you are their queen!

The next time you reach the peak of this particular mountain, remember to listen for that quiet whisper from your ancient cousin in the cave saying, “Glad I could help.”

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Corsets and Bustiers in History

From the beginning of time, Corsets and Bustiers in History and today have been a form of outward expression. As with other clothing, it is an outward display of an individual’s personality. By the same token fashion reflects the society of which it is a part.

Fashion has always had a great influence on society. Corsets and Bustiers in History is no exception.

Corsets have long been a symbol of feminine power and beauty, dating as far back as 2000 BC.

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Although corsets have gone through many transformations over the centuries, their general appearance has remained constant. Their main purpose and appeal were to shape and flatter the female form in accordance with current fashion trends.

Corsets Throughout the Ages

Perhaps no other garment in history has caused as much controversy. Certainly, none have spawned so many fetishes or stood the test of time as corsets have.

Tight lacing was blamed on health issues. In reality, tight-lacing likely only caused constipation and indigestion.

Traditionally, the corset was actually a part of a dress. The corset as an undergarment has its origins in Italy. Catherine de Medici brought it to France in the 1500’s. Women of the French court not only embraced the corset but considered it an indispensable beauty tool commonly worn by women throughout Europe.

 

The Skilled Seamstress:

This brought about the highly skilled seamstresses that could fit the human body with a ‘second skin of sorts. They became known as the first corsetieres. From this came the literal translation of the French word ‘corset’ which came from the expression, “pair of bodies”.

From the men there came the “bespoke” tailoring. This comes from the French term, the literal translation being: “men’s clothing made to a high degree of customization”.

Leaders and Their Impact on Dress:

Napoleon hated them. His intense dislike of them influenced the Regency style, or Empire dress, at that time. This started just below the breasts and flowed loosely to the floor, eliminating the need for a corset.

Fashion then shifted from loose, flowing dresses to a more slender silhouette. This was achieved using lacing to create a tighter fitting bodice. The corset as an undergarment was not seen in Europe until the 1500’s.

 

And the Queens:

It is believed that Catherine de Medici first introduced Italian style corsets to France. However, the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Egypt, Assyria, and Crete depicted women wearing Corsets and Bustiers in History for hundreds of years already before her time.

The proclamation of 1597 by Queen Elizabeth went into minute detail about the type of dress allowed for a person per position and social rank. There was strict control of everyday dress. It was essential that the Queen’s subjects know their place. This included the type of fabric, garment embellishments, the color worn, hosiery and even furs.

Corset TimelineREV.indd

 

Corset Materials Used:

The first corsets of the 16th century did not aim to accentuate the waist but rather had a more cylindrical shape. They flattened everything from waist to bust, forcing the breasts up into an alluring curve which just peeked out at the top.

Corset styles and the materials used to make them would change many times over the next centuries. Wood, whalebone and eventually steel replaced the iron cages to make them much more comfortable. Lacing moved from the front to the back.

 

The Busk:

And busks, which provided the stiffening with knife-shaped pieces of whalebone or wood, moved from the back to the front and eventually the sides. This whalebone was the predecessor to today’s boning.

Fabrics changed too, from linen to cotton, wool, leather, silk, and lace. However, this was largely a matter of personal preference and rank.

Virtually all women wore corsets, but not all could afford to commission a tailor to make them. Many corsets made at home used cheaper and more readily available materials. Sackcloth stiffened with readily available reeds was common. Whereas the nobility who could afford the services of a tailor and proper fit had elaborate corsets made of leather, damask, silk, and velvet.

Elizabethan Wardrobe:

“European aristocrats [13] were inclined to regard the body as a work of art. Their prominent reason being their display at court and physical self-control. Court society imposed its aesthetic erectness which was also a way of mastering the passions.”

“The Elizabethan wardrobe was quite complex. Sleeves, bodice, underskirt, corset, and ruff (neck collar), all came as separate pieces, held in place by pins. The Queen loved to receive gifts of valuable garments. A pair of sleeves embroidered with pearls were among these gifts.”

 

Elizabethan Corset:

“In the Elizabethan era, whalebone (baleen) was frequently used in corsets so bodices could maintain their stiff appearance. A front stiffener, called a busk, was typically made of wood, horn, ivory, metal, or whalebone. This busk was carved into a thin knife shape and then inserted into the front bodice”.

n England stays were a part of a basic wardrobe of even working women. ‘The wives of journeymen tradesmen and shopkeepers, either wore leather stays or ‘full-boned’ stays. Worn every day for years and never washed; half laced and black as the post.”[14]

Corsets and the French Empire:

Skipping forward a bit to the 1500’s, after Catherine de Medici introduced corsets to France, the women of the French court wore them as undergarments.

Unlike bustiers, corsets come in two different styles: The under-bust corset ends beneath the breasts and requires a separate bra, while the over-bust corset covers at least part of the breasts. The word in French remained as ‘body’, but in the 17th century the term in England was “stays”.

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The French Empire in the 1700’s:

“By the 1770’s, fashionable French women began to wear a corset made of quilted linen and without bones. They were fastened in front with strings or ribbons.”[15] 

The French, ‘Ladies Magazine’ wrote an article in 1785. In this, it informed the English women that “the French ladies never wear more than a quilted waistcoat”. “The custom of imprisoning children in heavily boned stays was also disappearing”.

The Enlightenment Campaigns of Napoleonic France proclaimed “liberty and equality”. This played a role in loosening the stays. Thus high-waist neoclassical gowns came into fashion. Obviously, women still had waistlines but they no longer emphasized that part of the body. They focused on the bosom instead!

 

Victorian Corsets:

Yet, after a brief period of freedom at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, fashion for high-waist empire gowns was declining. The boned corset reappeared around 1800 and spread throughout society. The French term “corset” was first used in England about 1820. Until then, English speakers called a corset a “pair of bodies” or a “pair of French bodies”; somewhat like a ‘second skin’.

Long, heavily boned corsets continued to be worn by English women. Modesty and corsets were closely associated with sexual morality by the English.

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Corsets were also considered a medical necessity in the early 19th century. It was thought that women were too fragile to stand without support. Little girls as young as 3 or 4 years old were laced into tiny corsets. After years of being continuously laced up, however, their backs were weakened. By the time they reached their teens, they were unable to sit or stand without the support of a corset.

 

 

 

Victorian Corsets and Tight-lacing:

It really wasn’t until the 1830’s that the hourglass shape came into fashion. This gave Victorian corsets the dual purpose of cinching the waist and supporting the bust. In the mid-1800’s, the fashionable shape was an exaggeratedly curvaceous hourglass with a tiny waist.

This is when real tight-lacing became popular. These tightly laced corsets deformed the internal organs and forced shallow breathing. The results were a lot of fainting; thus the need for smelling salts to revive the fainting ladies in repose.

Tightly laced corsets and the problems that came with them were an affliction unique to the rich. Only the ladies who were higher in class and did not have to work could wear such restrictive clothing. Working class women wore looser corsets and lighter clothing that allowed for more movement.

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Edwardian Corsets:

The early 20th century brought a change in corset shape in response to concerns about pressure on the stomach area. The new straight-front corset, also known as the S-bend corset, the swan-bill corset, or the health corset.

It featured a rigid busk that ran the entire length of the front of the corset. This gave the effect of a very flat front, forcing the hips to jut out in back.

However, the unnatural posture it forced upon the wearer resulted in many back problems. It actually caused more injury than its waist-cinching predecessor. Thus the style only lasted about ten years, from 1900 to 1910.

Around 1908 fashion changed to favor a more natural waistline and narrower hips. This, along with the advent of rubber and elastic fabrics, made way for girdles and brassieres.

 

Corsets in the 21st Century:

At one point the United States government asked women to refrain from buying corsets.

It’s true… it was just after entering World War I, and this single move freed up 28,000 tons of steel for use in war production. It also gave rise to the popularity of brassieres and girdles. Women’s roles in society changed as well in this time period. More women delayed marriage to seek an education, leaving corsets to overweight and pregnant women.

Garconne fashion and the prized boyish body shape of the 1920’s saw little call for corsets, as women used girdles to minimize the hips, and bras to minimize the breasts.

Soon came the fifties and a new appreciation of all things feminine. Dior’s “New Style” celebrated womanly curves, favoring a tiny waist and wide hips. This sparked a return in popularity of the corset which lasted until the rise of flower power and hippie bra-burning sentiments of the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

Corsets and Bustiers:

What is the difference between corsets and bustiers? It’s a question we often get at Sultry Lady Corsets, where we specialize in custom made, beautifully embellished, one of a kind corsets and bustiers. The answer to the question is that while corsets and bustiers look similar, in construction and function they differ.

Corsets have more structured than the bustier. The bustier lifts your breasts to accentuate cleavage, but don’t do much, if anything, to hold in your stomach. The corset doesn’t just enhance cleavage, it also cinches you in so that your waist and torso look slimmer.

The contemporary corset is closer in style to the corsets and bustiers that were popular in the Victorian era. This is when the hourglass figure became a measure of feminine desirability. These shape-shifting corsets used back-lacing to pull the waist into some improbably small sizes. They included boning to keep the garments stiff and supportive.

 

Celebrities and Corsets:

The current popularity of corsets and bustiers in history began in 1983 after Madonna appeared in concert wearing a silk corset. The demand for corsets and bustiers took off like wildfire. The underwear-as-outerwear trend has not stopped since. Her famous corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for her Blond Ambition tour, later sold at auction in London for more than £30,000–about $52,000– in 2012.

Modern corsets are mostly, though not completely, a fashion statement. The shape is complementing and showcasing the natural feminine form rather than trying to manipulate or transform it. To all corset-wearing women, it is a symbol of beauty and femininity.

Corsets are a favorite way to do this. Some celebrities spotted donning corsets include Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, BeonceKeira Knightley, Kylie Minogue, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Victoria Beckham, to name just a few.

gal-sweetheart-beyonce-jpg
sweetheart corset-Beyonce

 

Corsets as a Fashion Statement Today:

Contemporary corsets and bustiers have come a long way from the extremely constrictive Victorian style. The garments are now seductive and comfortable. The desire is to showcase the assets, not change them.

Bustiers worn as lingerie are a much more recent design than corsets.  Made of flexible fabric with stretch panels, they are much less restrictive.

Bustiers often have bras built into them – with or without underwires. They are usually shorter than corsets, ending at the waist or just above it. You will often see the term long-line bra used interchangeably with a bustier.

With so many choices and so much freedom in fashion today, the corset remains a fashion mainstay. It is a fail-proof way to make a statement and honor the feminine form.

 

Informational Resources:

The Corset, A Cultural History:  by Valerie Steele

Clothing in Elizabethan England:   Liza Picard