Corsets are close fitting undergarments,
capable of being tightened by lacing, enclosing the trunk. They were worn
mostly by women, in the 1700s, to shape and support the body.
Corsets have been around a long time. Neolithic drawings have been found showing women wearing animal hides. Even early civilizations in Egypt produced pottery with carvings of women wearing corsets. In the 15th century the hour glass figure was a must for men and women alike. At that time corsets were made with wood, whalebone and sometimes even iron. Can you imagine wearing something made of iron?
Well wood contains mostly cellulose and cellulose looks like the figure below next to the corset. It's at least a little softer and more forgiving than iron.
Now corsets are used less for everyday fashion and more for private interests. There are easier to make with the modern polymers that we have in place of baleen and whalebone, and they are certainly lighter to wear.
Picture courtesy of Meg Andrews
Antique Costume and Textiles (e-mail: [email protected])
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