The earliest image of a possible corset was found on an image of a Cretan woman from 2000 BC. The item she is wearing has a similar look to a corset, however it appears to be worn as outerwear and not as a corset today would be worn.
Rise To Popularity
The corset first appeared on the scene in 16th century in high demand. France is usually always a hub for fashion statements, and the corset was no different. It was actually introduced in Italy, however the women of the French court took the idea home and brought it instant popularity. They started as a way to give women a smooth look under their dresses and a way to boost up their breasts so that they looked bigger under the heavy gowns.
The First Corsets
The first corsets were generally made of fabric stiffened with glue. A few corsets have been found, but this was thought to be more for decorative reasons or perhaps for a medical reason and not for everyday use. As time went on, corset makers began sewing a long flat piece of whalebone known as a busk into the layers of the fabric. This was found to work better than the glue and helped the corset maintain its shape.
A stomacher was a popular corset accessory starting in the middle of the 16th century. The stomacher was basically a decorative panel for the front of the corset that allowed women to change up their look based on which gown they were wearing. A farthingale was another accessory often worn with corsets. This stiff cone-like accessory helped to hold skirts away from the body, giving the hips a wider look that was coveted at the time.
The Victorian Corset
The Victorian corset became a different type of corset all together. It was designed to keep the waist to a smaller size, but was longer than the first corsets. It flared out at the bottom, overlapping with the top of the skirt. Corsets began to become more mass-produced instead of custom designed by one’s seamstress, and different decorative styles began to emerge.
During and after World War 1, women in the US were asked to stop purchasing corsets in order to free up more metal to be used in the war efforts. The halt in production yielded enough metal to build two entire battleships! Other corsets came into the market such as the health corset that was made from more elastic materials and said to not cause health problems.
Modern DayToday, many women still choose to make corsets a part of their wardrobe. They give a nice shape to your figure, and can provide support for many medical reasons. Some men even wear them to provide support for an injury or other medical issue. They come in many sizes and styles, and are made to fit a wide range of sizes.
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