A Brief History Of The Corset

Variations of the corset as we know it today have been recorded since as early as the Sixteenth Century, when this particular garment was referred to as a 'pair of bodies', it’s form of sturdy fabric, and it’s chief purpose to shape and constrict the body. Later called 'stays' the corset’s journey through time has helped dictate the changing silhouette of women’s fashion over the centuries and so it’s significance, appeal and staying power cannot be ignored.


Padding stitch, developed in Medieval times to reinforce battle clothing worn under body armour, was first used to reinforce 'bodies' made of linen or cotton canvas; ivory or wood and then whalebone and featherbone have all also been popularly used to stiffen the corset and help support the wearer. Nowadays the most popular boning and the kind found in our corsets is called spiral steel boning, superior due to its ability to flex both back to front and side to side.


Lacing has always played a key part in the wearing of the corset and can be approached by several different techniques, today it is most commonly down the centre back, and done in a fashion that leaves loops to tighten at the centre point of the waist. The central front support piece is called a busk and since it’s invention in the nineteenth century is often a 'stud front-opening steel busk', as found in our corsets, this front fastening assists the wearer in being able to dress themselves.


The Victorian period saw the beginning of 'tight lacing' which is a term given to the wearing of a corset to greatly reduce one’s waist to a size much smaller than is natural. This is the time from which we commonly hear stories about women having ribs removed and causing fatal injury to themselves through tight lacing, though these stories are often exaggerated, waist reduction to 21" was common and the fashion for a tiny waist remained throughout this period.


The twentieth century saw the gradual relaxing of the corset as everyday wear. Synthetic fabrics and components opened new doors to milder body manipulation and in conjunction with various political, lifestyle and fashion developments, the corset has become a garment more commonly worn as special occasion outer wear.


In recent years the corset has again become very fashionable as outer and under wear and can regularly be seen amongst the pages of today’s fashion magazines. Our corsets are all made to an original Victorian design using quality steel components and authentic techniques to ensure a superior fit, durable quality and stunning appearance.