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June 11, 2014

Victorian fashion fascinates me.  But it's not the
dresses, the hats, the jewelry.  It's the corsets!
Women's quilted corset with stays, ca 1730

Because antique pieces were created from fabrics that deteriorated
over time and because garments were passed down for generations
until they wore out, authentic corsets are primarily found in museums.
 Accentuated small waistlines first appeared in 16th century
royal courts and were a fashion mainstay for the next 300 years.

Queen Elizabeth I, left, and a fashionable court lady.

From the 1780s until the 1830s fashion took
a break from the claustrophobic corset.

But by the mid 19th century waist lines were
back in style and the corset was resurrected.
Exquisite 1860 ball gown
Before Victoria's Secret there were corset shops where
women were fitted with custom foundation garments.


Actress Belle Bilton, 1899

In 1905, Charles D. Gibson, a magazine illustrator,
created the idealized Gibson Girl.

Thankfully, late Edwardian fashion raised the
waist line and eliminated the need for corsets:

Astonishingly, in less than 10 years the Roaring 20s burst
on the scene with lowered waist lines and raised hemlines: 

The girdle appeared on the scene in the late
1930s and closely resembled the corset:

Throughout the 1940s and the 1950s
fashion was again all about the waistline:

Advertisers tried to convince young women in the Swinging 60s
that girdles were cool but met with little success.

Vintage Retro

If history repeats itself (which it always does!), we might
just see the return of the corset.  Hellooooo, Jenny Craig!


  1. I guess the closest thing we have today to an everyday corset would be Spanx. But even that I wear only occasionally and under a particular garment. I don't think ladies will ever willingly to be uncomfortable and constricted again just for the sake of fashion..

    1. You're right - I doubt that women and girls will ever return to the constrictive undergarments of the past. A small waist is just not worth the discomfort.

  2. I couldn't squeeze in a girdle
    My grandmother in the 1950's wore a girdle everyday except Sunday that day she went fishing with grandpa and wore her peddle pushers
    Those were very interesting pictures you posted about the girdle