Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Corset, waspie, girdle, tightlacing and the corset dress.


The art of corset making is known as corsetry and someone who makes corsets is called a corsetiere, corsetière or sometimes simply a corsetmaker. Corsetry is sometimes also used as a plural form of corset.

Corsets are tightened with long lacing which is normally at the back. By tightening or loosening the laces the wearer can change the stiffness of the corset. Corsets can be laced from the top downwards, from the bottom upwards or alternatively up from the bottom and down from the top, using two laces that then meet in the middle. Though it is difficult, it is not totally impossible, for a corset wearer with a corset that laces at the back to do her own lacing.
The terms waist reduction and tightlacing come from the corset world. Some corset wearers put on a tightly-laced corset for long periods. This is known as tightlacing and some people have trained themselves to tolerate extreme waist constriction and thereby eventually reduce their natural waist size. Tight-lacing can be very dangerous and is not recommended as a popular form of fashion.


Corsets were originally designed for support and to still give freedom of body movement. Modern corset wearers tend to tighten the corset just enough to reduce the waist by between 2 and 4 inches.

Traditionally a woman's corset was frequently worn over a chemise which was made of cotton or linen which could be washed. Nowadays an undershirt or corset liner is sometimes worn to keep the corset clean.


Corsets have gone through many changes since they first came into fashion originally starting as a simple bodice with tabs at the waist which was stiffened with the use of horn, buckram or whalebone. This form of early corset was the preserve of the aristocracy at first.

In the seventeen hundreds corsets began to use more boning and the stays were lower and wider in the front to enhance the bust.

In the late 18th century stays disappeared for a time though the corset remained fashionable and in the early 19th century they grew longer reaching the hip with gusseting for the bust in the front.

In the early eighteen hundreds corsets began to be worn by all of the classes of society with corsets becoming one of the first women’s garments that were mass produced. Later in the eighteen hundreds corsets became more heavily boned with steel boning becoming popular.
Tight lacing became possible when metal eyelets began to be used and as the front began to be fastened with a metal busk. The most popular corset at this time was the white corset.

As the Edwardian period emerged a straight front corset was introduced which forced the upper body forward and the bottom out.


The corset began to get very long in the early twentieth century with the advent of the longline corset.

In the 1920s the corset became less fashionable and ladies tended to prefer girdles and elastic brassieres.

Though the corset was traditionally seen as a form of designer lingerie, the corset is now popular as an item of outerwear for many in the fetish, BDSM and goth interest groups. Fetish and BDSM individuals tend to be very interested in tightlacing where the corset may still be seen as underwear as opposed to outerwear.


In the late 1940s and early 1950s the corset underwent a brief revival in the form of the waspie or waist cincher as it was known which gave an hourglass silhouette popularized by the Christian Dior 'New Look'. The waist cincher or waspie was an item of haute couture and many women remained with the use of the girdle.


In the last twenty years the corset has experienced intermittent popularity which often originated in haute couture and which often appear in high-street fashion as outerwear corsets or underbust corsets. The strongest revival occurred with the release of the film ‘Moulin Rouge’ in 2001 where many beautiful corsets were featured.

The corset dress has also proved to be a very popular fashion item in modern times. The corset dress is a long corset and is like an ordinary corset though it is long enough to, partially or totally, cover the legs which therefore gives it the name, corset dress.

Two very popular brands are Eternal Spirits corsets and waspies and Velda Lauder corsets which both cater for the height of fashion, the designer corset.


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