MARCH 27 2008 13:04h
Corsets used to torture and constrict bodies and today they have transformed into a modern suit.
When you think about corsets you probably get the image of tormented women from the past. As if it was not enough that most were deprived of rights enjoyed by men, they were forced to wear this frightening clothing item that made ladies from high society faint.
A corset is an item of clothing whose purpose is to reduce waist size by tightening it. Over the centuries and in many shapes, corsets were worn by both men and women, but mostly women. Corsets are worn today as well, but it needs to be stressed that the ones you can buy in stores today are much lighter versions of the “real” corsets.
The three main reasons for wearing corsets are fashion, medical reasons and, or course, fetishist reasons. We are, naturally, interested in the fashion aspect.
Fashion and corsets
According to some sources, corsets were worn as part of underwear back in the Middle Ages and in the middle of the 16th century, wearing corsets became a fashion issue. During the time of Queen Victoria, corsets were very popular. At the time a thin waist reflected a high social status and the hour-glass figure stems from that period.
Corsets can be divided into two types: the overbust corsets that reach above the breasts and underbust corsets that stop below the bust.
Corsets are usually made from flexible materials that are stiffened with firm vertical parts that serve as a skeleton. In the 19th century, steel and fish bone were used for the skeleton, while today, plastic and steel are used.
Corsets went out of fashion in the 1920s when they were replaced by bras, but they survived as part of historical costumes. So the corset, once a piece of underwear, became an independent item of clothing rather popular in the Goth subculture.
Since the 1980’s the corset lived through several revival periods that usually started off in haute couture and sometimes made it to mainstream fashion. The revivals were focused on the corset as an independent item of clothing. Certainly everybody remembers the state of the art by a French fashion designer on the body of a diva. After his long-term lover and business partner died from AIDS, Jean Paul Gaultier thought about abandoning designing and committing suicide. Luckily, he got through his depression through work. And his work resulted in Madonna’s corset with cones on her breasts. Vogue!
Apart from Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, corsets have also been worn by Kylie Minogue and Dita von Teese.
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