The Evolution of Waist-Training

The English word ‘corset’ is derived from the old French word ‘corps’ and the diminutive of ‘body’, derived from the word ‘corpus’ – Latin for body. The French ‘corset’ means ‘a kind of laced bodice’ and ‘a stiff supporting and constricting undergarment for the waist, worn chiefly by women to shape the figure’.

How this piece of clothing has changed over the centuries!

The first recorded corset originated from Crete, Greece and was worn by the Minoan, both men and women. Culturally, it showed a woman’s ideal shape, accentuating the beauty of her curves, and exposing her bare breasts. They were worn to beautify women, while also ensuring modesty. 

Corsets in the 17th century were of an inverted conical shape, creating a contrast between a rigid quasi-cylindrical torso above the waist and heavy full skirts below. In the 18th century, they were designed to raise and shape the breasts, tighten the midriff, support the back and improve the posture of a woman to help her stand straight. In the 19th century, the exaggerated shoulders disappeared and waist-cinching corsets of the time produced the same effect. Tight-lacing in corset became popular, but doctors advised that corsetry was injurious. This saw the birth of ‘health corsets’ which were flexible and elastic. During WW1, the War Industries Board asked women to stop buying corsets in order to free up metal for war purposes – this liberated an incredible 28,000 tons of metal that was used to build two warships.

Corsets have become almost a fetish fashion and is worn as an outer garment. From cosplay costumes, to wedding gowns, evening gowns, underwear, outerwear. Every woman should have a corset in her lingerie drawer.

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