I love corsets. I love the look they give and have always wanted one. Throughout history they have been used to create the then fashionable shape and this shape has changed through time.
I made these little corsets to show 5 different eras and fashions. They are about 5 x 3 inches or 13 x 8 cm.
In Queen Elizabeth I’s time, the popular shape was for high breasts, narrow waist and hips hidden beneath farthingales. Women also wore stomachers which started out as pieces of wood which were inserted down the front of the corset as a stiffener to give the fashionable flat front. Tabs at the waist helped to hold the weight of the farthingale. The tabs on this piece are wired to hold their shape.
By the 18th Century the stomacher had become a decorative part of the clothing and was displayed, held in place by the gown’s lacings. The silhouette still had high breasts and small waists, but the circular farthingale had been replaced by panniers, which had great width side-to-side, but were flatter front-to-back.
The Regency period of Jane Austen‘s time brought in a whole new style, with women’s clothing suddenly losing most of its mass and becoming narrower and sleeker. High waists, just under the bust, and a slim figure became the ideal. Columnar was the idea, taking after discoveries in Greece of ancient architecture.
By the 1840’s, however, width was creeping back in style. In this time period, women wore large sleeves which hung off their sloping shoulders and a bell-shaped skirt was the fashion. This embroidered corset is mounted on a box, unlike the others which are all mounted for framing.
During the Gay Nineties and the entire late Victorian period a tiny waist was the ultimate goal for women’s fashion. Bustles were types of undergarments worn under the skirt which extended the back of the skirt. They changed in size and shape throughout the last quarter of the 19th century and by enlarging the hip area made the waist look smaller. By the 1890’s they were smaller than earlier. A corset of this period closed in the front with a busk and was laced up from behind.
Another change in shape happened in the Edwardian period after the death of Queen Victoria. The Gibson Girl silhouette had been becoming popular for a number of years now with her pushed forward breasts and her pushed backwards rear. Corsets changed as well, to mold women into the new shape. This corset has ribbon and lace trim as well as garters which were needed to hold up stockings.
All these little corsets have been put up on Etsy, so that someone else who’s always wanted one, now can.