Corsets…the Wonder Bra of the 16th Century

corsets...the wonder bra of the 16th century


Corsets…The Wonder Bra of the 16th Century

October 8, 2018 

The History of Corsets

The word “corset” derives from 1300 CE France and meant “a kind of laced bodice.” Prior to the 16th century they can be traced back to two patriarchal tribes; the Circassians and Abkhaz.

Corsets contained as many as fifty laces, and were treated as like a chastity belt for your jugs. They were worn from childhood until the wedding night. Talk about blue balls on your wedding night right? Ha Ha! However, if the groom carefully undid the laces they demonstrated self-control to the rest of the tribe.

Why Are Corsets Seen in Steampunk Fashion?

Steampunk fashion takes the vast majority of its inspiration from Victorian dress, and at this time corsets and bloomers were the standard for women’s underwear. The corset was a very important piece of clothing for hundreds of years in Europe, and became a staple of women’s fashion.

It first became popular in the 16th century but reached the height of its popularity in the Victorian age, as it became desirable for women to have small waists and big hips.  Now that “Hour Glass Figure” makes sense right?

What Purpose Does This Torture Device Serve?

The purpose of a corset is to draw in the waist, often using laces to pull the clothing tighter around the body in order to give the appearance of wider fertile hips and a slimmer torso. It also helped to raise and shape the breasts, as women the Wonder Bra was not invented until 1963.

The Tudor era evolved the corset from just being functional torture device to a stylish outfit statement. I am pretty sure Madonna, EnVogue and Lady Gaga have something to do with its’ presence in couture fashion today.  

Obviously early corsets had massive impacts on women’s ability to move, work, and most importantly, breathe. As it became more fashionable for women to have smaller waists this meant having to tie the corsets tighter and tighter, and it was a common sight to see women fainting due to lack of oxygen.

What Were Corsets Made From?

In the Elizabethan age, corsets were commonly made of whale bone. At the time this was considered to be an incredibly useful material, and one was of the few that provided both rigidity and some level of flexibility. There is evidence of earlier corsets being made of steel or iron, but these were more likely medical devices than fashion accessories. The standard design of the corset also included a “stomacher,” which was a panel worn across the stomach for decorative purposes, and often to cover the laces.

Victorian bodices represent a development in technology, and were often only partially boned. This increased flexibility and allowed women to breathe easier. The corsets would fasten into place with silk lace or metal hooks, and the corsets were often made of silk or cotton. It was common to see embroidery on the outside of the corsets, and this shows how they moved from a functional item of clothing to something of a statement piece.

50 Shades of Gray Anyone?

In today’s society the corset is less about functionality and more about role play, attitude and dominance. We often see them within the steampunk fashion genre as they convey the styles of the past with the modernizations of modern age cloths and design.

Now you know. Thanks for chillaxing with me I hope you enjoyed “Just So You Know…There is a Whale Bone on Your Ta Tas !”. Interested in purchasing a Steampunk Corset? Check out our selections here .

-Audrey W.

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