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Corsets and Corselettes

Pictures of corsets and corselettes and how they have affected fashion over the past 150 years.

Fashion changes - sometimes dramatically, sometimes in increments. One of the biggest changes in fashion has been the use of the corset and corselette. While corsets are sometimes worn today - by both men and women for (usually) medical reasons - the corset historically has been a fashion statement. When teeny tiny waists were in vogue, a corset was de riguer. A corset minimized the waist and therefore, by contrast, maximized the bust and hips. For most people today, the silhouette created by a corset looks odd but in the past, it looked "womanly". A corselette was less restrictive in the waist and hips and included a bra component.

When were corsets worn? Originally quilted waistcoats, French women, as well as men, during the French Revolution adopted the use of a corset. For the women, the waistcoat emphasized their breasts. For men - called Dandies - the male silhouette was slimmed, ostensibly making them look more "fit." By the 1800's, wearing a corset became the height of fashion for women. At first, whalebone was used for the stays (the part of the corset that encased and minimized the body). As time went on, ivory, wood, cane - even steel and plastic - were used. The corset was worn over a chemise (a cotton or linen gown) in order to absorb perspiration, then the corset was tightened by a maid and a gown was put on over the corset. By the end of the 1800's, lighter versions of fashion corsets were also made for use while bicycling, playing tennis, or horseback riding, as well as for maternity wear.

These photos show what (mostly) women looked like once they were done dressing with a corset. What do you think? Do these women look more "womanly" or is the silhouette created by a corset outdated in modern times?

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Taken in .
A photo of an "S Bend" or Flat Fronted Corset taken in 1905.
Shared on Nov 16, 2015 by
Taken in .
A photo of Ethel Granger, who had the smallest waist size in recent history... more
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Shared on Nov 16, 2015 by
Taken in Mount Carmel, Wabash County, IL in .
Photo of Mrs. Hicks came from the photo album of Louis and Dora Rice... more
Shared on Nov 1, 2015 by
A photo of Ethel Margaret Cross
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Shared on Nov 27, 2014 by
Taken in Grand Rapids, Kent County, MI on .
A photo of Mary Louise McMullen nee Waters taken on her wedding day October,... more
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Shared on Jul 21, 2014 by
Taken at Byarlay Studio, St Joseph, MO United States of America.
A photo of Viola Waller (McNutt)
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Shared on Mar 22, 2014 by
Taken in .
A photo of Lotta Crabtree, renowned actress of the late 19th century.
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
This photo was taken around 1899 to document the corset and its impact on the... more
Shared on Jan 4, 2012 by
Taken in Portland, Multnomah County, OR in .
I've "rescued" an old photograph of Carl and Flora HOFSTEAD and their... more
Shared on Jul 7 by
Taken in Reichenbach in Schlesien County.
So I found a bunch of Photos hidden in an Album, but they are not labeled.... more
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Shared on Jul 6 by
Taken in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, KS in .
I’ve “rescued” a group of five old photographs belonging to the... more
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Shared on May 1 by
Taken in .
A photo of Kate Chase in a crinoline, circa 1850
Shared on Apr 11 by
A photo of a woman in a crinoline dress, somewhere between 1860 - 1880.
Shared on Apr 11 by
Taken in .
A photo of an unknown woman - Could be Bezucha, Menchal , Cummings . SUITCASE... more
Shared on Mar 5 by
Taken in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA in .
I’ve “rescued” three old photographs identified as Marion KOLLEY or... more
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Shared on Feb 25 by
Taken in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA in .
I’ve “rescued” three old photographs identified as Marion KOLLEY or... more
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Shared on Feb 25 by
Taken in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, MN in .
I’ve “rescued” two old photographs both identified as Lena MICHOLSON or... more
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Shared on Feb 9 by
Taken in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, MN in .
I’ve “rescued” two old photographs both identified as Lena MICHOLSON or... more
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Shared on Feb 9 by
Taken in Woonsocket, Providence County, RI.
A photo of an unknown woman, taken in RI - Possibly a Daigle or Benoit.... more
Shared on Feb 5 by
A photo of Sarah Dell (Like) Wilson, wife of Oliver Browning Wilson.... more
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Shared on Dec 29, 2017 by
Taken in .
A photo of Clarissa Gurnett (1832-1903), American actress who used the stage... more
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Shared on Nov 16, 2017 by
Taken in .
Hannah Stilley was born in 1746 and this photograph was taken in 1840. It is... more
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Shared on Oct 23, 2017 by
Taken in Southport, Brunswick County, NC in .
A photo of Myrtie Leonard 1882-1964, daughter of H. Luther Leonard and Alice... more
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Shared on Aug 30, 2017 by
A photo of Margaret (Truax) Scofield. Margaret was the wife of Winfield Scott... more
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Shared on Jan 8, 2017 by
A photo of Maggie Willard McGregor. Picture card found at a flea market... more
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Shared on Jan 7, 2017 by
A photo of a dress circa 1900 - 1909 showing the "S curve" profile of corsets... more
Shared on Sep 7, 2016 by