A Little Tighter, Please

There’s been so much excitement about the new TFCB fashion series, Dressing a Nation. It’s been a lot of fun to come up with blog entries to support the series, though I think this will be the last one for a while.

I’m on vacation as you read this entry. In fact, I’m going to be getting ready to go out to an evening of theater in a few hours. Corsets are back in fashion for evening outerwear, and I’m going to be lacing myself into mine for the theater!Petticoats corset Here is a quick overview of American corsets through time.

Left: Corsets in the 1700s and 1800s had stays made from baleen (which comes from whales).

Below: Women wore corsets as undergarments. Laced very tightly, they gave women extremely small waists to accentuate their hips and bust line.

Calico corset spread

Below (right):  To get that 17-inch waist, women generally needed a second person to pull the laces of her corset as tightly as possible. Gasp.

HoopSkirts corset

LBD corset Above (left): Corsets remained popular in the 1900s and even into the twenty-first century. This photo of a Mainbocher corset was taken by fashion photographer Horst P. Horst in 1939 for Vogue magazine. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for modern examples of corsets in your favorite fashion magazines.

Check in next week for more from TFCB!

[Photos, from top to bottom: baleen corset, The Granger Collection, New York; corset as undergarment, courtesy Everett Collection; Mainbocher corset c CNAC/MNAM/Dist. Reunion des Musees Nationaux/Art Resource, NY; lacing corset c Bettmann/CORBIS]