The dictionary's definition of a corset is a close-fitting undergarment, stiffened with whalebone and capable of being tightened by lacing, to shape and support the body. What many do not know, is that the corset dates back to as far as the 16th century. Used as an undergarment, the corset's main purpose was to raise and shape breasts, tighten the waist area and to create an hourglass figure. In short, it is used to push all the middle portion of the body upwards and downwards creating an hourglass.
It is amazing that women in the past were so particular about the shape of their bodies that they wear corsets when the perform their daily duties such as cleaning, washing and hanging the laundry to dry. Yes, definitely strange, but true. Corsets were mainly used in European countries, especially Great Britain where women from the Victorian and Edwardian era take pride in the clothing that they wear. Women from affluent families were usually decked out in their beautiful gowns, hats and accessories. Not surprisingly, elaborate undergarments were being used, especially bodyshapers such as corsets. However,the types of corsets women wore in the past were stiff, and extremely tight-fitting. Just check out the photo below. This photograph is that of a woman in the 18th century.
Strangely, did you know that men were also wearing corsets in the 18th century? Wow! That is definitely weird.
Forward 300-400 years later, corsets are gaining popularity again and is sometimes being used as outerwear, with jeans. Corset-type wedding gowns are always designed for new brides as it slims an accentuates a woman's body. It reduces waist and expands bust and hip area, creating an attractive silhouette. The corsets that we are wearing now are more fashionable and definitely does not shape our bodies into grotesquely-looking shapes like those in the Victorian era, :)
At present time, present day, we celebrate a woman's beautiful hourglass figure and independence!
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