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Blue corset

Power Tool of the 18th Century

The Almighty Corset: A Brief History

If there’s one article of clothing that’s emblematic of the social evolution of women, it’s the corset. No other garment has endured for so long and still prevails to this day (and no, we’re not counting ancient undergarments fashioned from fig leaves, papyrus, or loin clothes!).

We all know that back in its heyday, the corset gave women an hourglass figure. That was the beauty norm of the day. But there’s a dirty little secret behind the corset that kept women suffering to be beautiful: It was a power tool of seduction at a time when women depended economically entirely on men. Thus, women conformed to a beauty standard  – tiny waists, big bosoms  - even if their corsets were so extreme they could barely breath or walk.

Will we ever get enough of the corset?

In this fascinating short history, French fashion curator Catherine Ormen gives us the skinny on the not-so-skinny power tool of the 18th century.

October 18, 2016