An example of the evolution of French corsets.
An example of the evolution of French corsets.

The Cyclical Nature of the Corset

History Buff

I'm a minor history enthusiast who is also sartorially inclined so I'm very fascinated by the corset. Throughout history the corset has existed all over the world and quite literally been the backbone of the feminine form for centuries.


When most people think about the corset the image that is evoked in their mind's eye is typically of women of the 16th century. These were the wealthy women adorned in ornate dresses at court with their waists cinched my bodices.

In Context

Although this is the common association with this article of clothing, the corset has a much more complicated history.

Well Rounded

The corset was not something that was only thought of as an aesthetic feature at its conception. In the modern day the corset is thought of as a rather risque article of clothing. In the 16th century, the corset not only upheld the body but also the woman's morality. People of the time thought that the corset allowed women to present themselves in the most upright, moral way possible.


The corset started to lose its appeal when the health of the women sporting them came into question. Many women had their corsets laced so tight that they would faint from exertion.


Although there are infamous stories about the harm a corset can do to the body many are still worn today. Corsets have been called "bodices," "stays," and "girdles" throughout the years.


Lately the craze for "waist trainers" or "waist shapers" has revitalized the presence of the corset on the modern woman's body. The corset is an article of clothing that seems to persist.
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