Derived from the Old French term “linge” which translates to “linen”. The word lingerie was originally introduced into the English language as a euphemism for scandalous clothing. This word was not widespread in use until the late 1850s, when it implied general underclothing.
Lingerie was a relatively decent concept and by the early part of the 20th century, women’s underwear was crafted for functionality rather than sensuality. With the exception of a burlesque dancer, no one bought underwear with the intention of being seen in it. By the 1960s, women’s underwear had three main purposes: hygiene, modesty and shape.
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Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Corset History
The most controversial garment in the whole history of fashion may actually be corset lingerie! This was officially introduced when women started to insert rigid materials such as whalebone into the “Basque” or “busk” of the bodices during the late 16th century. The “busk” was a slot in the middle of the corset that was thicker at the top than at the bottom, and could be extended from the waist to just above the bust. The Renaissance brought in a whole new focus on the curves of women, and women of that time went to extremes just to achieve what was known as the perfect hourglass figure.
During these times, corsets were very restrictive and tightened to the point of being hazardous. They were so tight, in fact, that ribs would get squashed and even on occasions broken. Many women were known to pass out from such excessive restriction when wearing this type of undergarment. Cleavage was very much prized throughout the 18th century, and the corset lingerie heightened the effect enormously.
Some corsets are still be made with constrictive whalebones, but they have a definitive movement in them which makes them less hazardous to wear but there is also now the push up corset which creates the same effect. Nearing the end of the century, doctors started to speak out about the health hazards of these corsets and following that outcry, less-restrictive designs were introduced.
During the 19th century, doctor’s outrage and consumer demands brought about a revolution for lingerie. Corsets became less cumbersome, less restrictive, and that much smaller. These recreated designs allowed for easier breathing and freedom of movement. They also gave more support for the breasts, and at this time they were appropriately referred to as a “brassiere”, which means “support” in French.
The Various Kinds and Styles of Corsets
Well-fitting corset lingerie is important. In the event of poorly fitted or loose fitting lingerie, it can rub and chafe the skin leaving you uncomfortable throughout the day. This is exactly why you need to select not only the style that you want, but the perfect size as well. There are three main kinds of corset: under-bust, over-bust and waist-cincher.
Under-bust. This kind finishes anywhere as the name suggests, under the bust so that the breasts are exposed, which are then covered with a bra, top or nipple pasties. This style can be ideal for those with smaller breasts.
Over-bust. This runs from the hips and over the bust, giving ample coverage and support for the breasts.
Waist Cincher. This can be an un-boned wide belt or boned like a corset. It is narrow from the ribs to the hips, measuring 6 to 8 inches wide and it sits on the waist area.
A person’s body shape influences the shape of the corset that the wearer will find the most comfortable. Other considerations that you might want to think about are which effect you want to achieve, such as the scoop, plunge, sweetheart or straight neckline. A straight neckline is more than ideal for people with smaller breasts, while more busty ladies are recommended to wear plunge necklines. Sweetheart necklines are great for women with medium to larger busts, although it can look good for a wide range of body shapes.
Most corsets these days come with a front opening so that they can be put on and taken off without the need for help. Some of them, however, require their backs be laced up or with a hook and loop mechanism which is quite common among bridal corsets, where fine finishes and beading are required. Since these styles have no busk you would have to loosen the lacing and the step on the corset.
You could get someone to lower it over your head, but it is much easier to find a backless corset these days to make wearing it that much easier. Aside from their cuts and necklines, modern corset lingerie now comes in a wide range of colors and designs. Depending on your needs and preferences, you should be able to find fashionable corsets that you can use to make a style statement all on your own. Some examples include camo corset, floral corset, and even floral corset.
Wearing Corsets with Comfort
In days gone by, corsets were mostly worn over a chemise, which was a sleeveless low-necked gown which was made from washable material like linen or cotton. It was used to absorb perspiration and keep the corset and clothing clean. These days, a corset liner or undershirt can be worn which is usually made from Lycra or spandex. The modern corsets of today are a product of decades of evolution in an effort to make them more comfortable and appealing for women to wear and be seen in, whatever their size and shape maybe.