The History of Corsets and How to Fit One Properly


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Since the beginning of time, women have worn corsets. The reasons for doing so are the same as it has always been, she is taking care of her physiological or physical needs, or expressing her beauty-loving feminine personality. Womanly beauty is a matchless attribute; in all creation, there is no beauty to surpass it. Women are serving an elemental purpose when they foster and cultivate it, spend thought and endeavor in keeping our bodies as perfect in appearance as we can. There is an important lesson to be learned by each of us, one seldom taught us by our mothers, and that is how to properly fit the corsets we wear.

No sensible woman expects to buy a perfectly fitting shoe without trying it on. Likewise, she does not nowadays expect to find day-long comfort and support in her foundation unless she fits it personally. The object of good corset is not constriction. Nature intended the organs of the abdominal cavity to move about, and a correctly fitted corset will permit the same freedom. The function of corsets is to supplement the efforts of weak muscles in this cause, and the introduction of elastic into corsets over the past few decades has made it possible for corsets not only to augment the service of the muscles by holding firmly, but to do so while at the same time permitting movement. The essence of the corset is that it is never completely rigid. Rigid in certain places it may usefully be, but few corsets are made now without some panels or gussets of elastic to allow for expansion and “give" in breathing and moving, with inestimable gain to the wearer in comfort, as well as health.

For the purpose of sizing the garments they manufacture, different firms have adopted some different classifications of figure types, though all are based on fundamentally the same selective principles. Speaking broadly, figures are shaped in one of three ways. Either they are “average or normal, " which is to say not disproportionately wide in any one place; or they are full at the bust and small at the hips; or they are small in the bust and big at the hips. This gives the three main basic types and they are:

  • Normal or average: Figure with a difference in measurement between waist and hip of about 10 inches.
  • Hip heavy types: With a difference up to about 15 inches.
  • Top heavy types: With a difference down to about 6 inches.

    As shown above, very definite characteristics mark the differences between each of these three basic types. These characteristics carry in their train certain equally noticeable tendencies. For instance, where the figure is a hip heavy type and the difference between waist and hip measurement is anything between 12 and 15 inches, the thighs as well as the buttocks will be heavy and fleshy, and to accommodate and control these, as well as the prominent back curve, the customer will need a long, strong garment. The difference between waist and hip, and between bust and hip, is the guide to the type of average figure to fit. It should also be realized that in each case there will be “small" or “full" versions of the average type. The type of body one has is a major determining factor is how well the corset will fit and if it will be flattering or not on the woman.

    Anna de Santiago co owner of Lingerie Of Hollywood

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