Pink Bustier Mother's Day
Pink Bustier Mother’s Day by FirstNightDesign

The bustier or corset was once a vital part of a lady’s wardrobe, not, as today, a fashion statement that anyone can choose to embrace, whether Madonna, Rihanna or Eddie Izzard. Worn as an under- or outer-garment,  its purpose has always been to enhance female sexuality by narrowing the waist and pushing up the bosom to effect an enticing décolletage.

silkcorsetblog

Woman’s corset, France, c. 1730-1740. Silk plain weave with supplementary weft-float patterning. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. [photo credit: Wikimedia]

But imagine the pain of a whale-boned corset, for such they were until relatively recently when mesh panels became an option. Prior to that, iron had been used; even when whalebone replaced iron, wood was sometimes used.  Imagine, also, the laces at the back being tightened beyond the reach of breath!  Do you remember wincing at the scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) is having the laces of her corset pulled to a circumference of 18 1/2 inches — thought to be the ideal for female beauty — by Mammy (Hattie McDaniel)?

In the 19th century, corsets were sometimes advertised as postural health aids, even though such physical strictures “could lead to fainting and headaches, or even to internal organ damage”. †

Although corsets have been around, possibly since 2000 BC, their popularity was especially marked in European society during the 16th century and later in the Victorian era. The bustier graphic from Digital Kiss probably dates from a Victorian fashion plate illustration.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah