When we think of corset we think of the tight, pinching, poking, waist binding garments that we read about in historical romance novels. A garment any forward thinking modern woman would not wear. The truth is, however, that starting in the 16th century when they became popular, corsets were made for the person that was to wear them and them alone. At least up until the Victorian era when ďmail orderĒ corsets were created. Pinching was impossible and if they poked it meant that the boning had come loose from the corset. In the beginning corsets were not made to give you a small waist; the fabric would have given out if you had tried to tighten them enough to narrow your figure. They were designed to lift the breasts and create a smooth silhouette beneath clothing. Not until the mid to late 1800s when the metal grommet (1828) and the 2 part metal busk (1829) were created tightening a corset enough to drastically change a person's figure was practically impossible.
As romance novels lead us to believe a heroine could go without her corset and her gowns will still fit perfectly and one wouldn't notice her corset was missing until she was touched. The truth is that her gown would not fall correctly. It would even possibly be lumpy in places and, as with forgoing wearing a bra, her breasts would not be held up and would bounce with movement.
While being so uncomfortable as to lack the ability to breathe is untrue, it is a fact that you are unable to take deep breaths while wearing a corset. It is also true that a tightly tied corset can cause weals on the skin, just as a sock might around your ankle. If there was a weight gain or loss the corset would no longer fit properly and cause rubbing or the breasts to slip down in the corset which would be quite uncomfortable. If the corset has shoulder straps the arm movements would be somewhat limited; while our dear heroine would be able to fold her arms across her chest she would be unable to do so tightly. If she is wearing a busk she would be able to bend at the hips but not the waist. The strict rules in past times regarding posture are untrue although the corset does demand and encourage a straight back.
As with most things that go from person to person many things most people believe about corsets are false but they all come from an exaggeration of a truth. When worn properly and with the right fit a corset can be a lovely addition to any Lady or Lord's Renaissance Garb.
Are you looking to add a corset to your medieval wardrobe? Here at Pearson's Renaissance Shoppe we have all the high quality corsets you could ask for to meet your needs! Be sure to shop Pearson's Renaissance Shoppe's Corset Collection today! Custom sizing and fitting is available to help you look your best!
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