Corsets In the 19th Century

Pulling it all in.

That’s what the woman of 1840 and indeed women for many decades after that, wanted to do most of all. The idea of a tiny waistline was en vogue for lots of reasons.

One of them I believe is that it automatically gave dressmakers work by way of adding tucks in the bodices of gowns.

Another is that the hourglass shape is the classic definition of feminine allure and has been the feature for advertisors and packaging companies for about as long as there have been either one of those types of businesses. And they’ve done very well.

Sex sells.

Of course it does. Romance novels. Movies. TV shows. Rock and roll. Country music. You can almost name it and seeing something or someone that has sex appeal makes for a successful enterprise.

Naturally, this applies to the woman of 1840 who may be interested in finding a husband. She wanted to look her best and so she endured the pain of an uncomfortably tight garment.

Bedposts and such.

My maternal grandmother, who was born in 1895, used to tell me stories about how she helped her mother and older sisters get into their corsets.

They’d hang on to a bedpost in order to brace themselves, take a deep breath and prepare for the back laces of their corset to be tightened as far as could be tolerated. And maybe then a little more.

Things were no different in 1840 when Connie Merriton was a young mother, and was expected to go through this process as part of her morning ritual.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Kelly-J says:

    Yea, my grandmama told me stories about getting laced up too. I always wanted to wear one but never had the nerve. Don’t have the body type for it, but, you can pull it off Nancy. You’d be great – it’s not a bad promotional idea…think about it!


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