A corset is a tightly fitting garment that shapes and supports the torso, historically used to mold the body into a desired shape for aesthetic or orthopedic purposes. Traditionally made from stiff fabric and reinforced with boning (originally whalebone, later steel or plastic), corsets are laced together, usually at the back, allowing the wearer to adjust the tightness and the degree of waist reduction.
Corsets have a rich history, dating back to the 16th century in Europe, and have evolved in style, shape, and purpose over the centuries. They were once a staple in women’s fashion, symbolizing femininity and elegance, and were also believed to promote good posture. However, they also had health implications due to the excessive pressure they placed on the body’s internal organs and the restriction of movement and breathing.
In contemporary fashion, corsets have seen a resurgence, not only as undergarments but also as outerwear. Modern corsets maintain the traditional aesthetic but are often designed with a focus on comfort and wearability. They are used for waist training, as fashion statements, or as supportive garments. Corsets now come in various styles, ranging from the traditional overbust and underbust to more modern adaptations like corset belts and tops.
The corset’s ability to sculpt the body and its historical significance continue to influence fashion, making it a symbol of both restriction and empowerment, depending on the context and manner of its use.