Evolution of Waist Training Corset Through the Ages

Evolution of Waist Training Corset

Corsets have a long history since the 1500s. It has ever been an accessory for fashion. It provides an hourglass figure that the dress slides over. In fact, eventually, it came to be used by men as well, who claimed that it gave a more masculine look to their bodice.

The heritage of the corsets came from the Italians, and it was named after the French connotation for laced bodice, ‘corset.’ The English have referred to it as ‘stays’ ever since the 1600s. It was introduced to France by Catherine de Medici, mother of King Francis I of France.

History of Corsets

The first evidence of corsets came up during the 2000 BC. Initially, it predominated as an undergarment that provided support to the female body. Eventually, it even came to be used as an outer garment.

During the 17th century, the ‘stays’ were built in the form of a cone. It had shoulder straps and flaps at the waist. ‘Stays’ were made to emphasize the curve from the breasts which flowed into a flat waist. At that era, the cinching of the waists was not so important. The material was imbibed with a whale bone that provided the structure. The exterior was built with layers of fabric that were stiffened with glue.

Corsets were often used for medical purposes as well. They helped to provide support to the back and the spine. In these cases, they were structured with steel or iron.

With the dawn of the 18th century, corsets went through some changes as the perception of the ideal female figure altered.  Rather than emphasizing the natural flow of the female body, corsets came to draw attention to the posture of the woman, thus indicating a stress on the dignity based on class hierarchy. These new garments uplifted the chest and squeezed the midriff. They straightened the back and allowed a stiff but commanding posture.

However, in their make, they were more comfortable than their predecessors. They allowed for more breathing space. The demarcation of the waist line now began just below the breasts so that they could function as a ‘push-up bra’ to some extent.

A slim waist was important but lost its position of focus. This again evolved in a few years as the newer models came to uphold a combination of the two aims. A slim waist was accompanied by a raised chest. Nursing corsets came into the arena. They worked to cinch the waists to a large extent.

With the beginning of the World War II, there came to major changes in the society on a generic level. Metal became scarce as it was utilized to build more weapons. Moreover, medical resources cited to the unhealthy effect of corsets on the female body. Thus the stiff metal structure evolved to be more elastic. They lost the decorative shoulders and emphasis was put more on waist reduction. A fashion statement developed with the name of ‘merry widow’ corsets. These worked contrary to supporting the breasts and instead worked towards separated them.


Every garment for women has a history of figure correction. Corsets have been an integral part of the higher society. Eventually, these developed into the modern day waist cincher corsets. Made with latex, these do not restrict movement or breathing as much. They are used more for figure correction on a permanent level than a mere temporary illusion. Even if you choose to opt for traditional corsets under your dress, they are far more comfortable.

  • March 30, 2017
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