The Corset and the Crinolin: A Book of Modes and Costumes from Remote Periods to the Present Time.
CHAPTER I. The origin of the Corset.
The corset: Origin. Use amongst Savage Tribes and Ancient People. Slenderness of Waist esteemed in the East, Ceylon, Circassia, Crim Tartary, Hindustan, Persia, China, Egypt, Palestine.
CHAPTER II. Roman, Greece and Egypt.
The Corset according to Homer, Terentius. The Strophium of Rome, and the Mitra of Greece. The Peplus. A Roman Toilet, Bath, and Promenade. General Luxury. Cleopatra’s Jewels. Tight-lacing on the Tiber.
CHAPTER III. The Ladies of Old France.
Frankish Fashions. The Monks and the Corset. Corsets worn by Gentlemen as well as Ladies in the Thirteenth Century. The Kirtle. Small Waists in Scotland. Chaucer on Small Bodies. The Surcoat. Long Trains. Skirts. Snake-toed Shoes. High-heeled Slippers.
CHAPTER IV. A golden time for tailors and milliners.
Bonnets. Head-dresses, Costumes in the time of Francis I. Pins in France and England. Masks in France. Puffed Sleeves. Bernaise Dress. Marie Stuart. Long Slender Waists. Henry III. of France “tight-laces.” Austrian Joseph prohibits Stays. Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth of England. Severe form of Corset. Lawn Ruffs. Starching. Stuffed Hose. Venice Fashions. Elizabeth’s False Hair. Stubs on the Ladies. James I. affects Fashion. Garters and Shoe-roses. Dagger and Rapier.
Louise de Lorraine. Marie de Medici. Distended Skirts. Hair Powder. Hair à l’enfant. Low Dresses. Louis XIV. High Heels. Slender Waists. Siamese Dress. Charles I. Patches. Elaborate Costumes. Puritan Modes. Tight-lacing and Strait-lacing under Cromwell. Augsburg Ladies.
CHAPTER VI. Fashion during the reign of Louis XV.
Louis XV. À la Watteau. Barbers. Fashions under Queen Anne. Diminutive Waists and Enormous Hoop. The Farthingale. The Guardian. Fashions in 1713. Low Dresses. Tight Stays. Short Skirts. A Lady’s Maid’s Accomplishments. Gay and Ben Jonson on the Bodice and Stays.
Stays or Corset. Louis XVI. Dress in 1776. Severe Lacing. Hogarth. French Revolution. Short waists. Long Trains. Buchan. Jumpers and Garibaldis. Figure training. Back-boards and Stocks. Doctors on Stays. George III. Gentlemen’s Stays. The Changes of Fashion. The term CRINOLINE not new. South Sea Islanders. Madame la Sante on Crinoline. Starving and Lacing. Anecdote. Wearing the Corset during sleep. American Belles. Illusion Waists. Medicus favours moderate tightlacing. Ladies’ Letters on tight-lacing.
The Austrian Empress. Viennese Waists. London small-sized Corsets. Correspondence of The Queen and the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. Lady Morton. Figure-training. Corsets for Young Girls. Early use of well-constructed Corsets. The Boarding-School and the Corset. Letters in praise of tight-lacing. Defence of the Crinoline and the Corset. The Venus de Medici. Fashionably-dressed Statue. Clumsy Figures. Letter from a Tight-lacer. A Young Baronet. A Family Man.
CHAPTER IX. Fashion and dress of 1865.
No elegance without the Corset. Fashion of 1865. Short Waist and Train of 1867. Tight Corset and Short Waist. A form of French Corset. Proportions of Figure and Waist. The Point of the Waist. Older Writers on Stays. Denunciations against Small Waists and High Heels. Alarming Diseases through High Heels. Female Mortality. Corset Statistics. Modern and Ancient Corset.
CHAPTER X. The claims of Nature and Art considered.
Front-fastening Stays. Thomson’s Corset. Stability of front-fastening Corset. De La Garde’s Corset. Self-measurement. Viennese Redresseur Corset. Flimsy Corsets. Proper Materials. “Minet Back” Corset. Elastic Corsets. Narrow Bands Injurious. The Corset properly applied produces a graceful figure. The Farthingale Reviewed. Thomson’s Zephyrina Crinoline. Costume of the Present Season. The claims of Nature. Similitude between the Tahitian Girl and Venetian Lady.
“O wha will shoe my fair foot,
And wha will glove my han’?
And wha will lace my middle jimp
Wi’ a new-made London ban’?”
Fair Annie of Lochroyan.
The subject which we have treated here is a sort of figurative battle-field, where fierce contests have been waged from time to time for ages; and, notwithstanding the determined assaults of the attacking hosts, the contention and its cause remain pretty much as they were at the commencement of the war. We in the matter remain strictly neutral, merely performing the part of the public’s “own correspondent,” making it our duty to gather together such extracts from despatches, both ancient and modern, as may prove interesting or important, to take note of the vicissitudes of war, mark its various phases, and, in fine, to do our best to lay clearly before our readers the historical facts-experiences and arguments-relating to the much-discussed “Corset question.”
As most of our readers are aware, the leading journals especially intended for the perusal of ladies have been for many years the media for the exchange of a vast number of letters and papers touching the use of the Corset. The questions relating to the history of this apparently indispensable article of ladies’ attire, its construction, application, and influence on the figure have become so numerous of late that we have thought, by embodying all that we can glean and garner relating to Corsets, their wearers, and the various costumes worn by ladies at different periods, arranging the subject-matter in its due order as to dates, and at the same time availing ourselves of careful illustration when needed, that an interesting volume would result.
No one, we apprehend, would be likely to deny that, to enable the fairer portion of the civilised human race to follow the time-honored custom of presenting to the eye the waist in its most slender proportions, the Corset in some form must be had recourse to. Our information will show how ancient and almost universal its use has been, and there is no reason to anticipate that its aid will ever be dispensed with so long as an elegant and attractive figure is an object worth achieving.
Such being the case, it becomes a matter of considerable importance to discover by what means the desirable end can be acquired without injury to the health of those whose forms are being restrained and moulded into proportions generally accepted as graceful, by the use and influence of the Corset. It will be our duty to lay before the reader the strictures of authors, ancient and modern, on this article of dress, and it will be seen that the animadversions of former writers greatly exceed modern censures, both in number and fierceness of condemnation.
This difference probably arises from the fact of Corsets of the most unyielding and stubborn character being universally made use of at the time the severest attacks were made upon them; and there can be no reasonable doubt that much which was written in their condemnation had some truth in it, although accompanied by a vast deal of fanciful exaggeration. It would also be not stating the whole of the case if we omitted here to note that modern authors, who launch sweeping anathemas on the very stays by the aid of which their wives and daughters are made presentable in society, almost invariably quote largely from scribes of ancient date, and say Iittle or nothing, of their own knowledge. On the other hand, it will be seen that those writing in praise of the moderate use of Corsets take their facts, experiences, and grounds of argument from the every-day life and general custom of the present period (1868).
The Crinoline is too closely associated with the Corset and with the mutable modes affected by ladies, from season to season, to be omitted from any volume which treats of Fashion. The same facts, indeed, may be stated of both the Crinoline and the Corset. Both appear to be equally indispensable to the woman of the present period. To make them serve the purposes of increased cleanliness, comfort, and grace, not only without injury to the health, but with positive and admitted advantage to the physique-these are the problems to be solved by those whose business it is to minister to the ever-changing taste and fashion of the day.
Source: The Corset and the Crinoline. A Book of Modes and Costumes from remote Periods to the Present Time by W.B.L. (William Berry Lord). With 54 Full-Page and other Engravings. London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler. Warwick House, Paternoster Row. 1868.