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The Antique Corset Gallery

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by crinolinegirl, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    Hi all

    Just wanted to share a new website which Gary and I have been working on for the past month.
    It's called The Antique Corset Gallery and will be an educational resource featuring corsets, bustles, crinolines, bust bodices and other antique undersupports from the 18th century to the 1920's. It's still a work in progress and we will be regularly adding new things and adding more photos of corsets already shown as we get time. We have a few other collectors, who will be contributing images of their collection as well so please visit regularly for our updates!

    If you have any antique undersupports (1929 and before) in your collection that you would like to see added into the gallery, then please contact me at [email protected] or U2U me for the guidelines.

    Enjoy! :)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Leigh.

    I just began to peruse the site, but know i will be sitting down later and going more in depth.

    I am extremely impressed with the layout/presentation and all those beautiful corsets. I don't collect them...but it makes me want to buy one!!

    If you haven't checked out this site yet, guys...you are really missing out!
  3. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    Lei, this is excellent! I love the look of the late Victorian era corsets (wouldn't want to wear one though!)

  4. Lei, that looks fantastic--so crisp and fresh! It's enough to turn me into a corset junky like you. ;)

  5. Exactly, Steph, that's what I am afraid of. Add that to my list...

    Patent Leather Shoes
    40s style jackets

    Lei, while we are on the subject of corsets, mind if i ask you a question?
    when a corset is say a 38 to pick a size out of the air. Does that mean the woman should measure 38" around the widest part of the bust, or is this the underbust or chest measurement? Obviously, if you measured 38 and the corset measured 38, it would not be doing what its supposed to do?

    I am so confused. Can you explain all that to my unlearned self?
  6. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    Corsets are always sized according to waist measure (this has always been the case since the dawn of time :)). So if a corset is marked as being a 38, that means it has a 38" waist.

    You ALWAYS buy a corset smaller than your natural waist measure so that it can do it's stuff. For instance, my waist is about 34 1/2"- 36" depending on "that time of month" but I wear a 26" waist corset. How many inches down you buy a corset depends on your body frame, how the fat is placed on you (i.e. apple, hourglass or pear shape), etc.
    Some people who have my waist measure can't wear a 26" waisted corset as they may have larger ribs than mine or are more apple shaped so it really depends on your body shape. Likewise, if someone is pear shaped with a small top, then they may be able to fit into a smaller waisted corset.

    Fat squishes easier than muscle or bone so the more "flesh" you have on you, the greater waist reduction you are able to acheive.

    Also too, the corset is worn open a few inches at the back. This gap can be anywhere between 2"- 4". Most people leave a gap of about 2"-3" at the back but sometimes if your having a fat day, then 4" is good too. This gap just allows for fluctuations in weight and ease of movement.
    If you can close it all the way easily, then it's time to move down to the next size.

  7. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    Guys, you are talking to a full fleged corset junkie. Once you are addicted, nothing can help you!!! I had to get rid of my Visa last year as I was running up too much debt on the things. :P

  8. So there really is no definitive, it involves knowing the waist measurement and just sort of deductive reasoning from there? So you can figure if you see in a museum a corset that was 18", someone probably had a 28-30" waist. But i imagine the person wouldn't corset themselves in a full 10-12" ...but then you do see old pics of very wasp waisted women. I thought i had a small waist, but some of thise pictures...you wonder where their stomach, kidneys, etc, are!
  9. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    >So you can figure if you see in a museum a corset that was 18", someone probably had a 28-30" waist.

    mmm, not nessisarily :) The thing is, the more slender you are, the less fat you are carrying which in turn, makes for a less dramatic waist reduction. All the corset has is muscle and bone to push against which is stronger ansd stiffer than fat.

    Barring someone actively embarking on waist training, I would expect that someone with a 28"- 30" waist to wear a corset of about 22"- 24". Of course your figure type and fat placement would dictate which size corset in this range you would wear.

    The thing with my body is that I can get away with wearing a corset 10" smaller than my waist as I have narrow ribs (which is why this stupid bra size charts never work for me) and a my fat placement gives me an hourglass shape. This makes it easy for my to corset fairly small for a size 14/16 as all I have is fat to squish.
    My mum is a size 16/18 but has a sligthly bigger waist than me and is apple shape which gives her more bulk around the upper torso so she feels more comfortable in a 32" corset.
    Likewise, my sis has about the same body shape as me but is a dress size 0- 2 with a normal waist of about 24"and an 18" corset fits her perfectly. It shaves about 4" off her waist and gives her a 20" waist.

    So this goes to show that different body types will dictate what size corset you choose. Also too, the smaller dress size you are, the less a corset can shave off your waist.

    >I thought i had a small waist, but some of thise pictures...you wonder where their stomach, kidneys, etc, are!

    I don't know what your measurements are Chris, but judging from your pix in your thread, I would say that you could happily fit into a 20-22" corset and possibly a 18" corset once you got used to it ;)

    Women are lucky when it comes to corset wearing as our bodies were built to shift our internal organs for pregnancy. Nio matter what your body type (apple, hourglass or pear), our lower ribs are extremely flexible and our organs are designed to shift places safely. If they didn't , how the heck would you pack quintuplets, sextuplets or more in your belly! :)
    The trick is to corset slowly so your body gets used to shifting it's bits. Just like how your body has 9 months to shift it's gizzards when you are pregnant.
    This is why when you see pictures today of men wearing corsets, their ribs stay square and they tend to have a blocky appearance (which is why transvestites pad themselves out) while women, no matter the body type, take on a hourglass shape as our bones bend.

  10. i have about a 25/25.5 waist and my ribcage is the same. It is way small in proportion to my upstairs and downstairs (add 11 inches either way) so it ables me to wear the 40s and 50s styles real well without having to wear any sort of foundation, girdle, or cincher.....but it creates all sorts of problems wearing modern jeans when the waists are so huge in them.

    So, I can't imagine my waist being any smaller than it is, in fact, i don't think there is really any room for it to get much smaller than that as i don't really carry any weight there...But apparently, from what i am reading, there is. i just can't imagine how one would even walk around and breathe when being corsetted in that much. I expect that's why people carried parasols...to use as an emergency cane. I would need a fainting couch for sure! :) I would be fired if i was hired as a victorian or edwardian re-enactor.
  11. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    This is really interesting!

    If I can just add a query, Lei - Chris' question reminds me that I've wondered about whether the hip shaping of long-line corsets relates to the intended waist measurement in a standardized way at all?

    I see also the drastically hourglass-ed Victorian styles (which I've never tried on) and I wonder how they to work with a flexible body.
    (In fact, are they generally easier to wear than the longer ones?)

    Just wondering, partly because 'cos the hip thing is what stops me venturing into 22" sizes over 24. Thanks for this discussion!

  12. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    Chris: You'd actually be quite surprised how comfortable a corset can be! As long as you don't try to lace too tightly all at once, it's just like having a big "hug" around you. I hate it at the end of the day when I have to come back from a reenactment or event and know that I have to take my corset off. BTW, with yuor small ribcage and waist, you would definitely fit into an 18"- 20" waist corset. Infact, this one in my collection would fit your shape perfectly! :)

    Lin: Longline corsets made the body into a tubular shape, kind of forshadowing the boy figure of the 1920's so although the hips were compressed to fit the narrower skirts of the 1910's, the waist was set free a little so that the torso was more straighter up and down.
    This meant that the waist/hip ratio started to even out
    (although the bustline was still very full) from the extreme ratios seen earlier.
    Since there was less compression on the waist, there would have been less fat displacement than in older corsets in which the excess fat got pushed down thereby adding more inches onto the hip measurement.
    When you buy a longline corset you will have to buy a larger waist size than you would a hourglass corset due to the wiast compression being less. I wear a 26" waist hourglass corset but my longline has a 28" waist.
    This is why in n old catalogs from the teen's era, the size range of corsets goes upwards into larger waist sizes with most size ranges starting at 20" instead of 18" and going to 38"- 40". The amount of hip reduction in different brands of 1910 corsets though tends to vary but from what I have measured in my antique corsets, the hip size tends to be about 10" more than the waist measure (i.e. a 28" waist corset has about a 38" hip).
    With the longline corsets, it did start the move to a more "natural" looking figure though and I have a French corset ad from 1914 showing silouettes from the late 1890's to 1914 showing how corsetry was heading more towards supporting
    the natural body shape.

    >I see also the drastically hourglass-ed Victorian styles (which I've never tried on) and I wonder how they to work with a flexible body.
    (In fact, are they generally easier to wear than the longer ones?)

    Any body type should be able to wear a corset although your body does have to get used to having it's back muscles immolbilized! My back isn't that flexible (due to sway and crooked back) and I do find it helps my back. You always get the dull aching for a little while in the lower back muscles as they get used to not working and letting the corset do all the work! LOl, maybe it's just me that it happens too but I have heard a few of my other fellow re-enactors speak of this short spell of muscle ache when they first put on their corsets too. It goes away fast though.
    If your very flexible in the body, then it may take a little getting used to NOT moving so much in an hourglass corset which is why you never corset too tighly at first.

    I don't know if saying longline corsets are easier to wear would be correct but they are "different" to wear. I suppose they are easier in a sense as there is less waist constriction and the shape of them is similar to a normal body shape. Even though your hips are more compressed in a longline corset, it is not unpleasant as your hip bones are strong and prevent the corset from being laced TOO tightly in that area. I have a repro longline corset and it is a different sensation than wearing my hourglass one.
    With an hourglass corset, I find it easy to slouch (bad habit!) and you have more leg movement in an hourglass corset too but with a longline, it forces you to sit up straight which makes riding in a car to events hell as modern seats aren't renowned for their perfect postures! You do have to move differently in a longline and it takes WAY longer to do up than an hourglass! :)

    >Just wondering, partly because 'cos the hip thing is what stops me venturing into 22" sizes over 24.

    I've got big hips, bum and thighs and I find longline corsets lovely for giving me a skinny look! You would be surprised how much they shave off your lower measurements and give you a more balanced look! My hips are 44"- 45" but my longline corset has 38" hips and it works like a charm!

  13. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Wow, Lei, thanks for explaining everything so fully - the context you've given here is really enlightening me about how the corset styles work (both era and body-wise).

    A heartfelt second to the longline feature:
    <i> it forces you to sit up straight which makes riding in a car to events hell as modern seats aren't renowned for their perfect postures</i>
    - I've been in cabs at 5.00am having danced in my corset for 4 hours and the combination of the strong need to slouch, the cramped and bent car seat and the 'come-on-girl-sit-up-straight' longline corset is truly <i>horrendous</i>.

    But even given that, what you say about the longline silhouette being so flattering is a *very* persuasive reason to me for sticking to it!

    It's interesting what you say about the corset taking the back muscles' work - I have back trouble born from near-hypermobility in my joints - which means I crucify my back muscles with all sorts of lazy, crazy postures. I find that both the long-line corset and my underbust ribbon corsets (I sometimes wear those when I'm sitting down, working) help lower back pain a great deal, just by forcing a good posture. Unfortunately neither help the upper back pain in my shoulders... In *fact* I was told by a physiotherapist that if one holds the mid-part of your back too straight, the knock-on effect on the very top of the spine can end up being painful...

    <i>short spell of muscle ache when they first put on their corsets too</i> - you know, one's supposed to get pain after chiropractic manipulation too - I wonder if it's something to do with a small reaction to the corset stretching the back muscles into a slightly different position? I'm getting into the realm of own brand cod-physiotherapy here, so I should stop!

    I will try a proper hour-glass corset at some stage, just to see the difference - the modern, slightly straighter, overbust corsets dig into my ribs at the wrong point, so I avoid those... in fact, I sometimes think that those modern 'shorter' corsets are designed more with bust uplift in mind, than waist reduction - and that's part of the problem.

  14. in fact, I sometimes think that those modern 'shorter' corsets are designed more with bust uplift in mind

    I think you are right. when you see all these corsets promoted in lingerie catalog, instead of showing the results of a fully clothed woman, or showing the waist cinched, you see a woman in a corset with her breasts covered by it corset and elevated like a pirate wench...or looks like a wonderbra is in there... and they are more like a longline bra with the lacing of a corset vs a traditional corset.

    Am i right that with a traditional corset that it is not meant to actually support the bust like the more modern lingerie catalog type, but to come under to shape the torso and you would still wear other undergarments along with it, right? or no?
  15. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    The problem with modern off the rack corsets is that they are made for an "average" figure and an "average" height, whoever that id, I don;t know! :)
    When I first started wearing corsets, I wore Vollers but they didn't fit my height (the busks were too short for my torso even though I am shortwaisted) and they certainly did not fit my bust. They were painful to wear as the waist hit me in the wrong place, that's why my corsets now are custom.

    You wouldn't think so, but Victorian and Edwardian corsets actually came in a variety of sizes! Manufacturers made corsets in different lengths for short and tall heights, different bust heights and bust fullnesses to accomadate flat chested to buxom bosoms, even different proportioned corsets for short and tall "stout" women. You had that choice with off the rack corsets back then and could get a pretty near custom fit with the wealth of sizes that were available then.

    Your bustline on a corset is not supposed to be pushed up and squished like modern corsets do. The only time your bust is supposed to be pushed up like that is if you are wearing 18th century stays! Antique corsets supported the bust like a REALLY good bra. Victorian corsets were cut from shaped pieces while modern corsets seem to be cut on a modern block which is more square.

    Except for Edwardian corsets that ended just under the bustline, Victorian corsets came up and gently supported the bustline giving it a nice rounded shape, not the pushed up mass seen with modern corsets. Nothing else would have been worn with a victorian corset except your chemise underneath, a bust improver if you had a small bustline and your corset cover. It wasn't until the Edwardian era that bust bodices (which evolved into bras in the 1910's) started to be worn with the corset.

    I used to wear my 1896 Kabo corset (this is before I knew better not to wear antique corsets) to the art gallery where I used to model Victorian clothes for painting classes and I used to wear my modern clothes over my antique corset to go there and it gave my bustline a really good, natural shape.
    The materials they used for boning were not as rigid as modern boning either. Watchspring is VERY flexible and whalebone when it warms up and breaks in to your shape, is flexible as well. This also helped give the figure a nice rounded look too.

  16. thanks for all the info Lei! And that is a very lovely corset. I am just learning something new every day!

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