What some people don't realise is that men wore corsets as much as women at one point to give themselves a slimer figure, later on declaring they needed it for their back pains. Male pride?
There have been many variations of the corset throughout the years since the concept of a corset or 'pair of bodys' was popularised in the 16th century. "Stays" were used in the 17th and 18th centuries to support the bust, draw shoulders back and give a conical shape. This was perceived as the ideal shape at the time. This then developed to the well-known s-shaped corset from the Edwardian period between 1900 and 1908. They had a straight front and curved at the back to force the upper body forward.They were laced and tightened at the back, however those who could not afford servants could buy corsets which laced at the front.
The corset fell out of fashion in the 20s, but has reappeared in the 50s with Dior's "New Look", steampunk fashion and films such as Moulin Rouge.
This style of manipulating the waist, bust and hips led to an unhealthy view of a perfect shape and this ideal remains within fashion today. It is a distorted view of the natural form and this is something I will continue to explore.
Ethel Granger- 13" waist (smallest recorded waist)