Monday, September 20, 2010

Under Where?

Get thee to a nunnery in 1559 if you don't want to be laced into a bone-crunching corset.  Fearing for their health, Emperor Ferdinand of Austria passed a law forbidding young girls to wear corsets in nummeries and other places of education. 

Like Catherine de' Medici. Queen Elizabeth first wore this iron hinged armor like corset.  It flatten the body, giving a smooth outline beneath gowns. 

No doubt the corset was exceptionally uncomfortable and heavy to wear.  The only benefit seems to be that the corset produced an incredibly small waist and elongated flat chested smooth line torso.

Eventually Queen Elizabeth opted to wear a softer corset made of leather or canvas, boned with wood or steel.  Worn over the chemise, these corsets were lined with sheer silk and laced up the back.


Corsets of gold and silver were only found on courtesans...until the catch the fancy of Catherine de' Medici.  Then she decreed that having a thick waist was bad manners.  To achieve the desired 13 inch waist, she designed the hinged corset.

Corsets of the late 16th century are more recognizable to us today than the iron versions.  These later corsets incorporated materials such as whalebone, bone, wood and flexible steel.  The patterns on the corsets showed the placement of the chosen support and were elongated after a fashion trend set by the boyish figure of Queen Elizabeth I.

more corsets 


  1. I read a book called "She Walks in Beauty" by Siri Mitchell, and it really gives you a look at the reality of corsets and the health problems they caused. you might like it!

  2. I haven't heard of this book. It sounds perfect for me. Thanks for sharing, Carrie!