By Jennifer Bailey
A corset is a closefitting garment that is worn to support and shape the upper body. It is most commonly used to slim the body and make it curvy. The corset reduces the waist and emphasizes the bust and hips. Both men and women have worn corsets and many still wear them. While women use them to look slender and enhance the contours of their body, men customarily use corsets to slim down their figure.
The history of corsets makes for interesting reading. Women and occasionally men have worn rigid corsets made of whalebone or steel for more than 500 years to enhance or modify their shape and figure. The history of corsets goes a long way back to Greek and Roman women who sometimes wrapped broad bands around their bodies. In the middle ages, the corset evolved into a short, close fitting, laced outer bodice.
Around the 16th century, the corset saw a lot of transformations. It became a tight bodice wore on the inside. These were sometimes made of leather, and were stiffened with whalebone, wooden or steel splints. Slender waists became very fashionable during the 17th century and until the 19th century corsets made with tight lacings and stays were increasingly used by both men and women. By the beginning of the 19th century, the corset became chiefly a woman's garment and it has since evolved gradually to conform to the natural contours of the body.
One might think that the corset has become a thing of the past and is no longer a fashion accessory. The corset did become less popular after the onset of the 20th century and gradually began to go out of use. But one is wrong to think that it has lost its appeal, for the corset is still here after hundreds of years, and has become more fashionable as attractive outerwear.
Thus, women's obsession with corsets continues. And although corsets change in styles and constantly to go in and out of fashion, one can count on fashion designers to continue to include corsets amongst their beautiful creations.
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