Sunday, April 26, 2009


"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the
Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as
from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

"The Dress of the mistress should always be adapted to her circumstances, and be varied with different occasions. Thus, at breakfast she should be attired in the very neat and simple manner, wearing no ornaments. If this dress should decidedly pertain only to the breakfast-hour, and be specially suited for such domestic occupations as usually follow that meal, then it would be well to exchange it before the time for receiving visitors, if the mistress be in the habit of doing so. It is still to be remembered, however, that in changing the dress, jewelery and ornaments are not to be worn until the full dress for dinner is assumed. "
From " Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management "
Oxford University Press

The Victorian age saw the last great heyday of the corset, when the tinier the female waist, the more attractive a figure was considered. A girl's ambition was to be married before 21, with a waist measurement less than the years of her age.

In pursuit of this ideal, corsets were laced so tightly that numbness in the lower body and legs and even fainting were frequent occurrences, reinforcing the popular image of the female as a fragile, helpless creature. In reality, women had to be true stoics, enduring severe discomfort while remaining outwardly serene; it was considered disgraceful to show any distress, especially in front of the maid pulling on the laces, or in company. Even when sleeping, they did not escape, as a night-time model would often be worn, in order to maintain the waist reduction achieved during the day.

For the Victorians, with their repressed sensuality bubbling under the surface, there was more to all this masochism than the mere pursuit of fashion; in 1870, a reader of "The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine" naively wrote that "tight lacing produces delicious sensations, half pleasure, half pain". In an age of heightened prudery, the corset was in fact a socially acceptable method of self titillation!

It was also an acceptable method of torture; many of the trappings of this obsession with waist reduction would not be out of place in a modern dungeon; the unfortunate young girl being "figure trained" hung onto an overhead bar while mother and maid hauled on the laces; an extra long and tight corset was a favorite method of disciplining recalcitrant girls, sometimes with metal screws to tighten more than was possible with laces; a stocking needle might be placed in a schoolgirl's busk to improve posture - any drooping of the head would result in a sharp prick to the chin!



Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I never had to deal with corsets. I consider girdles torture! They do have their place of course but at least they don't make you faint!!

whymsicalmusings said...

Patti you always have such neat information! I love corsets but am glad I didn't have to wear one everyday!!!! That would be so awful.

Thank you for always leaving such sweet comments on my blog. You always make me smile.

Lydia said...

OUCH !!!...and have you seen those new Japanese high heel shoes? ...and the old Japanese woman's feet, that had been wrapped up to fit the tiny shoes?

Nice picture.:)

Nice and Easy Antiques said...

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Marie Reed said...

This post was just fascinating!

Salzanos said...

Well, the waists of most women my age sure would not fit into that look today! When I was young I would have went right along with the ideal. But then I had a 19 inch waist! Today, well, it is more into the age when plump was in! LOL!

Your blog is the so awesome. Thank you for all the work you do here!


LOL wow what can I add to all this ?
Those corsets were pure torture but I guess what is in style is always popular. I have never had a tiny waist but in the 80's I did manage to get down to 130ish pounds - hehe.
Patti, thank you for all the work you put into your postings, LOVE to always visit your creative blog.
Blessings to you !