corset, article of dress designed to support or modify the figure. Greek and Roman women sometimes wrapped broad bands about the body. In the Middle Ages a short, close-fitting, laced outer bodice or waist was worn. By the 16th cent. it had become a tight inner bodice, sometimes of leather, stiffened with whalebone, wooden splints, or steel; fashion demanded the slenderest possible waist in contrast with the enormous farthingales and stuffed breeches that were worn. Stays and tight lacing were made for both men and women from the 17th through the 19th cent., except for a brief period following the French Revolution. By 1900 the corset had become primarily a female garment, and it was gradually modified to conform to the natural lines of the body.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Corsets: Selected full-text books and articles

'Fighting the Corsetless Evil': Shaping Corsets and Culture, 1900-1930 By Fields, Jill Journal of Social History, Vol. 33, No. 2, Winter 1999
The Good Old Days: A History of American Morals and Manners as Seen through the Sears, Roebuck Catalogs 1905 to the Present By David L. Cohn Simon & Schuster, 1940
Librarian's tip: Chap. 17 "That Which Her Slender Waist Confined"
Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body By Anna Krugovoy Silver Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Discussion of corsets begins on p. 34
Sex in Advertising: Perspectives on the Erotic Appeal By Tom Reichert; Jacqueline Lambiase Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Librarian's tip: "The Corset Ad" begins on p. 72
Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender By Vern L. Bullough; Bonnie Bullough University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993
Librarian's tip: Discussion of corsets begins on p. 185
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