From ArticleWorld

A corset is a garment that is worn by men and women to shape the torso for either orthopedic or aesthetic purposes. It may have short- or long-term effects.

Other terminology

  • Corsetry is the skill of making corsets. It is also the general term for wearing corsets of all types.
  • A corsetier is a male corset-maker and a corsetiere is a female one.
  • Corsetry may be used as the collective plural for corset.
  • A waist cincher is a corset that covers only the waist area, from below the ribs to just above the hips.
  • Garters may be worn to hold up stockings (or, alternatively, a garter belt may be worn).

Use of corsets

A corset is most typically used in order to slim one’s body and to make it conform to a fashionable shape. In the case of women, this usually means that it reduces the waist and emphasizes the bust and hips in order to create a curvy figure, also often referred to as an hourglass figure. In some periods they have been worn to minimize the bust and the hips.

In the case of men, corsets are typically worn in order to slim one’s figure. From 1820-1835, however, an hourglass figure was also considered fashionable for men and a corset was occasionally used to achieve this shape.

How it works

A corset encloses the torso, usually from under the arms to the hips. In some extreme cases, it extends over the hips and at times even reaches the knees.

It is normally made up of a flexible cloth or leather material that is stiffened by boning (which is also referred to as ribs or stays). Today, boning is typically made of plastic or spring steel. They are held together by lacing in the back (usually), which is tightened or loosened to create the desired change in shape.