In Defense of Corsets…

I don’t know how many times I have heard the accusatory statement that corsetting is the worst thing women ever did to themselves in the name of beauty (and that somehow men were to blame…)

Considering we are living in an age when tattoos, piercing, 4 inch heels, hair dying, crash dieting, excessive exercising, botox injecting, and plastic surgery are common in the name of beauty, I appreciate that Valerie Steele has spoken up on behalf of the much maligned Victorian undergarment.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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4 Responses to In Defense of Corsets…

  1. liz says:

    There is a British author, Peter Farrer ( who has produced several interesting pamphlets and anthologies regarding women’s dress (especially when used as a tool to discipline or humiliate men), cross-dressing, and use of corsets by both men and women. His book “The Regime of the Stay-Lace” (1995) features a photograph of “stays worn by the effigy of Robert Sheffield, Marquess of Normanby, died 1715 aged three” (whether the stays were the cause of his death is not mentioned). In 1999 he published “Tight Lacing, part I: 1828-1880” – we can but hope “Tight Lacing, Part II” will appear soon – and in 2006 a book with the completely irresistible title of “Cross-Dressing Between the Wars”.

    • Jonathan says:

      I have his book Men in Petticoats. I had no idea there were other books! These will be fantastic additions to the FHM library – they are going on the list!


  2. liz says:

    He did some research at the Osborne Collection sometime in the early ’90s. He was the nicest possible guy and looked very scholarly – we were ever so surprised when he politely requested any material we might have “featuring boys who had been dressed as girls in order to humiliate them”. He was only here once and yet he has been kind enough to send us a complimentary copy of each new book as it is published. They are absolutely irreplaceable resources.

    My citation above is not correct, by the way – “Cross-Dressing Between the Wars” came out in two parts; the first part (1923-1933) came out in 2000 and the second part (1934-1941) came out in 2006.

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