Whilst I have nothing in the museum that is as old as the above illustration, I do have some fine examples of modern corsetry. Dating these garments can prove to be difficult however, as designs introduced in the 1930's sold for well over 50 years in many cases. Often the only clues are the changes in materials used, with lighter nylons often replacing the heavier cotton of older garments after the 1940's.
Traditional corsets came in a number of different designs and very similar models have sold consistently since the 1930's until relatively recently
Older styles tended to be back lacing often with a very strong metal support or busk at the front that allowed the corset to be clipped together, adjustment to fit was then made through rear lacing. Some garments also had inner belts to provide even more support. The corset illustrated at the top of this page is probably from the 1940's or 50's thought it could be later. It is unusual in being so ornate, and was probably intended as a dress garment to be worn on a special occasion. It is a model from the Liberty range (LS613) made by the Symington corset company that was based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. It is firmly boned and must have provided a considerable degree of support. Elastic is used to provide some give at the thighs and waist area, but it is very firm. Note also the heavy suspenders that have to be adjusted in order for stocking to fit. Later designs had automatically adjusting suspenders by making them out of longer and more elastic materials.
Most corsets were more functional than pretty however as this garment made by Court Royal also illustrates. This garment(model 3043) is of heavy cotton and has 14 stays stays that run the length of the corset. The year of manufacture is unknown.
In addition this corset has an inner belt that fastens with hook and eye fittings. Even the inner belt has two stays, making this an exceptionally controlling corset.
Later front laced garments became more popular, and these usually had a hook and eye fastening at the side. The corset shown above is made by Eve Foundations (model CC006). It has eleven stays and is made of nylon rather than cloth. This suggests that it is a later garment than the Court Royal, and whilst it is lighter it is also very constraining. The date is unknown.
I have a number of corsets in my collection, but those made by Spirella are my favourites. These were made to measure for a particular client and so have no sizing included. Spirella corsets provide exceptional control and comfort. This example with eleven stays has a particularly long back, providing upper body and thigh control as well as slimming the waist.
In addition to more conventional corsets I have some more unusual items in my collection. The first is a Camp corset (Model 141NY) with easy adjusting lacing. This system was patented as the Jenyns' Patent Corset in 1912 and proved a popular design. However it is rare to see it in relatively modern corsetry. The light construction of the garment (some kind of nylon) and the relatively light metal suspenders lead me to believe that this corset could date from the 1960's or even later. It is well boned (14 stays) and provides very firm control.
Another unusual design is the Pulfront corset that relied on a number of adjustable metal clips instead of lacing to pull the corset together. This provided very firm control, but was an expensive garment to produce. I believe that is was also a made to measure garment, as agents were used to sell these garments to customers. It is made out of a tea rose coloured cotton and has a total of 17 heavy stays.
Another unusual garment in my collection is a full length back lacing corset that provides control from bust to thighs. It was made by Spinney? and this is busk fastening with a boned inner belt. This is an exceptionally restrictive garment as it has twelve stays, with some running the whole length of the garment. Who would choose to wear such a thing on a regular basis?
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