Corset Matters: 'course it matters!

The word ‘corset’ invokes images of Scarlett being cinched in or Frederick’s of Hollywood. Neither comes close to describing mid 19th century corsetry. The corsets, which were worn during that era, were usually as utilitarian and exciting as a sport’s bra.

Made from sensible 100% cotton ‘jean’ (a fabric we now often call ‘twill’) they are designed to support the female figure without reducing the waist beyond comfort level and to provide a predictably shaped base for fitted dresses. Furthermore, they help to distribute the weight of the hoop and skirts over a larger area, rather than have them dig in from a 1inch waistband.

Not all women then wore corsets, but ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THEM WORE BRAS. If you feel the need to wear some support - i.e. bra - for period wear you should wear a corset. Nothing is as telling and un-authentic in look as a bra under a period style dress.

Ordering a Corset :

Remember the last time you purchased a bra? How many did you take into the fitting room? How many fitted? Well, this would explain why so many corsets bought “off the shelf”, all one design, are so uncomfortable. This is why you will find many different styles of corsets in this catalogue and why each one is made to order - to fit exactly YOU. Corsets may also be returned in unworn (of course you might try them on!) condition within 2 weeks. (I do make an exception for SPECIALS, i.e. corsets made from unusual fabrics, silks, etc or with special features that were specifically ordered that way).

Please measure yourself carefully, if possible in centi-meters (those are the small numbers on your tape - don’t convert inches into metric), wearing a well fitting (new) bra. Choose a corset style available in your size or let me pick the one I think would fit best. Most customers choose to let me pick, and as we ship over 200 corsets a year and get only about 6 back, we must be doing a fairly decent job. The base size of a corset is determined by the underbust measurement (just as with bras) and then the style depends on your ‘cup size’ and whether you are medium or long waisted. See measuring sheet for more information.

The fabric used for standard corsets depends on availability. Currently the best fabric I can find for mid 19th century corsets is a double faced 100% cotton sateen. It is pearl gray - wish it was white, but this is what I can get. If you require a specific color, please let me know at the time of ordering. Most corsets are stitched in white, except black or cerise corsets - black ones will be stitched in red, and cerise corsets will be stitched in black.

If you want to order a corset but are not sure about which style is right for you, just leave the style question open and we will pick the style best suited to your measurements.

Corset Upgrade Options:

  • 100% cotton herringbone coutil** $20 /corset
  • 100% silk duchesse $80/corset
  • Additional topstiching in heavier 100% cotton thread $10
  • Hand buttonhole stitching at base of gussets $20
  • Hand scalloping at top edge $15 per foot

** A Note on Coutil: Coutil is the French name for “jean” or “twill”, and does not mean “herringbone coutil” which is a fabric that was not used for corsets in the 1860’s. The “herringbone Coutil upgrade” offered is a modern style coutil. Standard corsets are made from 100% cotton jean (twill)

Please enquire about any additional time needed for your chosen hand detailing.