Presentation on theme: "Corsets in Victorian England A corset is a woman's close-fitting supporting undergarment. It often has hooks and laces. Inside are pieces of whale bones."— Presentation transcript:
Corsets in Victorian England A corset is a woman's close-fitting supporting undergarment. It often has hooks and laces. Inside are pieces of whale bones or metal. It covers her body from above or beneath the bust to the hips. Why do you think women wore them?
Why wear a corset? For All Women: Change the shape of your body Create a small, circular waist (=“good breeding”) Enhance bust and hips Prevent stomach, breasts, or buttocks from moving Make it possible to fit into dresses Attract a good husband Why else would a middle or upper class woman wear a corset?
Corsets and Class Issues For Middle and Upper Class Women, Corsets: Restrict your ability to move, so show that you do not need to work. Were part of an overall appearance that showed your class rank.
Sickness and Death Romanticized in Victorian Art and Literature Corsets made women’s skin whiter, made it harder for women to breathe (chests rising and falling), and made women faint more often. These were appropriate (and fashionable) female behaviors for middle class Victorian women.
Working Class Corsets Most women who wore corsets were from the middle or upper classes. But many working class women wore corsets. Why?
Working Class Corsets—Why? A corset gave a working class woman the appearance of a middle class woman. An opportunity to escape her working class origins A chance to enter a higher class by attracting a rich husband. But how could working class women afford corsets?
Corset factory employees Some women made corsets in factories like these.
“Look a better woman, feel a better woman, be a better woman” –from William Pretty and Sons corset company advertisement Earlier, many women made their own corsets –Patterns were in magazines –Materials, including whalebone, specialized thread, cloth, and needles, were all available in stores Later, cheaper corsets, like the “Pretty Housemaid” were available. Difference between cheap and expensive corsets was trim, lace, materials, etc. Some corsets were even made for female prisoners! Can you think of any disadvantages of wearing a corset?
Another Clue: Corset Shields Why would a woman want a shield on her corset? Why would a company advertise that its corset “will never break?”
Disadvantages of Wearing Corsets? Physically prevented the expansion of the ribs, abdomen and waist. 80 lbs of pressure on each square inch of skin Increased nausea, vomiting, eating disorders, headaches, chest and back pain, fractured ribs, and indigestion Depression and fatigue Increased miscarriages, abortions, and stillbirths