|2||CORSETS AND CLOSE-FITTING PATTERNS||§7|
1. Although the subject of corsets may seem to be out of place in connection with close-fitting patterns, it will readily be conceded that a few remarks relative to corsets and their selection and care, as well as to such corset accessories as hose supporters, bust ruffles, and so on, are entirely in keeping, for the success of close-fitting garments depends to some extent on the fit of the corsets that are worn with them.
Corsets have much to do with the appearance of the women who wear them and also with their comfort and discomfort and, consequently, their disposition, for it can be truly said that corsets that fit properly are the next thing to a blessing, whereas ill-fitting corsets can provide as much food for ill temper as can any other one thing. Nowadays the woman unfamiliar with the comforts and discomforts of corsets is a rarity, and it is chiefly to assist in the securing of properfitting corsets that this subject is considered at this time.
2. Development of the Corset.—The corset is an invention of early times. The first corsets were such as to arouse the ire of physicians, clergymen, and all persons who had at heart the welfare of womankind. These corsets not only were abnormally shaped, but were made of steel and arranged so as to buckle around the figure; also, they were so small at the waist line that no woman could wear them without injury to herself.
Many kinds and styles of corsets were developed from the original, the first ones of cloth being boned with wide steel stays. Such corsets were fitted to the figure and over them were built the gowns. In those early days many innovations were brought out and many experiments tried, and as all this experimental work was expensive and as each corset was individually made by hand and with a great expenditure of time and effort, only those women whose means were ample could afford to wear corsets.
Some time later, a Frenchman conceived and carried out the idea of making a number of corsets of different sizes at one time, thus making it possible for women in moderate circumstances to procure corsets and keep up with the style of their wealthier sisters. His venture met with great success and resulted in the establishment of the first corset factory and the manufacture of many corsets. The corsets made at that time were very crude, and they must have been extremely uncomfortable, because the wide steel stays used to sup port them were extremely stiff and cumbersome. They were unsatisfactory, too, for the perspiration of the body caused the steel stays to rust, and it was only a matter of a short time before a corset was ruined.
3. During the entire time of the long, steel-stayed corsets a campaign denouncing them was prevalent, and upon the demise of any woman who wore a corset the cause was immediately attributed to that fact. At length this thought became so prominent and alarming that the long corset was done away with, and there came into use girdles that were 6 to 12 in. wide and that served to reduce only the waist line of the figure. These short girdles were decidedly unbecoming to nearly every woman who wore them, as they took away all the beauty of line and grace of figure.
After all that was said and done in opposition to corsets, however, they were slowly brought back into use, until, at the present time, as has been inferred, the corset is a necessary part of a woman's wardrobe. Considering the many trials and tribulations endured by womankind regarding corsets, it is really wonderful that woman could ever be patient enough to wait until some one designed and developed corsets that harmonize with the human figure and bring out properly the lines of the individual. Corset makers, though, have gone at this matter in the right way, and the hideous stays that preceded the modern corset are almost entirely forgotten. It seems that the time has come when women think a whole lot of their own comfort and are not nearly so ready to accept any style that subjects them to discomfort. This condition is perhaps due to some extent to women's active life, as much more is demanded of her in business, in the home, and in social life than was the case in former years.
4. The corsets of today are so built that they impart strength and give support. They are soft and supple, too; not only are they boned with a fiber or a featherbone that lends itself admirably to the motion of the human figure, but they are made of soft material—coutil, sateen, and satin—that molds itself to the form, and while this material gives support, it does not bind the figure enough to endanger the circulation of the blood or to bring about discomfort in any way. The manufacture of corsets has so advanced that corsets are made for all shapes and sizes of women, and nearly every woman can find in the reliable shops and stores corsets that she can wear with ease and that will give her figure the natural, graceful lines that are becoming to her own individual type.
5. The Corset as a Style Forerunner.—The corset is an excellent forerunner of style. Corset makers, or corsetieres, not only must develop new ideas in corset making, but must keep pace with Dame Fashion; also, in the face of the keen competition that exists in the manufacture of corsets, every corset maker must be ever alive to the styles as they are and are to be and attempt to be the first to bring his corsets into favor.
As the very first place to detect any decided change in the style of garments is at the waist line, corsets advanced in style indicate immediately whether future garments are to be loose or tight fitting. Thus, if corsets are short above the waist line, straight lines may be looked for in all garments; and if they are high above the waist line close-fitting garments are in the ascendent. Such signs are easily understood when it is realized that the figure with straight lines needs support only at the waist line and that straight lines are not graceful unless the body is at ease and wholly comfortable, and, also, that if corsets are laced in at the waist line they must be of sufficient height to hold the figure in enough to overcome the tendency of the flesh to bulge out at the edges.
6. It is to be hoped, however, that the extremely small waist will never again find favor. All women realize that to be drawn in at the waist line is not best for their general health and comfort. Such waists are contrary to nature, and this alone is enough to cause such a style to be forever tabooed. Stiff stays and the red faces that always come with tight lacing can hardly be classed with the natural grace that is part of a woman's heritage. Health and comfort must take rank before anything else, so far as style is concerned; and a style that interferes with either is an absurdity that every woman should avoid.