The Good Corsetiere

THE good corsetiere is a woman of neat appearance, well corseted, with good carriage. She has the quiet confidence which comes of knowledge and experience. She is patient, of equable, controlled temper and temperament, and persevering. She is contented and happy in her work, because she is offering service to her public. She is selling not merely an article of apparel, but health, figure beauty, comfort, and peace of mind. She is more than a saleswoman: she is an expert.

The good corsetiere knows–

(a) How to measure.

(b) How to classify figures.

(c) How to select garments.

(d) How to fit.

Points to Consider in Analysing a Figure

(a) The circumference of bust, diaphragm, waist, lower hip, thigh.

(b) The length from shoulder to bust, under-bust (or bust root) and waist.

(c) The length from waist to groin and to gluteal fold.

(d) The flesh texture. Has the customer small bones and large flesh accumulation, or large bones with less flesh?

Figure Types

Every woman represents a figure type, and will fall into one of the following groups–

Average. The woman may be small, medium, or large, but her measurements will be well proportioned, and her bone structure evenly covered with flesh.

Typical measurements: Bust 36 in., Waist 28 in., Hips 38 in.

Large Hip, or Heavy Below Waist. This figure has heavy flesh on thighs and buttocks, and her bust and waist measurements are small in comparison with her hips. She is usually long in leg and body lines, and has much more thigh spread when sitting.

Typical measurements: Bust 36 in., Waist 26 in., Hips 32 in.

Top Heavy, or Continental. This figure is very heavy above the waist, with an accumulation of flesh on shoulders, breasts, diaphragm. The body lines are short, particularly from waist to groin and from waist to gluteal fold.

Typical measurements:   Bust 42 in., Waist 31 in. to 33 in., Hips 39 in.

Kinds of Figures

Adolescent. This figure is immature, with small, high breasts, small waist, slim to medium hip, firm flesh, and very lightly covered bone structure.

Junior Miss. The figure is more fully developed than in the adolescent. Waist and hip have nearly reached maturity. The flesh is firm and unyielding.

Average Type Medium. Normally matured, really well proportioned, it is usually an easy figure to fit. The average type has further sub-sections, as tall or short, curved or straight, with small bust and broad shoulders, or with heavy bust development.

As the average woman gets older, she will put on flesh in equal proportions on bust, waist and hips, but she may also develop flesh in her abdominal area. The breasts will be less firm than in junior miss figures, and will need definite support, if not actual uplift.

Large Abdomen Type. This kind of figure may belong to any of the basic figure types. The group consists mainly of middle-aged or older women, though young women may have the same condition through a disturbed glandular system, or from other medical causes. The type needs careful corseting.

The Full Figure. The woman with a full figure feels she presents more of a problem to the corsetiere than her slender sister. She is apt to be diffident in her approach to the fitter, and may need to be reassured about the possibility of making her figure attractive.

Points to Consider in Studying the Figure

Bone Structure. The bone structure determines height and to a less extent width. The bone structure cannot be changed, and the corset must not restrict it. Many figure variations depend on the bony frame–long or short waist, long or short thigh, variations in general length proportions. The length of each part of the garment must conform to the length of that part of the bone structure it covers.

Posture. Bone structure is not changed by posture, but poor posture throws the figure out of line. Good fitting helps posture, and helps to prevent or correct round shoulders, spread at back of waist, pendulous bust, and shortened diaphragm. Poor posture is harmful to health, and the corsetiere can use her art to improve it.

The Muscles. The corsetiere is chiefly concerned with the skeletal, muscles, those directly attached to the bone structure, and largely "voluntary" or under the control of the will. Muscles can expand and contract, and each has a normal constant tension to which it should automatically return after expansion. If these muscles become soft through lack of exercise, or hardened through over-use, the support of a correctly fitted foundation may be of the utmost importance.

A muscle that maintains normal tension is said to have "tone." A correct foundation garment can help to maintain this tone.

Fat Tissues. Among the cells of the muscles is what is called fatty tissue. This tissue stores nutriment, but lack of exercise, over-eating, or glandular disturbance can cause an excess of fat. This may slow down the muscles so that they become heavy and often pendulous.

The Breasts. The mammary glands, or breasts, are composed of many separate glands which are called lobes. Each lobe opens on to the skin at the nipple. Connective tissue holds the mammary glands to the chest wall, and sends fibres into the fatty tissue filling in between the lobes. These fibres form the only strong supporting construction of the breasts. If the skin tone is weak, or the health is poor generally, or too much flesh has formed on the bust, then the breasts will sag very easily. Continued sagging will stretch the skin and tissue past recovery. The right supporting brassiere will prevent the dropping of the bust, and will even go some way towards repairing harm already done.

The Abdomen. The largest cavity in the body, containing many of the vital organs within walls composed of muscles and connective tissue. It is really a muscular bag, with only the spine at the back to give bony support. The flexible walls of this region must retain their strength and tension in order to keep the organs in their correct relative positions, and prevent the force of gravity from pulling them down. It is easy to see why the selection of garments for this part of the body needs not only skill but conscientious care.

How to Measure a Customer

Stand the customer with her back to a mirror. Face the customer. Place the tape measure around the shoulders, high up over the fleshy part of the back, and bring it round under the arms, and across the bust in a straight line. The tape measure must pass directly across the nipples so that if the bust is pendulous it is measured at its full size.

To measure the waist, pass the tape round the natural waist-line, with one finger only under the tape. Do not pull too tightly.

To measure the hips, pass the tape over the back hip line, and feel with the finger for the buttock rise. Pull the tape quite tightly across the back and slightly downwards across the thighs to ensure room for sitting.


Hookside Belt

1. Place garment round body, fasten top hook.

2. Turn customer round, see that corset is on straight, fasten back suspenders.

3. Turn customer to you, fasten three or four bottom hooks.

4. Unfasten top hook. Make sure garment is straight on body and well anchored at back before finishing hooking.

5. Fasten front suspenders, then test for fitting.

Side fastening Corselette

1. Place garment on body and fasten back suspenders.

2. Start fastening from bottom as for hookside girdle.

3. If customer has heavy flesh in upper abdomen, ask her to place her left hand inside the garment when it has been fastened to the waist, and smooth the flesh up and to the sides.

4. Finish the hooking. If the customer has heavy breasts, ask her to lift them well up into the cups.

5. Test for fitting.

Hookside Corselette with Inner Belt

1. Place garment on body, fasten back suspenders.

2. Make sure that garment is quite straight on body before fastening belt.

3. Ask customer to place her hand inside belt and lift, abdomen, into comfortable position before proceeding.

4. Finish side fastening as for ordinary corselette.

5. Test for fitting.

Front Laced Corset with Busk

1. Fasten top of busk.

2. Fasten back suspenders, turn customer and finish fastening busk.

4. Make sure garment is exactly central on body before lacing, as this type of corset cannot be pulled into position after lacing.

4. Fasten rest of suspenders.

5. Test for fitting.


1. Ask customer to remove her shoes.

2. Ask customer to step into garment, having first tucked her vest (if she is wearing one) between her legs.

3. Pull garment into place and proceed as for hookside belt.

Step-in Belt or Girdle

1. Ask customer to remove her shoes.

2. Turn garment inside out and upside down and ask customer to step into it. When bottom edge is level with lower hip line, pull top edge up over lower hip.

3. Adjust to correct position before pulling down to anchor.

4. Be sure to get front of garment to front of body.


Place straps over shoulders.   If customer has a heavy bust, ask her to lean forward so that the breasts drop naturally into the cups of the garment.

Maternity Belt

1. Ask customer how many months pregnant. Ideal time to fit is at four months.

2. Take waist and hip measurements. To determine the waistline, ask customer to bend slightly to left or right.

3. Allow two sizes larger. The garment should be the correct length from pelvic girdle to navel. It should come well under the gluteal flesh at the back.

4. The front suspenders should not be too tight. Advise customer that lace should be adjusted daily.

To Test for Correct Fit

1. Ask customer to sit.

2. Test front boning by placing fingers inside top of garment to ensure that rib cage has room for expansion.

3. Place finger tips underneath lower edge of boning to make sure it does not cut into thighs. There should be a quarter of an inch free. If the boning is too long it will bow, if too short it will stick out and wear very quickly through the fabric.

4. Test for thigh space by placing fingers under lower edge of garment.

5. There should be one clear crease across the top of thighs when customer is sitting, if fitting is correct.

6. Test snugness at back of waist. There should not be too much space between garment and body.

7. Test for back length by placing fingers under body. Garment should reach 1½ in. to 2 in. below gluteal fold when customer is sitting.

8. See that back suspenders are long enough to allow for sitting.