The Common Sense of the Corset
It is surely
superfluous to suppose that every true woman wishes to look her best,
and even the superior feminine beings who loftily pretend not to are for
"that sort of thing," are not above being pleased when complimented
on any good point in their appearance. This is quite as it should be,
and, since our men folk left off wearing plum couloured satin coats, and
the other gay and festive costumes now known as "fancy dress"
it certainly behoves us women to do what in us lies to make the worls
a little more beautiful by our presence.
Only the question is, Do we?
It is just here that the appropriateness of the title of this article
comes in, for corsets, or their absense, have much to say to our appearance
not to mention health and comfort; therefore common sense should decidedly
be excercised in the matter oftheir selection or rejection.
To start with why do some girls or women suppose it to be a sign of great
superiority to dispense with them altogetehr? Granted that Eatern women,
wearing Eastern dress, do not use them, one should remember that their
dress, habits and climate are entirely different from those of the Western
world, and what is perfectly suitable and graceful in the East, is emphatically
neither suitable nor graceful for us in the strenuous North.
The women of ancient times, also, did not wear corsets, but then their
garments were far less complicated than ours, consisting of long, flowing
draperies, which concealed instead of defining the figure, and wieght
being carried on the shoulders.
a far less active and public part in life than is the case in our modern
civilisation, consenting themselves mainly with the care of their household
and children, and keeping much to the privacy of their own homes and the
"gentle art of the needle."
Of course, if you adopt the Grecian mode of dress, which falls straight
from the shoulders to feet with no sharply defined waistline, or the Princess
style throughout, underlinen and all, with nothing to divide the figure
in half as it were, it is quite permissable and possible to dispense with
corsets, especially if you are indulging in no violent excercise, and
wear this style of dress mainly indoors or in your own room; but it is
needless to point out that this is not a convenient or desireable costume
for the average girl or woman whose life is spent outdoors as well as
in the house, engaged in all manner of occupations. It is on these lines
that the so-called "Rest-Gowns" are modelled. (Old fashioned
people made a dressing-gown answer the purpose, and a "rest-gown"
is very nearly related to the dressing-gown, though it would scron to
be told so!) And on figures of the tall and willowy type the Princess
effect is decidedly graceful, but ordinary modern dress requires corsets,
and you only have to look at anyone wearing the usual blouse and skirt,
with a hard line of belt round the waist, to realise for yourself the
advisability of retaining the corset for everyday life.
In the first place the collection of tapes, bands and belts round the
centre of the figure, if tight enough to keep the various garments in
position, create an indescribably bad effect, especially should the wearer
be at all inclined to plumpness; and, in the second, the strenuous nature
of our present-day life, so different from the langorous, lotus-eating
existence of the East, and the more sedentary occupations of the ladies
of old time, make some support for our figures essential, otherwise all
the agonies of back-ache and other complicated aches become ours, and
at the end of the day we shall feel, metaphorically and literallt like
limp rags. Apartfrom that, however, we present a most ungainly spectacle
to our fellow-mortals, and no one surely would wish, however free from
worldly vanity, to go through life looking like nothing so much as a feather-pillow
hastily tied round the middle with tape!
There are, however corsets and corsets, and we are not, by any means,
advocating either injuriously tight lacing, or the haphazard buying of
cheap ready-made stays, which may or may not suit your particular type
of figure, and are put on "anyhow."
These latter, also, do not make for grace, besides often exercising harmful
and undue pressure in the worng place; but how frequently one sees an
otherwise pretty girl, who has obviously spent time, money and thought
on her clothes, so badly corseted that all her efforts after a good appearance
are completely nullified! To get and keep her cheap illfitting stays into
place, she is forced to pull the laces unduly tight, aquiring thereby
an unbecoming, fluch, plus a rosy tip to her nose, even this sacrifice
not effecting her object, for no clothes, however expensive will ever
fit properly over badly cut corsets, lace these as tightly as you may.
One need not, moreover, have much medical knowelege to understand the
danger of this course, or the many evils and discomforts it brings in
Obviously, the proper thing to do is to go to a recognised expert in the
art and be measured and fitted (or send your measurements), paying a fair
price, and choosing the style of corset best adapted to your special type
You will find that you never spend money to better advantage, and there
will be a decided improvement in your appearance and health that will
more than compensate you for the extra little trouble.
Always remember too, that properly made well-fitting corsets do not wear
out as quickly as the cheaper variety, nor do they wear oit your clothes
either in the same way. If themade-to-measure system does not appeal to
you, there are several well-known and reliable makes of corsets you are
perfectly safe in buying, as they are cut on hygienic and graceful styles
to suit every type of figure possessed by women and girls of all ages.
But should you want further information on this important subject, write
to the editor, and she will do her best to help you with advice and suggestions.
Own Paper and Woman's magazine, 1911