sealing wax and string

You may think the fashion of breasts enlarged by various means is relatively new, but that is not the case.

In The School for Fashion published in 1800, Madame Thicknesse related the true story of a girl about to be married who fainted at a party. A number of women eagerly flew to her assistance, and upon loosening her gown to give her more air, were shocked to see a beautiful pair of wax breasts tumble out on to the floor.

Anita Ekberg disdained wax

In the early 19th century, ladies who did not need an enlargement bought a special corset called a ‘divorce’. It was designed to separate what the hand of the Creator had brought into the most graceful union…. a piece of steel or iron, of a triangular form, gently curved on either side… covered with soft material… placed at the centre of the chest to divide the breasts. The idea was to push the breasts apart to prevent the appearance of cleavage.

Elaborately carved whalebone was often used as a separator. It would be inserted in a panel down the centre of a corset such as the one below

image found here

To facilitate the lacing of their corsets, many women had a lacing bar installed in their boudoir. It was a horizontal bar positioned high enough above her head that she could grab and hang from it. This position lengthened the body and narrowed the waist so tighter lacing was possible.

image found here

Often a ‘perineal strap’ was included with a corset. This was used to attach sanitary napkins but also as a way of preventing exploration.

No need for a perineal strap here

Even Tom Cruise’s ex, Mimi Rogers, likes a bit of corset action. Here she is in a yellow and black combination that holds her assets up nicely

image found here

Lacing is not restricted to body corsets. BME have many interesting variations including this leg lacing effect which would make it all but impossible to break into a run

For a completely different take on corsetry, check out Ira Sherman’s Impenetrable Devices.

Many of Sherman’s pieces are, in fact, “prostheses” created around a humorous social concept. These are worn on the body, and may be shockingly intimate. The devices have names like Bear Trap Corset (below), Saber Tooth Speculum and Intimate Electric Fence. They are mostly steel and brass, with some electrical wiring and small mechanical parts.


Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 7:51 am  Comments (23)  
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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. sometimes my jeans get tight, like around the holidays. that’s enough challenge for me. no thank you to bras with metal support, uber-tight corsets or tying my shoe laces together. live free or die.

  2. Captivating post.

  3. Oh the agony women have gone through over the ages for “enhancements.” I would definitely cut off both of mine if I had to wear a corset everyday. The wax breasts tumbling out on the floor made me laugh here in the quiet office at 4:47 am.

    • What are you doing up at 4:47????

  4. about the last thing i’d be thinking about if i could barely breathe would be ‘exploration’… ugh…

    • I hope I’m around you next time you suffer from shortness of breath.

  5. That Anita Ekberg was certainly healthy.

  6. Do you suppose women put themselves through this torment for the sake of men or other women? I hear your shoes are murder, as well.

    • High heels are murder UB. All our patients require podiatry care, and you can really see the damage on women who have habitually worn stilettos.

      I have 3 pair of heeled boots and shoes and I only put them on for the Friday corset shots, I can’t walk properly in them and feel foolish if I even try.

      But…… I think they LOOK great on a model striding down the catwalk. If I didn’t value comfort so much I’d ignore a future of hammertoes and bunions and wear them as well *sigh*

      • One of the reasons I bailed the only party I was invited to this “holiday season” was the horrid prospect of putting heels on feet — no, make that legs — that already hurt. Heels ratchet me up to 5’10” and it looks great, but oh you pay.

  7. Would foot binding fit into this torture discussion?

  8. Boy, and I thought “spanx” were bad…

    Happy Holidays, NM!

  9. Lacing is the invention of the Devil ……. just sayin’

  10. Like Nora Batty said: you can’t imagine the sheer pleasure of taking off a garment like that at the end of the day.

    Have a cool Yule nursey!

  11. I want to wear a corset

    • Go on then, Malach. I’m sure there’d be an audience.

  12. I want to languorously lounge in a shaft of sunlight with Anita. And by now she is probably about the right age for me.

    Andy Overhill

  13. These all look so uncomfortable. I just don;t get it sometimes. but this all makes me glad to be a guy.

  14. Is the leg lacing thing to keep your woman from escaping? Because there are better restraints that do that.

    • show me…. ;-)

  15. Anita Ekberg, a marvellous, wonderful 10 x 10 x 10 ad infinitum.


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