tight lacing and tears

Tight lacing was all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though it started long before then and still persists to this day

Polaire (1879-1939) was a French actress with a waist of approximately 14 inches.

A song was written for her, starting ”When I started in music-hall, my waist fitted into a man’s collar”, a notion which inspired gallantries such as George Herriot’s offer to buy her a diamond belt if she succeeded in demonstrating the claim with his collar.

“Publicity photographs compared her profile with that of her pet pig Mimi, which wore a jewelled collar. Like a pig, she wore a nose-ring, announced as a ”protest against what the world calls refinement.” She posed as an enemy of ”civilisation,” and cultivated, on stage, a sensually barbaric style.

Unfortunately, Mimi was lost overboard from the ocean liner Provence

“The actress’s nose ring and playful pet pig were the features of the voyage until Wednesday afternoon when he was taking an airing accompanied by his maid Celestine on the promenade deck. As the day was warm Celestine took off Mimi’s sealskin jacket to let him run around and show his diamond collar off in the sun.

Suddenly there was a scream on the promenade deck and Mlle. Polaire, who was reading Caesar’s Commentaries in the library, rushed out exclaiming “Mon petit cochon!”

Her two pet dogs, Fifine and Hortense were also desolés at the loss of their playmate.

Another extreme tight lacer with a pierced nose was Ethel Granger. Her husband was William Granger, the astronomer who was well known for appearing everywhere with his cat, Treacle Pudding, on his shoulder.

image found here

You can read more about Ethel at this site which also details the history of Barcley Corsets

“If You Have Considerable Flesh Which Needs to be Controlled … Here is the Ideal Garment for YOU !”

Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 5:27 am  Comments (36)  
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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anything over 16 inches is “vulgar”? Wow. I guess vulgar is just a dot way back there on the horizon.

    Pass the potato chips.

    • ….and stop hogging the chocolates!

  2. flesh doesn’t need to be controlled.
    religion and society have already tried to do that, with pitiful result.

  3. I’ve never understood how a person was able to wear a corset, much less the gut squeezing torture devices that these women sported. That can not be good for digestion!

    • Women who constantly corseted to that degree were unable to eat much at all. Looks like torture doesn’t it?

  4. Goddesses shouldn’t suffer so. I propose they go round naked …….. just sayin’

  5. I’ve had a nose ring for about 25 years. I walked into a tattoo parlour and spoke to a large tattooed man: ‘Do you pierce noses?’ ‘We pierce anything.’ ‘Just the nose, thanks.’ I was born in the year of the pig but that’s not why my nose is pierced. Oink oink.

    • Snuffle snuffle….. 😉

  6. Poor Mimi…

  7. I think i might need it….my flesh is running amok!!!

  8. Poor Mimi. the waist thing is just really uncomfortable to look at. Much like the Chinese foot binding thing. It’s not natural.

  9. And this little piggy liked S&M. That piggy scares me.

  10. a waist is a terrible thing to mind…

  11. if I wear jeans that are too tight my stomach hurts

  12. oh god…that’s just horrible. I mean, really, really horrible. My amble waist hurts just looking at that. Thank you for reminding me to thank my husband for being such a wonderful person who loves himself a fat and sexy woman.

    • welcome to the Gimcrack ladyrebecca. do you have a blog?

  13. yes, it’s true that my considerable waist should be controlled. do people wear corsets with pants NM? i’m not sure.

    • Many varieties of corsetry fashion exist. Waist cinchers work nicely under the bust over anything trouserly or skirtish or nothing at all!

  14. My how things change…in high school I didn’t get a nose ring, as a protest against “what everyone else was doing.”

  15. Those ultra skinny-waist women look like they’re made of two separate parts attached by a connecting corset. Like if you undid the corset, you could take the lower half of her into one room and the upper half into the other. Hmm… that has some interesting possibilities…

    • Haha… funny you should mention that. During the peak of the corset debate, newspapers and broadsheets often printed cartoons of exactly that scenario….

  16. wasp-waisted women, such as these, look freakish. fashion drives some pretty bizarro practices…

  17. Gad, Ethel gives me a stomach ache just looking at her.

  18. “Older women, not men, were primarily responsible for enforcing sartorial norms. Within the family, the patriarch usually deferred to his wife’s or even his mother’s authority in deciding how the females of the family should be dressed. The cultural weight placed on propriety and respectability made it difficult for women to abandon the corset, even if they wanted to.[…]

    “During the nineteenth century, many aspects of life were rapidly changing but some traditions, especially those surrounding women, were all the more anxiously retained. Moreover, since most women’s socioeconomic lives depended on marriage, it was understandable that their mothers and grandmothers should want to maximize both their physical “beauty and their reputation for propriety.”

  19. Thanks for your comment zingtrial. I enjoyed your post about the O’Hare men

  20. Wow. I like looking a corseted figures – within reason. That just looks too painful to bear.

  21. I am really torn here. The size of those wastes, which look like the girth of my pinky, make me glad I have a bit of flesh around the middle. But on the other hand, if I could just stop eating so many damn carbs….

  22. That’s waist. Yep. It’s been a long day.

  23. Fourteen inches; 14″ in circumference, hmmmm… what body part can I relate that to? A calf perhaps. Not counting digits, I only have five parts that come in under fourteen, unless I add in eyeballs. A body can be teased and tortured to shape if the desire is strong enough- just look at those necks elongated by rings. And here I am trying to hold the line at a 40″ waist. That is weak! Is the name Wasteband already taken for a rock combo?

    Dim Morrison

  24. Holy FRACK! MY neck is 17 1/2″

  25. I wasn’t going to comment but I have to say that the thought of the dog going overboard made me laugh a bit. It’s vulgar, I know, but it struck me as a Three Stooges moment.

  26. I like Polaire’s attitude radical style for her time but my waist and I have our limits.

  27. When I finally stopped looking for the Victorian link to theonion.com, I thought, “Wow, Corsets: the inside-out Lap Band!!” Why did ladies in corsets faint? Their kidneys were crowding their lungs!

  28. Inside Out Lap Band? Ha… that’s good.

  29. Never got into the corset thing. It’s just not attractive to me. I’m not sure why. I like big hips and a small waist, but not the mutant variety. And 14″ just looks unhealthy.


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