27 March 2010
I have an antique corset collection with about 25 corsets. I do not think antique corsets should be worn and certainly not destroyed to reuse any of the parts. But I must confess I have tried on a few of the more sturdy ones and very carefully laced them up to snap a few pictures.
Things I have learnt is even if they look perfect with no visible sign on the fabric, still the fabric can be very brittle and the corset can have broken and brittle whalebone stays.
I will start with showing some pictures of the four ribbon corsets I have in my collection. Ribbon corsets are not suitable for tightlacing. They were used by thin women who did not need much support, or as evening or bridal wear. Ribbon corsets were also used during sports like horse riding.
Three corsets are made from silk ribbon; two are cream and one is light green. One is made from white cotton.
All the ribbon corsets I have are made for a small waist. The light green one is made in France and has an 18 inch waist. The stays are made of whalebone. I wish there were a better name instead of whalebone, as this name is confusing as it is not at all bone from whales. Whalebone or ‘baleen’ comes from the upper jaw of a whale where a system of baleen plates serve the task of filtering plankton. It is a flexible but firm and can be split in any size and length. Today, whalebone is not used and should not be used either.
I include one rather bad picture of me taken by myself of one of the cream ribbon corsets. I just tried the ribbon corset on over my daily corset. So, on this picture, I am wearing two corsets at the same time.