Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Trouble with Corsets

Marie-Antoinette hated them. According to Fashion is My Muse:
To French aristocrats, a tightly corseted body represented "the norms of stiffness and self-control" expected of the ruling caste. Marie-Antoinette's position required her to wear a form of corset called a grand corps. This more rigid form of corset was the "mark of supreme distinction". Only France's greatest princesses had the right to wear this undergarment on a regular basis. Other noblewomen were allowed to wear it only on the day of their presentation at court and after that, only at specially designated formal functions. This corset was stiffer than a regular corset and made breathing, eating and even moving one's arms difficult.

(Via Versailles and More)



Lily said...

That is really interesting. I always admired the look of women in corsets, although I admit wearing one must have been constricting. The posture that they were forced into by wearing such a garment made them appear very elegant indeed. Considering today's slouchy and sloppy looks, we may benefit from a modified corset in today's fashions ;-)...only half joking.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Constricting is right.

I think the physical and psychological discomforts experienced by 18th and 19th century royalty -- and the possible effects of such discomfort on political policy and outlook, is both under appreciated and under studied.

True, neither the Queen nor others similarly situated would have described these constraints of their positions as "discomforting," but that doesn't mean that they were not.

Catherine Delors said...

Oh, the Queen herself was fairly vocal about the discomfort of this type of apparatus. Did it influence her political outlook, as El Jefe suggests? Possibly. It was one of the first things she rebelled against at Versailles.

elena maria vidal said...

I know, Lily, we have gone from one extreme to another.

El Jeffe, I don't know. Perhaps they should study it.

So true, Catherine, the Queen did not like the grand corps corset. At all. Part of it was pure rebellion at the discomfort. This may have contributed to her admiration of Rousseau, who recommeneded being as natural as possible.