Figure culture through corsets

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Dear Sir – Your correspondent in to-day’s issue of “London Life” starts off with “in this corset less age” but surely this is not meant literally. Perhaps, a future age is meant for a judge by appearances and certainly by the columns of your correspondence section, figure training by the non-athletic has by no means died out. That athletics have made the wearing of corsets unnecessary for those who indulge in physical training is not to be denied.
Still such an essentially feminine garment is likely in my opinion always to be worn in some form or other because comfort or fashion will demand its use. To what extent corsets are worn by the masculine sex it is not possible to conjecture but probably the number of such wearers is infinitesimal of course the same remark would apply to various other articles of masculine dress peculiar to those who move only in a certain sphere.
My wife who was French extraction (whose mother’s waist when she married – so I am informed by her step-daughter – was barely 18 inches) was the youngest in a mixed family of six. When we were married and as I had no sisters, the frailness of her waist was a matter of astonishment, if not alarm, I remember, but I was quite evident by the ease with which she put on her tightly-laced corsets that to her it was nothing more than putting on a waistcoat was to me.
The fact was, she had always been trained to look after her figure and bust and hips were well developed also. As years went by, her figure was always proportionately corseted and I saw to it that her taste for beauty was evidenced in the quality and color shades of her corsets.
I started wearing corsets voluntarily, having been fortunate in securing the services of a couple whose calling it was to design and make corsets to order for both sexes, the husband having been in the Army and being himself a keen tight-lacer and female impersonator.
I am 5 feet 10 inches in height, 35 inches in the chest, 26 inches normally in the waist, and 35 inches round the hips, but the corsets I wear vary from 25 inches to 21 inches in the waist. My corsets are much stronger than the type worn by the other sex. For instance, the busk is of steel hinged by the material covering it to a steel plate 1 ½ inches wide, thus making the corset firm and comfortable. The rear steels are each ⅝ inch wide and usually 4 inches longer than the front ones. Six or seven rows of twin metal stays intervene on each side for stiffening purposes and each pair weighs approximately 23 ounces.
For severe tight-lacing I use a pair weighing 19½ ounces, whilst for rigidity, I have had a pair made which are 4 inches longer in front and at back than those I usually wear and their weight is 31 ounces. In consider these more of a military type although the maker who has had years of experience referred to them as “punishment” corsets, probably out of recollection of bygone commissions in cases such as have been mentioned in your columns. These long corsets are not small-waisted but are simply intended to preserve a rigid and upright carriage. The steels are ⅝ in wide and eight in number of each side.

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