Those Dreaded Corsets

Photograph of an American woman wearing a corset, 1899. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

For several hundred years, fashion dictated that women wear a corset beneath their clothing. The stiff, constricting, and confining garment served to keep a woman’s breasts in place while also creating a flattering hourglass figure. Although the true origin of women’s corsets is not known, the undergarment went through a number of alterations and improvements over the years. The corset remained a constricting burden to women until it eventually fell out of fashion and was replaced by the brassiere.