Some years ago I learned that, contrary to popular belief, corsets were not necessarily uncomfortable. I'll explain some exceptions in another post. But for now let's say that, generally speaking, given the materials used, the lacing could be tightened only to a point. Later in the century, tougher materials, including metal, were used, which allowed extremely tight lacing, à la Scarlett O'Hara.
I'll have more to say about corsets in relation to an exhibition I visited recently. Meanwhile, though, I wanted to share my photos of this beautiful Regency corset, created by the milliners at Colonial Williamsburg.
Historian Janea Whitacre holds up a corset that might have been worn under the red dress I showed yesterday. I think the first photo shows that this wasn’t a torture device. The busk, which is clearly visible, would take some getting used to, but the corset itself is soft and silky to the touch. I suspect it would more comfortable than a bra with an underwire.
Notice the wide straps. This is a far cry from the strapless Victoria’s Secret-type corsets which frequently adorn the covers of romances. Furthermore, the corset is not worn against the skin, but over one’s shift or chemise.
You can see that the holes for the lacing are reinforced with thread. No metal grommets.
You may want to compare and contrast this ca 1815 corset with 18th C stays. (Scroll down to Stays and click for pop-up.)