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Edwardian Era Corsets

Corsets were a very popular part of the dress during the Edwardian times. It was not easy to clean corsets. Therefore, a lot of protective measures were taken to prevent it from getting damaged. Many layers of clothes were put on above the corset. A chemise was worn under the Edwardian corset.

Corsets were worn in the Victorian era too and were carried on to the Edwardian era. Let us get into a detailed view:

The Victorian Corset: The Predecessor of Edwardian Corset

Queen Victoria ruled England from 1837 1901. The corsets that were designed during this period were mainly done so keeping in mind the hourglass female figure. The waist region of the corset was absolutely thin in structure.

During the period of 1840s to 50s tight lacing corsets became very popular. The corsets that were designed had a flared structure and it extended till several inches below the waist line. They were designed in a way in which they were very prominently curvaceous.

The Edwardian Corset

After the death of Queen Victoria, the throne was succeeded by ling Edward in the year 1901. He ruled England till 1910. Voluptuous figures were greatly desired and appreciated. So the corsets that were designed tried to bring out the S shaped body structure of the female figure. Women, in order to bring out the S body structure, tightly laced the corsets, so much so that the figure got distorted and the S form was visible.

Corsets that were designed with straight front were also referred to as the swan bill corsets. The S shaped corset was also known as the health corset. Ladies wore them extensively throughout the Edwardian period. This shape of corset gave the impression of a thin waist line by pushing the hips outward and the bust region forward. By this, pressure that was exerted on the abdomen was reduced greatly. It was a very rigid manner of dressing for ladies.


The corsets saw a decline in popularity towards the later part of the Edwardian era. They lost popularity at around 1908. The ladies now preferred to dress themselves in clothes that were of higher waistline. They preferred more natural clothes and not too rigid, artificial, uncomfortable clothes. It was almost impossible to feel comfortable and at ease in the Edwardian corsets. With the decline of the Edwardian corsets, bras became popular with the ladies.

Edwardian Era Underwear

Just like all other things, the Edwardian period underwear was also held in high esteem due to the high sense of fashion possessed by the ladies of this era. The S figure was highly in demand and this led to some abnormalities with the figure.

The corsets of this era were thus geared towards achieving the perfect S shape; the dream of every woman of this era; with overflowing breasts, a thin waist and heavy hips. The corsets were designed such that this ideal figure was achieved. It tortured the flesh of these women but they insisted on having the ideal figure- the S figure.

Health Corset

During the initial period, from 1890 to 1900, the health corset was popularized by Mme. Gaches-Sarraute from Paris. The corsets of this era were designed in a way to protect the vital organs of the women. Previous corsets lay too much stress on the abdomen region. This corset pushed the abdomen up the body instead of pushing it down like the previous corsets.

S Bend

It was after this that the trend of the S shaped corset came. It continued till 1907. The ideal shape was of a kind of corset that thrust the breasts out, pushed the abdomen back in to reveal a hand size waist and threw the waist back. The craze of achieving the perfect S figure grew up with the rise of maids who were easily available to help women with Edwardian underwear.

Mono Bosom

The general impression of the bust was that it was one piece of a huge breast which hung low over their thin waists. The craze grew so much that ladies began to use various bust bodices which heavily supported their breasts. Padding was added so that the bust looked larger.

Sometimes ladies even put handkerchief inside their bodices to make their busts appear larger. The use of the bust bodice was the earliest form of bra in Europe.

1907 Onwards

After 1907, the corset became straighter and stress was given to one long slim silhouette than the S curve. The corset was worn above the waist but reached to the thighs. Elastic gusset inserts were added as a way to increase the comfort of the wearer. But gradually with the development of the long slim dresses that extended to the knees, these corsets were extended to the knees. This made sitting difficult.

In short the Edwardian underwear of tight corsetry was a symbol of the luxurious class women who did not do any work at home or outside.

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