Man Corset History

The corset is a garment that more than anything else, over the centuries, has crossed all boundaries of gender and was worn both by women and by men. The term corset is derived from the Old French word corps and the diminutive of body, which itself derives from corpus Latin for body. The Greeks of both sexes wore it, they use to used them as support for your back and hips during sports. It is probable that some sort of corset was used under clothing in the Middle Ages, as some seem to suggest frescoes showing life points very thin and particularly “sculpted” silhouettes.

Between the 15th Century and 16th Century Spaniards lay down the law even when it comes to fashion corsets where used by men and women to get an upright posture, the symbol of moral dignity and respectability, also symbolized by a smooth and asexual torso. In the 18th Century with the advent of the French Revolution, the corset was abandoned as a symbol of oppression in favor of clothing more comfortable and suitable to accommodate the natural movement of the body.

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However, in sharp contrast to the general trend, corsets for men were used by the utopian philosopher Saint-Simon as a symbol of humanitarian ideals proposed by him, since it was impossible to tie them yourself and you had always count on a partner. King George IV, King of England from 1820 to 1830, a lover of beautiful women and the pleasures of the table, was also known for his size: his corset, in fact, is now on display at the London Museum. Of 142 cm long, is made of lightweight cotton, closes on the back like those of women and straps on the sides to prevent the abdomen to protrude.

Other corsets could have elastic inserts on the chest in order to allow for expansion and to give an elegant evening gowns. Dandies The late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th was definitely the era were dandies were a quite visible part of society. A dandy refers to men that loved dressing up and even thought of it as a certain lifestyle rather than a necessity. While people usually dressed to live, they lived to dress up. They felt that their physical appearance was the most important thing about themselves and created a character to match the way they dressed.

The most important thing for them was to look as expensive and rich as possible so others would create an idea of their personality and social status according to how they dressed. The clothes represented the perfect gentleman, richness and a high status of society but also a certain superiority over others. Even though a lot of dandies were originally from the middle class of society, they tried everything they could to make it seem like they were a part of the aristocrats. In one way we could connect them to the ”metro-sexual” men that we know from our society today, but in some ways more extreme.

Oscar Wilde often had dandy men as main characters in his writings and they often had cynicism about them that matches perfectly to the persona that they tried to create for themselves. Dandyism brought to the fore the use of corsets for men, but the price was the public ridicule newspapers and illustrated the popular imagination. Despite the widespread use of corsets, in fact, their use has always been seen as ridiculous, even though they were made of lace and whalebone, those who wore them never used the word corset, but euphemisms as a “belt” or “vest.

At a time when women were seen as the weaker sex both physically and mentally, also be associated with them through a piece of clothing was something to be avoided. Gilet Vest The word gilet is a French word that directly translates to waistcoat, the word itself is derived from the Turkish word yelek. Today it is usually known just as a vest. The gilet vest became a traditional part of men’s clothing in the 19th century. It is traditionally without sleeves and with fastenings in the front of the garment.

It was often made from velvet, silk or a heavy brocade and originally it had intricate embroidery on the front of the vest. Usually, men would wear a shirt or a chemise with full sleeves under the vest and then a jacket over it. The jacket was quite longer than the vest so it was generally only visible from the front. Both the vests and the jackets had few or even no pockets so the fit would be much tighter on the body. The purpose of the garments were to make the man look slimmer, especially in the waist.

The gilet vest still remains a classic garment for men’s wear, especially as a part of suits and evening wear. It has also become normal for women to wear them. Over the decades the overall look and cut of the vest has not changed severely from how it was originally made. The main variables are the fabrics used in the garment and the length of the vest itself. The closings may vary, such as buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes and also the smaller details such as embroidery and print.

The vest was originally used only for fashionable purposes, and for good fit of course, however it has also proved to provide good isolation while allowing easy movement. Other modern uses of the gilet vest are in shooting sports, hiking and for male ballet costuming. The ballet costume has probably most resemblance to the original gilet. Corsets were still used previously by officials, in particular those belonging to the cavalry, to offer support to the back, according to Alison Carter also corsets were also used during hunting or exercise. Today

The historic Valerie Steele sees the corset as an essential part of the modernization of fashion. When the industrial revolution made more widely available many items of clothing, the ideal body “aristocratic” became the female. The clothes were created with a woman’s body in mind, which made the corset needed to squeeze in clothes. Steele also points out the contradiction that, despite the fashion emphasized either wasp life for men, for the latter the use of the corset was a source of ridicule. The corset for men was seen as a sign of laxity of morals, the moral weakness of the nation and of the officer corps.

Even the historic Elizabeth Hackenspiel reiterates this gap between taxation of fashion and ridiculing the dandy, associated with the idea of effeminate and degenerate. With the rise of the bourgeois mentality, after 1850 men who wore corsets were still very careful to emphasize the healthful purposes only. Probably the decline of this garment also resulted from the spread of the sport, able to strengthen the body and to model the contours, making obsolete the use of the corset. The corset for men is now part of the BDSM scene or goth, which often takes up and reinvents heads typical of Victorian culture

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Man Corset History. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from