What Are Corsets?
Corsets are actually undergarments, and like the thong underwear perfected by the Brazailians, corsets make wearing your underwear as an outfit for a night out on the town cool. The corset top's been around a lot longer than "butt floss," and thongs are often called jokingly. Corsets came to fame around 1820 as a molding, sculpting, and shaping guide for the torso area. Having a perfectly shaped body, something like an hourglass, was a matter of marriage or eternally living the single life back in those days and girls...and guys, wasted no time getting into their corset. While it would be a little out of the ordinary to see a guy dancing it up on club night in a lacey corset top, corsets were worn regularly by both men and women.
Corsets are perhaps most famous for their unique back lacing. Lacing creates lots of versatility for the wearer to be able to tighten or losen the corset top-and that's a freedom that wasn't a part of the corset of yesteryear. The most elite of the Victorian women often had lacking servants, or tight-lacers, specifically for the purpose of lacing of a corset. Today's corsets often do feature back lacing but they do not have the same influence over the shape of the body as the more traditional corset top did.
How Corsets Are Made
Corsets were, and often times still are, made of a material that can be flexible, like cloth or leather. And if you've ever wondered where corset tops get that stiff like feel and appearance, it is the result of ribs or stays that come out of the boning process. During the Victorian era, corset boning was made of steel. Today ribs and stays for more lightweight corsets are made of plastic boning, while spring or spiral spring are used for heavier and higher quality corsets. Ivory, wood and cane can also be used for corsetry boning. Corsets and their closely related cousin, the girdle, would be identical cousin but girdles include no boning.
While corsets are most often used to reduce the size of the waist and play up the curviness of the bustline and hips, there was a period in which the corset top is also used to achieve that "straight as an arrow look." Corset are also used as a member of the medical field. Internal injuries and spinal problems, like spina bifide, sometimes need more torso protection-corsets provide that. They have also been cited for reduce discomfort for back pain sufferers.
The Downside of Corsets
If you want a really good corset top, get it custom fitted. Corsets that don't fit properly can lead to skin chaffing, difficulty with digestion, damaged ribs and pinched nerves.