Early forms of the corset generally emerged in the fifteenth century. The rigid centrepiece, basis of corset
construction, known as the basque, was often decoratively carved and enjoyed a trend as a lover's token. Despite the fact the corsets are not a recent introduction into the ladies' fashion, corset construction has not drastically changed and their popularity seems to only increase with time. Various purposes of their application make them an intrinsic part of any lady's wardrobe. The history of corset application is pretty much unisex, but at this point of evolution it is primarily ladies that resort to wearing a corset.
The first pieces of corset
construction can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece, when it seems its use was widely functional. Women of Crete were and are known to have worn a simple corset that supported their breasts at the base and a very early
corset construction, known as a strophium, was in use in Roman times. In the Middle Ages, members of the European nobility began to wear straightforward linen clothes under richly decorated and expensive outer dresses. This both protected these luxurious costumes from dirty bodies, and provided a layer of warmth for the wearer. Small, firm breasts were back in vogue, and women wore a multitude of corset-like variations. Toward the end of the Renaissance, the padded silhouette came into being, with a flat stomach and narrow waist. The style became greatly overstated during the seventeenth century when the frame achieved astonishing proportions, the corset construction became a near straitjacket, moulding women's bodies into abnormal shapes and used as an pretentious display of the rich, highly decorated corset materials of the day.
In the eighteenth century, although women ruled the elegant society of the salons, the corset construction still ruled their bodies, which attained an artistry never seen before in undergarments. Copious use of such corset materials as damask, satin or brocaded silk, embellished with embroidery, corset lacing masked the rigid structure of whalebone within. During the nineteenth century, the extent and style of underwear worn by women reached extremes, and women's figures were completely exaggerated: vast full sleeves, a miniscule corseted waist, followed by whalebone hoops and crinolines covered with yards of fabric, flounces and trims. The bustle highlighted women's bottoms, and frilled pantaloons and multiple corset materials, layers of petticoats created full skirts. So unobtainable did the female body become beneath the layers of underwear that taking it off created its own form of sexual anticipation and spawned the first striptease shows.
Despite the long history of this item the corset construction has remained pretty much the same. The most traditional and at the same time the most widely spread corset model is the one that starts in the area of the underarms and reaches the hips. Some models even cover hips still others reach the knees. Corset construction is relatively simple. Corset materials have somewhat changed. Corsets are made of some kind of flexible and soft material (like leather or cloth). The boning is introduced into the structure of the corset to make it relatively rigid. The following material have been used for boning: wood, cane, whalebone, ivory or steelwire. All these corset materials are now replaced by plastic. Corset lacing is an intrinsic part of any kind of corsets.