Dying for Shapewear? A Very Brief History of the Corset

Oct 5, 2019


Welcome to Tokyo Biking Tours' exploration into the fascinating world of corsets. In this article, we'll take you on a journey through the ages, exploring the origins, evolution, and societal influence of this iconic garment. Discover how the corset has shaped both fashion and culture throughout history.

Origins of the Corset

The corset can trace its origins back to ancient civilizations, where various forms of corsetry were used to shape and support the body. However, it was during the Renaissance period that the corset as we know it today began to emerge. Initially, corsets were worn by both men and women, providing a structured silhouette and emphasizing the desired body shape of the time.

Evolution of the Corset

As fashion trends evolved over the centuries, so did the corset. During the 16th and 17th centuries, corsets became more elaborate and restrictive, often featuring intricate boning and lace-up designs. The Victorian era saw the corset reach its peak in popularity, with tightly laced corsets shaping the coveted hourglass figure and symbolizing femininity and refinement.

In the early 20th century, the corset faced criticism for its extreme constriction and potential health risks. This led to the rise of more flexible foundation garments, such as girdles and brassieres, which offered a more comfortable alternative. However, corsets continued to be worn by some, particularly those seeking dramatic waist reduction.

The Social Impact of Corsets

Beyond its role as a fashion accessory, the corset has had a profound impact on society and culture. It has been both praised and criticized for its ability to sculpt the body according to societal standards of beauty. Throughout history, corsets have been associated with various ideas and ideals, from femininity and elegance to oppression and objectification.

Corsets have often been used as a symbol of power, luxury, and social status. In the Victorian era, wearing a corset was seen as a sign of refinement and adherence to societal norms, particularly among the upper classes. However, the practice of tight lacing and extreme waist reduction also led to concerns about the physical and emotional well-being of those who wore them.

Revival and Modern Interpretations

In recent years, the corset has experienced a revival in fashion and popular culture. Designers and fashion enthusiasts have reimagined the corset, incorporating it into modern clothing styles as a statement piece. The corset has also found its place in the world of burlesque and alternative fashion, where it is celebrated for its versatility and ability to create captivating silhouettes.

Today, the corset continues to inspire and intrigue. Its history and influence remind us of the complex relationship between fashion, identity, and society. Whether embraced as a form of self-expression or viewed as a relic of the past, the corset remains a symbol of the ever-evolving nature of style and beauty.


We hope this journey through the history of the corset has provided you with a deeper understanding of its significance in fashion and culture. Tokyo Biking Tours invites you to explore our other articles and join us on our captivating bike tours where we delve into the rich history and diverse culture of Tokyo. Embark on an unforgettable journey with us and uncover the hidden gems of this incredible city.