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A corselette from 1953
The inside of a Corselette

A corselet or corselette is a type of foundation garment, sharing elements of both brassieres and girdles. It may incorporate lace in front or in back. The term originated by the addition of the diminutive suffix "-ette" to the word corset.

The term can also describe a piece of body armor for the torso, usually consisting of a breastplate and a back piece.

Contents

History

The missing-link between corset and corselette from 1914
A corselette from 1932.

The corselet was originally a piece of armor, covering the torso; the origin of the English word comes from cors, an Old French word meaning "bodice". The Darby translation[1] of the first Book of Samuel mentions this style of armor by name, while others simply refer to it as a "coat of mail".[2][3] In the 16th century, the armour included a solid breastplate and backplate, and sometimes also included a gorget, tassets, full arm coverage, or gauntlets.

The corselet as an item of women's clothing began to gain traction in 1914, as a substitute for wearing two separate pieces (a brassiere with either a girdle or a corset). The bust uplift cups were first introduced in 1933, but did not become common until 1943. [4][5]

Merry widow

A corselet was released by Warner's in 1955, named after The Merry Widow, a 1905 operetta that has been adapted several times into feature-length films.[6] This new design featured demi-cups and a shorter girdle than its predecessors. This type of lingerie is also known as a torsolette, and is used in bridal lingerie, much like the bustier.

The original merry widow was a corselet incorporating slim panels of black, elastic yarn netting. A heavy-duty zipper was inserted behind a velvet-backed hook-and-eye flange, and the entire garment was lined with nylon voile. Nine long, spiral wires were encased in black satin.

Lana Turner is reported to have said, "I am telling you, the merry widow was designed by a man. A woman would never do that to another woman."

"Merry widow" is the generic term for a corselet bra in the United States.

Interval and rebirth

Around 1960, tights and trousers began to replace corselets. However, Maidenform and other mainstream lingerie and undergarment manufacturers have sold corselets as "control slips" since around 1975.

Variations and relatives

  • A short corselet without garters or shoulder straps is a torsolette or a bustier.
  • A corselet in two parts is a brassiere and a girdle.
  • A corselet with a stiff back and laces is a corsage or a corset.
  • A soft corselet is a slip.

References

External links








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