Two interesting images appeared on the staylace site recently. In fact many of the images there are interesting because they show how corsets were worn in the past.
Here they are, two ladies in Salvation Army uniform. They are difficult to date but about 1885.
If you want to know more about the fantastic Salvation Army and its continued good work then look at this.
The images show two women dressed in Salvation Army uniform…for women it was dresses made in a very dark blue serge material. The Salvation Army grew out of the Methodist church. This meant demanding “plain and sober” clothes with very little ornamentation, and no jewellery.
What is interesting is that while the Salvation Army was against fashion following the two ladies here are very visibly corseted with a non natural waist size. This indicates that in the 19 century a corset was necessary for respectability. Going corsetless was not really an option for the 19 century woman. If you want to think in terms of going bra-less today, then that is how a 19 century woman regared going without a corset. Many women think going braless sends a message ofsexuaality and social position, exactly the same with a corsetless 19 century woman.
You may also see that the lady (girl? how old is she do you think?) on the right is “poking her head” by not lifting her head up as she should have done! This is often found in growing girls who are embarrassed by their height. In the 18 and 19 century a young teenage girl who “poked her head” would be told to hold her head up in a firm manner. Various devices were used to persuade girls that poking the head was a bad idea. These included a whack on the hand with a ruler, or various mechanical devices as described by Heather Bigg in his book on orthopaedics in 1868, here’s one. It’s a variant of the backboard and collar. Some women wrte in their autobiographies that these devices were both effective and very uncomfortable.
There we are…..corsets and the Salvation Army….please let me know your views, post a comment here.