The word "corset"contains the French word corps=bodys.The history of corsets is quite a long one. The first ones appearing in Minoan times(about 1700 BC) and then virtually disappearing until the Renaissance(15th century). The corset is still worn today, and is making a major comeback. The shape of corsets changed continuously throughout history with the aesthetic conception of the female figure then in fashion and with the type of dress. At one time it was large,then again it was as small as a fairly wide belt; sometimes it accentuated or raised the bosom, then minimized and flattened it again. It often stressed the waist, narrowed the hips or emphasized them.

1830's, The corset is gored and laced to shape the waist, but is not yet long enough to round off the hips and buttocks.
Day-corsets of the 1840's had shoulder straps and were shaped to the breasts. In 1848 stays were made with elastic thread woven into the material. By 1850 little whalebone was used in corsets. They were elaborately gored, with set-in gussets of elastic. Front closings with spring latches were first shown at the 1851 exhibition. There was the"Corset Amazone" which had elastic lacings and could be shortened three inches by pulling a concealed cord. Clothes were restrictive, weighing down women under multi-layers and damaging their health with tight-lacing.
1875, with the long corset and tight lacing to give fashionably long slender figure. At this period it was discovered to serve a new purpose; in addition to being attractive, it also had a moral function, directing its wearer to exercise self restraint.

images are provided by The Costume Gallery