Long Corsets

Ultra-long corsets do exist and we have a few examples in the collection. They are often referred to as 'discipline corsets' and the story goes that they were used to discipline or train teenage girls' figures. Personally, I believe that such practices, if they ever existed, have not done so since Victorian times. The beautifully constructed brocade corset (left) and satin corsets (right - Axfords 1984 and 1971) have boning from armpit to knees. Nobody ever wore this device for fashion.

 

As an aside, both these corsets, although beautifully constructed, lack the day-to-day necessities of a fly underneath the lacing. Look how the poor woman on the left has her excess flesh squeezed into a painful vertical line.

Axford corsets from the early 1970's and the 1980's (worn in 2009). Full length spiral boning was available then, but not latterly.

 

Frangard recounts:-

In case readers wish to try one of these long (or mannequin) corsets, this is a summary of my experience under Iris's watchful eye in her fitting room as I tried to see what one could do while wearing it. As long as one is standing, one could be serene, like the lady on the right. Then, they are like any other corsets, tight and containing. Walking is easy but obviously necessitates a minced gait. Sitting is out of the question. To lie down is a challenge. It is best done close to a high bed and solid furniture. First lower oneself lower to one’s knees, holding tight, get up on ones toe’s and walk backwards, and at the right moment 'flop' the last bit! Getting up is even more challenging. Roll off the bed feet first and kneel. Again holding on, gradually 'walk' towards one’s head and arms, getting steeper and steeper until you sense you can push yourself upright. I did as much using Iris’s convenient arm chair and the sideboard. She was thoroughly amused at my hobbled gymnastics!

When I re-counted my experience to a very extrovert, tight-lacing lady friend she confided that her husband had encouraged her to have a rubber mannequin corset made by Kastley. It was fine for entertaining at home but if she wore them to another person’s home, her husband would only loosely lace her in it. They would wait until it was dark and, with her overcoat on, they would venture slowly to their car. She would then cautiously lower herself, using the sides of the car door frame and crawl onto the back seat. She would make herself as comfortable as she could lying propped across the rear seat. She would leave the car in reverse to how she got in. Safely inside the venue he would lace her in properly so as to be fit for presentation. I asked if it was all worth it, and she said, in her ever effusive way, “I was always the centre of attention and admiration!”


So where does form end and fetish begin? The examples on the left show long-leg corsets. One is a German device from the 1960's. This is, indeed, a surgical corset for stabilisation of the hips, whereas on the right, the confection from Romantasy could well have been inspired by the German corset, albeit three decades later. Mind you, if I had to wear such a corset, I would rather wear the one on the right!

 

In this collage, kindly donated by Frangard, multiple lacings and suspenders abound. One might believe that this tortuous device belonged to some aging virago, determined to achieve a certain silhouette. Indeed, the multiple suspenders could support multiple layers of stockings, and for sure some elderly women used to wear two pairs as standard.

In reality this is a flight of the corsetiere's fancy,

or perhaps corsetier's fancy for it has been said,

that only a man could wish to imprison a woman thus.

 

It seems that the Jenyns concept lends itself to extreme corsetry. Below left is a remarkable Jenyns confection that must have been made to special order (below left). The detail is amazing and the front and back measurements are 21 and 23˝ inches. The corset is odd, since although furnished with sturdy suspenders, the front (the longest I have ever seen in an apparently conventional corset) could not have accommodated a woman's breasts and the hip spring is almost negligible. Was this a special order for a man, or an elderly, very tall woman? It weighs, with the four full length back steels, an astonishing two and a half pounds! I showed it to my husband's niece, who is a nurse, and she thought that it might have been for a woman. She reckoned that the corset was worn lower than we thought to stabilise the hips. She actually tried it on but even her rather small breasts were painfully squeezed and it didn't fit her younger female form at all. Certainly with the device tightened as far as she could tolerate, her spine was quite immobilised, but she could not sit down at all! She wore it for five minutes and was grateful to escape.

 

 

Above on the right are a corsetiere's take on the Jenyns principle. The extremely complex Jenyns with the laced brassiere and the other confections below might appear somewhat 'over the top', but I have visited an elderly friend of my mother-in-law who's daily ritual was to don such a combination of garments. She told me of another lady who wore a back-laced brassiere (Spirella offered this as an option until 1993!). Rather than attach her brassiere to the corset by hooks, she made her long-suffering maid physically lace the bottom two holes of the brassiere into the top two holes of her corset!

 

  

 

   

 

 

            

        

On the left are two examples of the corsetiere's art taken to an extreme that would be tolerated by few women. On the left is a modification of the Camp system (as opposed to Jenyns - regard the three-hole  formers). The straps are controlled by buckles at the front (a very good idea too). The brassiere and corset are finished in satin, what else. The next corset is my favourite, possibly because it is similar to my standard Spirella 305 but with a long ten-buckled under-belt. I have seen such devices made by Spirella, but the heavy satin, the under-belt extending beneath the corset front point to an independent interpretation of the theme. As they would say in the world of classical music, "A corsetry confection on a theme by Spirella". Whose confection was this? Why is this page confined to the Otherside section of our web site? I suspect the reader will have guessed. All the hallmarks are there, the satin, the confinement by multiple lacings and straps. I'll say no more.

On the right are more interpretations of a theme that has been taken beyond its logical extreme. The long Camp inspired corset is actually quite functional, however, the ultra-long busk front poses obvious problems for the poor wearer!

 

But fantastical constructions aside, extreme examples of corsetry do exist and were made by mainstream manufacturers to clients' special order. This example below comes from Lady Grace (below) and is an outrageous 25 inches long in the back with an eight-buckle under-belt. I have also never encountered a seven-stud busk before. Sitting in this device certainly is not an option.