The historical stereotypes of oppressed females tied to choking corsets are challenged by studies suggesting that they may have been more comfortable than modern bras.
The controversial view was put forward by Dr. Sara Bendal, an Australian scholar. Sarah Bendal is the author of the new book “Shaping Femininity: Foundation Garments, the Body and Women in Early Modern England”.
Researchers at the Catholic University of Australia, based in Sydney, say that corsets are far less restrictive than people think, and that supporting the breast before the invention of the bra was a major advantage.
She says it was probably more comfortable than today’s bras with straps and underwires, at least for some women.
“They didn’t cut back because they supported the entire torso,” says Bendal.
“For a busty woman, it’s probably more comfortable than a modern bra.”
Bendal acknowledges that it is impossible to directly compare the concept of modern comfort with the concept experienced by women in the past.
Women’s bodies differed due to the high number of pregnancies and prolonged breastfeeding.
Today’s fashion designers can also use materials such as stretch fabrics and techniques such as princess seams. These materials provided shape and comfort and were not available to previous generations.
But historic females weren’t just fashion victims or slaves to the thoughts of the male body, Bendal says.
“Corsets weren’t the stupid clothes worn by stupid women. They weren’t always painful or tight, they weren’t just tools of oppression.
“The basic garments that women wore during this period tell the story of women’s agencies and shape the Western perception of women’s bodies to this day.”
To understand what it’s like to wear 17th century corsets and underwear such as fursing ale, basque and bum roll, Bendal has his own pattern based on patterns created from patterns that survived that era. is created.
She either wore them or handed them over to a model that fits the design and then interviewed the wearer.
“Historians have relied on the voice of men because there is little materialized experience of women in the literature,” said a historian of material culture.
“These men often mocked women’s fashion and used it to make moral points about these stupid women wearing these ridiculous clothes.
“Even the second-wave feminists of the 1970s, who focused on the female experience and saw these garments as an example of male oppression, relied on what men wrote for their sources. “
From a modern point of view, corsets are probably not the most comfortable to wear, says Bendal.
“But they weren’t as restrictive as high heels.”