I find corsets to be a fascinating topic of fashion. Name another trend that has been modified and adapted and is still just as popular as it was in the Victorian era. I can't think of one! Now the shape and usage of corsets has changed vastly over time, but the name and the idea of what it means to feminine beauty remains largely the same.
A timeline (complete with photos!) of corset history:
2000 BC - Painting of a Creatian woman wearing a corset as an outer garment.
15th Century - The Cottee corset becomes popular. The Cottee was a tight, long bodice worn under clothing.
16th Century - Elizabethan fashion begins using whaleboning and added a Busk to the corset. Busks were often ornate and made of wood, horn, ivory, metal or whale bone and were often viewed as a prize for suitors. The Busk was slipped into the corset and held tight with the lace of the garment.
Late 16th Century - Corsets stared to be laced in the front, with boning being in the sides and back.
18th Century - Corsets fall out of style and are replaced by softer, less restrictive tops.
19th Century - Demand was for corsets that weren't as restricting or painful to wear. This became the era of the Victorian corset, which helped create an hourglass shape.
Early 20th Century - The Edwardian corset emerges. This corset creates an S-bend by forcing hips back and bust forward. It was often enhanced by the bustle popular during this time frame as well.