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The Corset: A Cultural History
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The Corset: A Cultural History

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  316 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
An essential element of fashionable dress from the Renaissance into the 20th century, the corset has been viewed not only as an object of eroticism but also as an instrument of torture and subjugation. This is an exploration of the cultural history of the corset.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 8th 2003 by Yale University Press (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 12, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
an interesting, if somewhat dry, look at the history of the corset. most interesting to me was the revelation that the corset was not, as is commonly thought, a cruel requirement of men imposed upon women. in fact, doctors of the time (all male) and many men argued that corsets were unhealthy and unnecessary, encouraging women not to wear them. it was, as it is today, pressure of women BY women, to look, dress, and act a certain way. we tend to believe that "body-shaming" is a new phenomenon in ...more
May 23, 2016 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh I do adore a good sourcebook for my writings and this is one of them. It explains the history of the corset, the pro's and contra's in a very clear and straighforward way. Its a good book for anyone who is interested in the history of fashion.
Jun 01, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
The Corset, a fascinating look at one of history's most culturally-charged costume artifacts, both benefits and suffers from the obvious erudition of its author. Valerie Steele, Yale PhD and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, brings meticulous research to the table in her step-by-step examination of the corset's development as an article of dress and her debunking of the many health-related myths that clung to its laces, providing excellent footnoting ...more
Stacy Montgomery
Jan 28, 2010 Stacy Montgomery rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at an undergarment that has evolved for centuries, as well as the torture women have put themselves through to achieve a certain look. Amazing and shocking images combined with famous women we know and love makes this a fantastic read.
Tatiana Gomez
Mar 18, 2014 Tatiana Gomez rated it it was ok
An extensive and rather dry overview of the corset in France, England, and the Americas from the Renaissance to modern times. A great place to start if the corset is of interest to you, but it is a bit shallow and extensively focuses on corset symbolism and sexuality rather than just history.
This is an interesting read in that Steele favors some controversial opinions about the corset--i.e. that most women did not want dress reform but rather favored wearing corsets, that they were not worn only
Jan 02, 2016 Phair rated it really liked it
To be honest I have not actually read the whole book yet. My rating is based on the marvelous scope of illustrations outlining the history of corsetry, the various medical and social controversies relating to them and also covering modern fashion trends and fetishism. Even the endpapers are worth the price of admission...... Includes chapter notes, extensive bibliography and an index.
Apr 18, 2010 Marie rated it it was ok
Thought this book was a bit repetitive, which made it tedious to slough through. Would not read it again. Getting through it the first time was hard enough. I found the writing style dry. Would use it as a reference book.
Nov 28, 2008 Matimate rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, 2008
This book caught my attention for its very detailed insight in to the history of corsets from middle ages to the modern times and their influence on the culture. It is pity that this book did not have more pictures and schematics of corsets.
Kathryn Bedford
Dec 01, 2012 Kathryn Bedford rated it it was amazing
A really interesting look at attitudes towards corsetry over the centuries. The illustrations are all relavent and intersting. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the medical implications of wearing corsets.
Nov 15, 2016 Aradia rated it really liked it
Wonderful artwork and photos, however I wonder what inspired someone who so obviously loathes corsetry to write a book on the subject.
Allison Thurman
Jan 20, 2010 Allison Thurman rated it it was amazing
Busts the myths that tightlacing was ubiquitous, or that corsets have to be uncomfortable. And lots of gorgeous pictures
Feb 08, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it
Read this for a research project, and it was interesting, but extremely detailed, and I could only use a very small portion of the information.
Jaye Sudar
Feb 06, 2009 Jaye Sudar rated it liked it
This was a very good book. Satisfied a desire to learn more history and also see some beautiful photographs. Worht the read.
Apr 04, 2015 D rated it really liked it
A very interesting book about corsets through history. My BFF has gotten into tight lacing / waist training and encouraged me to read this as background information. I really liked it:)
May 02, 2008 Jill rated it it was amazing
This book is by my boss. She is cool.
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Valerie Steele is director and chief curator and Melissa Marra is associate curator of education and public programs, both at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.
More about Valerie Steele...

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