We all know about corsets for women, once a part of everyday life for certain social classes, and now representative of the struggle to appear attractive. But they weren’t just for women. Men wore them as well in different places at different times; they just tried to keep their corset use discreet. It wouldn’t do to admit that their exceptional bodies needed help to look that way!
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The corset has endured hundreds of iterations from its induction into fashion by Catherine de Medici in the 1500s up until its usage diminished as a result of rations for the second World War. But men have been involved in corsets since corsets were invented. One of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Paine, was a corset maker by family trade. According to research, “Stays or corsets were used in the army (especially among the cavalry), for hunting, and for strenuous exercise, not unlike a weight lifter’s belt today”. Purser Thomas Chew, a 30-year career Naval officer, who fought in the War of 1812 wore his corset to sea. But as history has shown, sometimes function becomes fashion…
Messy Nessy Chic has a brief history of men’s fashions of the 18th and 19th centuries and how a corset could help them achieve the stylish look of their day.