Research: Edwardian Ribbon Corsets Part II

The Illustrated American, September 26, 1896.

Continuing the research of the ribbon corset and it’s variants, I have stumbled across the earliest mention I have yet found.

All my research in this installment is taken from Google Books.

The Illustrated American, September 26, 1896. Page 444.

Some of our noted women of fashion are wearing corsets made entirely of ribbons.  These are the daintiest stays imaginable.  Satin ribbon two inches wide is used.  Four rows of it pass around the figure like a girdle, describing a point front and back.  The ribbons unite over the hips and again separate to join the steels in front and strong bones in the back, where they lace with silk ties.  There are four bones side by side in a satin-covering sewed firmly over the hips, and there are no others.  The top row of ribbon, like the old Greek girdles, is supposed to afford sufficient support.  The steels are short and are covered with plush on the inner side to soften their pressure on the form.

Altogether, a daintier stay was never invented;  but it is not suited to all figures, and the prospective buyer should try them before buying.

Truth, May 25, 1899. Page 1367.

Ribbon Corset- V&A Museum-
Place of origin:England (made)
Date:ca. 1895 (made)
Materials and Techniques:Silk satin ribbons, boning, metal fastenings
Credit Line:Given by Mrs Raper
Museum number:T.18-1958
Gallery location:Fashion, Room 40, case CA6

We have at last found something we have been searching for for years— a really cool corset.  I immediately share the trove with you, dear coz.  It is called the French ribbon corset, and is made of ribbons specially manufactured for extra strength, and so arranged that there are spaces equal in width to that of the ribbons between them.  This secures the very necessary and acceptable ventilation, and a delightful coolness is the result.  You will be glad to know of these now that the hot weather is coming on.  The corsets are not expensive, especially when made of the pretty broche webbings, which are even stronger than the ribbons.  The shape, too, is unusually good, and gives agreeable support to the back while throwing out the chest and keeping flat what some tailors call the “lower chest”.  We found this desirable article of the toilet at Markham’s, 38A, Old Bond-street, where we also made the acquaintance of a delightful material for shirts and blouses, half batiste and half silk, most beautiful close and finely woven.

Harpers Bazaar, June 9, 1900. Page 358.

A style of ribbon corset, if a woman has a slender figure, may be worn over the princesse petticoat, which is a petticoat and under-waist all in one, and is fitted quite close to the figure, with a deep yoke and no fulness at all until below the yoke.  These ribbon corsets are cool, and there are bones enough in them to keep them in shape around the upper part of the body, while the steels in front give the straight line;  but of course they do not compress the figure at all below the waist, and therefore are not desirable for stout women.

Harpers Bazaar, October, 1901, page 528. Parisian Lingerie

The ribbon corset gains favor all the time, and, excepting in the case of a very stout woman, give sufficient support to the figure, so cleverly are the bones and steels put in at the back of the ribbon bands.  

The Delineator, April, 1901.

Butterick pattern 4300, circa 1901. Pictured in The Delineator, April, 1901.
Oh, to find this pattern!

The style and shape of the new straight-front corset, tighter with the correct method of lacing with three strings, was fully treated in The Delineator for January, but it is possible for those who so desire to make the new and fashionable ribbon corset, which is exceedingly comfortable and particularly desirable for wear in warm weather.

This corset is embodied in pattern No. 4300 and is constructed of double-faced satin ribbon.  The ribbons are shaped according tot he pattern for the several cross straps, and the upright sections (also of ribbon) are boned to preserve the shaping.  The eyelets at the back may be inserted at the shop where such work is done, or they may be daintily worked at home by the maker, an ivory stiletto being used for punching, and the over-and-over eyelet stitch in working.

Town Talk, San Fransisco, July 27, 1901. Page 6.

Sin of a Ribbon Corset

An episode that came very nearly proving the most embarrassing situation for a well known capitalist occurred one day last week in a well known ladies’ dress goods store in Kearny street.  Early in the week he went to the most classical department in the shop and asked to be served with one of their handsomest imported new ribbon corsets.  He frankly told the saleswoman that she couldn’t furnish him with anything too swell or too beautiful.  The saleswoman was particular as to measurement but he was prepared for that ordeal and coloring slightly he produced a slip of paper covered with figures that told the story of a stunningly graceful figure.  In due time he was supplied with a wonderful creation in the ribbon corset line and earring his prize carefully wrapped up he started down in the elevator.

Lo, and behold!  Who should be waiting at the door but the glowing face and ample form of his spouse.  “Why, what are you doing here?” She demanded, in surprise.  He was equal to the occasion.  “Oh,” was the answer, slightly halting at first, “I- I’ve been upstairs.”  Then with recovered assurance, “Yes, I’ve been upstairs to get you a little surprise.  I thought it might please you.  They looked so pretty I couldn’t help buying one for you,” and he tucked the small parcel into her hand and started her toward home before she could follow too closely on his trail.  Two days later, with a smile on his face his spouse made her way to the same ribbon corset counter.  “My husband bought me this corset from you several days ago,” she explained,” but just like a man he didn’t know what size to ask for and of course took the first corset you handed him.  It must be fore a girl for it’s much too small for me.  My size is etc., etc.”  The saleswoman took the parcel, recognized the filmy creation nestling therein, but never said a word.  That’s part of her business. In due time the bountifully formed spouse squired several yards of corded  ribbon to wind around her avoirdupois and tiled away beaming.  Several days later the discreet saleswoman sold for the second time the rare creation in lace and ribbons to the wary capitalist.  Next day she wore a very pretty stick pin.  And still she says nothing.

And with that I will sign off for now. I hope to write up more finds in Part III.

1 Comment on Research: Edwardian Ribbon Corsets Part II

  1. Quinn
    February 2, 2020 at 9:01 am (4 years ago)

    Sin of a ribbon corset indeed! I amused by the story. I enjoy how these types of stories are written. :) This is fascinating research. I’ve very loosely contemplated a ribbon corset for years, but it seems daunting in terms of fit and materials these days.


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