An Primary Source Example of Variety and Bust Support in Edwardian Corsets
For the 1908 Project, the most obvious place to start is with the corsets. For costuming, we always say to dress from “the skin out,”, though in this particular instance we are starting with what would be just on top of that primary layer. This particular example, from October of 1908, is an excellent illustration that shows the variety of corsets that were available.
Many modern people have the misconception that only underbust corsets were available in the Edwardian through 1910s eras, and this simply was not the case. By all means, MOST of the corsets did follow that line, as underwear was moving away from the non-cupped (though possibly gusseted) bust support of the previous few decades of the Victorian era, and into the separate brassiere and corset that would shape ideals of underwear from this time period forward. But this was not at all the only option. And as we see here, the use of elastics and rubber in underwear was beginning to revolutionize how women got shaping. So fear not if you fear no bust support! It can be entirely period accurate to have a corset that has some bust coverage. You just may need to alter existing sewing patterns to achieve this shape, but it certainly was done.
This advertisement was in a French magazine which catered especially to the elite, so most of the fashions and ads I show from Femina will be very fashion-forward for 1908. When I begin to share more middle-class American sources, we will do a side-by-side comparison to see even more variety and showcase the difference in both French and American design. But, as was common for this time period, if you wanted to see what was the future of fashion, look to Paris. There was a reason why the elite went to Paris to buy the new designs.
Here I share both the images and text from this October, 1908 advertisement. You can see my additions in italics.
Which one would you choose?
Mrs BELLANGER, the designer of STELLA corsets, reminds Femina readers that she is working on sensational creations that she presents to them. At the time of the store expansion, next December, 47, Boulevard Haussmann (on the mezzanine), opposite the new Printemps stores, more than 10 fitting rooms will be available to them. The type of the house will not be changed and the prices will not be increased. The models shown here have equally great success, and all give the long and receding line of the hips, indispensable for current fashions.
Mrs. Bellanger draws attention to fig. 8 representing a large enveloping belt in fine rubberized fabric and guaranteed to be solid, which can be worn on the skin for people wishing to lose weight, or over the chemise for those afraid of getting larger; this belt, without any opening, is slipped on by the feet and has been worth 17 fr. 90 depending on the fabric and height.
No. 2 is made in batiste or silk brocaded coutil, 35 fr
Le Fourreau is starting at 40 fr.
No. 7 is made in plain cambric or brocaded coutil, a shape revealing the bust, 19 fr. 90.
Le Tailor, fine plain or silk brocade coutil, 22 fr. 90.
The n°1, Le Stella, having obtained a gold medal, is made in plain cambric for the waist cincher, the whalebone encased in Liberty ribbon, and obtains the preference of ladies who like a slim and curved waist.
You can try these models on before buying at Madame Bellanger’s Salons, and if an alteration is necessary, it is done at no cost. All inquiries are answered with the utmost kindness. Catalog is sent FREE on any request.
Given the many copies that are reported, Mrs. Bellanger asks you to be sure that the mark “STELLA” is inside the corset and on the cardboard. 60, Chaussee d’Antin, 60 PARIS. — Phone: 323-56