Corset A Freedom of Defining Beauty

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					                               Freedom of Defining Beauty - Corset

The long reign of Queen Victoria from June 1837 to January 1901 is known as Victoria era. This
period in British history is significant because it gave rise to important rise in social and cultural
ideals in the European society. It was natural for fashions and lifestyles to change several times in
this long period. Many different forms of lifestyles and cultures came to be included into the British
society because of the evolving technology and Britain’s rule over the colonies across the world.
Stitching at home and clothes made following individual dictates and needs were in fashion in the
beginning of this period.

With the advent of the factory-made clothes, Victorian dresses began to be mass-produced and
fashion became intertwined with the large-scale production of garments in the industry. With the
development of the sewing machines and stitching technology in the factories and lock-stitching
gaining ground, trimming became much easier than earlier it had been and it became a fashion
statement. Similarly, production of laces on a mass-scale and at low cost was made possible by the
lace-making machines. Bright synthetic colours could now produce a new repertoire of shades which
were not earlier possible by the organic and natural dyes. Thus, many features of the Victorian
dresses were directly related to the technological and industrial development in Britain in the 19 th
century and its rule over the colonies.

The Victorian dresses for women changed during this period, transforming from bell-shaped gowns
to the gowns that looked flatter in front and flowing at the back, to less flowing styles. Corsets were
important costumes in Victorian dresses for women in the 19th century. These were used primarily
to make the waist look slimmer. These essentially had a tight frame with whale bone linings to keep
the waist constricted, since an hour-glass figure was the ideal of feminine beauty at this time. Corsets
were tied in front with draw strings. They could be short, over-bust, under-bust or long going down
to the hips.

The steampunk costume inspired by the Victorian corset uses corsets made of cloth that follow the
line of Victorian corsets, without serving the primary purpose of slimming the waist. The steampunk
corset has a loose fitting as compared to the Victorian corset, though it looks like the original corset
in shape. To enhance the Victorian look, it has drawstrings in front.

Steampunk costume in this sense draws from the Victorian dresses of feminine beauty, but
redefines this ideal to express the notion that women need not be constricted by a code of dress to
look attractive according to social norms. Rather, they can redefine their own ideal of beauty without
following the norm of beauty laid down by the society.

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