Sound Advice to Mothers and Governesses
Regarding Corset Discipline for the Beginner

child or charge to one of the well known corsetières who
makes a speciality of designing corsets for training the
youthful figure. Any one of them will be able to advise you
and to carry out the latest, most scientific ideas in designing
the best type of constrictive wear for the youthful trainee.
Some mothers and governesses in an excess of zeal make
the mistake of strapping up their young hopefuls into a
veritable suit of armor, and lace them into a degree far
beyond the fundamental requisite tightness necessary for the
first corset. By forcing the girl of 12 or 13 into a training
apparatus much more severe than required, she is prejudiced
against the whole process of shaping and disciplining her
figure and may never get over this first impression.
Furthermore, if the first corset is too heavy, too rigid, too
severely shaped and too tightly laced to start with, the health
of the trainee may well be adversely affected.
So, generally, the careful mother or governess should abide
by the advice of the trained corsetière. She will design for
your charge a corset as easy and comfortable as it is possible
to make and still fulfil the requisites of confining, directing and
shaping the growing figure. This first corset should be long
enough to restrict and control all bodily movement from the
shoulders to the knees. It should be rigid enough to compel
an erect, proper posture, sitting, standing, walking, or
The corset should be made with two heavy, preformed
shaping steels on either side of the back lacing. These shaping
steels formed and tempered into a S-curve are designed to
enforce the proudly arched back line and, in conjunction with
the broad, rigid, busk in front , help to enforce proper
carriage of the whole body, with the hips well back, the torso
inclined forward from the hips, bust and chest held up high
and shoulders, neck and head, back. The boning
supplementary to the busk and shaping steels should be heavy
enough to insure proper fitting of the corset when it is laced
close. Normally, ten bones or steels on each side are
sufficient if properly placed.
The best material for facing and lining the corset is strong,
high-quality kid leather. It does not stretch and is gentle to
tender young skin, preventing rubbing, gouging and other
common skin irritations. It does not slip or slide readily on the
skin. It imparts its own supplementary rigidity to the corset
and may be quickly and easily cleaned by using a damp
According to all authorities the corset should be firmly
anchored at top and bottom so that it cannot move up and
down on the figure so that the corseted girl cannot move
independently of her corset. At the top this may be best
accomplished with the use of wide, padded leather shoulder
straps sewn in at the fixed ends to the back of the corset The
straps should be crossed behind the wearers back and go
over the opposite shoulder, with the strap attached to the
right side of the corset being drawn over the left shoulder and
the one on the left side over the right shoulder. The straps are
then drawn under the armpits through a leather loop and
attached to each other by a regular buckle and strap-hole
arrangement. When the straps are properly adjusted and
buckled they anchor the top of the corset and prevent
downward movement of the garment on the wearers body.
They enforce proper carriage of the shoulders, preventing
slumping or rounding and at the same time force the shoulders
down and back. They draw the wearers back into the back
of the corset raising the rib cage, lengthening the waist and
further arching the back in the process. Careful, precise
adjustment of the shoulder straps is most important. They
should not be drawn up too tightly. If the corset-wearers
shoulder blades are drawn back firmly together, the requisite
degree of adjustment will be attained. The subject should be
examined from time to time to see that chafing or irritation of
the arm-pit does not occur. Careful padding of the straps at
this point and the daily application of talcum powder will
largely eliminate such irritations.
The best means to anchor the corset at the bottom, firmly
and securely, is by means of boot straps. Six strong leather
straps should be sewn and riveted to the bottom of corset
two in front, two on the sides and two in back. These straps
should be drawn through buckles sewn and riveted to
thigh-length kid corset-boots. The buckles should be attached
to the boots about six inches above the knees. The boot
straps should be drawn up tightly enough to prevent upwards
movement of the corset on the figure
The corset-boots which must be most carefully fitted,
should be lightly boned to prevent wrinkling. Five light flexible
bones reaching from the shoe part of the boot to the boot top
are sufficient for this purpose. The boots should be very long,
fitted up to the line where the upper thigh joins the torso. The
shoe of the boot should be designed with a short vamp, high
arch, and high heel, a two-inch Louis heel is high enough for
the beginner. The interior of the shoe should be carefully
padded to prevent foot irritations and should fit the foot very
closely. Such a fitting will tend to inhibit growth of the feet.
When the shoe portion of the boot is properly fitted and
laced, the wearer should not be able to move her toes or any
part of her foot within the shoe. The boot above the shoe
must be closely laced to shape and confine the ankle calf,
knee and thigh. The midpoint of the thigh between knee and
torso should measure one inch smaller with a tight tape over
the laced boots than without them.
Physical Effects of the Corset
Since the corset is primarily a mechanical device to enforce
certain desired physical changes on the wearer, let us examine
the new trainee, now laced and strapped into her training
apparatus to see what the exact results are.
If she has been correctly corseted her thighs are drawn
closely together, regulating and restraining her stride to the
ladylike length of twelve to fourteen inches. Her hips and
posterior are closely confined but not tightly laced. She
should measure at least one inch smaller over the buttocks
with the corset laced on than without it. This has the effect of
drawing the lower portion of the front busk closely into the
abdomen, compressing it and holding the lower internal
organs securely in position. The now tightened portion of the
corset between hip-bones and the rib-cage forces this section
of the torso forward and at the same time exerts upward
pressure. Particular pressure has been placed on the muscles
of the small of the back at the waistline. The pressure of the
laced corset in this general area largely inhibits abdominal
breathing and confines the muscles of the stomach. It holds
the floating ribs in an almost static position, restricts
movement of the diaphragm, and aids the busk and front
stays in forcing the rib-cage up and out. The compression at
the waist necessary to bring about these changes should be at
least two inches and never more than four inches for the
beginner. In other words, using a tight tape, the waist should
measure at least two inches smaller with the corset laced on
than without it. The corset above the point of the breast bone
should fit easily, permitting the wearer to raise and lower the
upper chest in high costal breathing. As time goes on and the
corset is further tightened, diaphragmatic breathing will be
completely eliminated. The upper chest will expand and grow,
so that with the aid of exercises the well-trained girl or young
woman actually will have a larger chest and greater lung
capacity than her uncorseted contemporaries, as well as a
higher fuller bust.
Reactions of the Trainee to Figure Discipline
Mothers and governesses who are confirmed corset-wearers
are sometimes unsympathetic toward the newly corseted girl.
They should remember their own early training and adopt an
attitude of sympathetic firmness. To do this they should have a
clear idea of her physical and mental troubles and
First, it should be noted that she is not unbearably
uncomfortable. Her boots and corset are not severely laced
and while she certainly is not at ease, she is definitely not in
serious pain.
She will not like her tight-fitting boots. She may have been
used to easing her feet by wiggling her toes or perhaps
removing her shoes at her own volition. This she can no
longer do since her feet are confined in two closely fitting
molds. She has not been accustomed to high heels and high
arches and her feet and legs will ache a bit from the unnatural
strain. The legs and thighs of her boots are closely laced and
she is of course unaccustomed to this general pressure from
toe-tip to torso.
The corset itself will be an unpleasant surprise to the new
trainee no matter how strongly it has been advocated and its
purposes and benefits explained. The close-fitting corset
apron and the compression in the thigh-hip area confine and
restrict her normal stride, prevent her from indulging in such
tomboyish activities as running and jumping, scurrying up and
down stairs or galloping about like an ungainly colt. She can
move only in a restrained, dignified and ladylike manner.
Constriction of the central portion of the body will be
particularly irksome at first The neophyte will find that she can
no longer bend readily from the waist and must learn to bend
from the hips and knees only. The pressure on the small of the
back necessary to enforce the proudly arched back line will
be particularly onerous She will have a stifled feeling because
of confinement of her diaphragm which can be quickly
eliminated by training to breathe by raising and lowering the
upper chest. She will become very tired of having her
shoulders strapped back into a practically immovable
It might be mentioned at this point that the seated posture is
more severe for the trainee than any other. In this position the
tension over the posterior is increased, it draws the lower
portion of the back into the abdomen, forcing the chest and
bust up and arching the back more extremely, It will be
literally impossible for her to sit in low, easy chairs but if she
sits well forward in straight-backed chairs of the proper
height sitting will not be intolerable. Even so the new
corset-wearer will try to avoid sitting, and it is advisable to
urge her to spend several hours a day seated so that she may
accustom herself to that position.
Speaking more generally about the trainees reactions, she
will have a general sense of tension and strain. She will also
feel unbalanced in her new posture. She can no longer relax
but must maintain a proper erect posture sitting, standing
walking or lying down. She can no longer move except within
the confines of her restrictive apparatus and she will
instinctively resent this loss of freedom. As one trainee aptly
said, "I feel as if I had been laced and strapped up into a
heavy steel and leather portable prison from which there is no
Constant Wear
No single factor is more important in setting up a training
regime than early establishment of the principle of constant
wear. The trainee must be made to understand from the
outset that her corset and boots will never be loosened day or
night except for sanitary requirements. This is a hard and fast
rule. She should be told why constant wear is so important,
and why the rule that the wearer can have absolutely no
control over the laces buckles and straps which adjust her
training garments, is absolutely necessary.
It should be explained to her that by wearing her corset and
boots constantly day and night, she will become both mentally
and physically adjusted much sooner than if she wore them
during her waking hours only. Furthermore, this method is
much better for her health, because her whole body and
particularly her internal organs have a real chance to adapt
themselves to the corseted position and are not subjected to a
nightly change from a confined to an unconfined condition. It
should be mentioned that when the corset is removed the
figure spreads and it is therefore impossible to make steady
progress in "fining" down the figure. By keeping the figure
under corset compressing for all but an hour a week (the time
necessary for ablutions), it will submit to the dictates of the
corset much more readily, and be easier for the trainee in the
long run. In order to attain the desired dimensions of the
smart, well-trained figure – a waist of eighteen inches or less
with bust and hips in proportion – constant wear is the only
method to follow as far as health and happiness are
concerned. This is a scientific fact. Many women will testify to
its benefits, and research has confirmed their testimony.
A word of caution is in order in regard to constant wear.
Most mothers and governesses will find that the average
trainee will not accommodate herself readily to this rule. And
that soon after she has been harnessed up she will beg you to
loosen this strap or that lace "just a little for just a few
minutes" You must be firm on the subject and at the same
time explain to your charge that it is in her own interest that
you forbid her any easement. She may resort to crying spells
or even hysterics to appeal to your sympathy. Calmly resist
these appeals and make it known that you will continue to
resist them and in a relatively short time these emotional
upsets will cease.
The average trainee will particularly not like wearing her
corset at night. At first, under this discipline, she will
unquestionably be restless, uncomfortable and unhappy. In
bed she has probably been wont to relax free from restraint
and now she finds herself closely confined and compelled to
maintain the same strained posture at all hours, day and night.
The temptation to release herself to tamper with her laces and
straps will be almost overpowering at night when the rest of
the household is asleep and she is free from supervision. For
this reason it is advisable to restrict the movement of the
hands while the trainee is in bed. The best method to
accomplish this restriction is to attach wide, carefully padded
leather cuffs to both sides of her bed in a position where her
wrists would naturally fall if she were lying in bed on her
back. When the trainee is ready for bed have her lie down on
her back. Fasten the cuffs firmly and securely about each
wrist so that she cannot slip them over her hands. With the
cuffs buckled on in this fashion the girl will be unable to reach
any of the fastenings of her garments. She will also have to
sleep on her back which is the preferred position because it
allows full upper chest expansion in breathing. The new
corsettee may not like the restraining cuffs but she will rest
more tranquilly with them on because she will not be faced
with the temptation to tamper with her clothing.
During the first nights of bed-corseting, the young lady will
be very restless and will not be able to sleep well but within a
surprisingly short time nature will take its course and she will
be able to sleep as well as she ever did. It might be added
that it is a good practice to ease out a little the shoulder straps
at night. This will help relax the subject while still not
permitting her to round her shoulders.
There is no necessity for any extra restraining devices
during the daytime. Proper supervision and back-fastening
under and outer clothing will effectually prevent the new
corset-wearer from tampering with the adjustments of her
restrictive garments. She should not, however, be left alone
for long periods. Nor should she be left in the company of
another girl of her own age.

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