Sunday, 29 May 2011

An 1870's Riding Corset

Julie, a fellow blogger who runs the the fabulous Riding Aside blog will be doing an entry on riding corsets this week and coincidently after speaking with my side saddle instructor, Lili Brooksby, about riding in a corset yesterday, I thought I'd share a riding corset that I had in my antique corset collection...

"c.1878-1880. A black sateen corset altered for riding. Although specially made riding corsets were available all through the 19th century, they were very expensive. Less wealthy or spendthrift women often had old, broken in corsets cut down and remade into comfortable riding corsets.

Originally, this corset would have had a deep, curved abdomen and came well over the hips keeping it in style with late 19th century corsetry. To renovate it into a riding corset, the front and back was cut away and the hips completely cut away to allow for the correct sidesaddle position and leg movement during riding. The side steels were removed completely when the hips were cut away and the busk was cut shorter for comfort during riding.

The corset is boned with watchspring and is lined in white cotton. Diamond patterned yellow flossing decorates and reinforces the bone casings on the flared bust line.

Measurements: Bust 37", Waist 28", Busk length (as it is now), 10"."

Not mant people know that in 2006- 2007, that I had to wear a corset everyday due to a prolapsed disc (L5/S1) in my lower back. I didn't wear a medical corset (which tend not to fit as they are designed for men with no hips) but instead wore a Victorian reproduction corset made by my friend Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace Atelier.

I mucked out, rode, did housework, everything in my corset painfree! The corset supported my body and let my discs heal without stress and prevented me from overexerting myself by accident.

Although I don't need to wear a corset everyday now, I still wear them occasionally when my back flares up to let my discs settle down.

I never rode in my antique 1870's riding corset as I do not believe in wearing antique corsets due to their age, rarity and fragility, I did try it on and it was VERY comfortable!


  1. Just on the corset comfort note:

    I go to renaissance festivals. I own a couple of corsets (well, corset-like things...not classic Victorian-style corsets). It's funny the number of "normal" people who have come up to me to ask, "can you even breathe in that?" or "are you really comfortable?" and I'm like, "yes!". They're shocked, because of the popular image of the swooning woman who can't breathe because of her corset.

    I mean, I guess if I wore one really really tight to squish my waist like some people do, then that might happen, but tightened for support? No problem. Plus, I think it improves my posture, hah.

  2. Corsets are like side saddles, and full plate armor for that matter...if they fit correctly they are quite comfortable; if not they are misery indeed.

    I have many corsets from Tudor period onward, and most of them are very comfortable, but it's still a joy to unlace them at the end of a long day, kind of like removing contact lenses and giving your eyes a good rub!

  3. Oh yeah, it's certainly good to get them off at the end of the day (and you make a good comment about them fitting correctly. I had one I thought fit pretty well except the boning on the sides tended to dig into my hips. And then I got corsets that fit me better and it was a bit of a revelation!) but then...I like pulling my bra off at the end of the day too, LOL.

  4. I agree! They are nice to take off at the end of the day just like contact lenses although when my discs went, it was heaven putting on the corset as the pain went away instantly and I got a warm fuzzy feeling, lol. No pain relief pills could beat that!

    I was lucky as Melanie made me my corsets as I've had off-the-peg ones made by a well known company here in the UK that are absolutely horrible to wear.

  5. Happy to got a chance to see a classic corset.

  6. I love my corset, due to my chest being to large for my body to cope I struggled riding and I was in constant agony (thankfully the NHS have discovered that it is seriously affecting my health now getting my op for a reduction soon yay!) I started wearing a corset and I have had no pain since! It's heaven to the point I wear them on a daily basis, I have even started waist training and with no effort my 27" waist is now a 25" waist. I can breathe perfectly (to the point I still sing opera, and believe me you need full use of your lungs) I can eat normally it just nags me when I am full which I need anyway haha and it's corrected the curve in my spine caused by the constant weight... I love it!!!