The 1800s woman didn’t hit the gym or jump into the latest diet fad when she wanted to tone up her middle, she strapped on a corset. Long before infomercials were pitching the latest waist-slimming gadgets, the attempt to tame the curves of the female body was sparking invention and innovation. The skirt-supporting corset came about as a way to make women more comfortable back in the days when there was enough fabric in a skirt to cover a sofa sectional and two side chairs.
A metal band on the back of the corset and shoulder braces at the top doesn’t really sound too sexy, but they did have a purpose. The added features took some of the weight from a woman’s skirts off her waist, distributing it to the hips and shoulders.
Newspapers and catalogues carried advertisements for skirt-supporting corsets from the 1860s through the 1890s. Lavinia H. Foy, known as Madam Foy, held a number of patents for skirt-supporting corsets. She, along with her husband and son ran a successful business selling the “Madam Foy Improved Corset.”
In addition to the band on the back and the shoulder braces, skirt-supporting corsets often had side lacing, which made it easier and more comfortable to wear. Skirt supporting corsets were usually made from cotton, in white or a neutral tone.
The skirt-supporting corset demonstrated the increasing drive to improve sales through innovations. People were wising up to the fact that women would go for a little extra comfort if they could get it.