Recently I received a request from one of my favourite fashion bloggers: Claire aka Harbourmaster: did we have any fan-laced corsets that she could look at? It took a little while, but eventually we found this one, hidden amongst my corset collection.
We’re currently setting up an online shop for Circa, and this had been photographed for listing, but alas, between me emailing Claire to invite her to see it, and that information being relayed to the shop, one of my glamourous assistants had already sold it – so the good news is that it’s found a good home and the bad news is that Claire could no longer view it. We have photos, however, and I have lots more corsets so when I find some more fan-laced ones, I shall let her know.
As you can tell from the images, this corset was made by Jenyns, an Australian company based in Brisbane that made corsets from 1891 to 1999. Most of the vintage corsets from the 20th century were designed primarily for back support, although reducing the size of the waist is a nice bonus. Usually they’re quite formidable, strong and practical: not really the sexy creations we tend to think of these days. I get a lot of requests at the shop for black vintage corsets but the fact is that most are white, peach or beige, designed to hide easily under every day clothing.
Most of them are larger sizes: the one above is actually a size 10 (28 inch waist), but a 12 or 14 would be able to reduce her waist several inches by wearing it. It’s made of a nice cotton jacquard and would be quite comfortable to wear because the fabric breathes and it was probably custom-made to fit a particular customer. Like many vintage corsets, it’s in excellent condition and looks as if it’s hardly been worn.
Looking at the back view, the four wide elastic straps don’t seem to connect to anything so it’s likely that there were buckles or something to attach them to, perhaps like the ones on the side. You can see how wide and long the boning is at the back too. Jenyns were unusual with their fan-lacing in that they were the only company to use fan-lacing over the stomach: usually it was around the back, where it is easier to hide under clothing.
Like many orthopaedic corsets, this one is an under-bust. The wearer would have worn a separate bra and perhaps a slip underneath. Corsets can be tricky to date: this style is reminiscent of the 1930s but they’re not as subject to fashion as much as other types of underwear. The mention of lycra on the label makes me think it’s fairly modern: no earlier than the 1970s (lycra was available overseas earlier but that’s when it started to appear in Australia).
Photo source: ABC site.