AB: Steele – The Corset

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

Steele, Valerie. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001.

This excellent text is by far the best scholarly work I have encountered on the contentious topic of corsetry. The approach is balanced and open-minded, offering a true examination and exploration, rather than yet another demonization or fetishization of the corset. It even includes information on recent experiments done examining how modern women felt and were able to move, even exercise, while wearing reproduction corsets of different periods. In short, this is an exemplary resource, from a great author, and I highly recommend it to anyone examining the history of the corset in any time period, or the theoretical study of the corset. Many very useful and beautiful images are included, often in full color. I highly recommend this book, both for the historical study of the corset and for any situation in which corset myths need to be systematically refuted. The book is not instructional, but does contain a wide variety of excellent pictures, and helpful information on the changing silhouettes and technologies of corsetry that would assist a corset maker, including some period diagrams. It contains many images, both full color and monochrome. It contains extensive notes and a bibliography.

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