AB: Salen – Corsets

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

*Salen, Jill. Corsets: Historic Patterns and Techniques. Hollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2008.

This is a wonderful new resource that greatly adds to the available information on corset-drafting, with a variety of extant corsets appearing both in photographs and graphed pattern schematics at half scale. It is a must-have resource for historical corsetieres, though it does have flaws. The garments range from c. 1750 through 1917, plus two dolls’ corsets, and two of the designs written out with detailed instructions. There is a great deal of useful background, historical, and construction information, though not enough to allow the book to function as a stand-alone resource. Salen’s intention with the book is to offer more variety of available corset patterns, essentially expanding on the book Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh; she succeeds fairly well, though there are some gaps in her chronology, and several of the designs included are, essentially, novelties, rather than representative styles. It is instructional, with diagrams and construction information. It contains monochrome diagrams and patterns, as well as full-color photographs. It contains a further reading list and a list of suppliers. I personally own this book, and would highly recommend it.

Note: For further information on this book’s strengths and limitations, see the reviews of this book by Leimomi Oakes at The Dreamstress: the initial review, the follow-up review, and a specific review of the 1900 ribbon corset pattern in the book.

Note for 1830s research: For the 1830s period, the book offers a “Rural Corded Corset, 1830-40” (pages 34-37) and a “Corded Taffeta Corset, 1840” (pages 38-41).

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