Do you know how hard it is to try and research what types of fabric were used in the 19th century? I mean, it’s a small detail, and it’s a throwaway line, and it’s alternate history, anyway–but while that means I could probably say that denim came into widespread use in (as a totally fake example because I don’t have my notes in front of me and I feel lazy right now), say, 1850 rather than the (totally fake, again, making it up) actual date of 1887, I don’t want to do something akin to dressing a character in polyester in 1850.
Anyway, I decided to hop on the library database since Google was doing me no favors … and while, in the end, my lovely costume-designer friend, David, was way more of a help in a Facebook comment than either the databases or Google (not to mention various other folk–make friends with librarians and intellectuals, y’all, it pays off), I did find what may be my favorite article title ever: “‘Fighting the Corsetless Evil’: Shaping Corsets and Culture, 1900-1930.” Here, have a quote from the abstract:
Manufacturers and retailers instituted new merchandising tactics to resist the “corsetless evil” and disseminated pro-corset ideologies culled from dominant discourses about race, nation, and female
inferiority. “Scientific” methods of corset-fitting blamed discomfort on fit rather than on the garment itself.
“Pro-corset ideologies.” This is lovely. Since I’ve read numerous modern articles claiming that if a bra is uncomfortable, you’re wearing one that doesn’t fit, I am filled with thought and speculation, now …
Oh, and damn, I was actually going to research the history of the brassiere and forgot. Note to self.
Look, kids, cite your sources! The above quote is from …
Fields, Jill. “`Fighting The Corsetless Evil’: Shaping Corsets And Culture, 1900-1930.” Journal Of Social History 33.2 (1999): 355. America: History and Life with Full Text. Web. 24 June 2013.