Date: c. 1890s
Origin: United States
Fabric: Cotton twill
Brand: Martha Washington Waist
A very lightweight corset (also called a ‘waist’), likely intended for sport. It made from a single layer of flexible cotton twill, with a gentle silhouette that allows for a wider range of movement than the traditional everyday corsetry of the community, whilst still offered bust and back support. Originally the shoulder straps would have attached at the bust line, with the wearer able to adjust these to suit their figure before stitching into place.
This corset was likely designed in response to the Rational Dress Movement. The Rational Dress Movement saw corsets as restrictive, both physically and socially. A number of prominent figures within the movement specifically blamed traditional corsetry for poor health, with the redesigned corsets promoted as preventing such ailments. An advertisement for Martha Washington Waists from 1899 proclaimed their corsets were for those who seek health and comfort.
Many thanks to Fiona Ibbetson for assistance with object research.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska