Real Women Don’t Wear Corsets (9-1-1921)

Women were becoming liberated.  They were voting.  They were driving cars.  They were smoking in public.  And now, they were getting rid of their corsets.

Today’s Tribune said so.  The thoroughly modern woman no longer wanted the old fashioned, high bust, heavy steel corset.  That contraption was probably gone forever.

The Tribune asks some questions

The Tribune asks some questions

Dr. Katharine Corcoran, medical director of the Woman’s Catholic Order of Foresters, declared that the corset was a hazard to health.  “Women for the first time are giving their bodies a chance to develop naturally,” she said.  “Going without the corset is a good substitute for the old medicine bottle.”

For Corcoran, dumping the corset was like shedding prison shackles. Women could now achieve their full potential. “The present-day woman,” she said, “is now capable of achievements equal almost to those of men.”

Some women thought the corset wasn’t dead yet.  One buyer from a major State Street store said that “the Parisian style dictators assert more strongly than ever the need for a corset.”  She had just returned from Paris, and knew this for a fact.

Make way for the new woman!

Make way for the new woman!

“In our store, we sell twice as many corsets as a year ago,” the buyer went on.  “But the corsets are lighter in weight, and not made of expensive material any more.”

As the buyer was giving her views, a young male customer interrupted.  “But I have danced with fifty girls in the last month, and not one of them wore a corset,” he said.

With that, the buyer smiled at him, and said, “Ah, my boy, you didn’t know.”

The buyer then opened a box of 1921-model corsets and showed them to the young man.  “See how light they are!” she said.  “The modern corset simply confines the hips and holds up the stockings–that’s all.  The girls wear them, and you wouldn’t know.”

So maybe the corset, in some form, would always be with us.  But it would have to adapt to the changing lifestyle of the modern female.  As Dr. John Mahoney put it, “The women of the present day are paying more attention to their work and their sports than they are to their hearts and their appearance.”




1 Response to “Real Women Don’t Wear Corsets (9-1-1921)”

  1. 1 James F. O'Neil September 1, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Well done. I am glad that the next generation abandoned the bra. Unfortunately when the 40s and 50s came, the pointed sweater girls made my growing years frustrating. Thanks for the post. Huzzah to the Flappers! Now about those sexy black wool braless bathing suits at Oak Street Beach?

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