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  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, made)
    Great Britain (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1864 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, edged with machine-made lace, reinforced with whalebone, metal, lined with cotton twill

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Burrows family

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The corset was worn over the chemise and it moulded the figure of the wearer into the fashionable shape of the day. These shapes ranged from slender to curvaceous and everything in between during the 19th century. Like the chemise, the corset in the 19th century was made of a wider variety of materials, in this case blue silk lined with linen. It did not need to be very tightly laced, for the illusion of a small waist was created by the very wide circumference of the crinoline.

Physical description

Corset of blue silk trimmed at the top edge with a narrow band of machine-made lace. The corset reaches the top of the hips and is gored at the bust and hips. The corset is stiffened with whalebone and machine-stitched with an incised swivel latch to lock the busk fastening. There is a lace fastening at the back. Boned at the centre front, back and diagonally from the side to back and sides to front. The boning is hand-stitched into place. Metal eyelets. Lined with cotton twill.

Place of Origin

France (possibly, made)
Great Britain (possibly, made)


1864 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, edged with machine-made lace, reinforced with whalebone, metal, lined with cotton twill


Circumference: 77 cm bust, Circumference: 56 cm waist, Circumference: 76 cm hips, Height: 33.5 cm front, Height: 34 cm back, Length: 14 in

Object history note

The donors of this corset linked it to a 1864 marriage in the family, but there is no further information.

Descriptive line

Boned corset of silk trimmed with machine-made lace, possibly made in France or Great Britain, 1864

Labels and date

From the late 1840s to the 1860s skirts were full and bell-shaped, at which point corsets were relatively short and not particularly tightly laced, since the massive skirts made all waists look proportionally small. The whalebones press into the waist to shape the hipline into an extravagant curve, to flatter and support the fashionable cage crinoline.

France or Britain, 1864
Silk, edged with machine lace, with whalebone and metal eyelets, lined with cotton twill
Given by the Burrows family
V&A: T.169-1961 [2013-2015]
A front fastening corset

The wearer of this corset could dress without help because the steel 'split busk' fastens in front. The front fastening was invented in 1829 but did not become common until the 1850s.

There are fewer bones in the back of the corset than the front and none over the hips. In the 1860s women relied on voluminous skirts, in addition to corsets, to make their waists appear small.

Britain or France, about 1864
Silk, cotton twill lining, whalebone (baleen), metal busk, machine-made lace edging
V&A: T.169-1961
Given by the Burrows family [16/04/2016-12/03/2017]


Women's clothes; Underwear; Ph_survey; Textiles; Fashion; Lace; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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