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History Matters: The Complicated History of the Corset

History Matters: The Complicated History of the Corset

The Complicated History of the Corset: Facts, Legacies and Misconceptions

We are in the midst of a corset resurgence with celebrities, social media influences and most fashion retainers wearing or selling some form of ‘corset’. While corsets might be fashion now, they were a vital part of women's everyday dress for nearly 400 years, worn in the courts of Europe, in the parlours of middle-class households and even on the Victorian goldfields. 

Join Dr. Sarah Bendall as she uncovers this controversial garment, how it evolved and why it was worn, ideas about comfort and practicality, sexuality and eroticism, and the idea of women's being oppressed by these garments. Sarah hopes to complicate the already complicated history of the corset, and possibly challenge the assumptions that some people have about these garments and the women who wore them.

Dr. Sarah Bendall is a material culture and gender historian of the early modern period (1500-1800), with particular expertise in 17th century dress, based at Australian Catholic University, Australia. She is author of Shaping Femininity (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her current research projects examine the use of whale materials in fashion and she is completing her next book, The Women who Clothed the Stuart Queens, under contract with Bloomsbury. Sarah regularly appears as an historical fashion expert on Australian radio. She has been recreating historical corsets for over a decade.

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