The corselette, also known as a corselet, is a form of foundation garment which takes its inluences from girdles and bras. The What Katie Did Josephine leopard print is featured above - let the animal inside....out! It may incorporate lace in front or in back. The name corselette originally comes from the term corset which had the diminutive suffix '-ette' added to it which had the added benefit of giving it an exotic style.
The term corselet was referred originally to a piece of armor protecting the chest and back and it would have either been made of chain mail or solid plates of metal. The feminine influence has turned the name corselette into something much more alluring leaving men defenseless in its path.
In the early 1900s corselettes began to become fashionable as women's underwear and were worn in place of the combination of a corset or girdle and a brassiere.
The merry widow
A corselet, called the merry widow, entered the fashion market in 1955 and it was named after the The Merry Widow, ' Die lustige Witwe ' in german. The merry widow was an operetta, first performed in 1905, by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. This new style of corselette had demi-cups and a shorter girdle than previous corselettes. This type of vintage lingerie is also sometimes called a torsolette, like the bustier, is often used as bridal lingerie.
The original merry widow was a corselette which had slim panels of black, elasticated yarn netting with spiral wires enclosed in satin. It also had an industrial style zipper hidden by a velvet-backed hook-and-eye flange.
The gorgeous Hollywood actress, Lana Turner, is understood to have to have said of the corselette, "I am telling you, the merry widow was designed by a man. A woman would never do that to another woman."
The term, Merry widow, is now the generic term used in the United States for a corselet bra.
Siblings of the corselette are:
- The slip is a softer and more comfortable form of corselette
- A bustier or torslette is a corselette without shoulder staps or garters
- A coset or corsage has back lacing and is stiffened with boning and has many shapewear similarities with the corset.
The corselette has, after a decline in the 1960s, seen an intense resurgence in part due to its shapewear qualities and its beauty and practicality as a foundation garment. However, much of the resurgence in interest among devotees of the corselet comes from the vintage clothing revival and in the corselettes sheer raw sexual intensity which is hard to resist.