Friday, 20 July 2012

My sexiest clothing

Another naughty question from the Mischief blog: "What is the sexiest piece of clothing you own and why?"

There's nothing in the world sexier than a corset. The feeling of being cinched into perfect posture, the discomfort, the restricted breathing... it's all a kind of domination. Fashion bondage.

There are so many myths surrounding corsetry, some of which still persist to this day. My favourite is that women had their lower ribs removed to accommodate tight-lacing. I have no idea where that little urban horror legend came from but there's no evidence that such a thing ever happened in the name of fashion. It's a good story, though!

Of course the most persistent myth is that men forced women to wear corsets and that, further, they made them tight-lace down to impossibly tiny sizes. In reality husbands and doctors and so-called "dress reformers" pleaded with women to stop being slaves to fashion. The hysteria was all in the men's camp, where they fretted about women destroying their bodies, ruining themselves for motherhood, their only true duty.

The idea of forced tight-lacing came from the erotica of the period - a fascinating example of fantasy trumping fact. (I'm as guilty of it as any of my Victorian predecessors - forced tight-lacing is one of my most pervasive fantasies!) The letters pages of certain mainstream publications were also often infiltrated by fetishists masquerading as girls and claiming to have been ill-treated in fiendish finishing schools by being whipped and forced to wear extremely tight corsets. The idea that all this kinky stuff was paraded in plain sight and accepted as fact is just another delicious example of why I find the Victorian period endlessly fascinating.

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