By definition, the corset is known to be a close-fitting piece of the whole ensemble that was used to shape a woman’s torso to conform to the fashionable silhouette of the time. According to recorded history, corsets came into existence around the 17th century. Around this period and well into the 18th century, corsets were synonymous with a stiff bodice that had been relegated to underwear. As part of a woman’s lingerie wardrobe of the time, corsets were worn under their attire to lend prominence to their curves and hourglass shape.
The 19th century began to see a decline in the use of the corset. The unnatural posture and the forceful flattening of the body made the corset extremely unpopular. Towards the end of the 20th century, elastic began to be used to control the belly and hips.
In the 1980s, Madonna, with the help of designer Gaultier, brought corsets back into public attention. This final resurgence of the corset freed it from connotations of female oppression and instead presented it as an emblem of female empowerment. The modern woman is seen to wear the corset as a symbol of her liberation as opposed to the traditional idea of the corset being a mechanism that enforced repression and restriction.