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The Evolution Of The Female Figure

Thursday, 28 April 2016  |  Posted By Vollers Corsets

As cultural shifts have dictated how women are idealised, the female figure has undergone many transformations over the decades, and it is truly fascinating how this ideology has changed.

Here at Vollers Corsets we are looking at the evolution of the female figure from the start of the 20th century through to the present day and how erraticfashionable body image can be.

A contributing factor towards this ever-changing evolution has involved the beautiful corset, a garment we very much know and love here at Vollers Corsets. We have previously delved deep into the history of the corset and how this understated garment has powerfully contributed to society through the centuries.

Dubbed the world’s first acknowledged ‘supermodel’, American chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit was the inspiration behind illustrator Charles Dana Gibson’s work.

Gibson sketched women for women’s lifestyle publications such as Harper’s Bazaar who were tall with a very cinched waist. This popular look idealised the feminine figure as athletic and strong within the Edwardian era.

The elongated look of 1910 gave way to a much slimmer, petite shape as a new decade arose as the ‘roaring 20s.’

The desired look now consisted of a much flatter chest and narrow hips. This boyish shape also shifted a focus towards legs for the very first time as hemlines rose and straight, drop waist dresses became the most sought after styles for women.

The early 1930s marked the beginning of bra cup sizing. From the rising hemlines of the 1920s, the 1930s saw them lowering once again as a more accentuated waist once again became a universally flattering look for women of the decade.

Padded bras to give a more voluptuous bust were also fashionable as actresses such as Bettie Page idealised an ultra feminine look of the decade.

With World War II dominating and structuring the culture of the 1940s, women sought a very utilitarian look with accentuated, military shoulders and pointed bullet bras. Height was once again fashionable as women became more powerful in the workplace and felt more confident in themselves.

The 1950s saw the creation of Playboy magazine and the iconic Barbie doll. Women became true sex symbols, with Hollywood stars such as Betty Brosmer, Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page glamorising the ‘Pin Up’ look. Women of this decade prioritised an hourglass figure with large busts and prominent hips to highlight a tiny waist.

With models such as Twiggy Lawson and Jean Shrimpton the faces of the decade, slim was once again in. Similar to the rising hemlines of the 1920s, the 1960s popularised narrow hips and a small bust in order to wear mini dresses as an experimental revolution began.

The 1970s showcased a very athletic aesthetic for women. With spandex and jumpsuits popular garments to wear throughout the decade, the 1970s focused on being tall, lean and strong.

As the 1970s gave way to a new decade, the 1980s saw women continue to strive to be lean and tall as prominent supermodels of the decade such as Elle MacPherson and Cindy Crawford walked the high fashion catwalks saluting the female supermodel and a girl power revolution.

As a nod towards the grunge movement of the 1990s, models such as Kate Moss paved the way towards an even slimmer female statue. This ‘waif’ look emphasised a small bust and a gaunt look and divided the public on whether or not this trend really was taking body image too far.

An emphasis on fitness and wellbeing saw women opting for washboard abs and as the decade merged into 2010, celebrities such as Kim Kardashianechoed the popular hourglass figure of the 1950s featuring a large bust and hips with a tiny waist and toned abs.

The desirable female figure has continued to change over the decades, flirting between full and voluptuous to thinner and much more straight up and down. Here at Vollers Corsets, our selection of underbust and overbust corsets can help you to enhance your natural figure. We believe that you can be confident and empowering, whatever your body shape.

Time for more? Guide to corsets for beginners | How to tell if you’re wearing an authentic corset | Guide to wearing corsets for performance