Back in October of 2014, after I had set up my No Lady of Leisure exhibit at the Kingfisher museum, I was privileged to be allowed to go through some of the textile items in the storage/archives of the museum. There were some lovely 1902ish shirtwaists, a few delightful 1890's dresses, but the thing that set my heart completely aflutter was the corset I found forgotten in a bottom row box of undergarments.
Finding a corded corset in a museum close to home, and one from the right time frame, was something I hadn't expected to find in a million years! My specialty of research is Late Victorian/Edwardian women's work clothing, and this was the very foundation of those outfits. I had longed to be able to get my hands on one to study for many years and was never able to afford a piece in decent condition. Yet here it was, accession #1970.1842 in my hands, and the museum would let me draft a pattern from it! A corded corset means instead of steel boning used to give shape to the corset, a heavy cord or string was inserted into sewn channels to give the garment structure. Because of the fact bras were not even invented or worn in the Victorian period, a lady would need some sort of undergarment to give her support. (Imagine trying to ride in a bumpy covered wagon or on a galloping horse with no support garment ladies!) This style of garment allows for bending, while supporting not only the bustline but heavy petticoats.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of textile history from the Kingfisher Chisholm Trail museum, and stay tuned for more peeks into the archives. You can see more photos of this corset here.