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Silk corset, Europe, 1871-1900

Corsets were once very fashionable items of clothing, designed to be tightly pulled to give women an hourglass shape or show off a military man’s rigid and straight back. Unfortunately, excessive use could be very damaging to the internal structures of the body. To the right of the corset is a plaster cast of a female torso (A61203), dissected to show the internal organs which have become displaced after many years of corset wearing. Judging by the floral silk design, this corset was probably owned by a woman. Corsets were also worn for orthopaedic conditions where the spine needed support.

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Glossary: orthopaedics

The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.

Glossary: corset

A tight undergarment worn by women to shape the figure. Historically tied with lace and structured with bone.