Sports corset

  • Circa 1875
  • Cotton, wool, cotton overstitching, metal fasteners, whalebone
  • GAL2003.112.X
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

In the 1870s the corset defined the female silhouette: women wore corsets in the morning, at balls, for swimming and gymnastics – in short, in all circumstances.

This sports corset is remarkably informative: comparison with its equivalents provides an insight into the subtleties of the period's taste and highlights the stylistic differences between formal, elegant and practical wear. Its wide straps make it more comfortable than a daywear corset, the middle of the back is reinforced to accommodate a gymnast's movements and the bottom part of the back is curved. The central front bone is doubled, and six whalebone plates form two gussets for the bosom.


There is a metal hook for attaching the underskirt – a feature of every corset of the time. The blue cotton fabric is glazed and edged with plaited red wool, and the structure of the garment, including the boning, can be seen perfectly under the plain blue fabric, making a feature of the garment's technology. It is interesting to note that the visual codes of sportswear – colours that are dynamic, contrasting, simple and vivid – made their appearance as soon as a specialised wardrobe did. 

Notice's author : Anne Zazzo