The inside of a Corselette

A corselet or corselette is a type of foundation garment, sharing elements of both brassieres and girdles. It may incorporate lace in front or in back. The term originated by the addition of the diminutive suffix "-ette" to the word corset.



The missing-link between corset and corselette from 1914

The corselet was originally a piece of armor, covering the torso; the origin of the English word comes from cors, an Old French word meaning "bodice".[1] The corselet as an item of women's clothing began to gain traction in 1914, as a substitute for wearing two separate pieces (a brassiere with either a girdle or a corset). The bust uplift cups were first introduced in 1933, but did not become common until 1943. [2][3]

Merry widow

A corselet was released by Warner's in 1955, named after The Merry Widow, a 1905 operetta that has been adapted several times into feature-length films.[4] This new design featured demi-cups and a shorter girdle than its predecessors. This type of lingerie is also known as a torsolette, and is used in bridal lingerie, much like the bustier.

The original merry widow was a corselet incorporating slim panels of black, elastic yarn netting. A heavy-duty zipper was inserted behind a velvet-backed hook-and-eye flange, and the entire garment was lined with nylon voile. Nine long, spiral wires were encased in black satin.

Lana Turner is reported to have said, "I am telling you, the merry widow was designed by a man. A woman would never do that to another woman."[citation needed]

"Merry widow" is the generic term for a corselet bra in the United States.

Interval and rebirth

Around 1960, tights and trousers began to replace corselets. However, Maidenform and other mainstream lingerie and undergarment manufacturers have sold corselets as "control slips" since around 1975.[citation needed]

Variations and relatives

  • A short corselet without garters or shoulder straps is a torsolette or a bustier.
  • A corselet in two parts is a brassiere and a girdle.
  • A corselet with a stiff back and laces is a corsage or a corset.
  • A soft corselet is a slip.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • corselet — [ kɔrsəlɛ ] n. m. • apr. 1250 « petit corps »; de l a. fr. cors → corps 1 ♦ (1562) Anciennt Cuirasse légère. 2 ♦ (1533) Vêtement féminin (costumes régionaux) qui serre la taille et se lace sur le corsage. 3 ♦ (1546) Sc. nat. Partie antérieure du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • corselet — Corselet. s. m. Corps de cuirasse que portent les piquiers. Porter le corselet sur le dos. armé de corselet. la pique & le corselet …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Corselet — Corse let (k?rs l?t), n. [F., dim. of OF. cors. F. corps, body. See {Corse}.] 1. Armor for the body, as, the body breastplate and backpiece taken together; also, used for the entire suit of the day, including breastplate and backpiece, tasset and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Corselet — (fr., spr. Kors läh), 1) so v.w. Corset; 2) sonst leichter Brustharnisch der Infanterie …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Corselet — (franz., spr. korß lä), der Brustharnisch der deutschen Reiter …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • corselet — CORSELET. sub. m. Corps de cuirasse que portoient les piquiers …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • corselet — [kôrs′lit; ] for 2 [, kôr΄sə let′] n. [Fr < OFr, dim. of cors: see CORPS] 1. a piece of armor formerly worn to protect the trunk: also sp. corslet 2. a woman s undergarment combining a lightweight corset, usually without stays, or a girdle,… …   English World dictionary

  • Corselet — Cet article concerne le vêtement. Pour le corselet des insectes, voir Prothorax. Corselet de paysanne du XIXe siècle. Un corselet e …   Wikipédia en Français

  • corselet — (kor se lè ; le t ne se lie pas dans le parler ordinaire ; au pluriel, l s se lie : des kor se lèz épais ; corselets rime avec traits, succès, jamais) s. m. 1°   Léger corps de cuirasse. •   Les matelots étaient armés de corselets, VAUGEL. Q. C.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • CORSELET — s. m. Corps de cuirasse léger que portaient les piquiers. CORSELET, en Histoire naturelle, signifie, La partie du corps des insectes qui est située entre la tête et le ventre, et qui supporte toujours la première paire de pattes. Le corselet d un …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

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