The corset was most commonly worn in the early and mid- 1800's. They were considered a medical necessity for womens fragile bodies. The stiffer and heavier the framework (typically made of whalebone and even steel), and tighter the lacing, the fancier a woman was since she couldn't do any manual labor (let alone sit down and breathe) in such a contraption. Dita Von Teese brought the look back many years later and wears it beautifully although, we know that cinching ones waist to an un-natural 16"-18" canNOT be the least bit comfortable! Women are even taking it to an art form and doing "corset inspired piercings". Too crazy for most, but interesting to look at nonetheless!