Corsets have a rich history dating back to the 16th century. The most recent peak of popularity was in the early to mid-19th century, also known as the Victorian era. In this period, corsets were made from fabric with boning inserted into sleeves in the fabric. The boning kept the fabric stiff so that it could shape and support the midsection. Corsets are composed of two side panels that are held together by lacing (much like that on a shoe) and a type of hardware called a "hook-and-eye" closure. Putting on a corset for the first time is easier with the help of another person.
Connect the hook-and-eye hardware together to connect one side of the corset. You'll see on the left side of one panel of the corset small holes down its length; these are the "eyes." The opposite side has hardware that is made of little hooks. Place each hook into its opposite eye, working either from top to bottom or bottom to top.
Loosen the laces. Most corsets come partially laced. It's easier not to undo the laces completely, but loosen them so you can slip the corset over your head or step into it and bring it up from your feet.
Slip the corset on, and position it around your midsection. Rotate the corset to have the laces either in the back or the front. Most corsets are meant to be worn with the laces in the back and the hook-and-eye closure in the front. However, you can turn the laces to the front, if you choose, and have the hook-and-eye in the back.
Tighten the laces. This is done more easily with the help of a friend, because there is more leverage to pull the laces tightly from outside the corset. The tightness of the laces is ultimately up to you. The tighter the laces are, the smaller your waist will appear. If the laces are too tight, you risk not being able to breathe properly or fainting. Walk around in the corset after the laces have been tightened to make sure your breathing remains normal. If breathing is at all difficult, have your friend loosen the laces.
To remove the corset, simply unhook the hook-and-eye closure. The next time you put the corset on, wrap it around yourself and you'll only have to fasten the hook-and-eye hardware. If the hardware is on the back, you may still need a friend to close it for you, but you won't need to do much with the laces.