Victorian Yearnings


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The use of clothing to accentuate or modify the human shape is as old as civilisation itself. Since primitive times, there have been few cultures that have not sought to impose distinctive or even unnatural outlines according to sex, function or social status. The female or weaker sex in particular has more usually had to endure the often bizarre results of fashion or ritual.

Binding women's feet in ancient China. and extension of the neck by solid rings in parts of central Africa, are extreme examples that amount to a systematic distortion of the body. Where fashion has become ritual, one has seen more blatant surgery in the form of circumcision, castration and removal of the clitoris.

In the more rapidly developing cultures of the West, fashion and moral attitudes have changed correspondingly faster, and the means of confining the figure and limiting its movement have been mercifully less permanent. Opinions as to what it is proper for women to wear and to do have changed back and forth, from the very repressive to the very permissive, often within a single generation. At times of strictest moral attitudes, the constriction of clothing has gone
beyond fashion to exercise restraints on the very lifestyle of the wearer.

The clothing worn by women, and to some extent by men, reached its severest in dictating lifestyle during the 19th Century, and it was during the Victorian and Edwardian eras that the corset reached its most rigid and implacable form and gained for itself a place as the
mandatory underpinning, the very foundation of acceptable fashion, modesty and deportment.

As recently as the second world war, quite rigid foundations were accepted as a matter of course, even by young women. During the unsettled fifties and sixties when we were adjusting to new concepts of morality and of male and female social functions, corsetry suffered
a period of disfavour with all but the older generation. While women drifted in a masculine direction in the simplicity of their dress and men met them half way with daring colours, frills and long hairstyles, 'unisex' was expressing itself in casual dress. Corsetted formality appeared to be a thing of the past.

However, the human race seems to have a built-in safety factor which obliges it to reverse the pendulum swing when an extreme has been reached, and there are now clear signs of a wish to retreat from excessive laxity in dress and deportment.

Of these signs, the most significant is the revival of firmer foundations and of tight-lacing corsets in particular. That the skilled corsetiere has returned to her workshop, with busks and bones
and laces, is a sure indication that some people need to surrender themselves to those disciplines under which an earlier generation created such a great place for itself in our history books.

Having dwindled to little more that a mild second skin, the foundation garment is being brought back from the verge of extinction to its proper function of affording physical and moral protection to the wearer.
In the wake of recent permissive decades, the prospect of being strictly corsetted day in, day out, year in, year out will seem to be a daunting one. However, a far wider variety of corsetry than existed last century will offer a gentler way to eventual daily corsetting in a properly boned garment and all the appropriate clothing that goes with it.

It is hoped that the following pages will contribute towards the return of a more serious approach to discipline of attire and deportment.


Discipline depends upon the authority to compel and to restrain. This authority may, at times, have to be enforced by corrective measures, but the surest way to command total compliance is to maintain a constant discipline that allows for no exceptions or excuses and that varies only to reward exceptionally good behaviour or to punish disobedience.

This is especially true for those who need discipline in controlling the figure and the deportment. The Victorians understood this well, and a rigorous severity of dress was their most powerful weapon in maintaining decorum in the weaker sex.

In these modern times the need for corset discipline persists, and, amid all the liberality of scanty dress and unseemly activity, there is a yearning for a return to a strict and protective control over the lives of the weaker sex. This is even felt by those who would have to abandon the freedom they now enjoy and submit to the harsh repressions that are necessary in achieving decorum. The flurry of unseemly activity that surrounds us, and to which we have become so accustomed, will make severe control of dress and conduct all the harder to bear,
but being of the weaker sex has never been easy.

If universal laxity has deprived the weaker sex of the discipline they need, it has been responsible for one great advance in our thinking. The discipline of the Victorians broke down as a result of their mistaken assumption that all women were of the weaker sex and all men
of the dominant. We now know that some must surrender to constraint and that others must impose restraint, and that the sex into which one is born is of no consequence. If the dress, manners, duties and pastimes of the weaker sex seem traditionally exclusive to women, we
are now beginning to understand that this is not so. Where some women - the liberated - may now wear the clothes and indulge in the activities once thought of as men's exclusive rights, so some of those confined to corsets and discipline will be men.

The discipline needed to cultivate and maintain decorum in the weaker sex does not alter in its strictness, but only in overcoming the difficulties arising from a long period of universal liberalism run wild.


A proper understanding of underclothing will be necessary, both for those imposing discipline training and for those being subjected to it. What is out of sight beneath the dress is the very basis of this discipline, and indeed, the term 'foundation' is a far better one than 'corset' for what is the mainstay of figure and lifestyle.

In our day many people think of corsetry as wispy girdles that do little more than hold up nylons. Modern yarns have resulted in foundations that allow the freedom to adopt deportments and activities that are quite unsuitable for the weaker sex. At the same time, corsetry now offers a wider variety of styles, allowing for an easier return to 'straight-laced' living. However, it must be made clear that many items of modern corsetry such as very light girdles and corselettes are designed for the convenience of liberated women and are quite inadequate for restraining the movements and controlling the figure in the weaker sex.

Foundation wear can be separated into three distinct garments: the corset or girdle, the brassiere, and the corselette which is a combination of the first two. These foundations may also be separated into three types, according to the firmness of the materials from which they are made: stretch garments that are predominantly of elasticated yarn, rigid garments that are boned and have little or no elasticated insert, and period corsetry of Victorian and Edwardian
design - heavily boned and unyielding.

The brassiere supports or accentuates the bust by firmly holding the breasts or any padding that fashion may decree, Standard types cover the bust only and are unsuitable for the weaker sex. They may, however, be useful when breast-forms are worn under sleepwear

The deep brassiere additionally controls the midriff, and may perhaps be allowed for informal occasions.

The long-line brassiere reaches to the waist and the elasticated models might be more suitable for informal wear. The ideal brassiere for daily discipline wear will be a long-line pattern with front or side hook fastening and some boning. This style, like all other discipline underwear, will have built up shoulders.

The corset or girdle controls the stomach and buttocks, and has suspenders. Standard patterns, both elasticated and rigid, come up to the waist only, and are unsuitable for discipline.

A high-waisted model is essential. On rare informal occasions a firm elasticated type with front or side fastening and some boning can be worn. For normal everyday wear a rigid type is called for.

The ideal corset will fit well over the hips and buttocks, it will have an underbelt and very firm boning. Although a closed-back style with side hook fastening would be acceptable. a back lacing corset with front busk will be firmer and will have the advantage of preparing the wearer for the days of tight-lacing that are an essential feature of proper discipline.

All that has been said of the corset and brassiere applies equally to the corselette, which is available in the same yarns and styles. Some feel that the corselette, being easier to put on, encourages the weaker sex to slackness, while others value the additional rigidity provided by longer bones. Since rigid foundations are to be worn for most of the time and on a daily basis, more than one set will be needed, so perhaps a corset and brassiere and a corselette would make the ideal basis for the 'corset drawer'. Whether the foundation is a corselette or two-piece, it will be a strongly boned and rigid garment with an underbelt, it will preferably have six suspenders and it will be the normal wear for the weaker sex.

We come now to tight-lacing, which is an essential feature in corset discipline. In a perfect world the weaker sex would be laced in daily, as a matter of routine, but we live in times when the ideal is not usually possible. However, a 'period' or 'traditional' corset will be essential for
regular deportment and figure training. Styles, perfected throughout the nineteenth century, vary considerably in design: some nip the waist in (wasp waist), some control it to a smoother line
(hourglass), and others extend well down over the hips to moderate the length of stride. All traditional corsets have three features in common: severe boning, firm front busk fastening and full-length back-lacing that allows for ruthless tightening.

Where a 'traditional' corset is not worn daily, but only for regular 'lacing-in' days and corrective training, a long style will be needed. This must have a back length to reach from between the
shoulder blades well down round the buttocks, and the front will half cover the bust or incorporate a full bust section. A modern improvement is the option of an underbelt with its own busk, and this is strongly recommended for the extra care it demands in dressing and
for the additional constraint it affords to offset the comparative freedom of everyday rigid foundations.

Where a traditional corset is worn daily, a shorter style may be adopted, but it would be a mistake to allow anything shorter than sixteen inches. So, the corset drawer will contain a really rigid foundation for day to day wear, a traditional corset for being laced into on one day a
week or one week a month perhaps, and there may be some really firm elasticated foundation wear for very occasional use. Much will depend on the particular routine laid down: some of the weaker sex get off more lightly than others, but none will ever be without a full foundation at any time of the day, all will remain well corseted year in, year out.

Rubber corsetry deserves separate mention. It is intended to provide the same figure control as the firmer elasticated models, and it has the added advantage of producing a slim effect. Brassieres, girdles and corselettes of this type, made from a fleece-lined and perforated
rubber would be a better alternative to elasticated foundations for those rare afternoons of freedom, especially where there is a fondness for chocolates.

As rigid and traditional corsetry is troublesome to launder, it is essential to wear underneath it something that can be changed daily.  A tight-fitting vest or camisole made from cotton knit is ideal for the purpose. No vest or corset liner is worn with elasticated or rubber corsetry, making this type of foundation suitable only for the warmest weather.

Like corsetry, underwear now comes in many styles, not all of which are suitable for the weaker sex. These days far too little underwear is worn, and many styles of vests, slips and drawers are designed as a concession to this immodesty. Underwear must be warm, and even the
attire beneath the slip or petticoat must conform to the standards of modesty demanded of the weaker sex.

A vest or a camisole is worn without exception over the foundation; it will be of botany wool with sleeves for cold weather. Silk or artificial silk is suitable for hot weather.

Drawers, of the same materials as the vest, are always worn of course. These must cover any part of the leg that may be visible above the stockings, and a style reaching to or below the knee should be insisted upon in cool weather. A panty with legs of suitable length may suffice, but a directoire knicker with elasticated legs is more in keeping with strict attire.

Finally, a slip or petticoat is worn over this underwear, and must conceal it entirely except for the sleeves of a cool weather vest.  While the vest and knickers that go with corset discipline will usually be rather plain, the petticoat will often have lace or ribbon trim, so valued by the weaker sex. If the material of the petticoat is also chosen to suit the weather, this will further ensure protection against cold in winter or immodesty in summer.

Needless to say, the weaker sex never go with bare legs, and even the sheer nylons worn by modern liberated women are unsuitable. Stockings must not be transparent, even if worn with a long skirt. If the legs are unshapely, elasticated hose must be worn, even under the woollen
stockings that are necessary in winter.

Undervest, foundation, vest, knickers, petticoat and stockings represent the minimum to be worn beneath the outer dress. Pleas to wear fewer undergarments in warm weather must, like pleas to be less severely corsetted, be ignored. If the weaker. sex are to maintain modesty and decorum there can be no relaxation from proper dress, however oppressive it may feel on warm or restless days.

However instructive my advice may be, the master or mistress would not wish my recommendations for the attire of the weaker sex to intrude into the privacy of their bedchamber. However, a misunderstanding that some current fashions might provoke obliges me to do so, if an important warning is not to be neglected. There exist items of underwear, hosiery and so-called corsetry which have the sole purpose of pleasing the tastes of some masters or mistresses on private, conjugal occasions.  This fashion of an intimate nature includes the
most immodest underwear, corsetry made of unusual materials, seductive hosiery and an extensive range of underthings made from latex rubber.

It must be quite clear that such attire is intended exclusively to please the master or mistress by making the weaker sex appear seductive while at the same time causing her or him to feel degraded. While some of the weaker sex may be put into such attire at certain times and for relatively brief periods, underwear and hosiery of this provocative kind is totally unsuitable for normal wear by the weaker sex I would go so far as to recommend that any such items should be kept in the custody of the master or mistress - every household will have a locked cupboard in which are stored canes, chastity belts and confiscated articles.

Outer dress is a matter of fashion, and the only essential features will be that the skirt reach below the knees, that the cut conform to the well corsetted figure and that the sleeves reach to the wrist for daytime wear. Bare arms should be for formal occasions only.

Victorian and Edwardian dresses are now back in fashion, and this will be a welcome feature for those who take strict training in a serious way, for these styles are naturally suited to tight-lacing. Whatever the dress, it is important that it show off the figure, thus rewarding the severest corsetting. The suitable dress is one that demands a firm foundation, whether it is the prettiest item in the wardrobe or the plainest servant's uniform worn for corrective domestic duties.

For venturing outside the house, gloves will usually be insisted upon, and many will also be required to wear a hat. Shoes or boots must have a heel rise of at least three inches. A handbag, always within reach, will contain a handkirchief, hairpins, makeup, perfume and
anything else needed to ensure a 'ladylike' appearance in any emergency.

Hair or fashion wig must be styled and kept in proper order throughout the day by constant attention. Cosmetics and perfume, essential on most occasions, will be dictated by the tastes of the master or mistress.

The growth of superfluous hair plagues even the fairest of the weaker sex, and can make life a misery for them in severe cases, It is most important that hair under the arms, on the legs or any other part of the body or face be removed as often as is necessary to keep its growth a perfectly guarded secret

The rule for correct dress is that the weaker sex must suffer to be beautiful. The merciless constriction of corsets, the oppression of the mandatory underwear and the constant attention to every detail of outer dress can be endured only under strictly imposed discipline. The more so when the weaker sex are surrounded by the tempting and carefree activities of the modern world. The temptation to change into something cool or loose, even to let out the corset laces a tiny bit will need the implacable authority of master or mistress if it is to be resisted by a creature in whom strength of character is traditionally lacking.

Escape will come at bedtime, when only a long nightdress and modesty knickers will be worn. Even under the severest disciplines requiring night bonnets, night stockings or extra items of sleeping underwear, bedtime will bring its respite, so that a refreshed and demure subject
can emerge corsetted and cossetted in the morning. Though one reads of young girls obliged by strict mothers or governesses to remain laced in for sleep, this practice is not recommended. A liberty bodice with suspenders is the answer for night stockings.


Masters and mistresses will differ in the severity of what they consider becoming to the weaker sex, and a number of suggestions are, therefore, put forward so that the weaker sex may have some idea of what might be expected of them under a routine of corset discipline.

The standard of dress and comportment already described represents the basic way of life for the weaker sex, and it will be modified to suit the tastes and convenience of master or mistress, domestic, financial and social circumstances.

A light regime requires rigid foundations and complementary underwear on five days a week, tight lacing into a traditional corset on one day a week and a firm elastic foundation with more decorative underwear on one day a week. The weaker sex must always be laced in for at least
one full day each week; they must always wear vest, knickers and slip and may never be without stockings. For ladies of the weaker sex pantygirdles or corselettes and tights may be permissible on informal days. Where very liberal discipline allows slacks, this must not be
an occasion for being uncorsetted or without proper underwear and stockings.

A standard regime does not allow for elasticated foundations or any but the most modest  underwear. The subject is put into a traditional corset on one or two days a week or perhaps once weekly and for one whole week each month.

A strict regime is based on daily lacing-in, and a shorter traditional corset would normally be worn. The long discipline corset is worn for a day or two at regular intervals. Underwear will make fewer concessions for weather and outer wear will be full-length dresses and skirts of a Victorian or Edwardian style. Comportment would be restricted to the most demure. Sleepwear includes a liberty bodice and night stockings, modesty knickers, nightdress and night bonnet.

Once a routine has become established, masters and mistresses will seldom be faced with any serious problems of discipline. However, while being trained to a suitable standard of decorum, the weaker sex usually attempt to avoid conforming. Where strict standards are being aimed at there may be the temptation to begin training on a lighter, more liberal regime, but this can be a mistake. While there may have to be some concessions to allow for the unfamiliar harshness of a traditional corset, it is best to begin as you intend to continue. It would be more reasonable to allow some relaxation after an acceptable standard has been achieved, but by this time the weaker sex are generally reluctant or afraid to abandon the protective restrictions of dress and conduct.

Of the problems that arise in the earlier stages of decorum training, resentment of corsetry and underclothing are the most frequent. Hot weather in particular brings pleas to change into lighter garments and even to leave essential items off. Concessions for hot weather should be made only with caution and in order to avoid clothing being inadequate when it becomes cooler. Foundations are never reduced to allow for hot weather, and only petticoat, vest and knickers may be changed from heavy botany to light botany or from light botany to silk or cotton. Reduce underwear sparingly and only one garment at a time. The weaker sex can be both stubborn and cunning, and supervision may be called for if there has been the opportunity to slip off a vest or
roll stockings down. A favourite occasion for rebellion is tight-lacing, and all but the least spirited will attempt to loosen their stays if discovery can be avoided. There will be pleas to moderate lacing-in or even to postpone a tight-lacing day. Here too, concessions are a mistake.

Days for being laced into the traditional discipline corset must be set in advance and adhered to without fail. Until they can be trusted to do it for themselves, the weaker sex must be laced in by the master or mistress, and the remainder of their dressing will also have to be supervised. With the corset lace tied in a double bow at the back, all the proper underwear and a dress that fits snugly at the waist and fastens at the back, disobedient relaxation of lacing will be too laborious to escape detection. Once compliance in these matters has been established, the subject might be left to lace hers or himself in, though results will always be better if the lace is pulled in from
the back by strong, determined hands. A favourite dress that is cut or altered to fit only over a really well corsetted figure will prove an incentive to accept tight-lacing with better grace. The rigid corselette or corset and brassiere worn on other days must also be properly fastened to control the figure and deportment.

It has been said that it is impossible to understand how a woman's mind works. This is not true of all women of course, but it is true of the whole weaker sex. Their attitude to being laced in is a case in point. At first there is defiance, then rebellion, then sullen acceptance; in the end they willingly lace themselves in, but still with voiced complaints and sometimes tears. They always resent being corsetted, yet eventually under strict guidance seem to welcome the daily ordeal and day-long constriction so eagerly that one might even have to suggest they loosen their stays when the inevitable headache or faintness occurs. They loathe their corsets, yet fill their
cupboards with them; they are constantly in rebellion at the restraints of bones and busks and lacings, yet would not venture more than a few feet from their beds without them.

However, long and relentless training will be needed before this inexplicable state is reached, and few of the weaker sex have the good fortune of a master or mistress with the severity and determination to establish lacing-in as an every-day habit. For the majority the period corset will be worn, under tearful protest, for a regulation day or week or month at a time, to be joyfully discarded in favour of a rigid foundation that is less strict on the waistline. The important feature in corset discipline is a regular, predetermined regime enforced with unbending ruthlessness by master, mistress or convention. The weaker sex may not simply decide to wear a milder corset or fewer underclothes as they please.


The enforcement of corset discipline brings us, unhappily, to the matter of punishment, and no master or mistress enjoys chastising the weaker sex for their weakness. However, there will be rebellion and disobedience, as we have seen, There will be evasions over corsets and underwear and sleepwear, and excuses which must never be accepted. 

It is as well to make the weaker sex write out the rules set down for dress, conduct and duties, and a list of the punishments that the various offences will earn. This reference will ensure that
chastisement is as implacable as the rules themselves, and the subject will not have the excuse that she or he did not know the rules or the penalties for disobeying them. Preparing these lists in a neat hand so that they can be displayed in his or her room, will in itself be a suitable undertaking for an afternoon.

Wherever possible the punishment should be made to fit the crime. A loose hem or laddered stocking might earn some extra household duties. Shortcomings in dress could attract extra days of being laced in or confiscation of a favourite dress or denial of lighter underwear in hot weather. Routine concessions such as lighter corsetry can be withdrawn. Defiance or voiced complaints or answering back are best dealt with by an exercise in subserviance. Many masters
and mistresses keep a very severe maid's uniform in which the offender has to wait at table or carry out tedious and menial chores. Used as a disgrace in the presence of friends or neighbours, this is a most effective punishment.

The value of an old-fashioned spanking should not be ignored. With the offender held over one's knees, a good strong hand on the buttocks is just painful enough to be remembered and just humiliating enough to make bedtime an occasion for disgrace. However severe, a hand
spanking has an intimacy that keeps the door open for tears of contrition and even pleasure. My practice is always to follow any punishment, however long, with a spanking.

Sterner punishments can be inflicted on the body, but the infliction of pain does carry its dangers. Even severe lacing-in could be harmful, and blows other than on the bottom or backs of the thighs can cause injury. The use of whips or leather straps in unskilled or angry hands is equally hazardous. If the hand is not severe enough, a flexible school cane will need only two or three strokes to start or end the day on a very painful note and prevent sitting in comfort.

Although corset discipline is aimed at cultivating in the weaker sex uniform and recognisable interests and preoccupations, each will have his or her special likes and dislikes, enabling suitably distasteful duties to be devised. As punishment is aimed at correcting faults, it should always lie in the direction of the training and contribute to the routine discipline. A temporary intensification of discipline may often suffice to induce the dread, discomfort, humiliation, repentance and shame that are the essence of punishment. Once a punishment has  been set, it must be carried out without fail and in full and at the time prescribed.


It is indelicate to discuss this subject at the best of times, and it is certainly not one to be presented to the weaker sex either in conversation or reading matter. Suffice to say that duty here is to provide pleasure and not to experience it. Seeking to avoid this duty must be met by severe measures. Seeking to gain pleasure, or expressing pleasure, should it intrude is quite unseemly. The whole way of life implicit in corset discipline is aimed at total compliance
in conjugal matters. Any pleasure must be in providing the satisfaction that is the right of master or mistress. It will be unwise to reward duty or console tears produced by this.

That each of us is born with the capacity for satisfying lusts is but a challenge to damp those fires in the weaker sex, for whom such excitement is both unseemly and dangerous. The experienced will be able to avoid kindling these fires in the weaker sex by including in
conjugal duties features that test obedience and generosity.  Pleasure is incomplete that is not accorded in the wake of some dread, in the experience of some distaste or discomfort and with an aftermath of humility.

In returning to the strict values of a past age, we will be dealing with a weaker sex that has been exposed to the excesses of modern times, and the conjugal aspects of these values will be all the more difficult to impose. Each will have special problems according to her baser needs and experience. The discipline required in substituting dutiful compliance for these lusts will provoke tears and pleas and lapses, and will give rise to the need for a skillful blend of patience and punishment. Establishing the acceptance of a corsetted and demure lifestyle will be child's play compared to eradicating unseemly conjugal demands and instincts.


Up to now we have looked at the problem of instilling decorum into the weaker sex in general. However, as has been suggested above, many of the weaker sex were born into the male sex In a transitional period when some women are finding their way in freedom and some men are
realising their limitations, a male mind and body make it especially hard for the weaker sex to accept the discipline of dress and behaviour that if fitting for them.

The learning of new skills and the shedding of old prejudices will require all the more attention to the rules of training. For all those times when the subject's residual 'masculinity' make it difficult to comply, every persuasion will be needed to keep her on the right path.  If discipline is abandoned even for half a day the spell will be broken and the progress towards perfection delayed.

In the early stages of training it may be necessary to relax the severity of dress for a short time: a lighter foundation, daintier underwear or a pretty dress may tempt her back into acceptance. A
weakness for pretty things, never far beneath the surface, may be exploited. The tight-lacing corset, which is an absolute must from the outset, will meet with less resistance if the material is
attractive and the hems trimmed with a little lace. Makeup and perfume may even have to be a little less discreet than will be tolerated on the 'finished' girl.

To allow for these very temporary relaxations, the normal discipline will have to be that little bit more severe. A once weekly lacing-in must never be abandoned, and for daily wear a very well boned foundation must be established as soon as possible. The subject will achieve poise and bearing if she is occasionally laced into a long Edwardian style corset that controls the carriage and step. In my experience, one to ten weeks of daily tight lacing will be needed to establish the graces that later training is built upon.

Modesty will be all the more important where the weaker sex are encumbered with indecent features. Nakedness before others or even before the mirror must be absolutely forbidden, and a thin garment reaching from shoulders to knees should be worn when taking a bath.
These features in the weaker sex are an inconvenience and the sooner they are forgotten the better. Until then, lust will remain a far graver problem than it is in other members of the weaker sex. Indiscretions will have to be watched for, punished and prevented. Caning must follow immediately on discovery, and 'feminisation' intensified. Constant supervision will be needed for a time, and wrists may have to be taped to the bedposts at night.

What I call the male recruit to the weaker sex will sometimes be under the discipline of a woman. Prejudice will make things difficult until the supremacy of the mistress has been accepted. To understand that one is merely a member of the weaker sex and that one's mistress is exercising her rights as a member of the stronger sex is the basis of discipline. It is the stronger sex, not necessarily men, that are of the stuff that heroes are made from, and it is the weaker sex, not by any means all of them women, that are the traditional slaves.

The wise master or mistress will show compassion when it is called for, but will never allow it to be the occasion for relaxing the routine of corset discipline or for moderating the punishments that the weaker sex constantly court.

The final result of corset discipline will be a charming, decorative, demure and compliant creature who will be a credit to her owner.


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