Thursday, April 16, 2009

Opera Singer

This is a picture of Marie Brema, an opera singer of the 1890's. The picture was taken in 1897. This photograph is not tawdry like the ones from the last two days, and perhaps is a better example of elegant fashion and style of the day. The very trim waistline might indicate she is wearing a corset.

18 comments:

  1. More likely, it indicates that she had done what so many other women of her era did - had a rib or two surgically removed.

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  2. Considering the state of surgery at the time, it is highly unlikely she had a rib removed. Although doctors had finally come around to the idea that washing one's hands was a good idea, infection was still a given.
    Upper and middle class females generally began wearing corsets or stays in childhood, when the bones were still comparatively soft and flexible. In fact, until the early 1800s, both girls and boys wore stays until they were about 12 or 14.

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  3. My grandmother, Vesta, had a 19 inch waistline as a young adult and had been forbidden from ever wearing a corset by her very religious, very strict mother. There are some who just naturally have tiny waists. Vesta was blessed with a natural hour glass figure.

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  4. What a lovely, demure, gentle woman, with beauty and talent. My grannies, born back in the 1880s, wore corsets-not the hour glass kind- they were more like a stiff tube. When my mom came along, no corsets, but girls bound their breasts so there was no difference between bust, waist and hip size. Since this was during the depression, they were probably somewhat malnourished. Mom's high school yearbook showed girls skinny as a rail. When I was in high school in the 1940's, there was only one fat girl, we never thought about dieting, but didn't have McDonald's, Baskin Robbins, or pizza parlors, we ate our meals at home, around the table with our family. How we have changed. Glad I found this blog, awesome.

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  5. Interesting difference in the sleeve embellishments, especially the addition on her left sleeve.

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  6. ...and it's nice to see a Marie with her clothes on.

    OPotD's Marie is going to be pleased with your homage, PJM.

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  7. She is beautiful.

    I never had a waistline like that, even as a teenager in the '60s.

    But I'd gladly wear a corset if I COULD . . . . . .

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  8. Corsets were worn up until the early 1920s, and the shape was often times dictated by what the woman was brought up on, i.e. if they learned to wear a straight corset growing up, they were more comfortable with that. Fashions were followed much like they are today, those with money or power and young women follow the leading edge, while those who either don't care or can't afford it, don't. At the time this picture was taken, the "pigeon breast" look was the style - large bust, tiny waist and rounded backside, small bustles might have been used, but more likely a number of petticoats over a stiff fabric skirt.

    I think the surgical removal of ribs is a myth, but I could be wrong. It's just unlikely, as someone pointed out, considering the state of surgery at the time. Dresses were made to be worn fitted over corsets and no amount of rib removal would give the same shape and line.

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  9. My mother wore a corset until 1959, she was born in 1896 and was a understudy to Madam Shuman Height, a opera singer in the early 1900's

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  10. A Marie with her clothes on?!?!

    Humph!

    Well, I do enjoy opera, so I looked her up. She started her singing career only after she married!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Brema

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  11. BTW, I had the opportunity to try on a civil war era corset at a Battle of Resaca re-enactment a couple of years ago. Now, I am rather well endowed so I was shocked to discover how comfortable the corset was! The corset redistributed the, uh, weight load. As the lady who made it said, it was like an anti-gravity device! But it completely changed my shape. I looked like the prow of a ship! For one wild moment I had thought of getting one just to ease my back but it would never fit under modern clothes because they are cut to a different fashion.

    It is interesting, and sometimes sad, to see how women's shapes have changed down thru the years, often to suit men's tastes. Compare the 'looks' from Queen Elizabeth the First's day thru to the Napoleonic era, and then on to the present. I like the present best. Yay for blue jeans!

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  12. It's a myth. Women were not having ribs removed. I don't want to say that it never, ever happened, but any stories about it appear to be apocryphal, so it certainly wasn't anywhere near common.

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  13. Hey! Wait a minute! That's 3 Marie's in a row! I detect a trend! Keep up the good work!!!

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  14. I'm really glad I found this blog. Not only are the pictures great, but the posters themselves are able to spell and string together a coherent sentence.

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  15. Marie: The three Maries in a row was to what I was referring, the first two were less clothed than the last. :)

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  16. A great Aunt of mine had a corset shop in Lexington, Kentucky. She had a very successful business, fitting some of that area's wealthy people.

    As well, she retailed bras. I recall that in the early '50s that business had dropped off considerably. Eventually she closed her shop.

    I believe it is good that corsets have become unfashionable.

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