Description : A short corselette, covering the chest to the waist line but with less compression of the ribs, and which may or may not extend below the waist to the hips. Unlike the corset, the basque is not generally designed to shape the body (although some may do so). Instead, the basque serves to elongate the waist visually and narrow the hips. Modern basques feature lace-up or hook-and-eye fastening, as well as boning or vertical seams for both structure and support. A basque is longer than a bustier.
Parts : Corset part for the torso area (front, back, side-back), full or partial brassiere cups (optional), detachable garters (optional), suspender (optional), boning, fasteners (lace or hook-and-eye), straps (optional)Preferred fabrics : Generally a basque is made of a lighter and thinner fabric than a corset, often very thin and even sheer or see-through. These are usually satin weave fabrics such as silk.
Sewing problem areas : Like all close-fitting garments, lingerie basques are challenging garments to develop in order to ensure adequate fit. Not many patterns can be found for them - sometimes on eBay one can find one. Several books on corsetry may also provide clues. Victorian-style outerwear basques also present difficulties.
Example creations : Basque as foundation for tutu,
Example patterns : Tutu basque patterns, Knit mini-basque corselette,
Uses worldwide : A basque serves for romantic or erotic purposes, but also provides a lingerie garment that is comfortable enough to be worn all day, under a light semi-transparent top, for example. Basques are also used as the foundation garment of a wedding dress or a ball gown.
Origins and history : The basque, a variation of the corset, finds its origins as a piece of armour designed to cover the upper torso. There are references to an amour piece like this in the Bible. The 16th century version included a breastplate and a backplate, as well as tassels and gauntlets. Reinvented as a women's garment in the Victorian era, the basque was then a close-fitting outerwear jacket that extended from above the bust to the hips. The garment mutated to become an item of lingerie similar to the corselet, following the decline of the corset in the 1920s and 1930s. The heavy body shaping provided by the corset was going out of fashion, and the basque as undergarment provided good cup support for the bust in addition to mild shaping of the waist, hence combining into one garment what often took two. The garment is also called a "merry widow" after the 1905 operetta "The Merry Widow" which became a popular hollywood movie in 1934.
Alternate names : torsolette, merrywidow
Related or similar garments : corselette, bandeau, bustier
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