The Troubles with Basques

To my mind, as soon as you look at a picture of a woman wearing a basque, you can immediately see a number of potential pitfalls. The Warner's 'Merry Widow' (above) is a classic case in point. Are the poor woman's breasts really going to stay confined in that barely adequate brassiere and surely, when one sits down, that front panel will flip upwards. The answers to these questions is sometimes and most times.


At least Dorothy Provine wears a lovely black basque rather convincingly (above right).

The model on the right demonstrates the major failing of a strapless basque and that is the cantilevered bust section that pokes forward. These basques can tend to be less substantial than proper corsetry and another (painful) failing is when the bones at the front turn over when you sit down. 

These basques always seem a bit short on the wearer who then has to lean forward into the cups thus giving the appearance of having stomach cramps. Certainly, to stand up abruptly from the cramp position is to risk revealing far more than one should. (I have witnessed at an amateur production, a lady in a basque erupting from a huge cake. To everybody's' amusement, and to her acute embarrassment, she erupted but the basque got left behind).

Very characteristic of all these poses is the slightly artificial 'tummy in' designed to accentuate the 'nipped in' waist. It is a strange feature of strapless corselettes and basques, that they always seem to ride a bit low requiring the evening gown to provide the final level of support.