Advert for R Wilson's supporting belts & chest expanding braces
Medium: Print on paper
The Victorian era was notable for a new emphasis on physical conditioning and fitness training among the middle classes. Deportment and posture became very important in society and many people - men and women alike - wore devices such as these under their clothing.
Supporting belts were essentially corsets, most often made from elastic covered by ribbon, with more ribbon or lace used to tighten the pieces. Chest expanders were not only used to aid posture but were worn for their apparent health giving properties: people believed that in expanding the chest cavity they opened up the path to the lungs, making it easier to breathe.