Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. A corset is a garment that girds the torso and shapes it according to the fashionable silhouette of the day. Most often it has been used for cinching the waist and supporting the breasts. Some women tended to wear corsets tighter than necessary and buy corsets with smaller waists, but most women, although they purchased an 18 or 20 inch waisted corset left a gap at the back closure to accommodate a more realistic 22-26 inch waist measurements. On average that would mean a corset reduced the figure by only an inch or two at most. In fact, like today, in order to achieve the hourglass figure, many women took to adding volume to their bustlines to increase the ratio of bust to waist. Also, the full skirts, crinolines and bustles of the 19th century added to the width of the hips to make the waist appear slimmer.