Thursday, June 12, 2014

Victorian Secrets by Sarah A Chrisman

I picked up Victorian Secrets after the author made an appearance at my local library. I had missed her presentation but I was intrigued by her book. I've long been interested in corsets so I was interested to hear about how the corset affected Chrisman. While I enjoyed her research, I couldn't identify with Chrisman. Ultimately, her attitude put me off the book considerably.

For her 29th birthday, Sarah's husband purchases her a corset. Sarah had asked him not to buy her a corset but he did anyway. He chooses a beautiful pre-made corset that Sarah decides to try. That becomes the first of several corset Sarah buys. Sarah has always been interested in Victorian clothing and has several authentically vintage items. Sarah decides to wear her corset all the time and Victorian Secrets is the story of the first year or so of her wearing the corset.

Both Sarah and her husband, Gabriel, collect and wear Victorian clothing. They catch a lot of heat from others in their community about wearing authentic clothing and not replicas. At first I could see why would want to wear pieces of history but when Sarah's antique dress gets caught on a bus, I can see why you might not want to wear the real thing in public. Sarah and Gabriel are disdainful to those who don't wear authentic pieces. Actually, they are disdainful to many other people (overweight people, those who have cell phones, those who wear polyester, shop at Walmart to name a few). While this was a memoir, I had to question why Sarah would include these conversations. They certainly didn't make her more relatable to me.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this memoir to someone who was interested in corset wearing. I imagine there are better resources out there. Although, I do think Sarah's journey from not wearing a corset to transforming her waist to 22 inches was interesting as well as the vanity that came with it. Others who shared their thoughts on Victorian Secrets: Historiann, Not An Odalisque, and The Lingerie Addict.


  1. Can't say I am interested in it

  2. I think the idea of this sounds interesting, even though it didn't quite turn out that way. Back in 8th grade my mom made me a corset for our Renaissance Faire that I loved. But wearing it I could understand why women where quieter in them. It takes a lot of energy just wearing one, so it makes sense that you wouldn't want to do a lot besides sit down and talk in one.


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