The much-debated Question
Then there was (and still is) the much-debated question of how tight the corsets were actually worn. A good indicator for the degree of tightness, rather than just the waist size, is the hipspring, which is the difference between the hip and waist measurements. An uncorseted figure has eight to ten inches of hipspring, which increases with moderate lacing to twelve or up to fifteen inches. Devoted tight lacers can train from fifteen to twenty inches of hipspring.
The fifteen to twenty inch hipspring examples shown below could range from 34-19-34″ to 42-24-44″ for Bust/Waist/Hip measurements. As shown above, only the left image could be considered a “hand span” waist, whereas the others cleary do not, yet they all show the appeal of the large hipspring with their well balanced proportions. These represent ideal proportions, without always requiring the extremely small waist. Nevertheless as a consequence of the female population outnumbering males during the 19th century, young women in search for suitable husbands did compete with each other and laced their waists down as small as possible to approach the ideals of beauty. A small tight waist added to the overall presentation and improved maritability. A preserved phrase indicating such: