Actresses with tiny, tiny waists (1902)

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Polaire - Tiny waist - Belle epoque

“The smallest waist of any woman in fashionable London is said to measure 18-1/2 inches.” – Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, New York), August 15, 1890

Actresses’ waists

The influence of the stage on matters sartorial is undoubted, and we may also ascribe to it the death of the wasp waist.

A screwed-in waist is not compatible with ease and grace of movement, and, accordingly, unnaturally small waists find no favor before the footlights.

That graceful actress, Ellen Terry, whose movements (in spite of the fact that she is a grandmother) are still extraordinarily youthful, has a waist measuring 28 inches, while Mary Anderson comes a good second with 26 inches.

Lillie Langtry portrait 1887

Miss Kate Vaughan, whose waist is but 21 inches, is considered to have a quite remarkably small one for an actress.

ALSO: Slaves to their corsets (1887)

The reason for the ample proportions of the ladies of the stage is that many of them dispense with their corsets altogether, at all events while acting.

Some say that they find it impossible to act emotional parts in corsets, for they cause a certain self-consciousness and stiffness which prevent full justice being done to their parts.

Dancers and singers alike find that a tightened waist makes it impossible for them to excel in their art, and the corset is generally looked on with disfavor by the profession.

Nowhere are more graceful figures seen than on the stage, and society women learned from actresses to find a wasp waist not admirable but hideous, and its vogue went out, it is to be hoped never to return again.


Actress Lillie Langtry

Want to know more? Check out Lillie Langtry: The scandalous Jersey Lily

Actress Marie Doro

Actress Marie Doro

Mademoiselle Polaire

Also shown at the top of this page

Mademoiselle Polaire - tiny waist

Camille Clifford

Camille Clifford

Camille Clifford

Camille Clifford 1904

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