1) When comparing the 18th century stays to the Lord and Taylor
catalogue there were many differences, but the goal was the same.
The 18th century stays were an integral part of the wardrobe,
everyday wear. The ones pictured were hand woven wool, linen and
whalebone. They were sculpted to look and feel like armour. The Lord
and Taylor examples definitly looked more decrotave. They were
curvier, and allowed room for the bust, to push and lift as opposed
to keeping in. I did notice that the catalog ones looked like they
were actually going for a tighter fit than the stays were.
2)For the most part, when I think of modern day corsets, I think of
lingerie. They seem to be used only for decorative purposes, they
have the ties and every aspect of an 18th century corset, but aren't
as tight. They hold the stomach in and the breasts up, but not in a
harmful way. They are more decorative, and some can be almost
dominatrix like. The other uses, which are very common, are for
wedding dresses (having a lace up back, like a corset is very
attractive, as well as it saves on alteration costs!), over business
shirts, and as part of an evening gown- so I guess a big difference
now is that they are shown on the outside, rather than hiding
I have worn corsets, playfully, as part of a lingerie set. I like
the fact that it seems like dress up, and flatters many body types.
I also had a prom dress a while back that was based on a corset- the
boning helped me stand up straight, but wasn't annoying.