Partial translation of 'Recollections of Sophie' ('Souvenirs de Sophie') by Charles S.
Two Scenes from Part One©


It is 1890 and tomboyish 16-year-old Sophie (the narrator of the story) has been sent to live with her aunt Florence, who runs a girls’ boarding school based in an
isolated chateau near Paris. Before Sophie can enter the school as a student, she has to undergo several weeks of figure training and deportment lessons under the
direction of the school’s resident corsetière, Miss Delphine.

In the first scene, she is being corseted for the first time.

“For your first corset,” Delphine said, “I have chosen a quite short model, not too constricted at the waist and very comfortable.”

She showed me the corset. It was pink silk, a bit bright, shiny, with embroidery outlining the slight ridges made by the thick whalebones – whalebones that seemed very numerous and very wide. The front busk was particularly wide and thick. It was obviously extremely stiff. It was also curved so it would press into the abdomen.

Florence stood behind me and held my chemise taut so that it would not wrinkle over my abdomen, while Delphine fastened the second stud of the busk. She told me to
pull in my stomach, and using this second stud as a pivot, she brought together the two edges of the busk and fastened all of the other studs of the busk.

Even though the corset laces were fully loosened, the exceptionally rigid busk was putting pressure on my abdomen, and my stomach already felt constricted.

This first corset was not very long, starting from under my bust and stopping on the top of my hips, but how rigid it was, and how constricted at the level of the waist.

“Turn around!” Delphine ordered me.

I turned to face Florence, who held me against her and supported me, while Delphine began to tighten the laces. She pulled on the criss-crossed laces from the top
down to the waist and then from the bottom upwards, always finishing at the waist, and again . . . and again . . . She continued lacing me in a little more each time. The
corset became more rigid as it squeezed me harder. My breathing was changing, limited by the corset, becoming shallower; I was already a little breathless.

“Today I will not tighten you too much,” Delphine told me. “I think that it is best that you get used to being corseted for a few days before you really start your training. Breathe out all the way and hold your breath!”

Obediently, I breathed out as much as I could, emptying my lungs and sucking in my belly.


Delphine had just given a tremendous pull to my laces.


The corset shrank brutally . . .

“Oh!!! You are tightening me so . . .”

I wanted to catch my breath to finish my complaint, but the corset was now too tight to allow it.

“Oh! . . . Delphine . . . not so much . . .”

“Voila!” said Delphine. “That is sufficient for the first time.”

*    *    *    *    *    *

 It is later revealed that this first lacing has reduced Sophie’s waist from 63cm (a little under 25in.) to 56cm (22in.). To keep her from loosening her corset a metal
belt  is locked around her waist, and she has to sleep in the corset, only being released for a short time each morning so she can wash. After two weeks, her waist is
further reduced by 1cm per day until it is down to 49cm (19¼in.). During this period, she is also taught how to walk elegantly while tightly corseted and wearing shoes
with 10cm (4in.) heels.

In the next ‘lacing’ scene, a maid called Ninon (who has been assigned as Sophie’s personal attendant) and another maid called Maryse have been instructed to replace
 Sophie’s first corset with a much longer and stiffer one, which has to be laced to the same 49cm waist size.

As soon as I was beneath the trapeze they bound my wrists to the bar and it was very quickly raised. Ninon removed the metal belt from me, and she cut the corset laces with a pair of strong scissors. My abdomen was suddenly released as the corset sprang apart. It hurt me, in a way – not like a punch in the belly, but a brutal, unexpected shock. A great rush of air, over which I had no control, filled my lungs.

At once, Ninon and Maryse, a pretty strong girl whom I was seeing for the first time, wrapped my body in the new corset, and set about fastening it as quickly as possible. They seemed agitated, but despite all this nervousness they were terribly efficient. I was locked in my new corset in no time. I felt numerous whalebones pressing on my hips, waist and bust, pushing my breasts up high. I felt that my bosom was pushed far too high and too far out. I was sure this corset was going to give me a much too provocative silhouette. I had always been rather embarrassed about my too-prominent breasts, but until now I had managed to hide them more-or-less by wearing clothing that flattened them.

Ninon and Maryse gave me no time to reflect; my waist was already being constricted. They were busy with my laces and the corset quickly tightened over its whole length. The effect was very different from my shorter corset; it compressed my rib cage and restricted my breathing much more. I now felt as if a weight was pressing on my chest. My hips were also being tightly squeezed, and the rigidity of the long corset prevented any movement of my pelvis.

Once I had been fully laced, the two maids lowered me down on to my feet and I became aware just how rigid this corset was. My whole body was fixed in a position
dictated by the shape of the corset and its boning.

Moving about, trapped in this new corset, was a new experience. With my torso rigid, and my hips fixed in position, my whole body swayed as one solid block with every step
on my high heels, instead of the natural swing of the hips.

What a strange feeling it was to walk with my balance completely transformed by the rigidity of the long corset. My breathing was also changed; I was almost suffocating, every breath severely limited by the tightness of the corset around my chest. I remembered Delphine’s advice: "Breathe from the top of your chest!"; indeed, it was impossible to do otherwise, but my breathing was really very limited and each breath made my breasts rise in a shamefully provocative manner.



Return to Text Page

 Return to LISA's Main Page