To achieve the changing body shapes required by different periods, different sets of underwear, pads, hoops and corsets are used.
The corsets I make date from about 1540 (although there is no documentation for this), to 1900, and are all individually cut to fit from patterns based on, or from original garments, wherever possible. They are boned in a similar way, especially the Victorian ones, but using modern substitutes for the original whalebone.
The beautiful corset to the left was made by the lady wearing it, and dates from around 1750.
Period corset patterns can also be adapted to make bustiers, a la Vivienne Westwood, fantasy bodices, or for outerwear in the day. Some even adapt to wedding dresses.
The chemises and drawers over which Victorian corsets are worn are often dainty and charming, and when made of fine linen or cotton lawn, are easily washable.
If made to fit, and worn over a shift or chemise, a corset does not have to be uncomfortable.
Please note: These corsets should each have been worn over a chemise and I would normally recommend this every time.