A corset from 1910, silk with steel front closures and stiffening. No wonder gentlemen would leap into action to pick up a lady's dropped hankie -- she sure couldn't do it herself!
Here's a brassiere from about 1915. Silk and elastic stiffened with four horizontal rows of steel across the front, with a hook to attach to the girdle.
On to 1985 and a fashion oxymoron: a girdle with extra fanny padding.
But ladies, don't despair! It's not just us who are marketed into boa-constrictor costumes! Check out this equal-opportunity torture for guys: