If you had a product intended for older women, what would you call it? These days it might include the words “ageless” or “forever young,” but in 1900 “dowager” was apparently considered a good idea. What is a dowager anyway? In British novels, it is an appellation title that seems to come with a lot of money and a nice house–think of Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey. More broadly, the word applies to a widow with an inheritance or an elderly woman of stature. Perhaps in 1900 it was more important for the older set to aspire to wealth and fame than to youth.
How do we know that this was a product intended for older women? Well the name is certainly a clue. There is also the fact that this was a product designed for larger sizes. The testimonial letter included here states that the Dowager Corset “stands ALONE in the market today as the only corset for stout figures. I have given it a most severe test, and find after testing almost every corset in the market the Dowager is the only corset.”
Maybe it’s not too bad being old if you get to wear a tiara.