A famous designer (Christian Dior) once said, ‘Lovely lingerie is the basis of good dressing’. Never a truer word was spoken. Good undies and a decent bra can change the way clothing looks on a person by moulding, shaping, flattening, enhancing and sculpting what’s underneath.
Back in the day corsets were used to achieve the perfect body shape on which to drape whatever clothing was in fashion at the time. Careful corsetry was the foundation for the many outer garments layered over one’s silhouette. Corsets squeezed the bosom, pinched the waist and also restricted movement. Not to mention displacing internal organs and being the instigator of many fainting spells because of their pressure against the stomach. This was, however, a small price to pay for a well-defined waist, hourglass silhouette and buxom cleavage.
I was fortunate enough to have three corsets cross my doorstep the other day. I must admit that I did have to turn them this way and that, work out which was the front and which the back and try and navigate my way through all the lace that needed to be tightened and loosened several million times. I also learnt that some corsets don’t sit over your boobs but under them in order to give them a ‘lift’.
In an attempt to modernise how corsets are worn I also followed the advice of several ‘experts’ who suggested that I display this particular type of underwear as outerwear (thank you Madonna and your pink cone-breasted guepiere for inspiring this concept). Wearing a corset over a formal blouse buttoned up to the throat with a lovely collar is a perfect way to contrast the risque nature of underwear as outerwear and the formal, conservative look of the blouse. Treat corsets like a waistcoast or vest and use them to add interest and structure to your outfit. Channel the Victorian era but bring it right into the 21st century.
Wearing a corset on your own terms to add drama and flair to an outfit is a much better option than having to wear one because of society’s expectations. Fashion should be about choice and self-expression. And the people willing to embrace those two criteria.