Are Corsets making a Comeback? If you have Instagram or Tiktok, chances are you’ve seen corsets on your timeline. From famous singers like Dua Lipa to Supermodels like Bella Hadid to even Desi celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Janhvi Kapoor, everyone has started wearing corset tops. The trend which started as a niche fashion trend on Tiktok has taken the world by storm. They are 2021’s hottest trend.
So why are Corsets making a comeback?
What are Corsets?
Before we can explain Corsets comeback, we need to understand what it actually is.
A corset, a structured garment worn by women to support them. It acted as an undergarment back in the day. Since most of the dresses were heavy, women would struggle to move around in them. The weight of the dress would often cause them pain. Corset’s helped maintain the structure of the dress, without putting too much weight on the women wearing it. Corsets would hold the body in the desired shape. It would train the torso and help the woman get into shape. Corset, a word derived from an Old French word meaning ‘body’. And the person who makes the corsets are called corsetier or corsetière or simply corset maker. Traditionally, they customized corsets to the exact measurements of the wearer.
Corsets are varied in nature. There are quite a few different types of corsets depending on the fit, the shape, the placement, the material, the use and much more. Broadly corsets are of five categories – underbust corsets, overbust corsets, long-line corsets, waspie Corsets and other custom corsets. The two main types of corsets women look at first are underbust and overbust corsets. They work similar to a bra and help support the torso of the wearer. Long-line corsets are mostly used by women with long torsos as they are designed to extend over the hips to provide additional coverage and concealment. Waspie corsets were also known as waist cinchers are the most infamous. They are wide belts, mainly useful to shape the waist. Apart from these, there are various other corsets, which are useful for costuming and more.
Corsets are also helpful with spinal issues and more.
Misconceptions about Corsets
Corsets have a terrible reputation due to years of misinformation. Hollywood for some reason, has this idea that all corsets are tightly laced and oppressive in nature. Even famous movies like ‘Titanic’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series have depicted corsets as inhumane and painful when it’s simply just not true. And while tight lacing existed and too tight corsets also exist, but not commonly used. Tight lacing was rare and was done mostly by a selected few upper-class women. Tight lacing was frowned upon even during that time and most of the time women are advised not to do it. Only a selected few women opted for tight lacing for vanity reason, so it was not common in the movies or shows.
Ironically, the whole myth of corsets as too tight or oppressive, started by men. In the late 19th-century dress reformists, mostly men complained that corsets were a dangerous moral evil, promoting promiscuous views of female bodies. They argued corsets would hinder women’s inability to perform “womanly” duties. While tight lacing was definitely an issue, it was not common, so lumping with regular corsets is not fair. Most of the time, these myths about women’s fashion continued to exist because men suppress their freedom.
Thanks to the age of social media, we now have articles and videos by experts and corset makers, dispelling these myths about corsets. Various fashion and dress historians have made compelling videos talking about the false notions and lies behind corsets. While mainstream media continues with their misconceptions, most of the online world is learning the true history of corsets.
Corsets in Fashion
Corsets have always had an important place in the fashion industry. Although quite a few designers have worked around with the idea of corsets on the runway, only a few have achieved it. Christian Dior used waist cinchers for his famous looks in the 40s.
However, if you say corsets in fashion the first name that comes to mind is Vivienne Westwood. Corsets in fashion are synonymous with her name. Vivienne Westwood also known as the ‘Queen of Punk Fashion’ revolutionized corsets. Her 1990s ‘Portrait Collection’ completely changed the game and really set the standard. The pieces of the collection, now considered collector’s item and very expensive and rare. Most of these pieces feature amazing renaissance paintings on the corset which are beautiful juxtaposed with Westwood’s signature edgy design. Her corsets are worn as tops with cigarette pants for a chic look.
Apart from Westwood, the other designer famous for his work with corsets is Jean Paul Gaultier. Gaultier, titled as an icon for his unconventional pieces. He is famous for his work with corsets and marinières. While Westwood’s corsets focus more on the aesthetic, Gaultier’s is all about the structure. He designed the costumes for Madonna for her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. The corset with the conical bra worn by her is still iconic to this day. It’s one of the most famous and recognisable pieces in fashion history. He also did the costume designing the 1997 sci-fi movie ‘The Fifth Element’. It even got him an Academy Award nomination for best costume design.
Apart from these two iconic designers, various contemporary indie brands have also started making their own corset tops and other pieces. South London based brand Charlotte Knowles has gained popularity due to their interesting fitted and structured corset tops.
Are Corsets Making a Comeback?
There is a saying. It states that fashion always goes round in a circle. Thus, what was popular decades ago come back in fashion with a different name. And with the rise of sustainability, thrifting and vintage fashion it was only fair for things like Corsets, Chokers and other similar pieces to come back in fashion.
The rise of period dramas is also another reason behind the growing popularity of corsets. The Netflix smash hit series ‘Bridgerton’ really made vintage clothing famous among the teens of Tiktok, with millions of videos about styling the famous Bridgerton corset. This trend led to an entirely new generation of people donning the corset. The rise of trends such as ‘cottagecore’ and ‘regencycore’ also added to this popularity.
Corset tops have become one of the defining fashion trends of 2021. The piece has been reinvented into a more chic and polished look with tight fitted tops paired with loose flared pants. Various celebrities like the Hadids, Hailey Bieber, Beyonce, and Doja Cat, seen rocking the trend in both casual and red carpet looks.
Another reason for its popularity may be due to the concept of women taking previously derogatory terms and clothes and making it into a thing of empowerment.
It’s 2021 and judging what a woman wears needs to stop. Society as a whole really needs to stop determining what a woman can wear or not. It’s the digital age so there’s no excuse to remain ignorant.
Corsets never torture and oppress women. They are just a piece of cloth. It’s high time we understand that. The corsets trend is still going strong and will continue to do so throughout the year. Although we may see variations in the coming future, the corsets trend is here to stay. So, what do you think are Corsets making a comeback?
If you like this article, you can also read How Cher Revolutionized the American Fashion Industry