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The Corset: History And Present Use

"You should know that the corset is an item with a wide variety of styling opportunities"

Muse @spiceofficial⁠ Stylist & Creative Director @fashionwidower⁠ Wardrobe @theivyshowroom @fiskanistyle⁠ Fur @theivyshowroom⁠ Designer @ugochiiwuaba⁠ Assistant Stylist @missmwabi @mwabistyles⁠ Assistant @sista.nigga @kahlilgarviin⁠ Photographer @clearlyfocusedmediaworks⁠ Art Director @evans.everyday_⁠ MUA: @artistryrebirth⁠ Assistant Mua @yongfaces⁠ Hairstylist @iamcrystalcarter⁠ Jewelry @tcb_atl @theivyshowroom⁠ Agency @kstarrmgmt⁠ Via @officialkavyar

When we think about the corset, one may form different images and scenarios in their mind. It can be the tightly laced, organ-squishing garment worn by women a few centuries ago, made to achieve the 60 minutes hourglass figure – the one we see in almost every period piece of media such as Pride And Prejudice, Little Women and Bridgerton. Others may won’t even remember it as a timeless piece but as one of the latest trends to appear – and stay in fashion – the super fashionable corsets, popularized by many celebrities and runway collections.

When in the fashion talk, corsets have often come in addition to the ‘using lingerie to make an outfit’ trend, which has nothing to do with its original purpose and use: a supportive undergarment for women. Ever since its creation, the meaning behind the use of corsets has changed a lot over time, and now we live in a time where it is still used for festishistic practices while it has also become a common wardrobe addition for the average consumer.

Model: @aleksa_liu⁠ Photo: @annakirikova⁠ Stylist: @kapitolin_a⁠ MUA & Hair: @victoriarusso_pro⁠ Via @officialkavyar

There are many reasons why these differing opinions and stereotypes exist and they are often not understood or even ignored – but we’ll change it as you read this with me. Corsets have always been one of the most controversial pieces of clothing throughout the course of history, creating a very thin line between patriarchy and feminism. As we dive deeper and deeper into this history, we will see how views on the corset often reflect the changes in a woman’s role in society and specially how they could empower women while also helding them back.

Going back on the timeline, on the 10s and 20s the ideas startes to change and some designers stopped incorporating the corset in their designers. World War I was also an event that changed the way women used to dress, ledding to the popularity of uniforms and simple cotton designs, rather than rigid designs, so corsets were no longer as commonly worn as before due to a switch to more practical pieces of clothing. A few years later, during post-World War II, that initial thought grew stronger and corsets even became a symbol of male oppression among feminists, it was now seen as a terrible piece of clothing used to sexualize and limit women to a reductive and ortodoxy form of femininity that was no longer accepted.

Photo: @whoscipri⁠ Model: @lucian.tudoran⁠ MUA: @patricia.gabor29⁠ client: @kiemesmodel⁠ Organizer: @denisa.zsifkov⁠ Model: @Anamaria.costan_ @kiemesmodel⁠ Model: @Alexandra_bojete @kiemesmodel⁠ Model: @Andreea_mustea @kiemesmodel⁠ Model: @Maria_boboi @kiemesmodel⁠ Via @officialkavyar

But even though society was living an era that people began to reject the idea of normalized corsets, that didn’t stop actresses and celebrities from wearing them. They were not that common on the streets anymore, but corsets were not an unusual item on the big screen, and some of the most iconic celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn would be seen wearing them – but despite this, corsets were still not popular in the 60s, it only experienced a resurgence in the 70s and 80s, as great designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier reestablished corsets as a symbol of female empowerment. It was the needed shift for corsets to be worn as outerwear as no long to be seem just as part of underwear.

Going into the 90s, corsets – that actually became very popular in the last two decades – gradually grew out of fashion as women became more involved in sports and fitness, and even though the bicycle craze did lead to the creation of the sports corset, most women were not interested and their option was a more free-flowing outfit. At the same time, women began dieting and exercising more, rather than relying on tight clothing to form their ideal body – the famous thin waist, hourglass shape. A fact that created a different problem in society, as you can read here: Body Image: How The Fashion Pack Is At Least Partly Responsible For That

Model:@vera___st⁠ Wardrobe Stylist:@ninasharingstyle⁠ Fashion Designer:@vi.tatar⁠ Photographer:@viktoria_chis⁠ Makeup Artist:@olga___glebova⁠ Via @officialkavyar

As fashion cycles come and go and womenswear continually changes, women and even men have begun to incorporate corsets in their regular wardrobe to this day and as seen in social media and all of the most glamourous-celebrities-filled events, big personalities have been wearing the very same corset that women were fighting so hard to get away from just two or three centuries ago – but to be fair, its design has changed drastically, it came from being worn as a restricting undergarment to becoming outerwear and often worn in a trendy way to replicate ‘retro’ fashion.

Still in the ‘trendy’ topic, the corset is now often considered a statement piece for consumers who are more fashion-forward and looking for some eye-catching layer to add to their wardrobe and #ootd pics. But we might be surprised when we think about where the trend actually came from: the number of celebrities wearing corsets didn’t necessarily cause its current popularity as it wasn’t considered clothing someone who lived a common life would wear normally. The real key players in the corsets comeback were Tiktok – and social media in general. Those are places with a variety of widespread trends, including the corset.

Muse @spiceofficial⁠ Stylist & Creative Director @fashionwidower⁠ Wardrobe @theivyshowroom @fiskanistyle⁠ Fur @theivyshowroom⁠ Designer @ugochiiwuaba⁠ Assistant Stylist @missmwabi @mwabistyles⁠ Assistant @sista.nigga @kahlilgarviin⁠ Photographer @clearlyfocusedmediaworks⁠ Art Director @evans.everyday_⁠ MUA: @artistryrebirth⁠ Assistant Mua @yongfaces⁠ Hairstylist @iamcrystalcarter⁠ Jewelry @tcb_atl @theivyshowroom⁠ Agency @kstarrmgmt⁠ Via @officialkavyar

All it took was a few videos of girls on #fashiontiktok using corsets for it to almost immediately turn the green light on to the Victorian era looking corset – that became the face of the trend as TikTok users purchased it to recreate and participate in the trend. Not long after, by the summer of 2021 corsets were almost everywhere we looked, to the point it wasn’t even noticeably different anymore – so much for ‘making an statement’ right? It could be seen all over our For You Pages, Instagram and Pinterest feeds and other social media platforms timelines, and as if it wasn’t enough, the sudden amount of celebrities wearing it to events and nights out also helped a lot.

Now into a more serious talk about corsets, women in the 18th and 19th weren’t all wrong: as much as it really does emphasize ones curves, it can also be quite damaging to their bodies. Even odern corsets may not be fit correctly or require tight-lacing, which makes them not the best option to lace around muscles and organs. One might even argue that the corset is simply a more fashionable waist trainer, but there’s no way something that causes such quick visible results is a good thing.

But if like the trend and want to participate – in a healthy way, of course – you should know that the corset is an item with a wide variety of styling opportunities. Alone as a top that goes with almost any type of bottom, in layers with a turtleneck or button-up shirt for the colder months – it’s even possible to add an oversized coat or blazer to accommodate the chillier weather. Corsets can also be used to bring structure to another item like an oversized piece, accentuating the waist through the creatiion of a whole new silhouette. A great thing is that the growing variety of style possibilities means that the corset is on the way to become an item that can be worn by anyone. Also, it’s only fair to remember that it allows it to be a good investment item for the whole year, as you can style it differently each season, which is a great way to have a useful wardrobe and don’t buy – and discard new clothes every few months.

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