“If you want to know about pain, try wearing a corset!”- Keira Knightley in Elizabeth Swann’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Traveling forth from the Victorian era to the Haus of Holbein trend, corsets are making their way back into our wardrobes from 14th century France to the thrift stores. Owning back to the shows such as Bridgerton or dating back to Pride and Prejudice, where these little pieces of clothing had a rather controversial history of inducing pain to women are making their way into the fashion runaway.
Have you heard the stories about women breaking their ribs to their lungs collapsing? Damn, right it is! Corsets are used to shape the torso in such a way that it makes your waist look slimmer with a pronounced bust so that it accentuates your body. Whether it comes to the small businesses or brands or the thrift shops in the new millennia, both, men and women are going gaga over these death traps.
So, are you still wondering why do people buy corsets? Let’s see why. From Emily Ratajkowski to Kim Kardashian styling these corsets over white basic shirts and cigarette pants, black leather jackets, or dresses to achieve that ‘chic’ look. Sure, they do look good. But are they ‘break a back’ worthy?
Back in the Victorian era the corsets or the bustiers were made from sturdy material which was solidified from a paste of starch, leather, and at times whalebone and metal to achieve the desired shape. Boned and underwired garments were usually used to support the heavy fabric so that everything stays in place. They were also used in order to support those with weaker body shapes in order to hold their posture upright. Sounds a bit harsh right? But that is not the case anymore.
However, in the 21st century, the fashionistas are back to work! They have made sure to make the fabric of the corset from a good and reliable material so that it doesn’t give one the sense of being trapped. The whalebones are gone and it doesn’t have a lot of patterns or designs so that it easily goes with any desired outfit. Shopaholics are seen shopping directly from the vintage corset stores in order to get their hands on the different renaissance designs and patterns.
As seen in the American television series RuPaul’s Drag Race, they wear different types of corsets specifically those with the traditional underbust to achieve that feminine appearance. In the 2013 Spring Paris Fashion Week, Alexander Mcqueen showcased their amazing collection of corsets in the runaway. And in the Fall Winter 2020 shows, Fendi, Gucci, Kim Shui jumped on the wagon.
Even so, Corsets did not really have the same connotation to what it stands for today. Corsets were considered a form of oppression among women. The corset didn't allow them to move freely as they pleased. Even though it looks quite contrasting in both the set of views. Today, it stands as a feeling of being empowered, despite any body shape or size. You can pair it up with anything and it looks good. The idea of past oppression coming from the corsets are no more. In the 21st Century, it allows for greater freedom of movement with anything as basic as loose trousers and white tees.
With the return of the vintage undergarment being worn as the outer garment, corsets are having their own little moment. They are literally everywhere. From designers, labels to our thrift shops, Corsets have made sure to make their fashion statement in the new millennia and pretty sure they have been working it! Surprising how multi-faceted one single garment can be. Now the age-old symbolic idea behind the oppressive nature of the corset has been revamped and transformed as a tool for empowerment.