The return of the corset
You know how those Victorian ladies were always the epitome of fragile feminity? They wore beautiful gown with billowing skirts and tight bodices which accentuated their tiny waists. They always carried a small fan with them and were prone to fainting fits. This feminity however, was the result of extremely uncomfortable innerwear – corsets made with lace and whale bone/steel – which shaped their bodies into hourglasses and refused to let them breathe. The corsets gave them their hourglass figures and were so tight they fainted at the drop of a hat.
Corsets were thought of as medically and morally necessary – since women should be frail and fragile – and faint at every step. A loose corset was the sign of a loose character in a woman. Young women could barely stand or sit for too long thanks to these garments and because they could not breathe, any excitement made them faint for lack of air.
The original corset was a fearful garment which cinched the waist to miniscule measures – waists were tied down to as much as 12 inches - and affected the entire internal system of a woman. Pregnant women were forced to wear it as well and their children bore the brunt by being born with deformities. The modern corset of course, has no such frightening attributes. It only serves to shape the body very well and holds in unnecessary flab. The tightening of the material at the waist serves to exaggerate the bust and the hips, thus allowing the woman to conform to the accepted fashion silhouette of an hourglass figure.
Apparently it was thought that women should protect themselves from the lustful gaze of men and hence should wear heavy clothing and innerwear to discourage them, as numerous layers or whalebone, steel and canvas made getting undressed a long and tiresome task.
However, that is quite the opposite sentiment now as corsets have slowly made their way back in fashion. You see celebs wear them with élan – which make their already slim bodies look very shapely. Corsets are also now a fashion piece to wear in our daily lives, with corset inspired tops and blouses – and even ‘gaghra choli’ ensembles mimicking the style.
You can incorporate the corset style into your festive or casual wear with success. Usually, a corset is made by a fashion designer or a studio so find one that will tailor it to your figure. Wear a corset over a soft cotton blouse with frilly puffed sleeves. Team this with a peasant skirt in neutral tones or a pair of skinny denims for a Victorian-meets-cowgirl look. The skirt might make you look as though you are in costume for a fancy dress event so make sure you don’t go over the top. Wear the corset a little longer to fit over the rear if you are teaming it with pants else it will not look appropriate.
Wear a corset under a fitted jacket or a blazer over pants, and button up just the top few buttons. This will increase the feminine look of the outfit.
You can also team it with a sari or a ghagra and wear it either to your own wedding or to a friends. This style looks extremely fashionable when embellished with zari and traditional embroidery work and will lend a fun, different look to any traditional Indian outfit. What’s more, unlike a blouse or a choli, it will hold in any extra layers of fat which would otherwise peek out from the sides.
You can even wear corsets under your clothing to give your figure a sculpted look. Corsets are typically made with lycra and firm plastic or thin metal boning with lace ties – so they can double up as a fashion statement and a fashionable undergarment as well!
Whatever be your choice, remember that you can now incorporate a Victorian style into your daily and party wear – with none of the discomfort women of that era experienced. So go ahead – add to your fashion quotient!