Corset Lingerie 101- Everything You Need to Know
The hourglass figure is as much of a symbol of femininity today as it was thousands of years ago. Women have always envied an itty-bitty waist that draws the attention to other appealing ‘assets’ that appear larger with the result of a smaller waistline. When shopping for lingerie, corsets have maintained their sensuous appeal and become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Those who follow astrology will point to the duality of an hourglass figure, and the balancing aspect that channels female energies into a single object. There are many dualities in life such as: sun and moon, life and death, good and bad, yin and yang, sun and moon, etc. A woman’s femininity is one to be embraced not only for its symbolism, but for many others as well!
6 Fun Facts About the History of Corsets!
Ancient Greece – The first version of the corset was introduced during the ancient times as Greeks were quite fixated in shaping the ‘perfect’ body of a woman. The perfect body as defined with a tiny waist, full breasts and broad hips which were said to be ideal for childbirth. The best part, the Greeks wore these corsets as underbusts by fully exposing their breasts to the world.
Middle Ages – We now know why the Middle Ages were also dubbed the ‘Dark Ages’. A very conservative time in fashion, women covered themselves from head-to-toe. Corsets went from being an outerwear garment during Ancient Greece to completely covered during this time period. Corsets were bumped to undergarments under long dresses and petticoats. Indeed, a very dark age in fashion.
15th-18th Century – A woman who literally ‘shaped’ history, French aristocrat Catherine de Medici banned thick waists at court thereby promoting women to wear corsets again. Thus, the corset revolution began! Across Europe, women expressed their diva personalities with corsets that were worn as separate pieces of clothing. Reinforced with very uncomfortable materials like wood, bone rod, and iron, even men began to sport their own version of a corset. It was Queen Elizabeth I that created the “Elizabethan Corset” that used less rigid whalebone to emphasize the waist. Up to the 18th century, corsets were in full fashion promoted by the royal class who favored erect postures and full bosoms.
19th Century – These women brought waist training to a whole new level! Corsets during this century were made of ivory, whalebone, steel or wood with tight lacing to achieve a small waist. It was not uncommon for some corsets to have as many as 60 whalebones!!
1920’s – This era drastically changed corsets for good. Due to the lack of supplies after World War I, the fashion industry was hit with fabric shortenings resulting in simpler lines and loose-fitting garments. This ushered in the iconic flapper style dress that favored more boyish looks. Corsets evolved from silhouette enhancing to longer styles that slimmed the hips and thighs as much as possible.
21st Century – While still an important garment in women’s fashion, the corset is no longer worn for women’s everyday intimate apparel. Thanks to innovations in textiles, elastics transformed shapewear allowing women to achieve these desired waist slimming looks without structured corseted apparel. While fashion has moved-on from this iconic fashion piece, corsets are still a symbol of femininity primarily used for outer apparel, costumes, and waist training. The popular break-up phrase ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ explains our modern-day relationship with corsets that we’ve moved on to other shape enhancing materials.
Corsetry Terminology: More than Just One Kind of Hourglass
Stripped down of their bells and whistles, corset styles can be easily categorized into 4 simple styles:
Underbust Corsets -- Under bust corsets, often referred to as a cupless corset or waist corset, are laced around the waist leaving the breasts exposed. Corset lingerie is often in the form of an underbust and can be worn with a brassiere. Waist trainers are popular terminology when speaking of an underbust corset. Quality underbusts contain modern steel boning and allows for proper waist cinching to ‘train’ the waist.
Overbust Corsets – Unlike an underbust corset that fits under the breasts, an overbust corset is designed to cover the breasts, cinch around the waist and stop just above the hips. These are full corsets that can be worn in a variety of ways; as outer apparel, an undergarment or as a waist trainer.
Bustiers – The difference between a corset and a bustier is how they are worn. Bustiers not only cinch the waist but they also push up the breasts. Commonly worn as erotic lingerie, the bustier is often paired with garters, hosiery. Modern bustiers are designed like a crop top that starts above the belly button and enhances the breasts like a modern bra.
Corset Dress – Designed similar to an overbust corset, it includes a built-in skirt to create a dress. It is a popular option as a corset wedding dress, bridal corset, corset prom dresses, and other formal cocktail dresses because of the seamless hourglass figure it gives to the wearer.
Benefits of Wearing a Corset: Why a corset is good for the body and soul
Many people have developed the misconception that corsets are uncomfortable, but they are not! “They are extremely comfortable if worn properly”; to which the President of Daisy Corsets, Jennifer Reynolds, affirms to all consumers. Reynolds encourages women to try it and look beyond its intimidating facade. Because in actuality, corsets reap many strong points, not just physically but mentally.
For centuries, women have been wearing corsets for their waist slimming properties. Wearing it as a waist trainer for several hours each day will help shape your waist and eventually form to the shape of your body. Aside from accentuating the curves, it’s also known for improving posture. Loyal users can attest to having a better stance after training your waist to wearing it. For those who sit in offices or stand for a considerable amount of time, many wearers declare that it actually reduces back pain! Good posture and accentuated curves are a combination to beat!
When it comes to purchasing a corset, they are not an item to skimp on. As the saying goes ‘You get what you pay for’. If you choose a cheap corset, you will not get the benefits of waist training, slimming, and longevity that you would with a fully steel boned corset.
Of course, who could forget the most important takeaway from a corset: it takes your confidence to new heights! Corsets, as long as it is properly worn, will make you look and feel AMAZING no matter how you style it.
Styling for the Modern Woman: From the bedroom to the boardroom
More than just shapewear, corsets have made headlines with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her “dripping wet” dress at the 2019 Met Gala. While Kim K looked amazing, it was what she wore underneath that pulled the whole look together. Working with famed corsetier, Mr. Pearl, Kim K was cinched so tightly that it was rumored she even had a rib removed just to exaggerate her figure. While we don’t expect anyone to undergo surgery, corsets can help you achieve an hourglass figure that his highly coveted in today’s fashion. Take a few styling tips to reinvent this classic look with a modern twist:
Corset + Jeans - This is a classic combination that every woman should try. A pair of skinny jeans plus a black corset is a fusion that is easy to put together but is extremely sophisticated, classy and sensual! Any corset top will take your jeans, whether skirt, pants or shorts, to the next level. Just throw on a pair of killer stilettos and prepare to dazzle!
Corset + Loose Shirt – Ace the model-off-duty look with a plain shirt and wear your corset as a belt on top of it. Try a leather corset with an oversized t-shirt with thigh high boots and make an ensemble that is worthy of the paparazzi. It is a nonchalant fashion statement that will subtly show off your curves. This is a unique match made in heaven!
Corset Top + Crisp Blouse – Another version of the previous combination is a corset with your favorite office blouse. Instead of layering with your usual blazer, lace up this pinstripe corset over your collared blouse with your wide-leg trousers or pencil skirt. You’ll definitely dominate from the boardroom to the bedroom.
Beyond these casual options, you can also wear a corset for more formal occasions. With this black eyelash lace corset, which also comes in a wide array of colors, you never have to wear shape wear underneath your cocktail dresses. The dress itself does the job for you! Talk about function and fashion all wrapped into one.
Festival and rave outfits push the boundaries of fashion with imaginative looks that are just as creative as the person wearing them. This time around, why not shake things up with a vinyl waist-cincher in an innovative design and futuristic color! Wear it on top of your mesh top or wear it plainly with nipple pasties, it will surely be a hit as it hits the pulsating lights or the blinding sunshine! With the surge of colorful and imaginative corsets, you will no doubt land upon something rave-worthy!
We all love a corset worn as an undergarment or everyday apparel, but we cannot deny the impact it makes in the bedroom. Corset lingerie is one of the most sensual and provocative lingerie items. Since it does a great job in highlighting curves, it gives you a silhouette that is to-die-for even when the lights are dim. It also gives a boost of confidence that will bring out the best from the one wearing it. There’s a reason why corsets are symbols of seduction, feel your sensual confidence grow as your cinch your waist and accentuate your breasts and hips.
Size and Care Instructions: Choose and Maintain the Perfect Corset
As mentioned, getting the full benefits of waist training come largely from purchasing a quality fully steel boned corset and wearing it properly. In order to achieve this, correct sizing is a must. Jennifer Reynolds recommends knowing your measurements prior to going corset shopping. Before you fill your shopping cart to the brim, know your measurements for your:
Getting all three measurements in the bag will prepare you to finding the corset that is right for you. Read the corset size chart carefully and select the one that falls parallel to your own list. If you are in between sizes or your 3 measurements don’t perfectly align with your size, you want to go off your waist measurements first. All corsets come with enough lacing in the back that you can let the corset out around your bust area, waist, or hip area. You never want a corset that is too big in the waist. That is the area you want to be able to cinch in the tightest.
The cleaning and storage of corsets will vary with the material of the corset. The rule of thumb is to keep its structure because this is what gives you the shape. When it is disfigured, it will not give the hourglass figure that we so much covet.
More times than not, hand washing is the recommended cleaning instruction as you will have full control of every stretch and pull. If washing it in a machine is inevitable for you, then setting should be in the most delicate mode. Store it in a cool and dry place as moisture can affect its shape and durability especially for vinyl and leather ones. Depending on the delicacy of the material, dry cleaning may be necessary.
A corset is a woman’s armor -- sassy, sophisticated and a whole lot of sensuality.
This misunderstood and understated fashion piece has continually stood the test of time. From undergarments to outer apparel, the corset has never wavered from its original hourglass enhancing purpose. Whether you’re considering your first boudoir photo shoot or a spectacular evening attire, the corset is bound to give you the physical and mental armor you need to achieve it all.