The VICTORIAN CORSET is back - SIX ways to style it the MODERN way
When QUEEN VICTORIA ascended the throne in 1837, it was a game-changer in many ways. For starters, she proved to be one of the most prolific rulers of her time, shattering glass ceilings of sorts. But, she was not only lauded for her political and sovereign decisions. Also known for her regal choices of outfits, she was hailed as a fashion icon of her time.
Her reign, which lasted till her death in 1901, is fondly remembered as the Victorian Era, which defines everything vintage in those times- from the haute couture, Bric-à-Brac, to their ornately set up mansions and interiors. If any of you have binge-watched Bridgerton or The Crown on NETFLIX, you will totally relate to this. The elite represented everything that reeked of opulence and exuberance, while the middle class was modest of the lot. And then, there were the performers and artists, who possessed a sultry vibe. Like a thread holding these classes together, was a style staple- THE CORSET.
What is a CORSET?
Back in that gilded age, the corset was designed as a garment to hold and train the torso into a desired shape, mainly a narrower waist and a broader bottom to give a woman the quintessential hourglass figure. (That era had quite the lean ideals, a fad which continues today too).
Originally made of sheets of stiff linen, they were laced at the back in quantities galore to ensure that they would wholly secure around a woman’s waist and stomach. Acting like a push-up bra, it would slim one’s figure down the waist, resulting in a semi-sensual silhouette. On the flipside, corsets also caused many restructuring and reproductive issues in women; if adorned very tightly, sometimes even dislocating their ribs. Ranging from the hourglass, the S-curved, wasp, ribbon, mid, and under-busts to the corselets, they each are meant for various body types and serve as creativity infusers for today’s fashion trendsetters and designers.
SIX WAYS TO STYLE A CORSET
From Kim Kardashian to Kylie Jenner, and even closer to home, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt, amongst the other Bollywood biggies have all set #stylegoals by wearing this garb with so much élan in such unique ways. And, we must say, what a pleasure it has been to our sore eyes to watch them carry these looks with utmost spunk and vigour.
Now, now! To all you fashion-savvy individuals, if you are wanting to invest in a corseted clothing, be it a clear-cut designed one or for a DIY styling rendezvous (well, if you’re inspired by this little visual array), do not worry, we have it all sorted for you. Here’s presenting our few picks that we’ve absolutely fallen in love with and want to replicate.
1. The Lingerie Revamp: Hailed as a controversial outfit choice, mainly for its sexual connotation, this particular style is edgy, rocker-ish, and outspoken. It is not for a woman who is conservative, but is more liberated, bold, and ready to take on the world. A lace or a sheer material corset, which you may sometimes don for your partners, can also be brought out of your bedrooms as a fashion statement. Giving the phrase, ‘come out of your closet’, an unconventional twist, it actually looks chic and uber-cool if paired with your denim skinnies and a blazer or joggers to give it a streetwear vibe or an embellished tousled skirt for a more exquisite, red carpet vibe. For the latter, make sure either one is heavily worked upon so that it does not clash. We’d suggest keeping it simple and classy and go for a single colour such as black, white, or cream; featuring minimalism. Couturiers like ‘Ralph and Russo‘, too are big fans. Head over to the internet and look at Gigi Hadid for inspiration, pronto!
2. Reverse Layer: Taking you guys down memory lane, remember the pictures of Deepika Padukone which surfaced online in 2019, December? Didn’t we all fall in love with her white oversized Jacquemus shirt, layered on top with a black, Dolce and Gabbana strapless, over-bust corset with blue boyfriend jeans from Zara? Trending for months after, we believe that look was super badass and she totally slew in it. You can replicate the same, whilst experimenting with the type of corsets- a strapped corset, a bralette, or a classic bandeau with a thinner or thicker strap with a plain, horizontal neckline above the chest, or a plunging sweetheart neck.
3. Blazer Vibe: One of the classics, definitely, is honing the gender-neutral, androgynous style, aka, the pantsuit, with the blazer being an integral element of the outfit. Whether you have a work-a-day ahead of you or you just want a more refined streetwear style, the blazer adds that little pop. You should go for neutral tones if you’re donning a more corporate look, such as the eternal black and white, or play around with blues, greys, maroon, creams and the likes ( of course, unless you’re in a more eclectic and a creative field). For a laid-down or a party feel, you can totally play around with the fabric of the corset, ranging from velvets, satins, and brocade, or the simpler ones. Prints such as florals may add that extra zest. However, if you rising the barometer with the corset, do tone down with your blazer and A-Line pants or trousers. To date, Sonakshi Sinha’s photoshoot in a white pantsuit and a black, fitted satin corset top is hard to forget.
4. The Unconventional Saree: Indian saree-clad women exude elegance, tradition, cultural rootedness, and even sexiness in their own way. But, why not spice things up a bit? You can easily pair a sweetheart neck or a strapped corset, with a shimmery nude or a subdued monochrome saree to balance out the detailing. To add more oomph, you can also play around with sleeves, and add detachable ones (we think the bell sleeves would look fabulous) that are easily available today. Team it up with an ethnic belt and you are good to rock that wedding. If you need some more inspiration, do check out Kangana Ranaut’s Cannes 2019 look in a beautiful kanjeevaram sari, with an intricately embroidered corset blouse.
5. The Under-bust Rage : Be it an A-line midi, a simple buttoned-down shirt/t-shirt, or a shirt dress, one style that transforms it from ordinary to an eye-catching and a drool-worthy one is pairing it with an under-bust. As the name denotes, this corset starts below your breast and accentuates all your right curves. You can go for a more delicate and lightweight ribboned one or even a waist clincher to create the outfit. Simply wear it with a shirt or an A-line midi to make it shapely, or with a buttoned down-shirt and trousers to add to the buzz. Bella Hadid and Kendal Jenner are surely icons when it comes to rocking this style.
6. The Breezy Kink: For all you fashion nova’s who need to breathe, fret you not! We’ve got that sorted for you. Popularized by Katrina Kaif during one of her movie promotions, Rosario’s faux corset style dress set the sales buzzers ringing. Recreating the same, you can pair an easy-breezy corset with a bodycon or a pencil skirt, with cute pointy-toed heels and some chic earrings. Dress down or up as per the occasion.
Having read this article, have you started brainstorming on ways to style a corset with any of your “essentials”? To glam up the look, do opt for pretty accessories as well. Since we are super pepped up, here’s our list of brands where you can avail of some corsets:
- Nykaa Fashion
- Pretty Little Things
- Princess Polly
To conclude, we’d like to quote Mary Quant, “The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her”. We believe that this is so true. Even in the Victorian Age, where the norm was to be prim and proper, some rule-breakers wanted to live life on their own terms, and that did reflect in their wardrobe. Centuries later, these timeless pieces are coming back in a big way, and are being redefined keeping in mind today’s woman, who is all things, classy, but sassy; edgy yet sophisticated; and, confident, yet sexy. The corset has become synonymous with it all.