Introduction to Corsets | Period Costumes - Corset History | Corsets, The Fashionable Foundation - Style, Wealth and Status
Types of Corsets, How to Make Them and Where to Get Them | Corsets, Gracious Instruments of Torture - Health, Punishment and Oppression
The Subversive Stays - Corsets and Sex, Erotica and Fetishism | The Corset - Conclusion
There is clearly a multitude of reasons why people wear corsets, which explains its continuing popularity. One can wear it for any activity - intimate, or everyday. There are limitless interpretations of design that stem from one basic pattern. Also, the various styles are sure to accommodate every type of figure; if men can wear them, surely any woman can.
The corset has adapted to many different fashions - and social conditions - over time. Even now, although no longer a necessity, it still has a place and many fans. It still has much to offer, discrediting the belief that it's merely an outmoded means of torturing women which we're better off without.
The changing context of corset use has given it its variety of aspects; whether fashionable or passé, it has been constantly influential. Its place in fashion history is especially detailed, in that when it was worn other clothing had to be, if not based upon it, at least designed with compatibility in mind. Here is its most obvious influence - the past's most extreme fashions were dictated to by it.
It is a consistent fall-back for designers and customers alike when current fashions become overwrought and tired. Just like the rest of the period wardrobe (no true innovation?), but more so because it's much easier to wear than, for example, panniers. There is consequently an industry of real corset-makers (as opposed to let's-dress-up imitations) catering for this market. Old-established firms such as Madame Voller's have reintroduced their products. Nowadays, it is also possible to be self-taught; the necessary skills are derived from basic sewing, and (although few teaching resources are available) the specialised techniques can be found on the Internet and in several detailed books. There are also several reputable supply companies. This ready availability suggests a permanent interest.
Today, we are mostly free of the myths that plagued corsetry throughout its decline. It is obvious that women who choose to wear corsets will not tolerate discomfort or enforced servitude; medical advice allows us to tight-lace safely. Without ridiculous misinterpretations, there is a favourable climate for corsetry.
The acceptance of alternative sexual behaviour also allows exploration of one of the corset's most varied applications. This in turn makes the corset-as-outerwear an extremely sexy garment, sure to invite attention. These conditions enable more people to experience corsets, both for general and specialised wear.
Today, the corset is fairly familiar. Various pale imitations of it are found in Top Shop; more seasoned clubbers can go with something from Shhh!. Those who lace in secret, try Agent Provocateur. Millions of corset-based garments have appeared in other high-street chains; they may call them 'basques', or simply 'bodices', but their ancestry is unmistakable in their use of shaped panels and laces. The real corset is thankfully also still around - today's are made from authentic patterns adapted for modern shapes, and use traditional methods to ensure complete accuracy coupled with comfortable innovations like spiral steel boning.
It is obvious that corsets have returned, yet again. In disguise perhaps, but with resounding success. This is testimony to how universal a garment it is; even when not quite itself, it still retains its functions. We have rediscovered a thing of value which, owing to its versatility, is likely to never truly disappear.
Other Entries in This Project
- An Introduction to Corsets
- Period Costumes - Corset History
- Corsets, The Fashionable Foundation - Style, Wealth and Status
- Corsets, Gracious Instruments of Torture - Health, Punishment and Oppression
- Types of Corsets, How to Make Them and Where to Get Them
- The Subversive Stays - Corsets and Sex, Erotica and Fetishism