When was the last time you saw a woman in a corset? The odds are that it was on TV, probably in a music video, perhaps a film or possibly even a steamy live show. Yes, corsets are definitely not the most common ‘regular’ fashion accessory. They exude an overtly raw sensual vibe.
But what is a corset exactly? Most people recognize it as the tight-fitting apparel that women wear around the torso. You may wonder, “Why do women wear corsets if they are so tight?” The main reason is that a corset is a waist shaping tool. It can be tightened to enhance the hourglass shape of the female form.
Beyond that, the corset has morphed from its high society European beginnings to embody a more casual but also decidedly more sexual flavor. Many corset fans today do not necessarily use it to achieve a particular body shape but rather as a unique way to command attention. And that is where the corset excels.
What are the different types of corsets?
As with any fashion attire, there can be a million and one variations of the basic corset. The types of corsets that are popular today can be divided into two broad categories – underbust and overbust. As these names suggest, the difference between overbust and underbust corset is that the first ends under the bosom while the latter covers at least part of the bosom.
A quick image search will reveal that part of the bosom can prove to be a very ambiguous term; some women come perilously close to spilling their ‘hearts’ out even in an overbust.
One thing to note is that not every piece of tight clothing that stretches from the waist to the breasts is automatically a corset. One of the most common misconceptions is that a bustier is also a type of corset. That is not true and the difference between a bustier and a corset lies in one small but essential detail.
One of the necessary components of a corset is the clasp or strap at the waist that allows the wearer to shape their waist. By contrast, a bustier may be made of an elastic material and be tight (like shapewear) but it does not give you a way to directly control the circumference of your waist.
That small difference between a corset and a bustier is all you need to know to identify them. However, that difference also comes with a price tag – corsets are almost always more expensive than bustiers, taking into consideration brands, similar quality and material.
When to wear a corset?
A corset worn on its own obviously does not make it to anyone’s list of formal or smart casual wear. It is bold and in your face, revealing oodles of flesh in all the ‘right’ places. Those factors are exactly why it is becoming an increasingly common sight at parties and raves.
There are two things that women ask when they wonder what to wear with a corset. Firstly, what to wear over a corset (when it is not the main part of the outfit) and, secondly, how to dress up a corset (when it is the main attraction).
What to wear over a corset?
A corset worn underneath regular clothes can be a powerful weapon in your daily wardrobe arsenal. Shapewear and tummy trimming belts do a reasonable job of shaping your body but the corset is the most aggressive invisible tool you can use.
The first thing to consider when choosing clothes to wear over a corset is whether you want anyone to know that you are wearing it. As part of an outfit for a party, leaving a blouse unbuttoned to reveal the corset may be the most appealing look. On the other hand, a corset may be too risqué to be seen under your work clothes.
Here is what you should think through before you decide how to wear a corset under your clothes.
- Texture – Many corsets have embroidery and other embellishments, particularly along the edges and the hem. There also might be boning. All these additions can result in a visibly bumpy texture on clothes worn over a corset. If you intend to hide the corset (or just avoid questions), choose a simple corset design with minimal overt design features.
- Color – Being an outrageous outfit for self-expression, most corsets come in eye-catching colors or patterns that may be visible even through your darker clothes. Check yourself out in a mirror or have someone observe you to know which clothes hide it well. Make sure to do this under different light conditions because that is what you will encounter when you step outside.
- Shape – The shape of what you wear must complement the curves created by the corset. Otherwise, all the discomfort of wearing one is wasted. Make sure that your outfit is tapered at the waist and flares at the hips to maximize your sacrifice.
How to dress up a corset?
If you want to know what to wear with a corset to a party, you are looking at a completely different scenario. This is when you want to accessorize your corset without stealing its thunder. One of the most common questions is what bra to wear with a corset dress and, more often, what do you wear under an underbust corset.
With an underbust, you will obviously need something which gives you enough support but also compliments the underbust design. Make sure that the bra and corset are distinguishable by color for maximum impact. This allows the corset to achieve its desired effect while your body fights the battle against gravity.
All corsets work very well with skinny jeans to emphasize your curves. A flaring dress can help to accentuate the wasp waist look. If you are more inclined towards the Moulin Rouge vibe, audacious accessories like a short leather jacket and gloves are fantastic. Think rhinestones and flashy jewelry to complete an unforgettable look.