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Are you Ready for Corset Dressing? 

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There was a time, not too long ago, when the mere mention of the word ‘corset’ would draw a reproachable stare. Meaning: no self-sufficient, self-respecting feminist woman would dare lower herself to this fetishization and bind her body into unnatural shapes. But that was before leggings, sweats and utilitarian garments took control of most of our wardrobes.

Here we are, Fall 2022, and we’re happily swapping sweatpants for suits, worn with peekaboo lace bras or even jewel bras. Sexy is back in full swing!

But it’s a sexy that is not femme fatale. It’s playful, easy and uplifting. We post selfies wearing underwear. We’re in control, and we like it like that. It’s self-asserting and powerful. The mood is good. Positive. By the way, Skims uses a ton of user-generated content (UGC) to back the launch of new collections on social media. That’s how women like to consume fashion. We identify with others who resemble us. It’s cool. All body shapes, ages and styles are welcome. 

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Retro but Modern 

Add to all this a retro Y2K vibe (the last time corset-inspired clothing was worn, en masse), plus a mega-successful series like Bridgerton — if you’re more poetically inclined there was also Dickinson, on Apple TV — and the timing for an upsurge of corset-inspired dressing is here. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the New York Times that “whenever films or TV shows show corsets, it seems to trigger a new interest in corsetry in some sense.” 

At this year’s edition of the Met Gala, corsets were the most popular plus-one. It was in tone with the theme of the evening called “gilded glamour,” an allusion to the hourglass figure of the mid-nineteenth century iconic Gibson Girl. Tons of celebrities were cinched, boned and lifted in corset-inspired gowns, bustiers and tops, including Gigi Hadid in a latex vampish burgundy corset paired with leggings (the most modern version of the corset), Billie Eilish in full Old World glam wearing a Gucci gown (instantly made of the minute with its one hundred percent upcycled materials), and even Lizzo (she is the celebrity showing the biggest love for corsets) in a black long dress with corset detailing. 

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The New Silhouette

But there is more to just wanting to be an 18th-century aristocrat or playing a poetess madly in love when it comes to corsets. Silhouettes have evolved in the last few years. Pants are roomier, baggier, the waistline is higher. Much like we’ve seen cropped tops make a huge comeback, to balance a higher rise, corsets are also playing this role because they’re close to the body. 

The way to wear a corset now is by playing up contrasts. You combine your ultra-tight bustier with wide-legged dress pants and cargos. And you wear it over a shirt, T-shirt or tank top. For a smart, sexy look, you can combine a corset-inspired short dress (à la Versace Fall-Winter 2022) with latex leggings and ultra-high platforms. For an even bigger dose of style, add a pair of leather opera gloves

But for all the hoopla about corsets and how sexy they make the wearer look, the biggest change they have is on posture and how you walk. Much like a tight three-piece suit has the same effect in the business world. Added to that, the cinched form helps emphasize a classic feminine silhouette, with a nipped-in waist and rounder hips.

In this era of ungendered sartorial looks maybe snapping on a corset, which creates the ultimate artificial femininity, can be liberating for whomever wants to feel more like a woman. And that might be the epitome of sexiness. Looking and feeling like what you’ve always wanted to be. 

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