Dangerous Curves Ahead
Few articles of clothing have been as revered and reviled as the corset. Fans of the figure-hugging garment like the way it smoothes the torso, cinches the waist and pushes up the bosom. Detractors have assailed it as yet another symbol of the oppression of women, whose bodies must be molded into fashion, at great discomfort, for the enjoyment of men.
Love them or loathe them, corsets are again in fashion; just as they were in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Some designs are meant to be worn as undergarments, primarily with wedding gowns and other formal attire. Others are likely to be worn as an outergarment – to dinner at a chic restaurant or with jeans to a trendy nightclub.
Retailers and fashion observers cite several reasons why lingerie influences are no longer under wraps. First, style is all about femininity these days, with cotton-candy colors, girlish prints, soft fabrics and silhouettes and such trims as ruffles and lace.
Second, “corsets minimize the waist and enhance the bustline, a look that’s very in the forefront right now,” says Nancy Sagar, spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus. “There’s also a mysterious aura to a corset because it’s typically an undergarment, so wearing it out is a very sexy look. Years ago, people wouldn’t have dared to wear something like that. Now it’s become normal.
“Women are very much into their bodies,” she says. “With all the exercise and dieting they’re doing, they want to show off their assets.”
Women can thank such pop-music icons as Madonna for the continuing popularity of the underwear-as-outerwear trend. For the cover of her “Like a Virgin” album in 1984, she wore lacy garments, including a corset-like top. “Madonna brought it out of the closet,” says Colette Wong, who teaches intimate apparel at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
Twenty years after Madonna made her splash, women “have much more freedom and say in what they wear and how they want to look,” Wong says.
Corsets were once thought of as being restrictive and keeping a woman in line, but today, “if this is what she wants, she’s going to do it,” Wong says.
“The fascination with corsets comes from the fact that you become much more regal when you wear it; your stature is much better,” Wong says. “Today’s woman likes that feeling.”
Corsets date to Grecian times, but it wasn’t until the 17th century in Spain that they became widespread for women. “It looked like armor, binding the bust and flattening the body,” Wong says.
Article by Suzanne S. Brown
Source: The Denver Post