Many women are wearing corsets as their outerwear nowadays. While it has been trending, let's take a closer look at the history of the corset and its transformation.


The corset has held femininity by tightening the waistline and molding more shape to the torso since 15th-century Western society. Back then, medicine was not as advanced as today, but one thing that researchers, surgeons, and common people presumed was that corsets were dangerous for excessive use. 

Despite its controversial history, the corsets remain a commonly used garment within female fashion. With the vast technological advancement and medical research growth, could the use of corsets be transformed into something better? 

The history of corsets

During the Renaissance era, Catherine de Medici, a high-status woman, influenced the use of corsets by banning "thick waist" within the court. Catherine was an Italian noblewoman born into the Medici family. From 1547 to 1559, she was Queen consort of France, from the marriage to King Henry II, and mother of French kings Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III. 

In the past, corsets were used as a symbol of status. There were rumors that wearing corsets caused infertility, endometriosis, and difficulty breathing which eventually led the women to faint. Some corset wearers had organs atrophied due to the body's inability to circulate blood. 

The undergarment became more popular later in the Industrial Revolution, around the 1880s. Not only women with higher status could wear it, but every woman could also get the access to it since it was mass-produced. 

It was not until the flapper era, the 1920s in which young women are allowed to have bob short hair, cigarettes dangling from their painted lips, and dancing to a live jazz band, that corsets were introduced to a younger generation of women who were gladly rebelling against the lady-like norms. 

Fast forward to the 80s and 90s, Vivienne Westwood, a designer who loves corsets, reimagined the use of the undergarment by keeping its erotic and feminine side but leaving behind its uncomfortable features. She transformed what once was used as underwear into outerwear. That was when the corset revolution began. She also modified its restrictive feature into a fashion that is chic and more loosening than the corsets' original intention. 

The rebirth

From 2020, corsets have become a trending fashion commodity. From fast fashion companies to haute couture houses, they have reimagined the corsets. Although some still have a restrictive function to the body, others are being created to only pull certain elements from the garment. 

The current state of the corset trend is more of a creative form of self-expression rather than a symbol of status.  Billie Eilish and Zöe Kravitz are two women who are creatively interacting closely with corsets. 

Zöe Kravitz who played in Batman's (2022) film was spotted in early March wearing a cat-themed corseted dress by Dominican designer, Oscar de la Renta, at the premiere of The Batman. Billie Eilish, who is known to mostly adopt oversized wardrobe everywhere she goes to prevent body shaming, was on what she called "an experimental cover" of the British Vogue wearing a corset in May 2021. In that same year, she also styled corsets with sweatpants which eventually got her heavily criticized. However, she gladly stood up for her choice as a means that she was just self-expressing. 

In the Fall/Winter 2022 collection, Dior, the fashion giant, reimagined the concept of corsets with sporty corsets and corseted overcoats. 

Today, women and others who wore corsets no longer have to endure the uncomfortable pain of wearing corsets to feel empowered and beautiful. The idea of "beauty is pain" is outdated and the fashion industry is helping to change that mindset. 

The resurgence of corsets is allowing women to be more creative with their self-expression. The emergence of corsets contributes to the bold statement modern women are making that they shall be judged no more about what they wear by society. Instead, modern women want to rewrite the rules of sexy, authentic, and comfortable fashion. 

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