Corsets originated as undergarments for women in the sixteenth century, more than five hundred years ago. The first corsets were designed for women to wear underneath their dresses to “perfect” their natural figure by making their midsection appear more slender and forcing their waist into an unnaturally narrow shape. The first corset styles were brutally uncomfortable to wear, but their body-shaping benefits helped them retain a place in women’s fashion that has lasted into the twenty-first century.
Fortunately, corsets have come a long way since they made their first appearance in the 1500s and gained popularity during the Victorian era. While most women still don’t consider corsets to be the most comfortable piece of clothing they own, modern corsets are designed to allow women to breathe freely and don’t dig sharply into your skin— which is more than can be said for the first corset styles. Most modern corsets are also designed to gently smooth and define your natural curves rather than force your entire figure into an unnatural and uncomfortable shape.
Today, there are countless different types of corsets on the market, ranging from sexy corset lingerie to fashionable corset belts to functional medical corsets. So many different styles exist that it can be overwhelming to try to choose between them. Furthermore, most women don’t even know about many of the corset styles that are available to them. If you’re interested in adding a corset to your wardrobe or lingerie collection, learning as much as you can about the different types of corsets and what each of their unique designs can do for you can help you choose the corset style that is best for you, your body, your needs, and your style.
Few garments have succeeded in carving a lasting place for themselves in the fast-paced world of fashion and its ever-changing trends over such a long period. There are many reasons why corsets have remained a part of women’s fashion throughout multiple centuries.
Some of the benefits of corsets are expected: they define your waist, slim your figure, enhance your breasts, and just make you look sexier overall. However, not all of the advantages of corsets are so obvious, and not all of them are superficial. There are several reasons why women choose to wear corsets, many of which have more to do with the functionality of these traditional garments than their outward appearance.
One of the better-known functions of corsets is improving posture. The rigid structure of corsets forces your spine to remain straight throughout the day; their stiff material does not allow you to easily or comfortably bend your back to settle into a slumped position. Wearing a corset makes it more comfortable for you to hold your back straight than to slouch and can help create lasting better posture habits over time.
Corsets not only discourage bad posture habits, but they can also help correct mild spinal curvature problems. The structure of girdles stabilizes your spine and distributes your weight more evenly as you move and walk, which can reduce and prevent spinal curve as well as conceal and even help correct muscular and skeletal asymmetries.
If you suffer from chronic pain for any reason, wearing a corset might be able to alleviate some or all of the pain that continuously plagues your daily life. When you wear a corset, the corset provides a significant amount of the support your body needs to stay upright. Supporting your body is an automatic reflex that you’ve been doing without thinking since you learned to stand up and walk, so you likely don’t consider how much work you put into holding yourself upright throughout the day and how continually putting in that effort can cause or exacerbate your problems with chronic pain.
The material that corsets are made from is stiff and structured. The rigidity of this material supports and stabilizes your back, breasts, and midsection. The support and stabilization corsets can help alleviate neck pain, back pain, and chronic pain that stems from a muscular injury and various autoimmune disorders.
Most people are surprised to discover that corsets have emotional benefits that go beyond helping women feel more confident about how their body looks. The constant pressure that the snug fit of corsets provides can alleviate the symptoms of women who suffer from panic attacks, general anxiety disorder, or PTSD.
Even if you don’t have a formal anxiety disorder, wearing a corset can still be comforting. Corsets are effective at reducing high levels of stress and calming normal day-to-day anxiety.
Wearing a corset can help you feel more in control in many different ways. Women with binge eating disorders often find that wearing a corset helps them resist their impulses to overeat. Similarly, corsets can help women maintain healthy portion sizes and avoid indulging in excessive amounts of food while they are trying to lose weight or improve their health.
The shaping structure and stabilization that corsets provide help many women feel like they have more control over their body, which can, in turn, lead to feelings of deeper control over their life in general. These feelings of control can help you feel more confident—both physically and emotionally—and can decrease your feelings of vulnerability or helplessness in stressful everyday situations.
It’s common knowledge that corsets enhance the outward appearance of your breasts. In fact, one of the major defining characteristics of corsets is their ability to create the illusion of larger, perkier breasts and more cleavage by pulling your breasts upward and pushing them together in the center of your chest. Many women wear corsets on their own or underneath another top or dress for the sole purpose of accentuating their bust.
However, corsets can do more than just make your breasts look bigger and better. Corsets can be extremely effective in supporting very large, heavy breasts. They offer a much tighter fit than most other tops and even most supportive bras. This snug fit presses your breasts securely against your chest and holds them in place to eliminate bouncing and reduce the amount of strain the weight of your breasts puts on your neck and back. Many women find that wearing corsets not only decreases the discomfort they feel as a result of their heavy breasts throughout the day but also reduces chronic neck and back pain related to the size and weight of your breasts.
Since the very first corsets hit the shelves more than two hundred years ago, corset styles have evolved significantly. Over time, the construction of corsets has been subtly modified to make these garments more comfortable and more functional. The world of corsets has also expanded to include a wide variety of different corset styles, each of which has their unique purpose.
An overbustcorset is a style that comes to mind for most people when they picture a corset. These corsets cover your bust and extend down to the tops of your hips. You can wear an overbust corset by itself to accentuate your figure or to shape and slim your curves underneath another top or dress.
You don’t have to wear your bra with this corset style; the bust of most overbust corsets is designed with to serve as a bra. Overbust corsets are ideal corsets for midsection definition effectively, but their full-coverage, high-cut style is not always the best choice for cleavage enhancement.
Unlike overbust corsets, underbust corsets do not cover your breasts. These corsets fit snugly around your midsection and extend from the top of your ribcage down to your hips. Because they do not provide any coverage for your breasts, underbust corsets do not enhance your cleavage like most other corset styles.
Underbust corsets are designed to shape your midsection. They define your waist and create a slimmer, hourglass profile for your figure while allowing you to wear whatever bra is most comfortable and supportive for you. Many underbust corsets are strapless and rely on their snug fit to hold themselves up around your midsection, but others feature straps or a halter neck to help them stay secure without sliding down during wear.
Steampunk fashion blends the aesthetics of the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution to create a unique, creative style that is edgy, elegant, and sexy at the same time. Corsets are classic elements of steampunk fashion looks because they automatically add traditional Victorian flair to any steampunk outfit.
To show off their Victorian style, steampunk corsets are usually worn on their own rather than underneath a top or dress. Because they are designed to be worn by themselves, these corsets often feature detailing—like a sweetheart neckline and ruffles —that add edgy, sexy interest to the steampunk look.
Most corsets have a Victorian style because corsets gained significant popularity during the Victorian era. However, corsets have evolved since then, and many styles look very different from their Victorian counterparts.
Contemporary Victorian corsets are designed to mimic the style of traditional Victorian corsets. They usually come in light colors, such as white, nude, and baby pink and feature delicate lace and ribbon detailing. Most Victorian corset styles are meant to be worn by themselves to add a delicate, feminine finish to any look.
As their title suggests, Renaissance corsets are designed to look like the unique corset styles commonly worn by women during the medieval Renaissance period. The contemporary versions of Renaissance corsets are usually worn as part of a Renaissance-themed costume.
Renaissance corsets are very intricate and elegant. They commonly come in rich, jewel-toned colors and include multiple colors in one garment. These corsets feature themed detailing like a lace-up front or sides, leather, and patterned fabrics for an earthy finish.
Surgical corsets are a special type of corset designed for function rather than fashion. These corsets are constructed to protect your midsection following any abdominal surgery. Surgical corsets usually have a rigid structure and are constructed with a significant amount of boning and other support features to act as a protective shell around your healing midsection.
Women commonly wear surgical corsets after giving birth by C-section. Not only do these corsets help protect your tender post-Cesarean belly, but they also smooth your midsection to conceal any lumpy scars as they heal. Surgical corsets are also effective at post-surgical protection and concealment following a wide variety of other abdominal surgical procedures.
A medical corset is any corset that is designed to be worn for any medical reason rather than just for breast enhancement or waist definition. Corsets make surprisingly helpful recovery tools for a very wide range of injuries.
Medical corsets can help relieve painful symptoms of or even prevent many conditions, including abdominal hernias, ligament disorders, separation of abdominal muscles, and even menstrual cramps. If you have sustained some abdominal injury, check with your doctor about whether or not a medical corset might be able to ease your pain or speed up your recovery time.
As their name suggests, waist training corsets are designed to “train” your waist into an hourglass shape. These heavy-duty corsets are equipped with a rigid structure featuring steel boning that compresses your waist to coax it into a classic, slim hourglass shape.
The permanence or lack thereof of the results of waist training corsets is widely debated. Some women notice lasting effects on the shape and slimness of their midsection after consistently wearing a waist training corset, while others find that these corsets are only effective at temporarily changing the appearance of their waist during wear.
Plus size corsets are corsets that are designed to be worn by women with natural curves and large busts. These corsets are sold in many different styles, but overbust corsets that lift your breasts, enhance your cleavage and provide shaping coverage for your entire midsection are the most popular type of plus size corset.
Quality, effective plus size corsets are not constructed to conceal your curves. Instead, they are designed to lightly compress your midsection to gently smooth and define your figure without trying to alter your body’s natural shape.
The world of corsets has expanded significantly since there origin many centuries ago. Throughout the past several hundred years, many different types of corsets have branched off of the traditional corset style.
The trend of wearing corsets by themselves instead of concealed underneath another top or dress has also gained ground in the past few decades. The rise of these fashion corsets has paved the way for other types of corset wear, including corset-style bras, skirts, tops, bodysuits, and belts.
Corset bras are bras that are designed to affect your bust like a traditional overbust corset. They come in many different styles that range from backless to longline. Some corset bras look almost indistinguishable from regular bras, while others feature lace, embroidery, or other embellishments for a sexy lingerie look.
These bras allow you to take advantage of the cleavage-enhancing benefits of a corset without having to deal with the hassle and potential discomfort of wearing a full corset. They usually include padding, wire, and a lace-up design to lift your breasts and push them together. Most corset bras also have a traditional sweetheart neckline that allows you wear them invisibly underneath low-cut tops or dresses.
Corset skirts are mini skirts with a design reminiscent of that of a classic corset. They fit snugly to show off the shape of your waist and backside and are usually high-waisted to provide some coverage for your midsection. Most of these skirts have a basic design and feature corset-like characteristics such as lace-up embellishments on the sides or front of the skirt.
Some corset skirts are designed to shape your midsection, behind, and legs—like shapewear—and be worn underneath a skintight dress. Other corset skirts are meant to be worn on their own and the design features they share with classic corsets are included for fashion rather than function.
Corset tops are tight-fitting, lace-up tops that look like traditional corsets but are designed specifically to be worn by themselves, without another top or dress over them.
These tops vary widely in their appearance. Some corset tops are full-length, while others are cropped. Many of these tops have a basic design that looks very similar to that of a traditional corset that is meant to be worn underneath your clothing. Others feature detailing like bow adornments, embroidery or lace edging for a more fashionable finish. Most corset tops have a strapless design, but some styles include thin straps or a halter neck for added security.
Corset bodysuits are very similar to corset tops. The only real difference between the two styles is that corset bodysuits fasten or connect underneath your crotch while most corset tops are either cut in a cropped style or only extend down to the tops of your hips.
These bodysuits are skintight, which makes them an ideal choice for showing off your figure underneath a high-waisted skirt, jeans or cutoffs. Many corset bodysuit styles are also embellished with lace, cutouts, designed to be worn alone as lingerie.
Corset belts are wide, fabric belts that feature a lace-up closure in front like a traditional corset. Most of these belts stretch from the middle of your ribcage down to the top of your waist, although their width varies between styles.
Unlike almost every other type of corset wear, corset belts are usually worn on top of your other clothing. Like a standard belt, corset belts accentuate your waist when paired with loose-fitting clothing. The corset-like style of these belts also helps shape your midsection and make it appear slimmer.
Leggings are an essential staple in almost every modern woman’s wardrobe. They’re comfortable, versatile, practical, and ultra-trendy. If the only leggings you own are basic black leggings and athletic styles, however, it’s time to branch out.
While essential black leggings will always be a classic go-to for casual everyday wear, they aren’t the only type of leggings that are worth wearing. Expand your comfy wardrobe with these five practical and stylish types of leggings you won’t realize you needed until you add them to your collection.
CUP SIZES AA-D REMAIN THE SAME
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