Corset Caution

From Marie Antoinette to Kim Kardashian, corsets are a part of every baddies wardrobe, but how bad are they really for your health?

Historical Origins


The corset originally rose to popularity in the 1600s as part of ladies undergarments, and arguably was at its peak in Victorian times. The corset added structure to complement the extravagant dresses of the Victorian era, along with petticoats, crinolines, and chemises to create a gumball of layers before the outer dress had even gone on. The aim was to achieve a fashionable hourglass figure, and we can certainly see that this fashion trend of the past is getting a modern revival.


I think it’s safe to say that the popularity of the waist trainer, sister to the corset, can be credited to the Kardashian’s promotions. They are of course aided by personal trainers, dietitians and doctors when showing the results of the waist trainer, which further falsifies the effects of the garment. It must be said that their lack of transparency on plastic surgery gives an unrealistic expectation of its results, but that’s a conversation for another time. Any effects of the waist trainer are only semi-permanent as the body fills out again after some time without use.


The revival in corsets is more closely linked to fashion rather than body as they are not worn over clothes. Their rise in popularity could be credited to the popularity of period dramas, such as Downton Abbey and Bridgerton. Subtly paying tribute to the gorgeous costumes of these shows is easy with a plethora of corsets to choose from and the right accessories.


Fashion is no stranger to borrowing trends from the past, and the revival of 2K fashion could also be responsible for the popularity of corsets. You don’t have to look any further than a quick google to find an abundance of red carpet fashion moments in the 2000s which styled corsets with (of course) low-rise jeans. It is clear that corsets are far from just an essential for pirate Halloween costumes.


Though corsets are a gorgeous statement piece in your outfit, there are possible health side effects which should not be taken lightly. Are you ready to dive in? Or, are you already feeling breathless?


Health effects


One of the most common side effects of wearing a corset regularly is difficulty breathing and as a result, light-headedness. Hence the trope of insanely-corseted Victorian women fainting onto a chaise lounge when hearing bad news.


When considering how this might have an effect on women who wear waist trainers to exercise, it is clear that the waist trainer will negatively effect the safety of their workout. Without a normal supply of oxygen to your lungs, there is a high probability of both dizziness and fainting. Improper use can therefore result in serious injury.


When wearing corsets regularly, there is a chance of core muscles being weakened. This is due to the corset basically taking over what the abdominal muscles are usually in charge of. An extreme example of this would be the Cathie Jung, who boasts the Guinness World Record for the smallest waist at just 15 inches! She corsets for 23 hours of the day, besides the effects of her internal organs being shifted, her body now relies on her corset to hold her abdomen in place. In severe cases like this, the muscles may have permanently atrophied. Is a couple of inches really worth this sacrifice?


The reality to these side effects is that they are caused by misuse of corsets. This is why it is so important to buy the right size corset, being fitted by an expert is even better. No matter how much we might be tempted to jump into an extra small to be immediately snatched, corsets require a very gradual progression in tightening. Pushing your body beyond its limits is never a good idea in corsetry, but by following instructions of experts, it is possible to corset without fear.


How to style a corset?


Now you've been cautioned on how to wear corsets safely, it's time for the fun part.


What is great about corsets is that they can be styled with a lot of different aesthetics. For a regal look, you could pair a satin corset with a loose chiffon dress or shirt. The corset adds structure whilst still creating a romantic feel because of the floaty fabric and silky corset. Or for an edgier look you could try a leather look belt corset with a tight mid length dress. They are a statement piece for every wardrobe.