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How to wear a corset

Merril Diniz | April 18, 2006

The first time I stumbled across the word 'corset' was in the novel Gone With The Wind. Scarlett O' Hara, the lead character, was urging her maid-in-waiting to tighten its strings, to make her 16-inch waistline look even smaller. 

imageThis garment was commonly used as inner wear in the 1800s by women sporting gowns. Today, it is flaunted as outer wear. It exudes style, gives shape to one's upper body and makes waistlines look slimmer.

We spotted the corset in collections by several designers -- Dev r Nil, Nandita Mahtani, Falguni & Shane Peacock, and Rohit Bal, to name a few -- at the fashion week in Mumbai and Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi. 

Nil of designer duo Nil r Dev has specialised in 'corsetry' at fashion school in Australia. "There's a misconception that corsets are only meant for petite people," he says. "They can be worn by all, as they have a slimming effect." He tips us on how to shop for and carry off a corset...

Choosing a corset

Make sure the 'bonning' is sturdy. Bonning is the frame used to give the corset shape. It is made of little vertical strips that are embedded in the fabric to hold it well.

The sticks should not bend easily. 

The cut of the corset must be good. The best way to check this out is to slip it on -- it must give a good shape to your body, slim at the top of the bust line, broadening at the bust line, then narrowing on the waist. 

Make sure the fabric feels soft against your skin, or you may feel uncomfortable. 

How to wear it

The back of the corset is held together with strings. Loosen these, slip the corset on over your shoulders and let it sit comfortably on your upper body. Tighten the strings and tie up securely, but not so tightly that you can hardly breathe.

Needless to say, you wear nothing under the corset, which is why it is important to wear one of good quality. This lessens the scope for any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions!

Corsets can be teamed with skirts, pants and ghagras. They look great for dressy occasions. And yes, don't slouch. Keep your back straight and walk tall. 


Photograph: Jewella C Miranda
Image design: Reuben NV

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