Since Netflix’s release of Bridgerton, Regency-era drama, the Regency-era drama has kept viewers hooked. In its first month, it reached 82 million viewers. Its clothing has also seenp into our wardrobes. The global shopping platform Lyst saw a 123% increase in corset searches within the first four weeks after its release. Taut bodices were displayed on fall ’21 runways by Markarian, KNWLS and Prabal Gurung during Fashion Month in February. According to Lyst, the search for this constricting lingerie item increased 74% after Billie Eilish posed on British Vogue’s June cover wearing a variety of custom corsets from Gucci, Burberry and Mugler.
Eilish wasn’t the only celebrity spotted wearing the trend. Miley Cyrus wore a Schiaparelli corset while hosting SNL in May, followed by Katy Perry, who wore a white Maticevski suit with a black corset while filming American Idol. Dua Lipa looked stunning in a VivienneWestwood corset dress at the BRITs MTV Movies & Television Awards. Yara Shahidi wore an Adidas tracksuit and an Erdem bodice, and Olivia Rodrigo wore a plaid Vivienne Westwood corset during her own SNL performance.
In turn, one thing has become clear: Fashion’s obsession with Regencycore isn’t going anywhere. But, what is it really like to wear a corset IRL?
I tried a variety of styles to find out. From NSFW lingerie to more fashion-forward versions, such as the SKIMS waist trainer, boned Miaou styles (worn in the final season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians), and a sheer Savage x Fenty Corset dress.
The waist trainer is available in black or tan, and sizes XXS-4X. It can be worn under clothing. Although it is made of neoprene, the corset was very constricting. It didn’t feel very comfortable under a gray fitted dress when I was running errands in the 90 degree weather. Even more so after eating three meals of pasta, plus dessert, and triple the daily recommended amount of garlic bread. But then again, I had been warned by experts: “A corset will never be truly comfortable,” Bridgerton costume designer Ellen Mirojnick said prior to the show’s release.
Although I was expecting a more authentic-to-history experience with the waist trainer, it wasn’t as painful as I thought. I also didn’t expect the more trendy corsets to be as restrictive. After a long day at work, my back was a little sore from the power mesh and boning of Miaou’s style. The Campbell mesh and the Imogene corsets created the appearance of a “blossoming body,” Mirojnick said in December. I wear a 32B bra size.
Over the course of the week, I used the Campbell corset in several ways. I layered it over a silk minidress and paired it with Bermuda-length denim pants. I will next time pair the Campbell corset with a matching mini skirt from the brand, following Kardashian’s lead. I was inspired by her look and combined the Imogene corset in brown and white with my black mini skirt, knee-high boots, and a matching pair of Imogene shoes.
Rihanna’s third corset style felt less like a corset, despite having laces at the back or a dress as its name implies. It felt more like straight lingerie. The cups of the Savage X Fenty’s watercolor tie dye corset dress are completely transparent so I was unable to test it on the streets. However, the piece looked cute when worn in my bedroom.
Throughout this process, I simultaneously fell in love with corsets and sympathized with Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan, who said in December of the sense of relief that ensues when you take off a corset after a long day: “Your ribs are just like, ‘Ah’.” While I wouldn’t recommend wearing a waist trainer for a three-course Italian dinner, nor a bone-in corset for a day spent sitting at the computer, my experience with corsets was far more enjoyable than I had expected it to be when I took on this task. They created the illusion of cleavage and held me in. I also found them to be a fun, sexy styling item in my otherwise simple wardrobe.
Coughlan stated that it is good to take yours off at the end. However, wearing one isn’t always bad, especially if it’s a fashionable one.