Are Corsets Lingerie?

It was the Oxford Conference of Corsetry just over a week ago, and in its run-up I spent most of my time getting pretty obsessive about corsets. I’ve been neglecting other areas of lingerie to dedicate my time to crafting these exquisite, waist-altering garments. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the significance of the corset. As a lingerie designer, corsets to me have always existed in their own category outside the rest of lingerie. Generally speaking, I consider them to be their own category of clothing, and more of a piece of outerwear than exclusively underwear.

For the majority of their history, corsets have been almost exclusively an undergarment. It was during their heyday in the Victorian and Edwardian eras that they made the transformation from a purely functional pieces of clothing to a beautiful pieces of lingerie. The introduction of luxurious silk fabrics and dainty lace trims meant many corsets became elegant components of trousseaus or decadent boudoir accompaniments, a new incarnation for these previously staid garments. Yet in the latter half of the 20th century, heavy foundation wear fell almost entirely out of favour. It wasn’t until around the 1980s that corsets saw a major resurgence (and one that we can largely attribute to Jean Paul Gaultier’s corseted costumes for Madonna); corsets stopped solely being hidden under clothing.

There’s no doubt that corsets have become somewhat of a staple for many modern lingerie brands; however, for many of these labels, it can certainly be debated whether or not these garments actually count as ‘proper’ corsets. Many of these pieces are lightly boned with plastic and without much curve cut into the patterns: they will not offer any real form or shaping and cannot really be referred to as foundation wear. Arguably in these instances, the difference between corsets and basques and bustiers has become somewhat blurred.

It’s very rare to see actual shapely corsets being sold alongside lingerie (with the exception of certain vintage-inspired brands such as What Katie Did and Kiss Me Deadly). Curvy corsets and ‘waist-training’ have certainly seen a resurgence in recent years, though there’s certainly been a shift in the number of retailers that actually market these corsets as pieces of underwear.

Many corsets are now being designed exclusively as outerwear pieces, whether these be additional accessories to casual wear (as brands like Orchard Corset and other lower-priced OTR labels seem to target) or evening and bridal wear. These pieces still often give a nod to lingerie though: many OTR styles include loops for suspender attachments as standard. In addition to this, it must be noted that the boundaries between lingerie and outerwear are becoming more and more blurred, corsets non-withstanding: consider the number of lingerie brands that create bras with extravagant necklines and harness attachments.

Of course there will always be corsets that are created specifically as lingerie, whether that be historical reproductions or modern interpretations of girdles. Nevertheless, the area of corsetry that most interests me and that I aspire to as a designer most is one that will never remain in the world of lingerie: couture. Whether it be Mr Pearl’s impeccable creations on the Parisian catwalks or Sparklewren’s lace and Swarovski encrusted delights, these are pieces that should be criminal to cover up with clothing. It’s the side of the industry that is totally uncommercial that interests me most: the area where creativity can take wing most. Costings and mass production aren’t considerations for pieces like these; I suspect this is where my personal disconnect between corsets and lingerie originates.

There’s no ‘correct’ answer for corsetry’s position in the lingerie world. A number of prominent figures in the corsetry community were asked for their thoughts on the matter. The variety of opinion certainly offers some food for thought! (Special thank you to Cathy Hay for asking Mr Pearl’s thoughts on the matter!)


Mr Pearl: Corsets are objects in their own right, whether lingerie or showpiece. They’re connected to shoes, hat and gloves…. They exist in their own world. They are not fashion, they are beyond fashion. They can be in or out of fashion. Once they were required but that time will never return…. But imagine the waists you’d see! Lingerie is something very private, to be shared in private. Corsetry should be shared wherever possible.



The Do’s and Don’ts of Corset Waist Training

Get an hourglass shape with a waist training corset
By Carla Snuggs

Right now, one of the hottest items in shapewear is the waist trainer. In search of the perfect hourglass shape, celebrities like Kim Kardashian wear waisttrainers to slim and trim their figures. Kim recently posted a photo wearing a purple corset.

A weightloss corset like this helps support long-term slimming and may help you lose inches through the science of compression. The latex lining stimulates thermal activity and perspiration, mobilizing fat and toxins. You will see results as soon as you put it on. Add time, plus a healthy diet and active lifestyle and you’re going to love the edge a garment like this gives you.

To find out more about different types of waist trainers and high compression garments, Posh Beauty Blog turned to Ruben Soto, owner of Here are Soto’s waist training tips and tricks.

There are plenty of high compression garments that will produce the desired results instantly (general high quality shapewear). With that said, there are products that are best to increase thermal activity in the midsection and others that are best for more traditional waist training.

Corsets such as the Amia Cincher are recommended for an instant 1-3 inch reduction of the midsection. This cincher works due to the PowerLatex core that stimulates thermal activity and perspiration in the midsection.

Steel-boned waist training corsets such as our Black Cashmere Underbust Corset (above) are meant to reduce inches over time through high compression from tight-lacing techniques. The result overtime is the readjustment of the lower ribs for a more defined, hourglass waist. Typically, someone would wear the corset comfortably for a short amount of time to build up tolerance, then make it tighter and wear it for a longer period of time.

The DO’s and Don’ts of Wearing a Waist Training Corsets


• Wear the garment for a few hours at a time to build tolerance.

• Wear the corset for longer periods after you become comfortable.

• Select a proper fitting item.

• Discontinue use if you feel any discomfort.


Do not continue usage if you experience any of the following

• Numbness in the legs

• Shortness of breath

• Sharp stomach pains

• Pinching
Why I LOVE Cincher By Amia

I was sent Cincher by Amia, a beautiful waist training corset, and I love it! I wore the cincher for three weeks and found that I naturally ate less and lost about an inch off of my waist. Amia’s cincher is great because it allows you to wear any style of bra or panty. The cincher has PowerLatex and FlexiBoning, so it is super comfortable and doesn’t dig into your skin like other waist cinchers. It’s also got a 2-row frontal hook and eye design so it’s really easy to put on and you can continue to use as you slim down.

Have you ever worn a waist training corset? Leave your comments below – I’d love to hear about your experiences!

L Brands sees record Victoria’s Secret sales fall, shares slide

Shares of L Brands Inc tumbled to a three-year low on Thursday, a day after the retailer said it expected sluggish demand for Victoria’s Secret lingerie to force its biggest brand’s steepest ever monthly decline in comparable sales.
Victoria’s Secret, the long-time lingerie market leader, has been struggling to boost sales amid changing trends such as the emergence of bralettes, which are cheaper and easier to size and buy online than regular bras.

L Brands, which recently exited some product categories, including Victoria’s Secret’s swim and apparel business, said on Wednesday it expected February comparable sales at its biggest brand to fall by about 20 percent. Comparable sales fell 10 percent in January.
Victoria’s Secret last reported a double-digit decline in comparable sales during the 2007-09 financial crisis, but even then, the decline did not surpass 15 percent.

L Brands, whose shares slumped as much as 17.5 percent on Thursday, attributed about half of its overall net sales last year to Victoria’s Secret.

There’s no question that bralettes have changed the intimates selling experience, removing barriers to entry that Victoria’s Secret has held and allowing other brands to start chipping away at share, Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel told Reuters.
“On top of that, even though Victoria’s Secret is selling bralettes – they’re selling a nice amount of units – their problem is bralettes are lower priced ,” Siegel added.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc’s down-to-earth and cheaper Aerie was one of the first lingerie brands to hop onto the bralette bandwagon.
Aerie, one of several brands that is stealing millennial attention from Victoria’s Secret, has also gained traction through marketing campaigns targeted at the every-woman, with ads featuring models of all shapes and sizes who often aren’t air-brushed.
This contrasts starkly with high-fashion, picture-perfect Victoria’s Secret “Angels”.

“Victoria’s Secret is still a little fake and plastic … I think they have an image problem and if you look at the competition out there and you look at the messaging, what resonates right now is not the Victoria’s Secret message,” said Gabriella Santaniello, analyst and founder at A-Line Partners.
“They are sending mixed messages to the consumer and that conveys a lack of authenticity and I think the customer knows that and obviously they’re speaking with their wallets.”

Victoria’s Secret, which has been promoted by a string of celebrity models such as Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima, isn’t the only struggling high-end lingerie chain. Troubled upmarket lingerie chain Agent Provocateur has also been hit by the luxury spending slowdown.