Of corsets and petticoats

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Model: Natasha Bell
If you step back a little over a century the western woman's wardrobe would have included a full-length petticoat and a corset. Granted both functioned as undergarments, uncomfortable ones at that!

These days, you're more likely to find petticoats in costume shops and corsets in naughty Halloween costume sets or lingerie. I have a reasonable collection of corset tops and I've been known to wear them with suits in a work context. I also have a few petticoats — the full-length version featured on Natasha and a few shorter ones. I love the shape it can give underneath a dress or skirt, but I also love it worn like this, over the top as a glam, pseudo-gothic, pseudo-steampunk, pseudo-Wild West affair.

For me these items evoke a darker and sensual era, something on the cusp of our modern world, a world prim and proper on the outside but simmering under the surface. I enjoy playing on that sometimes: it's the opposite effect of animal print, caging and binding ourselves in the game of etiquette and manners.

From a practical perspective, having these items means I can easily throw something dressy together without actually having to get an evening dress. If your shape doesn't lend itself to a single garment gown, then combining top and bottom separates with shape and movement can do the trick for a look that's a bit edgy, a little couture.

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