Corset Tops: What’s the Verdict?
By Simone Kramer
Whether I’m in class, at a party, or simply walking around campus, I can easily spot numerous people sporting corset tops of all colors and styles. Prior to 2021, I thought of corsets to be old-fashioned and artifact-like. I never would have guessed how popular they would become and how they could impact everyday fashion. After gaining prominence in the past few years, I have to ask: are corset tops on the way out, or are they here to stay?
A bit of history on corsets: They first became popular in Europe during the 16th century as shapewear. Binding in the torsos of the users, they were not used as outerwear and instead placed beneath dresses. In the 17th century, corsets developed more flair, adding frills and lace. Women and men alike wore them during this era. Yet, it was not until the Victorian era that corsets reached their prime. The hourglass look was all the rage, and the corset served to make the waist appear smaller than the hips. This went along with the idea that women were representations of purity and beauty. Today, women have taken back the once-oppressive genre of corsets, creating new styles and ways to wear them.
I couldn’t write on this topic without mentioning the holy grail of the genre: the Out From Under Modern Love Corset from Urban Outfitters. During the fall semester of 2022, it was nearly impossible to go out and not see college women sporting this item left and right. They come in many color options but seem uncomfortable and not suitable for all body types as the breast area is confining and inflexible. The urge to secure one of these was difficult to resist, but ultimately, I decided that I could not justify the price for something I knew could be a microtrend. The standard price was $60 in its prime, but now it can be purchased for as low as $10. It’s safe to say that these are on their way out, yet are not frowned upon. If you have one, don’t let that $60 go to waste!
While the Modern Love top was all the rage at a point, the genre of corsets has opened up. Instead of only seeing these tops upon going out on the weekends, I now see many wearing them to class. They can be strapless to long-sleeved. I love a simple, neutral corset top that can be paired with jeans, a skirt, cargo, or—this may be unpopular—even sweats to go for a comfy but put-together outfit. Aritzia’s Sculpt Knit Bustier Tank, Reformation’s Isadora Top, and Princess Polly’s Cheyla Top are all great choices for a more refined look that includes the features of a corset top.
As I write this, I am realizing that corsets are becoming somewhat of their own category within the overarching section of tops. Just like any grouping, some styles will be timeless, and some will be trendy. This form of garment has been around for so many centuries and is still being reinvented. It’s safe to say that the entire genre is here to stay, just not every microtrend that falls into it.
Simone Kramer is a website writer for BU Fashion and Retail Association. She is a sophomore studying Journalism and Public Relations in the College of Communications.