When a sign of injustice, bodices have quite a questionable history in fashion.
Basically a tightly fitted underwear designed to form the user’s body, early styles are thought to date back as far as 1600 BCE, and bodices were widely seen in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Used primarily by ladies– but likewise guys– these adjustable garments could be tightened up (often to the extreme!) to help provide what was thought to be a preferable hourglass silhouette, with a small waist.
Bodices established something of a bad track record, particularly as they fed into unrealistic charm requirements, and might be connected so firmly it made it difficult to breathe. They definitely were not made with the wearer’s comfort in mind.
But this didn’t stop bodices from growing. As charm standards moved, so did underwears– take the corsets of the 1920s flapper period, which went for a more ‘boylike’ figure, reducing curves instead of highlighting them.
By the mid-20th century, women were shedding constrictive clothing and increasingly wearing pants, so the uncomfortable bodice began to be pushed aside– however not for too long.
The corset quickly reinvented itself as the star of the program; not simply an undergarment to be hidden below layers. Vivienne Westwood is perhaps the best example of this– from the 1970s to today, the iconic designer has incorporated aspects of punk corsetry into her collections.
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Other designers soon followed– just consider Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic cone bra corset for Madonna in 1990. Far from a symbol of repression, it quickly became synonymous with ladies recovering their sexuality and bodies.
Bodices did strike a bit of a design low point in the Noughties though, when vibrantly patterned, shiny versions flooded the red carpet. Corsets paired completely with the low-slung trousers of the day, and fulfilled the short for ‘jeans and a great top’.
Victoria Beckham supplied us with peak Noughties-corset at the 2003 MTV Motion picture Awards, wearing a satin lace-up gown– a look we loved at the time, however aren’t so sure about in hindsight.
Corsets faded towards the end of the 2000s– and now, the design is well and truly back, mostly thanks to the wild popularity of Bridgerton. Embed in the Regency age, the hit Netflix TV program includes characters in bosom-heaving bodices, reigniting our love for the style.
Now, most corset designs aren’t bone-crushingly uncomfortable, the good news is. But they might assist you bring a little Regency style to your post-lockdown looks …
There’s a factor Bridgerton is the most-watched original series on Netflix: it’s saucy, fun, and the outfits are amazing. Ladies wear technicolour gowns, offered structural integrity thanks to a little corsetry.
The high street is taking hints from the period drama. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to wear full satin dresses total with layers of petticoats. It’s about taking inspiration from the age– believe romantic patterns, whimsical detailing like puff sleeves, and plenty of pastels.
Superdown Coralia Bustier Top, ₤ 43 (jeans offered out), Revolve
Nasty Gal Bodice the State Of Mind Faux Leather Chiffon Top in White, ₤ 16 (was ₤ 32).
Underwear as outerwear …
Corsets are intrinsically attractive, and this model of the pattern truly leans into that. Designers can’t get enough of the ‘underwear as outerwear’ appearance– so that means great deals of visible boning, silk and lace.
Instead of wearing a full-blown, lace-up bodice, tops take out aspects from the appearance. Believe cup detailing, cinched waists and fragile detailing.
Pretty Little Thing Black Velvet Bodice Bardot Mesh Insert Bodycon Dress, ₤ 25 (was ₤ 28).
ASOS Style Bonded Satin Bodice Top in Leopard Print, ₤ 16.80 (was ₤ 28).
Nineties vibes …
Fashion’s fascination with the Nineties shows no sign of slowing down. This years’s take on bodices is everything about simpleness: soft tones and lots of denim or leather.
Keep detailing to a minimum with these designs, and let the bodice be the star of your outfit.
Pretty Little Thing Brown Croc Pu Corset, ₤ 18 (was ₤ 20); Brown Croc Pu Wide Leg Trousers, ₤ 27 (were ₤ 30).
H&M Denim Bodice Top in Denim Blue, ₤ 14.99; Cropped Top in White, ₤ 12.99; Wide Ultra High Waist Jeans in Denim Blue, ₤ 34.99.
Comfortable corsets …
Bodices aren’t typically viewed as the most comfy things on the planet, but the pandemic has actually changed our approach to style. Over the last year, athleisure and cosy clothes have actually taken centre stage.
If you’re residing in joggers and the concept of wearing a constrictive corset truly does not appeal, there are lots of knitted or sweatshirt styles that wouldn’t look out of location with a comfortable set of trackpants.
Stradivarius Corset Detail Knitted Top in Ecru, ₤ 25.99, ASOS