Return of the corset: how to wear spring’s biggest accessory trend

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Hayley Spencer
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Think ‘corset’, and images of burlesque dancers, Eighties waist-trainers, and Noughties goth will undoubtedly spring to mind. But the corset has made a comeback this season, and it’s a million miles away from what it once was. Here, Stylist contributor, Hayley Spencer, reveals how spring’s biggest accessory trend is surprisingly wearable, and perfect for elevating casual looks. 

Lace-up bodices were the unexpected street style trend du jour of 2016 after Prada debuted them on its Autumn 2016 runways. But this time around, the trend was less Moulin Rouge; boosting cleavage and accentuating the waist were not the aim. Instead, Prada’s new corsets were worn criss-crossed over everything from white tees to double-breasted blazers, adding structure to otherwise boyish looks. This is not about 19th century femininity, it’s about the ultimate in layering. 

Fast forward to the Spring Summer catwalks, and other houses caught on, with everyone from Isabel Marant, to Tibi and Balenciaga debuting a take on the trend - be it a thick leather style with oversized buckles or a cropped, lightly boned denim bandeau. And – of course – now the look as trickled down to the high street, too. Topshop, ASOS and Zara are all on board with getting waisted. They’ve even done the hard work for you with designs featuring built-in corset belts over tees and sweaters, or backless blouses with lace-up detailing.

But the question is: are corsets actually wearable beyond the catwalk or the frame of a well-crafted Instagram selfie?

See for yourself. 

Here’s four ways to work a corset belt into your Spring Summer wardrobe.

1. Style-up a shirt

This look works in two wonderful ways: dress down a fancy corset for daytime by layering it over a classic chambray shirt, or dress up that classic work look for a trendy weekend vibe, You can’t go wrong. The look here is messy and layered, androgyny-meets-chic. 

Knot corset top, £59.99, Mango; Oversized shirt, £55, & Other Stories

2. Elevate a classic jacket

Give a humble parka or duster coat – the terrain of the casual – an instant upgrade with a waist-mincing buckle belt. Brown and khaki are popular combinations for this trend, as are black and brown. 

Naomi coat, £70, Weekday; Leni printed cotton belt, £250, Net-a-Porter

3. Layer up

For the most directional take on the trend, take a cue from Susie Lau and use a loosely tied linen corset to pull a layered look together. offset the office-look of a pinstripe jacket with the contrasting bondage of a corset. White corsets will bring out the pinstripes in a perfect but subtle way.

Corset with metallic rings, £15.99, Zara; Misty pinstripe jacket dress, £115, Kitri

4. Upgrade a basic

Up the ante on a slouchy tee or sweater with a nipped in waist. This trend is all about being a little bit scruffy, a little bit unravelled, so opt for a baggier style of tee, and pull-in with a laced corset. Even better: save yourself time with a corset already attached.

Petite corset T-shirt, £35, Topshop; T-shirt with embroidered corset, £25.99, Zara

Images: Rex Features and courtesy.