Get waisted: why it’s time to make the most of your midriff

Rebecca Gonsalves

Underwear as outerwear is set to be big this season, with bralets poised to take over from the crop tops of summers past as the midriff-bearer du jour. But there’s another lingerie drawer item looking to find a home in your wardrobe, too. Namely, the corset.

Cue flashbacks to Madonna’s Blonde Ambition-era Jean Paul Gaultier conical construction, or the basque and baggy jeans look as modelled by our favourite girl groups in the Noughties. But this time around, rather than the controversy-courting main event, the corset returns in a supporting role tying layered looks together — literally.

The current incarnation of the corset first appeared in the autumn/winter 2016 collections. Victoria Beckham, Preen and Alexander McQueen all showed corsets built into tops or layered over dresses. But it was at Prada we were treated to perhaps the most captivating take on the traditional undergarment. Cotton, denim and tweed corsets were artfully unlaced atop almost all the layered looks, from gilded full-skirted dresses to heavy wool coats, with some models’ waists cinched even further by narrow leather belts layered on top of the corsets — talk about the ultimate way to accessorise.

Unsurprisingly, Prada’s corsets quickly found favour off the catwalk and on the waists of street style stars and fashionable celebrities. A brilliant way to update a look: favourite dresses, jeans, T-shirts and statement shirts were all given an update courtesy of Prada’s simple cotton canvas corsets.

And rather than being a single season staple, this new focus on the waist looks set to continue into the spring as key brands such as Loewe, Roksanda, Isabel Marant and Beaufille worked waist belts into otherwise long and languid looks.

That sense of ease is key when it comes to translating the corset into real-world dressing. This isn’t the trussed-up take of The Night Porter-inspired Louis Vuitton autumn/winter 2011 collection by Marc Jacobs.

Waist-training — the practice of regularly wearing a boned corset-like construction in an attempt to change your natural shape and lose weight — might be rife among the clan Kardashian, but there’s no evidence it actually works. Instead, opt for a soft corset-like belt: fabric is a more forgiving option than leather, especially when wearing over looser layers. Alternatively, look for pieces with built-in belts or ties that will emphasise the waist but take the headache out of achieving the layered look. Whichever way you wear it, this trend’s a cinch.

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