Corsets Are Officially Back, But Not As You Know Them

4 min read
Balmain AW22

Fashion is all about proportions, especially when it comes to this season’s runway. From corsets and belts to a low-key tailoring trend, it’s time to welcome the return of the waist

Looking at the catwalks right now, there are a lot of juxtapositions flying around. Brights are meeting neutrals, minis are competing with maxis and towering heels are sharing runway space with mules, kitten heels and, dare we say it, Crocs. Oversized separates and flowing sleeves have ruled the runways of late too, and while we’re most certainly huge advocates, when it comes to summer (or spring, autumn and winter for that matter), nothing quite beats an hourglass silhouette. It’s lucky, then, that looking forward to AW22, a handful of designers are circling back to the flattering trick of a clearly defined waistline, be it with waist-cinching belts, laced-up corsets or, quite simply, clever tailoring. And it’s perfect for summer, too.

Versace AW22

“Celebrating femininity and the female body is a big trend right now,” says Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director of Mytheresa. “That’s translating to a lot of corset-inspired shapes and cinched waists both on the catwalk and in stores. They are the perfect representation of the trend.” While it’s still bringing sexy back to our wardrobes, this season’s waist is more fashion and less flesh, throwing all pre-conceived ideas of organ-crushing, faint-inducing and waist-training out the window. Saying that, the corset has been spotted worn on the outside by fashion editors and stylists alike, cinched at the waist over crisp button-downs or billowy frocks. A respite from athleisure, numerous designers also built corseted waists into their silhouettes for fall, including Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior and Donatella at Versace, the latter evoking ‘90s power dressing with both minimal bustiers worn on their own and styled impeccably over long- sleeved dresses. As for Grazia Chiuri, she put a more modern spin on the trend through the likes of leather corsets with cutout detailing perfect for after-hours.

Richard Quinn AW22

“Inspired by the likes of ‘90s Madonna, corsets are very figure-hugging, and you can style them in so many ways, like over a button-down shirt, or even solo, topped off with an oversized blazer or wide-legged trousers,” adds Hsu. “Celebrating womanhood in a very seductive way was much needed after almost two years of staying at home.” Not quite so dramatic, wide belts can also create the illusion of cinched waist, as seen on the Hermès, Balmain and Carolina Herrera catwalks, to name a few. “I personally love the ones by Loewe and Alaïa, while Valentino has a great selection of wider belts that can function in the same way as a corset,” adds Hsu.

Jason Wu AW22

For those looking to channel the trend in a more natural way sans corset, tactile tailoring is your friend. Some creatives such as Jason Wu and Huishan Zhang didn’t bother adding additional accessories to draw attention to the waist at all. Instead, they factored the flattering detail directly into the design of the clothing, as did Donatella with a number of her designs for Versace. Elsewhere Alexander McQueen allowed fluid cigarette pants to accentuate the tailoring trend, while Loewe emphasised the hourglass shape with peplums jutting out from the waist. If you’re still stuck for ideas, try Tiffany’s magic take on the trend and wear a wide belt with a good white shirt tucked into high-waisted leggings or a fuller skirt to get that 1950s silhouette.

Valentino AW22

With vacation season well underway, you’re probably wondering how to work the look when all you’re craving is free-flowing dresses and billowing maxi skirts. A trick of the trade, why not make your swimwear work double time as a playful twist? Not only will you get more bang for your buck but you can save on valuable packing space too. “Go for a scoop-neck one-piece you can wear with skirts or shorts and use the swimsuit as a body,” advises Hsu. “Or try wear a fun novelty bikini with jeans or denim shorts.” A gift that keeps on giving, the new season cinched waist is all about feeling empowered and confident in your body while having a whole lot of fun at the same time. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what fashion is all about?

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  • Words by Naomi Chadderton