Corset Sales Are Skyrocketing, But Why?

Beyonce wears one onstage. So does Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. Ebay has sold 1,900 of them in the past three months. Vintage boutiques are marking up their prices like mad. What are they? Corsets, of course! The Spanx of the Victorian era is back in a big way, and their recent popularity has the fashion industry and historians searching for answers. Why is everyone suddenly clamoring for a corset of their very own? After all, they’re not exactly comfortable or practical. The BBC’s Vanessa Barford tackled this question in a fascinating article about the history of the corset, and it turns out that there are quite a few factors contributing to the current trend…

The resurgence of burlesque dance. Thanks in large part to Dita Von Teese, burlesque has hit the mainstream, and burlesque fashion has made its way into suburban malls. The corset–often embellished with rhinestones, ribbons, studs, or lace–is a staple of Dita’s on-stage wardrobe. Women wanting to capture the glamour and playfulness of burlesque tend to reach for a corset first.

“Mad Men” and its ilk. “Mad Men” spawned a seemingly infinite number of TV shows and movies set in the 50s and 60s, with a major emphasis on the fashion trends of the time. We’ve seen midi skirts, bouffantsred lipstick, and retro swimsuits become massively popular as a result–the corset is just one more vintage style that’s been reborn.

The ideal of the hourglass figure. “Mad Men” star Christina Hendricks’ hourglass figure has spawned an equal number of copycats. Those of us who weren’t blessed with perfectly proportional curves are trying to recreate them with corsets.

The popularity of shapewear. Twenty years ago we might have seen shapewear–any kind of shapewear–as a dowdy, uptight garment reserved for our grandmothers. These days, most young women have at least one pair of stomach-tightening undies. Since we’re all wearing shapewear already, corsets seem like a sexy, feminine alternative to the usual roster of tan spandex in our lingerie drawer.

What do you think of the corset trend? Do you have a corset? If not, will you be buying one any time soon?