I Spent a Week in Corsets Like Kim Kardashian West—Here's How It Really Felt

It's been an incredibly long time since the corset could claim it had a proper hold on fashion. More than a trend, being trussed-up was a way of life well up until the turn of last century, where Edwardian ladies were the first generation to be emancipated from the restrictive daily pursuit of such extreme lacing-up. Womankind hasn't looked back since.

Coco Chanel liberated the female wardrobe even further with her natty pantsuits; leggings are the modern friend of many; and we don't know where we'd be without forgiving fit-and-flare midi dresses, so why is the corset—and the teeny tiny waist that comes with it—such a focal point for the coming autumn/winter season? And could it really ever be as omnipresent or "normal" again?


(Image credit: Getty Images)

A brief look at Kim Kardashian West's 2016 wardrobe thus far and the answer is krystal klear: Corsets, in one form or another, act as the very foundation to her many looks. Rather than boning and structure being used traditionally as underpinnings, her silhouette-engineering items are a very visible part of each ensemble. Kim's employing them on a regular basis to cinch the waist of every outfit imaginable—from jumbo sweatshirts worn as dresses to the rather radical accompaniment to her other new craze, cycling shorts.


(Image credit: Getty Images/Rex)

We know KKW is no stranger to the aesthetic-over-comfort concept (she single-handedly brought the waist-trainer into mass-market consciousness and powered through both her pregnancies in strappy Perspex heels), but she's also no fool when it comes to jumping on a high-fashion moment. Both corsets and bandeaus are key accoutrements on the A/W 16 fashion menu: Prada, Victoria Beckham and Loewe are just a few of the big names backing them. But can a real girl, with a real commute, a regular job and a really-anything-but-honed body get on board? There was only one way to try: I wore two different corsets throughout a week and this is what happened. Apologies in advance if anything sounds like it's been pulled out of a Jackie Collins novel…


Day 1:
(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

I decide that today is the time to just give in to my new look and kick things off by enthusiastically channelling Kim KW to the max. She wears her corsets over voluminous shapes, so I use Miraclesuit's Extra Firming Waist Cincher (which apparently makes you look 10 pounds lighter—probably if you don't wear it over jeans and a button-down) to rein in this big white shirt. I even put on black skinny jeans (an act that is almost unheard of) and dig out my lace-up party heels. Now that's #MondayMotivation.

There's something about the tightening, posture-fixing piece that instantly makes you feel ridiculous in flat shoes and I start to see why body-skimming under-layers are important—the shirt-tails spilling out from under the corset's hem and over a layer of denim supplies a rather unwanted bulge. Trying to fix it has caused me to overheat in a matter of seconds. Opening windows to deal with the hot flush has resulted in some irrational out-of-character demands barked at my boyfriend for gentlemanly assistance. Gentlemanly assistance? Is this 1884?

PS: The tube journey into work is not pleasant. 


Day 2:
(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

Time for a more traditional corset. This little sassy number is from L'Agent by Agent Provocateur, and while it was designed to be used (I imagine) for boudoir purposes, I rework it over a tee and a pencil skirt. Again, it's difficult to not feel like the rest of your ensemble should match up in terms of glamour: Ultra-fitted is the way forward.


(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

It takes me a good amount of time to work out the lacing-up and fastening in process, and while bending is something of an issue (I won't be doing the hoovering in this one), there's something to be said for the defined lines that come with wearing such a thing. Layering over a T-shirt felt like the most appropriate route when heading off to work—I've heard that jiggling bosoms can be distracting in meetings.


Day 3:
(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

Back to the Miraclesuit number to try and pull this super-baggy summer dress into shape and stop dressing like an archetypal art teacher. It does the trick, and with a lighter layer on underneath this morning I don't feel like a weak Victorian damsel on the cusp of fainting. Success. My mind goes wild: Maybe today I could move about a bit and have some lunch? These cinchers don't exactly encourage you to gorge in the same way some nice elasticated-waist joggers do…


(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

I'll admit the thick black band does do some clever sculpting things indeed, but there's still an issue with the excess fabric peeking out from under the bottom of the corset. How does Kim get around such a problem?

On a plus note: This style perks up one's chest like a friendly piece of fashion scaffolding.


Day 4:
(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

There are now genuine concerns that I'm morphing into a Kim Kardashian West wannabe of the greatest degree. I wear a bodycon dress that is only saved for the most sassy and rare occasions… on a Thursday. I must be getting used to this #corsetlife.

Mixing things up a bit today, I half-unfasten the cincher to provide me with a bit of a peplum to match the dress's hemline, pop on some sunglasses and await the paparazzi storm outside. They must have got stuck in traffic thanks to the London bus strike…


Day 5:
(Image credit: Hannah Almassi)

Feeling brave. Also feeling quite like I'm the missing member of a noughties girl band. I'm going to wear the corset as an actual going-out top. This is it's more familial realm, after all, so with a shoulder-robed jacket and matching culottes, I feel more appropriately dressed than when trying to dial down the naturally risqué vibes it gives off.

Public transport when wearing this after-dark look is an intense experience, but there's no denying the confidence such a flattering item can bring. Decision made to just ignore everyone else—if I want to wear a corset, I'll damn well wear a corset. 

The Conclusion: As a busy girl on the go—and as someone whose life doesn't involve air-con equipped cars, bodyguards to carry me from place to place, personal trainers and chefs so I can fit into hardcore corsets, Kanye West to cheerlead me into one, or an interest in taking selfies for which these kind of waist-definers are very good for—I think the look is best saved for specific get-ups and occasions. Going to a party? Pop on a corset. Wanting to try out the season's massive shapes but feel like you'd drown? Opt for a soft lace-up belt to help keep that womanly figure visible. 

See how the street style set is wearing corsets and waist-cinchers, and let us know whether you're up for it by commenting in the box below.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and MatchesFashion.com, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.