Using Corsets for a 1950’s “New Look” Accurate Silhouette

Earlier today I posted an “OOTD” video, showing that the right undergarments can make all the difference when trying to dress in a period-accurate manner.

If I could show you the difference of the fit of these dresses with and without a corset, I would – alas, I couldn’t get either of them zipped up without a corset. The little black wiggle dress has a 24″ waist, the blue dress has just under a 25″ waist. I have a natural 27″ waist – close, but no cigar.

After reading Sarah Chrisman’s bookWaisted Curves…” and remembering what she said about the subtle lessons we can learn from studying and wearing vintage clothing, I decided to pay more attention to my own posture and behavior while wearing these dresses.

The Little Black (Wiggle) Dress (LBWD?)

This is a sophisticated little number. By modern standards, it’s very conservative (covers much more skin than most cocktail dresses available today) but there’s something alluring about it. The dramatic dip in the waist is unexpected to most people today, and the bodice of the dress will not be having any self-deprecating pose from me. The width of the back panels are more narrow than that of the front panels, forcing my shoulders down and back, making me look confident and proud even in situations where I’m feeling painfully shy.
The only feature I find less-than-absolutely-perfect about this dress is the little lower-belly pouch that sticks out from the skirt, making my profile look a little dumpier than I actually am. Whether this is just a result from the the skirt’s darts and pleats, or if this was designed in due to the shape of many women during this time, I’m not entirely sure – but I am told that this is normal of wiggle dresses of the period.

The Blue-Grey Shelf-Bust Twirly (Swing) Dress

I have no words for how much I love this dress. The teensy pleating over the bust area; the way the silhouette is created by elongated hourglass-shaped panels (much like the panels in a corset) dipping in at the waist and swooping back out again in the skirt; the sweet little bow detail on the shoulder; the heavenly silky blue fabric with pink lining which go perfectly with my new lemon-meringue-colored petticoat – wearing this dress makes me want to play hooky from work and just twirl in this all day.
Whereas the LBWD makes me feel mature and sophisticated like a siren or femme-fatale, this soft blue dress makes me feel distinctly youthful, sweet and girly. I feel like a flower; something to be nurtured and cherished.

The psychological effect of clothing is incredible. When I hung up the femme-fatale dress and the delicate-flower dress and donned my comfy, frumpy, fleece pajamas this evening, I felt a little silly – how could I let my clothing affect me so much? Is there any merit to that age-old saying “The clothes makes the man” (or woman)? It makes me wonder if wearing a corset has shaped my behavior over the past couple of years, and if so, how (and how much) has it changed me?
Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely fun!

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2 comments on “Using Corsets for a 1950’s “New Look” Accurate Silhouette

  1. Sudie mills on said:

    I love your two little dresses where did you find them if you don’t mind me asking they look beautiful on you Lucy.

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