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When my mom told me that all trends eventually repeat themselves, I thought she was referring to the velvet tracksuits and baby tees I was on the verge of donating to Goodwill last year, not Victorian-era corsets and bustiers. But, here we are! Just like my fave pieces from the early aughts, it-girls on TikTok and Instagram have revived the corset from its Shakespearean roots and have turned it into one of 2021’s most wearable—and most viral—fashion trends. That said, how to wear corsets without looking like a lingerie model or a Victorian ghost is sometimes a bit tricky.
Corsets may seem like the perfect-going out top, but don’t let their sexy silhouette stop you from wearing them in the daytime, too. Throw on a corset over your favorite white button-down if you feel like leaving less to the imagination, or wear one on its own underneath a business-mode blazer. What about wearing one with a pair of distressed light-wash jeans? Over a t-shirt dress with combat boots? Not to be cliche, but the possibilities are endless.
Not only can you don the classic full corset as a top, but you can also use a half-corset as a belt. Corset-style belts (also called waist cinchers) are actually a great way to ease into the trend if you’re still unsure about how they’ll fit into your IRL wardrobe. In truth, very few of the “corsets” we’re seeing styled these days are actual corsets, but that’s kind of a good thing. We want the look without the restricting feel and societal pressures to look a certain way!
Yes, corsets look great in the minute-long dance videos that you see on your TikTok For You Page, but they can also look cute—and totally fashionable—while you’re out running errands or heading to brunch with a friend.
Read on for five of my favorite outfit recipes for styling corsets this season, and never complain you don’t know what to wear yours with again.
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Under a Half-Sweater with Trousers
Oh, so you’re trying to look like a walking 2021 Pinterest board? I got you. This half-sweater combination is going to become your new throw-on outfit for pretty much everything you do. I guarantee it. When styling multiple trends together, keeping the color palette neutral will help make the entire outfit look a little more timeless, so these tan Reformation trousers will help to ground your look.
This museumcore corset looks like a literal work of art, and I’m not complaining. When worn under a super-cropped sweater, though, it gets a perfectly 2021 upgrade. This is a ‘fit that you need to post to Instagram—I don’t make the rules!
Over a T-Shirt Dress With Combat Boots
The humble t-shirt dress is getting a much-needed refresh by way of a corseted belt this year. This option from Ayliss is more of a waist cincher than a traditional corset, so it’s another way to ease into the trend without going full-on Victorian. A pair of tall combat boots from Steve Madden take the entire look up a notch, and you can also score some fashion bonus points if you add a pair of ripped tights.
If you’ve already got a few white t-shirt dresses in your closet, try this dress from Forever 21 in the darker green colorway as a great way to add just a little more color to your wardrobe. It even has shoulder pads for a retro twist.
Paired with Baggy Jeans + A Leather Blazer
Odds are you already have a few of these pieces hanging in your closet. Baggy jeans are effectively replacing skinnier options for 2021, and leather blazers are the trendy update to the workwear essential you bought for your first adult job a few years ago and haven’t worn since. If you’re new to the world of corsets and bustiers, start out with a simple black option with tank top-style straps like this one from LPA.
A pair of perfectly-destressed jeans like this inexpensive option from PrettyLittleThing gives you serious cool-girl energy when styled with a more feminine top like a corset. While celebs like Kaia Gerber, Kendall Jenner and Ashley Graham have been spotted in a slew of pricy leather blazers recently, my current fave is this faux version from Zara.
Over A White Button-Down with Black Flare Jeans
Sometimes, finding the inspiration to get dressed in the morning can feel downright impossible. Enter: The pair-it-with-everything oversized white oxford and a pair of plain black jeans. Our tip? Add in one on-trend piece like this black corset from Romacci to turn your basic pieces into a look that feels fresh this season.
Styling a corset over a white button-down (like this inexpensive option from Universal Thread) is a great way to look like you put in effort without really doing anything too crazy. Plus, it’s one of the most modest ways to style a corset for daytime! A pair of flare jeans like these from DL1961 are a worthwhile investment right now that feels on-trend but still super wearable. These have a super-high rise and come in different inseam lengths to find your perfect fit.
Under a Coordinating Suit
If you love wearing bold color combos, this one is for you! I never would have thought to pair these sage green trousers and the matching blazer from WAYF with a lavender bustier underneath, but I think we may be onto something here. Rather than style a colorful suit with a neutral corset, this daring option from MOALLUOM feels so refreshing. Consider me a color-lover in 2021.