I know exactly when I first fell in love with corsets. I can’t remember how old I was but it was in front of my parents TV, watching Gone with the Wind, a movie that to this day remains as one of my all time favourite films ever.
I wanted to be Scarlett. She was utterly thrilling to me. Here was a woman who despite all the societal constraints on her was strong, feisty, powerful even. She was so full of life and passion. Oh I know she is not always a nice person but she had serious balls and serious beauty. Google ‘Gone with the Wind dresses’ and tell me that Vivian Leigh as Scarlett is not one of the most iconically beautiful women that ever walked upon this planet and Scarlett, her character, is not to be messed with. Even while being squashed and squeezed into her corset by Mammy you know that she remains utterly determined to make the world work her way.
And then there is Rhett. How I missed my attraction to older men for so many years, is beyond me when I think back to my early teen discovery of Rhett Butler and the undeniable electric sexual tension that fizzed constantly between him and Scarlett from the moment they first meet to his very last words to her. I wanted a man to look at me like Rhett looked at Scarlett and to kiss me and to sweep me up in his arms and carry me kicking and screaming to his bedroom. I wanted to be Scarlett, in oh so many ways, including her wardrobe.
I bought my first corset in my mid thirties but I had no idea about the different shapes and styles and so selected a black over-bust corset. What I didn’t know back then was that my short body length and smallish bust meant that the style I had chosen would never really fit me well. It dug into my hips and flattened my chest in such a way that the heaving bosom I am envisaged, a la Scarlet, was absent. I was so disappointed. For a while after that I resigned myself to the fact that corsets didn’t suit me and I would just enjoy admiring them from afar until one day a lady running a corset stand at a fair I was attending saw me admiring her beautiful wares and offered to try one on me. I told her they didn’t suit me but that I just liked looking. She took a step back, eyed me up and down and then said, “Bet you never tried on an under-bust one?”
In moments she was lacing me into a purple and black under-bust corset whilst explaining to me that women with short bodies always looked best in under-bust and waist-clincher corsets and that my smallish bust would only work in an over-bust if I got one that was short length so that rather than coming right over my bust and flattening it, it would sit slightly further down cutting across my breasts and therefore creating the cleavage look I so desired.
I am so thankful to that lady for not only being pushy and convincing me to try on one of her corsets but for rattling off her corset/body shape knowledge to me as she did because I left that Fair with the beautiful purple corset, which to this day remains one of my favourites, and the information I needed to successfully purchase more in the future.
Despite my love of corsets being something inspired many years ago my love of wearing them is therefore a relatively new thing. They are an acquired skill, you have to learn how to move in one, sit in one, stand in one and over time they do become more comfortable as the more you wear them the more they give and bend to match your shape. A new corset will always feel tighter and more uncomfortable than the ones you already wear regularly but regardless I just love that feeling of wearing one. They are like a constant hug, holding you tight and firm, encircling and transforming you with their shape and strength. Everything feels safe in a corset and that tightness creates an intimacy with your own body, you become much more aware of how it moves, how you breath, how you sit and then there is the way it looks. The narrowing of my waist, the lifting my bust, the curve from my waist to hip. A good corset takes my shape and figure and hides away all the bad bits whilst making the most of and displaying perfectly all the best bits. I look at myself in a corset and I see sexy and that is a very powerful thing because when you can see, then you can really own it.
There is of course one final part of putting on a corset, not just the amazing way it feels, or how it looks to me but how he looks at me when I am wearing one. For a start he is my corset fitter. He often jokes that if someone had told him that he would one day become an expert at lacing a woman into her corset he would have laughed in their face and yet now, that is exactly what he is. I think he gets just as much pleasure of working the corset tighter and tighter until it looks and feels just right as I do having it done to me. There is something very erotic and sensuous about the whole process and as I watch in the mirror my body being transformed I also watch him, the concentration on his face, the way he reaches round and checks it is fitting in the right places and the final moment when he steps back, admire his creation and then meets my eye. That look, that knowing smile, that slight nod of satisfaction. That!
I have never owned a ‘Scarlett dress’ despite always wanting one, but I do regularly pay homage to her with my corset collection and whenever I put one on, my teenage self rejoice at finally getting to be Scarlett in some small way.
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