Gothic corsets, like most gothic fashions, find their roots in the Victorian and Elizabethan eras, and became immensely popular in the 1980s among punk and goth rock adherents. The goth style has been defined as a combination of macabre and even morbid styles, coupled with an undercurrent of eroticism.
During the 1990s, goth fashions virtually dropped from sight among the mainstream, but today they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity among both punk and goth rockers and in the mainstream fashion circles.
At the center of this reinvigoration of gothic fashion are gothic corsets, long considered by those who follow these style as the mainstay of the gothic woman’s wardrobe. The gothic style is often embraced by female and male rock musicians, and the look has become popularized through music videos on MTV, VH1, and other venues.
Like most things gothic, gothic corsets are primarily black, with some involving deep red or violet accents. The cinched-in waist and tight-fitting bodice recall the Victorian and Elizabethan eras, the genesis of many goth styles today. But while corsets worn during those time periods were considered undergarments, today’s gothic corsets are worn as tops, and are often paired with dark or black pants, or mini- or maxi-skirts.
Traditional corsets were laced up the back or, less commonly, the front. Today, gothic corsets maintain the illusion of lacing, while usually relying on zippers or hook-and-eye fasteners to keep them snug.
Many gothic corsets also include lace and leather embellishments, and some include velvet or satin. Unlike white or pastel corsets which are meant to be worn under low-cut and sleeveless garments, such as wedding gowns or other formal wear, the gothic corset is defined by its deep jet black color. Most corsets end at the waistline, making them compatible with a wide range of pants, skirts, and other bottoms. Other corsets extend below the waist, and are more suited for bottoms with snugly fitting waists.
More recently, gothic corsets have included long, tight-fitting sleeves, often with flowing cuffs that recall images of vampires and medieval fairytale figures. Some styles are worn as jackets, and may often involve the use of metal straps or lacings, which some fashion pundits have linked to the erotic influences of the S&M subculture.
While it is considered the primary element of many gothic wardrobes, the essence of the gothic corset is one of sheer fun and bravado. For this reason, this element of gothic style has been embraced even by those who do not otherwise embrace of follow gothic influences. Paired with pants or a skirt, the gothic corset makes a bold statement when clubbing or just going out for a weekend evening. The gothic corset is an ideal way for any woman to let a little playful fun into her wardrobe.