Not Your Great-Grandma's Corsets

Not Your Great-Grandma's Corsets, Sweetie

As one who was in college during the Women’s Movement when bras were burned with considerable glee (though not my own since I couldn’t afford to replace them), I regarded corsets as instruments of torture. And yet I recently purchased—brace for it—a corset pattern. 

It is true. I confess that I am considering making a corset.  I haven’t bought fabric yet, but the pattern is here. In my house. 

I’m not thinking about it because I want to (or ever could) have a Scarlet O’Hara waist, but because, well, corsets have become fun again—or for the first time.  Fun, you ask, with brows arched in shock. These aren’t your great-grandma’s corsets, sweetie. For one thing, your great-grandma would have worn hers under her clothes. These corsets are making a statement.

The return of the corset comes to us courtesy of a movement called steampunk and its not just corsets they are bringing to the table. 

Jeff Vandermeer points out that steampunk “embraces divergent and extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future.” It started as literature and spread into pop culture, the aesthetic seeping into movies, art, music and fashion. A Sugarland Incredible Machine tour was heavily laced with steampunk elements, including lining the stage with specially crafted vintage looking light bulbs.  

They are probably the most mainstream band to embrace steampunk, but both NCIS and Castle had shows with some steampunk (Castle did it better, IMHO). 

I first heard about steampunk on The Galaxy Express blog and had to check it out because, well, I’m a sucker for quirky fiction. My first steampunk book was Gail Carriger’s Soulless. It was a lot of fun and loaded with quirky and left me with an urge to…try it myself. 

I penned a steampunk/science fiction romance novella mashup called Tangled in Time, which led to me purchase a steampunk hat at ApolloCon.  I’m not exactly sure why the two events are linked, just that I bee-lined to the display after I wrote my novella. Maybe a love of hats is buried in the female psyche and steampunk has set it free? And the hats are both fun and cool.

Then I had to get my goggles on because its windy when flying an airship and one needs eye protection when working on that steam engine. And because these aren’t your great-grandpa’s goggles either. Also cool. As you can see from this one sample, the steampunk artisans have got both style and flair down for something that is generally very utilitarian. I got these goggles for one of my daughters to wear for Halloween. No surprise she got lots of comment and compliments.

While I have yet to create a “steamsona” (a steampunk persona), I did up the ante by purchasing some glasses to go with my hat and goggles. And there is that corset pattern…


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