News — September 26, 2014 at 5:01 am

Why Do Men Wear Corsets?

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Trio of men's corsets by Dark Garden | Photo (C) Joel Aron

Here in San Francisco, we just wrapped up the Folsom Street Fair, an annual leather/fetish event. It’s one of many events I work for Dark Garden and it has… well, it has a lot of distinctions, but in particular, it’s the one day of the year where I get to talk to and work with many men (or those who were assigned as such at birth) who want to try on corsets. The rest of the year, I am often met with a giggle and surprise when I say, yes, we really do make corsets for men, yes, men wear corsets, lots of different kinds of men. I wrote a previous piece about why people in general (still) wear corsets, but men have enough of their own niche reasons and variations on the themes that they merited their own post.

Left: Corselette by Dark Garden - short cinchers like this can often be worn interchangeably by men and women. | Photo (C) Joel Aron

Of course, the general purpose of a corset is to mold the silhouette into a more desired form. Lacking a natural hourglass, one might think that men’s bodies don’t compress well… but just like women, the rate of compression varies from person to person. Generally speaking, however, slender men tend to be even more compressible than women. As with women’s corsets, the effectiveness of the corset will rely on the quality of the fit. Men’s torsos have different proportions and subtly different shapes, so most corset styles aren’t necessarily interchangeable. The major exception is short cincher styles, which barely graze the bottom of the ribs and top of the pelvis and so aren’t affected by the shape of these bony masses. (Incidentally, athletically-bodied women or those who prefer a milder reduction may be more comfortable in a men’s fit corset, which may additionally be turned upside down to invert the rib and hip spring proportion.)

1893 ad for the "Invicorator Belt," a men's corset marketed as being for back support.

For men as for women, a well-made corset can be excellent back support, a tradition which goes back at least to the 1800s. (If you want more men’s corset history, you can check out Lucy’s “On Men and Corsets” video.) A corset is sturdier and more comfortable — to say nothing of more attractive! — than a generic back brace/support belt, for either occasional or day-to-day wear. Just as female scoliosis sufferers may find relief with corsets, men with chronic back issues may find corsets a boon. Andy Warhol and John F. Kennedy both wore corsets for back support.

The Edward is a variation on the Beau Brummell, a tailored vest corset by Dark Garden. | Photo (C) Joel Aron

Of course many men do wear corsets for purely aesthetic purposes, just as women wear smoothing shapewear. For men, wearing corsets accentuates the V-shape from shoulders to waist, rather than the hourglass of waist to hips, as well as smoothing the line of the stomach. Corsets can be worn as a foundation piece under formalwear — tuxedos — but modern corsetmakers have taken to blending the two in custom waistcoat corsets.

Cross-dressers may use corsets for feminization, with an exaggerated waistline compared to a more “masculine” corset. Hips and breasts will likely be padded out, the trappings of femininity pushed further with wigs and heavy makeup. For a drag performer, corsets can be worn discreetly underneath clothing or, as a burlesque performer might, as part of the costume.

The Sweetheart Mid-Hip Corset by Contour Corsets. Specifically designed to fit a masculine body yet create a feminine line.

It’s important to note the distinction between gender-bending for fun and performance and having a transgender or fluid gender identity. Though corsets can be worn to feminize in either instance, the latter may wear a corset and even waist train as part of their transformation. Any corset can help feminize simply by reducing the waist, but unsurprisingly, the best results will be found with custom corsetry.

"Ambrose" vest-inspired underbust corset by Dark Garden | Photo (C) Joel Aron

Original Content Provided by The Lingerie Addict

4 Comments

  1. Thursday says:

    September 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Great follow-up to the first article, Marianne! My partner has an interest in corsets for the purpose of back support in the first instance, but he has also come to appreciate the look on men. The waistcoat versions from DG really appeal to him! Unfortunately, I can’t find any local stockists where he could try some styles designed for a masculine build. I think next time there’s an opportunity he will have to try a waspie as a starting point – you never know how a corset will feel until you try one (and a decent one at that).

    Reply

  2. Silas says:

    September 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    “biological” men? As opposed to, uh, non-biological? I’m feeling a washing powder comparison.
    I think the word you were looking for was perhaps cis men (that is, men who are not trans) or perhaps AMAB people (Assigned Male At Birth, encompasses all trans, cis and genderqueer people who may now identify as pretty much anything, but who were deemed male at birth)
    Anyway, I liked the article. Just thought I’d point that out.

    Reply

  3. Silas says:

    September 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    “biological” men? As opposed to, uh, non-biological? I’m feeling a washing powder comparison.
    I think the word you were looking for was perhaps cis men (that is, men who are not trans) or perhaps AMAB people (Assigned Male At Birth, encompasses all trans, cis and genderqueer people who may now identify as pretty much anything, but who were deemed male at birth)
    Anyway, I liked the article. Just thought I’d point that out.

    Reply

  4. Silas says:

    September 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    “biological” men? As opposed to, uh, non-biological? I’m feeling a washing powder comparison.
    I think the word you were looking for was perhaps cis men (that is, men who are not trans) or perhaps AMAB people (Assigned Male At Birth, encompasses all trans, cis and genderqueer people who may now identify as pretty much anything, but who were deemed male at birth)
    Anyway, I liked the article. Just thought I’d point that out.

    Reply

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