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It's only July but I believe we have a winner for the most pointless item of clothing for 2019.
In the tradition of see-through jeans, denim underpants and high-heeled crocs, in recent weeks my social media has been filled with images of a strange item that I can only describe as an "underboob corset".
Admittedly, I am late to the party, as models including Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski have been championing the look for a couple of years. Sold as "what to wear when you want to go braless", the corsets are often styled over baggy shirts and T-shirts. But are you really going "braless" if you're wearing a boned and wired outergarment?
Upon doing further research, I discovered that said garment/accessory/torture device was originally created by New York-based Orseund Iris, a "non seasonal" fashion brand that's part of the growing crop of "it" labels spawned from Instagram. Oh, and it costs $250.
A scroll through the brand's Instagram page reveals that it has a back catalogue of "breast sculpting" garments, including singlets with crescent-shaped underwires (on the outside). So, this is no flash in the … mamm.
And while the corset is technically "archived", that is it's an older style, a post on June 1 asked followers whether the brand should reprise it.
Unsurprisingly, fast-fashion brands including Boohoo have copied the style, with its $15 version coming as an all-in-one bodysuit and corset combo, which at least solves the issue of having to remember to pack something to go under the corset when you're getting ready for work after pilates class.
Bustiers, corsets and boobs generally have been big in fashion and pop culture this year. At Splendour in the Grass last weekend there were all manner of underboob-accentuating crop tops on display.
There's been the ongoing "Free the Nipple" campaign to end censorship of female breasts on social media platforms (although the public protests have been criticised for overshadowing more serious feminist issues). And a fortnight ago, a report on New York magazine's The Cut said Kim Kardashian West required "breathing lessons" to withstand the squeeze of her Thierry Mugler "rain dress" at the Met Gala in May.
Kardashian West reportedly experienced "new heights of discomfort" from the corset under the dress that was, according to The Cut, "so tight she could not properly sit down", which, for a woman who routinely wears a waist trainer to help accentuate her hourglass figure, is saying a lot.
Meanwhile, InStyle recently ran an article on how a collaboration between Ratajkowski and another fast-fashion brand, Nasty Gal, was "making a strong case for the underboob trend".
Apparently this summer is going to be the season of the underboob bikini, and, frankly, I can't understand how this benefits the wearer compared to the (voyeuristic) onlooker. If this is the way swimwear is headed, I'm happy to stick to a one-piece. Or book a European ski holiday this Christmas.
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