One of Cassandra Kate Nicholas’s outfits is featured on Ms Kristel Ong’s Instagram store.
Photo Credit: Kristel Ong

After stumbling upon a Do-It-Yourself corset video on YouTube in December 2020, Cassandra Kate Nicholas found herself drawn to modern takes on Victorian fashion. 

Since then, the 20-year-old university student and model has spent about $100 on various pieces inspired by the Victorian era.  

“Corsets are more wearable than most people think,” Cassandra shared. “It can be worn on its own, dressed down with a shirt under, or elevated with a blazer. I think the versatility of such clothing items is dependent on how creative the wearer is [when] styling it.”

Ms Kristel Ong’s handmade Eve Corset Top, created with tapestry fabric. 
Photo Credit: Kristel Ong

From ruffled silk dresses to tight corsets, these iconic pieces which were all the rage from the 1830s to 1900s, are now making a comeback albeit with a less extravagant style.

Mr Adrian Huang, 42, a lecturer in Fashion at Lasalle College of the Arts, noticed that the resurgence of corsets was not necessarily done with the structure of the Victorian aesthetic. But rather, done with more contemporary variations.”

Ms Kristel Ong, 21, owner of an Instagram shop that sells hand-made corsets, shared: “I think the Victorian era has always been a popular period [of] reference in fashion, especially in haute couture. Though this revival of Victorian silhouettes has already been seen multiple times in contemporary designers like Vivienne Westwood, it’s finally trickling down to fast fashion in recent years.”

Ms Ong’s customer base mostly comprises women aged 18 to 24 years old. Although her products are generally priced on the higher end, between $65 and $80, they don’t drive away customers who are still attracted to the nostalgic fashion aesthetic.

  • Corset-Top
    Ms Kristel Ong strikes a balance between Victorian and modern design trends by integrating frills and ribbons into her cropped corsets. Photo Credit: Kristel Ong

“Reception has been well received, even more so when the corsets I make utilise fabrics that have a strong association to other trends such as animal prints that are usually incorporated in Y2K fashion,” she added.

Besides the influence of famous designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Ms Ong attributes the comeback of Victorian fashion to social media.

“I think nostalgia is easy to sell. With social media being the breeding ground for trends, the increase of nostalgia-inducing pieces in our hyper-consumerist economy just makes sense,” said Ms Ong.

Cassandra also felt that the sense of willingness among the youth to try new fashion styles was a big contributing factor to this comeback.

She said: “Beyond the trend chasers, I think the youth these days are more open towards trying different styles of clothing and are less intimidated by such pieces.”

She believes that this trend will last for a long time.

“Classics will always be timeless. Although the frills in today’s wear are not as extravagant as their Victorian ancestors, the fact that they are adapted for the modern age indicates how its style transcends time,” Cassandra said. 

Are corsets really that wearable? Watch how we style our corsets in five different ways in the video below:

Edited By: Adiel Rusyaidi Ruslani and Charlotte Chang
Proofread By: Adiel Rusyaidi Ruslani and Charlotte Chang