How to Wear a Renaissance Corset Properly?

November 15, 2023 4 min read

Woman in corset

The Renaissance era, known for its significant contributions to art, culture, and fashion, introduced many iconic styles that continue to influence modern fashion, from feathers and lace to full skirts. Among these, the corset stands out as perhaps the most quintessential element of Renaissance fashion, embodying both elegance and complexity, and offering an interesting outlook on the beauty standards of the period.

So, if you’re looking to wear a corset in 2023 but you’re intimidated by the boning, stitching, and wondering how you might breathe while wearing one, don’t fret! In the following guide, we’re going to give you the ultimate how-to guide on not just how to wear a corset, but rock in one. Let’s jump in!

What is a corset?

As we all know, a corset is a form-fitting piece of underwear (or shapewear) that originated in the Renaissance period. Traditionally made from sturdy fabrics and held up with boning, its primary function was to shape the torso into a curvy, hourglass shape, typically paired with an extremely cinched waist and an uplifted bust. The design and structure of corsets have evolved over the centuries - and even evolved during the Renaissance itself - but their iconic status in fashion remains undiminished. Today, corsets are celebrated for their aesthetic appeal, and you can find them (or at least imitations of them) in almost any high-street clothing store.

Why corsets are a Renaissance-faire must

If you’re heading to your local Ren faire and really want to look the part and enjoy the immersion, there’s nothing better than going in a fully-fletched Renaissance dress, complete with corset and all. Whether you’re looking for a corset dress from a particular era or the Renaissance, or plus size renaissance dresses for women, these outfits offer a way to experience the era's fashion firsthand, and enjoy a day or weekend of full-blown immersion in an authentic medieval environment. Plus, there’s a reason corsets are still so popular; the aesthetics! The corset's ability to accentuate your natural figure makes it a must-have for anyone aiming to capture the true essence of this period's style - and you might even catch yourself wearing it at home once the Ren fair ends!

How to Wear a Corset with Renaissance Dresses

Woman in white Renaissance dress against backdrop of blue water


So, what are our tips for wearing authentic corsets? While there’s no “right” way to wear a corset or corset dress, here’s what we advise for ease and comfort:

Choosing the Right Corset

First up, selecting an appropriate style corset is important, especially if you’re aiming to achieve an authentic Renaissance look, and especially if the faire you’re attending has a theme. Ideally, the corset should harmonize with the style and color of the dress, creating a cohesive and elegant ensemble. But given how long Renaissance fairies are, it’s crucial to find a balance between aesthetic appeal and comfort. The corset should fit snugly, while still enhancing the body's natural shape without constricting movement or breathing.

Lacing the Corset

Lacing a corset is an art in itself, but is key for achieving the desired Renaissance silhouette. Start by loosely lacing the corset, then gradually tighten it, working from the top and bottom towards the middle. This method ensures an even distribution of pressure and maintains comfort. It's a good idea to have someone assist with lacing to ensure a proper and secure fit, but remember that the goal is to accentuate the waist without causing discomfort. If you can’t breathe, it’s time to loosen the lace a little.

Layering Underneath

The right undergarments are key to wearing a corset comfortably, so we’d recommend you opt for a breathable and smooth garment, like a cotton chemise, to protect your skin from the corset's material and prevent chafing.

Pairing with the Dress

Integrating the corset with your Renaissance dress involves aligning the aesthetic elements of both pieces, so the corset should complement the dress’s fabric, color, and design. For a harmonious look, ensure that the corset and dress work together to create a unified silhouette - but don’t feel obliged to if you’re committed to a particular look.

Adjusting for Comfort and Style

Finally, while wearing the corset, it’s important to adjust it periodically for comfort, so make sure to listen to your body and loosen the lacing if necessary. A well-fitted corset should enhance your posture and silhouette while allowing you to move and breathe comfortably, even if it does mean abandoning the unfortunate discomfort aspect of Renaissance fashion.


How tight should a Renaissance corset be laced?

A Renaissance corset should be laced snugly but not so tight that it causes discomfort, restricts breathing, or limits movement. It should cinch the waist and support the bust without causing any pain or discomfort.

Can I wear a corset if I have a plus-size figure?

Absolutely! Corsets can be a flattering addition to any plus size Renaissance dresses for women, and we at Holy Clothing offer custom-made plus size corset dresses that are perfectly tailored for all figures.

How long does it take to get used to wearing a corset?

It may take a few wears to get accustomed to the feel of a corset, so you might want to start by wearing it for short periods at home, and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable. It's important to listen to your body and not overdo it.

Can I wear a modern bra with a Renaissance corset?

It's generally not necessary to wear a modern bra with a corset, as the corset itself provides bust support. However, if you feel more comfortable with additional support or have a larger bust, feel free to opt for a seamless, smooth-cupped bra to avoid visible lines under the corset.