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corselettes for special occasion wear –

Jeanette | Posted in General Discussion on

Corselettes and bras

I am making a wedding dress with a friend and the pattern includes a corselette.  We are not sure if you wear a bra and the corselette or just the corselette.  I am inclined to think that you don’t wear both.  What are your thoughts.


  1. thehat | | #1

    you didn`t ware a bra they were not at the same time you are talking around the early 1900 or so ?

    1. Jeanette | | #2

      Ãthanks for the reply but I can't quite get what you mean.  We are making the gown now with a modern pattern that includes a corselette.

      1. HeartFire2 | | #3

        Generally, the corselet is attached to the top edge of the gown (a strapless gown) and then is free hanging - sort of like a lining, only its tighter than the dress so the dress flows over it. No bra is worn with it. now, having said that, you can do whatever it takes to get the silhouette you want. If wearing a bra under it looks better, and she feels more comfortable, go for it, sometimes just adding bra cups to the inside of the corselet can give the shape you want, or the stick on type of bra to help lift the bust. Its all up to you.What pattern are you using?

        1. Jeanette | | #4


          thanks for your e-mail.  we are using Vogue 2134 a Badgley MIschka gown which has straps that sit just off the shoulder but we are going to place then on the shoulder.

          1. HeartFire2 | | #5

            Ahh, beautiful dress, does the corslette include the straps? how long is it? does it follow the same neckline? I'm not sure why this dress needs a corslette, although the starps look like they are off the shoulders,(in the photo) how are they supported? horsehair braid? although in the sketch they seem to be on the shoulders.
            If the dress is 'on the shoudlers' it doesn't really need a corslette, a good bra that wont' show will work, and if the bride has a good figure that may be all, if needed, a strapless long line bra would work.
            let us know how it turns out

          2. Teaf5 | | #6

            The corselette is important if the straps are off the shoulder, because otherwise, there's nothing to hold up the bodice. Often, it also holds the weight of a heavy skirt that would otherwise pull on the fashion fabric. The corselette rests on the hip bones and establishes a solid base and anchor for the fashion fabric, which then can drape and flow beautifully without needing to do any the work of supporting the entire gown. I'll check the pattern photo and see if that's true in your case....

          3. Teaf5 | | #7

            Oooh, I just saw the pattern picture--very beautiful! And yes, this is one of those cases where the corsellete will be important: it's very beautifully draped, but the structure is underneath. A very drapey fabric will just droop over the figure unless it has a very structured base on which to touch here and there.One way to think of it is the corsellete is like a dressmaker's dummy to which you can pin/stitch the softer fabric in folds and drapes; it's also a bit like draping window or decorating a cake--have fun!

          4. mygaley | | #8

            This beautiful pattern reminds me of the white ballgown Leslie Caron wore in Gigi--the one with the black birds(?) on the shoulder. I also have looked at the pattern description and the fact that an inner belt as well as the corselette is mentioned shows how important understructure is to this garment. This does not have to be skin-or uncomfortably-tight, but rather will stand on its own. During this football season I have been looking at cheerleaders and even thin young women have a bulge where a tight garment ends. I think gown-wearers appreciate a gown that stays in place and drapes correctly. Allow me to encourage you to follow the pattern directions in this case. My sewing friends and I say "every Vogue pattern has something weird, but you're never sorry you did it". God bless you Galey

  2. user-51823 | | #9

    i agree with some previous statements-
    if she feels better with the bra too, there's no law against it.
    also, why are you moving the straps up onto the shoulders? the off- shoulder line is more elegant and it makes the waist and hips look smaller. is she concerned about slippage because of a large (heavy) bust? if so, there are alternatives without changing the lovely line of the straps. you can keep the bodice as is, but add a supporting spaghetti strap of rhinestone, pearl, or self fabric over shoulder. or create a sheer fitted piece that covers upper chest and back and ends in a jewel neckline.

    1. Jeanette | | #14


      Thanks for your reply I is always good to get others opinions.  My friend  is getting married in winter and doesn't want to be cold so we plan on drafting a  3/4 sleeve to go with the gown. What are your ideas.

      Yours in sewing  Jeanette




      1. user-217677 | | #15

        I just finished a wedding gown and I made a corselet.  The bride insisted she wanted a lot of boning and did NOT want to wear a bra under it.

        I wonder if you are Susan Khalje, can you just make the rules and brides will obey?

        ha ha. 

        The bride I sewed for had worn a prom gown with boning that hadn't needed a bra and so I just copied from that.  It does seem pretty sturdy.


      2. Jeanette | | #16

        Dear fellow sewers

        Just an update on the wedding dress that  I was making with my friend for her wedding. Well we finished the wedding dress in time and the bride looked beautiful.  She wore the corselette and the bra and that was fine together.  The sleeves I drafted (after 7 drafts)  looked really good and went well with the pattern.   So after a lot of hard work it all came together.  Thank you so much for your advice.  Sewing seems to be such a solitary past time it is great to have forums like this to share with others.


        1. MaryinColorado | | #17

          Congratulations! That is really a great accomplishment!  I am so happy for you and the bride that it turned out so well.  Can you send photos?  Would love to see it. 

  3. Ralphetta | | #10

    There was wonderful, long article with lots of pictures in an old Threads magazine that described in detail how Mrs. Clinton's inaugural gown was made.  I remember how intricate the inside was.

    I don't know if in this case it would help, but when I was younger and thinner I used to wear backless, bare dresses and I would  often use my old bras built into the dress.  I would just cut them at the side and insert the cup unit into the dress.  A facing/lining hid it and I had a flattering, comfortable fit. The way the cups are shaped and spaced seems to be the most important feature, so it was much more efficient than trying build something myself.

  4. sewcrazed | | #11

    I took Susan Khalje's couture course and she taught that there should always be a bra under.  She said you alter a bra to make it work.  The corselette is built in to the dress. 

    1. mygaley | | #12

      Thanks for your remarks about couture underpinnings. Does this mean that a custom-shaped bra should be used even when a corselette is part of the dress/pattern? Galey

      1. sewcrazed | | #13

        According to Susan Khalje - yes.

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