Friday, 24 June 2016


A waist, a waist, her kingdom for a waist… Jane Green is captivated by a corset and doesn’t care that she can’t breathe

Written by Jane Green
Because I clearly am not filling every available second of every day, I decided I would have time to organise a Hamilton singalong at my local theatre. In case you missed my previous post about Hamilton, everywhere within a 40-mile radius of New York seems to have been struck with Hamilton fever, all of us obsessed with the songs from the award-winning musical of that name that’s currently on Broadway.

It is the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, and set to brilliant and addictive music, much of which is rap. Everyone I know is listening to this music constantly, and our Hamilton singalong is now happening next week.

The three of us who are organising this fund-raiser decided to wear costumes, so I immediately went online and started investigating. I found all sorts of costumes online, but the decent ones started at around 400 dollars, which seemed a ridiculous price to pay for one night.

And then I stumbled upon Heritage Dressmakers on Etsy. For 133 dollars, a gorgeous Colonial dress could be custom made for me. I grabbed the tape measure and took measurements, sending them off to the very nice lady who is a whizz with a sewing machine.

I then bought a corset and a bustle. I hesitated over a wig and decided to pass. Then all I had to do was wait.

The dress arrived yesterday. I started with the corset, flummoxed at the amount of lacing. It looked tiny. I pulled the laces apart to make it bigger, and tried again. I pulled the laces apart some more. I yelled for my husband to come and help, and he spent ages pulling the laces further and further apart until I could finally get it on.

And then, like the most perfect ladies maid there ever was (apart from the fact that we were both crying with laughter over how ridiculously undignified this was, not to mention the most enormous palaver), he laced me up. He huffed and puffed, pulling tighter and tighter, until I had a waist! The waist got smaller! And smaller! And I couldn’t breathe! But it didn’t matter – because I looked spectacular!

The dress is fantastic, but the corset is sublime. I don’t want to take it off. I may not be able to breathe very well, but I am now wondering if I might be able to pull this off as a permanent fashion statement. I don’t need the low-cut dress, or the bustle, or the giant skirt necessarily. Just give me the corset and the waist, and I’ll be very happy indeed.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green is published by Pan, priced £7.99

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