My corset diary

For centuries, they were a style essential for ladies looking for added poise and a (very) slim waist. So what happened when I tried one for a week?

We have, one could argue, never been as fixated by the body beautiful as we are now – despite the fact that we are getting bigger (women’s waists have grown by 7in since 1951). And yet, while many are happy to sign up for liposuction, gastric bands or anything to aid slimming, we no longer think it is acceptable to squeeze ourselves into a cinch belt.

Katy Pearson corset

But corsets have been worn by ladies of all classes for centuries. From the swan-bill corset of the Edwardian age, which forced the wearer’s hips and torso out of place, to the hourglass contortions – 18in waist, anyone? – of the Victorians, the quest for the finest figure possible is arguably as old as fashion itself.

Besides, corsets aren’t just about acquiring a wasp-like waist. Think of corsets and you picture a woman with poise. Speaking as a particularly clumsy individual, poise is something I could do with more of.

So I set myself a challenge: I’d wear a corset for (about) a week and see whether it would make my movements more graceful, my demeanour more refined – and, yes, my waist more wasp-like. Continue reading

My chat with Kevin McCloud

Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud on Britain’s small houses, why new builds are a turn-off and the importance of preserving your home’s soul

Dubbed the thinking woman’s heartthrob, it truly is somewhat impossible not to warm to Kevin McCloud.

Ever charming, often critical but always courteous the stalwart of Grand Designs’ passion for his subject is almost tangible.

So what makes a good home I ask the father-of-four?

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