I bought an iconic 90s era Vivienne Westwood corset- was it worth it?

One of THE things every fashionista needs in their closet is undoubtedly a Vivienne Westwood corset. Vivienne Westwood was one of the first designers of the punk movement in the 70s, and her street chic designs evolved to debut her now-iconic corset in the 90s. Vivienne Westwood corsets have since become a fashion must-have for anyone who’s into fashion. They’re huge investment pieces too, with some of the more rare vintage styles fetching thousands of dollars! The big question is: is owning such an iconic piece of fashion history with the high price tag? I recently found out the answer to this question myself…

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So, how much are they?

Well, that varies. A lot… The brand new season Vivienne Westwood corsets start around $1,200 and go up based on design and material. Vintage Vivienne Westwood corsets from the 1990s can go for upwards $40,000. Yep, you read that right! I actually found a rare Vivienne Westwood corset supposedly from a museum display on 1st Dibs for $40,000. (Just a disclaimer, I am definitely not a vintage fashion appraiser or anything, and a lot of an item’s worth depends on its rarity and condition in addition to its year of production, so don’t expect every Vivienne Westwood corset to sell for this much!) There actually is a variety of price points out there that I’ve found for Vivienne Westwood corsets, and the good news is, it is possible to find one for under $1,000.

I recently got the itch to find a vintage Vivienne Westwood corset secondhand (primarily because I longed for the fashion clout of having such an item in my possession, lol!), but I wasn’t really willing to spend over a grand on one item. After a LOT of researching, Googling, and combing through secondhand sites, I learned a lot about buying vintage fashion and investing in designer fashion.

So, what did I learn?

First off, in the secondhand resale market, a lot of people will call just about any Vivienne Westwood piece a corset just to have it rank higher on search engines and show up as a recommended product. This means that just because the listing says it’s a corset, it doesn’t mean the item is actually a genuine Vivienne Westwood corset style (a lot of times, it’s just a top, and while these can be great in their own right, keep in mind that you’re looking for something that’s specifically a corset!). Here’s an example…

Below is an example of an authentic Vivienne Westwood corset style top…

Below is an example of a Vivienne Westwood top that is listed as a corset, but isn’t technically a corset…

If you’re looking for an authentic Vivienne Westwood corset style, look for boning and structure sewn into the garment. A lot of times, the boning seams will be visible on the outside of the corset, but some styles have draped fabric that covers it up. Look at the inside of the corset and you should see the boning seams visible. Here’s one that I bought that doesn’t have boning visible on the outside, but you can see it on the inside…

Another thing I learned is that Vivienne Westwood makes several different clothing lines, and they all can determine the quality/price point of the corset (not always, though!). For example, there’s Vivienne Westwood Red Label which is more of the ready-to-wear collection, and Vivienne Westwood Gold Label, which is more of the couture line. There’s also Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, which is a special line that’s also more ready to wear. The color and text of the label will tell you what collection it’s from, so keep that in mind when searching! Red Label tags are usually red with gold writing, Gold Label tags are usually cream or gold with gold or light colored writing, and Anglomania tags will usually say Anglomania or have an icon of a sword printed on it. The style of tags vary depending on the year produced, so don’t be afraid to do some Googling if you’re wondering!

Vivienne Westwood Gold Label tag

The final thing I learned involves a little bit of a backstory… So, I’m notoriously a bargain hunter. If it’s on sale or a great deal, that’ll automatically make me like the item more than I probably *should*. I was browsing for a Vivienne Westwood vintage corset on Vestiaire Collective, and I was having a hard time finding one that was under $700. I came across the purple taffeta Vivienne Westwood corset I pictured above and it had just been marked down by the seller to $680 (perfect, right?). Well, I didn’t pay attention to the sizing. The listing said the size tag was missing, but it estimated it was an IT 42. I’m usually an IT 40 in tops, and I had thought I read that Vivienne Westwood ran small, so I was like “eh, it’ll be fine”… But, while other items of clothing (say a blazer) may be easier to wear the wrong size and get away with it, corsets aren’t really like that. By definition, they’re meant to fit like a glove, sculpt your body without being too tight, and provide that snatched waist silhouette. I didn’t realize that this was going to be way too big until I read the item measurements, and by then, it was too late to cancel the order since it was from a resell site (another thing to keep in mind!). Well, long story short, I bought another VW corset that was a size too small to compensate that was also a great deal and a color I just loved, and then one that was ACTUALLY my size that was a good (not great) price. Yes, I am crazy. Crazy for fashion, that is… To quote one of my style icons:

In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight.

-Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias

My closet is full of items that aren’t really my size because I love them so much, and I’ll pretty much do just about anything to make ’em work for some photos, then spend the rest of my days gazing at them in my closet wistfully wishing the closet elves will magically tailor it to fit me someday. Unhealthy? Absolutely. Am I recommending this? Not at all. Lesson learned? Pay attention to measurements given on secondhand or vintage items; sizes change a lot through the years, so measurements are the best way to ensure items will fit you! And try to let practicality rule the day when shopping… (Also, just a tip, fabric matters for fit! Fabrics like non-stretch taffeta and silk do not really provide stretching allowances, so these can be a little less forgiving in terms of fit.) Tailoring a designer item that you’re investing in might affect the value of it down the road, and it’s often really expensive to do so with such a structured item, so just be aware!

So, are Vivienne Westwood corsets worth it?

Short answer? Yes! Slightly longer answer? Yes, as long as you do your research. If you are willing and able to invest in an authentic Vivienne Westwood corset that fits well, it can be a great piece that you’ll love styling myriad ways. Don’t fall prey to false advertising of corsets that aren’t really corsets, or base your decision solely on price. Do a little digging, research the history of the item, and ensure it’s a fair price. Don’t fall in love with the first one you see, either, until you verify it’ll be a good budget and figure fit. If you follow these tips, it’ll be 100% worth it to have a Vivienne Westwood corset in your fashion collection! The construction of them is amazing, and when they fit right, there’s nothing that flatters quite the same! Plus, they’re never *not* in style!

Shop my favorite Vivienne Westwood corsets under $1,000 below…

Here’s a peep at the Vivienne Westwood corset I bought that’s *actually* my size…

I love this one!!

Be sure to subscribe to my blog for more vintage shopping tips and fashion discussions! Happy shopping!

Xx Tabi

3 thoughts on “I bought an iconic 90s era Vivienne Westwood corset- was it worth it?


    1. Hello! So happy you liked the article!! While I am no expert, I don’t personally recommend selling on Vestiaire Collective as I’ve recently had some pretty negative experiences with them, and they do not have the best reviews on TrustPilot or Better Business Bureau for both sellers and buyers alike. I have sold items through Poshmark with a lot of luck, and though I haven’t personally sold with The Real Real, I do purchase from them a lot and feel they offer mostly fair prices! I’d recommend either Poshmark, The Real Real, or even eBay! If you’re curious as to why I don’t recommend Vestiaire Collective, check out my latest blog post for more info❤️ thank you so much for reading, I’m happy to help in any way I can!! Have a beautiful day!! Xx Tabi

    2. I would say also, taking your item to a retailer who is familiar with appraising and reselling designer fashion like The Real Real can be a great resource if you aren’t sure how much the item is worth or what current market value is! Then, you can either choose to sell with them or on your own on other platforms! I believe Vivienne Westwood Gold Label is the designer’s higher end line, and rare vintage sets in good condition tend to go for higher prices from what I’ve personally seen! Wishing you the best of luck with your outfit, it sounds like a great find!!

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