The word corsetry sounds like mystical and ancient art… and in many ways it is! This is an iconic piece of clothing that is essentially the mother of all shapewear. Corsets have been around for hundreds of years, and have existed in a multitude of different guises. The modern corset can be anything from functional waist cincher to sexy lingerie to steam punk fashion statement. And more! How do you get it right with a corset, though?
What makes a corset?
Corsets, like women, come in all shapes and sizes. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a garment should be boned to qualify as a corset. However, a corset is simply a garment which is tight fitting around the waist, and worn to hold or train the body into a specific shape. Advances in modern fabrics mean that this can be achieved without restrictive boning, although boning still has advantages when it comes to unparalleled support. A corset will extend from the hips to over the bust. For waist only shaping, we’d be looking at a girdle.
Yes, your corset is designed to cinch your waist. However, it needs to start at your actual size otherwise you’re not allowing it to do its job properly. Make sure that you don’t size down for the most dramatic effect as this will just cause interruptions of the silhouette. Instead, chose the design of corset based on how dramatic a look you want, as some styles will be engineered to cinch more than others.
Depending on the design around your breasts, you may need to size based on your bra size. Some styles included underwired cups so it’s worth checking your bra size before purchase. Other designs offer more push-up support, which means that they’re more flexible when it comes to bust size. These may be sold as L / XL or based on underbust measurements, ie 34, 36, 38.
Once you’re selected the right sized garment based on your bust, waist cinching will follow suit. So for designs that are spandex with zip or hook and eye fastening, the level of waist compression will be set. If you want to have more control or flexibility over your waist compression, look for a corset design that includes lacing. This will allow you to draw in the corset more or less depending on your preference.
Once you’ve worked out how to size your corset, the most important thing to think about is its function. This sounds boring, but isn’t! We’ve talked a bit about choosing a design based on how much you want your waist to cinch, and the function of your corset is more of this really.
Are you buying a corset because you want to train your waist? If so, then you need a style that has variable waist compression and can sit under your clothes. Sometimes, a girdle style might be a better bet for this function as it sits under the bust.
Perhaps you’re thinking about your silhouette under a strapless frock, for example. This kind of shaping is all about lines from your bust to your thighs. Look for smooth, streamlined fabrics that sit neatly under an outfit. Also, don’t forget to make sure that your neckline works with the bust shaping of the corset.
This is a corset that’s designed to be seen. The circumstances are down to you! So it follows that whatever tickles your fancy goes. Some of us prefer elaborate decoration, others slinky lines. Unless you want a dramatic shape as part of your look, lighter compression can be a nice option here.
Corsets have really risen from the ashes of being a restrictive garment to become one that’s all about fun. Be playful and be sexy and most importantly be you!