How to Buy a Perfect Corset !
Corsets are not the easiest lingerie to purchase due to their structure and sizing. This of course relates to the traditional corset. The aim of the corset is to trim the waist line to improve posture and give the wearer the hourglass shape , what more could you want. Often women wear a corset because they make them feel sensual, and it is comforting to know that everything is perfectly pulled into place. Often the corset is also used for waist training. The Corsets are also a great choice for brides.
An authentic and traditional corset will maintain its structure for a very long period of time and is very functional in many applications. When purchasing your Corset, quality materials and double stitching will ensure that you will get many years of use out of it.
What is a corset?
A corset is a strongly structured (under)garment used to create a desired silhouette, fitted by means of lacing which controls compression and re-shaping of the torso. So if it’s stretchy and only has bra-style hooks or rolls on, it’s not a corset, but rather more of a girdle.
There are two main types of corset: overbust and underbust. An overbust corset covers and supports the breasts. An underbust will stop anywhere below the bust, at or below bra band level. It does not support or shape the breasts and should be worn with a bra (if you usually wear bras). An overbust corset covers and supports the breasts.
Underbusts are generally easy to style with a variety of outfits and tend to be more versatile and can be worn either under or clothing. Overbusts are often perceived as more of a statement piece.
Parts of a corset
The front closure of a corset is called the “busk.” A busk is a specialized piece of metal hardware, consisting of two spring steel bones with flat metal loops/hooks protruding from one side and buttons or studs sticking out from the other. The bones are hidden inside the body of the corset with only the hook and stud peeking out from the fabric.
“Bones” dosn’t mean literal bones. The name comes from whalebone… which is itself a misnomer for baleen… which replaced cane and reed before itself being replaced by steel… which is what bones are currently made from.
Bones can also be called boning or stays. Steel bones are either “flats” or “spirals.” Bones are held snug in vertical channels. If the channels are accented/reinforced with strips of fabric, those are bone casings. The number of bones doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship with the shape or strength of a corset – they serve to preserve the vertical tension.
A waist tape, sometimes called a waist stay, is a sturdy ribbon that reinforces the waist to minimize stretching. Depending on the construction style, the waist tape may be visible on the interior of the corset or hidden inside.
Most corsets have at least two layers. The interior is the “strength layer” and the exterior is called the “fashion fabric,” which should be sturdy with minimal stretch. Linings, interlinings, and interfacing may also be present. Each corset maker will have their preferences and different fashion fabrics have different needs regarding additional reinforcement.
The most popular strength layer fabric is coutil, which is fabric designed specifically for corsetry, but other fabrics can be quite serviceable and may present other advantages. Of course, it is possible to make a single layer corset. Single layer corsets make excellent underwear and summer corsets. The most popular type of single layer corset is a mesh corset.
The difference between ‘Ready to Wear’ and ‘Custom’
The highest quality of corset is handmade by a small-business working from an on-site atelier. Often, this may be a single “corsetiere” working from a home studio. These corsets may have several levels of purchase.
Off-the-rack refers to in-stock corsets, standard-sized and ready to take home immediately. Made-to-order are standard-sized corsets that aren’t made until they’re ordered, usually in the client’s choice of fabric and detailing. Ready-to-wear can be a synonym for off-the-rack or refer to all standard-size corsets (thus including both OTR and MTO). Made-to-order corsets may also have small fit personalizations, not to be confused with a fully custom or bespoke corset.
How to size yourself for a corset
Corsets should be sized according to the closed waist measurment. Generally, with standard fit (ready to wear/off the rack) corsets, most sizing runs in 2″ even-numbered intervals. 4″ smaller than the natural waist is the most common formula for basic sizing, but the shape of the corset and the wearer’s personal compressibility will affect the level of reduction possible.
Speaking of the reduction, rest at ease – well-fitted corsets are neither painful nor dangerous. Most standard-fit corsets are also intended to be worn with approximately a 2″ gap in the back lacing.
One of the most common questions I hear when fitting corset neophytes is, “So I only have to adjust the back lacing once and then I just put it on from the front?” Stop right there! It’s really important to loosen the laces before you take off your corset.
To do its job properly, the corset needs to have its laces tightened each time you put it on. If it’s loose enough to put on and take off without touching the lacing, it’s too big. A properly-laced corset should have its lacing adjusted via two loops at the waist line, which should ideally be inverted so the top of the loop controls the bottom (hips)and bottom of the loop tightens the top (ribs) of the corset .
Cleaning Your Corset
When cleaning your corset, the traditional corsets will require dry cleaning only, but you cam spot clean it with a damp cloth if it is not that dirty. It is important that you avoid putting the corset in the washing machine and do not attempt to use any type of detergent on it, this will end up changing the colour.
Best of luck on your corset journey!