Est. 2012

Corsets & Bustier Tops

When we think about corsets tops or bustiers, what might come to is are visions of period drama costumes, or Victorian women with big, flowing gowns and tiny waists. Or, we might even conjure images of the sexy, larger-than-life costumes worn by burlesque dancers.

What we may not think about, however, is how the little corset is actually a genuinely functional (not to mention superbly stylish) piece of clothing. A recent resurgence in popularity has led to the corset becoming a mainstay of modern fashion – no longer relegated to simple lingerie or ‘costume’ wardrobe.

Modern corseting is fun and trendy, with a multitude of different options, styles, and materials to choose from. The corset is a legitimate fashion item, with a rich and vibrant history.

That’s why we’ve created this eBook, dedicated solely to the subject of corsets and corseting! So if you’re looking to buy a corset, are interested in waist training, or if you just want to learn more about this beautiful item of clothing, then read on. This guide will help you understand the many variations of corsets, how to wear them, how to care for them and will help you decide if corsets are right for you.

1. Background of Corsets

Corsets can be worn as shape-enhancing underwear, sexy lingerie, as a gorgeous standalone item or even over the top of clothing. Suffice to say, the bustier is an excellent item of clothing and a must-have addition to any girls wardrobe.

But if you look up the term ‘corset’ in the Oxford English dictionary, you’ll see it defined in the following ways:

A woman's tightly fitting undergarment extending from below the chest to the hips, worn to shape the figure

1.1 A tightly fitting undergarment worn by men or women to support a weak or injured back.

Notice how the word ‘undergarment’ is used? This is because, traditionally, corsets were created as a piece of supportive shapewear, to be worn under the clothes as a means of cinching in the waist, lifting the bosom or otherwise altering the silhouette. In other words, it was more about what the corset could do for your body shape, rather than the corset itself.

We’ll be talking a little about the exciting history of corsets shortly, but for now, it’s essential to make the distinction between the dictionary definition of corsets, and what corsets are today.

Corsets are not just supportive shapewear, nor are they always an ‘undergarment.’ They are a mainstay in gothic fashion, a beautiful part of Steampunk style and are also a favorite item in a mainstream way too. You only need to look at some of the beautiful corsets on the market today to understand that they are by no means a garment that needs to be hidden under your clothing!

While there is an apparent conflict between what corsets originated as and what they are in modern fashion, one thing that can be said with relative certainty is that they are a garment that has a devoted following of both wearers and admirers.

1.1 Helpful Corset Terminology

Before we dive right in to look at the different styles of corset available, it’s essential to learn a little bit of terminology. Corsets are by no means a simple garment, and high-quality corsets are a luxury item built with functionality as well as beauty in mind.

Below is a helpful list of common corset terms used to describe the anatomy of a corset:

  1. Stays (or Bones): Metal structures within the bustier responsible for maintaining the vertical tension and rigidity of the garment
  2. Panel: Each piece of fabric that the girdle is comprised of, cut to a specific shape to create fit.
  3. Grommets/Eyelets: Metal rings that strengthen the holes through which the corset's laces are threaded.
  4. Modesty Panel: An extra piece of fabric that sits behind the laces, hiding the skin crease created by tightening a corset.
  5. Laces: The laces of the corset, which are pulled tight to draw the corset inwards and create a smaller waist, or an ‘hourglass’ figure.
  6. Busk: Basically the ‘front’ of the corset. It is a special closure, comprised of metal hooks and studs, mounted to a pair of steel bones.

1.1.1 Types of Corsets & Corset Materials

As we’ve already stated, corsets are a diverse piece of clothing, and as such there are a whole host of different styles on the market. There is a multitude of different types, lengths, shapes, and trends available – so it can all seem a little daunting to even the most seasoned corset fanatic!

But it doesn’t need to be! If you take the time to familiarize yourself with the most common styles of corset and corset materials, you can begin to grow a basic understanding of corsets and corsetry.

Popular Corset & Bustier Materials

  1. Satin Corsets: usually worn under the clothes, if you only want the hourglass figure without the corset showing.
  2. Mesh Corsets: breathable and light, great for the summer months, gives the body a great silhouette and can be worn under or over the clothes.
  3. Cotton Corsets: casual and comfortable, durable and breathable, but not advisable to wear as underwear, as it’s a bit thicker.
  4. Leather Corsets: comfortable over the clothing and stylish, but is not recommended for waist training as it stretches out.
  5. Brocade Corsets: thick, durable polyester blend, worn as a stylish accessory.
  6. Steel Corsets: used in either panel or as 'stays' (or both) to help provide support and rigidity to the corset.

The above list is just a very brief selection of the different materials commonly found in corsets on the market today. There are, of course, other materials that can be used to create and decorate corsets – resulting in seemingly limitless different styles! They can feature many modern details such as beads, rhinestones, studs, chains, and spikes, and can even contain plastic stays (rather than steel) known as ‘synthetic whalebone.’

Now that you have an idea about the most common materials that can be found in modern corsets, it’s worth taking a look at some of the different types available. Not all corsets are the same shape, style or size; so do your research, as this is all part of figuring out which style of corset may be right for you.

Types of Corsets

  • Underbust Corsets - Underbust corsets are precisely that - bustiers that go under the bust. Because they sit under the bust line, rather than over it, this means that they are a pretty versatile style of corset, since you are free to wear them with any type of bra or clothing.
  • Overbust Corsets   - Again, an overbust corset is precisely what it sounds like - a corset that goes all the way up and covers the bust. An overbust corset encloses the torso and the breasts (but not always the cleavage) extending from just under the arms down toward the hip.
  • Flat-front Style - Flat-front style corsets are a modern version of a Victorian corset with a neckline that goes straight across and is great for women with smaller sized breasts. This is because they can help to create the illusion of a fuller bust.
  • Sweetheart Neckline - A sweetheart neckline corset is pretty much the modern standard of the corset, usually worn for formal events or weddings. This style is famous for glamorous occasions and is excellent for those who want to give the appearance of a larger bust and cleavage because the breasts are accentuated due to the 'heart' shape of the neckline.
  • Bustiers  - While corsets can be worn as undergarments or as a piece of outer clothing, bustier tops are traditionally worn under the clothes, to push up the bust and gently shape the waist. Think of them as a 'bra and shapewear combo,' without the tight lacing that a corset generally offers.

2.2.2 A Brief History of Corsets 

Now that you’re familiar with the different styles, materials, and terminology used regarding modern corsets as fashion items, it’s time to take a quick look back through history to understand how corsets have changed and evolved over the years.

The when we think of corsets, we usually refer to the designs that conform to the stereotypical aesthetic of a close-fitting garment with steel bones. These were created in the 15th or 16th century, but this period was by no means the birth of the corset. You only have to look at art throughout history to see that the corset predates this era, and it is likely that the practice of binding the waist goes back as early as 2000 B.C.E.

Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and you can see a variant of bustier tops making an appearance – although they did not fit in with conservative culture and fashion of the time. During this period, corsets were worn as undergarments and never as something dressed as a standalone piece or over the top of clothes like you might find nowadays.

While corsets can be regarded as a garment that has its roots in ancient history, it is argued that the corsets we see today are based more off of the designs that were made famous in the 1400s, and thus began the stylish evolution of the girdle for centuries to come. Early Corsets

The corsets of the 15th century are thought to have been popularised by Agnes Sorel, who was the mistress of Charles the 6th of France. She came to court wearing a corset beneath her gown, and after her successful day in court, other ladies were encouraged to wear corsets while revealing their bare breasts.

In the 16th century, the functionality of the corset began to change. While they had previously been used to accentuate a woman’s curves and draw attention to the bosom, the 16th-century garments were designed to mold the torso into a cylindrical shape and to flatten and raise the bust line.

This all changed again as the corset entered the early half of the 17th century, as corsets once again were used as a ‘tool’ to accentuate the breasts. As such, prominent figures like Queen Mary II and Henrietta Maria of France were often depicted with their bare busts.

But in the later part of the 17th century, Madame de Maintenon (the wife of King Louis XIV) changed the aesthetic and function of the bustier once more. She preferred corsets to accentuate the shape of the bust and décolletage, rather than the bust itself, and thus gave birth to a corset with an inverted conical shape that was structured with steel. “Modern Day” Corsets

When we reach the 19th century, we enter what is arguably the ‘golden era’ of corsets and corsetry. While these specialist garments had previously been hand-made, the industrial revolution allowed for mass production of corsets, giving even more women the chance to wear such items, as they became more widely available. Women in the 19th century wore corsets to flatten the stomach and push out the bust – accentuating womanly curves and giving an ‘hourglass’ appearance that is still popular in fashion today.

When we reach the 20th century, we can see an evolution in the way that corsets are worn yet again. Unlike in previous eras, the corsets of the 1900s were made with rustproof boning and rubber coated spring. Much like the Victorian corset, the bra and corset combination was widely popular.

However, this didn’t last very long, as women began the ‘rational dress movement,’ whose aim was to get rid of the classic corsets as women opted for more practical styles of clothing. Also, the demand for steel during World War 2 naturally decreased the supplies available to make steel boned corsets.

After the war, however, the corset made a comeback. Christian Dior launched the new look collection featuring the ‘new shape’ of a modern woman, which was obtained to the use of wearing a corset to slim the waist and accentuate the bust. It is during the latter half of the 1900s that the evolution of the corset picked up speed. Traditionally, corsets were worn as an undergarment but in the 1970s punks began to wear corsets as outerwear.

Naturally, the trend took on and pretty soon fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gauthier began to showcase corsets as outerwear on the runways. Now that we’ve reached the 21st century, the corset is still going strong. This doesn’t necessarily mean the types of corsets used to attain a tiny waist, but rather with an emphasis on fashion rather than body modification. But that’s not to say that waist training with a corset isn’t still popular. It just means that, since there are so many different types of corsets on the market, we now have a more choice.

One thing that remains clear is that corsets have long been, and long will be, a stylish garment that can be used to alter the silhouette. These days, corsets are frequently seen on the red carpet, in popular culture, as sexy lingerie and even as formal dress and wedding wear. Whichever way you look at it, the corset is here to stay!

2.2 Why You Should Wear a Corset

It’s been established that corsets can be used to alter the figure, and who doesn’t want a striking silhouette, right? But you might be surprised to know that there are other purported benefits to wearing a corset than just for aesthetic purposes.

Corsets can actually be worn for medical purposes because they provide support and rigidity. Due to this fact, corsets are actually thought to help with posture. Since they force you to sit and stand straight, they can help with your lumbar and are also considered to provide relief from symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Corsets can also help with hypermobility issues (where connective tissues in the body are too ‘flexible’) by providing rigidity and support, bracing the torso and helping to safeguard against injury.

But aside from anecdotal evidence suggesting corsets can help with certain medical conditions – if you’re interested in mere aesthetics then the corset can be a wonderful asset to your wardrobe. This is because you can actually use corsets to alter your physical appearance with semi-permanent effects, visibly slimming your waist through a process known as ‘waist training.’ We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, let’s move on and talk more about the practical considerations of corsetry.

2. Corset Sizing

If you’ve taken heed of the beautiful benefits that corsets can provide, or if you just want to achieve a sexy, hourglass figure, then you might be looking to purchase your first corset. Hooray!

But with corsets being such a specialized item of clothing – it’s essential to make sure you get the correct size. You might be wondering how to select the perfect sized corset for you, as these beautiful garments often don’t conform to regular sizing. This is because corsets are commonly used as a functional item of clothing, which can be tightened to alter the shape of your silhouette.

So if you want to create a slinky, hourglass figure using a corset, we mean it when we say that size really does matter!

2.1. What Size Corset Should You Get?

When it comes to ordering the correct size of the corset, there are a few things you should keep in mind. It is actually somewhat different to ordering other types of clothing and undergarments because instead of using your regular sizing (such as your top, dress or bra size), the way you select the correct sized corset is usually by waist measurement.

But what you may not know is that you actually might be best off ordering your corset in a size that is smaller than your regular waist measurement, because the size of the corset is taken when the garment is completely laced up and closed. Also, if you are planning on doing waist training with your corset, then it is always better to select a slightly smaller size, but not too small. This whole ‘corset sizing’ thing may seem complicated at first, but once you have your measurements down, ordering the correct size corset for yourself is actually relatively simple.

2.2 Measuring Your Waist
First of all, you need to take your waist measurement. This is to determine your actual, natural waist size. The way you do this is by taking a flexible tape measure (the kind that tailors use) and measuring the circumference around your waist 1 inch just above your belly button.

Once you have measured your waist, a good rule of thumb is to choose a corset about 2 to 4 inches smaller than your natural waist size, so that you can achieve that hourglass figure once you have laced the corset uptight. So, for example, if you have a 28-inch waist then try selecting a corset that is 24 inches.

3.3 Bust, Underbust & Upper Hip Measurements
The other measurements that you might need to take are your bust and hip measurements, as some corsets require these. To measure your bust, measure the fullest part of your breasts at the nipple, all the way around your body.

To take your underbust measurement, measure right at your bra line. It might be easiest to do this with your bra on, just to make sure that you are measuring at the right place. Also, make sure that you measure parallel to the ground, aiming to get the tape measure in a full, level circle all the way around your body.

To take your upper hip measurements, once again you want to measure at the widest point. To do this, measure at or just below your hipbone, as this is just above where you bend when you sit down.

4.4 Torso Length
And last but not least it's a good idea to measure your torso length, just so that you have all the measurements to hand when you come selecting your corset. To measure your torso length, measure from right under the center of each of your breasts, down to where you bend when you sit (i.e., your hip bone).

5.5 Tightness and Level of 'Squish'

When it comes to the level of 'squish' about your corset, refer to the point above about sizing down about 4 inches from your natural waist. However, that being said, the amount you size down actually depends on what you're starting numbers are, as well as what type of body you have.

If you're thick or muscular, it might be better to size down a couple of inches to start off, and also if you are quite small and have a narrow waist, to begin with.

If you want to go down by two sizes, which is pretty much the equivalent of 4 inches, this might be best suited to you if you are more abundant and 'softer' to begin with, and perhaps with a naturally larger size waist. It's also a good idea to get a corset that is tight on you if you are expecting to lose weight, or if you are actively and steadily losing weight.

6.6 Other Things to Consider When Selecting the Correct Size of Corset

Even if you've taken your measurements correctly, you have to bear in mind that every corset is different, just like everyone’s body type is different. When selecting your corset size, consider whether you are wearing the corset for fashion, or whether you're opting to use the garment for more functional purposes such as providing back support (more on this later!)

If you're entirely new to wearing a corset, then it's best to err on the side of caution, and not select an ambitiously small size. Remember, you can always lace the corset tighter over time! Different corset retailers and manufacturers offer different guidelines when it comes to selecting the correct sizing, so just be aware that there may be conflicting advice.

Also, if you find that your waist measurements are an odd number, just round up or down to the nearest inch, and take that as your starting waist measurement, regardless of whether you want to size up or size down.

Ultimately, the tightness and size of your corset all boil down to what you feel comfortable with personally. If your corset feels too tight, to begin with, then you'll have trouble lacing up tighter over time so this might be a scenario where you might actually want to size up instead of down. The critical thing to remember is to aim for comfort, and don't select a ridiculously tight corset just because you want a tiny waist. A well-fitted corset in a larger size looks 10 times better than an ill-fitting corset that is laced too tightly. And it will feel a darn sight better also!

3. Corset Maintenance 

Let's say you've done your research, taken all your measurements, and found your perfect corset. Well done! Now you need to know how to care for your fabulous new piece of attire properly.

One thing that you will find with high-quality corsets is the fact that you cannot put them through the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.

Corsets are a specialty piece of clothing, and as such, they have specific special requirements when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. While some people opt for taking their corsets to the dry cleaners, others argue that you can clean your corset at home. If you're not sure what the best option is, the best thing you can do is get in touch with the corset maker and ask how they recommend you clean your corset.

But for now, let's take a look at some handy tips and step-by-step instructions on how to clean your corset at home.

3.1.1 How To Clean Your Corset

If you're having trouble taking your corset to the dry cleaners, or if you just don't have the time or the money to get your corset cleaned by a specialist, then you might opt for cleaning your corset at home. If this is the case, then follow this handy step-by-step guide, to ensure you don't damage your lovely new corset.

  1. You must wash your corset by hand, and never ever in the washing machine. Fill a basin with warm water (not hot) and add a scoop of mild washing powder in a non- biological detergent.
  2. Gently wash the corset using your hands only, and never with any rough implement like a scrubbing brush or washcloth as this could damage the material.
  3. Rinse the garment thoroughly in running cold water. Do this very gently until the water runs clear, and under no circumstances try to wring out excess water from your corset. That is a sure-fire way to damage the delicate structures!
  4. Wrap the corset in a clean, absorbent piece of material such as bath towel and press gently, trying to absorb as much excess water from the garment is possible.
  5. Dry the corset on a frame, as you would a pure wool garment - or lay it flat. Never try to dry the corset near a heat source (such as hanging above radiator) because heat will warp the steel bones inside the corset.

3.1.2 Tips for Cleaning Your Corset

The section above gives a fundamental outline of how to hand wash corsets at home. But ideally, you want to limit cleaning your corset as much as possible. That's not to say that you should allow the corset to become dirty, but it is indeed worth being aware that any washing of the corset can be somewhat destructive to the garment.

For this reason, it's a good idea to take preventative measures to minimize the need to clean your corset. The less you have to wash your corset, the less stressed your corset becomes in the process and the longer it will last. To prevent the need for frequent washing, it's a good idea to wear a layer between your corset and your bare skin. This will protect the corset from the natural oils and skin cells that are secreted from your skin. It also helps to provide a barrier against sweating!

It's also good practice to try and avoid wearing the same corset day after day.   If you have many corsets, then you should consider alternating which one you wear each day, and always be sure to let your corset air out after use, by hanging it up or making it air out over the back of a chair.

If you take the necessary precautions, then your corset may not need a full hand washing, or dry cleaning very often. To keep your corset fresh between full washes, you can wipe it clean by spritzing it down with a mixture of vodka and water in a 1:1 ratio.

So in summary, keep these helpful tips at hand for when it comes to clean and to maintain your corset properly:

Wear is a layer of protective clothing between your skin and the corset wherever possible
Remember that cleaning your corset is actually not great for the garment, so tried to limit it as much as possible

If you must wash your corset at home, only do so by hand (and never ever in the washing machine) following the instructions given above.

If you're looking to get your corset dry-cleaned, ensure that the dry cleaners have experience with cleaning corsets (seek out a specialist if you have to)

Spray down your corset and wipe clean in between washes to keep it feeling fresh. Allow your corset to air around between uses properly.

4. How to wear a corset

Often, when you purchase a new corset, it will arrive with laces. This means that you will have to lace up the corset yourself, which can seem a little daunting if you don't know what you're doing.

Lacing up your corset correctly is essential because you want the ends of laces to meet in the middle so that when the laces are pulled tighter, it draws you in at your narrowest point (i.e., your natural waist). This means that

Lacing up the corset is different from, say, a single pair of sneakers. and it also depends on the type of corset; from corset dresses, tops, cinchers, etc. It takes a little while, but you only have to do it once; so take your time to ensure that you do it right.

Once you have laced up your corset, you will need to break it in in a process that is known as 'seasoning.' If you don't season your corset correctly, and also if you have not laced your corset correctly, it can cause damage to the garment. Therefore it is essential that you try and get the basics right from the get-go.

4.1.1 Step-by-step Instructions on How to Lace Your Corset

Your corset may have actually arrived pre-laced, so if this is the case don't worry about lacing up the corset. But you will have to check to see that the corset top has been pre-laced correctly. To check the corset is lace correctly, you want to see whether the dangling laces (to be pulled tight) meet in the center of the back instead of at either end.

However, be aware that the middle of the corset may not be at the same level as your natural waist, so if your waist is a little below or a little higher, then you may want to lace the corset according to your own measurements.

If your corset arrives unlaced, you should either have two sets of laces that you will use to lace up your corset or one long lace. We have given to very basic techniques for lacing up your corset, either using one lace or two laces. Check out the step-by-step instructions below:

4.1.2 Lacing your corset with just one lace 

Take one of the laces and start lacing at the top of the garment, threading the lace through the top two eyelets (also known as grommets), so that the horizontal lace is on the inside of the corset rather than the outside

Pull the lace through so that the two, dangling ends of the lace are equal in length.

Take the right-hand lace and thread it through the next available eyelet on the left. Make sure that the lace remains on the outside of the corset top until you've read it through the eyelet, back so that it is hanging on the inside of the corset.

Do the same for the left lace, again making sure that the dangling end of the lace falls on the inside of the corset.

The laces should now form an X shape on the outside of the corset.

Again take the lace on the right-hand side and then thread it through the next available eyelet on the left-hand side. This time the lace should remain on the inside of the corset, and the dangling end should be poking through the eyelet on the outside of the corset.

Do the same for the lace on the other side of the corset. The laces should now form an X shape on the inside of the corset.

Repeat these steps until you reach the center or waistline of the corset, or alternatively where your natural waist falls (you should know this from taking your measurements)

Next, take the lace on the right-hand side and thread down to the next available eyelet directly below on the same side of the corset. The lace should thread down and through so that it is dangling on the inside of the corset. This should form a loop or ‘bunny ear’ from one eyelet, down to the next.

Do this again for the lace on the left side. The laces should now have passed through to the inside of the corset.

Repeat the previous crisscrossing method again until you reach the bottom of the corset.

Adjust the slack in the laces evenly throughout the corset top so that you have about 4 inches of slack between both sides of the corset

Tie off the dangling laces at the bottom of the corset, but without tightening the corset any further. You can use a standard knot for this. When the garment is on, this is when you want to pull on the loops or ‘bunny ears’ that we created in the center of the corset. Pull on these loops until the corset is sufficiently tight and then secure the garment with a double knot.

4.1.2 Lacing your corsets using two laces 

  1. Take one of your laces and fold it in half so that you find the center point of the lace
  2. Start lacing at the top of the corset by pulling the lace up through the top eyelet so that the end of the lace is dangling on the outside of the corset.
  3. Do this again on the eyelet directly opposite, and pull the lace through until both ends that are dangling are exactly the same length.
  4. Pull the dangling ends over one another in a cross shape, and push them through the eyelets on either side, so that the ends are now on the inside of the corset.
  5. Repeat this process, crossing over again and pulling them up through the eyelets so that the ends are dangling on the outside of the corset
  6. Repeat this process, lacing down to the center point of the corset, or wherever your natural waistline is (make sure you finish up with the two dangling ends of the lace facing outwards)
  7. Now, take your second lace and repeat the same process as above, but starting with the eyelets at the bottom of the corset (make sure start off by lacing up through the holes)
  8. Continue with the criss-cross pattern until you reach up to the center point of the corset.

Once the corset is laced, you'll have two free ends on each of the two laces (so that's four pieces of lace dangling on the outside of the corset). The easiest way to tighten your corset from here is to pull on all the laces, tightening the corset to your desired fit, and then tie it all into a straightforward shoelace knot.

4.2 How to Tie (and Untie) Your Corset Top

Now that you've learned two very basic techniques for lacing up your corset, corset top or corset dress, it's worth taking a look at how to actually tie the garment so that it is secure – as well as how to untie the corset properly.

This may not seem important at first, but making sure that you correctly tie and untie your corset can help to ease the general wear and tear of it, meaning that your garment will last longer and keep looking its best.

4.2.1 Typing your corset top

When you put your corset on, don't touch the lacing yet. Slip the corset around your torso and do the busk up. Once it is done up, position the corset into the correct place on your waist so that it fits comfortably. Now you can start pulling in the laces at the back (it can help if you have someone else to do this for you, but it is possible to do it on your own).

If your corset is laced with just one lace, start by pulling on the two big loops or ‘bunny ears’ to tighten up the corset. Tighten it slowly and then tie into a single shoelace knot.

If your corset is laced with two laces, the easiest way is to grab all of the dangling ends and pull it tight (slowly) and again tie into a simple shoelace knot. You can then tie it into a double knot if you feel it necessary.

So, you've now learned how to lace, put on and tie your corset correctly!

But, you should also keep in mind that untying your corset is just as important. You need to make sure that when you take off your corset, you always undo the lacing, taking the tension out of the garment before you try to undo the busk. This is because any tension in the clothing can cause the metal hooks and studs in the busk to warp, meaning you might damage the corset or have trouble fastening it up again.

4.2.2 Untying your corset.

When we refer to 'untying' your corset, what we actually mean is loosening the laces at the back - rather than untying the whole thing completely. To give you a brief idea of how to do this properly, we’ve included some simple, step-by-step instructions below

Begin by untying the knot in the center of the corset
Make sure there are no twists or knots in the laces as you pull them straight

Next, grab the overhand crosses of the laces (the X shapes of the laces that are facing on the outside of the garment) and begin to tease them loose, creating slack in the clothing.

Work your way up the corset, pulling the crossed laces free, creating enough slack until the corset top is hanging loosely from the body.

Once the corset is sufficiently loose, you can undo the busk.

5. Waist Training

The concept of tight lacing and body modification using a corset is not a new one. As you've seen in the previous chapters giving an outline of the history of the corset, human beings have been using tight lacing to alter their physical appearance for many years.

But while tight lacing has been around for many years, you may have only just heard about the term ‘waist training’. This is a term that is being popularized in the media, what with the rise of elasticated waists cinchers in popular culture.

If we were to describe waist training in fundamental terms, a good definition would be the process of using a corset to modify the shape of your waist. Now, where it gets confusing is when we start to mistake corsets for elasticated 'waist trainers.' There is a definite distinction that must be brought up when we talk about waist training and corsets.

Traditionally, waist training refers to the use of steel boned corsets which are tightened over time to alter the appearance of one silhouette physically. The effects, if waist training is conducted correctly, are actually semi-permanent – meaning that your silhouette will look different even when you are not wearing a corset, for a short period at least.

Elasticated waist trainers, on the other hand, cannot be tightened over time, so it is questionable whether they can be used to achieve the same striking results as tight lacing with a corset.

Obviously, we will be talking about waist training using steel boned corsets for the purposes of this chapter. Read on to get the lowdown on what waist training with a corset is, how you can train your waist, and when you should stop waist training.

5.1 An Introduction to Waist Training

You now have a fundamental idea of what waist training is. But let's delve into a little more detail about it, and how waist training actually works.

Corsets which can be used for waist training have unique boning inside them, sometimes referred to as 'stays.' These are pieces of a rigid material, such as whalebone or steel (this is basically the modern equivalent of whalebone), which gives the corset is a rigid shape. When the laces at the back of the corset are pulled tight – provided that the corset top is laced up correctly as we've shown in the previous chapters – this draws the waist in, compressing the body around the torso and holding its shape due to the support of the stays.

But where waist training becomes really interesting is when we talk about the manipulation of 'floating ribs.' This may sound strange, but 'floating ribs' is the term given to the small, delicate ribs at the bottom of the rib cage, which are not actually attached directly to the rib cage. Since these ribs are not technically attached, they can be manipulated by applying gentle pressure to the rib cage through the use of a corset.

The end result? A smaller, narrower waist achieved slowly over a period of time.

It's important to note here that this description of waist training makes it sound far more dramatic than it actually is. If you wear your corset correctly, safely and tighten it slowly over a period of time then you can reduce the size of your waist, but the effects are gradual, and they are not permanent.

5.2.2 Benefits of Waist Training

The fact that waist training sounds a lot more dramatic than it actually is probably what has given birth to several myths and misconceptions about corsets and tight lacing over time. But before we go debunking any of those myths, let's take a look at how waist training can actually benefit you. Don't buy into the anti-corset propaganda!

1. Improved Posture
Wearing a corset will immediately improve posture because the rigidity of the corset forces you to sit up straight. If you wear your corset frequently, this will help your body to retain good posture even when you aren't wearing your corset. One thing to note is that the taller the corset, the more of your spine it can support in an upright position (so for this reason short, underbust corsets may not be the best option if you're looking for back support).

2. Back Support
Despite the common misconception that corsets are bad for your back or your bones, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests otherwise. Some people maintain that 'fashion' corsets (as opposed to medical corsets used for back pain) provide more significant support. And, of course, they have the added benefit of looking at a lot more attractive than a medical grade back brace.

3. Help with Hypermobility Syndrome
Although we have to point out that there are no studies to support this claim, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that wearing a corset can help people who have hypermobile joints. Hypermobility syndrome is a condition where the joints in the body naturally loose, which can cause chronic pain. So it makes sense that wearing a corset top can help safeguard against pain and injury to people with hypermobile joints because it supports you as well as restricting your movements slightly.

4. Relief from Menstrual Cramps
There is some debate on this matter, everybody is different after all, but some people say that wearing a corset can actually help to reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. This is because the corset applies gentle pressure to the abdomen, which can provide a little relief against menstrual cramp pain for some women. Of course, the only way to know whether this could work for you is to try it out.

5. A Slimmer Waist
Okay, so we’ve spoken about some actual physical benefits to your health that can be gained from wearing a corset. But what about actually altering your silhouette? This is the number one goal that most people have in mind when they start waist training with a corset. So we have to reiterate that wearing a corset can actually help you to appear slimmer! Of course, the garment is great for achieving an hourglass figure while it's on, but after some slow and steady waist training, you can actually see the same results when you take the garment off.

5.3.3 Things to Consider When Waist Training
Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits of waist training, you might want to dive straight in. However, there are a few things that you should consider before you start waist training. It's important to do your research because there is a lot of conflicting information out there on the web when it comes to this sometimes controversial subject matter. Here are four essential things to note if you are thinking about waist training:

Before you consider waist training, it's always best to seek professional advice. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions then definitely speak to your doctor before you decide whether waist training is right for you.

Understand that waist training is totally safe, but you should not attempt it if you are under the age of 18.

While there is plenty of propaganda out there stating that waist training helps you to lose weight, this is absolutely false. Do not expect the number on the scales to change when you start waist training!

Remember that the effects of waist training are not permanent. You might attain a smaller waist over time, but once you stop waist training, your body will return to its natural shape.

5.4.4 What Type of Corset Do I Need for Waist Training?

If you've made it this far into our little eBook, then there's a good chance that you seriously considering buying yourself a corset top and starting waist training. Nice!

But what makes a good waist training corset? After all, not all corsets are created equal. There are many opinions on what is the best type of corset for waist training. However, there are a few general rules that you can follow when selecting a corset for this purpose.

  1. Your corset must have stayed. This means that the corset must be lined with flexible steel or another rigid structure to provide support. For this reason, it is better to purchase a steel-boned, corset rather than an elasticated waist trainer.
  2. Your corset must fit well. We explained in the previous chapters the importance of taking the correct measurements when you buy your corset. Your corset must be tight, but not too tight since you want to be able to lace it tighter and tighter over time to achieve your desired shape.
  3. Your corset must be comfortable. This means that the garment must not be so tight that you cannot move freely, or that you have trouble breathing. Bear in mind that wearing a corset can be mildly uncomfortable as you start to adjust to the garment, but it should not stop you from performing day-to-day tasks.
  4. Your corset must be an hourglass shape. This might seem like a no-brainer, but since there are different shapes and varieties of the corset top on the market, it's important to point out that if you want an hourglass-shaped figure, you will need to work with an hourglass-shaped corset.
  5. Your corset must be of good quality. By this we mean it should have steel bones, be sturdy and well- made, and have metal to eyelets to prevent the garment from warping. Also if you are planning on waist training with a corset, be sure to select one that is laced up with laces rather than ribbon - as laces are far sturdier and will help the corset to maintain its shape when it is pulled tight.

5.5.5 How Long Do I Need to Wear the Corset?

Once you have selected an appropriate corset for waist training, it's time to begin! The first thing that you need to do with your new corset is to break it in, in a process known as 'seasoning.'

Seasoning your sexy looking corset involves breaking in your corset slowly so that it molds to your body shape without causing any damage to the garment. It also gives you the chance to get comfortable in the corset before you start wearing it for prolonged periods.

The time it takes to break your corset in varies depending on who you talk to, but we recommend wearing it for a couple of hours a day for about a week, without tightening it.

Once you have broken the corset in, it's time to start training that waist. On the first day, wear the corset for a couple of hours and no more. Remember, the key to effective waist training is to take it slowly. Next, start to increase the amount of time spent in your corset by about an hour a day, up to 8 hours.

Once you feel fully acclimatized to your corset, you can start tightening it gradually over time. How much you tighten it is up to you, but just remember to take it slowly. It's also a good idea to take days off with your waist training, as wearing a corset constantly could be detrimental to your health.

6. Common Corset Myths 

We've already listed some of the purported benefits of wearing a corset, but you should be aware that there are actually a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding this beautiful item of clothing. That's why we've taken it upon ourselves to educate you by debunking 10 of the most common corset myths out there.

1. Myth number one: corsets break your bones
It is likely that this stems from the wearing of corsets during the Victorian period when women reportedly went to extreme lengths to attain a tiny waist. But as far as breaking bones is concerned, it is pretty much impossible for a corset to exert enough force to break a bone. This is unless, of course, you have pre-existing health problems. To break a bone, the corset would have to be pulled so tight that it would become agonizingly painful before any bones would break.

2. Myth number two: corsets cause you to faint
It definitely stands to reason that wearing an overly tight corset can restrict the breathing, the same way that you can feel restricted when you're wearing a tight sports bra. In this scenario, a person may not be able to inhale deeply enough into the lungs to accommodate full, deep breaths. But this does not mean that corsets cause you to faint! If you wear a corset responsibly, then there should be no issues at all.

3. Myth number three: corsets deform your internal organs
It has been claimed that corsets can cause misshapen internal organs because they apply pressure on the midsection of the body. During the Victorian period, it was thought that this could cause abnormal or deformed livers, but it is now believed that this misdiagnosis was due to a simple lack of medical knowledge at the time.

4. Myth number four: corsets are uncomfortable
If your corset is uncomfortable, then this just means that you have the wrong size or that you have laced your corset incorrectly. We have gone to great lengths in this eBook to teach you about the correct sizing and lacing of your corset, so if you arm yourself with knowledge, then the issue of comfort should be no issue at all.

5. Myth number five: corsets can be used to shed fat
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was true? But, unfortunately, this claim is totally false. While waist training can be used to make you appear slimmer by reducing the size of your waist, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that states corsets can be used to shed fat.

6. Myth number six: wearing a corset will significantly affect your movement
Again this myth comes about probably because some people are not aware of how to lace up a corset correctly, or the importance of wearing the correct size for their body type. While you will feel a very slight amount of restriction from wearing such a tight, rigid item of clothing, this should not stop you from performing day-to-day tasks at all.

7. Myth number seven: corsets are only used for aesthetic purposes. While corsets tops are beautiful, a fashionable item of clothing, there are actually medical grade corsets available to treat certain medical conditions. This is because corsets are classed as a type of 'support' clothing, and can help with specific problems such as back pain and hypermobility syndrome, as we have already discussed.

8. Myth number eight: it takes two people to put on a corset
Again this is absolutely false. While it may be easier to have somebody else help you to put on your corset, it is absolutely possible to do so alone. It’s merely a case of wrapping the corset around your waist, doing up the busk at the front and then reaching behind to pull on the strings in the center of the corset, similar to the way you would put on an apron. It's not that difficult!

9. Myth number nine: waist training will permanently alter your skeleton
This myth probably stems from the true fact that waist training can actually alter your ribs, drawing them inward and making your waist appear smaller. Remember how we spoke about floating ribs earlier on? It is true that these bones can be manipulated into a different shape, but the results are in no way permanent. Once you stop waist training, your bone structure will return back to normal.

10. Myth number 10: waist training with a cincher is the same as with a corset
We’ve already made the distinction between elasticated waist trainers and corsets. Since a corset top can be tied tighter over time, it means that you can achieve semi-permanent results if you want to change your silhouette through waist training. And elasticated waist cincher, however, will only improve the appearance of your silhouette while you are wearing the garment.

7. Some final tips on wearing corsets

Now that you’ve seen some of the beautiful things that corsets have to offer, we thought we’d leave you with some handy tips for if you’re planning on purchasing your first corset, beginning waist training, or looking to dive headfirst into the wonderful world of corsetry.

Although plenty of women may avoid corsets because they worry about finding the right shape and size, or just because they aren’t aware of the vast array of different types and styles available, we hope that we’ve given you enough information to make an informed decision.

7.1.1 A Summary of Important Things to Remember:

When selecting the right type of corset for you, make sure you’re armed with your measurements and have a good idea what body type you are. Even if you don’t end up using all of the measurements when you buy your corset, it’s always good to have these handy.

If you’re in doubt about what sort of corset to go for, pick something that you know will work with the outfits that you currently own. The critical thing to remember is that buying a corset is just like buying any other item of clothing; pick a style that you love and then go from there.

The lacing of the corset is very important. If your corset is only for decorative purposes, then corsets laced with ribbon are absolutely beautiful. If you’re planning on cinching in your waist or starting waist training, and you should opt for a corset that has laces rather than ribbon.

If you are planning on waist training with your corset, make sure you opt for a high-quality item with stays and metal eyelets.

Always take the time to care for your corset correctly. Make sure you clean your corset correctly and avoid prolonged use of the same corset day after day.

7.1.2 Some Quick and Dirty Corset-Styling Tips

There are a lot of choices when it comes how to wear your corset, so it pretty much depends on your personal style and the type of corset top that you’ve decided to go for. Most corsets look amazing with floor-length skirts, or conversely with some skintight leggings and miniskirts.

Underbust corsets can look elegant with the classic white shirt and a pencil skirt, so you don’t need to worry about feeling overdressed. If you buy a corset that is plain, you can mix and match and add it to various different outfits, and even try wearing corsets over dresses or just as regular corset top.

An understated overbust corset can really brighten up a pair of everyday jeans and a cute cardigan, cinching in your waist and accentuating your hips. And as far as tops go, a good button-down with a slim fit can complement any look, or if you really want to go with something more striking, try a halter-neck corset, cinched round over the top of the Victorian blouse.

But, if your main aim is to sport a tiny waist, you can just slip on a cute plain corset underneath your day-to-day outfits, and enjoy your new, striking silhouette.

We could go on, as there are literally hundreds of different outfit combinations that you can create using corsets. But ultimately, the style you create is down to you. Once you start shopping around for corsets, you’ll definitely land on the style that suits you most, and gain a ton of outfit inspiration in the process. And we sincerely hope that this guide has been the first dose of that inspiration for you.

If you only take one thing away from this comprehensive beginners guide to corsets, we hope that it’s this; corsets tops are stylish, they’re safe – and they’re an excellent addition to anybody’s wardrobe!


Shopping for Corsets & Bustiers

Shop for sexy corset tops and bustiers at RebelsMarket at cheap prices. We carry many high-quality sexy corsets tops for women that come in all styles and sizes from regular size to plus size corset and bustier options. Each piece features strong but flexible fabrics like cotton, satin, and leather.

They are an attractive option to wear either under or over your clothes. Consider it an excellent way to add a little bit of sex appeal to any outfit and you can even pair it with matching sexy lingerie.

Corset tops and bustiers are often confused, however, what is the difference between them? Well, let’s learn a little bit more about these stunning pieces of clothing. Corset tops are meant to tighten through the use of rear laces or front steel busk closure clasps, while bustier tops are considered to be a fancier shapewear bra combination that helps to smooth out your midsection and offer some support for breasts.

While they may seem expensive to look at, we have cheap corsets for sale that will fit any budget. RebelsMarket believes that every woman deserves to feel sexy and there is no better way than to sport a sexy corset dress or a shaping steel boned corset paired with some stunning heels and intricate gorgeous necklace and earrings.

Shop cheap corsets on sale today,  made from high-quality materials. We handpick our low priced corsets from leather, steel boned to waist clinchers from the best indie brands and stores from around the world.

When you are looking for the perfect sexy corset, try to keep your personal style in mind. There are so many different styles; you will find one that will match your personality and any occasion. Punk rockers, goths, boho beauties, biker babes, and rockabillies can all sport this alluring look. For example, you can create a beautiful silhouette by wearing a white bustier top, black steampunk gothic skirt, punk style boots, and a black choker for a different prom or homecoming look or pair a black corset with some tattered jeans for an understated but sexy look for the club.


How to Style Over-bust, Under-bust & Steel Boned Corsets

Looking for a cute corset? You've found the right place! There's nothing like a corset to make you feel and look amazing, and whether you are looking for leather or lace, silk or satin, edgy or romantic, you'll find the perfect style to bring your inner pinup girl out to play.

Creating a unique and sexy look has never been easier with the wide varieties of alternative style clothing. There are many different options to choose when taking your sex appeal up a notch or two; underbust corset styles are meant to fit right under the breasts to make them comfortable to wear under clothing, whereas overbust corsets can be worn under clothes or as tops. So you will always find the perfect corset top for every occasion.

A more traditional white corset is a great foundation piece for a classic and sensual look. They work well for weddings or everyday events. However, if you are looking for something that’s a little more sinful you can always try out a beautiful burgundy or bright red corset worn with a sassy skirt and torn leather leggings.

There are great options for holidays too! We have great options for Christmas, Halloween, New Years, and you can even sport a green corset for St.Patty’s day or an orange number for Halloween. Why not mix and match them with a great pair of skinny jeans, awesome skull cameos, and cute platforms to create the perfect look for every day of the year at affordable prices.

Once you have chosen your perfect top, it is important to know how to care for your new clothing. For corsets and bustiers, you want to take extra special care of them. We recommend that you bring them to a dry cleaner or spot clean them with a mild detergent and allow it to dry. You can also use a quick spritz of fabric freshener on the inside linings to keep them fresh longer between cleanings.  Just make sure that they are perfectly dry before hanging them up. The extra TLC will ensure the longevity of your sexy new clothes.