Corset 101

What Size of Corset to Get?

When ordering a corset it is important to know your bust (OB), under bust (UB), upper waist and hip measurements.
Once you know your measurements you will want to choose your silhouette level. [The number of inches you want in difference from your bust to waist and from you hip to waist]

Brand new corset wearers should error on the side of too big and work their way down into a smaller corset to prevent damage to the corset as well as from harming themselves.

Sillhouette Level

Bust to Waist Ratio

Hip to Waist Ratio
Level One:
4 – 5 inches (UB)
5 – 6 inches (OB)
6 – 7 inches
Level Two:
5 – 6 inches (UB)
7- 8 inches (OB)
7 – 9 inches
Level Three:
6 + inches (UB)
8 + inches (OB)
10 + inches

If you plan on training your waist we suggest going 4 – 7 inches smaller than your natural waist size. Keep in mind that lean muscle doesn’t train nearly as well as fat tissue. This is known as the “squish factor”. If you are tall and have extra fluff you may find that 8 – 10 inches is not too extreme a reduction.

What is Waist Training?

Traditionally “waist training” referred to the use of steel boned corsets to develop an exaggerated hourglass shape. By cinching a corset tighter and tighter, the waist trainer corset was able to pull in a woman’s floating ribs and even do a bit of rearranging of her internal organs to effectively reduce the circumference of her waist. The effect is semi-permanent, requiring continued corseting even after the goal reduction has been achieved.
More recently, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose have redefined the term with the use of latex waist cinchers during workouts, shifting the entire concept of waist training (we refer to this practice as “waist taming”). Women discussing “waist training” these days are, more often than not, likely discussing it as a part of their workout plan.

How Long Does it Take to Waist Train?

Waist training takes different amounts of time for different people. There are a number of factors that go into how long it will take to train your waist that include (but are not limited to): diet, exercise and how many hours a day/week you cinch.

Is it Dangerous to Cinch Your Waist?

It can be, if done incorrectly.

​The media loves to tell the horror stories of the corset wearers who have gone too far. You can easily find them by Googling the subject. Cathy Jung  is a fantastic example of extreme training. The truth of the matter is that anything can be over done and cause damage.If you are interested in the other side of the argument Lucy’s Corsetry has a wonderful composition of benefits  a person can gain by wearing a corset.

There are also some myths about waist cinching that float around that can cause concern.
The first being the well known quote “no pain, no gain”. If your corset is causing you pain loosen it or take it off completely! Listen to your body and you will be just fine.

The second is the controversy that corsets can break your ribs or that ribs must be removed for a corset to properly function. There is absolutely no evidence that anyone has ever had a rib removed for waist training. In the Victorian Era (when corsets were a regular essential part of fashion) it would have been been extremely risky to have this sort of surgery.

​Your “floating” ribs at the bottom of your rib cage will move in as you waist train. However, once the corset is removed your ribs will pop back out. Not instantly though. If you engage in more extreme round the clock tight lacing you will certainly notice your dramatic shape after removing your corset, but your ribs and flesh will begin to return to their former shape.

As for breaking ribs, that is also nearly impossible. It takes more force than most of us can muster to break a rib. This Victorian myth most likely stems from the fact that early corsets were made from whale boning (Baleen) and those bones did certainly break. So it wasn’t that the corset was breaking ribs but that the corset “rib bones” were breaking.

Putting On And Taking Off Your Corset

We highly suggest wearing a chemise or shirt under your corset. By wearing something under the corset you avoid the sweat and natural oils you skin rubs off onto the lining, which means you can clean it less frequently. If you are wearing an under bust corset, it is possible to purchase tube tops specifically to go underneath.
Ensure the corset is loosened completely before going to put it on. This is to ensure you don’t force the pins and have them pop out or warp your busk. Use a mirror to see what you are doing. Ensure the corset is lined up straight to your center, do up the busk and then pull the center pull loops (aka rabbit ears) to tighten the back. Fix the modesty panel and then going from the top of the corset towards the middle tighten the exes. Fix the modest panel again, re-tighten using the pull loops and then tighten the exes from the bottom of the corset up to the middle. Fix the modesty panel once more and “tie” the corset.

One mistake many corset wearers make is wearing their laces tied around their waist. This will abrade the fabric of the corset and lessen its lifetime. Instead, if you don’t like to leave your laces dangling, tuck the lace ends under the bottom of your corset.
If you need to replace the lace in your corset, we suggest doing so with a polyester ribbon that can be purchased from any craft or fabric store. Measure your previous lace to get the appropriate length and adjust as needed, remembering that it is always easy to make them shorter.

When you go to take off your corset ensure to loosen the lace all the way to avoid unnecessary stress on the busk and boning. Then undo the busk.
Once the corset is off you can spot clean it with mild detergent, delicately wiped down with a damp cloth or take it in for dry cleaning, if needed. Never put it into a washing machine because the boning will warp and bend. Instead of rolling it up, hang the corset with the inside facing out, using the strings to balance it. This allows the corset to breathe and protects the outer fabric from being damaged. The fibers will relax back into shape, and, well, the fresh air will do it good, scent-wise.

Published by Lady Bowering

Lady Bowering is a Canadian life form who finds amusement in making up stories to the actions that people and creatures around her display. In her spare time Lady Bowering can often be found with a cup of tea in hand or using her especially useful talent of napping. A self proclaimed digital-hippie, art lover and a recovering interobang addict she dreams of one day owning a business of her own; as long as she can survive the tickle attacks her family dares to inflict upon her!

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