|A corset from 1885|
A corset is a historical undergarment that is meant to support the breasts, give you a certain shape, hold up stockings and usually reduce your waist. It's made with sturdy boning and has laces in the back. Today is still used by goths, people in the fetish / BDSM community, completely ''normal'' women and men and many more.
The main two types of corsets are underbusts and overbusts - I guess it's pretty obvious what that means. There are also waist cinchers / waspies (''belt sized'' corsets, which is good for short-waisted people like me), waistcoat corsets and more.
Corsets do NOT damage your organs. Pregnancy REALLY pushes your organs around, but nobody is asking why women want to become pregnant. Our organs are squishy and movable - when you do everyday activities, your organs move around. They're supposed to! As for making breathing difficult, studies have shown that corsets take away a small portion of lung capacity - But not enough to affect us, since humans rarely use our full lung capacity. Corsets can actually be a good tool for controlling your breathing - Many of opera singers use corsets!
Corsets are NOT painful. A corset is like a shoe - if it's too small, of course it hurts to squeeze into. The most common mistake is that people squeeze into a corset that is WAY too small or not curvy enough for them, making it really uncomfortable. You could potentially hurt yourself! But a corset in the right size does not hurt, it should feel like a hug.
|A corset from 1876|
Most ''corsets'' you see sold as part of costumes, in lingerie stores, on ebay, and a bunch of other sites online are not real corsets. These are usually made with thin materials, plastic boning, hook and eye or zipper closure and have barely any curve to them - At best they look like this: )-( - or even worse, they look like tubes. But of course, they will try to trick you into that it's a real corset! Often they will lace the back to make it look like it's curvy. So if you don't see any photos of the back, this is a red flag. Other red flags: XS/S/M/L/XL sizing, corsets that are not modeled on actual humans, and photos that might be stolen. Another thing these crooks can do is phrase the description like ''Steel busk and bones'' - To make it sound like it has steel bones, but it's only the busk that has it. Sneaky, I know.
If you want to wear these, that's absolutely fine, just be aware they aren't corsets. So these are good if you don't want to reduce your waist, maybe just show off your natural figure.
|Lacing does not make a corset|
This kind of goes hand in hand with fake corsets - I see this as kind of a middle ground. Fashion corsets can technically be corsets, but they aren't as good quality, and not very curvy. This is probably the more popular kind, at least from what I've seen. I also thought that these were proper corsets, until I knew about waist training / tightlacing corsets. Fashion corsets are made by pretty decent brands and sometimes cost a lot, making people think this is as good as it gets. They often have steel bones. But like I mentioned above, they look more tubular and aren't very curvy. Often they can even add more bulk to your waist than reduce it! Not cute. Usually they only provide you with the measurement at the waist of a closed corset and nothing else - So you won't really know if it will fit your ribs, hips or the length of your torso. That's why people with these types of corsets often have '')-('' lacing gaps - this shows that the corset is too small in the ribs and hips. Lacing it like that also damages the corset over time, especially since these corsets aren't very good quality.
But not everyone is into waist training or tightlacing, so some prefer these types of corsets. They come in a range of designs and prices, so if you just want to wear corsets to jazz up an outfit without much of a waist reduction, this is good for you. I recommend trying these in person if you can.
|A fashion corset|
First off, it's not the Kim Kardashian thing with that tube - Sweating doesn't make you thinner. If it did, everyone would get thinner in hot environments, right? A waist training corset is made with strong and durable materials that can handle the tension of daily wear. Waist training is wearing a corset to make your waist smaller over time. It does not make you lose weight, but it can give you a nicer figure. The results are semi-permanent though. If you stop wearing corsets, your body will eventually go back again to its original shape. Waist training can be a couple of hours a day most days of the week, up to 23/7 (that last hour is for shower, changing clothes, working out, etc.) - Yes, that means that dedicated waist trainers sleep in a corset. Usually a corset they've ''outshrunk'', with a pillow under the waist.
Waist training is definitely not for children / teenagers / people who are still growing. It is a form of body modification after all. If you are in that category, start with a fashion corset.
2-6'' is a good reduction to start with, like with fashion corsets. Everyone's body is different. It is not recommended to waist train in an overbust, as this restricts lung capacity and movement.
|A waist training corset from Mystic City Corsets|
Corseting to achieve a small waist for just a short amount of time is known as tightlacing. Some say tightlacing is a reduction of 4 inches or more, but everyone's bodies are different, so some say a 20% reduction. You should not be laced so tight that you are uncomfortable or in pain.
Sometimes the term tightlacing is used interchangeably with waist training, so that can get confusing. Tightlacing corsets don't need to be as sturdy as waist training corsets, since you won't be wearing them as often.
Getting the right corset size is CRUCIAL, as an ill-fitting corset could hurt you. Corset sizing isn't as easy as S/M/L, nor just 2-6'' smaller than your waist and getting that size (though the latter is common with fashion corsets).
A corset should be the right vertical length, and fit your underbust and hips when closed (or at the gap you prefer). If you want an overbust, you need to take those measurements into account too. For custom made corsets, there are even more measurements to take into account (custom is definitely recommended if you want to waist train).
Measure your torso length while you're sitting. Sometimes you need underbust to waist and waist to lap (+ waist to bust if you want a longer corset). Underbust, waist, upper hip and hip should be fairly obvious. Now you have what you need to shop for a corset!
Often a corset shop will list the ''springs'' of a corset in the description, instead of listing every measurement for every size. This means the difference between the bust and waist, and waist and hips. For example an 18'' corset with a 6'' rib spring and an 8'' (upper) hip spring, is 24'' at the underbust and 26'' at the hip. The springs will be the same for each size. That's why you can't size down in the same corset model. Using the same example as before, for me to size down to a 16'', I would need a rib spring of 8'' and an upper hip spring of 10'', so I can still close it. Yes I'm tiny, ok.
If you are getting an off the rack corset, it's not guaranteed that you'll find a corset that matches your measurements. But you can give yourself a little wiggle room by wearing corsets with a gap, and taking squish into account (your flesh doesn't disappear, it moves!). You can also lace your corset in a slight V or A-shape - this does not damage the corset. But )-( and (-) shaped gaps can.
|Woman in 1900|
Some people say this isn't necessary, it depends from person to person, and corset to corset. Seasoning is both for your body and the corset itself; you getting used to it, and the corset softening and shaping to your body, like new shoes. Note, if a corset seller says you have to season it for it to fit, this is definitely a red flag, cause this is WRONG. A corset in the wrong size is not going to fit you better no matter how much you try to ''season'' it.
The standard method of seasoning a corset is the 2-2-2 method; 2 inch reduction for 2 hours a day for 2 weeks. I kind of followed this with my MCC6, and after two weeks it was much softer and more comfortable. But the most important thing is to listen to your body. You don't want to hurt yourself! And remember, the first time you wear a new corset, it's normal to have gaps at the ribs and hips - remember that it's supposed to fit when you close it / reach your goal (some like to wear corsets with a gap).
I hope that that gave people some more information about corsets! Sadly most people don't have much knowledge about them. They are definitely not bad for you, in fact quite the opposite! They help a lot of people with confidence, medical issues, anxiety and lots more.
If you are interested in corsets, I definitely recommend Lucy Corsetry! She has tons of great articles (and video versions, for those that prefer that), as well as a corset database, size calculator, and a directory of corset dimensions!
There's also facebook groups like The Tightlacing Society and The Corset Society where you can meet other people interested in corsets, get advice and be inspired by all the beautiful bodies!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to answer them!