Since there are so many different practical uses for corsets (and so many body types to wear them), they come in several different lengths, styles and cuts. If you’re new to corseting and don’t know which is best for you, here’s what you need to know.
First Things First: What is a Corset?
There are a lot of corset-like garments out there. It helps to know that they come in several categories including hook-and-eye closure cinchers (also frequently called waist trainers), steel-boned corsets and bustiers. Here’s the rundown on each:
Cinchers: These are underbust garments that typically use latex or other compression fabrics to provide the compression and can be adjusted by moving the hooks to a second or third row. They come in various lengths; short styles are typically best for workouts or petite stature, while longer lengths provide more coverage and compression for your whole midsection.
Bustiers/longline bras: These are an overbust style and provide all-in-one bust support and waist slimming. Typically they are worn as undergarments, especially for strapless dresses. Certain styles make flirty outerwear and costume pieces as well.
Steel-boned corsets: This is the traditional style of corset, which dramatically slims the waist using flexible steel boning in the bodice and a lace-up back that can be firmly tightened. While bustiers and cinchers can also use steel boning sometimes, this is typically a defining feature of lace-up corsets.
For the remainder of this article, we’ll mostly be referring to lace-up corsets when discussing length, although we’ll refer to the other types occasionally.
Short, or “Waspie” Underbust Style
Short lace-up corsets, sometimes called “waspies,” are very effective at creating a sharply defined waist tape effect. Since they provide less coverage for the lower abdomen and emphasize the natural waist, you can get a very dramatic hourglass result.
A couple of our favourites are a mesh style waspie and short underbust corsets made from satin or cotton. All of these styles taper at the front abdomen while leaving the hips free.
Short corsets are a sexy way to add definition underneath your everyday clothing and can be used as part of an ongoing waist training regimen. Short corsets are also well suited to wear as outerwear, as they will fit easily over a thin fabric top. So if you want to dress up for Halloween or make a statement, a shorter style can be your best bet.
Long Underbust Corsets
A longer style corset is the way to go if you want to get more all-over slimming power from your corset. It will provide definition at your natural waist just like the short style corset does, but it won’t stop there. Longer corsets provide compression and shaping from beneath the bust all the way to the hips, providing coverage for the lower abdomen and preventing pooching.
Long corsets are typically a favourite for waist training because of the all-over compression they provide, which will stimulate heat and perspiration over a larger surface area of the torso. This can be especially effective for combating love handles and muffin top. They will also provide the most posture correction.
For this reason, long corsets are a favourite for every day as well as professional attire and can be worn easily underneath a variety of styles, from casual tops and jeans to pantsuits.
Latex cinchers also come in longer styles that are effective as shapewear underneath your clothes as well as an ongoing waist training regimen. In general, steel-boned corsets will give you a more dramatic slimming effect and may last longer, depending on how much you wear them.
Curved Versus Straight Underbust
You might notice that underbust corsets come in either a straight cut or a curved cut at the top. Often shorter corsets will have a straight top, although longer corsets can sometimes be cut this way as well.
In general, curved underbust styles provide more coverage for the whole torso and support for the bust than straight top styles. Which you prefer really depends on what effect you are going for.
If you would like extra support for your bust as well as coverage near your bra line, the curvy top is the way to go. If you prefer a bit more wiggle room around the top of the corset, want a dramatic waistline, and don’t require as much coverage for the lower abdomen and just beneath the bust, then a straight top is the way to go. It’s worth noting, however, that a corset with a straight top will also give you additional bust support and posture correction.
Longline Bra Overbust Style
If you want an overbust style with the slimming effect of a corset, a longline bra is the way to go. They can come in a variety of lengths, depending on what your slimming needs are.
If you primarily want superior bust support with a strapless top or dress, a longline bra that provides more support and coverage around the bust will give you firm support that doesn’t shift. It’s similar to a normal strapless bra you may be accustomed to, but it will provide additional control around your bra line and lift your breasts, for fuller cleavage. And because it lacks a traditional bra strap, you’ll eliminate any worries about the “bra bulge” around the underarms and back.
If you choose a longer overbust style, you’ll get the benefits of a longline bra along with some waist slimming effect. This style of shapewear is ideal for bridal attire as it provides a smooth, supportive foundation underneath many styles of gowns.
How to Find the Ideal Corset
While there are a lot of choices when it comes to picking the best corset, it doesn’t have to be a difficult decision once you narrow down what you are looking for. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when shopping for the ideal corset.
What occasion will you be wearing it for? If you’re dressing up for a special occasion, usually an overbust corset will be a good choice, although some women like the slimming power of underbust styles. If you choose an underbust steel-boned corset or even a latex cincher, make sure you break the garment in before the big day, which will also give your body the opportunity to adjust to the way it feels. Cinchers and steel-boned corsets are the best options if you want to start an everyday waist training regimen.
What are your trouble areas? Most people benefit from a slimmer waist, but if you need more coverage for your upper back or lower abdomen, you will probably want to choose a garment that provides coverage for those areas.
What result do you want? If you want a statement piece with a dramatic flair, a short, waspie-style corset will get the job done. If you want more coverage and slimming for your whole torso, a longer underbust corset will give you the best results. And if you want to get better results from your workouts, a cincher will be your go-to garment. In general, note that steel-boned lace-up corsets will give you the most powerful slimming results.
What style do you prefer? Sometimes, deciding on a corset all comes down to a matter of personal preference. Some people love the various styles of cinchers, particularly colourful workout bands. Others want to be able to wear a cincher or corset discreetly under clothing. Still, others want a dramatic effect from the corseting, like the sharp results of a waspie, or the way that different corsets can be styled as outerwear.