The practice of wearing a corset has been around for hundreds of years. And there’s a reason why: when it comes to creating feminine curves, corsets work. Modern-day corsets might look a little different, but they’re here for the same reason. However, since not everyone wears them anymore, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what corsets CAN and CAN’T do.
Let’s take a dive; here’s the truth about what a corset can do to your body.
What is a Corset?
First, let’s be clear about what a corset is. These days, there are many options when it comes to shaping undergarments, and not all of them are the same. Generally speaking, corsets are belt-like garments that you wear around your midsection with the intent to slim your waist, flatten your tummy and lift the bust. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with “girdle,” although a girdle can have a built-in panty, while a corset generally does not. Modern corsets come in a few different forms. One of the most popular is a waist cincher, also called a waist trainer. Typically this style provides slimming with latex panels that are held in place with closures at the front of the garment (such as hook-and-eyes, zippers and Velcro).
The classic corset style, however, doesn’t use latex to compress to midsection; rather it is designed with a lace-up back that is pulled tight. The bodice is constructed with materials like satin, cotton or even mesh, with flexible steel boning to keep it in place. We often refer to this style as a “steel-boned corset.”
It’s also worth noting that different forms of corsets can come in underbust and overbust styles. Overbust styles are typically used for costuming or sometimes in formal/bridal attire, while underbust styles are useful for everyday corset wear and slimming.
There is some confusion because a lot of these terms for corsets can be used loosely and interchangeably. For the rest of this article, we’ll be primarily referring to the underbust steel-boned corset, as that is the classic style used for corseting. However, we’ll also refer to latex cinchers and vests when relevant.
How Does Corseting Work?
Now that we’re clear on what a corset is, let’s talk about how one works. If you were to put on any style of corset and fasten it tight, you’d experience the immediate effect of it slimming your midsection. For this reason, some people prefer to use corset-style garments for special occasions or for certain outfits. However, that’s not the only way to experience the benefits. Many corset wearers like to follow a regimen called waist training (or corseting, especially if you’re using a steel-boned corset). This is the practice of wearing a corset-style garment daily for at least 8 hours.
You can practice waist training with an underbust steel-boned corset or a latex cincher, depending on your preferences. The purpose is to provide slimming every day, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, to support your long-term slimming goals.
There are several ways this works.
One way is that waist training/corseting works by stimulating heat and perspiration in your core. This is especially helpful when you’re working out, which is why workout waist trainers are some of our most popular styles. Wearing a corset has a combination of other effects that work together in order to help you reach your goals. It supports your posture and the way you carry yourself, and can also help your clothes fit better. These effects can improve your confidence and help you feel motivated to stick to your healthy lifestyle.
You may also find that you are reminded to keep your portions small, since your waistline won’t be able to expand as much when under tight compression.
Everyone’s experience with corseting is a little bit different when it comes to results. It all depends on your mindset, your goals, your lifestyle and your dedication to the practice. Check out our before and after gallery to see its effects on different women.
So What Exactly Does a Corset Do to Your Body?
As we’ve noted, there are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding the question of what a corset actually does to your body? Does it hurt anything? Does it shift your organs? Does it cause permanent change?
A corset can do wonders for your figure when you wear it properly. That is what it's designed to do: slim your midsection to give you hourglass curves.
What about prolonged use?
When you wear a corset as part of a corseting routine (8–12 hours a day), all a properly fitting corset does is provide compression around your midsection, which can also result in increased heat and perspiration. It also holds your posture in a straighter position. If you experience any discomfort or pain while wearing a corset, this is a sign that the garment does not fit properly; you should remove it immediately. You may also find that you get hot while wearing one, especially during an intense workout or in a warmer climate. Again, in that case, we recommend removing your corset if you experience discomfort.
Another concern we hear about is whether a corset “shifts” your organs. That is a somewhat misleading question because your organs are perfectly fine if they move around a bit. They are soft tissue and that is completely normal. They shift when you eat a large meal, go for a run, have a full bladder, drink a lot of water or have a baby growing inside of you. That doesn’t mean they are going to go hurtling out of place.
Compression from a corset is naturally going to put gentle pressure on your midsection (that’s how it works). The biggest effect you’ll notice is that you may feel constricted when you try to eat a large meal, since your stomach won’t be able to expand as much as it would otherwise. You may find this to be a helpful reminder to limit your portion sizes!
That being said, as far as permanent change goes, a corset does not have that kind of power on its own. When you take a corset off, your midsection is going to revert to its natural shape. Long-term, your figure may change as the result of pairing corseting with a healthy lifestyle like regular exercise, a positive mindset and a nutritious diet. But a corset is not going to transform your body into something it’s not.