There are so many different corsets and corset-style tops around today, It can be difficult to differentiate and tell which are good value for money. This how-to should help you to know what to look for in a corset and hopefully stop you from getting ripped off.
- Decide that you want a real corset, not just a bodice, you will need to look at the boning. All good quality modern corsets are made with steel boning of some kind, which serves the purpose of holding the fabric taut and stopping it from going into folds at your waist and bunching at the back where it laces up. The boning in tops and bodices is usually just thin plastic, so don't make the mistake of imagining you will be able to wear a normal boned top as a corset. To test if the boning is good enough, bend it quite sharply and it should spring back. If it kinks, it's a sure sign that it will dig in to your waist and be very uncomfortable.
- It doesn't matter if the boning around the corset is slightly more flexible, as long as the bones at the front and back are fairly rigid.
- Realize that an important feature to look for is the fabric. Even if you won't be "tight lacing", you still need a strong fabric like coutil, drill, heavyweight canvas etc. Corsets usually have a fashion fabric and a lining, so you might not be able to see the strong layer but you will be able to feel that it is quite tough. Take it in both hands and yank the fabric - It should feel very sturdy with no give whatsoever. If the fabric is thin enough to scrunch in your hand, it won't be sturdy enough. Incidentally, if the shop assistant thinks you're damaging it - it probably won't be strong enough!
- Know that asteel busk is the usual fastening for the front of a corset, and with a very few exceptions it's really the only type of fastener which is strong enough. Normal wire hooks & eyes will not last long, and likewise zips are best avoided. A busk looks like a piece of fairly solid steel boning with loops and studs (a bit like hooks & eyes) attached. If a corset doesn't have a busk, it will need to have some other kind of solid boning down the front.
- Know that laces down the back of the corset are usually flat cotton ones, like shoelaces.
- Some types of ribbon can be used, but they have to be really strong. Eyelets should be very well attached, otherwise they might pop off. Check that they have washers on the back, rather than just gripping into the fabric. There should also be solid boning either side of the eyelets to distribute the tension.
- Realize that style and fit of a corset can be the biggest issue especially if you are an unusual shape. Corsets are always sized by waist measurement, not dress size. The number on the label will be something like "22" "24" "26" etc, which is the actual measurement in inches of the waistline of the corset. You will need one about 4 inches smaller than your own waist, so you can lace in a bit and have a gap in the laces. Corsets are designed to give a curvy figure to an average-shaped person, so if you are already quite curvy, you might need to get a "tight lacing" corset which has bigger hips, or even better yet, get one made-to-measure.
- When buying a corset online, ask what the bust and hip measurements are, so you know if it will suit your figure.
- Buy the best you can afford, even if you have no intention of waist training.
- If you are an unusual shape, or if you want to start serious waist training, you will probably need to get a corset made-to-measure
- Look at how curvy a corset is. You will need one which is curvier than you already are.
- Corsets are expensive. However, you're not paying for some designer label to line their pockets, you're paying for the actual hours that are put into making it - it's a lot like haute couture fashion.
- The most oft-repeated advice with corsets is that you get what you pay for! Most corsets are at least £100, so if it's only 20 quid it won't last 10 minutes.
- Don't buy a (so called) corset from a high street chain store, they're only designed to last for about 3 christmas parties.