The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

This entry is a summary of the review video “Shape of your Corset Gap – What does it mean?” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 Shape/ meaning

Brands to avoid for your body type

Brands to consider for your body type

A shape

The A Shape

The A shape

This means that your hips are too wide for this corset pattern. This type of gap is common for women who are naturally a pear shape. Do NOT try to force the hips smaller because then you may get an odd bump at the lower edge of the corset, and it can also make your hips go numb.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, or the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. For those who have a larger hipspring, look for corsets for vintage figures: What Katie Did or Isabella Corsetry are good choices. They have a hipspring of more than 12-14 inches.

V shape

The V shape

The V shape

This means that your ribcage or shoulders are too broad or fleshy for the corset. While it is possible to train down your ribcage, it’s unlikely that you can train it right from the very top edge.  This often occurs in swimmers or in men who wear women’s corsets.

Corsets that have a relatively narrow ribcage, which include some WKD underbusts. For standard corsets with a larger ribcage, try Timeless Trends and the CS-426 from Orchard Corset.

() shape

The () shape

The () shape

This is when you have gaping at the waist – the bones in the back are either too flexible, or the waist is too small than you’re ready for. This CAN ruin the corset because it’s forcing the bones to twist in their channels. It can even make the bones kink outward or inward into your back, which is quite uncomfortable.

Avoid corset patterns that are curvier than you are ready for. If you have a very “unyielding” figure, you may have to train down before buying corsets like WKD or Isabella.  I’d recommend you start with a larger corset size, or go for a corset that makes more gentle/ natural hourglass or slim silhouettes like Timeless Trends.

)( shape

The )( shape

The )( shape

This is when your body is more of an hourglass shape than the corset itself! The corset doesn’t have enough curve in it. BEWARE of this common trick on websites! They will use models who are naturally quite curvy and this will make their corsets curvier. A corset that is modelled with a gap like this in the back will likely look more tubular when it’s laced straight.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. Try What Katie Did Morticia corset, the Curvy Girl corset from Azrael’s Accomplice, or several options available from Isabella Corsetry or Ms Martha’s corset shop.


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 2.33.47 AM

The // shape

A diagonal but fairly parallel gap means that the corset fits your ribcage, waist and hips reasonably well but it is twisting on the body. There are several reasons why this may be happening: 1. If the corset is made with twill and all of the panels have the twill running in the same direction. Twill, while strong, has an asymmetric weave so stretches more on one bias than another. To test if your corset has stretched differently on either side, measure the ½ circumference on each side of your corset at ribcage, waist and hips. See if both sides are equal. 2. It may just have been how you put the corset on that day! Always lace in front of a mirror to avoid tying it skewed. If you notice your corset is twisted, take it off immediately and put it on again straight. It is possible for a corset to season into a permanent twisted shape! 3. It may not be the corset, but rather your body that is asymmetric. If you have any of the following then this can make a symmetric corset look asymmetric:

  • scoliosis
  • a previously broken rib
  • one leg longer than the other
  • some other skeletal or muscular asymmetry
In the first situation, I recommend not buying corsets made with twill – or if they are made with twill, make sure the corsetiere is experienced enough to sew it perfectly on grain, and to flip every other panel so that the bias of all panels don’t run in the same direction.Also, as bad as it sounds, avoid “risky investments.” Ensure that your corsetiere is scrutinous about making each half of the corset the same way, and to specification (whether symmetric or asymmetric). In the last situation (physical asymmetry), I strongly suggest finding an experienced corsetiere who can fit you with an asymmetric corset, which will then end up looking symmetric on you!


This is the coveted vertical parallel gap! Some people prefer to have no space in the back, while others like about 2 inches of space so the back edges don’t touch the spine. Either way, your corset fits you well. Congratulations!

 Make sure that your corset is not too big for you; when the corset is closed there shouldn’t be any significant gaping between your ribcage and the top edge of the corset, or your hips and the bottom edge of your corset.  You’re very lucky, my friend! If  You’ve found an off-the-rack corset that fits you nearly as well as a custom corset. If it makes you look good and feel good, then take it and run!

Final Thoughts: Many people have no problem with the shape of their corset gap (after all, the wearer doesn’t have to see it!). If this is you, then continue rocking your corset just the way you like it. However if you, like me, are a little more conscientious about achieving the vertical parallel lines of a well-fit corset, I hope these suggestions can help you choose a better off-the-rack corset for next time – and if all else fails, go custom! If you enjoyed this article, or even if you need clarification, you may also like my “Addendum to Corset Gaps: Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues

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29 comments on “The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

  1. Hawke on said:

    Hi, I got a custom made corset as I didnt find that off the rack corsets fit very well. As an underbust, my measurements were 31 (underbust), 24, 31, (full bust and hip 34), so I got a 20″ corset.

    At first the lacing stayed exactly straight, so I didn’t check it too much when seasoning. However it is starting to develop the () curve.

    I think this might be because I wasn’t comfortable with having so little pressure on my hips and ribs so tightened them too much, and I couldn’t tie a knot that lay flat against the corset or in the middle, so the back opened again slightly. The laces are good at staying in place when tightened, so it extra lace left behind the knot wouldn’t distribute evenly.

    I also have a gap at the front of the corset over my stomach, but it is tight at the back (back muffin top) – I think my back curves too much which is something that put me of corsets in the past. I am not confident enough to bend the steels really.

    Is there anything I can do about this? When laid flat there is a slight curve to the boning and I can no longer get them completely inline, even loose. The () is worse on one side (the other is still almost straight). I do feel I could close the corset if I was trying to tightlace.

    • Hi Hawke, sometimes the problem with the () gap has nothing to do with you, but rather the corset itself may have very flexible steels. I have another article about corset steels that bow too much and what you can do about it, from least invasive (like changing the lacing technique) to most invasive (adding more grommets, changing the type of steel bones, and tightening the boning channels to prevent twisting), if you’re comfortable doing so or hiring someone else to do it.
      An interesting phenomenon is that almost every corset has one side more curved than the other side – this may have something to do with a built-in modesty panel, if your corset has one. Usually the side with the modesty panel attached is the one that bends less.

  2. vera Role on said:

    Where and how can I get your product. I am on vacation presently in atlanta geogia. My waist line is 38.5 inches and my hips is 41.5 inches.

  3. Elizabeth on said:

    Hi Lucy! I just found your videos today and they’re awesome! I have a question (preceded by back story): I’m getting married soon and my mom is making my dress from an original 1953 pattern. Since it’s a ball gown and I want to be all authentic, I bought a corset to wear under it. I didn’t do much research though, and I bought my corset at corset story. Big mistake. My measurements are 35-28-36, and this corset does absolutely nothing for my figure. I bought a size 24, which is way too small in the hips and way too big in the bust (I have an A shaped gap)

    So, back story finished, I’m wanting to buy the Laurie corset from WKD, but what size should I get? Should I get the 24 even though the bust on the one I have is too big?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your comment. If you get the “smaller bust” version of the Laurie corset, you shouldn’t see gaping or flaring at the top of the corset. However, it may be worth it for you to send over your measurements to the WKD staff and have them double check for you – they have a Live Chat function on their site where you can discuss size and style with them. They also have a 30-day return policy so if you order your corset and find you don’t like it, you can send it back for refund. 🙂 Cheers.

  4. Vanessa on said:

    Hi! I have a corset that I bought a while ago when I was still new to corseting and I’ve noticed it has a very slight () shape when I lace it up fully. The gap at the bunny ears is about half an inch–is it possible for such a slight gap to be fixed just by lacing it differently or should I just replace the bones?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Vanessa, a very tiny gap at the waistline is really common for corsets – it could be caused by a number of reasons, including the modesty panel bunching up, the bones twisting or bending in their channels, the laces slipping and redistributing the tension, etc. I don’t think it’s necessary to replace the bones for a small half-inch gap at the waist. Have you tried the inverted bunny ears lacing?

      • Vanessa on said:

        Thank you for your quick reply! I’d never heard of that lacing style! I will definitely give that a try. The help is much appreciated.

  5. Hi Lucy! First of all I love your videos, they’re so concise!

    Secondly, I recently ordered a waist training corset that fits me perfectly…almost too perfectly. The waist reduction is nice but there is no gap or flaring whatsoever in the back. I’m concerned that if I order a smaller one the bust or hips may be too small. Should I exchange for a smaller one anyway?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi VoS! Thank you kindly! If your corset fits you well in the underbust, waist and hips, then ordering a size smaller may result in the underbust and hips being a bit on the tight side for you. Some people have some padding around those areas and can squish down, while other people experience muffin top, or have quite bony hips and find it uncomfortable to wear corsets that put a lot of pressure in this area. Preferably, if you size down then it would be best to go with a curvier style instead, but depending on your body type and overall squishiness, you might be able to get away with it.

  6. Pingback:Sizing Down in your Corset, plus What to Do with your Old, Bigger Corset | Lucy's Corsetry

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  9. Kelley on said:

    I recently bought a corset and its kind of loose at the very top 2 grommets (I can lace all the way pretty much)… I’m just starting to train, should I return for a smaller size?

    • Hi Kelley, are you lacing all the way only at the very top? Does the rest of the back have a / shape? Yes, I would say either exchange your corset for a smaller size, or choose a corset that is built more for hourglass or pear shapes.

      • kelley on said:

        I’m going to exchange it for another size/style… Thank you! 🙂

        I was able to lace up the top 2 and I could fit my hand in at the side by my bust… But it fits every where else…

  10. Pingback:Buying a Corset? What you should look for when purchasing in-store « Lucy's Corsetry

  11. Patricia on said:

    This information was very valuable and concise! I was wondering why I was getting the / shape in my Timeless Trends underbust corset; I know now that this is yet again due to my hips/pear-shapedness :-/. I went ahead and ordered the “Josephine” from Isabella Corsetry per your suggestions!

  12. Great summary! If someone was experiencing the )( gap issue, would Timeless Trends be something to avoid or are they a little curvier?

    • It depends on your body type and how much )( you’re experiencing! I find that my Leatherotics and my Corsets-UK corsets give me the )( gap, but my Timeless Trends corsets are straight for the most part. You can see how the TT fits on me in this video. However it’s still a gentler hourglass compared to, say, WKD brand.

      • Hello lucy, I just bought a corset from corset story, but it’s probably two sizes wrong, I was wondering how big of a gap is still OK for the corset,

        I can barely put on the corset when fully loosen, but when I try to tighten it, it has as a huge gap, probably 5-6 in

        • bishonenrancher on said:

          Hi May, the pieces from Corset Story have a very gentle silhouette and unless you have an apple shape, they’re not designed to cinch you in very dramatically. Because of this, you should only order a corset about 3-4 inches smaller than your natural waist. If the gap in the back is 6 inches or so, either the corset is too small or just the wrong shape for your figure.

          • Lucy:
            Thank you for your quick reply, you’re really nice!

            I requested an exchange earlier this morning, I wish I had asked you before.

            this is how it looks like :
            back ttp://

            Do you think I should go one or two sizes up?

            P.D.I love your youtube channel.
            ( I feel like I’m talking to some famous TV star ^ ^)

            • bishonenrancher on said:

              Hi May, thanks for the photos. I would say to go two sizes up – that way at least you should be able have the modesty panel cover the back of the corset. But it looks as though the corset is already somewhat fitting your ribs and hips snugly (not tight, but not gaping a lot), and you may want to consider a curvier cut, otherwise you may not be able to cinch your waist very much. (If you’re happy with the corsets from Corset-Story then by all means stay with them, but there are other options in my list of corset brands here, which would be similar in price. Just trying to widen your options 🙂 ).

          • Uhm an “h” is missing in the back picture’s link 😉

          • Lucy I meant to do a brief consultation, but along the way I payed for the extensive one, is there something we could do about that?

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