What to Look for when Purchasing a Corset ONLINE

This post deals primarily with differentiating a real corset from a cheap bustier – not necessarily all the different levels of quality when it comes to a corset. When you get into differentiating a hand-designed piece from a factory piece, it can sometimes get tricky, especially when there are cases of photo theft. Learning to recognize photo theft and who wholesells to whom, will come with experience and familiarizing yourself with the work of various designers.

Do see this video if you would like to see two specific examples of a company that doesn’t market their corsets effectively, and a website that does have effective marketing. I would have liked to include many other corset companies (and even individual designers’ websites) in this video, but Orchard was the only company who had agreed to show their site on video.

Analyzing the photo

The model should preferably be alive

The corset should preferably be modeled on a real person, not just a “floating” corset or on a mannequin that already has a wasp waist. It’s nice to see a back view to be sure the gap in the back is nice and even. When the corset is shown at multiple angles, it will prove that it wasn’t laced in a biased way.

If you can see all angles…

When you look at the corset from all angles, try to count the number of panels – there should be no less than four on each side, but preferably 5 or 6 panels.

 The grommets should be reasonably spaced apart – not too far apart; 2 inches between each grommet is too much space to give a decent and controlled cinch in my opinion. Eyelets or grommets should also be sandwiched between two bones (unless use of a lacing bone is mentioned), and in the pictures, the laces should not be crumpling up on itself.

When looking at the boning channels, you should not be able to see the whirls of the spiral steel boning underneath the satin. If you do, this means that the satin may not be reinforced and the bones may wear a hole through the satin eventually.

Panels should be somewhat smooth, not too wrinkly, not asymmetric and not gaping away from the model or mannequin. Sometimes, I will see a more or less reputable company that has a picture of a very wrinkly satin corset, and it looks rather sloppy. In these situations, I’m actually confused as to why that reputable company would make an uncharacteristically wrinkly piece, and/or why they would use such poor photographs. Regardless of the reputation of the seller, if I see a corset that is quite wrinkly and wobbly, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not laced onto the mannequin tightly, and it may not be designed to be laced tightly – as a result, I wouldn’t purchase it.

Reading the description

Make sure you check the whole page for full description – and read ALL the small print. If it says plastic or acrylic bones, don’t buy it. The description should say all steel bones, or fully steel boned, or will list the number of steel bones. There should be no less than 12 bones, but preferably over 20 if you plan to wear this on a regular basis.

A decent corset will also usually have a waist tape – either see the outline of this in the photos, or look for it mentioned in the description.

The website should mention that the corset has at least 1 layer of sturdy cotton (a strength layer) so it doesn’t stretch. Most companies use twill, but a few do use coutil. Often they don’t specify, but they should at least make mention of a strength layer being included.

If they can trick you with wording, they will.

Make sure they don’t use tricky wording such as “Steel busk and bones” because they want you to read that as “steel busk and steel bones” but in reality it can read as “steel busk, and-also-there-are-bones-but-we’re-not-telling-you-what-kind.”

Front fastenings

When buying off-the-rack corsets, then a busk is your safest bet. Zippers may or may not be strong enough, depending on the brand. You generally don’t need to worry about closed-front corsets since no front fastening means no weak areas here – the only caveat is if you don’t have the patience to unlace it completely and slip it over your head when putting it on or taking it off. If a corset laces up in front and back, this is fine as long as both the center front and center back panels look to be the same quality grommets or two-part eyelets, and both sets are sandwiched between a pair of bones.

Optional features

Other things like a modesty panel and garter tabs and the like – these may or may not be mentioned. It’s up to you whether these are a “requirement” or a “nice-to-have”.

Be wary of freebies

Some companies will offer free sets of garter tabs with every corset – I actually tend to avoid these unless I can see the quality of them. Some sellers will always offer something free like that to sweeten the deal but if you ask me, if they have to entice someone by throwing in freebies ALL the time, it means that the corset is not worth the price they listed it at.

Do you have any other ways of picking the “real” corsets out from the plastic-boned “corset tops” and bustiers, which aren’t so obvious to a beginner? Let me know in the comments below!

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17 comments on “What to Look for when Purchasing a Corset ONLINE

  1. alex on said:

    hi lucy,

    i’d like to start waist training and need some tips on what to purchase. i’ve watched a lot of your videos and done some searches online but there is a lot of information and i don’t know where to start.

    i’m 5’6 and 105lbs, small bust (32-34″) and straight waist (26″). i’m shaped like a tree and would really like a waist. i also have lumbar scoliosis, approx. 30 degrees (mild). what would you recommend for me — as i am hoping for a 24″ waist. also, what happens if i stop wearing the corset after i have reached my goal?

    i would be very appreciative to hear any of your thoughts and suggestions,

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Alex, thanks for your question. If you’re looking for a specific style or brand of corset to fit you, you’ll need to take your exact measurements (underbust, waist, hips and torso length are the absolute minimum) and compare this to the curves that each corset accommodates. I have compiled measurements for nearly all the standard-sized corsets I’ve tried on this page. You can take your measurements and compare them with that of the charts! If you are looking to permanently change your waist, you will have to continue wearing the corset even after you reach your goal – but hopefully by that point, it will not be a chore for you and you will enjoy wearing it. I talk more about the permanency of waist training in this video, and discuss the importance of maintenance and enjoyment in this video. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi Lucy, I make waist training corsets and I sell fashion corsets too (what you call those basquey things) but I am very clear on what they are, that they are occasional use for costumes and shaping and offer no actual waist reduction. The hardest thing I have is trying to compute the massive price difference between these to buyers! I have to say that with the fashion corsets I buy from stock and have asked them not to send the g strings as I didn’t want them sold with the corsets (felt it brought down the tone a little) but they wouldn’t NOT send them. Other than throwing them in the bin I have no option other than to offer them free to the customer! Didn’t really think about the message this might send though 🙁

    • Hi Helen, I’m glad you’re able to provide both high-end and low-end options for your clients. The key here is total transparency, I’m glad you’re not deceiving your clients in any way about the difference in quality. 🙂

      • To be honest I’ve been left shocked at the lack of knowledge about the difference between the two. I think education is best, explaining why waist training corsets are ‘expensive’ as so many people are after as cheap as they can possibly get without understanding what that means in terms of quality.

  3. Hi Lucy i have actually recently heard about waist cinchiing and i came across your videos and educiated myself on it before i bought one i came across a website called Corset Queens and it seems like a legit company i bought a corset from them called “WTUB-Long- 1017 Black-Taffeta Spiral Steel Boned Long Waist Training Underbust Corset”

    the description sounded pretty good what do you think? this would be my very first corset so im a little scared that i might make a mistake

    Description for Waist Training Longer Underbust Corset ( WTUB- Long )
    1 Waist Training Longer Underbust Corset ( WTUB- Long ) ; perfect for long & medium torso female
    2 Front length is 13.5 inches (34.5 cm)
    3 Underbust to bottom length is 11.5 inches (29.5 cm)
    4 Side length is 10.5 inches (26.5 cm)
    5 Back Length is 12.5 inches (32 cm)
    6 Spiral Steel Bone: 20 spiral steel bones. 2 spiral steel Bones at joining of each panel.
    7 Flat Steel Bone: 4 Piece powder coated flat steel bones are located at the each side of grommet on both panel. This help to keep the back of your body Straight.
    8 Front opening: Special Kind of Rivetless 12.4 inches Sturdy steel metal busk.
    9 Lacing: It has 8 meter long polyester lace which is help to make tight lacing the corset.
    10 Grommets At the back side 12X 2 = 24 total
    11 Panels: It has 12 panels in total , 6 panels on each part.
    12 Modesty panel; 7-8 inches wide so that you have an option to hide or show your skin
    13 Upper Fabric Layer-: Shell fabric , Sharp Shining 100% Polyester Taffeta
    14 Inner Lininng Fabric Layer-: lining 100% cotton which is fused with another layer of thin cotton for strength.
    15 Waist tape: 1 inch wide satin waist tape is used & is invisible for perfect grip and hold.
    16 Suspender loops: 6 suspender loops at the bottom.
    17 Bone casing: All bones are placed under 100% Polyester NEBAR casing for extra strength.

    it all sounds pretty good but i don’t know anymore i just want a good corset to begin my training, i have always used spanx or something in that category so i wanted to step it up and see what it would be like to wear a corset i would really appreciate your imput 🙂

    • Hi Miriam, I looked up the corset on the website, and I have tried that brand in the past. While they are in fact steel-boned and capable of pulling you in, I found them to be not as curvy as they look. The one I had purchased pinched my ribs and my hips, while not really reducing my waist. This is why I say to take caution when you see a photo of a floating corset that’s not being modelled, because you can’t see how it fits on an actual person. I’m going to be optimistic for your case and hope that yours fits your body well, but if you’re already curvy to begin with, I’m afraid it might not do much for shaping your figure.

      • thanks so much Lucy, i should have wrote to you before i bought it but well i was so excited i bought it on impulse well im plus sized and im trying to get curvy so when i receive it im going to try it on and if i dont like it i will return it and talk to you, so i can get one made for tight lacing and shape my figure how i really want it too thanks for replying so quickly i was surprised to see a response 🙂 have a blessed one 🙂

  4. Great information! Spoons!

  5. Jack Olsen on said:

    I think it’s great how you simplify the complexities.

  6. Thanks, great basic orientation. I remember being so boggled when I was trying to buy my 1st corset 3 months ago. I wish purveyors would display photos of their corsets laying on a flat surface (in addition to a model). By the way, I see advertisement spoonbait at the bottom of your post too. If you like I can email you screenshots.

  7. The spoons were definitely interesting, and the spoon-busk is what popped into my head 😉 I DON’T see any ads other than the WKD and the CorsetMakers Companion on the right -hand side.

  8. Stephanie on said:

    Thanks once again Lucy for all the helpful info!
    Spoons Lucy….really…spoons? 🙂

  9. Hey Lucy. I know you said you paid to not have ads on your wordpress, but alas, there is one at the bottom of your article. Just wanted to let you know.

    Thanks for all you do for us. 🙂

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