The 5 most important factors of an OTR corset

I very much admire Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique/ Dark Garden for her most recent article on The Lingerie Addict, defending ready-to-wear corsets. I’ve already discussed my stance on OTR/RTW corsets last year – they are a good jumping board into the world of corsetry. In light of Marianne’s article, and also piqued by a recent forum discussion on whether or not cheaper OTR companies should even be promoted, I would like to outline what I consider the 5 most important factors when it comes to OTR corsets (and the companies that make/ distribute them). If you’re interested in watching the video instead of reading the article, you’re welcome to do so here:

Although this list is in no real particular order, most clients will agree that the first three factors are most important to them – but all 5 should be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, I think that there is no OTR company that gets a full 5 stars – but then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find any maker or company that will receive all 5 stars, all the time. If you want the best quality, you have to pay for it.

Without further ado:

1. Strength

Is the corset going to hold up to regular use/ the rigors of tight lacing? You should familiarize yourself with the company or brand, and consider their main clientele. Do they usually use the corset for costumes or burlesque shows, in which the corset gives a strong cinch, but only worn for about an hour at a time? If so, they may not necessarily hold up to giving a strong cinch 24/7. There’s a difference between simply tightlacing occasionally, and training on a daily basis!

2. Silhouette/ fit

Will it be comfortable and give you the shape you desire? When it comes to an OTR piece, some compromise will almost always be made. I consider myself very lucky to have fairly “standard” measurements, so many OTRs are comfortable and more-or-less flattering on me. But not everyone will have the same experience. This is why my shape/fit sections of corset reviews are really subjective. I’ve provided my natural measurements on this page so people can compare their proportions with mine before purchasing a corset.

3. Price

Does it fit your budget, or are you willing to save up for a more expensive piece? Remember where you save on price, you may have to sacrifice strength of construction, quality of materials, or comfort/ silhouette. I very much like Marianne’s quote “When you are corset shopping, that is not the time to bargain hunt.”

4. Customer service

Do they help you find your correct size before you order? Are they even familiar with their own corsets in the first place? Do they respond to emails within a week? (The very good ones respond within 1-2 days.) Does your corset come with a refund or exchange policy, or guarantee? I have ordered from a few corsetieres who make absolutely beautiful and strong pieces, but their customer service was lacking. (They would rarely answer emails or they would be short/curt with their responses.) Whether this is important really depends on the person, and also how demanding the client is. When it comes to an OTR company, some exchange/return policies may be available – but when it comes to custom-made corsets, unless there is something structurally wrong with your corset right out of the box, don’t expect independent corsetieres to bend over backwards at your requests. (I will make a video about this at a later date.)

5. Global impact

Is the company resourceful with materials? Do they make use of sweatshops? Some clients consider it very important to have no glue (including fusibles) and no synthetic materials in their corsets. Some companies accommodate this, while others don’t. Other clients would like to have the convenience of an OTR corset while still being able to purchase locally. A couple of corset companies, while they do source their corsets overseas, find it important to visit the manufacturer and make sure working conditions and pay are fair. If this is important to you, then don’t be afraid to ask customer service (see #4) about your concerns.


What are your most important factors when it comes to choosing a corset? Let me know in the comments below!

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15 comments on “The 5 most important factors of an OTR corset

  1. Whitney on said:

    Hey, Lucy.

    I want to start wearing a corset for back and breast support and was wondering about a few things. First off, my measurements are 46-33-45. Would there be otr corsets that would fit? Secondly, I’ve had an emergency appendectomy. It’s been ten years, but the scar is indented and the muscle there is weaker. Would that be a complication?
    Thank you!

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Whitney, unfortunately I don’t know of any OTR corsets that would accommodate your hourglass proportions. The closest curvy overbust I’ve tried was this one by Corsets Boulevard Global, but even a size 32″ corset would give around 43″ maximum bust so you might feel compressed a little in the chest area, with little to no reduction in the waist. If you’re looking for a piece that is just for great support and not for training, then it should be okay.
      If you plan to wear corsets on a regular basis, I always recommend starting or increasing your ab and back exercises so you don’t experience atrophy. Has your Dr allowed you to work out with your scarring?

      • Whitney on said:

        Yes, and the muscle isn’t super weak. And not the whole side. Just a little bit. Otherwise I’m strong in my abs.Would an underbust accommodate better?

  2. Susana Rojas on said:

    hey i just bought a corset from Orchard corset and the cs 305 i was wondering if this is a good one for waist training

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Susana, based on my observations from people who have used the CS-305 satin corsets and had them stretch out 3+ inches and eventually fall apart at the seams, I would not recommend it for waist training. However, their cotton styles may be more sturdy than the satin ones. The CS-305 has a relatively gentle curve though, and only single boning at the seams. Most tend to go for the CS-411 corset which has more bones, and a sturdier construction method for nearly the same height and a bit more curve in the waist.

  3. Libz29 on said:

    i have spent the day watching your videos and have learned a lot. The biggest thing is that i have not been lacing all my corsets wrong all this time… i have just been buying the wrong corsets… time to step it up. I have a very Latin hour glass figure (heavier than i like since i broke both ankles three years ago and about undergo yet another surgery in 2 weeks), but still very hourglass and people always seem to respond well to it. But i have the lacing that is much closer in the center and wide on top and bottom. I am still waist training though… so i am wondering if the Josephine by Isabella will stand up to waist training? everything i have bought has specifically said “waist training” on it. Would this be a good choice?

    • Hi Libby, thanks for your comment. Many people start with the Josephine corset when they want to try out corset training. It’s not the absolute best, but I have had lots of positive feedback about the results of training in her corsets. If you have an extreme hourglass figure to start with, then be sure to measure the difference between your natural waist and the iliac crest (high hip). The Josephine will accommodate a waist-hip difference of about 10-12 inches, but any more than that and you’ll probably be looking at custom/ made-to-measure. Cheers!

  4. Karlotta on said:

    Well, that would have helped me A LOT but seadly, i already purchased an OTR corset, but is doesnt fit me right, which is why i really wanna get a custom one… do have a list somewhere of people/shops for custom corsets you already tried out? Really enjoy youre videos!! greets from germany 🙂

    • Hi Karlotta, if you check out my page “Corset Brands by Price Range” it will show you all of the corsets I’ve tried. Starting from $200 and up, most of those brands offer custom-fit. 🙂 If you need any more help, send me an email. Best wishes!

  5. Wendy Dunn on said:

    Through a lot of trial and error I have found a very few manufacturers of OTR corsets that do make a strong, well made corset with reasonable consistency.
    Generally, the corsets they make are strong but, do not have enough “shape” to reduce the waist of a “curvy” body type.
    These same manufactures will, make a “custom corset”. I have had one made by them and I would describe it as being very strong and durable , with a fairly good fit.
    Not bad really for the minimal measurements they asked for.
    That is certainly not to say that this is the same or even close to a “bespoke” or truly, custom corset.
    I also have questions about the type of labor that they use to produce their product.
    I suspect that working conditions could not be good for many of their laborers.

    I have had several corsets made for me from different independent sources with limited success. The fit has, of course, always been excellent when compared to an OTR or even a “custom” corset offered by them.
    That said, I have had issues with construction or with the quality of boning or busk.

    I understand that it is difficult to find a supplier of such materials that can consistently deliver a good quality product. However, I think that it is better to return a low quality product than create a beautiful looking corset that fits so well but, simply can’t hold up to it’s intended purpose.

    It seems that sometimes, what you pay for a corset is not a refection of it’s quality.

    I have only been wearing corsets for about 12 years and only been wearing one daily for 6 so, my experience may be a little limited but, I thought that I might have a little to contribute.
    Thanks so much,

  6. Great points. I think that customer service is especially important if you are a corset beginner because you don’t know what the heck you’re doing and a bad experience can really turn you off.

    • True that! Not everyone is willing to take the expensive trial-and-error route that I’ve taken, and first impressions can be important for gaining (and keeping!) clientele. Many people email me questions about some companies that would be best answered by the customer service of those companies – they should know their corsets best of anyone, and creating a seller/customer rapport is important anyway.

  7. Reblogged this on Tightly Laced Love and commented:
    As someone who tightlaces and often approached by others either interested to start wearing corsets or sponsor some to me, this article would prove useful for people who cry “BUT THAT’S SO EXPENSIVE!”

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