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Determining Fit & Proportion in Standard Sized Corsets (3 methods)

This article contains the same information as my video, “3 ways to Predict Fit & Proportion in OTR Corsets”. You may watch the video here if you prefer not to read – or you can continue reading below the video.

Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations
Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations

Before reading this article, you may want to catch up with some of my other corset fitting articles like “Shape of the Corset Gap” and “Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues“. Those videos and articles had focused on how a corset will look and feel on your body, and how to determine whether it’s a proper fit. However, there are ways to predict how a corset will fit your body even before you purchase it online! Making the most of size charts and fitting information can mean the difference between “fits almost like a custom” and “not what you expected”. It’s of absolute importance to remember that corsets don’t stretch the way most modern clothes do, and your bodies bones largely don’t compress.

The biggest issue I have with OTR corsets these days is that many companies still recommend that you choose your corset size based only on a 1-point measuring system (i.e. “subtract 4 inches from your natural waist”). But this is oversimplified. Different corsets will fit differently on different bodies, even if they’re the same size!

There is no reason why a corset company would NOT provide at least 3-4 measuring points (underbust circumference, waist circumference, high hip/iliac circumference, and then the vertical length of the torso) so you can determine the proportions and the length that will fit your body best even before you buy a corset. These proportions can be determined immediately by looking at the original draft of the corset pattern, or you can do some quick and simple measuring of the final corset to determine these proportions.

When I sell standard-sized corsets (either new OTR corsets or my own pre-made samples) I almost always ask the customer for their natural underbust/waist/iliac measurements and their torso length. I personally check their measurements against the measurements of the corset, and verify that the size they would like is going to fit them well. Doing this has greatly decreased the number of exchanges/ returns requested.

Some businesses already use the 3-4 point measuring system, and they may provide this information in 3 different ways:

1: Using size charts/ tablesScreen Shot 2014-01-07 at 3.52.24 PM

To the right, you see an example of a size chart for a corset. You want the waist of the corset to be between 3-6 inches smaller than your natural waist (depending on your squish level), but you want the rib and hip measurements to be as close as possible to your own natural measurements. This will ensure that the corset cinches the waist and NOT the upper ribs or hips (which are far less compressible), and thereby result in a more flattering silhouette and comfortable fit. Size charts are my favourite way of logging proportions of a corset, because I can check its measurements against my own natural measurements at a glance. Corset businesses that utilize size charts include (but are not limited to): Meschantes, Electra Designs, and Mystic City corsets.

2: Recommending that the customer’s measurements fall within a certain range

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.02.58 PMSome corset makers prefer not to use a size chart, but will instead recommend that your natural measurements be within a certain set of measurements. If you are on the upper end of this range, then you can expect the corset to have a larger gap in the back compared to if you were at the smaller end. Although this situation is better than a 1-point system, you may still end up with slightly uneven gaps in the back depending on where your own measurements fall and how large the given range of measurements is. Corset businesses that utilize this system include (but aren’t limited to) Isabella Corsetry, Starkers Corsets ready-to-wear samples, and Morgana Femme Couture.

3: Discussing the proportion (rib spring and hip spring) of the corset, rather than absolute numbers

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.08.11 PM
Sizing information provided by Orchard Corset on one of their Level 3 listings

Orchard Corset is an example of a company that simplifies the measurements into a simple set of proportions – for instance, for a Level 3 silhouette corset you may find that the underbust (upper ribcage) circumference is 5-6 inches larger than the closed waist measurement, and the low hip circumference is 10-12 inches larger than the closed waist measurement. (Typically OTR corsets are made quickly so the measurements aren’t likely to be as precise as a custom corset, that’s why you have a general range.) Doing some simple math, this means that for a size 30” corset, the underbust will measure (30 + 5 = 35 inches), and the low hips will measure (30 + 10 = 40 inches).

In the next video/ article of the series (part 2), I will show you how to use size charts properly, to predict whether a corset will fit you or not *before* you purchase it. And in part 3, I will show you how to fairly accurately measure your own corsets. This will help you verify that the corset you just received in the mail has the correct measurements (they match the size chart/ ranges mentioned on the website) and that the corset will be likely to fit comfortably once closed.

9 thoughts on “Determining Fit & Proportion in Standard Sized Corsets (3 methods)

  1. This is a very useful post, personally I could never understand why most manufacturers base their sizing on the waist, it makes no sense since that’s easily the most squishable body part! If you don’t pay attention to the bones measurements you are likely to end up with a corset that fits funny and hurts the ribs or the hips. We need to let them know we deserve all the information about the corsets. By the way, after I watched your “Athena” corset review I went to their shop and asked about the fit and they gave me a very dumb answer. They have no pictures of the back so it’s impossible to guess the actual silhouette. Another corset shop gave me “closed” measurements that included the (very wide) modesty panel. I don’t think all the support people know what they’re talking about. One of the 3 criteria you listed in your videos should always accompany the corset description and I think we’re better off just avoiding shops with incomplete information altogether instead of trying to get it out of incompetent people. Thanks for the videos.

  2. Hello Lucy!
    I love this video as well as the new one, I was one of the many people asking about corset flaring so this was very helpful

    Also I have a few questions about an OTR from MCC:

    I recently bought a corset from Mystic city corset, but I can’t find many reviews, You told me that you have spoken to Sylwia and you trust the brand, so could you tell me a little more about MCC? (quality,shape,how good are they for waist training , etc.)

    1. Hello May,
      May I help you too? I recently bought an 18″ MCC-17 corset by Mystic City. I really like their designs. They come in different shapes, but generally much curvier than any other OTR corsets. On their Ebay page, they helpfully provide size charts under each listing with bust, underbust, high hips, low hips and vertical measuments. My corset has a special sample size (and I believe it might be the same photoshoot sample corset featured in Lucy’s guided galleries!):
      26″ underbust, 18″ waist and 36″ low hips.
      It is a bit short for my long torso but otherwise fits perfectly and the shape is gorgeous, a wasp waist with a conical ribcage. It is quite sturdy and suitable for tightlacing; and I believe for waist-training as well – 3 layers (2x herringbone cotton, not sure if it is twill or coutil but it is strong; and black cotton denim as a fashion layer), 22 steel bones (20 spirals + 2 flats), a waist tape and a 5-pin busk closure. It has 32 grommets spaced less than an inch and comes laced “inverted bunny ears” style which is very, very helpful – it stays closed even if you untie the bow. However, the laces were too stretchy and I replaced them. It also comes with a 5.5″ wide boned floating modesty panel (which I removed as I can fully close the corset).
      In summary, I believe it is a good corset, especially for the price. However, a word of warning. I have a really huge issue with it, though it may be OK for others. Instead of usual flat bones surrounding the grommets at the back, the corset has special lacing bones that are EXTREMELY rigid and do not cling to the spine properly. As I have a very curvy lower back, the enourmous pressure from lacing bones causes crippling pain and I cannot wear it more for than an hour.
      Such a pity, I really do not know what to do about it.
      Perhaps the question of OTR corset boning is important too, I someties hear people complaining about pain from corseting and this may be one of the reasons. Hope this information might be helpful.

      1. Hello Alissa,

        I really appreciate your help ^ ^
        I’m (hopefully) getting my corset today, yours is very curvy ! I’m going to look for that one next, mine is 28 underbust,20 waist and 32 hips,
        It’s my second corset and I do want it for corset training so I hope I’ll be able to wear it more than an hour,

        About the issue with the bones, may be you could replace them (Lucy has videos on her YouTube channel about replacing bones) so you can use the corset for longer periods, thanks again for your help!

        Have a great day!

        1. Sadly you can’t replace lacing bones because they are steel bones with holes pre-drilled in which the grommets are then set through. They are then nearly impossible to pull out again because they have such a sturdy support. The only possibility for replacing them would be to unpick the stitching of the back panels and create a new panel in matching fabric into which you insert two flat steel bones surrounding some grommets.

          I am glad that I saw this review – that they use lacing bones – because I have them in one of my corsets and my back is too curvy for them. Mystic City do offer custom corsets if they have the time, so I was planning to order custom from them at some point anyway. Now I know to request 2 flat steels instead of lacing bones when I order. :)

          1. From what I understand Mystic City doesn’t use the lacing bones that you’re thinking of, Lexa. I think Alyssa was simply referring to the bones on either side of the grommets and perhaps was just expressed in an ambiguous way.

          2. Dear Lucy,
            I DO mean the lacing bones with pre-drilled holes:) they are much, much stiffer than regular flat bones. Maybe Mystic City does not use them in all corsets, but this particular corset has them (( so sad I cannot replace them, as otherwise the corset fits great.

            1. Hello Alissa,
              I got my MCC-38 and it is beautiful!

              Mine does not have lacing bones, but one of the bones next to the grommets is already twisting/bending, and it makes it really uncomfortable to lace, the modesty panel makes it wearable, but my skin gets pinched when I’m lacing the corset.

              I really like the corset overall, so I hope I can fix that back bone

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