When to Consider an Overbust Corset – and When to Pass

In the past, I have quickly outlined why, if you would like to wear corset on a daily basis, you may want to start with an underbust corset instead of an overbust – however up until now I haven’t dedicated an entire video to this or had gone over this in detail. In this article I’ll outline the reasons why it’s generally better for a beginner to start with an underbust corset instead of the overbust – but if you’re interested in the possible benefits of overbust corsets, you can scroll down for the Overbust “Pros”. You can watch the video below, or you can read the article below the video which has the same information.

There are five main reasons that a beginner may want to start by wearing underbust corsets rather than ovebusts, especially if they plan to waist train:

Overbust Con #1: Reduced Mobility

Overbust corsets are obviously longer and come up higher on the torso – instead of just wrapping around the lower ribcage like an underbust or a cincher would, overbusts extend higher on the chest, and they often wrap around the back as high as the wingbones (or higher!). Because of this, overbust corsets allow a more narrow range of motion than shorter underbusts; they reduce your mobility. This means that you may not be able to reach or bend over as much as you normally would, and you have to make greater adjustments to move ‘naturally’ in an overbust. If mobility is required in your job or it’s something that’s important to you, then an underbust or cincher might suit you better. *However, do note that those who have hypermobility issues may actually desire this reduced mobility from an overbust, as it may decrease the prevalence of overextension/ flexibility-related injuries.

Overbust Con #2: Reduced Full Lung Capacity

A corset obviously differs in structure to that of a bra. Most bras out there have a certain amount of elasticity in their band, which expands and contracts each time you take a breath. With a corset, there is no elasticity (or there shouldn’t be), so the corset’s circumference around your ribcage is relatively fixed.

Take a hypothetical female whose chest measures 32 inches when she exhales completely, and 35 inches when she takes in a full breath. She might want to tie the corset to ~33-34 inches around the bust. This is enough to support the breasts while giving you enough space to take a normal, comfortable (tidal) breath. But each time she inhales deeply, and tries to use her absolute, full lung capacity, she might feel a bit of resistance from the corset. And every time she exhales completely, the ribcage may feel a bit loose and she might have the illusion that she’s not properly supported (even though she probably still is). So if you have breathing issues (or you work in an environment where you need your full lung capacity), you might feel more comfortable wearing an underbust corset that stops lower on the ribcage.

Overbust Con #3: More Conspicuous under Clothing

Cupped overbust made by Doris Müller (Corsets & More)

Cupped overbust made by Doris Müller (Corsets & More)

If you plan to “stealth” your corset underneath your shirts (wear your corsets underneath your clothing), then an underbust corset may look more natural. As mentioned before, the way that overbust corsets support the breasts is different from conventional bras today. Most overbust corsets don’t have individual cups the way that bras do, (although I do have a gallery for cupped overbusts here). But these are often expensive, and the vast majority of conventional (non-cupped) overbust corsets simply don’t give the same bust shape under clothing. An overbust corset may flatten the shape of the bust slightly more, and may not give the defined underwire area where you can see where the breast stops and the ribcage begins. It may also lift the breasts higher than bras, or otherwise make the top half of the breast look fuller – and because of this, overbusts can create more cleavage than bras in some individuals – so wearing an overbust corset under a tight or form-fitting shirt will sometimes make it seem obvious that something is different about you. If you are self-conscious about this kind of attention, you might want to simply pair an underbust corset with one of your regular bras, which will give you a slightly less conspicuous silhouette under your clothes.

Overbust Con #4: More Difficult to Fit Properly

Underbust corsets are much easier to fit a wide range of body shapes compared to overbust corsets. First think about how many bra brands and styles are out there, and how many people still need to go custom fit in their bras to get the right support, shape and comfort they desire. Now think about the number of standard size overbusts are out there – this number is much smaller, and they fit a much smaller range of bust sizes in wearers! If the circumference of your bust is more than 10 inches bigger than your corseted waist size (e.g. 34″ bust, and 24″ corseted waist), you can pretty much forget about finding a standard sized overbust that will accommodate your curves. In order to ensure the best possible fit in overbusts, you will have to go semi-custom or fully-custom, and preferably get professionally fitted with one or more mockups to make sure that the bust fits right. There is a lot to consider when fitting the bust! It must be properly sized – not too big, not too small – the fabric must come up high enough and cover as much of the chest as the wearer desires, the bust must be lifted high enough for the wearer’s preference but not too high, there shouldn’t be any spill over at the armpits/ out of the cup/ over the back, etc. etc. Fitting an overbust can be extremely challenging, and even I have quite expensive custom overbust corsets that didn’t even fit me properly in the end because I didn’t get a mockup.

 Overbust Con #5: More Expensive

If your budget dictates that your choices are limited to standard sized corsets, and you are not of “moderate” or “standard” bust size according to the fashion industry, (whatever “standard” is supposed to mean), then underbust corsets will be much more affordable for you. Even in standard sizes, overbust corsets simply cost more than underbust corsets because they require more fabric, they’re using a longer busk and longer bones, it takes more time to sew over the curve of the bust, etc. So, unless you are dedicated to saving up for a properly-fitted overbust corset, or unless you can somehow be compensated for an overbust by your insurance company, then perhaps an underbust corset would be better for your wallet.


At this point it probably sounds like I hate overbust corsets or that it’s difficult to find anything good about them, but this is not true! Well-fitting overbust corsets do have some very redeeming qualities, so now we will discuss the possible Pros about these corsets:

Overbust Pro #1: Better Posture Support

Overbust corsets can be ultimately better for your posture compared to underbust corsets. As mentioned above, overbusts come up higher on the ribcage, and often up to the shoulder blades in the back. This means that it’s nearly impossible to lean over and hunch your shoulders in an overbust corset. Short underbust corsets can help support your lumbar area, but I have seen corset wearers who still hunch or round their shoulders. If a corset comes up higher (halfway up the thoracic vertebrae or higher) then this can greatly reduce the risk of forward-rolled, rounded shoulders, and you might see less forward-head posture as well since your spine is “stacking up” properly.

Overbust Pro #2: Possible Upper Back Pain Management/ Curve Correction

Speaking of the spine, overbust corsets might be more supportive for people with upper back pain, or spine misalignment like scoliosis. Click here to read an article about a middle-age scoliosis patient who used a standard-sized overbust corset in conjunction with special exercises to actually decrease the curvature of his spine over time. Now, please be aware that this is a bit controversial, because this patient used himself as a “guinea pig” in this corrective process. Many corset makers will avoid making “corrective” corsets for those with scoliosis. Some of them can specially draft for an asymmetric corset that will fit a scoliosis patient comfortably, but most makers will not want to make corrective corsets unless they’ve trained with an orthopedic technician or have some experience in making medical prosthetics. But if you have a curvature in your upper or thoracic spine, then perhaps an overbust corset – whether corrective or simply supportive – will help support you better and make for a more comfortable experience as you go throughout your day.

Overbust Pro #3: Support for Large and/or Heavy Breasts

Cartoon by Kat Rosenfield

In some parts of the world, breast reductions are covered by insurance if the patient is able to prove that their breasts impede their lifestyle and cause them pain. Some people have breasts so large that they can cause or exacerbate spinal curvature, they can cause inflammation or even snapping of the scalene muscles and surrounding tendons, among other problems. Having very large or heavy breasts can sometimes lead to very serious medical issues, and one way to help prevent or help these issues is to wear an overbust corset. This is probably the most obvious positive application for overbust corsets, and it’s the one reason I hear most often from people wanting to purchase an overbust. The rigid bones and non-stretch fabric from the overbust corset helps to support the breasts 100% from below, with no pressure or tension coming from above the breast or over the shoulder. The weight from the bust is distributed throughout the rest of the corset, eliminating pressure points or strain in a well-fitting corset. 

Now, in a properly fitting bra, it’s said that at least 80% of the support should come from the band wrapping around the back, and very little support comes from the shoulder straps – but it’s a sad fact that strapless bras don’t work for many people; either the bra doesn’t come in their size, they don’t feel secure in one, or the bra doesn’t stay in place. Consider the damage that has already incurred in many women; think about the hunched shoulders and the permanent indentations in their shoulders and the pain that they’re already experiencing. This is where an overbust corset would be of huge benefit, because it is able to securely support the bust from below without the risk of falling down like many strapless bras do, and without the need for shoulder straps.

Overbust Pro #4: Prevention or Management of shoulder injuries or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Illustration of TOS. Source: Wikipedia.

Heavy breasts can cause muscle strain and tendon injuries, and they can even lead to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The Brachial Plexus is a group of nerves that runs from the neck and clavicle region into the shoulder, arm and hands. It’s part of the thoracic outlet, in the same region, which is a bundle of nerves and blood vessels together. This area can be compressed or stressed from heavy breasts, or a previous shoulder or neck injury, or even repetitive motions like playing an instrument (guitar, drums or violin). Basically, these factors can lead to nerve compression that can lead to a number of symptoms like tingling, numbness and pain in the hands; swelling and circulation isses; it can mimic the symptoms of carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndromes and can limit the use or strength of the hands. In extreme situations, other complications can arise as a result of TOS, such as blood clots.

Depending on the severity of thoracic outlet syndrome, it can be corrected with one or a combination of the following: physical therapy, injections (steroids or botox), surgery (often by removing the first rib next to the collarbone, and sometimes cutting the scalene muscles), and in some situations such as TOS caused by heavy breasts, wearing an overbust corset. Preventing and healing TOS may mean that there can be absolutely zero compression or tension around this delicate neck/ shoulder area, so conventional bras with shoulder straps are no longer an option for these patients.

If you’d like to learn more about TOS, here is an easy-to-understand publication by Dr. S. Mackinnon, M.D.


Need an Overbust Corset, but Don’t Want to Tightlace? No Problem.

For those that would like to wear an overbust corset to support their heavy bust, improve their upper back pain or help with TOS, but they don’t want to waist train or they’re nervous about the waist compression, the best part about this is that you don’t need to lace very tightly to reap the benefits of breast support or pain relief. So if you think that the use of an overbust corset can help you with any medical issues, I’d highly recommend you talk to your doctor before investing in one. And for those who are currently actively looking for a corset maker that is experienced in fitting heavy-busted clients, feel free to check out this Guided Gallery made just for you.

What are your reasons for wearing an overbust corset, or for avoiding them? Let me know in the comments below!

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42 comments on “When to Consider an Overbust Corset – and When to Pass

  1. Hi! I just ordered my first over bust corset, but I’m worried that the bust want fill out correctly since I have fairly small breasts, and a wider ribcage. It looks like a sweetheart neckline, it isn’t strait across the top, but I’m worried it wont look right on me. I measured myself so I’m pretty sure i have the right size, but I’m a little worried since ive spent a lot on it. This is my first time ordering a corset online as well. Does anybody know if they work alright for smaller breasts? I fit into a B or C cup.

  2. Pratyasha on said:

    Its a very nice n helpful article. I have bought an overbust corset of medium size but while sitting it feels akward as the bust is pressed upwards n doestnot look good under clothes n bery self conscious.can you help me with this please!?

    • Hi Pratyasha, it’s true that when you sit down, a corset will tend to shift up a little bit and thereby push up the bust as well. However, a corset that has cups for the breasts will look more natural and more like a bra under clothing. You can see what cupped overbust corsets look like in this gallery.

  3. csromanell on said:

    This post was so helpful. I have very large breast (32 HH) and have scoliosis. I am meeting with a custom corset maker in a few days. I am looking forward to getting some relief from ill fitting bras that dig in to my ribs and shoulders. Good to have the background before I go in to talk to her. Thanks so much!

  4. RiverSong on said:

    Hey, I have a really little boobs and I don’t know if for me is better the under bust or the over, can you help me please?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi River, if you don’t need a lot of bust support then an underbust corset would be fine, with or without a bra (it’s your choice!). If you want to make your bust look bigger, some makers will pad out the bust of an overbust for you, and I think Vollers sells a ready-made overbust that comes with padding. But generally speaking, 90% of the time I recommend underbust corsets for beginners.

  5. Danielle on said:

    I think the overbust con #3 should also be added to the pros list! One of the reasons I’m choosing an overbust corset as opposed to a bra is because I’m small busted and even padded bras won’t provide great cleavage. The breast often slides under the padding in a conventional bra and creates gaping and an odd shape.

  6. Can you get a smaller rib cage with an over bust corset? I have a really nice one a while back and can’t afford an underbust atm.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Maria, yes it’s possible to train the ribcage in an overbust corset – some very dedicated waist trainers like Michele Kobke, Cathie Jung, Lacie, and Sylphide have all used custom fit, good quality overbust corsets – but because it restricts more of the torso, it is less convenient (due to breathing, mobility etc mentioned in the article above).

  7. Thanks for these! I really wanted to try corsets for a change and this really helped me on finding the right one. Maybe I’ll follow your advice in using the under bust first and if I get the hang of it, I might as well try over bust corsets.

  8. Thank you so very much for all of the information you provide. I have seen several of your youtube videos. I’m a nurse and can appreciate your educated informational posts and vieos. Thank you for putting all this information out on the net for women considering corset training. Tami

  9. Thank you so much. I have not gotten an overbust because everything I have read has said that a beginner should not try an overbust first. I am comfortable wearing the under bust corset while standing but it cuts into my breast when I sit due to my shoulders slumping after breaking several parts of my cervical and thoracic spine. I also have difficulty wearing a bra to support my size d bust due to one of my fractures being in the area of the bra band and also the straps not fitting me because of the shoulder slump and the thoracic outlet syndrome. I wish I had seen this before I purchased my under bust and I hope that a bespoke overbust will solve the issue.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Anna, so sorry to hear of your difficulties. I hope that you’re able to correct your issues with a proper overbust corset. Have you already decided which maker you’ll commission for your overbust?

  10. Brian Smith on said:

    I was wondering why everywhere I look online only has info on women coreseting. I am a male mid twentys in the raleigh nc area. I have been looking for a while for a place to get fitted for a waist training corset. I am thinking an overbust hoping it will give me a more feminine look. Any info you can give me would be great

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Brian, I have a gallery on feminizing corsets here – I suggest contacting a few different makers on that list and seeing which one would work best for your goals and budget. The only corset maker I know in the Raleigh area is Meschantes – and their customer service is pretty spotty, but it wouldn’t hurt to send them an email and see if they’ll help you! 🙂

  11. I been making an wearing corsets for 7 years. I were over bust because I am a 38DDD. I have no more pain when I were one. My only problem is when I bend over my boobs tend to want to fall out an I am constantly tucking them back in. Its frustrating! Help me!

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Erin, sorry for my late response. Have you tried perhaps an overbust corset with shoulder straps, so you would have less of an issue with your bust falling out? Another option may be a cupped overbust, especially cups that extend up and over the majority of your breast tissue like a high-cut bra. I’ve put hyperlinks to some galleries for each. Note that the corsets with straps, you’ll need to scroll down a little to find the overbust versions.

  12. Magan on said:

    I am a plus size girl, but not by much and my bust has a lot to do with that. I am a 42DDD and I just wanted to try corsets for the waist training, I had purchased an over bust I was having bad neck pains and was even starting to form a slight hump where my neck connects to my back. and oh my gosh. I love my corset Its not even about the waist training anymore. The support is phenomenal. And my posture has improved 10x. I think the pro’s out weigh the con’s.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Megan! I’m so happy you’ve had such a positive experience with your corset, and it’s supporting you the way it’s supposed to! 🙂

  13. Maegan on said:

    Hi, Lucy! I’m thinking about getting into corseting, not for serious waist training but just slightly trimming my figure. I really like the look of these over bust corsets, but since I’m just on the cusp of ‘standard sizing’ (37″ bust, 29″ waist, 36″ high hip, 34D US cup) I want some advice on whether OTR corsets will work for me. Also, as a newbie who’s in it more for the look than the contortion, should I start off with an under bust as a learning tool, or can I take a simple overbust?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Maegan, if you are looking just to slim down your waist, then an underbust should be sufficient and you can easily wear it with a separate well-fitting bra. But if you are looking into corseting specifically for bust support then go for the overbust corset. I recently tried an overbust by Corsets Boulevard Global which was designed for larger bust and hips, and I’m quite impressed with it! I think the size 24″ could fit you with a comfortable gap, or size 26″ if you want less of a cinch/ not much of a gap in the back.

  14. Hi Lucy!
    First off, thanks for all the super great information that you’ve posted here. I’ve been thinking about getting an overbust corset for a while and it’s nice to see the pros vs. the cons.
    Also, I’ve always been curious – do you need to wear a liner while wearing an overbust corset? Thanks!

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hello C! Thanks for your question. Some people do wear a liner while wearing an overbust corset, especially if they choose to wear one everyday. However if I’m going to a special occasion (wedding, gala event, etc) and don’t want the liner poking out from under my corset, then I will admittedly wear my overbust corset right next to my skin. I personally shower first, I don’t put on any lotions or perfumes, while wearing that corset, and I remember to air out the corset fully after the event.

  15. Yumemi on said:

    Hi Lucy (:

    Thank you so much for all of your detailed, super informative, and helpful videos and blog posts! I’ve been doing so much research and almost all my sources are from you 😀 I’ve only just bought my first underbust corset 2 weeks ago and I am already obsessed with corsetry and all the beautiful designs companies have to offer. I wanted to ask for your help with choosing an overbust corset! My torso length is 11″ and I don’t know which corset length would be good for me. I’m worried most already-made overbust corsets will be too long. The underbust corset I purchased is the CS-411 in size 22″ and I think it fits really well.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Yumemi, if your torso length is 11″ from under the breast up to the top of the lap (along the princess seam), then this will be fine for most overbust corsets. I would suggest trying an overbust from a brand where you know that you’ll be able to return it for exchange or refund, should you discover that you dislike the fit. For instance, What Katie Did has a return duration of 14 days, Orchard Corset has a return window of 30 days, and Timeless Trends has a return period of 45 days after purchase.

  16. Chrissy on said:

    Heya Lucy!

    Random question! I was wondering what it actually looks like to wear an overbust corset under your clothing. Is it possible to throw on a shirt so that we could see what the silhouette would look like?

    • Brielle on said:

      I would like to see that, too. The thing that got me interested in corsetry in the first place was trying to find an alternative to bras to support my big bust. I currently wear a size 32-i bra, so it looks like I’ll have to go either fully custom for a good overbust that fits me right, or to make my own. I’m more interested in a corset for support rather than a corset for fashion, so seeing the different shape an underbust corset gives under clothes would be great.

  17. I’ve just started wearing corsets, and i’ll admit mine are OTR as I figure out if an overbust is the solution to my problem. I’m one of those 32/34 D gals and trying to find bras has been a nightmare. I’m picky about silhouette, shoulder straps hurt, and I’m sick and tired of the elastic giving out, underwires breaking, or other problems! Enough! It gets so expensive.

    I’m finding that the overbust supports me well, and my posture has been improving. My back feels a lot better after wearing one. Now I just have to see about getting one that fits my measurements better. 😀

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Thanks for your two cents, Alison! I’m glad your back pain is dissipating since finding an overbust. Let me know if you need any assistance in finding a good corset maker if you do want to eventually invest in a custom overbust. 🙂

  18. Very well said!! I started wearing corsets for breast support years ago..and have great success. I am one of ‘those’ 34DD with a 24″ waist… and I never feel support in anything else besides a sport bra, but they ‘flatten’ me. A good corset gives me support without the weight pulling on my shoulders via bra straps..and after 20 years, I believe the constant wearing of my corsets has helped keep the natural ‘girls’ in their place and not resting in my lap 🙂

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Wow, thank you for sharing your experience, Sharon! It’s great to hear someone who’s been using corsets for years and consistently benefitted from it! Do you get your overbusts custom fit, or is there a particular brand you swear by?

      • No particular brand… Some of my favorites are..Heavy Red, Axfods, Vollers, and Snobs. I have several custom, and many from corsets UK..and now I’ve been making my own..thanks to you!!

    • annoyingbranerd on said:

      Sharon, people who have a 24” waist often need bras with 30 and 28 bandsizes. Making an educated guess your bra size is probably closer to a UK 30 G/GG than a 34DD. The main reason you feel that only sports bras give you support is because the bands of sports bras are tighter.

      When I was stuck in 48D my bras hurt and were ugly as sin. I desperately wanted an overbust corset to fix my bra problems and tried some of those cheap plastic thingies. I then looked into custom, but could never afford it. Turns out I do not need a bra in 48D, but a bra in UK 40H or US 40K. I’m now looking into a custom underbust, but it is not a priority any more.

  19. I have decided to wear an overbust because I have muscle pain in that upper shoulder area you mentioned at the end of your video. I have tried getting bras that fit but they are expensive, cut into my armpits, and lose their shape within only a few months so must be replaced enough to add even more expense.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      I also have issues finding bras that fit (and don’t hurt!), Amanda! I’m glad that overbusts are working out for you! Thank you so much for your input. 🙂

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