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How much to Size Down, and why too-wide Corset Gaps are BAD

Last updated on January 6th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

Last week we discussed how you can tell when you’re ready to size down, and what to do with your older, bigger corset – today we’ll discuss what you need to consider when choosing your next, smaller corset. You can watch the video below, or skip over the video and read the article – they contain the same information.

Once again, remember that sizing down is a personal choice – you don’t have to if you don’t want to. And as usual if you’re ever concerned with the idea of training down in the first place, talk to a trusted medical professional.

Stick with the same brand for your smaller corset, or try a new brand?

If you’re elated with the brand you previously owned, then by all means you can order from them again. This is especially beneficial if you’re ordering custom from the same corsetiere; you get to build a rapport with them, they are familiar with your body and they may be able to improve on any possible minor fitting issues that you may have had from previous corsets. Some of them also keep your pattern and notes on hand, and a few corsetieres also offer loyalty discounts for repeat customers – this is the great advantage to practicing brand loyalty!

But if you’re going with a standard sized corset, then just be aware that when you size down, you may have to order a curvier style.  Remember that as corsets go smaller in size, the underbust, waist and hips all get proportionally smaller, not just the waist. So if you’re sizing down in the waist but your natural underbust and hips measurements haven’t changed, then if you try to put yourself into a smaller version of your first corset, you might experience muffin top or flesh spillover; your hips might feel pinched and the bones in the back of the corset may twist warp as you try to close the waist while the top and bottom edges refuse to meet.

If these things sound familiar, it may be because it’s been covered in my “corset gaps” article with respect to the )( shaped gap – the gap that signifies that the corset is

Click the photo to see my seasoning series, where I talk about flaring in more detail.
If you are losing weight and find that the top and bottom edges of your old corset are loose on you when it’s fully closed, you can likely size down with the same cut and style.

not curvy enough for your natural figure and experience level!

However, there’s one situation that you may be able to stick with the exact same OTR corset brand and style, just a size smaller – if you have lost weight and you find that you’ve dropped inches all over (including underbust, waist and hips) proportionally, then the same corset may fit you in the smaller size.

Should I choose a corset one size smaller, or skip one and go two sizes smaller?

The amount that you size down depends on your starting numbers, whether you’re more squishy/compressible or more muscular/uncompressible, how quickly you’re reducing in size, and whether you’re combining waist training with a change in your meal plan or fitness regimen to lose a large amount of weight (or more accurately, volume).

Some reasons that you may want to go down only one size, or the equivalent of two inches:

  • if you are smaller or more muscular to begin with.
  • if you are training very slowly.
  • if you are maintaining your weight or body composition.
  • if your corset, when worn completely closed, feels still kinda snug but not tight; and you’re not able to feel a large space between yourself and the internal wall of the corset.

Some reasons that you may consider going down by two sizes, or the equivalent of 4 inches:

  • if you are larger and softer to begin with, perhaps with a natural waist size exceeding 40 inches.
  • if you may find yourself extra compressible and training much quicker than expected (you’ve closed your first corset within a month or so).
  • if you are ACTIVELY and steadily losing weight. (Note that this doesn’t count those who simply have intentions of losing weight and haven’t started yet.)
  • if the corset is literally falling off you, and you can put yourself plus both your hands into the corset, or pull your abdomen away from the internal wall of the corset and create a space.

It also depends on what you feel comfortable with. If you are not comfortable or don’t feel ready to size down two sizes, one size, or at all, then don’t! Nobody is forcing you.

Special considerations for those experiencing rapid weight change:

In the case of rapid and copious amounts of weight loss (or gain, but generally quick loss is the more common situation I hear about), if you have limited funds I would advise that you wait until your loss has slowed down to around 1 pound a week, or your weight has stabilized completely. One reason for this is that it obviously stinks to buy a corset and have it be too big even a month later, and another reason is that during a process of a drastic body transformation, not a lot of people can predict exactly where they’re going to lose the next inch. When you’re losing 10 or more pounds a month, over the course of one month you may find that you’re losing more from your breasts or abdomen, while the next month you might find your hips and bum are reducing – and in the case of such a close-fitting garment such as a corset, these small changes of just a few inches can drastically affect how a corset fits and feels.

“Mind the gap!”

A too-small corset (the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel).
A too-small corset (the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel).

The last topic is to please once again, mind the gap in the back of your corset when trying on your new, smaller corset! Even when you’re sticking with the same brand you trust (just in a new smaller size) you should still keep in mind the shape and the size of the gap in the back. As we discussed above: just because one particular corset cut worked for you the first time, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for the smaller size!

A new corset, when unseasoned and worn at a comfortable reduction, often has a gap of 2-4 inches if it’s designed to close completely in the back, or possibly a slightly larger gap of 4-6 inches if the corset is designed to always have a small gap in the back (which some corsetieres do draft for).

I know that a lot of people out there want to save money and they don’t want to keep spending money to buy smaller and smaller corsets, so even if they have a 35 inch natural waist, they might be tempted to buy a size 20”. But sizing down gradually is important for the corset to fit and be comfortable.

If the gap in the back is too large (more than 4-6 inches while you’re gently seasoning, depending on the experience level of the waist trainer), the corset might be too small for you in general or too advanced for your level. Even if a custom corset has all the measurements and curves to theoretically fit you perfectly when closed, you might not be ready for that kind of reduction on the get-go.

Why is too large a gap bad, even when kept parallel and true?

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 1.10.15 AM
The hips of the corset are angled too forward compared to my own hips. This creates a “pocket” in the front, and uneven pressure at the back of my hip.

With such a huge gap in the back, you may also feel tempted to lace the corset tighter than your body is ready for in order to minimize that gap faster, and you may end up hurting yourself, or damaging the corset, or becoming discouraged by what you feel is a relative lack of progress (or all three!). And if you end up breaking your corset and having to pay for a replacement or repair, then your waist training regimen may not end up being any less expensive than if you had sized down gradually with several different corsets.

Remember when you size down a little at a time, those old larger training corsets not necessarily a waste! See my last article on what to do with your old corsets when you feel that you’re done with them. 

I  hope this article and the last one helped some readers determine when it’s time to size down and by how much to size down. If you have any other tips and tricks to add, do let me know in a comment below!

44 thoughts on “How much to Size Down, and why too-wide Corset Gaps are BAD

  1. Hello Lucy,
    Can your recommend a corsetier i can train with to make trans corsets in London

    1. Hi Bukola, have you seen my article on feminizing corsets here? All of these are between semi-custom to fully bespoke. Some are in the US, some Canada, several in the UK as well. If you click on the picture it will redirect you to that corsetiere’s website where you can see more examples of their work, ask them questions, or start a commission.

  2. Hi Lucy, I bought a corset with a plan in mind to close it some day. When closed, all measurements align with my underbust and hips perfectly. However, when I wear it with a 3inch gap, the hips flare and there’s some space in the underbust area too(although much less visible than the hip flaring). I was wondering if it would be possible to wear my corset in \/ shape until I am able to train down my waist and fully close it. I’m not a fan of the corset hip flaring look.. please let me know if it’s safe on the corset honing to lace it in V and then parallel closed or if it would damage it in some way. Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Lisa! With curvier corsets, it’s totally normal to see some flaring at the top and bottom edges when it’s laced loosely – over time as you become accustomed to the corset and you’re able to lace it tighter over time, you should notice that flaring dissipate. :) That being said, it’s fine to wear your corset with a slight “V” shaped gap if you find it more comfortable and better fitting that way. I would much rather someone wear their corset with a “V” gap as opposed to try to force the corset parallel/closed before they feel ready to do so, especially if it causes discomfort! “V” and “A” shaped gaps don’t cause damage to the corset because the steels in the back are not twisting or warping in their channels. I would be careful not to let the lacing gap approach “()” or “)(” or even “Y” because these can cause the steels to permanently kink out of shape. But the way you describe should be fine. :)

      1. Thank you so much for your prompt response, Lucy! You’re a big inspiration and educator for me :) I will wear it with a slight V shape in the beginning until I feel comfortable to lace it tighter and eventually close the corset. Thank you again and keep on rocking!

  3. Hello, I am looking to buy a orchard corset CS-426 standard hourglass with hip ties. My measurements are 30 bust/ 28.5 waist/25 squish/38.5/9.5 torso. I am told to get a 22 inch corset. I have a 22 inch corset at the moment not by them by play girls and I have been wearing it for a while. I have excessive hand over the top and it’s not cute. The back isn’t closed as much as it should be due to that. Anyways, that’s when I decided to talk to a person at orchard corset. I’m making sure that the 22 inch is good it should I go down to a 24 inch? Please let me know what you think. I’ve been wearing the other corset for a few weeks now. Love it but, need something better.

    1. Hi Melissa, when I tried the standard 426 with hip ties, the rib spring was about 5 inches and the hip spring was minimum 10-11 inches (but expandable). So if you’d like your corset to lace fully closed in the back, I would go with the size 24″. If you prefer to have a lacing gap at all times so that the steels aren’t resting against your spine, then you can go with size 22″ and wear it a little “open” in the back. :)

  4. Hi there.. I just sent in my measurements to another corset brand and they recommended I get a size 22. My underbust is 33, waist 30, upper hip 37 and lower hip area is 42.. Is a sz 22 too small?

    1. Hi Faith, I think the size 22″ would be too much of a reduction for you to start with, unfortunately… If this is your first corset, I would recommend 24″ at the smallest for you at this time. But it depends on the brand and style as well, because some corsets are curvier than others. Depending on your torso length, you could fit many of these corsets in the Corset Database in size 24″ (I’ve just put in your rib-spring and high hip-spring, and a max budget of $150 – you can narrow down the choices even further if you want).

  5. Hi there, I just got my first corset and everyone says while seasoning “only two inch reduction” but what does that actually mean? I wear an 18″ corset (natural waist is 23) so when I season it should I lace myself in so that when I measure around it it’s 21″ or do I lace it to 23″? Because obviously the corset adds a few inches but how many does it add? Just looking for some clarification,

    1. Hi Anna, if going by the Romantasy method, the measurement is overtop of the corset – so yes, a two-inch reduction from the outside of the corset is probably closer to 3 inches (or more) underneath the corset. But unless the place where you purchased your corset is very stringent on “only two inches” and their warranty policies hinge on that as proper use, you really don’t need to overthink it. Just lace it lightly and comfortably for a couple of hours, until you’re ready for more!

  6. I just bought a timeless trends hourglass in a 22. I went by the size chart and that was the size it recommended. I have a 28 inch waist. When I put the corset on I can lace it parallel in the back however my gap is about 4.5 to 5 inches. Also I don’t have much flair at the top and bottom. Its almost flush with my ribs and hips. Did I get a size too small? Maybe even not curvy enough since there is very little flare? I want to waist train and I am worried I got to small of a size to do that with.

    1. Hi Chrissie, did you purchase the corset from my shop or directly from Timeless Trends? I’d be happy to look over your rib and hip measurements and tell you which style and size would probably fit you best. It does sound like you could go a size up though.

      1. I got it from timeless trends directly. If its too small it is not a big deal I got it on sale so I am not out much money. My underbust is a 32, waist is 28, high hip is 34 low hip is 36. I guess on my end I am just confused on what size I need in order to train my waist down.

  7. Hey Lucy so I got a cs 411 long line from orchard corset…. my natural waist is 38 and they told me to get a 32…i probably should have got a 34 but I’ve been losing weight and in three days lost 4lbs is it ok to keep it and slowly break it in so I don’t have to spend extra later? Is a large gap too big of an issue. It is parallel and the corset isn’t straining.

    1. Hi Jaimee, depending on how much weight you’re losing, the corset may be fine. I’ve found that for people who lose inches evenly all over their body, a loss of around 10 lbs is likely to put them in the next smaller size. For those who gain or lose weight almost exclusively in their tummies, it’s more like a difference of 5 lbs that put them into the next size. But do keep in mind that your ribs and hips also play a role in how a corset fits!

  8. So with a natural waist of 27in, not compressed, underbust of 29 and illiac of 32, I was looking at getting the Isabella Victorian in a 22in and just rocking a gap with I train, would that be a reasonable place to start?

    1. That’s totally fine Charleigh! There’s no problem in having a bit of a gap (about 3 inches to start is reasonable, and you can close it over time).

  9. Hi there, so im just getting into tight lacing and have read so much and watched many videos. In the end i ordered a size 38 CS426 from orchard corsets. I recieved it and began the seasoning process but after 45-60 minutes of wearing; it was time to tighen up. As i did so, i realized that the top back was basically fully closed already. I discovered that i had measured incorrectly and should have also sized down a bit more. My waist is 44 inches thinking i was 46 and i had ordered a 38. On the site it says to size down 7-10, so upon reordering, i went the full 10 and ordered a 34 inch. Does this seem right to you?

    1. Hi Veronica, the ribcage and hip measurements are just as important as the waist measurement! For instance, for the size 34″ corset (style CS-426), the closed waist measures 34″, the ribcage will measure 40″ and the low hip will measure around 47″. I have a video on finding proper sizes here, and you can check out the measurements calculator here!

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