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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. Hi Lucy,

    I’m new to corsetry and your YouTube videos have been of great help. I’ve also enjoyed your new book!

    My natural waistline is 22 inches. I got a 16-inch CS 411 a few days ago and have been seasoning it, wearing it for two hours every day. I’ve discovered, however, than I can’t lace down lower than 21.5 inches without feeling the corset is too tight; at 21.5 inches things feel comfy and snug but not tight. I’m aware of the 2-2-2 seasoning rule, but two inches seems to me a long way to go even during the seasoning phase (I’m afraid if I go further below 21.5 inches I’ll break the corset). My first question is, is my seasoning effort having any effect on my corset even though I’m laced down to only 0.5 inch smaller than my natural waistline?

    With my 16 inch corset laced down at 21.5 inches, the gap at the back measures at 4.5 inches. You’ve said if the gap at the back is more than 4-6 inches, then the corset is too small. My second question to you is, is my corset too small for me? PS at 21.5 inches the gap at the back is straight and parallel.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions

    1. Hello Su, I would have personally recommended the size 18″ for you instead of the size 16″. Another factor to take into account is how big your ribcage and hips are. The size 16″ corset you have most likely accommodates a ribcage of around 21″, and hips of around 25″. Boney areas like the ribs and hips do not compress the way the waist can, so if your own ribs and hips are larger than these measurements, it’s unlikely that you will ever be able to close the corset.

      Also, you don’t have to worry about cinching down 2 inches – it’s just a guideline. Some other people, for instance someone with a 40″ natural waist, may be able to immediately cinch down 6-8 inches in the first wear. The 2 inch seasoning suggestion is just a way to get some tension on the corset while not hurting yourself. If you can’t cinch down that much, it’s perfectly fine – especially considering that you are naturally petite. Just go with what is comfortable for your body.

      1. Really appreciate your prompt reply, Lucy. For the nth time, I’m impressed by the breadth of your knowledge.

        My underbust is 25.5 while my upper hip is 26, so looks like I can’t expect to be able to close my 16-inch corset. Your reply made me realize I should view my CS 411 as a starter corset; if I like being corsetted I should next opt for a custom made one. I’m Chinese and naturally small, with a short 9-inch torso, so most off-the-rack corsets made for the western body won’t fit me – I feel I’m lucky enough to have found CS 411, which wraps around my torso comfortably, without “poking” at my bust or upper thighs when I sit.

        I’ll be entering the middle-age territory a few years down the line, so my motivation in turning to corset is to prevent the much-dreaded middle-age spread. If I can reduce an inch or two off my natural 22-inch waist, that would be a bonus. I have noticed after only two hours of wearing my corset laced down at only half an inch, my natural waistline will measure at 21.5 when I take off my corset. It will revert back to 22 maybe half an hour later, but looks like things are already working (such results aren’t achievable with latex waist cinchers).

        By the way, I really enjoyed watching the video of your visit to Orchard Corset! It does really make a difference for corset newbies to see where their corsets comes from. I’ll certainly recommend my Chinese friends to buy CS 411 if they want to try corsetry (their torsos are short too) and I’ll suggest they watch that video of your visit, too.

  2. Can you better explain what you mean by “curvier”? I would assume that you mean look for a larger hip- and rib-spring, but how do you know what will be enough without being too much if you are relegated to OTR?

    For example, if you have a natural underbust–waist–high hip–low hip of 38–45–45–49, and corseted measurements of 40–34–44-48, would you look for a 40–32–44–48 in the next corset, or plan for more in the rib and hip area to account for additional redistribution at the smaller size and go for something like 42–32–44–48?

    Maybe I’m overthinking things, but I’m tight on money so I don’t want to get something unless it’s the best OTR sizing I can find. I’m hoping that that an MCC-64 will fit the bill, but I have little room for error. (So as you can see, I’m reading every post that might answer this question! ;) )

    1. Hi Beth, yes I mean a larger rib-spring and hip-spring when I suggest a curvier corset. If you absolutely know that you’re going to displace your flesh and “squish upwards” exclusively, then there’s no issue with you buying a corset that has a slightly larger rib-spring than you naturally have (like the 42–32–44–48 example) – however, it’s hard to predict exactly how much you’re going to displace unless you’re going custom and you’re going to get a mockup fitting. Another issue is that the silhouette changes the amount of displacement too – I need more room at the underbust level with a conical corset, than I do with a rounded-rib corset. With OTR corsets, there is quite a lot of trial and error, but one of the advantages is that most OTR companies also have a return policy.

  3. Hello Lucy,
    I started out with a CS411, natural waist of 37 and bought a sz 30 as recommended by orchard corsetry. I seasoned it in 2 weeks and the gaps were parallel. I closed the gap in 2 months and there was still flaring.

    My natural waist went down to 34 so I bought a mesh 426 in sz 26.
    Unfortunately it did not arrive in time before my trip to Asia, so I could only season it for 1 week. The right boning at the back on the right is straight but the left is curved concave slightly.
    I am wearing this daily for work as I don’t have another corset that fits properly as the old one is too big.

    What do you recommend?

    1. Hello Jess, the top edge of the CS-411 in size 30″ should be around 34 inches and the bottom edge is around 38 inches. If your own ribs and hips are smaller than this, then it will flare at the top and bottom even when it’s closed completely. If you let me know your rib and hip measurements, as well as your torso length, I can make a recommendation for you.
      I’ve personally noticed that the side of the corset that has the modesty panel attached will curve less than the side without the modesty panel, do you find this is true for your mesh corset?

      1. the top of my ribs is 36 inch and the bottom edge is 38.5 inch. my torso length 10.5 inch

        thanks for all your help and advise and providing this public service to new corsettiers…

  4. Hi Lucy, I’m in the process of commissioning my first custom corset, and I’m very excited. However, I’m not sure if I should remain with a 24″ waist, or go down to a 22″. My Corset Connection Magnolia cincher in 24″ can almost be laced down, except that the hips and underbust are too small (I’m about 1″ from getting the actual waist area closed). My ReStyle corset in 24″ can lace down completely in the waist with no problems (although it gaps a bit at the top). Should I ask to have my new corset in 24″, or should I be ready for 22″?

    1. Hi Meredith, if you’re happy with your waist at 24″, then you’re absolutely welcome to stay at that size! No one is pressuring you to lace down more. But if you WANT to lace to a smaller size, and you can fully close a size 24″, then go for the size 22″ – I know that I’m able to lace smaller in custom corsets than I am in OTR corsets because they’re more comfortable and fit my body better.

  5. Hey Lucy. I closed a 24 inch corset months ago. When I’m with it on I dont feel absolutely nothing! Is as loose as it can get. So that means my waist is just 24 inches now? It doesnt look like it, is it possible? I started with a 27 waist.

  6. The corset gap on my Orchard Corset CS-426 will not close to less than the width of the modesty panel no matter how hard I try to lace it tightly. I have a 26″ waist and 35″ hips, so I ordered down four inches (22″), which is pretty mild for their rule of thumb. But I still have that gap. Did I order a size too small or have I just not trained hard enough?

    1. Hi Sara, the CS-426 in size 22″ has a high hip measurement of 32″ and the low hip (around the lap area) is 35″. So if your high hip is what measures 35 inches, then it’s possible that the corset will not close on you because the bones of your pelvis will not compress. You may need the version with the hip ties to give your hips more room. Also, the corset is relatively conical through the ribcage, so even though your waist may be compressible, it will take months or years to train your floating ribs to accommodate the pressure of the corset.

  7. Hi Lucy,
    I’ve been wearing corsets for a little over a year and I am hooked. I am now looking to get a curvier corset. My first two corsets (26”) have been from Timeless Trends (which from what I can tell are more gently curved). I’m not very “squishy” and I am a little scared to buy a 24” because I don’t know if it will be too small for my bust and hip size (which are only an inch different). The two 26” corsets I have now fit my bust and hip perfectly but I can push my waist smaller. I was wondering if you knew where to get a curvier corset that isn’t too expensive.

    1. Hi Abbey, Orchard Corset’s CS-411 is slightly curvier than the Timeless Trends corset. Their CS-345 corset is sort of similar in curviness and silhouette. Are you looking for an overbust though? You mentioned you’re worried about your bust not fitting in the corset.

  8. I just got a cs411 in size 26 after I was recommended to do so by them. My waist is 30/31 inches. I’m seasoning it now but I have the feeling I can already close it very easily if I wanted to. How many gap inches would be normal to have when your corset is new, seasoned, before being able to close it?
    I wanted a 24 inches corset, I regret having bought this one now. Should I buy a new one now or keep using this one for a while. I want to waist train. Thank you, love.

    1. Hi Vanessa, when I was seasoning my first few corsets, typically the gap in the back was around 2-4 inches wide after seasoning and before I was able to close the corset. Remember also that as you go down in waist size in corsets, the ribcage and hips are also smaller so when you size down, you may have to seek out curvier corsets and not just size down in the same corset (unless you’re losing weight all over).

  9. Wahoooo lovely shape! What is this nude corset’s brand? Sorry if you already mentionned it or if I miss the review…

    1. Hi Waspi, this corset was made by Maison Moginot. :)

  10. Hey! Did I ruin my corset beyond repair? See, I got a new overbust from corset story and put it on and tightened like I always do.
    I’m a size 18 and don’t plan to reduce more as I already like my 21 inch 22 when I take it off

    Anyway I didn’t have discomfort but when I took my shirt off after 12 hours I saw that the front grommets are curving like a \
    Not quite as dramatic as that but sort of
    It baffles me because my other 18 in never did that
    I have a purple over bust in 22 that I wear from them over clothes (bought it big so I could wear my 18 in plus a frilly shirt plus an over corset for the look)
    Anyway I have 2 from them and they never did the curvy lean
    I’m sad if I broke it but at least I got 3 for 2 so it’s not too much a loss
    I’ll just take advantage of ther next 3 for 2 sale and replace this white overbust

    Anyway I took pics if those help
    I can email em later if that’s okay!

    Thanks again I loveeee this site

    1. Corset Story is very flimsy, so it’s probably not your fault that it’s falling apart, it’s most likely theirs.

    2. When you first tried it on, you laced it up on an angle (The grommets were on a slant/diagonal and look like // or \\ as opposed to grommets that are parallel and look like ││. Always adjust the corset often when seasoning it to prevent the fibers from permanently laying in a way that pulls on the grommets, making them slant. You didn’t ruin it or anything. Seasoning a corset is usually done gradually, limiting possible damage. Lucy recommends the rule 2-2-2. 2-inch reduction maximum, for 2 hours a day, for 2 weeks. You can have a 2 and a half hour seasoning session though, whatever works for you and the corset. Since you wore your corset for 12 hours the very first time, a minor misalignment of the grommets can become an obvious, perhaps permanent slant by the end of the day, if not checked often. If you have to wear a new corset for that long before it is properly seasoned, you must check the seams, bones, and that the grommets are parallel often, wiggle/pull down/pull up or otherwise adjust your corset very often to ensure the corset is comfy & does not “get used” to being too low or too high since that isn’t the placement you intend. Gradual seasoning also helps you to detect future issues early on such as the grommets being slanted. It is definitely not ruined unless it is a ridiculously extreme slant & although it may be permanent due to you wearing it for an excessive amount of time before it was properly seasoned, it still works and you may even be able to somewhat correct the slant by checking it is properly laced in the mirror and adjusting it often to ensure the grommets are as parallel as possible. Slanted grommets, usually only negatively affect aesthetics, although may cause a minor change in the shape of the corset. Sorry for the really long reply! I just felt really bad that you thought your brand new corset was ruined! :( I just wanted you to know all hope is not lost :D
      -Chelsea :)

      1. Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate it :)
        I suppose I did kind of wreak it but it’s okay, it’s just not antethestically pleasing to look at but since I wear it under clothes only I see it!
        I got 6 more during corset story’s big sale of buy 2 get one free so I am now seasoning them!
        I’m glad to learn this now and to not make the same mistakes ^_^

      2. Thanks for such good description of the problem, and fix. My first corset was seasoned, but being new to corseting I wasn’t always careful with my lacing, and developed a // slant of about 10-15 degrees off center. It is not quite fixable now, but with careful lacing, and checks throughout the day that it is straight, it has reduced the slant a lot. It is really important to make sure the back stays centered to your spine.

        It is an overbust, and I have a very slight curvature of my spine at shoulder level, due to scoliosis. I layperson wouldn’t notice, but a doctor would. I’ve wondered if that might be an influence, especially as my corset is a long line over bust, my second corset is a standard underbust and has never done this.

        It might be that a slight spinal curve is throwing things off. A lot of people have them, and they are so slight, they never know.

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