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Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

Last updated on January 31st, 2022 at 02:45 pm

We’ve talked about the shape of your lacing gap before (multiple times) and said that a parallel gap is what most people strive for in a well-fitting corset. But even in a corset with a parallel gap, how wide should that gap be? (And is it okay to wear it completely closed?) That’s what we’re going to discuss today!


Long story short: whether you wear a corset with a gap in the back or laced closed is 99% preference, unless a gap in the back is enforced by the specific corset maker you’re commissioning from.

With most OTR corsets, the size you see is the size you get.

In other words: if you order a corset that says it’s size 30″, then when it’s laced closed, your internal corseted waist will also be 30 inches (barring any stretch or ease).

Tomto Taifun corset
Taifun men’s corset by TO.mTO: An example of a corset that’s pretty much laced closed in the back. If you were to lace it any tighter, the edges would begin to overlap. (This lacing gap is okay!)

By the way, the definition of a “closed” corset is when the two edges of the lacing panels are touching. A closed corset does not mean one that is “simply laced enough for the modesty panel to reach across the back”. (There is way too much variation between the width of modesty panels of different brands – some panels are 4 inches wide, others are like 7 inches wide, and some don’t have modesty panels at all!)

So closed means that it’s laced shut and you can’t get it any smaller without actually altering the corset (see photo to the right).

Why would someone want or need a lacing gap in their corset?

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to wear a corset with a small lacing gap:

  • it can add some flexibility to the back of the corset. I’ve heard it described as the open laces acting like a hinge – so as you swing your hips when you’re walking or bending or doing activities, the corset can shift and swing with you.
  • If you have a sensitive spine (say you have very low body fat and your vertebrae visibly protrude from your back), you might find it more comfortable to wear the corset with a gap so the steels of the corset don’t rub against your back.
  • Having a gap in the back also accounts for weight fluctuations. If you happen to lose 5-10 pounds, your corset will still fit without feeling too loose.

But then again… if you want to wear your corset closed, that’s okay too.

  • Almost everyone I’ve seen in a corset, regardless of their body fat, experience the “Venus fold” – this is where the skin and erector muscles of your back get pushed together to create a cleavage in the back. (That’s not necessarily fat, people of every size can get that to some degree – and same with “muffin top” in corsets with a too-tight ribcage.) So if you are prone to the Venus fold, which more than likely you are, you might not have to worry about the corset rubbing against your spine, and you might be able to wear the corset completely closed with comfort if that’s your desire.
  • Also, if you are like myself and many others, and your weight fluctuations tend towards increasing as opposed to decreasing (especially as you age), you may find it more economical to order your corsets in such as size that they lace closed when at one’s lower end of your comfortable weight range. I do this as well (I’m happy to lace closed my size 22″, and if /when I eventually gain some inches, the gap in the back of my corset will not be too large).

I don’t wear my corsets closed all the time.

A relatively tubular corset laced in a )( shape, to make the corset seem curvier than it really is. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

Because I prefer the cycle method of wearing my corset (even though I don’t train per se anymore), throughout the day I may fluctuate the tightness based on my personal comfort level. For the purpose of my corset reviews though, I like the tidy look of a closed corset – and a corset that is closed from top to bottom is giving no illusions about the size I am wearing, or the silhouette the corset gives. I can’t “lie” about a tubular corset being curvier than it actually is by wearing the corset with a wonky )( shape in the back. In my reviews, I’m all about transparency – if the gap in the back is closed, you know that what you see is what you get.

I’m also transparent about the size I’m wearing, so you aren’t getting any illusion about the amount of curve you receive in a corset relative to the size. A 10-inch hip spring on a size 20″ corset is a 50% difference from waist to hips, which makes that small corset seem incredibly curvy. But a 10-inch hip spring on a size 40″ corset will only look half as curvy, because the waist is twice as big. Over the years I’ve worn corsets as small as size 20″ and as large as size 26″, and I mention this in my videos because the size does affect the apparent curve of the corset.

(There have been some corset makers who tried to make a range of corsets where the rib- and hip-springs increased proportionally with the size, but the complications involved in producing and fitting customers is with those types of corsets is a story for another time.)

Many OTR brands recommend a 2-3 inch wide lacing gap.

OTR corset with a standard 2-inch lacing gap in the back, to account for fluctuations. Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset, available from my shop. (This lacing gap is okay too!)

Like I said before: most OTR corsets are designed and made such that, if you wear the corset closed, then your internal waist will measure what it says on the label. However, it’s worth noting that many OTR brands train their employees to give sizing advice such that the customer will wear it with a 2-3 inch gap in the back. So if Sally-Joe from Blorset Corsets looks at your measurements and says your measurements almost perfectly match a size 30″ corset laced closed, she may recommend you buy the size 28″ instead, so that it’s deliberately worn with a gap. This may be for several reasons:

  • If you as a customer are extra compressible and lace the corset closed on the first wear, it would be considered too big (even if the ribs and hips of your corset fit flush with your body)
  • If your OTR corset is known to stretch or ease over time, the size 28″ might expand to fit you similarly to the (unstretched) size 30″. This is often the reason for going down a size in mesh corsets, for instance.

When prospective clients are coming through my personalized sizing service for the corsets in my shop, I will often recommend two sizes – the size that will lace closed in the back, and the size that will fit them with a small gap in the back.

If the client is in the process of losing weight, I will recommend the smaller size as it may fit them for a longer time (they may not drop in size proportionally, but at least the larger corset will not be too big in a short amount of time). If the client’s weight fluctuates towards increasing, I might recommend the larger corset, for the reasons I mentioned above in this article. If the person aesthetically likes the corset laced closed, they can choose the larger corset – or if they like the corset with a gap, they can choose the smaller corset.

How wide of a gap is too wide?

A too-small corset: the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

I’ve spoken about this in my addendum to corset gaps article. If you’ve got a 10-inch gap in the back of your corset –> the side seams of the corset are offset too much from the side of your body –> you don’t have appropriate torque to tighten the corset –> this runs the risk of putting uneven stress on the corset and warping it, and putting too much pressure on the back of your body and not enough tension at the front of the body. (See picture to the right.)

What is a good guideline for a gap that is just the right size?

A 1-3 inch gap is generally fine for many people and it won’t offset the seams of an OTR corset or the intended fit too much, even if your weight fluctuates by an estimated 5-10 pounds.

One guideline for the maximum gap in the back of the corset is the distance between your Venus Dimples.

For other brands (e.g. Dark Garden), they say that a gap that is about 10% of your size of your corset is fine. So if you wear a 60 inch corset (which do exist, just not in OTR), your gap in the back can be 6 inches wide and it won’t affect the fit by too much. But a 6-inch wide gap on someone wearing a size 20” is definitely not going to look/ feel/ fit the same way, and its best to aim for a 2-inch gap for that size.

13 thoughts on “Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

  1. I have been wearing corsets off and on for a few years but after two kids and weight gain I have found bras are starting to hurt my shoulders and leave indents. So I ordered an hourglass overbust corset from Timeless Trends to wear as daily underwear, and I love it! However I bought a 30M ( for a 38.5 waist) and it fit perfectly for the first month but now I find I can close it comepletely (after 2 months) and it is just a little looser than I like. I need to size down but I am wondering if 28 or a 26 would be better. I would prefer to not have to replace it in two months so I’m thinking a 26 but not sure if that would leave too big of a lacing gap.
    Also could you do a segment on how to clean a corset. I wore my very lovely peach satin under a denim shirt and it left behind color along the bones/ribs so its a little more than spot cleaning.

    1. Hi Kimberley, thanks for reaching out. Did you purchase your overbust from my shop or directly through TT? You are welcome to use my LucyBots to determine which size corset would be most likely to fit. I have covered washing corsets in this article here on how water affects corsets.

      1. I purchased it from TT after contacting them. I should have used your corset calculator. They suggested a 30, yours said 28. But I went with the 30 as it was the same size as the ones I had bought from corset story years ago that still fit but of a different style. I was wondering if the coset has stretched or why it was looser within 2 months.

        1. Hi Kim, thanks for your clarification – yes the TT corsets fit very differently to CS corsets. The best way to figure out if a corset stretched is to measure it flat the way I show in this video.

  2. I have a natural waist of about 27″ and got a 20″ corset. I’ve only had it for one day, and have about a 5, maybe 6-inch gap. I got a 20″ bc the orchard corset sizing guide told me to. I was planning on slowly waist training until it closed. this is only my first day seasoning it, but will the gap be a problem?

    1. Hi Kait, so sorry for my late response! Your lacing gap is a little bigger than I usually like to see at first, but as long as your waistline is compressible enough that you can pull in the corset (and the finished springs of your corset eventually fit your proportions) so that you have a lacing gap of about 2-3 inches or less, then it might still work for you. :)

  3. I cannot find a corset that fits me at all. I’ve gained like almost 40lbs in past five years and I have a corset gap of about 4 inches now. The modesty panel doesn’t ever cover anymore. Help!

    1. Hi Rachel, you’re welcome to send me your measurements and let you know what might fit.

  4. Should the gap be measured after seasoning, or is the 2-3 in. the ideal measurement to look for upon first wear?

    1. Hi CM, in some of my corsets, I might have about a 4-inch lacing gap while breaking it in, and it will pull in to be about 1-2 inches lacing gap once it’s fully broken in. But this depends on the fit of the corset, your experience level, whether you prefer your lacing gap to be laced closed or to have a small lacing gap, etc. So there are no hard and fast rules here.

  5. Another thought is whether a single lacing row is always the right way to go in practice. What if one were to use two lacing lines, each over the muscular pads on either side of the spine? It would be a nuisance to lace in a balanced way, but would get rid of the pressure on the bones themselves.

  6. As a leatherworker, I am aware that a horse saddle takes this further: it has pads either side of the spine to create clearance over it, so the saddle presses on the back muscles and not the spine. You might find a similar practive helps here, so that a fully-closing back-laced corset is not quite what it seems from the outside, a pad perhaps 1/4″ thick lies just behind the line of the lacing stay to lift it clear of the spine. You’d have to experiment with someone for whom that was a problem. In that instance, a full-length pad might have to be thicker over the soft tissues of the abdomen than over the ribs and hips.

  7. I am finding that corset sizing and style are a journey… which sometimes can be frustrating. I’ve purchased some that I’ve thought were a great fit and ended up not so great! I guess it’s live and learn – especially when you are tight with money like me.

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