I recently received an email from a client who had purchased a corset and garter straps (suspenders) from my shop. They had assumed that when they’re purchased together, they would come attached, but in reality the garter straps are detachable and interchangeable (which means you can use them in many of your corsets!) but it does mean that there is “some assembly required.”
Most brands of corsets come with garter tabs, which are small loops at the bottom edge of the corset – they’re usually sewn upwards so that when they’re not in use, they are out of the way and not visible from the outside. They are also pressed very flat so as not to irritate your skin in any way.
When you do want to attach your garter straps to the corset, you take the “hook” side (it looks just like the hooks that come with interchangeable bra straps) and slide it through the garter loops.
Make sure that you’re not attaching your garter strap inside out! There’s an inside and an outside. The outside has the metal slider which allows you to adjust the length of the strap. You will also see that the “button” part of the garter clip faces outwards, for ease of use and to prevent your skin from touching the metal wire loop.
Check out the video below to see how to attach your garter straps to your corset. It’s much easier to do this before you put on the corset as opposed to when you’re wearing the corset.
You can also adjust the length of the garter strap (if it’s your first time attaching your stockings and you’re not sure how taut you need the straps to be, it might be easier to lengthen the garter straps as far as they will go when you attach to your stockings, and then tighten to your preferred amount once everything is attached.
To adjust the length of your garter straps:
Flip up the metal slider to unlock it – this helps it glide easier.
To lengthen the strap, grab the upper portion (with the single layer of elastic) while pulling down gently on the slider, allowing the lower portion (the double-layer loop of elastic) to glide freely. This makes a smaller loop, lengthening the strap.
To shorten the strap, pull up on the metal slider with one hand and you may also need to pull gently on the loop of elastic below the slider as well, if there is tension on the strap from your corset being attached to your stockings. The aim is to make that loop bigger, which shortens the strap.
Once you’re happy with the length, remember to flip down the metal slider – this makes the “teeth” of the slider bite into the elastic, keeping it in place!
My corset has 6 garter loops, but I only have 4 garter straps!
This can happen if you ordered your corset from a different shop as your garters, or if you lost a couple of garter straps – but not to worry! You can still use your straps.
There are 3 garter tabs on each side of your corset – I would recommend attaching your straps to the first one (closest to the front busk) and the last one (closest to the back laces), leaving the side seam without a strap.
Or – if you have a bigger bum, or if your garters just don’t like to stay attached at the back of your stockings when you sit down or stoop, you can attach your straps to loop 1 (by the busk) and 2 (on the side seam) and leave the back unsupported. This does mean that your stockings might sag a little at the back, but if your skirt / slacks are long enough, this won’t be visually noticeable.
My corset has only 4 garter loops, but I have 6 garter straps!
Keep those extra two garter straps for backup in case you lose a couple. ;)
Today I’m going to demonstrate how to curve the busk of your corset for a more deliberately dished front on the longline corset in the video above.
The first curve will make it resemble more of a spoon busk, so it wraps around and slightly underneath a full lower tummy, and helps pull it up and in.
The second curve will bring in the lowest tip of busk to prevent the look of a distracting “pelvic protrusion”.
The third curve to the busk is creating a concave “dished” profile to make the side-view look more curvy and slender.
The fourth and last curve will push outwards the very top edge of the busk – this will help those who have sensitive sternums, as the top of the busk will put less pressure on your diaphragm / not poke into the solar plexus area.
Do you have to bend your busk?
Not at all! If you already get great abdominal support from your corset, it gives you good posture, and you’re comfortable, and you like the look of the profile, feel free to keep your corset as is!
Can you buy a corset with a pre-curved busk?
Very rarely do OTR corsets actually come already sold with a curved busk – busks are manufactured to be straight, and then some spoon busks are curved or pressed after the fact to give their characteristic shape. WKD used to sell spoon busk Morticia corsets, and I think Corset Story sold quasi-spoon busks that were wider at the bottom but not curved. But usually if you want a corset to come with a busk pre-curved, you will need to go custom and specifically ask the corset maker to curve the front for you.
If you DO want to go the custom route, the corsetieres I know for certain will curve the front busk for you if you ask them, include:
C&S Constructions (they’re arguably the most well-known for their very dished fronts)
Before you start: Respect the brand / shop policies…
When you can’t afford to go custom and your only option is OTR – in pretty much all OTR corsets, the busk will come straight, and if you curve the busk yourself this means you’re deliberately manipulating the corset – this will, in all likelihood, render any warranty or return policies void and they will not accept the corset, so before you bend the busk, be sure you’re going to keep the corset and not send it back.
Bend each side of the busk separately or together?
You have the option of bending each side separately or bending both sides of the busk together.
If your corset has a boned underbusk that has an extra wide, stainless steel bone under one side of the busk, and the actual busk itself is a very flexible, standard width busk, I would first manipulate the side with the underbusk – then I’d put the busk together and see if curving the other side is even necessary or not, because sometimes a flexible busk will bend to the curve of the stronger underbusk.
If your hands are strong enough, I’d curve both sides of the busk together, clasped closed, so that both sides of the busk have the same amount of curve – this will ensure that the loops and pins will always line up. You’ll want to support the areas where the loops and pins are riveted in, so the busk doesn’t break there or the pins don’t fall out. What you’re aiming for is for most of the curve to occur between each bracket, and not much right at the bracket.
If your hands are not strong enough, you can curve each side of the busk separately – it is the more careful way of doing things, but it also takes longer to make sure that both sides of the busk are curved the same amount, and that all the loops and pins line up exactly.
Does the type of busk matter?
If your corset has carbon fiber bones adjacent to the busk (which will only be included by special order in a custom corset), don’t even bother trying to bend it. It will be too stiff to manipulate significantly with your hands, and carbon fiber is designed to be strong but relatively brittle. Rather than holding a curve, poor quality carbon fiber would rather shatter – so if you want a curve to your front, you will have to remove those carbon fiber bones and replace them with steel.
A wide stainless steel busk and a spoon busk may be more tricky to bend, but it is possible. Flexible standard width busks are relatively easy to bend.
Some extra tips:
Like I said with my other article on curving the back steels – only bend a little bit at a time, try it on, and then if you find you need a little more curve, then take it off and bend a little more, just small amounts at a time. Go with what is most comfortable and compatible with your body, not just the amount of curve that happens to look dramatic and cute, because that might be too much curve for you.
If your hands are too weak to curve the busk on your own, use the curve of your thigh or your knee, or a tailor’s ham. You can try (very gently) to curve it over certain rounded countertops, but don’t bend it too much as to form kinks, and try not to bend it back and forth because bending it too much one way and then the other will weaken the steel. Below you’ll find a guide on which countertop edges are best for curving steel, if you choose to go this route.
For all of the descriptions of the different types of curves below, you can check out the video above for the demonstrations!
SUPPORT LOWER TUMMY POOCH (FUPA)
This first example is for those who have a panniculus, which is the medical term for lower tummy pooch, mother’s apron, or (more crudely) a “FUPA”. Curving the busk just a little bit under to cradle the bottom of a protruding abdomen can sometimes help fight that gravity that wants to pull your tummy out from under the corset.
You want to create a convex curve at the lower tummy, usually below the belly button. If you need to try on the corset and mark the area lightly with tailor’s chalk, go ahead and do so.
Again, focus on curving the areas between the brackets, and support the brackets as you place pressure on it.
GET RID OF THE “PELVIC PROTRUSION” (corset dingdong)
Curving the very bottom of the busk inward will help prevent a distracting point from poking out at your pubic region. (But as a general guideline, starting with a corset that’s cut straight across or at least gently rounded will help hide the bottom edge much more effectively than a pointed or dramatically contoured lower edge.)
Here you want to start as low down as possible – if you have a longer busk with fewer brackets (pairs of loops/pins), then you could possibly even start below the last brackets. If not, you can start curving from the area between the last and second last brackets. Curve towards your body.
Just a note: if you have a very low body fat percentage or very flat lower tummy, curving the bottom edge of the busk too much can cause it to jab into your pubic mound or pelvic bone uncomfortably, so be careful here and curve less as opposed to more here, until you get a comfortable compromise.
CREATE A DISH IN THE WAIST
If you find that your corset is too “thick” or flat in the profile and you prefer the look of an inwardly dished front at the waistline, you can create a gentle concave curve.
Start right at the waist tape, and unlike the two curves above, focus on curving outward instead of inward. Try not to create too dramatic a bend here – curve the busk a little at a time, and keep trying on your corset as you go. The inward curve does not affect your posture or cause you to lean forward. It should also not put any uncomfortable pressure on your diaphragm.
The more dished a corset is at the waist, the more it kicks out the top and bottom tips of the busk. You may need to adjust the bottom edge more to prevent that pelvic region from sticking out.
CURVE OUT THE STERNUM
I deliberately left this one for last, because if you had curved inward the waistline, sometimes that is enough to kick out the top of the busk enough to take pressure off of the diaphragm.
Some corsetieres sew a tiny pillow or cushion to make the top of a busk more comfortable at the sternum like Creations L’Escarpolette, but another potential option is to gently curve outwards the top tip of the busk so it points just very slightly away from your sternum.
It is essentially the opposite of the “pelvic protrusion” bend. In this situation, you want to start as high up as possible – above the highest set of loops and pins – or if that is not possible, then you can start curving from the area between the first and second sets Curve towards your body.
If you apply all of these curves to the same corset, it will end up looking slightly like an S shape. Again, I’d recommend doing only a little at a time, and keep trying it on. Obviously you don’t want to overdo all of these and end up giving yourself a worse posture than before.
Hopefully this guide is helpful for you! Do let me know if you have any questions, and if you have any other tips leave a comment down below.