Back in 2011 I made an introductory video on corset liners, what they are used for and what you can use as a substitute (tank top, tube top, etc). But at the time I had only experienced one brand of corset liner, and in the past few years I’ve tried a few more from different companies so I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each today.
What is a corset liner?
A liner is a thin, stretchy, breathable garment that you wear underneath your corset which provides a barrier or buffer between your skin and the corset.
Liners do two things: they protect your skin against chafing, and they help keep the corset clean. I’ll go into more detail below.
Liners are typically made from a very stretchy fabric and designed to be smaller than your natural waist. A well-fitting corset liner, when unstretched, should be about the same waist measurement as your corset’s closed internal waist measurement, so when you’re lacing down, the liner will shrink back with the corset and remain smooth around your body.
Preventing wrinkles or folds under the corset will help keep you more comfortable and prevent pressure sores that might have otherwise occurred if you wore a bulky shirt under your corset instead.
You can purchase specific corset liners, which look like hourglass-shaped tube tops. Most corset liners are for underbust corsets – they cover only from the underbust to the upper hips.
Corset liners help protect your body
If you are lacing without a liner, the rigid corset may drag against your skin and pull it in uncomfortable ways, resulting in chafing and bruising. Laces can also cause rope/friction burn if the corset doesn’t have a modesty panel. Corset liners are sometimes made with a relatively slick fabric which allows the corset (and laces) to glide over the liner, reducing the risk of chafing.
A good liner can also prevent your skin from being scratched by a split or rough grommet. All proper liners will also be breathable and moisture-wicking so will help keep your skin comfortable and feeling cool and dry throughout the day.
Corset liners help protect your corset
If you’re wearing a corset on a regular basis, especially in warm weather, you’re going to sweat quite a lot. Your body also produces sebum, and trillions of bacteria and yeast cells grow all over your skin and feed of the oil and cholesterol in your sebum, kept in a careful balance to protect you from external pathogenic germs. You are also constantly sloughing off dead skin cells and losing downy little hairs from all over your body. Also, if you use skin products like lotions and perfumes, these can also transfer onto your clothing! This is why some people are understandably disgusted to learn that corsets are rarely (if ever) washed.
Corsets should not be washed regularly, for several reasons which I discuss this article. It’s imperative that the corset be kept as clean as possible and washing be kept to a minimum.The catch 22 is that corsets can be damaged by being washed, but they can also be damaged by not being washed! The salt in our sweat and the acidic pH of the mantle of our skin can break down fibers in delicate fabrics like silk. Also, an unwashed, dark, damp corset can create a breeding ground for microbes, and affect that delicate balance of critters on our skin – making us more prone to skin infections – yuck!
But wearing a liner between your body and the corset means that the liner will take this abuse instead, and the liner can be washed regularly, saving your corset and keeping it clean and fresh.
Are you absolutely required to wear a liner under your corset? Of course not; a garment is yours to do with as you wish – but if you want your corset to last as long as possible, then it’s a great reason to start!
Thin stretchy shirts can be a corset liner substitute
If you don’t have access or can’t afford real corset liners, there are many products that will do as makeshift liners. Some of my favorites include thin cotton babydoll t-shirts (as they are thin, close-fitting, stretchy and breathable), seamless microfiber camisoles and tank tops in the summer, and microfiber turtlenecks in the winter. I have even heard of people wearing body stockings or leotards – just make sure you have some way of going to the bathroom in these, as you don’t want to be in a rush and discover that you have to remove your corset to do your business!
However, most shirts have their limitations: they are usually cut to suit a natural waist, and they’re unlikely to shrink down enough with a corset – the result is a few wrinkles in your shirt under the corset. This is usually not the end of the world, and many people are fine with this especially if their corset is only a moderate reduction and they’re not training 23 hours a day. In shirts that tend to wrinkle on me, I will slide my hands under the corset before tightening and try to bring the fullness of the fabric away from the sides of my waist (where there’s the most pressure) to the back, where it’s less likely to irritate.
Corset liner =/= Faja
Both liners and fajas are stretchy and designed to fit smooth around the body. However, they have some important differences:
A corset liner is breathable and moisture-wicking. It’s not shapewear, it’s not so strong that it’s going to pull your waist in by more than an inch or so.
A “rubber cincher” or faja is still stretchy, but it has more resistance so it may bring in the waist by a couple of inches. But the main difference is that it’s not designed to be breathable. The rubber or neoprene coating keeps you warm and encourages you to sweat. The rubber cincher makes you hot and sweaty, whereas a corset liner keeps you cool and dry – literally opposite effects!
Let’s compare the stats of all the corset liners:
The table is pretty wide, be sure to use the slider at the bottom to see all the brands.
|Brand||Contour Corsets||ChabaMe||Madame Sher||Heavenly Corsets||Corset Connection|
|Price||$45 USD each, or $125 for set of 3.||$10 USD each||$20 USD for a pair||£14 GBP (~$18 USD) each||$20 USD each|
|Type of Fabric||Synthetic 4-way stretch Spandex fabric (not swimsuit fabric).||75% Bamboo|
|cotton jersey (4-way stretch knit).||Synthetic spandex fabric (feels like swimsuit fabric).||Cotton and lycra (thinner than Madame Sher).|
|# of seams||2 seams (I wear the corset with the seams to the front and back, and the tag on the outside).||Zero seams (woven tube).||2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).||1 seam which is designed to be worn toward the back of the body, where the laces are.||1 seam, and the seam is kind of lapped so it's flatter than a typical seam allowance.|
|Custom or Standard||Custom to my measurements||Standard (sizes S, M, L)||Made to match my corset size||Custom to my measurements||Standard (size medium)|
|Colors available||Black, beige,||Black||Nude||Black, white||Black, white, ivory, nude|
|Length (Unstretched)||14”||11” (size medium), 10" (size small)||10”||12”||10”|
|Circumferential measurements (Unstretched)||Waist is 20", underbust is 26", hips are 32”.||Size small is 20” along the entire length, size Medium is 24” along entire length.||22" waist, same as my corsets - but the underbust/ hips were not to my measurements.||Waist is 21", underbust is 28”, hips are 29”.||Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 27”.|
|Pros||Elastic ribbon on the top and bottom helps keep it in place. You can fold your liner over the top and bottom edges of your corset, which helps protect the binding from wear, abrasion, or underboob sweat. Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin and stretchy.||Smooth, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, no seams. Mostly natural fibers (good for those who are sensitive too all synthetic liners).||Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics.||Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin.||Pretty stretch lace on the top and bottom edges, which is flatter/ lower profile than a thick folded sewn hem.|
|Cons||Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Most expensive option (worth it, in my opinion).||Fabric is more plush and less slick. The woven hem may leave temporary marks on the skin.||When on my body, it tends to shorten a bit so it doesn't cover the full length of my corset. Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey).||Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Also it's a weird shape, and the seam creates a point at the top and the bottom that tends to extend beyond the edges of my corset.||The lace has a habit of rolling over on itself - if this annoys you, go with one of the other corsets with a more sturdy hem. Also, cotton wrinkles a little more than the synthetic liners.|
|Award:||Most stretchy, most smooth under corsets. Lucy’s personal favorite.||Affordable, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, 2nd-most stretchy. Lucy’s 2nd favorite.||Least expensive, most moisture-wicking.||Most slippery.||Softest to the touch, most breathable.|
Have you tried a corset liner brand not mentioned here? Which brand is your favorite? Leave a comment below!