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Introducing the New Corset Sizing Tool!

This past weekend I made a free corset sizing tool – one that accurately calculates your ideal corset size based off of your measurements, lifestyle, and personal needs (because “4-6 inches less than your waist” sometimes isn’t specific enough.)

After testing this calculator with close to 100 people, it seems to have over 90% accuracy rate. While it won’t replace talking to a real person for their recommendation, and it doesn’t take every life situation into account, it will give you a good place to start.

One more important thing:

Just because this calculator recommends *A* specific size, does not mean every corset in that size will fit you perfectly. (After you find your ideal corset size, you need to find a corset that suits your curve as well! Head on over to the Corset Database for more free tools!)

See the video below for a tutorial on how to use this free tool!

 

In the video I go through four examples:

Example 1: a slender athlete who wants to start waist training. (Timestamp: 1:20)

  • 26 inch natural waist
  • visible abs in front
  • bit soft, fingers sink into side
  • wants to waist train
  • weight fluctuates, with a natural tendency to lose (because they’re doing sports all the time)

This would recommend a size 22” if they want their corset to lace closed, or size 20” if they prefer a small lacing gap in the back.

 

Example 2: someone who works in an office and perhaps has a sedentary lifestyle, but likes to wear vintage clothing and wear a tightlacing corset underneath. (Timestamp: 2:40)

  • 32 inch natural waist
  • bit soft in front
  • bit soft at the side as well
  • interested in tightlacing
  • wants to wear their corset laced closed

This gives a waist size of 27″, which you can correct to a “real” corset size by using the extra question at the bottom. Size up if you have less experience, or size down if you have a little more experience.

 

Example 3: a mother who’s had multiple pregnancies, a lot of weight gain and loss over the years, and suffers from lower back pain. They’re not interested in waist training, but just wants something to smooth over the loose skin of their tummy and support their spine. They might have a similar waist size to the last person but a very different composition, and different needs. (Timestamp: 3:56)

  • 35” natural waist
  • very soft in front
  • very soft on the side
  • wants a corset for back support or pain relief
  • fluctuates in weight, with a natural tendency to gain
  • prefers a lacing gap in the back

This calculates a waist size of 29″ which can be corrected up to 30″ if they have no corset experience. When worn with a small lacing gap, the corset will be just snug enough to hold in their loose skin and support their posture.

 

Example 4: someone starting out a bit larger, who has made a new year’s resolution to lose weight (I’ve been getting a lot of emails like this in the past few weeks!) and wants a corset to last them a little longer through their weight loss. (Timestamp: 5:16)

  • 35” natural waist
  • very soft in front
  • very soft at the side
  • interested in waist training
  • they are actively in the process of losing weight (the wording is intentional here – see below)
  • NO gap at the back (see explanation below for the reason why)

This calculates a corset size of 38″ which will carry their waist training at least several months through their weight loss journey, depending on how much they plan to ultimately lose, and how quickly they’re dropping weight.

Extra notes on this case:

Please choose the “actively and intentionally losing weight” ONLY if you are currently in the process of losing weight – because if you only intend to lose weight but have made no steps to start, clicking this option might not be realistic and might leave you with a corset that’s too small to wear. Clicking this option takes you down a size, so that you don’t have a corset that you shrink out of too quickly. (Same with the other option of intentionally gaining weight, it will take you up a size!) So if you’re actively in the process of losing weight already, you may click that option. You’ll also see a cautionary note pop up on the calculator, if you are changing your weight quickly, so be sure to give this a read!

Then you get to the question for a lacing gap in the back – if you’re already losing weight, we recommend choosing the “no gap” option otherwise it will give you a corset that can be around 12 inches smaller than your natural waist (which is not recommended or safe for beginners).

People with a larger natural waist tend to be able to cinch more. Some experienced corset models have a natural waist over 40 inches and are quite soft, and they’re able to cinch down 8 inches within minutes! If you’re also losing weight on top of that, the calculator will size you down. But do keep in mind that there’s a point where OTR corsets don’t have laces long enough to open up by 10-12 or more inches – also, if the gap in the back is too big, you won’t have the right torque to pull it tighter so it wraps around the body and fits properly.

Hope this tutorial helped! Try out the sizing calculator for yourself and let us know if it worked for you!

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Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

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.

black-steel-boned-long-hourglass-back
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.

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RetroFolie Alyssum Underbust Corset Review

This post is a summary of the “RetroFolie Alyssum Underbust Corset Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, along the princess seam (underbust to lap) is 9.5 inches, and the enter back is also 12.5 inches. The corset is cut low in the center front to control lower tummy, and then the corset gradually cuts upwards in the back to give a high back at the top, and stops just above the tailbone on me. The Alyssum corset is not longline (stops around the iliac crest). Circumferential measurements: waist is 22″, underbust 30″, high hip 32″ (this is her standard-sized option). The silhouette is a gentle hourglass.
Material 3 main layers – fashion fabric is printed cotton sateen (interfaced twice), featuring “L’escarpolette” (The Swing) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.  There is a twill interlining between the fashion fabric (note that Julianne has started using herringbone coutil as the strength fabric in her corsets now). The floating liner is black cotton as well.
Construction 6 panel pattern, with some of the panels in the front tapering toward the lower tummy. Fashion layer (interfaced) and cotton interlining were flatlined (lining is floating). Panels assembled with a top-stitch at the seams (quadruple stitched). I requested double boning on the seams; channels are sandwiched between fashion and interlining layers.
Binding Commercial black bias binding, machine stitched on both sides, with a slight topstitch visible.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the layers. It starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and ends at the seam of the last panel (between panels 5-6).
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 6.5″ wide, finished in the same fashion fabric (featuring the shoe flying off the lady’s foot) and black cotton lining. Stiffened with what I presume is buckram (the same stiffener found in hats, Julianne says) and suspended on the laces with grommets near the top and bottom. There is also a 1″ wide modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 10 inches long with 5 pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side). There is also a 1/4″ wide flat steel on either side of the busk for reinforcement.
Boning 28 total bones not including busk (remember I requested double bones in my corset). On each side there are eleven 1/4″ spiral steel bones. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, as well as one 1/4″ flat steel by the busk, making a total of 14 bones on each side.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 with medium flange, finished in silver and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely. Washers are large to prevent the grommets from falling out.
Laces 1/4″ black flat braided shoe-lace style laces. Virtually unbreakable. Has a bit of spring. There is quite a bit of friction while lacing up, but this might be due to the modesty panel more than anything else.
Price At the time that I’m writing this review, a historical artwork Alyssum underbust starts at $270 – $290 USD through her Etsy store. Several upgrades are available such as a modesty panel (extra $20), and custom fit (extra $25).

Other Thoughts/ Observations:

From her Facebook fanpage: L’Escarpolette corset is RetroFolie’s best seller

 

RetroFolie is the business name of Julianne Coriandoli, who was also the 2014 Grand Prize winner of the Foundations Revealed “geometric” theme corset contest. Today she is more known for her incredible “Historical Artwork” corsets, in which she takes beautiful historical paintings and turns them into 3-dimensional pieces of wearable art.

Many people initially thought that the corsets were put into a printer after completing construction – in fact, the paintings are printed onto flat fabric (cotton sateen) and each panel is carefully cut out and stitched to match the others by the millimetre – the picture spans beautifully unbroken over the front of the corset, and I know from personal experience how much time and care is necessary for such a project.

Julianne says that she’s happy to take custom requests for paintings, as long as they are within the public domain (the artist has been deceased for 70-100 years, depending on the country and laws).

When I ordered this corset this past spring, default RetroFolie corsets had a cotton twill interlining and single boning. Today, it seems that all of her corsets now feature double boning and a herringbone coutil strength interlining, so you no longer have to order those as markups!

In the near future I will also be reviewing RetroFolie’s longline Azalea corset, which was also made-to-measure.

You can see what other corsets Julianne has for sale in the RetroFolie Etsy shop HERE, or check out her main website HERE.

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Electra Designs Longline Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Electra Designs Long Hip Underbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:


 

Fit, length Center front is about 11 inches long, 9 inches long. Wasp waist silhouette. Standard size 22T long hip underbust – the underbust is 28″, waist is 22″, hips at iliac creast is 33″ (which is where my iliac crest hits). Gives a flat profile (doesn’t make me look thicker from the side) and the hips are slightly squared instead of rounded.
Material Fashion layer is blue satin (fused to soft interlining); strength layer (lining) is cotton herringbone coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Top-stitching between panels, stitched 4 times between panels (extremely sturdy). Many many sandwiched bones. No garter tabs, but they can be added if you commission a piece.
Binding Black bias strips of satin, machine stitched on both sides and very tidy.
Waist tape 1″ wide waist tape invisibly secured between the layers.
Modesty panel No modesty panel came with this sample, but is available for a markup. Unstiffened placket in front made from a matching blue satin.
Busk Standard width flexible busk, 10 inches long (5 pins, the last two closer together). Reinforcing flat steel bone on either side of the busk.
Boning 26 steel bones (13 on each side), 1/4″ wide spiral bones on each seam and also in the middle of the wider panels. 1/4″ wide flat steel bones in front and back, and special lacing bones in the back (bones with holes drilled into them so the grommets won’t ever rip out).
Eyelets 20 in total, size #00 two-part eyelets with small flange; set equidistantly (they have to be because they’re set into a lacing bone); high quality – no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets. Washer on the back is larger than the top-hat flange of the eyelet for extra support.
Laces Matching blue double-face satin ribbon, 1/2 inch wide. They glide smoothly through the eyelets, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up, zero stretchiness.
Price At the time I’m writing this, the standard sized long hip underbust with the gently-rounded top and bottom edges is $400 USD. You can see other style options on her website here.

Final Thoughts:

 

A close-up view of myself in Electra Designs’ standard size long hip underbust.

This corset was a sample sent to me on loan so that Alexis could test the fit of her new standard size corsets, as a bit of a glorified mockup fitting – I asked her if I could also review this corset on my channel before returning the corset to her, and she graceously agreed. I believe Alexis had modified and updated her old standard size chart, modelling the new proportions off an average of her past many clients, and off her realistic Alvaform dress forms. I was very happy to try the new standard size corsets and find that it is slightly broader through the ribcage compared to the old standard sizes, so the corset holds in all of my flesh and doesn’t give me any ‘muffin top’ in the back. I would just need the corset to have a bit of a longer torso for it to fit very closely to some of my other custom-fit corsets! 

The flexible lacing bones follow the natural curve of my spine, allowing me to hold a neutral posture in this corset – I feel that this style of lacing would be excellent for those who have lordosis (swayback) as it doesn’t force the wearer to “flatten” the lumbar spine or hunch over. Additionally, I feel that this corset preserves my naturally flat profile and doesn’t make me look “thicker” from the side, the way that some other corsets do. Because the lacing bones are so flexible though, you must take care to tighten the corset with as parallel a gap as possible – otherwise the back may bow outwards at the waist, and look like “( )”.

As always, Alexis’ construction technique is extremely strong and definitely suitable for waist training – Alexis remains one of my favourite corsetieres and I look forward to commissioning her for a custom in the near future. At the moment she is busy creating a multimedia corset making instructional course, which you can learn more about on this page!

To see other styles from Electra Designs, do visit the official website here.

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Using Measurements to Predict the Fit of OTR Corsets Online

Way back on January 7th, I posted Part 1 of this 3 part mini series on fitting OTR corsets, wherein I discussed the different ways that some corset companies use to describe the curviness or the proportions of the corsets they sell. To summarize this first part, there are 3 main ways: the use of size charts; recommending that clients’ natural measurements be within a certain range; or discussing the rib-spring and hip-spring of these corsets. If this does not make sense to you, I recommend going back and refreshing yourself on these points.

This is important because corsets don’t have ease the way that other clothes do – for the most, part they’re not supposed to stretch. In fact, corsets can be said to have what’s called “negative ease” (instead of your body manipulating the clothing around you, the clothing instead manipulates your body).

My favorite way for corsetiers and businesses to display their information is through the use of a size chart, because I can see everything at a glance. But why is it so important to know the precise underbust, waist and hip measurements of a corset before you buy it? Why not just go strictly by the waist size? By making the most of the size charts you may be able to fairly accurately predict whether a corset is going to fit you or not, before you ever buy it or try it on. Let’s look at some case studies. If you’d rather watch the video instead of reading through these case studies, I won’t blame you:

Let’s take a look at my natural measurements:

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 8.07.14 PM

I take my measurements to the closest cm (or in this specific case, the closest half-inch). Bodies are squishy though, so there is an acceptable range for the corsets I wear – especially if the corset is designed to have a small gap in the back instead of being worn completely closed (many corset makers draft their pieces to have a 2″ gap in the back, so I accommodate for this in my regular range). For the upper range, this is the maximum measurement I can wear before the corset starts to look visibly baggy on me (despite wearing jeans, poofy clothing underneath etc. that fill out the space).

Now let’s go hypothetical corset-shopping!

Case Study A:

 Corset_A

The waist of Corset A is 22″. As an experienced corset wearer, I already know that I can wear a size 22” corset – it’s a 6” reduction, which is fine for me. A corset is supposed to compress the waist, but not the ribs and hips.

But the underbust measurement of Corset A is far too small for me! On a good day, I can perhaps tighten the top edge of a corset to 28” but it’s not comfortable for me. This corset has an underbust of 26”. No matter how much I try, it’s not likely that the top edge of the corset will ever close on me, and I can’t expect it to stretch out because corsets aren’t supposed to stretch. It will likely cause muffin top/ flesh spillover, and if I pull it too tight then it may hinder my breathing. This is NOT supposed to happen with a well-fitting corset, so this corset is not right for me.

The hips are a little small as well, but as it’s only 1 inch smaller than my natural hips, I will be able to wear it with a small gap in the back and it would still look fine. If I could go up one size in Corset A, then the circumference measurements would be (underbust 28″, waist 24″, hips 34″) and would fit my body much better, albeit not perfectly.

But it’s also important to look at the length as well! Corset A is 2 inches longer than my own torso. I would probably be able to wear it fine when I’m standing up, but if I sit down, then the top of the corset may push up on my bust uncomfortably, or the bottom of the corset will dig into my lap – it’s probably best to just pass on this corset altogether.

Case Study B:

Corset_B

This corset would fit reasonably well in the underbust and waist. If I try to close it all the way, it may create a tiny bit of muffin top, but it won’t be that uncomfortable on me. However the hips of the corset (being 30”) is too small for my own iliac measurement of 33”. Knowing my own body, trying to wear this corset closed will likely result in my hips feeling very pinched and they may begin to hurt or go numb.

I can tell from looking at the length of this corset (7″ tall) that it’s more of a cincher. It’s 4” shorter than my own torso. I don’t have a protruding tummy so wearing a short corset is not a huge issue for me, but if you have any lower-tummy pooch or a pendulous abdomen, then you may want to bypass this corset and try a longer one that you know will hold in your tummy better. I explain why you may want a longline corset for low tummies in this video.

Case Study C:

Example corset C

I can immediately tell from the measurements that this is a super curvy corset! I know this because by the numbers, the ribcage is 8″ larger than the waist, and the hips are 12″ larger than the waist. The waist and the length measurements are fine for me, but both the underbust and the hips will be too large (larger than my wearable range). I would likely be able to close this corset right away from the first wear, and will still have room to spare in the ribs and hips – they’ll be gaping away from my body. In this situation, I don’t necessarily have to go with a different style, but I might want to try going a size down:

Corset C_size_smaller

Here is Corset C except a size 22″ instead of size 24″, and it looks like we hit the jackpot! Here is a standard sized corset that fits my natural measurements reasonably well in all four areas. If, however, I have no desire to go down a size and make my waist smaller, then I will need to find a different corset that is less curvy, and my search will continue.

When you’re shopping for an OTR corset, read everything you can on the website. Look for a size chart or fitting notes; and if you don’t see it, then email and ASK customer service if they have the proportions of the corset you’re looking to buy! Be sure to check out my Corset Dimensions Directory, where I have measured almost all of the standard sized corsets I’ve tried and logged their measurements so you can do this same fitting practice: use your own natural measurements, and compare them to the corset’s measurements. Try to find a brand and size that fits your ribs and hips within one inch!

I hope these case studies showed you how important it is to know the underbust, waist, and hip circumference measurements, as well as the length of the corset. In part 3 of this mini series, I will show you my own method of fairly precisely measuring my corsets – you can use this method to  corsets that you own as well, and we can share sizing information with one another in the Lace-Base.

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The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

This entry is a summary of the review video “Shape of your Corset Gap – What does it mean?” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 Shape/ meaning

Brands to avoid for your body type

Brands to consider for your body type

A shape

The A Shape
The A shape

This means that your hips are too wide for this corset pattern. This type of gap is common for women who are naturally a pear shape. Do NOT try to force the hips smaller because then you may get an odd bump at the lower edge of the corset, and it can also make your hips go numb.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, or the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. For those who have a larger hipspring, look for corsets for vintage figures: What Katie Did or Isabella Corsetry are good choices. They have a hipspring of more than 12-14 inches.

V shape

The V shape
The V shape

This means that your ribcage or shoulders are too broad or fleshy for the corset. While it is possible to train down your ribcage, it’s unlikely that you can train it right from the very top edge.  This often occurs in swimmers or in men who wear women’s corsets.

Corsets that have a relatively narrow ribcage, which include some WKD underbusts. For standard corsets with a larger ribcage, try Timeless Trends and the CS-426 from Orchard Corset.

() shape

The () shape
The () shape

This is when you have gaping at the waist – the bones in the back are either too flexible, or the waist is too small than you’re ready for. This CAN ruin the corset because it’s forcing the bones to twist in their channels. It can even make the bones kink outward or inward into your back, which is quite uncomfortable.

Avoid corset patterns that are curvier than you are ready for. If you have a very “unyielding” figure, you may have to train down before buying corsets like WKD or Isabella.  I’d recommend you start with a larger corset size, or go for a corset that makes more gentle/ natural hourglass or slim silhouettes like Timeless Trends.

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This is when your body is more of an hourglass shape than the corset itself! The corset doesn’t have enough curve in it. BEWARE of this common trick on websites! They will use models who are naturally quite curvy and this will make their corsets curvier. A corset that is modelled with a gap like this in the back will likely look more tubular when it’s laced straight.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. Try What Katie Did Morticia corset, the Curvy Girl corset from Azrael’s Accomplice, or several options available from Isabella Corsetry or Ms Martha’s corset shop.

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A diagonal but fairly parallel gap means that the corset fits your ribcage, waist and hips reasonably well but it is twisting on the body. There are several reasons why this may be happening: 1. If the corset is made with twill and all of the panels have the twill running in the same direction. Twill, while strong, has an asymmetric weave so stretches more on one bias than another. To test if your corset has stretched differently on either side, measure the ½ circumference on each side of your corset at ribcage, waist and hips. See if both sides are equal. 2. It may just have been how you put the corset on that day! Always lace in front of a mirror to avoid tying it skewed. If you notice your corset is twisted, take it off immediately and put it on again straight. It is possible for a corset to season into a permanent twisted shape! 3. It may not be the corset, but rather your body that is asymmetric. If you have any of the following then this can make a symmetric corset look asymmetric:

  • scoliosis
  • a previously broken rib
  • one leg longer than the other
  • some other skeletal or muscular asymmetry
In the first situation, I recommend not buying corsets made with twill – or if they are made with twill, make sure the corsetiere is experienced enough to sew it perfectly on grain, and to flip every other panel so that the bias of all panels don’t run in the same direction.Also, as bad as it sounds, avoid “risky investments.” Ensure that your corsetiere is scrutinous about making each half of the corset the same way, and to specification (whether symmetric or asymmetric). In the last situation (physical asymmetry), I strongly suggest finding an experienced corsetiere who can fit you with an asymmetric corset, which will then end up looking symmetric on you!

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This is the coveted vertical parallel gap! Some people prefer to have no space in the back, while others like about 2 inches of space so the back edges don’t touch the spine. Either way, your corset fits you well. Congratulations!

 Make sure that your corset is not too big for you; when the corset is closed there shouldn’t be any significant gaping between your ribcage and the top edge of the corset, or your hips and the bottom edge of your corset.  You’re very lucky, my friend! If  You’ve found an off-the-rack corset that fits you nearly as well as a custom corset. If it makes you look good and feel good, then take it and run!

Final Thoughts: Many people have no problem with the shape of their corset gap (after all, the wearer doesn’t have to see it!). If this is you, then continue rocking your corset just the way you like it. However if you, like me, are a little more conscientious about achieving the vertical parallel lines of a well-fit corset, I hope these suggestions can help you choose a better off-the-rack corset for next time – and if all else fails, go custom! If you enjoyed this article, or even if you need clarification, you may also like my “Addendum to Corset Gaps: Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues