If you haven't yet chosen a corset, but would like to join us in the breaking in / seasoning process, here are the factors I'll personally be considering which may prove useful to you! Since these tips are based on my personal experiences with corsetry, here's a little bit more about my corset wearing habits.
I tend to wear my corsets between 3 and 6 days per week, usually for between 4 and 12 hours at a time (after they've been broken in!). I don't consider myself a waist trainer or a tightlacer, but realize that I may wear my corsets more often than many other people outside of these demographics. I prefer to "stealth", or wear my corsets underneath my outermost layer of clothing, to create a more classically vintage / pin-up silhouette, but also like to show them off occasionally, and am lucky enough to be able to do so at work without raising eyebrows!
How do you want to wear it?
Generally speaking, if you want to stealth your corset you may want to be a bit pickier about the fabric, front closure, and even style of corset you choose. Corsets with swing hook style front closures, like the Dragon Scale Hourglass (TUR-344), and textured fabrics, like the Red Rose Taffeta Corset (T-02) tend to be more noticeable when worn underneath clothes. Additonally, the overbust style corsets, like the Emerald Overbust Corset (A-FS18), create very uplifted and full cleavage but slightly flatten the front of the bust. This is quite different from the shape given by modern day bras and again, much more likely to be obvious to the casual observer when worn underneath the outermost layer of clothing.
Since I know that I like to be able to stealth my corsets, I'll personally be opting for an underbust corset with a traditional busk front closure and smooth fashion fabric, like the Aqua Iridescent Curvy Corset (TUR-S52), even though I adore the look of the swing hooks and textured roses!
Have a favorite color? Stealthy corsets don't have to be boring!
Now, just because I know I'll be wearing the corset underneath my clothes sometimes doesn't mean that I'll be automatically choosing from amongst the neutral colors shown in our Waist Training Corsets category. I've found that even the brighter colors are easy to stealth and don't tend to show through the types of clothes I usually wear (lots of thin, drapey knit tops, usually paired with full skirts). In the past I've successfully stealthed both the Peridot Green Long Corset (TUC-242) and the Raspberry Satin Shimmer Corset (TUC-218) shown below.
If you have a favorite color, or feel that a particular corset is just calling your name, go ahead and give it a try! If you really love the look of a particular corset, you're going to be a lot more likely to wear that one than a corset in a color that doesn't wow you. Of course, in the event that a bolder color corset just isn't working out for you, you always have our returns and exchanges policy to fall back on.
Is there a specific look or shape you're aiming for or would prefer?
If you aren't already aware, we currently have two silhouettes of all three of our underbust style corsets: the original and hourglass silhouettes. The original silhouette is named so because it's made from our original corset pattern and has a slimmer fit, resulting in a more streamlined shape. Our hourglass silhouette on the other hand is made from a newer pattern we developed in partnership with Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry just this past summer. Hourglass silhouette corsets create a much curvier shape with a more dramatically defined waistline, as well as having a couple of upgraded features you can read more about here.
Not sure which shape of corset you like the best? The overlay graphic above shows from left to right: an original silhouette Emerald Corset (FS-18) in size 24, an hourglass silhouette Emerald Hourglass Corset (TUR-FS18) in size 22, and a double overlay of the TUR-FS18 and the original silhouette White Bridal Satin corset (S-44) in size 24, all photographed on the same model. These images not only give you an idea of what the different silhouettes of corsets look like, but also show approximately how much and where they alter the wearer's uncorseted shape.
I personally have a strong preference towards a super curvy shape, so I'll be opting for a corset from the hourglass silhouette line. I'm also choosing an hourglass silhouette corset because I know from experience that the curvier shape is MUCH more comfortable for my body, but more on this in a bit!
Petite, tall, or short waisted? Do you want a corset that will fully cover your lower stomach?
We currently have three underbust corset styles available in both silhouettes, an overbust style, and a men's style which makes for a total of 8 corset patterns/shapes to choose from! So how do you know which corset is right for you? The first thing I recommend taking into consideration is your torso length, which may be independent of your overall height! Petite people may have long torsos and taller folks may be short waisted, so rather than using height as a gauge for torso length, we recommend measuring your torso length as shown in the video tutorial below.
Yes, you'll also want to go ahead and take the other measurements shown in the video to determine which size works best for you, but let's finish up talking about corset styles before moving on to sizing.
Now that you have your torso measurement, you can use this to get an idea of whether a corset style is likely to be too short, too long, or just right for you. In general, we recommend the waist cincher style for a torso measurement that's less than 9 inches, the regular underbust (and men's) style for a torso that's 9 inches or more, and the long cut style for a torso measurement that is more than 10 inches. Personal preference definitely still plays a part here and can affect which corset you'll be happiest with! For example, some people with especially large and heavy busts prefer an overbust style corset, as these will support the bust from below and can releave tension in the shoulders and neck created by wearing a not-so-supportive modern day bra.
In my case, my torso measures 10.5 inches, just long enough to wear the long cut style if I want (as an example, although not an especially extreme one, of how torso length and overall height don't necessarily match up, I'm 6'2" flat footed. Most of my height is clearly in my legs!). However, my previous experiences wearing the long cut style have taught me that the longer length of these corsets lifts my bust up more than I prefer. Because of this I'm also considering a regular underbust corset. Since I want the corset to cover most or all of my lower stomach I'm not personally considering the waist cincher style, but these are certainly still an option for petite and short waisted people, who may find that they fit them similarly to how a regular underbust would fit someone with a longer torso, or those looking for less coverage.
Squishy? Wide hips? Narrow underbust? People come in every shape and size!
Sizing...everyone's least favorite, nerve wracking moment when ordering clothing online! We've tried to create a comprehensive sizing page and tool for people to use, and it is perfectly all right to choose the size recommended by these. However, if you want a bit more in-depth look at sizing, read on.
There are some factors that a standard sizing chart just can't take into account, such as: specific fit preferences, bodies that don't fit perfectly into standard sizes, and how much or where people "squish" or are compressible. Some people are really squishy and can wear a smaller size corset than just their measurements indicate. Others may want to wear their corset without a lacing gap, but don't want the corset to fit super tightly. This is where choosing your corset and size can get a bit complicated.
First of all, you'll want to have those measurements you took a few minutes ago handy. Remember, it is completely okay and normal if you see some variation in your measurements! Everything from the time of day or month, to your posture, to how much or how recently you've eaten can change these somewhat. What we're looking for is an average. Here are mine:
Underbust: 32 inches
Waist: 30-31 inches
Hips at the iliac crest / hip bones: 41 inches
Torso length / height: 10.5 inches
Based solely on these measurements the sizing charts and tools put me at a size 24 for the hourglass silhouette corsets. As you can tell from the measurements above, I have pretty wide hips in comparison to my waist measurement, with a 10-11 inch difference between the two, along with a relatively narrow underbust measurement. Because I'm naturally an "hourglass" (if we factor in full bust measurement) or "pear" shape, I personally find the curvier shape of the hourglass silhouette more comfortable as the added room at the upper and lower edge of the corset accommodates my natural curves better.
Let's compare the measurements (which can be calculated from the rib and hip springs shown on the hourglass silhouette corsets' "Dimensions and Springs" tab) for a regular and long cut hourglass silhouette underbust corset with my own. Keep in mind that this comparison is what I tend to think of as the "hard" math, meaning it doesn't factor any kind of lacing gap into the equation. These are the measurements of the corsets if they were worn laced completely closed.
Regular underbust size 24
Long cut underbust size 24
From this comparison you can probably see how the 10 inch hip spring of the regular underbust in size 24 isn't really enough to accommodate my naturally wide hips. The adjustable hip ties of the long cut underbust are one solution to this, since they allow for the lower edge of the corset to be expanded.
Another solution is opting for a different lacing gap shape. While you always want the lines of grommets at the back of your corset to be straight (curved lines of grommets indicate that the bones supporting the grommets are curving as well, which can result in permanently warping these bones and damaging your corset!), they don't necessarily have to be perfectly parallel ||, although this is the most common lacing gap shape. In my case I could lace a regular underbust corset so that the back makes a / shape, with the top of the corset laced more tightly and the bottom more loosely to give my hips more space. Someone with wider ribs and narrower hips on the other hand, could lace their corset so that the back makes a / shape to better fit their body.
However, because I also have a preference for more space at the ribcage / underbust and don't require the smallest size corset I can fit into, I'm going to compare my measurements with the size 26 corsets as well to see if those might be a better option for me. This preference comes from my tendency to squish in both directions when wearing a corset. A corset that fits tightly at the underbust on me doesn't allow for the squish factor and can create some unsightly overspill or back fat, which a little extra wiggle room at the top of the corset can easily fix. Unfortunately we haven't yet found a good way to help people determine how squishy they are apart from experience wearing corsets. Sorry!
Regular underbust size 26
Long cut underbust size 26
That looks better, a touch of extra space at the upper edge to combat back fat and more room at the lower edge to prevent my hips from getting pinched if I decide to lace tightly (or walk or sit down, both of which cause hip expansion). Opting for a larger size does mean that I'll have a smaller lacing gap and may be able to close the corset (wear it with no lacing gap) more quickly. Since these factors aren't something that bother me, a size 26 is likely what I'll opt for. I'm in love with various shades of blue at the moment, so my top picks are currently the Blue Iridescent Long Hourglass (TUL-244) (shown on both a smaller and larger model. You can wear corsets whatever you size may be!), the Aqua Iridescent Curvy Corset (TUR-S52), and the Cosplay Blue Hourglass Corset (TUR-282) shown below.
Hopefully this is helpful for those of you who'd like to try corset wearing, but have struggled with picking out the perfect corset to start out with in the past. As always if you have any questions or thoughts you'd like to share, feel free to leave us a comment or contact us directly!
Update: Would you like to read the other posts in this series? Check out the links below!
Announcment: Break in / Season your corset with Timeless Trends
Part 2: Why breaking your corset in is important
Part 3: Corset seasoning styles