This is NOT a Corset: A Rant and Educational Read

I find myself getting upset over and over while online when someone describes something as being a “corset” when it is not even close to being considered a real corset. So, I’ve decided to put together this informative read for those of you out there who don’t really know what a corset is. (Time to take notes, students!)

What defines a corset? Two major features:

  1. Boning
  2. Lacing

All “true” corsets have these two features. The best corsets have steel boning, try to avoid plastic or rigilene boning which will bend and buckle, leaving odd bumps in your side. Most cheaper corsets and other types of garments with boning in them feature rigilene boning. (If you would like to learn more about the rigilene material and how it is used, please see this informative article here.) These types of boning also cannot withstand the tight lacing that steel boning can.  Also avoid lacing a corset with cord if you can help it, as it can irritate the skin. Try ribbon—preferably silk ribbon, if available. The best corsets will come standard with these two features. Some corsets are open in the back where the lacing is, while others feature a panel designed to hide the exposed flesh. This is called a modesty panel. Some people like them, some people hate them. It varies from person to person.

There are two main types of corsets: overbust and underbust. Pretty self explanatory, but for those who don’t know: one covers the bust, the other does not. Easy, right?

Now it’s on to sizing. I once worked for Timeless Trends, and I realized quickly that most people do not know proper corset sizing. I’m here to help you with that. First step: Measure your natural waist. Your natural waist is just below your ribcage, but above your belly button. Several people have the misconception that their waist is at or below their belly button, and that just isn’t the case! Step two: take that measurement and subtract 4 inches. This is your corset size. So, if you have a 28 inch waist, you will wear a 24 corset. If you are an odd numbered measurement, 25 for example, you may want to try on a 20 and a 22 before committing to one size or the other. Most corsets come in even number sizes only and it may take some experimentation to find the best fit. I discovered a very informative sizing guide here which can be very helpful for a lot of corset beginners.

Now to move on to my product identification section!!!! What is a corset? What is not a corset? Let’s look as what my google and ebay searches turned up…..

Entry #1, is this a corset?

Looks sexy, no matter what the answer is.

Looks sexy, no matter what the answer is.

No, and sadly this is a common misconception. This is a bustier. Corsets do not have cups to lift the breasts. Though they perform similar functions, this is not a corset.

Entry #2, is this a corset?

Image pulled from google search image pulled from google search

Sadly no it is not; even though the person who posted the image of this article of clothing called it a “corset”. Sure, it has lacing, but only in the front, and no boning. No boning, but lacing is present? You are looking at a bodice, my friend. Read this informative wikipedia article for more on bodices and their history.

Entry #3, is this a corset?

.....where did they get the "corset" part from?

…..where did they get the “corset” part from?

NO—and yet for some reason, things like this always pop up if you search the word “corset”. A corset is designed to slim the waist… can something that doesn’t even cover the waist be called a corset? Not to mention the lack of lacing and boning. This is a crop top. Not a corset. Not even close, though the website lists it as a “corset bikini”.

Entry #4, is this a corset?

image pulled from google search

Nope, sorry. Try again Asos! They sold this product and called it a corset, but it’s actually just a fitted sleeveless top. You’ve landed way off the mark with this one.

Entry #5, is this a corset?

image pulled from eBay product search

No, it is not. Though it does have the lacing, there is no boning. This is technically a cincher belt.

Entry #6, is this a corset?

I'd actually totally rock this one.

I’d actually totally rock this one.

Yes and no. Technically, this is another waist cincher but it is boned and has lacing (not visible here). The only reason I do not consider this to fully be a corset is because it is smaller than an underbust corset.

Entry #7, is this a corset?

Photo by George Skepton.

Yes! If you got this one, congrats! This lovely piece is from Timeless Trends. 🙂 Now it’s time to move on to some of the worst offenders….

Hot Topic— particularly Tripp NYC, they put out some cool stuff from time to time, but don’t be fooled. These types of tops always zip in the back, and it’s pretty much an automatic guarantee that if there is a zipper, it’s not really a corset.

Nice top, but not a corset. Try again, Tripp NYC....

Nice top, but not a corset. Try again, Tripp NYC….

Forever 21 & Charlotte Russe—Though they produce several tops with corset style lacing, none of them are corsets…..and you should not call them corsets. Don’t lie to yourself and others. One giveaway to these tops is they tend to have either hook and eye closures or zippers….both of which are not typical features of a corset.

image pulled from google search image pulled from google search

Numerous crappy lingerie stores (online and off) are big offenders—If you’ve gone to an “adult gift shop” or surfed around on eBay, you know what I’m talking about. As with all things, remember: You get what you pay for. This is especially true for corsets. If you only aim for the cheapest products, you’re probably going to get a poorly made piece of crap. They may look nice online, but once you get it, it looks like this…..

image pulled from google search

But the ad looked like this!


It's hard to believe those are the same garment.

It’s hard to believe those are the same garment.


And that is just sad.

Want to learn more about corsets? I also found this nice informative blog online during my research. Give it a read!

I hope you all take what I have taught you and pick your corsets wisely! And remember one thing…..

Feels too tight? Of corset is! (You know me, I’m just so punny. 🙂 )


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