Introduction to corsets

Corset introduction – how to choose the right size

If you have been following the alternative scene for a while, chances are you are familiar with corsets or have seen at least a few around.
Many brands offer a variety of beautiful underbusts and overbusts that will improve any outfit, but there are a few things to consider before buying any corset.


What is a corset and what is it used for?

Corsets are very fitted garments mainly built to shape the waistline and/or support the bust (in case of overbusts). Of course you can also wear corsets as fashion pieces without necessarily reducing your waist.
Whatever the purpose of the corset, you will need to pick your size very accurately based on your own body measurements so the corset will fit you correctly and not cause any problems.
A made to measure/bespoke corset will always be your best choice, but there are many valid off the rack options as long as you know what to look for.


Corsets do not follow any standard garment size chart like S, M , L (..). They have a unique sizing system based on the circumference of the corset at the waist level. Sizes are expressed in inches, with a two inch increment for each size (18”, 20”, 22”, 24”…).

Ideally you may want to pick a corset 2 to 5 inches smaller than your natural waist, but you will need to keep in mind that you’ll need enough room to accomodate your ribs and hips as well (and bust in case of an overbust).
A good fitting corset will only compress the softest spot at your natural waist level, not anywhere else.

Typical measurements listed on a corset’s size chart are at least the following:
– underbust
– waist
– hips
– overall lenght

The more measurements and details on the listing, the better!

How to choose the right corset for your body?

You may want to start deciding how much you want to reduce your waist, be careful with that and don’t go too small. With that size in mind go through different models’ size charts looking for something that has your goal waist measurement but will also fit as closely as possible to your actual bust, underbust and hips measurements.

Some brands don’t list all the measurements for each size but will only list the rib spring and the hip spring, therefore you will need to do some quick math by yourself to find out what that corset will measure at the top and bottom.
Those springs are the difference between the waist and the ribs, and the waist and the hips.

A quick example to help me explain:

Let’s say my measurements are:

underbust 31”
waist 29”
hips 36”

and I have decided I want a 26” corset.

I will be looking for something that measures as closely as possible to 31” at the top and 36” at the bottom.
But if the seller’s website only lists rib spring and hip spring here is my calculation:

underbust – waist= rib spring
31 – 26 = 5”

hips – waist = hip spring
36 – 26 = 10”

I will need a corset that has +5” at the ribs circumference, and +10” at the hips in a size 26” so I will have enough room to close it without experiencing discomfort.

Corset measurements are usually taken with the corsets completely closed, unless otherwise specified, so you may notice some gaping at the top and bottom of the garment until you are able to close it completely shut. That will probably take some time to get used to.

How should a corset look at the back?

Back panels should always be straight and parallel, and if your corset is the right fit for your body shape they will be.

If your lacing gap looks similar to ( ) it may be an indicator that your waist is not able to manage the compression from that corset and it would be best to pick a bigger size.

Similarly to the previous problem, if your lacing gap looks something like ) ( and you have no room to tighten the top and bottom to make the lacing parallel, it means that your natural waist is smaller than the waist of the corset itself. You will need a different corset with more room for your ribs and hips, and possibly a smaller waist size.

In case you don’t like the look of the back completely closed -or you find it more comfortable when it’s slightly open on your spine- you might want to consider orering a smaller size than the one that would fit you perfectly when closed. This way you will end up with an even 2” gap at the back.
I strongly advise against sizing further down this way, as you will most likely end up with a corset that is uncomfortable, possibly odd looking, but most importantly potentially dangerous. An ill fitting corset you will apply pressure where there should not be any.

Sizing down

Corsets are meticulously patterned to follow the curves of a human body, and wearing a wrong size or style will result in a bad fit. If you are looking to size down to further reduce your waist you will need to make a new calculation and look for a different style; not just a size smaller than what you already have.
Remember that the right corset for your body will never hurt you or limit your everyday life.

Further informations

There is so much more to say regarding so many aspects of corsetry, waist training and tightlacing. This is just a quick introduction and simple guide to start learning about corsetry, I hope you’ll find it helpful. Make sure to come back and check my corset section regularly if you want to read more about corsets.

I also have a YouTube channel, here is a video on how to lace your corset in case you need help with that. You can clink the link or play it below: