All you need to know about corsets

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Every woman should own at least one corset. This incredible piece of lingerie will help you create a truly feminine body shape, even if your body is far from perfect, and will make you look and feel great and self-confident. Many women associate corset with an ancient piece of torture device – wrong! Modern corsets are comfortable to wear and incredibly sexy. How to choose a right corset to look and feel great? Here’s all you need to know to make a right choice.

SHAPE

Underbust corset does not cover the bust. It is versatile, since it may be worn as underwear, over clothes, and also for the practice of tight lacing. Overbust corset is a one-piece garment, it is worn to make up more elegant and glamorous looks. Waist-cincher is either an unboned wide belt or it can be boned like a corset. Unlike corsets which narrow from hip to ribs, the waist cincher is 6-8 inches wide and sits on the waist area specifically. The shape of your body influences the shape of corset you will find comfortable. Choices include Straight, Sweetheart, Plunge and the Scoop neckline. So this is something else you must consider. A Straight neckline is recommended for someone with smaller breasts, and for those bustier ladies we suggest a Plunge neckline. For those who are an A-B cup Under-bust corsets over a top may work best. A Sweetheart is better for somebody with a medium – larger bust, this style fits a wide range of body shapes.

BUSK

Most corsets have a front opening busk as this makes them easier to get on and off without help. Some corsets do however just have the back laced up, this is common in bridal corsets where beading and fine finishes are required. With no busk, you need to loosen the lacing as much as possible and then step into the corset or have someone lower it over your head. As this is a little more difficult than front opening corsets we recommend you have someone to help you do it up. Remember that a steel busk is the usual fastening for the front of a corset, and with very few exceptions it’s the only type of fastener that is strong enough. Hooks and eyes will not last long, and likewise zips are best avoided.A busk looks like a piece of fairly solid steel boning with loops and studs (a bit like hooks and eyes) attached. If a corset doesn’t have a busk, it will need to have some other kind of solid boning down the front. You can choose to have a corset that laces at the front and back. While this can look pretty, you run the risk of looking like you’re just dressing up.

BONING

Plastic boning is the cheapest and most common type of boning found in modern corsets. If you’re after a pretty top or something to impress in the bedroom, then go for this option. It’s cheaper than other types and you will have plenty of designs and styles to choose from. Plastic boning cannot be used for waist training and should not be laced tightly, as this can cause the plastic to bend and dig in. If you choose an overbust corset and have large breasts, you should avoid plastic boning as it will be uncomfortable and will not provide enough support.

Steel boning comes in two different types, spiral steel and flat steel. Spiral steel is more flexible than flat steel, and they are often both used in the same corset. This type of boning provides a lot more support than plastic boning and is usually much more comfortable. While corsets with steel boning are usually a lot more expensive, if you are planning on wearing your corset regularly or for long periods of time, the benefits of buying a corset with this type of boning are well worth the additional cost. Not only will it be much more comfortable, but it will last much longer and is far less likely to lose its shape. A steel boned corset can be used for waist training if the overall construction of the corset is strong enough.

Double boned corsets (the boning should be steel) are normally used for waist training. They have twice as much boning as a normal corset and so can offer far more support and so can be laced tighter. If you want to significantly change the shape of your body, these will give the best results.

FABRIC

Even if you’re looking for more of a bodice than a corset, you’ll still need a strong fabric like coutil, drill, heavyweight, or canvas. Corsets usually have a fashion fabric and a lining, so you might not be able to see the strong layer but you will be able to feel that it is quite tough. Take the corset in both hands and tug on the fabric. It should feel very sturdy with no give whatsoever. If the fabric is thin enough to scrunch in your hand, it won’t be sturdy enough. Satin (or satin polyester) produces a very shiny corset and is especially common for corsets sold as underwear. Taffeta is usually less shiny than satin, and so doesn’t look quite so much like underwear if you plan to wear your corset as a top. This is a good option if you want a plain corset but want to avoid looking like you forgot to get dressed. Brocade is beautiful woven fabric make a corset look elaborate without the need for additional embellishments. PVC is not the kind of thing you’re likely to go out in public in, but if you’re after something to spice things up behind closed doors this might be just what you’re looking for. While you won’t find any corsets made out of lace alone, a satin corset covered in lace can look very effective. Lace is also very commonly used to add embellishments to a corset.

SIZE

Corsets are always sized by waist measurement, not dress size. The number on the label will be something like “22” “24” “26” etc., which is the actual measurement in inches of the waistline of the corset. When looking at what size corset to try, you should try one around 4 inches smaller than your natural waist measurements. Ladies with waists above 34 inch should have a size 5-6 inches smaller. As busks come in different lengths it’s important when trying on a corset that you sit down in it as the body shrinks slightly when you sit. The busk will dig into your pubic bone if it is too long, making it uncomfortable to sit for any length of time. A well fitting corset should sit comfortably against your skin without leaving boning channel indentations. Although a corset is pulling your waist in, you should feel comfortable and supported, like receiving a hug. If you are buying your corset off the rack you will need to know your waist measurement and, if you are buying an overbust corset, the measurement around your bust. Use tape measure to take your measurements.

BODY MODIFICATION

Body modification or training is a popular use of corsets. Wearing a corset long term will effectively reshape your body creating “wasp” waists when used for a long time. Not all corsets are suitable for use for body modification. Most corsets on the market today are purely decorative corsets. While they will pull in your waist or stomach to some extent, they are not intended for long term wear and the fabric will tear if used with too much tension or for extended periods. They have plastic boning that can snap under excessive pressure as well. The exception to this are steel boned corsets. The bones are made of heavy steel which allows you to snug them very tight without breaking. All corsets, however, should be “broken in” – worn increasingly tighter over a period of time. This allows them to form fit to your body and mold themselves without tearing or breaking (though satins and some other fabrics will still have a tendency to tear easily so don’t overtighten such styles).

CARING FOR THE CORSET

You can’t normally chuck a corset in the washing machine with everything else. Most corsets need to be dry cleaned or hand washed, and they should be cleaned only rarely. Where possible, wear something between the corset and your skin to reduce the frequency of washes. Make sure you will be able to clean your corset before you buy it.

GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Corsets are expensive. However, you’re not paying for some designer label to line their pockets, you’re paying for the actual hours that are put into making it – it’s a lot like haute couture fashion. The most oft-repeated advice with corsets is that you get what you pay for! Buy the best you can afford, even if you have no intention of waist training. If you are an unusual shape, or if you want to start serious waist training, you will probably need to get a corset made-to-measure.

For a selection of corsets in a variety of styles visit E-lady at www.e-lady.co.uk.