Don’t you just love the classic look of a steel-boned corset? There’s a reason women have used (and flaunted) these shaping garments for hundreds of years. These days, you can use a high-quality corset for a sexy vintage look as outerwear, or you can use a corset as part of an ongoing corset training regimen—over your clothes or hidden beneath.
We get a lot of questions about waist training, cinchers and corsets. This guide is designed to give you a complete overview on how to use a corset for your waist training regimen and the benefits of corset training in general.
What is Corset Training?
Corset training is a form of waist training, and often the two terms of are used synonymously. You may have heard of waist training, made popular by celebrities like the Kardashians. Simply put, the practice involves wearing a corset or other waist-cinching garment for up to 8–12 hours daily as part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes regular fitness and a nutritious diet. The goal is what it sounds like: to “train” and slim your waistline.
The trend that the Kardashians like to post about on Instagram generally refers to latex waist trainers, or cinchers. In contrast, corset training—also called corseting—often refers to a steel-boned corset, instead of a cincher. While the process is essentially the same, many women prefer the benefits of a corset.
Differences Between a Corset and a Waist Cincher
While the end goal is virtually the same (dramatic midsection slimming), there are several key differences between latex waist cinchers and steel-boned corsets:
As the name indicates, a steel-boned corset is reinforced with lightweight but strong steel boning. The boning is what provides the compression that pulls in the midsection. You tighten a corset with laces at the back of the garment. The rest of the material is typically soft and smooth: satin or satin-like polyester is often used on the exterior, while the lining is typically cotton.
Waist cinchers are most commonly constructed with latex, which provides the compression necessary for effective waist training. The most common style uses hook-and-eye closures in the front of the garment.
As it is constructed with steel, a steel-boned corset is built to last. The garment’s compression will generally not grow weaker with time. And, because it is tightened with laces, a corset has the ability to size down dramatically. You could potentially drop several inches from your midsection and still fit into the same corset, just laced tighter.
In comparison, a latex cincher, while very durable, will eventually lose some of its elasticity and compression strength after a few months of daily use. Keep in mind that latex cinchers often have two to three rows of hook-and-eye closures, so that you can tighten the garment as you size down. But if naturally drop a few inches from your waistline, you'll probably need to order a smaller size.
How Does It Work?
Besides sculpting your figure whenever it’s on, a corset’s firm compression stimulates perspiration and thermal activity in your core. When supplementing a healthy lifestyle, it can play a part in your goals to slim down your midsection—in a sense, “training” your waist.
Okay, you’ve convinced me. How do I pick out a corset?
Here’s what to consider when shopping:
For corsets, sizing may seem a little tricky at first, but it's easy to understand you know how to measure. First, you’ll want to accurately measure your waist size. Using fabric or vinyl measuring tape and keeping it level, measure the narrowest part of your waist. This is about two inches above your belly button, where your waist bends naturally when you lean to one side. Make sure the tape isn’t tight; you should be able to fit a finger underneath.
After you’ve determined your waist measurement, subtract 3-4 inches so that you have an even number (so if your waist is 29–30 inches, you’ll want size 26). When in between sizes, go up, not down.
Depending on your torso length, you may also want to consider varying corset lengths. Some are designed for shorter women while others provide more coverage. If your torso measures short (in which case you are probably just short in general) you may want an option like the Brocade Design Underbust Corset by Bonitaz. Use this sizing guide to determine where your torso length falls.
This is where it gets fun. Note that for effective corset training, you’ll want an underbust style. Choose from there based on variations in color, fabric, and print. Some corsets effectively double as outerwear. Some vary slightly in cut; those with more of a cupped cut beneath the bust can provide more bust support.
What should I do when my corset arrives?
There’s nothing quite like a brand new corset, rolled up all pretty in its package. Unroll it gently so that the laces are facing up.
- First things first, try it on and make sure that it fits. We suggest using a mirror or getting a friend to help you.
- Pull the laces apart, loosening the X’s starting from the center.
- Put it on loosely and hook the clasps in front; the clasps should be on your right side.
- Never pull or tug on the hooks; if it’s too tight, loosen the laces some more.
- Once the corset is in place, you can start tightening the back. Pull the laces, starting at the top and working your way towards the middle, tightening the loops as you go.
Think of it like tightening shoelaces, only there’s a top and a bottom. The pull loops should be at your natural waist. During the trying-on phase, pull the laces snugly but not so tight that they are providing firm compression. When snug, tie the laces at the middle.
It should be fairly obvious whether or not the corset fits. When tightened gently like this, it should rest comfortably on your waist without pinching or causing discomfort. It should create a flattering silhouette when you look at yourself in the mirror.
Okay, this part is important…
Once you’ve determined that the corset fits, you need to “season” it for a week or two before you tighten the laces to maximum compression. Wear it loosely like this for about an hour a day. This will help the corset mold to your unique body shape and will prevent the clasps from warping.
How to Start Corset Training
Once you’ve seasoned your corset, you can start corset training right away. We recommend gradually increasing the amount of time wearing your corset each day.
Note that the laces can be pulled very tight. You might be surprised by how tight it feels when you first start, but your body will become accustomed to it quickly if you stick to a plan. Stop wearing it immediately if you start to feel pain, shortness of breath or discomfort beyond the initial tightness.
It can be helpful to look at your corseting schedule on a weekly basis. Start out by wearing your corset for an hour or two at a time and then gradually add a little more time each day. It can help to break up wear into two sessions; for example, wear your corset for four hours a day in two sessions. If desired, take a rest day every now and then.
Here’s an example of what a corset training schedule can look like. Your goal is to be wearing a corset for the allotted number of hours by the end of the week.
Week 1: 3–4 hours
Week 2: 5–6 hours
Week 3: 7–8 hours
Week 4: 9–10 hours
Once you’re comfortable with daily wear, we recommend that you maintain your corset use for 8-12 hours a day for the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long until I see results?
We get that question a lot, and if you're referring to long-term results, that depends on several factors, including body type, lifestyle and how committed you are to wearing your corset along with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
We can say, however, that you will immediately see a difference whenever you are wearing your corset. One of the benefits of steel-boned construction is how dramatically it can compress your midsection in an instant—several inches, in fact. While we still recommend a regimen for the optimal results, we think you’ll still be thrilled with how you look by just putting it on!
How do I care for my corset?
We’re glad you asked, because corsets are built to last when properly cared for! For starters, if you want to wear a corset daily, we highly recommend rotating at least two through your wardrobe so that they can rest. Air them out after each wear by draping them lining side up over a hanger or chair. You can also spot clean as needed with a mild detergent and let them dry. Whatever you do, don’t put them in a washing machine! If necessary, take them to a dry cleaner.
When taking a corset on and off, make sure it is fully loosened to prevent damaging the front busk. You might also want to wear a light cami or other clothing underneath a corset to protect it from your skin’s oils and any lotions you wear.
Any additional corseting tips?
As with any type of waist training, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to pair your corset training with a healthy lifestyle. It’s especially important to strengthen the muscles in your core.
Note that most corsets aren’t designed for workouts (try a waist training workout band instead—those are typically designed to stimulate heat and increase your perspiration during exercise, so you can maximize your workouts). Be sure to stay hydrated, as you will be sweating more around your midsection, and stick to a nutritious diet that avoids processed foods.
We hope this guide has been helpful to get you started on your corseting journey! If you have any more questions, please contact our customer service team.