The practice of wearing a corset has been around for hundreds of years. And there’s a reason why: when it comes to creating feminine curves, corsets work.
Modern-day corsets might look a little different, but they’re here for the same reason. However, since not everyone wears them anymore, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what corsets CAN and CAN’T do.
Let’s dispel some of the myths. Here’s the truth about what a corset can do to your body.
What is a Corset?
First, let’s be clear about what a corset is. These days, there are many options when it comes to shaping undergarments, and not all of them are the same.
Generally speaking, corsets are belt-like garments that you wear around your midsection with the intent to slim your waist, flatten your tummy and lift the bust. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with “girdle,” although a girdle can have a built-in panty, while a corset generally does not.
Modern corsets come in a few different forms. One of the most popular is a waist cincher, also called a waist trainer. Typically this style provides slimming with latex panels that are held in place with closures at the front of the garment (such as hook-and-eyes, zippers and Velcro).
Latex cinchers can come a wrap-around belt style as will as a “vest” style with shoulder straps.
The classic corset style, however, doesn’t use latex to compress to midsection; rather it is designed with a lace-up back that is pulled tight. The bodice is constructed with materials like satin, cotton or even mesh, with flexible steel boning to keep it in place. We often refer to this style as a “steel-boned corset.”
It’s also worth noting that different forms of corsets can come in underbust and overbust styles. Overbust styles are typically used for costuming or sometimes in formal/bridal attire, while underbust styles are useful for everyday slimming.
There is some confusion because a lot of these terms for corsets can be used loosely and interchangeably. For the rest of this article, we’ll be primarily referring to the underbust steel-boned corset, as that is the classic style used for corseting. However, we’ll also refer to latex cinchers and vests when relevant.
How Does Corseting Work?
Now that we’re clear on what a corset is, let’s talk about how one works.
If you were to put on any style of corset and fasten it tight, you’d experience the immediate effect of it slimming your midsection. For this reason, some people prefer to use corset-style garments for special occasions or for certain outfits.
However, that’s not the only way to experience the benefits.
Many corset wearers like to follow a regimen called waist training (or corseting, especially if you’re using a steel-boned corset). This is the practice of wearing a corset-style garment daily for at least 8 hours.
You can practice waist training with an underbust steel-boned corset or a latex cincher, depending on your preferences. The purpose is to provide slimming every day, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, to support your long-term slimming goals.
There are several ways this works.
- One way is that waist training/corseting works is by stimulating heat and perspiration in your core. This is especially helpful when you’re working out, which is why workout waist trainers are some of our most popular styles.
- Wearing a corset has a combination of other effects that work together in order to help you reach your goals. It supports your posture and the way you carry yourself, and can also help your clothes fit better. These effects can improve you confidence and help you feel motivated to stick to your healthy lifestyle.
- You may also find that you are reminded to keep your portions small, since your waistline won’t be able to expand as much when under tight compression.
Everyone’s experience with corseting is a little bit different when it comes to results. It all depends on your mindset, your goals, your lifestyle and your dedication to the practice. Check out our before and after gallery to see its effects on different women.
So What Exactly Does a Corset Do to Your Body?
As we’ve noted, there are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding the question of what a corset actually does to your body? Does it hurt anything? Does it shift your organs? Does it cause permanent change?
A corset can do wonders for your figure when you wear it properly. That is what it's designed to do: slim your midsection to give you hourglass curves.
What about prolonged use?
When you wear a corset as part of a corseting routine (8–12 hours a day), all a properly fitting corset does is provide compression around your midsection, which can also result in increased heat and perspiration. It also holds your posture in a straighter position.
If you experience any discomfort or pain while wearing a corset, this is a sign that the garment does not fit properly; you should remove it immediately. You may also find that you get hot while wearing one, especially during an intense workout or in a warmer climate. Again, in that case, we recommend removing your corset if you experience discomfort.
Another concern we hear about is whether a corset “shifts” your organs. That is a somewhat misleading question because your organs are perfect fine if they move around a bit. They are soft tissue and that is completely normal. They shift when you eat a large meal, go for a run, have a full bladder, drink a lot of water or have a baby growing inside of you. That doesn’t mean they are going to go hurtling out of place.
Compression from a corset is naturally going to put gentle pressure on your midsection (that’s how it works). The biggest effect you’ll notice is that you may feel constricted when you try to eat a large meal, since your stomach won’t be able to expand as much as it would otherwise. You may find this to be a helpful reminder to limit your portion sizes!
As far as permanent change goes, a corset does not have that kind of power on its own. When you take a corset off, your midsection is going to revert to its natural shape. Long-term, your figure may change as the result of pairing corseting with a healthy lifestyle like regular exercise, a positive mindset and a nutritious diet. But a corset is not going to transform your body into something it’s not.
Corseting Best Practices
Having said all of that, it’s important to use a corset as directed.
- First, if you’re practicing an everyday waist training regimen, be sure to start out in shorter increments. It takes time for your body to adjust; your corset also needs time to break in, especially if it is steel-boned.
- Wear your corset for an hour or two the first time you put it on; if it has a lace-up back, don’t pull the laces as tight as they will go. You can fully tighten the laces after the garment is seasoned. You’ll know it’s ready when its shape has molded to your torso and there are no gaps between your body and the garment (about two weeks of wearing it 1–2 hours a day). Once it is seasoned, pull the laces as tight as you want them and wear the garment for longer hours.
- Waist training with latex garments is a slightly different process when you’re first starting out. Gradually add a little more time you wear one each day. After a few weeks, you should be comfortable wearing it most of the day.
Keep these tips in mind if you plan on wearing a corset for a special occasion like a wedding. You can’t just throw the garment on the day of the event. Break it in, the same way you would a pair of shoes.
With waist training, the goal is to wear a corset for at least 8 hours a day to get the best results. You can alternate between garments, especially if you plan on wearing a workout waist trainer while you exercise.
You shouldn’t wear your corset more than about 12 hours a day. Your skin and your core need a break from compression so they can rest and breathe. Likewise, if you wear the same garment every day, it needs a break too. Lay your corset over the back of a chair or on a hanger in a well-ventilated area (not in direct sunlight) so that it can air out and retain its shape.
What Other Questions Do You Have?
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to waist training and corseting, which is why we’ve compiled lots of resources for you if you’re just starting out! Check out our blog for answers to other frequently asked questions, as well as other tips for getting the most out of your corseting experience.
Need help picking the best corset for your needs? Scan our curated and tested collection, read the reviews, and reach out to our expert stylists for help and guidance. We love seeing your transformations and are happy to help with all of your questions and concerns.