Most people know there are at least a few different types of corset available, but in reality there are as many different variations as there are different makers; so its important to study the shape and style of a makers previous work before you buy. The most popular types are the hourglass, conical, and waist corset shapes. Others include pipe stem, S bend, Elizabethan and of course the male corset, which can be any of the above altered for the male physique.
When starting to corset train, the S bend and the pipe stem are no-go areas, these styles are for experienced tightlacers only and mould the body into fairly unnatural shapes; altering the torso to a much larger degree than the other styles. The Elizabethan shape belongs more to the realm of the historical re-enactor and the period dresser and is also less commonly used for corset training as the familiar modern day corset shape is based on the Victorian corset.
Your choice of corset style depends entirely on your desired body shape and preferred level of restriction. This will normally lead you to choose either the waist corset or an on the hips or over the hips version of the hourglass or conical shape – or something somewhere in-between these three.
The main question you should ask yourself is ‘do I want to shape my ribs?’ If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘that sounds scary!’ then opt for the hourglass, you can always progress to the conical shape later. The hourglass corset follows the curves of the ribs, moulding the figure while allowing room for them, the conical shape has straight sides that taper down from top to waist like an upside-down cone. This alters the position of the lower ‘floating’ ribs but should not cause discomfort in this area. Aching ribs are a sign of a too tightly laced corset. Remember, corset training is a gradual process not a quick fix, when in doubt – loosen!
The time period for altering rib shape is about 8 months plus, which varies from body to body and can take up to a year and a half to have full effect. During this time the corset needs to be worn at least 12 to 14 hours a day during the day or whenever you are most active. Sleeping in your corset won’t work, you need to eat, drink, walk, talk and play scrabble in it for corset training to take effect. To exercise however, the corset should be removed. A conical rib cage can reduce lung capacity slightly in the same way cardiovascular exercise increases it, but this is unlikely to affect you unless your aiming for an extreme reduction to an inched waist size in the teens. There are no other health issues involved and a conical shape won’t stop you exercising, rock climbing, scuba diving or having children.
As to corset length; whether you go for an on the hips or over the hips corset depends on your tummy flattening requirements. Over the hips gives more support to this area and is preferred for extreme tightlacing as the pressure of the corset is spread over a larger surface area and the abdomen isn’t under strain from lack of support. There is slightly more restriction of movement from a longer corset but it will also improve posture and support the back more. When ordering a pre-made corset in the longer style it is important to check that the length of the front busk (if it is a front opening corset) isn’t so long that it will hurt your pelvic bone when your sit down. The torso is shortest when the body is in a sitting position so to check this length sit down on a hard surface (not a padded sofa etc) with your back straight and using a stick or large ruler measure from your pelvic bone to your breast bone. Allow 2 inches more for an over bust, although the overbust is rarely used for corset training.
Lastly we come to the waist corset, also known as the waist cincher or waspie. This is the ‘corset training light’ corset, it has the benefit of complete freedom of movement and gives the figure the same sexy waist as a normal corset. However the waist corset gives no support or shaping to the stomach or ribs and the limited surface area also means less pressure can be safely and comfortably applied to the body; thus making the waist corset unsuitable for more than light corset training. The waist corset also gives the figure a less streamline silhouette as only the middle 6 to 8 inches are reduced. ©