What Are The Different Corset Waist Shapes
Most of us understand that there are a number of different kinds of corset around, however in truth we have as many countless variations as we have different corset designers; so it’s important for the intended wearer to check out the shape and style of a corset maker’s previous work before they decide to purchase. The corset waist shape you want your training corset to have will be down to individual taste, however initially you need an understanding of what the different corset designs are and how they will look, feel and affect your waist training. For more information and advice, start on the main Corset Training page.
The most popular kinds of corset pattern for both corset making and wearing are the conical corset (with its straight sides), the hourglass (with its curvy/rounded sides), the waspie or waist cincher shape, and the even shorter corset belt. Other, more exotic styles include the pipe stem and the S Bend corset, which I’ve come to consider the ‘good posture’ corset, then you’ve got your historic corset forms – the Elizabethan bodice pattern and the Victorian corset; which is the one our modern-day corsets are based on (so I do not cover this one as a different corset shape). There is also the more unusual men’s corset, which would be a modified version of one of the above, tailored to the male body.
Firstly, some advise if you’re looking to corset train with your chosen pattern; when starting out with waist training, steer clear of pipe stem corset patterns, as these corset designs are for experienced tight-lacers only. They mould the body into relatively abnormal shapes, altering the upper body to a much larger degree than the other styles, which are more natural and easier to wear for corset training. The Elizabethan Bodice pattern belongs to a larger extent to the domain of the historical re-enactor and the period costumer. This type of corset design is less commonly utilized for waist training than the familiar modern corset patterns based upon the Victorian corset. The corst belt is also a bad choice as it’s far too short to properly constrict the torso and would place too much pressure on the waist.
Your choice of shape will depend completely on your preferred body shape and comfortable level of restriction. This will usually lead you to select an ‘on the hips’ style or an ‘over the hips’ variation of either the conical or hourglass corset designs. I suggest looking up corset training before and after images to get a better idea of what look you prefer.
The primary question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Do I like the idea of changing my rib shape?’. If the response is ‘no’ or ‘that seems scary!’ then go with the hourglass, you can always advance to the conical shape later on. The hourglass corset follows and curves around your ribs, moulding the figure while permitting space for them, the conical corset is made with straight sides that taper up and out from the waist to the top of the corset, like an upside-down cone. This will in time alter the position of your lower ‘floating’ ribs, however this corset should still not cause pain to the wearer. Aching ribs are an indication of a too firmly laced corset. Keep in mind, corset training is a steady process not intended to produce a fast result; when in question – loosen!
The time period for changing rib shape I would put at around 8 months plus, which obviously differs from body to body and I wouldn’t say a year and a half would be too slow to reach the end result. Everyone is different! Be patient with your body. Throughout this time the corset should be worn for at least a 12 to 14 hour period each day, during the day time or whenever you are most energetic. Sleeping in your corset won’t work, you have to eat, drink, walk, speak, and play scrabble in it for corset training to show results. Obviously most tight-lacers will wear their corset to bed too. Often they’ll have an older, looser corset that they change into at night.
To exercise the corset ought to be taken off, Victorians used to wear special, less restrictive, riding corsets for horse riding and badminton but I don’t recommend it. A conical rib cage can reduce lung capability somewhat as the lungs are constricted. In reverse, a cardio workout will enhance lung capacity as you’re using more of your lungs to breathe heavily. This difference or reduction from conical corsets is unlikely to affect you unless you’re trying for a severe reduction or you need a larger lung capacity for say Trumpet playing or professional singing. In these cases an hour glass corsetry pattern would be the one to go for. There are no other health problems that I know of involving conical corsets and this shape shouldn’t stop you working out, skiing, rock climbing, or having children (obviously you wouldn’t wear your corset during these activities!).
Regarding corset length, whether you’re going to opt for an ‘on the hips’ or ‘over the hips’ corset will depend on your stomach flattening and ease of movement requirements. An ‘over the hips’ design will give even more support to the stomach and is better for more extreme waist training, as the pressure from the corset will be spread out over a bigger area of the torso and the abdomen won’t be under extra stress from an absence of support in that area. There will be slightly more limitation of your movement from wearing a longer corset, however it will also improve posture and support the back more – great if you have back issues. If you plan to buy a pre-made corset in a long line design, it’s important to make sure the length of the busk at the front isn’t so long that it’ll hit/rub your pelvic bone whenever you sit down. The upper body is shorter when you’re in a seated position than when you’re standing, so to check this length, sit down on a hard, flat surface (rather than a cushioned couch etc.) with your back straight. Now use a stick or big ruler to measure the distance between your pelvic bone and your breast bone. If measuring for an overbust add on 2 inches (however, the overbust is seldom utilized for corset training) and you have your maximum busk length. I would suggest sticking to at least an inch smaller than this measurement.
The waspie/waist corset or cincher is a short underbust, a bit like a ‘waist training light’ corset. It has the perk of having the fullest freedom of movement possible and provides the exact same sexy waistline as a regular corset. However, this short underbust offers no support or forming for the tummy area or ribs and the restricted surface area also results in more pressure over a smaller area. This is therefore a less comfortable corset to wear for long periods when laced very tightly, making the thinnest waist corsets unacceptable for corset training, and the longest ones ill advisable for regular use in my opinion. The corset belt is just a much shorter version of the above and can be as little as 3-5 inches from top to bottom, literally a belt! This corset pattern does still have its uses though, as it can be worn on a day off from corset training to help maintain the waist. Some tight-lacers who don’t get on with sleeping in a full corset will wear them to bed too.
For corset making reference I will cover the pipestem, which rather than going up and out from the waist like most corsets, goes straight up as far as the ribs will permit, producing a pipe-like shape in the middle of the corset and putting huge pressure on the internal body organs.
The S Bend, again covered for reference, was so named because it creates an S-like shape when looking at the body from the side. It pushes the bum out at the back and the bust out at the front, arching the back unnaturally.
The Elizabethan bodice pattern is one you’ll be familiar with from paintings made during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 1st in England and follows the shape of the conical corset from the waist up, but without the rounded bust area. It continues straight up over the bust, following the line of the upside-down cone shape and squashing the bust area. Below the waist it has the distinctive little flaps all the way around that open out to meet the curving waist. When learning to make a corset I really don’t advise to make a tabbed bodice pattern as your first corset, simply because these tabs are so fiddly to add binding to.
You should now have a good idea of what’s involved in using the two most popular styles of corset pattern when tight-lacing. To recap – conical corsets will shape your ribs and can affect your lung capacity, while the hourglass style will give your ribs more room – probably better suited to the active lifestyle. On the hips designs will give more freedom of movement while over the hips corsets will support your tummy. You need to wear your corset for at least 12 hours a day to waist reduce and ideally overnight. A waspie or short underbust will give you the sexy corset silhouette, but isn’t going to be so comfortable for long term waist reduction. Take it slow whichever you choose and listen to your body, the most important thing to remember is that corset training shouldn’t hurt.