Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How Do I Choose A Corset Style? Tips from Gail Carriger

Corsets are like many other items of clothing, Fashionable Reader, the style you like may not be the one that fits your body best. I love strapless dresses but I sure as heck can't wear one.

The Waist Cincher

The corselette, Swiss waist, waist cincher, or short underbust (and many other names) looked like so:
My small waist cinch corset.

An underbust corset is not recommended if you have a massive Rack, since a bra is still necessary, and the two can be mutually uncomfortable.
Another kind of waist cinch, sometimes called the ribbon corset. 1900s  Redfern,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A similarly small waist cincher,  1860s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

This kind of corset is best for:
  • extreme compression
  • extreme hour glass look
  • smaller chest and hips (AKA a boyish figure)
  • those already curvy who wish to appear more so
  • those new to corsetry
  • those not concerned with support
  • those not concerned with fat bulging



Like the waist cincher but covering more of the hips, sometimes made with a full back. I'm prone to calling them sports corsets because these are similar to equestrian corsetry, designed to allow some freedom of movement. 

 The waistcoat style under-bust I need to wear a bra with it, and Autumn in the original (image courtesy of Dark Garden)

Corset  1900  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris
Sport Corset  1885  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1879-1881  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This kind of corset is best for:
  • moderate compression
  • moderate hour glass
  • pear shaped figures
  • those new to corsetry
  • those not concerned with support
  • those concerned with back fat (find full back and cross back styles of underbust)


Overbust Corsets

Once the Rack is involved there are all sorts of other things to consider, not just the style of corset, but where the boning lies and how it is angled. Like the balcony bra versus the full coverage bra versus the push-up bra versus the demi bra different styles do different things to the Rack and your choice should reflect how you want the girls to look. 

Image courtesy of Dark Garden.

This kind of corset is best for:
  • moderate compression
  • fully shaped hour glass
  • apple/boxy/top heavy figures
  • those more experienced in corsetry
  • those concerned with support
  • those who want a bodice style look
  • historical re-enactment
  • posture
Here is a small idea of the different styles with my Rack as the model . . .


My spoon corset is an off-the-rack 26 Victorian overbust. The boobs are not fully seated into the cups which are too small for me. (This was the first corset I ever owned, made-over.) Next to it is the same corset in white made as a custom to my shape so it has about a 23 waist and much more room in the cups. This is a full coverage corset, which means breasts are meant to sit down inside the cups and be fully suported, not necessarily lifted up to the "butt cleavage" arena.

Historically most like?

Corset  Dr. Warner’s, 1889-1891  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Scoop Neck

A modern cut scoop neck corset. This one is more like a demi-bra, the boobs sit down and inside the cup but are also pressed in and up with angled stays from the side, to give me a slight butt look.

Historically most like:

1891 Corset Gold Leaf


Straight Across

Like the balcony bra, this Classic (straight across) corset has straight stays up-and-down all the way around, which provides uplift. It's also laced very tight in this image giving me the uber butt look. Only in a corset or costume situation do I feel this look is appropriate. You will see me slam it elsewhere in this blog if I spot it on the runway or in the street.

Historically most like:
Corset  Royal Worcester Corset Company, 1876  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Summer Corset  1871  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Nursing Corset  1890  Augusta Auctions
I hope that is enough on corsets for now. However, you don't have to take my word for it. And here's a blog post from Before the Automobile on her 1880s corset and chemise.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. True, true, true. And a straight corset... the most surprising thing about that is the side view, even if you have a rack, you suddenly find that the uber butt look also results in you looking flat chested from the side.


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