This is a comprehensive guide on waist training with corsets for beginners, written by our editor.
Having always had (what I would call) a natural hourglass figure, I was nothing short of excited when I discovered the wonderful world of waist training. For me, it has been almost two years of experimenting with corsets of every kind that lead me to want to share with you some of the information and tips and tricks I have gathered so far – through trial and error, of course!
My love for the shapeliness of a woman’s body started as a little girl. Growing up in a fairly traditional household, I was forced to watch all of the golden-era classic films, ballets and musicals – which I think is where I would have encountered the idea of a corset for the first time.
Because the corset saw a dramatic decline in mainstream fashion during the 20th century, the only time the public were coming across a waist-cinched woman was either as part of a costume in film or on stage, or on burlesque-dancers. It seemed to add a level of fantasy and perfection about the female body, and so, of course, when I was old enough (and brave enough!) to experiment on my own I went out and bought my first corset!
Nowadays, with the waist-training front being led by the Kardashian sisters' Instagram profiles, it seems that waist training is slowly but surely becoming all the rage again...
Here are some tips, tricks and info I discovered during my own personal journey.
WHAT IS WAIST TRAINING?
Waist training is essentially the act of binding your waist to 'train' your body to be shaped a certain way. I remember being young and my mother binding her stomach with a roll of cling-film then exercising, in belief that she would sweat the fat off her stomach region. This would have to be the most crude example of waist training, but of course the most well known form of waist training is with a corset!
There are, however, a few different types of 'corsets'... All with different purposes, hopefully this will serve as a guide to help you choose what sort of corset you would want to wear!
TYPES OF CORSETS
The Traditional Corset:
The most well known and traditionally thought of corset. Commonly referred to as a 'proper' corset because it is the most effective for those serious about shaping their waists, these can come in every style imaginable, but have one very distinctive feature: double steel boning.
In fact, any corset that has double steel boning in it will be the ultimate shaper. The steel bones keep the corset rigid and simply hold your torso to the curve of your corset, moulding it to the silhouette depending on how tight you lace it. The beauty of the double steel boning lies in that, if worn for an appropriate amount of time, your traditional corset will actually adjust/shrink your waist measurement over time – which is the stuff dreams are made of, if you ask me!
Usually double steel boned corsets are made from durable materials, like cotton, satin or leather and are almost always lined with another breathable layer. In my opinion, these are the corsets that will show you results if you are dedicated.
TYPICAL FEATURES OF A TRADITIONAL CORSET:
Double steel boning – lacing almost always in the back, with steel fastenings in the front which can come in a variety of styles. A 'modesty panel' in the back, so your skin is not shown underneath the lacing
HOW LONG DOES WAIST TRAINING TAKE WITH A TRADITIONAL CORSET?
For maximum results, it is usually recommended that you wear your traditional corset for hours at a time – of course building those hours up from 1-3 on your first time of wearing it, on however many days of the week that you like. I definitely suggest starting slowly, with probably 3-4 hours MAX on your first go, and spending your days working up to longer hours of wearing the corset. Of course, it's completely up to what works for you – whether you wear it for a few hours after work, or only while you're at work! That being said, the longer you wear your corset, and the more regularly/repetitively over the days you wear it will yield you greater results. You will also notice that, while wearing your traditional corset for longer periods of time, you will be able to tighten the lacing every so often/every couple of hours. All the better to waist-train with!
I have been waist training with a traditional corset for almost 2 years now, usually doing 9 or so hours a day, 3-6 days a week, depending how I'm feeling. I can easily go a week without training though, but the max length of time I have spent wearing it in a single day is 14 hours. Though, some die-hard waist trainers of 10+ years claim to wear their corsets for anywhere up to 23 hours a day, 7 days a week!
It is pretty typical of people who keep up with wearing their corset regularly (say 6 – 8 hours a day, 3-5 days a week), to be able see a marked difference in their waist measurements after around 1-2 months (usually around 2-5cm). It should also be noted here that, because a corset binds your abdomen, you will find yourself feeling fuller quicker – thus preventing over-eating and contributing to **some** weight loss if wearing the corset very regularly. Of course, wearing a corset is not a quick-fix to losing weight but can may be a side effect if a healthy diet and exercise regime is followed alongside wearing of the corset! And, as with all things, when you stop wearing your corset you will find that your body will 'spring back' to it's natural shape from not having the corset to hold you in place... it's not permanent!
HOW AND WHERE CAN I WEAR A TRADITIONAL CORSET?
Most corset wearers will suggest wearing a light t-shirt, singlet or dress underneath your traditional corset if you are wearing it casually, as the steel boning can (and will) leave imprints in your abdomen after some time. That being said, you can wear it anyway you so please – whether that be by itself as an ultra-vixen in full pin-up lingerie in bed or for a photo-shoot, or on top of your casual shirt but underneath your winter sweater whilst walking to the grocery store.
A corset is a fairly versatile thing, so you can show as much or as little of it as you want. If you hide it underneath other clothing, though, you will be sure to get many compliments on your figure!
I usually wear mine either at work with a singlet underneath and my work shirt on top or underneath evening wear when I want my waist to look particularly wasp like!
Because of the rigid nature of the double steel boning in a traditional corset, you probably would have heard a lot about how wearing one can limit your movement. The truth is; it's not all that bad, you just wont be able to bend at the waist. Which, admittedly, can be pretty awkward when you just want to bend to tie your shoe or pick up that pencil you accidentally dropped on the ground. Other than that you can still move about pretty freely!
The Fashion Corset:
Ahhh, the fashion corset – the most common, and what is usually a modern woman's first corset! The fashion corset is typically plastic boned, making it super comfortable and easier to mould to your body – but because your body heat warms the plastic, they become more flexible and thus wont hold you in place or give lasting results like a traditional corset. We see these everywhere, particularly in costume shops or lingerie stores. They're typically very decorative, and, along with their comfortable plastic boning, typically make a good choice if you want to be able to wriggle around in a corset as part of a lingerie set!
TYPICAL FEATURES OF A FASHION CORSET:
Plastic boning, but sometimes can come with single steel boning – typically come with lacing in the back, but can come without... sometimes replaced with a
zip or buttons – front fastenings are usually steel but can be zips or buttons also – some fashion corsets with lacing in the back will feature a modesty panel also, but often do
HOW LONG DOES WAIST TRAINING TAKE WITH A FASHION CORSET?
Because fashion corsets typically feature plastic boning, you cannot successfully waist-train with them if you are wanting lasting results. As said above, the plastic boning in a fashion corset will warm with your body heat, causing it to become more flexible and thus not strong enough to hold you rigidly in place to create any change to your shape.
HOW AND WHERE CAN I WEAR IT? Because of the plastic boning, making it super comfortable to wear, a fashion corset is usually worn as part of a costume or lingerie, but quite often as outerwear as well (in the gothic fashion, for example) – enabling you to party or entertain as you please! I personally would not wear a fashion corset in day-to-day use as it has no real waist training benefits, and thus I think is better served as special occasion-wear! Of course, however you choose to wear a fashion corset is up to you :)
Movement isn't really restricted whilst wearing a fashion corset – and, again, it's down to those flexible plastic bones! I couldn't really think of any downsides to fashion corsets other than I wish so many of the styles I saw in fashion corsets came with steel boning – because some of them are just so darned pretty!
The Latex Waist Trainer:
The most modern and comfortable type of corset – you will have seen these floating around in pics of ultra curvy girls on social media. Predominantly made with latex, a particularly sweat-inducing material, you mostly would have seen this style of corset on gym-goers. Designed for specifically that purpose, wearing a latex waist trainer will hold your torso in and draw out the toxins through sweating around your abdomen. You can find these with either some minimal steel boning, plastic boning, and even no boning at all!! This is what makes them so comfortable – you can almost forget you're wearing one! And, because of the nature of the latex material, they mould perfectly to your existing body shape snugly while holding you in – making them ideal for wearing day to day or under form fitting evening wear. The latex waist trainer is typically not regarded as a 'sexy' garment like the traditional or fashion corset, and I think it comes down to it's functionality as what it is – shape wear... Like spanx!
Typical features of a latex waist trainer:
– usually not boned, but can come with minimal plastic or steel boning – predominantly has no lacing to speak of, but still comes with fasteners or a zip in the front – not as decorative as traditional or fashion corsets
HOW LONG DOES WAIST TRAINING TAKE WITH A LATEX WAIST TRAINER?
Being realistic, I would say that long-term results with wearing this sort of corset is highly unlikely unless you wear it religiously, and kept an equally as religious diet and exercise regime. A latex waist trainer is essentially shape-wear, and molds to your natural shape while squeezing snugly.
HOW AND WHERE CAN I WEAR IT?
Typically, because of the latex material they're made of, women (and sometimes men!) will wear this sort of corset or 'waist trainer' at the gym either under their gym-top or over a singlet to raise their core's body heat and get the toxins out of their body through sweat. That being said, you can wear a latex waist trainer almost anywhere, any time, anyhow – the minimal/no boning found in these give you full mobility whilst sucking you in tightly, enhancing your torso to give you banging curves. Though, you may be able to see the fasteners at the front if you were wearing an EXTREMELY tight dress or top over it, haha. But, again because of the material, I would just watch out for the amount of sweat that you will discover when peeling it off after doing anything that raises your body temperature. I think this sort of waist trainer is ideal for everyone, because it is essentially shape-wear and can be worn basically anywhere!
The only cons to this sort of corset, I think, would be the sweat that it induces between your skin and the latex. Oh – and of course people who are allergic to latex cannot wear this type! So far, I am not sure if there are waist trainers similar to this style and function that are not made out of latex... but I suspect there may be! A little extra research will do the trick!
HOW DO I CHOOSE A CORSET/CINCHER? STYLE OF CORSET:
The first thing you would want to do is choose what style of corset you want. Most corset retailers will offer both underbust and overbust traditional and fashion corsets, while latex waist trainers usually only come in the underbust style.
Corsets come in a range of sizes, most commonly listed in inches and referring to the circumference of the smallest part of the corset. You're going to want to get yourself a tape measure for this!
For TRADITIONAL/STEEL BONED CORSETS:
Because waist training is all about reducing your waist measurement, the general rule of choosing a corset is to measure the smallest part of your waist – the part just above your hipbones and below your ribcage. Taking that measurement, which is say 30inches, you generally would reduce either 2 or 4 (if you're really keen) inches off of those 30 to find the size of corset you will buy.
The reasoning for this is that by the time you have worn your corset regularly enough to be able to do it up tighter and tighter, when you are able to fully close the corset comfortably you will have lost 2-4 inches on your waist measurement through waist training. So, the corset size you choose is generally the measurement you want your waist to be when the corset is fully done up!
For FASHION/PLASTIC BONED CORSETS:
Plastic boned fashion corsets will sometimes come in inch sizing, but more often come with the standard 'small', 'medium', 'large'/ '8', '10, '12' etc. options. If the plastic boned corset you are looking at comes in inch sizing, I would personally recommend getting the inch measurement of your natural waist line.
For LATEX WAIST TRAINERS/CORSETS WITHOUT BONING:
For waist trainers you would usually just take the measurement of your waist as it is to choose what size to get. These can occasionally also be found sold in the standard 'small', 'medium', 'large'/ '8', '10, '12' etc. options.
So, depending on what style corset you're looking at buying, you would choose: For a traditional corset: your natural waist measurement minus 2 inches.
For a fashion corset: choose your natural waist measurement or usual top size.
For a latex waist trainer: choose your natural waist measurement or usual top size
WHAT ABOUT TORSO LENGTH?
This generally only applies to traditional steel boned corsets: Torso length is typically not a concern for the “average” woman, but can play play a great part in how well/comfortable a corset feels when on. For instance, having a particularly long torso led me to feel a little discomfort on my hips when sitting down, which led me to do a little research. To measure your torso length, simply sit in chair with good posture and use a measuring tape to measure the centre of your sternum (in between your breasts) to the top of your pubis (where your abdomen meets your legs).
WHERE CAN I FIND ONE? HOW MUCH ARE CORSETS?
Costume shops and lingerie stores – where you will find the most common, plastic-boned fashion corsets for sure.
Alternative fashion stores – often also sell fashion corsets, but you will have a better chance of finding a steel boned traditional corset at on alternative fashion retailer.
Online! - The internet gives you access to thousands of corset retailers worldwide, so take advantage of it!
Corsets can cost anywhere between $20 - $1000+ , depending on the quality, type of boning, brand, etc. Any steel-boned corset will be more expensive than a plastic-boned one, but latex waist trainers are generally the most affordable due to their mass-produced nature.
When I have asked people where they have bought their first corsets from, these two online suppliers have always been the top two answers! Both sites feature an extensive and amazing, affordable range, with something to suit everyone! There really is no wonder why they're so popular.
Magic Fit: For latex waist trainers and some steel boned corsets A brilliant site dedicated to affordable shape-wear – namely the latex waist trainer! You can find some simple traditional steel-boned ones here too, though.
What Katie Did: For vintage style steel boned traditional corsets My personal fave suppliers for corsets constructed for the woman with a more pronounced natural hourglass silhouette. Pricier due to the detail taken to make the corsets akin to original vintage ones as well as unbeatable quality.
What about fashion corsets?! You can find these almost anywhere on the internet, with Ebay, Amazon, costume and lingerie sites being the most prevalent sellers. Usually, if you are looking at a corset on the internet and it does not explicitly say 'steel-boned', it will be a plastic-boned fashion corset!