Today, most manufactured corsets seem to have a shape sort of like inverted parenthesis – like this:
So the first thing I wanted to do is explain why that’s not good!
Your bones aren’t shaped like parenthesis! They curve in at the ribs and have a sharp curve at the hips. There are steel bones along each seam of the corset – and if the corset does not follow the shape of your bones, you will feel those steel bones digging in in places. The red in the sketch shows the spots on which you’re likely to feel some discomfort, when you wear a corset shaped like that.
Hourglass corsets are much more comfortable. They curve with your bones, which keeps the corset’s bones from digging in.
And here’s the really cool part. Hourglass corsets will actually make you look curvier – and make your waist smaller, while being more comfortable to wear than a corset with a “parenthesis” shape. This image shows just the corsets from my sketches above, with the comparison of the waist size for each. See the difference?
Most people prefer hourglass, but there are other shapes out there too. The picture below shows a conical or wasp waist corset. You wouldn’t typically purchase a corset with this shape unless you are a waist trainer (someone who wears a corset daily to reduce waist size). It will actually move your ribs. When I’m waist training, I like wearing underbust corsets that have this shape. Oddly, if I’m wearing a corset more than one day at a time, a conical shape feels more comfortable to me.
The shape below is called a pipe-stem corset, and it is only worn by serious waist trainers. It looks rather painful to me – so I’ve never tried it!
And those are the primary shapes of corsets that you’ll see when shopping today. I’ve drawn them in overbust, since that’s my personal preference – but all of these shapes come in underbust styles too. If you are looking at patterns – you’ll also see historical corset shapes. Women wore some form of corset for several centuries, so there were a ton of different styles throughout history! If you want to learn more about historical corset shapes, I wrote a post about it previously in this series.
Coming next week – Corsets 101 Part 6: Sizing