Now that we know how to choose the perfect corset for any occasion, it’s time to learn which corset shape is the best fit for your body type. Whether you have a full bust, small bust, long torso, short torso, wide hips, or no hips…there’s a style out there to suit you. The second piece in an excellent 2-part series by Marianne Faulkner, this is a timeless article with tons of useful information. For more about Marianne, please visit her website popantique.com.
So you want to wear a corset, but you want to know what corset style will work best on your body. To really be certain, you should try them on, of course, but the following tips can serve as a guideline.
First up, three common bust issues. Both the gamine and the extra-curvy frequently express concerns that corsets aren’t for their figure type, and then are amazed at the transformation or support provided by a well-made corset.
For the large of bust, you may find that an overbust corset is more comfortable than a bra. Overbusts supports your breasts from the waist up, distributing the weight and easing the pain of bra straps cutting into your shoulders, or a band around your rib cage. Alterations or a custom corset may be necessary, as the bust apex (fullest point) on a ready to wear corset will probably be too low and create the dreaded “quad boob” effect. A style with gussets (triangular insets) at the bust can provide shaping and support to the buxom better than a silhouette shaped solely by regular seams. Any corset will also provide you with extra back support.
Conversely, if you are small busted (B cup or smaller), try a flat front style. Depending on the shape of your breasts, this can actually add the illusion of multiple cup sizes, as anyone who’s ever worn a ren faire bodice can tell you. If you are in love with a corset but the bust is too loose, you can order one with alterations or pad the bust of an off-the-rack.
If your bust is asymmetric, the popular sweetheart silhouette is likely to exaggerate the fact, unfortunately. Go with a straighter neckline and/or flatter bust, and buy cutlets or bust pads to fluff up the smaller side. Take some time in front of a mirror to determine the best placement of the cutlets to create the illusion of symmetry.
If you’re small hipped, I’ve got good news: pretty much any corset will improve your hourglass. A sharp hip spring will make the biggest difference, but it also runs the risk of being too large in the hips. A corset that nips in under the ribs, rather than compressing them along with your waist, will add to the wasp-waist effect.
On the other hand, those starting with a natural hourglass will absolutely need a sharp hip spring. Low-end corsets are often less curvacious than a curvy girl’s natural figure.
Corseting lends itself well to full-figured types, but if you’re starting with a rounded belly, the displaced flesh still has to go somewhere. A longline style, preferably adjusted to your torso length, will minimize this effect. Wear your corset with a panty or pantyhose that slightly underlaps the bottom of your corset to encourage a smooth line.
For a long torso, stick with a short-hip rather than longline corset. An underbust will break up the span of your torso more. Pair your corset with full-length skirts or those cut to mid-thigh to add length to your legs. If you go for an overbust, make sure your nips are covered! Also check that the the bust is high enough to provide you with flattering support and lift.
Those extremely short of torso are also liable to require alterations. If buying off-the-rack, make sure you can sit down – the boning should not poke into your thighs. An underbust should not prod the bottom of your breasts. Overbusts may have the bust placed too high, and it may poke too high into your underarm as well. A waspie is a safe bet. For a longer underbust, you’ll have more wiggle room with a pointed silhouette, which is long at the center front and back but shorter at the sides.
A corset with wide straps, such as a halter or cross-back style, will minimize wide shoulders. Underbusts and overbusts both are available with straps. If going strapless, a sweetheart neckline will flatter more than a boxy flat-front.
My final bit of advice is to check with your corsetmaker about the sort of posture encouraged by their corsets. If you have a swayback or a shelf butt, a corset designed for flat-backed upright posture (pilates posture, as I think of it) may buckle at the back waist. If, on the other hand, you are flat-backed and your corset is not, you may find yourself tipping your pelvis backwards to accommodate, or feeling a slight pinch at the small of your back.
Photo Credits: All illustrations property of Marianne Faulkner.