3 Places NOT to Buy a Corset

As we embrace the fresh start offered by the new year, there’s a solid chance that a few of you out there are contemplating some new lingerie purchases, and that just might include a new corset. Maybe you’re planning to take up waist training, or you just want to invest in updating your lingerie wardrobe. You might even be getting a jump on your Valentine’s Day planning. Whatever the reason, The Lingerie Addict has your back with some corset shopping tips. Today, I’m going to delve into a few places I would not recommend buying a corset from. Save your money, and save yourself from the discomfort that comes from buying cheap corsets.

Dark Garden "Baroque" bespoke corset, an example of a pre-Victorian corset silhouette. Note the tabbed bottom, which does not shape the hips. | Model: Anneka | Photo © Betsy Kershner

Dark Garden “Baroque” bespoke corset, an example of a pre-Victorian corset silhouette. Note the tabbed bottom, which does not shape the hips. | Model: Anneka | Photo © Betsy Kershner

Renaissance Faire
At first thought, Ren Faire might seem like a pretty logical place to buy a corset. However, over a hundred years separates the Renaissance from the reign of Queen Victoria, when waist-shaping corsets were in their heyday. The style of bodice worn during the Renaissance was a pretty different garment – it’s unlikely you would find a reputable corsetiere at Ren Faire because it would be so disingenuous to the period. Chances are, any corsets you would find at Ren Faire are cheap and costumey. Even if you don’t give a damn about historical accuracy, kinked plastic bones and cheap polyester don’t feel sexy.



This corset, available from London's FairyGothMother, is a popular target for eBay knockoffs. At eBay prices, what you receive won't look, feel, or fit anywhere near as nice.

This corset, available from London’s FairyGothMother, is a popular target for eBay knockoffs. At eBay prices, what you receive won’t look, feel, or fit anywhere near as nice.

eBay
eBay is notorious for cheap Chinese knock-off corsets. Legitimate brands will have their photos stolen and used to represent a listing for a poorly made copy. Here’s a great case study comparing a “real” corset to the “fake” knock-off. So, yeah, be wary of bargains when corset shopping – there are good reasons why corsets are expensive. Mystic City is the only brand on eBay with a reasonable reputation, unless you are getting lucky buying someone’s pre-loved corset from a legitimate maker.

There are far more reputable brands available at the same price point as Corset Story. | Timeless Trends Burgundy Hourglass corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

There are far more reputable brands available at the same price point as Corset Story. | Timeless Trends Burgundy Hourglass corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

Corset Story
No brand has a worse reputation than Corset Story. Sure, I’ve seen cheap, shapeless corsets that won’t last past a couple wearings… but rare is the brand so bad it has a reputation for being downright dangerous. If you’re new to corsets, it may surprise you that a mild shaped corset is often more uncomfortable – they put more pressure on your rib cage and hip bones than on your compressible waist. But more importantly, there have been reports that the bones in Corset Story corsets are, essentially, scrap metal. Other brands with the same or similar stock (often from the same factory) include Corsets UK, Corset Deal, Corsets 365, CorsetsWholesale, etc. You can read more about that on Tumblr.

Sparklewren: a brand from which I would highly recommend buying a corset! | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

Sparklewren: a brand from which I would highly recommend buying a corset! | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

So where should you buy a corset? If you’re on a budget, you can scope out my list of the Top 3 Starter Corsets Under $100, and Karolina’s subsequent review of the same brands: Orchard Corset, Mystic City, and ReStyle. In a similar vein, the new Hourglass line from Timeless Trends has been widely well-received. (You can read my review of the latter here on TLA.) But for more exhaustive shopping tips and a fairly comprehensive brand guide, why not scope out our list of 50+ Places to Buy Your Next Corset?

Mad Mimi Form

Marianne
Marianne Faulkner

Marianne Faulkner is the designer of Pop Antique, a clothing and corsetry line specializing in sustainable materials and comfortable curves. She is based in San Francisco where she earned her MFA in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, and has been a columnist at The Lingerie Addict since 2011.

9 Comments on this post

  1. Stephanie Duffy Bear says:

    If I may…..I work Renaissance Faire in Southern California and there are a few vendors who make and sell wonderful corsets. Byrs, they are a bit “costume “, but they are also substantial and well built. The main one, Tickle Thy Fantasy, is my personal favorite. I own a beautiful, well made corset from them that, I would say, is on part with something off the rack from Dark Garden in San Francisco.

    That being said, there are vendors who sell “corsets” (btw, corsets are NOT Elizabethan /Renaissance ) and “bodices” that might as well be paper. Just know what you’re looking at and do your research.

    • Brainiac113 says:

      Yeah, I’m down at Scarborough Faire in north Texas most of the season and there are two corsetiers of reasonable quality there for people who want the more Victorian silhouette that I’ve purchased from. One does off-the-rack, the other has off-the-rack but will do custom for you for a very reasonable fee. There’s a third that does full custom garb and corsetry but I haven’t bought anything from them and my husband wasn’t terribly pleased with the shirt they made.

      Honestly, it depends on the Faire. Even the crappiest bodice-vendor out there does steel boning because Scarbie is a juried show.

      • Stephanie Duffy Bear says:

        Thank you! I’ve never been to your faire, but I’ve heard a lot about it.

        Yeah, there are some places, like I said, that make some horrible items. But there are others that are beautiful! (Don’t get me started on the whole “Victorian corsets at an Elizabethan event”, though. Completely wrong body shapes!)

  2. Sarah says:

    I’m glad you included the caveat about used corsets from established/reputable makers in the eBay portion. While the site contains thousands of poorly made corsets, it is important to note that if you look hard, there are some good pieces occasionally. (This is true to some degree with Etsy as well; there are some great corset makers and there are some who simply resell shapeless plastic boned “fakes” or- like Dark Muse- scam clients.)

    Regarding eBay, I have seen (and purchased a few) pieces from Dark Garden, Puimond, Morgana Femme Couture, WKD, Pop Antique, FairyGothMother, Starkers, SugarKitty, Isabella Corsetry, Sian Hoffman, Lace Embrace, Lovesick Corrective Apparel, Boom Boom Baby, Hips+Curves, Westward Bound- as well as many many many Orchard Corset and Timeless Trends pieces. (The one Orchid corset- in a blue and pink silk- I have ever seen I simply had to buy, and then was heartbroken when the seller sent me an email to say that the friend she was selling for lost it…) There is definitely a chance for someone on a tight budget to be able to own a quality preowned corset.

    On that note, sometimes when I snag a bargain I feel bad that I’m not buying from the original maker directly. (Having read up on how much work and money goes into the creation of corsets, and lingerie in general.) However, since I am still exploring the different shapes and brands available, it helps to have a way to try out styles so that I know who to go to when am looking for a custom corset. And I get the chance to keep a maker’s work from ending up in the back of a closet, or worse, the trash.

    What I take from your article, and my personal experience, is research throughly before purchasing a corset and don’t be afraid to ask for details, photos, etc. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re buying one thing and ending up with something else entirely!

    • Thursday says:

      Just to clarify, Dark Muse was not your typical online shopfront scam. I had met the corsetiere several times in person, purchased a very well made off the rack corset from her, and had many good reports from others about her work. I did my research and was ripped off by a once reputable seller. This is why I feel it’s particularly important to warn others away.

  3. FRUHD says:

    Thank you for your posts… I love the straight forward information you provide.

  4. I bought from Corsets UK once and it was the most shapeless tube of corsetry I’ve ever owned. Cost me £72 and far worse than corsets I’ve bought for half that.

  5. Thursday says:

    For Australian buyers, I will also add Dark Muse Corsetry to the DO NOT BUY list – she deceived and lied to me, taking my payment and never delivering my order. She even went so far as to send me a fake delivery tracking number! I have spoken to others who have been similarly mistreated. Just don’t risk being robbed.

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