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Review: Vollers 'Waist Hugger' Underbust Corset

Disclosure: This product was purchased for the purpose of review by The Lingerie Addict. All opinions are my own.

Most corset aficionados have heard of Vollers. The British corset brand pack some serious heritage, having been founded in 1899. Vollers' website offers some fascinating snippets of their history; I love the fact that the company occupied the same factory space for over 90 years! All of the brand's corsets are still produced in their UK factory, which is particularly admirable given the recent decline of British manufacturing. As far as I'm aware, Vollers is now the last British brand producing corsets in the UK on such a large scale.



Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers' website has a vast range of products available, with a huge choice of silhouettes and fabrics. Prices range from £95-£950 ($134-1343), with the majority of styles sitting around the £250-295 ($353-417) mark.  All corsets come with a ‘lifetime guarantee’ and are made to order and sent within a day.  I find this quite astonishing. Unless intended for very occasional wear, a corset has to take a lot of strain so I'd consider it natural for such a garment to have a finite lifespan. Just for some context, in the late 19th century a corset was considered good value if it came with a guarantee for one year.

Corsets are relatively complex garments to construct, and Vollers offer a lot of customization options on their website.  It wouldn't make sense for the brand to carry stock of all of these options, so it's likely the corsets are constructed on a piece basis (individually) rather than on a production line (several of the same garments sew together to save time).  I'm deeply impressed that Vollers offers these quality and turnaround guarantees as standard: it must be quite the logistical challenge to handle so many corset possibilities at such speed!

From an aesthetic perspective, many of the designs feel a little dated and don’t look particularly curvy. This isn’t to say a curvy look is a requirement for all corsets (I actually believe that options for straighter silhouettes are a good thing!); it just means that they’re not the right product for me. Nevertheless, when Cora asked me to review one of their pieces I was intrigued to study one of these garments in person. There had to be something in their product range that would work for me.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

My body shape is relatively curvy without a corset. Consequently, it's easy to get quite dramatic results without much effort when the corset is the right shape. I was therefore a little concerned that the Vollers standard sizing wouldn’t work for me. I had a conversation with the brand’s online customer service about this, asking which product they’d recommend for my body measurements (35” bust, 27” ribcage, 25” waist, 35” hips), and they told me that the standard sized ‘Waist Hugger’ in 20” would be a good fit and would in fact be suitable for waist training.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, outer detail. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, outer detail. Photo by K Laskowska

Based on this advice, I purchased the 20” ‘Waist Hugger’ underbust corset in a black spot brocade fabric. The style retails at £160 ($226) and is available in sizes 18-38” waists with made to measure offered for 25% more. Fabric choices include black satin, red satin, white ‘Oxford stripe’, and the aforementioned black spot brocade. My order arrived the next day in a gorgeous branded box.

This lovely experience however, was marred by the emails that I received from the company over the next few days. Shortly after the corset arrived, I began receiving almost daily emails asking me to review it for their website. Not even addressing the fact that this hadn't given me enough time to wear the corset properly, I couldn't help but feel a little harassed.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, internal detail and waist tape. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, internal detail and waist tape. Photo by K Laskowska

From a technical perspective, the garment has all the necessary components for a sturdy and long-wearing corset. It has a front flexible steel busk closure with a stiff steel boned underbusk placket for re-enforcement and modesty. There are 9 spiral steel bones on each side, encased in a mix of internal and external casings made of a poly-cotton twill. There is about an inch of space at the end of each bone, which does mean that the corset feels a little floppy at its top edge.

A 1" satin ribbon waist tape is held in place by a mix of internal bone cases and outer case stitches. The eyelets at the centre back are framed with a total of 4 flat steel bones. The grommets are of the single piece variety, with a splayed back rather than a standard washer. This isn’t explicitly ‘wrong’ for a corset, but it is a cheaper option to the 2 part eyelet and can result in the ‘teeth’ of the grommet catching on laces with continued wear.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, grommets and lacing on the corset interior. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, grommets and lacing on the corset interior. Photo by K Laskowska

The top and bottom edges of the corset are bound in black Petersham ribbon. The ends are folded to the inside of the garment and bartacked down, with raw edges left visible. Although the bar tack (a stitch used normally on bra underwire cases) means the binding is secure, it does feel a like a cheap finishing option.

The lacing is made of slightly stretchy shoelace cord with plastic coated ends rather than metal aglets (unfortunately even after very few wears, this plastic is already starting to crack and peel away). The modesty panel is unstiffened and uses the brocade as its outer fabric. It is secured with a single row of lockstitch and consequently can be easily removed if desired. The Vollers brand label and sizing information can be found on this panel, with a further label for fabric compositions caught under a bone casing towards the centre back of the garment. A discreet label with the brand name can be found on the outside of the garment by the eyelets. All the fabrics used in the corset are a blend of polyester and cotton.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, brand label and exterior corset detail. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset, brand label and exterior corset detail. Photo by K Laskowska

The stitching is neat and accurate throughout the garment. Unfortunately, this feels somewhat let down by the fact that a relatively long stitch length is used. In the long term this can mean that the garment may not last as long, but it also just doesn’t look that nice. I must admit on the whole though that I am impressed with the quality of the garment given its price and the fact that it’s manufactured in the UK. Any niggles that I have with it are surely down to trying to keep to a relatively low price at a healthy retail margin.

Although there are plenty of independent corset makers that can produce products at this price point, it is not fair to compare them to a brand like Vollers. An independent corset maker is incredibly unlikely to have the overheads of a larger scale company. When you manufacture at factory scale, there are unavoidable fixed costs such as employee wages, machinery and upkeep, rent and utilities, storage costs and much more.  All of this has to be accounted for in the products' price margins. Most independent corset makers can bypass this, whether it be through working from home or not holding any stock.

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

All of these positives though are let down by the frankly appalling fit of the garment on my body. When the corsrt arrived, my initial reaction was one of disappointment - the corset just doesn’t look curvy. I immediately took a measuring tape to it: the underbust measures 28”, the waist 20” and the hip 28”. With this information alone I knew the corset wouldn’t fit. Yet the brand’s customer service not only told me that this style would be a good fit on me, but also that it would be suitable for waist training. Waist training is a serious type of body modification; I can’t help but feel that recommending products like this corset is at its best irresponsible and at worst dangerous.

 Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska


Vollers 'Waist Hugger' underbust corset. Photo by K Laskowska

As you can see in the photos, this corset just doesn’t fit me. The underbust is loose, and the hips are painfully tight and cut in. I cannot lace the corset particularly tightly as my hip bones simply won’t allow it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that Vollers choose to cut their corsets to this silhouette; they know their target market better than I do. What I do think is wrong is how their customer service willfully missells their products. I feel deeply disappointed by this experience and know that I won’t be returning to this company any time soon. I’d hesitate to recommend their products knowing that there are so many other corset companies offering a better product and better value for the money.

Overall, my experience with Vollers has left me conflicted. I love the fact that this brand has such strong heritage and that they're so dedicated to ethical, British manufacturing.  I can't even begin to imagine how much of a challenge it is to produce a 'proper' corset (as opposed to a boned bodice) in a factory setting - let alone one that, objectively speaking, is quite well made. Unfortunately, this all pales in comparison to my experience with the product. The fact remains that the garment is incredibly ill fitting, yet I was still told it was suitable for me by customer service staff. Ultimately, the fact that I can't wear this corset makes it useless to me, and it's totally tarred my view of Vollers.

Readers: Have you ever tried Vollers corsets? What did you think?


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Karolina
Karolina

Lingerie designer. Spends most of her time sewing bras and getting excited by chantilly lace.

10 Comments on this post

  1. Hi Karolina,

    Thank you for taking the time to write a review. There are a mixture of good and bad comments however we appreciate them both equally as we can learn from both.

    We never want to leave a client unhappy and we would really like the opportunity to try and turn this around. I am deeply sorry for the bad experience you have had but I can promise you this is far from the experience most of our customers have.

    I see that a standard corset won’t work and I would like to offer you a made to measure corset at no cost to you as well as a conversation via email or phone with Corina Voller ( head of design here at Vollers ) to find the right corset for you.

    Once again sorry and I look forward to hearing from you,

    Michael Voller
    Vollers Corsets

  2. Lauriana says:

    Years ago, I bought my first RTW corset at a corset boutique in London. Vollers was one of the brands they carried but the staff immediately advised similar styles by other brands (in the same price range) to me because of my hips and waist-to-hip ratio.
    A friend of mine who has large breasts and more of an apple figure loves her Vollers corsets though (and they look great on her).
    I think the real problem here is the obviously wrong information provided by Vollers’ customer service…

  3. Sarah says:

    I almost didn’t need to open the article to know what your fit comments would be. You look so uncomfortable in the photo!

    I have never bought a corset from Vollers for the exact reason that gave you pause; they didn’t look curvy enough for my body.

    The history is great, but not feeling good in a corset would be a dealbreaker for me. That’s the point of them right?

    • Karolina Karolina says:

      I’m loath to label their fit as ‘wrong’, because it would actually work really well for certain body types: in particular, apple shapes, more masculine figures and longer torso lengths. But for a shape like mine, it’s totally wrong: so it has really coloured the brand as a whole that they *still* recommended this garment to me. (I’ll admit I was skeptical when I placed the order, but it’s sad that I was proven right!).

  4. Sisi says:

    Hi Karolina, thank you for sharing your review. Can you please name some of the corsets brands you recommend that you love the fit and price value? Thank you!

    • Karolina Karolina says:

      Hi Sisi – I reviewed a few budget corsets in this piece: http://www.thelingerieaddict.com/2015/03/review-tightlacing-off-the-rack-corsets-under-100.html – my personal favourite was Restyle for its shaping but it depends what you’re after for your body shape :)

      Personally though I’m of the view that certain independent makers will offer better products overall even though they can be more expensive. My personal favourite corset for everyday wear is by Pop Antique and my favourite special occasion corsets are by Neon Duchess and Sparklewren (I recommend checking out their sample sales when they’re running them to try and snap up some bargains!)

  5. Estelle says:

    I do think Vollers is a great brand and I love that they’re still manufacturing in the UK and owned by the Vollers family after all this time. But they are definitely not the brand to go for for significant waist reduction. I got a 1″ reduction in a made-to-measure corset, whereas I can normally get 2-3″ off in a good, off the rack corset. But then there are reasons other than waist reduction to wear a corset I guess :)

    • Karolina Karolina says:

      Agreed! Alas I still think labelling this corset as ‘suitable for waist training’ as very misleading as that definitely implies being able to achieve significant reduction (1″ does not fit in that category, I can do that with a tight fitting pair of leggings!).

  6. Ellie says:

    Finally, someone else who’s found issues with Vollers! I also find them not curvy enough and the compression on my hips can be agonising. I’ve tried a few different waist sizes and it doesn’t make any difference. Also, the plastic aglets are incredibly irritating on my back.

    I have read so many reviews from bloggers praising the corsets so have always wondered if it was just me being weird in that I was really disappointed by them.

    • Karolina Karolina says:

      I’ve been a little confused by all the praise given to them by bloggers – I wonder if it’s because the bloggers are inexperienced in what constitutes a good corset or if the custom fit that Vollers offers solves all the issues! Either way, fit is always a thing that won’t work for everyone across the board. I just hope that Vollers take this review on board and change their sales policies because selling to customers who won’t fit the product isn’t going to end well in the long term :-/

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