Strait-Laced Dame

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is waist training?

Waist training is a process by which a properly sized and constructed corset is worn for the purpose of changing the human shape.  This can include reducing the waistline, gently reshaping the ribcage, and redistributing the flesh.  Waist training requires hours of daily wear to achieve and maintain a  measurable change.

 

What are the qualities of a proper corset?

Waist training is possible only with a corset featuring steel bones.  The structure provided by plastic boning will not give sufficient shape and pressure in order to alter the body’s shape in a permanent way.  Both spiral steel and spring steel bones are effective.  As a very general rule of thumb, search for a corset that includes at least 20 steel bones, not including the front busk closure.  While the quality of a corset can be affected by many aspects, the bones are likely the most important component to consider after size and fit.

 

What do "OTR" and "RTW" mean?

Off-the-rack (OTR) and Ready-to-wear (RTW) corsets are differentiated from custom corsets in that they are designed and built in standard sizes categorized by waist size only.  There are myriad OTR/RTW corsets on the market that cater to a variety of body types.  Be certain to research the various OTR/RTW products available to determine which is best for your particular body.  Also be aware of the fact that the vast majority of OTR/RTW corset manufacturers sell corsets in even-numbered waist sizes (i.e. 24”, 26”, 28”).

 

How do I select a properly sized corset?

The most common guideline given is to select a corset with a waist measurement 4-5” inches below your own waist circumference.  However, this selection should be based more so on a percentage than a fixed reduction.  Consider a corset that will reduce your waist by approximately 15% to start with - in this case an individual with a 40” waist might select a 34” corset, while someone with a 26” might select a 22” corset.  Find your size by measuring your natural waist (at the smallest point or 2-3 inches above your navel), and multiply it by 0.85.  If you will be selecting an OTR/RTW corset that is only sold in even-numbered sizes, round your calculated number to the nearest even number.

 

How do I identify a properly fitting corset?

When selecting a waist training corset, it is important to consider more than just the waist size.  At a minimum, identify the measurement needed for the underbust (just under the pectoral/breast tissue) and the high hip (also called the iliac crest or pelvis, this is the circumference around the torso at hip bone level).  If you plan to purchase an OTR/RTW corset, refer to the measurements given by a corsetiere or corset purveyor to determine whether their standard sizes will fit your underbust and high hip as well.

 

Can I waist train in an overbust corset?

This is not advisable.  Whereas an underbust style corset ends, as its name suggests, directly beneath the chest tissue, an overbust extends above to cup the breasts.  By nature, an overbust corset restricts lung capacity much more drastically than an underbust by preventing the chest from rising with each breath.  Because waist training is generally meant to reshape the waist only, covering the chest/breasts with an overbust corset provides no advantage.

 

Do I really need to break in my corset?

Absolutely.  Not only is it necessary in order to lengthen the life of the corset, but a slow breaking in (also known as “seasoning”) process will promote a more enjoyable, more healthful experience for the wearer.  The Rule of Twos can work wonderfully for a large number of individuals who are wearing their new corset for the first time.  This guideline, originally offered by Ann Grogan of ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry, specifies two hours of wear at two inches of reduction for two weeks as a basic recipe for seasoning your new corset.  Depending on the quality of the corset and your experience with waist training, though, these numbers may fluctuate.  Discussing the seasoning process with the corset maker or purveyor can shed some light on the most appropriate way to break in the corset in question.  In general, though, keep the following points in mind when considering if you should extend the seasoning time frame.

  • Allow more time to break in your corset if:
  • It is not custom to your measurements
  • It contains more than steel 25 bones
  • It is built with more than 2 layers of material
  • The reduction is greater than 6 inches
  • The silhouette is particularly challenging, such as stem-waisted or conical in the ribs
  • You are entirely new to steel-boned corsetry

 

How long does it take for waist training to work?

Waist training is not a “quick fix” - it requires diligent daily wear of a corset that spans months or years, depending on one’s goals.  For example, small changes may be seen with 10 hours of wear, 5 days per week, with a 15% reduction in about 3 months.  However, more dramatic alterations might require an aggressive regimen of corset wear, such as 20 hours of wear, 7 days per week, with a 25% reduction over the course of two or more years.  Wearing the corset consistently is also required to maintain any results.

 

What if I don’t want to waist train but still want to wear a corset?

By all means, do!  While it takes patience to see results from the waist training process, you can experience an instant improvement in posture and shape by wearing a slightly tightened corset.  You’re likely to find that a corset makes an excellent piece of foundation wear beneath a special event  outfit or as a statement piece on the outside of an ensemble.

 

Can waist training reduce your waist size permanently?

The answer can change from one person to the next, and some individuals even see a slight increase in natural, uncorseted waist size. The results for anyone, though, depend on their specific circumstances and their diligence in waist training.  More often than not, though, consistently wearing a corset with a modest reduction will result in a “persistent” reduction.  This kind of daily waist training can cause the tissues and organs in one’s midsection to shift slightly up or down.  However, if one would then stop wearing corsets altogether that “persistent” reduction would likely be lost and the waist would expand to its former circumference.

Inches on the waist, or on any part of the body, can also be lost through waist training by those with a fair amount of extra body fat. For these individuals, the act of waist training can help them to reduce their consumption in a healthful way, not unlike bariatric surgery (except safer, cheaper, more glamorous, with less complications, without permanence, etc.). Corsets aren’t strictly a weight loss tool, but there’s little doubt that they can be used as one.

 

Do I have to force myself to sit through pain when waist training?

Certainly not.  The reduction and frequency of wear must be adjusted based on stresses, activities, exercise, travel - you name it!  There exists a delicate balance between wearing a corset enough to achieve one’s waist training goals and to reap the benefits in health and self-esteem and knowing when to loosen the laces.  Otherwise, it is easy to come to despise the process.

 

Will wearing a corset for long hours harm my skin?

As with any kind of training, it’s important to mind your overall health during the process.  This includes tending to your skin, especially around your waist. Simple techniques of daily cleansing, lightly exfoliating, and carefully moisturizing your torso are a great way to start.  For those seeking extra  protection for their skin, or those combating a humid environment while wearing a corset, a seamless liner and body powder will also make the process much more pleasant.

 

Can I wear a corset while sick?

When suffering from a seasonal illness, such as a cold, flu, or stomach “bug”, use these two criteria as a litmus test: 1) Are any of the symptoms below the neck, such as nausea, body aches, or fever?  2) Is this illness preventing you from exercising, going to work, or attending class?  If either answer was “yes”, then you will likely benefit from some time out of your corset. Keep in mind that the sooner you heal, the more time you will have to waist train later.  In the case of a sickness which might not be a basic consequence of the change of seasons (consider mononucleosis, tuberculosis, or tonsillitis), rely on the advice of your doctor.

 

What is tightlacing?

Tightlacing has been defined in different ways by various sources.  Most commonly it refers to either 1) tightening a corset as far as possible for a short period of time, such as a special event or photographic opportunity; or 2) a more intensive take on waist training which requires, most often, more than 75% of one’s time spent in a corset that is reduced at least 20% below their natural waist size.  When reading or hearing this word, be certain that you understand the author's or speaker’s use of it.