A corset is a lot like a handgun: Dangerous, powerful and ideally concealed in public spaces.
Unfortunately, you don’t need to be trained or certified before the state says it’s okay to have a corset.
Corsets are not Costume.
I mean, they CAN be, but you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to create that awful, desperate Platter O’ Boobs effect. So, just for the sake of my head not splitting in half with two even more judgmental pieholes growing in its place, let’s just forget corsets as costumery and focus on them as a piece of specialty shapewear.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define a corset as a piece of boned lingerie with laces that can be used to minimize the waist by at least 3″. I say that because there are a lot of cinchers, high-waisted girdles and other usually latex or rubber-intensive shapers that call themselves corsets.
Of course, if I learned anything from living in the DC metro area during the Clinton years, there’s boning and then there’s boning. A good corset has steel boning or something with the equivalent flexibility and control. Flimsy little plastic or fabric “bones” are less than useless, because not only do they NOT work most of the time, they’re also likely to roll on you (more on that later).
If you are very large-busted or tend towards the floppy, you want a corset that ends under the bust. Cleverly known as underbust corsets, they allow you to wear your own bra and avoid the POB look. They’re also my corset of choice because overbust corsets can ruin the side profile by making less-than-ginormous funbags look flat.
You should also consider the length of your torso.
I’ve got a long waist and a standard corset is usually too short for me, which leads to an incredibly alluring reverse muffin top where all the fat sploodges out the bottom. I usually fix that by wearing some manner of high-impact girdle so my hips and gut don’t burst forth like the mighty kraken, hellbent on destroying all in its path, or at least the lines of my outfit which –let’s face it– is more important.
A longline corset is the way to go if you want your lower stomach and hips to get some smoothing action as well.
They’re a bit more difficult to maneuver in and generally a little more expensive, but if you’ve laced yourself properly they’re no big deal.
If you’re quite short-waisted, a standard-length corset will probably work as a longline and if you want something for your waist only, look for a lace-up cincher instead of a corset.
Now the lacing.
It is so easy, not to mention tempting, to go overboard with the lacing.
But friends, the fat has got to go somewhere and when you over-lace not only does it look weird, disproportionate and fetishistic, you are almost guaranteed a nice bulging set of backfat puppies popping out of the top and bottom of your corset. Fabulous if you’re a dowager empress, not so great for the rest of us. Keep the laces at the top and bottom of your corset nice and open, focusing on creating a gently exaggerate curve, not overzealous Gibson Girl Gone Wild.
Monday I’ll have a selection of corsets I recommend as well as answering a few more questions about this seemingly most difficult piece of underwear. Until then I am being forcefully beckoned to Plumcake Central Command (my hammock) for an important meeting (a nap followed by a gin and tonic) before tonight’s busy schedule of…probably nothing.