There is lots of confusion about what a corset is these days! Things get muddled and confused, so we here at Waisted Lives have decided to make a quick comprehensive guide.
This is not a corset. This is in fact a longline bra. Defining characteristics: It is a bra, made of traditional bra materials (power mesh, often underwire, has separate cups, hook and eyes in the back, etc.), and extends longer than a regular bra, generally just above or to the natural waistline.
This is not a corset. This is a bustier! It is a piece of lingerie that is actually quite lovely! Generally plastic boned, usually made of similar materials as bras, such as power mesh and lacy goodness.
This is not a corset. This is actually a more confusing piece of clothing, as it has not been around nearly as long as anything else here. It is often referred to as a bralette or a crop top (although it differs from traditional baggy crop tops with its inherent structure). The main difference between these and longline bras is that longline bras are considered underwear, while these are considered outerwear! Although you can certainly wear anything however you want, that’s the fun of fashion!
This is not a corset. It’s a girdle! Girdles are a type of shapewear that historically evolved from the corset as an undergarment (not that the corset is in any way extinct). They are lighter weight and easier to move in while still having a good amount of shaping power. They achieve this by eliminating the boning used in corsets and instead using fabrics with an elastic quality to achieve the desired shape.
This is not a corset. This is a Merry Widow, which is possibly the coolest name for any shapewear. This garment was created to try to eliminate the need for two separate undergarments, the longline bra and the girdle, although this garment ends at the hips. While this garment has steel boning, these bones are not used to achieve a cinch like a corset, but rather a long smoothed line. There are no laces, but often a zipper or another kind of set closure. In more recent years however, it’s become less shapewear and much more very fancy bridal lingerie.
This is not a corset. This is a corselette, which despite what you remember about romance language word building, it is not a small corset. This garment is very serious shapewear designed to smooth and tighten up from your breasts to your hips and over your butt. Sometimes made of bra materials, such as powermesh, a corselette like this is designed to be very comfortable and liveable shapewear.
This is a corset! (And a very fine one at that.) Some good defining features of high quality corsets include, but are certainly not limited to: lacing through grommets (not eyelets) up the back, a solid front closure (steel busk, heavy zipper, grommets, or sometimes no closure), steel bones, either custom sizing or sizing based upon waist measurements (no small, medium, large).
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