How to Buy a Corset: Consider Fit, Function, & Price

Deciding which type of corset to buy can be simple once you understand these three key aspects: fit, function, and price.

Fit: Corset Styles

Woman in a corset
Photo courtesy of What Katie Did

Updated by Kim "Kimmay" Caldwell 5/31/16

One of the first things to do before you buy a corset is to check out the differences between a corset and a bustier. Once you have determined that the style you're purchasing is indeed a corset, you can move on to the tips below!

Decide which type is best for you before buying. One way to choose the type of corset is to ask yourself: Do you want to be able to wear your bra underneath or above your corset? Or, would you rather not wear a bra at all?

There are two main types of corsets and each one fits differently: underbust and overbust. The model seen here is wearing a steel-boned, underbust style corset by What Katie Did. An underbust corset fits, as you might guess, underneath your bust. You can wear virtually any bra you like with this kind of corset.

Some supportive overbust styles are designed to wear in place of a bra. Other corset styles won't provide any uplifting support at all, and may even flatten your chest unless you wear a bra underneath.

Another tip: There are so many different ways to wear a corset, so choose a style depending on when, and how you'll be wearing yours.

If you would like your corset to be shapewear and fit under clothing, choose a style that has a flat front without much embellishment.

If you'll be wearing your corset as outerwear, or to show off in public, then choose one that fits your style. You may even consider a reversible style. You'll have two different colors or patterns to choose from every time you wear it.

Decide which type of neckline you like. Ask yourself: Do you want to shop for a plunging sweetheart style or square balconette?

Choose a corset shape — and the "curves" you want to create. Some corsets are designed to give your body a true Victorian hourglass figure. Others are modeled after the S-curve of the Edwardian-era with the hips back, and chest forward.

Function: Waist-Reducing Ability

Back of a corset
Angela Friedman

If you want a corset that will make your waist look smaller instantly, consider these details.

Check the laces before buying. Truly functional laces that will help to cinch your waist should be at the back of the corset, and they should tie right at your natural waistline — not at the bottom or top. The Angela Friedman style, seen here, is an example.

What type of boning does it have? Decide whether you care more about a corset's waist-reducing ability — or if you just want a style that looks great and feels comfortable. If you opt for comfort, then look for styles made with flexible plastic boning.

If you want to be sure your corset will shave inches off your waistline, then it needs to have steel boning. (True corset fans will swear that the rigid, constraining fit of this type of corset feels comfortable.)

Price: How Much Does a Corset Cost?

Photo courtesy of

How do you know how much to spend on a corset, and how can you find one in your price range? When it comes to buying a corset, this expression rings true: you get what you pay for.

If you're hoping for a dramatic waist reduction and perfect hourglass curves, then don't skimp on price. If you prefer a more comfortable style that just looks like a corset, rather than function like one, choose a less expensive brand.

There are 3 price levels: mass produced, made-to-order and custom made.

If you want to shop for your first "real" corset — one that will reduce your waist — then a made-to-order one might be the safest way to go.

However, there are exceptions. Some brands make mass-produced styles that will deliver all the functionality of a "true" corset — but you may have to get lucky in terms of sizing for these to fit well. If you buy a brand that lists the measurements beside each size, you'll be able to determine if it will fit well.

When custom made is the way to go: If you're a true corset aficionado and want to invest in a custom, fabulous style. Although some can be very pricey, they aren't completely out of reach for some women — especially after saving up and not buying shoes for a while.

The experience of having such a beautiful type of lingerie made to your measurements will be worth it. The fit will be amazing.

Choose a designer that specializes in corsetry. Send in your measurements, and within weeks — or months — you'll have the most special piece of lingerie you'll probably ever own.

A custom-made corset is perfect for a bride since you can wear one in place of your gown's bodice — and it would be a lot less expensive than most wedding dresses.