Did you know that corsets, bustiers, and waist trainers are not synonyms for the same thing? They are actually all completely different items with their own design features and purposes. Many mainstream and popular lingerie brands are incorrectly using these terms interchangeably and contributing to the confusion. Consumers need to know the real meaning behind these words so they are satisfied with their purchase having received what they intended to. So what are the main differences between the three options? Cost, material, purpose, and design.
Well, let’s start with waist trainers, designed to train the waist smaller in the long term they usually start above the hips and come up below the bust. They are designed to be worn for several hours of the day while going about your normal activities. As a result, they are usually made of basic materials and are often worn under clothes. They are designed to dramatically reduce the waist line, usually around 4-6 inches after training. My initial try in this waist trainer had me go from a 36-inch waist to a 34-inch waist. Waist trainers, like corsets, have steel boning, clasps in the front, and it ties up in the back. This one is quite ornate and beautiful with gorgeous black lace.
Corsets, as I mentioned above, always have steel boning and they tie up in the back with long laces that allow you to get a dramatic look. They usually have clasps in the front. They can be made with any material but they stronger the material the longer they will last. Corsets are dry-clean only because the metal inside will rust if not cared for properly. They can be overbust, underbust, long enough to shape the hip or fall above them. Corsets are popular as costume pieces in modern times but are also regaining popularity due to a resurgence in burlesque and vintage clothing. I’m in love with this made to measure embroidered red and black overbust version. You can see what a dramatic look it creates.
Unfortunately, most of what you see labelled as a corset is actually not. I actually think it is great that there are cheaper options available to those who can’t afford a quality made to measure corset. However, they are not really corsets unless they are made to reduce the waist size and most of what you see in mainstream lingerie stores is simply meant to smooth the tummy and boost the bust. That’s why they are commonly called bustiers. Bustiers are great, I own a few and I love them, but they aren’t corsets. They have plastic boning and thin material with no lining. They cost a fraction of what a good corset costs and while they look great they don’t create that dramatic hour glass look. I’ve put them side by side below so you can see the difference good steel boning makes.
This is clearly a case of different but not necessarily better or worse. If you like wearing a bustier, great! If you like the feeling of a quality corset, fabulous! If you want to buy a classic waist trainer, perfect! There are options for everyone and of course there is always the option of none. It’s all about informed choice and being able to make a wise decision so you can get the item you are actually looking for. So if you want to create a dramatic hour glass look make sure you find something with steel boning and that laces up at the back. Know that you will spend at least $100, but probably much more to get a quality made to measure corset, whereas you can find bustiers for under $50 easily. I’ve included some links below if you are looking to start your own collection.
Ashley Graham Lingerie: AdditionElle – 50% off on December 25, 26, 27!
Made To Measure Waist Trainer & Corset: Corsettery
Bustiers: Got Curves Lingerie – 15% off with “MsLindsayM”
Red & Black Thigh Highs: Glamory Hosiery
Sheer Duster: Yours Clothing
Undies: Big Tights
These items were provided to me complimentary by the brands listed above as part of our collaboration agreement, however, you can trust my reviews will always be honest.