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Corset Styles and Construction for Slimming, Body Shaping, and Posture

Date Added: September 22, 2015 02:57:25 PM
As early as the 16th century, corsets in various styles were used to slim the waist or permanently reduce the size of the waist for both men and women. Back then, corsets were made from soft cloths or strong fabrics (for training the body shape) and ribbed with elephant or whale bone. Contemporary corsets are made from flexible materials like cloth or leather and are stiffened with plastic or metal ribbing (also known as boning), a material used to bolster the corset and provide its shape.

There are many styles of corsets, each with its own unique affect on the shape of its wearer. Today, the primary function of a corset remains the same as traditional applications: fashion, posture, and body shape modifications including bust and waist size reduction. Most corsets provide the illusion of a slimmer waist and flatter mid-section. Others styles assist with lifting and drawing together the bust, contouring the mid section, or completely redefining the shape of the wearer’s torso and back. In modern times, corsets are also worn as part of fashion ensembles and are preferred by many seeking certain types of fetish wear. Some corsets are intended to be decorative only. Decorative corsets are used as part of a costume or ensemble and provide little change in body shape for the wearer.

One of the most common and oldest corset styles is the waist cincher. The waist cincher corset has been used for hundreds of years to help provide the illusion of the classic “hour-glass figure”, a body shape treasured by many societies over history.Underbust corsets are commonly used to achieve the hour glass shape by pushing more of the midsection up or down. While most corsets help to slim the waist line, an underbust corset will also provide support and enable better posture because it covers more body area than a traditional, waist cincher corset.

Overbust corsets are great for lifting the bust, providing support, and improving posture for the wearer. As with all corsets, the waist is cinched and one can achieve the hourglass shape. Unlike other corset styles, the overbust corset also covers the breasts, waist, and typically, the lower abdomen.

Other corset styles include the hourglass corset, conical corset, pipe stem corset, and s bend corset. The primary difference between these and other styles described above is shape. An hourglass corset is designed to flare at the breast and hip, while slim in the middle. Conical corsets are flared at the hip, but are slender and straight from the waist up, for a bustier look. Elizabeth corsets, popularized during the Elizabethan period, provide an upside down triangle shape, with a wide top that tapers to an extremely slim waist as found in illustrations of Queen Elizabeth I.

Pipe stem corsets flare at the hip, are straight like a pipe in the middle, and flare again at the top while s-bend corsets provide an hour glass shape from the front view, flatten the tummy area, and accentuate or cause moderate to extreme curvature to the lower spine. S-bend and pipe corsets are typically used for advanced body modification and do not lend themselves to a natural human shape.

With any corset style, the construction will vary depending on its purpose. Steel boned corsets are constructed with steel ribbing and provide greater support and are more durable than its plastic boned counterparts. Likewise, corsets fashioned from leather or sturdy fabrics are more durable and better define the intended shape than cloth or silk corsets.

While corset styles and constructions have in many cases been quite specific to society, status, and period of history, contemporary corsets are available in a wide variety of constructions, shapes, and sizes that draw inspiration from the past. From extreme body modification to a small reduction in the waistline or increase in bust, corsets are still among the wardrobe necessities of many. Men and women alike can choose from any style of corset based on their own individual fashion senses, lifestyle needs, or body modification desires.