Different types of corsets are sold for different purposes and body shapes. Corsets are usually worn underneath your clothes (but not always!) and can help boost your self-confidence, posture and accentuate your body shape and curves. Learn more about the popular corset types to ensure you choose the best one that matches your needs and goals.
Types of Corsets to Choose From
Corset shopping can sometimes lead to frustration, especially when you have no idea what to pick from a selection of many differences in style.
To make things easier for you, we categorized the 16 corset styles into four, namely:
Types of Corsets Based on Length
Corsets come in several lengths based on where the top starts and the hem ends to help achieve their primary purpose. Generally, there are six, namely:
1. Underbust Corset Types
Aptly named, this corset starts right below your breasts and can be worn in two ways. One is as a fashion accessory by wearing it on top of clothes. Another is underneath your clothes to support your back and/or minimize waistline size. Either way, you would need to wear a bra since the corset won’t support your breasts.
If it’s your first time, it’s best to purchase underbust types of corsets with garters. On the other hand, opt for those with wide straps if you have wide shoulders. Here are other types of underbust corsets that you can choose from:
- Bodice: This corset ends around your waist and provides back and shoulder coverage.
- Longline: With a length extending to the hips, longline underbust corsets are the perfect choice for long torsos.
2. Overbust Corset
The overbust style corset has a length that starts under your arms and ends just above your hips. This design helps lift your breasts, reduce your waist size, and support your back. Most women wear these types of corsets as outerwear, but you can also wear them as is, paired with your favorite skinny jeans or under your dress.
Some of the overbust corsets that you can choose from are as follows:
- Cupped: Aptly named, this overbust corset has built-in pads, perfect for women who have bigger breasts, as it provides excellent support.
- Lingerie: Like most lingeries, this corset has a revealing design and often has built-in or detachable garters and a G-string. You’ll also usually find these types of corsets with beads, silk details, or lace.
3. Mid-Bust Corset
Beginning at the middle of your bust and ending right below your hips, this corset will give you a long and smooth body silhouette. You might worry about it preventing you from sitting comfortably, but designers ensure the corset’s boning stops a little higher than the whole item’s length. Additionally, mid-bust corsets will support your breasts but won’t push them up.
The corselette covers your entire breast and extends to your hips, so it helps give your hips some shape, reduce your waist size, and lift your breasts.
5. Cincher Types of Corset
The cincher is the shortest among the types of corsets. It has a long center, back, and front but has shorter sides, covering the entire waist area like a wide belt. It also only focuses on reducing your waist size. Thus, it’s also classified as a type of belt.
Pioneered and popularized by Christian Dior, the waspie is shorter than the underbust but a little longer than the cincher. Its length is from under your ribs to above your hips. Its back has lacing and elastic panels allowing it to stretch for a more comfortable fit. The waspie is the perfect waist trainer that you can wear under your blouse and shirt or over your dress, trousers or skirt.
Types of Corsets Based on Time Period
Corsets have been around for centuries, and each era has a different style. Designers continue to embrace them, and three of the top choices are:
7. Edwardian Corset
These types of corsets were popular in the early 20th century, from 1900 to 1910. They extend below your hips and push your hips backward and your chest outward, giving you an S-shape body curve.
8. Elizabethan Corset
You can easily recognize this corset because of the scalloped bottom, flat sides, shoulder straps, laced back, and cone-shaped torso. Its length ends at the waist, giving you well-defined hips. The top flattens but pushes your breasts, giving you a squeezed cleavage appearance.
9. Victorian Corset Styles
Popular in the mid-1900s, Victorian era types of corsets are somewhat less comfortable than the Elizabethan. It’s an overbust corset that squeezes your ribs to reduce your waist size, giving you the classic hourglass shape. It also has a curved bustline, pointed or sweetheart neckline, and a pointed bottom.
Types of Corset Shapes Based on Silhouette
The main purpose of a corset is to give you a good body contour or enhance your natural body shape. The corset’s silhouette that you choose will help you achieve whatever your body shape goal is:
- Pipe Stem
- 4S-Curve or Straight Front
10. Hourglass Corset
Among the most classical or traditional corset types, the hourglass gives you a small waist by cinching it instead of compressing your ribs. It also won’t compress your hips and upper body. Hence, it offers superior comfort, flexible fit, and ease of wear. The hourglass corset can have a sweetheart-shaped or straight neckline and a mid-bust, underbust, or overbust length.
11. Pipe Stem Corset
The pipe stem corset has rigid boning that will compress your torso, making it look longer than usual. However, it’s also the reason the corset puts a severe strain on your lower ribs. Experts suggest regular waist training to ensure you fit into the pipe-stem corset. Also, you must not wear these types of corsets for extended periods to prevent back pain.
12. Wasp Corset
As its name suggests, these corset styles will make your body look like a wasp’s segmented body because it gives you a super tiny waist. The problem is that it squeezes your waist too tight, straining your abdomen and rib cage.
13. 4S-Curve or Straight Front Corset
This corset has an inflexible busk and supporting steel in its front, giving your torso an S shape or Gibson or kangaroo profile. It also supports your abdomen, so it’s considered one of the most comforting corsets. Also, since it’s too restrictive, these corsets can reduce your waistline to a maximum of three inches.
Types of Corsets Based on Design
Apart from the differences in length, silhouette, and period, we can also classify corsets according to specific designs. These include:
- Guepiere or Basque
14. Guepiere or Basque Corset
This corset is yet another Christian Dior creation that has been popular since the 1940s. It combines three different garments: a bustier, a waist cincher, and a garter belt.
15. Laced Corset
The laced corset style is available in three different types, depending on where the lacing is, which you’ll use to loosen and tighten the corset. You can find front-laced, front-and-back-laced, and triple-laced (lacing in front, back, and sides) corsets.
16. Ribbon Corset
Also known as the modern-day corset, the ribbon corset is made of lightweight fabric or fabric strips. You can wear it daily and it won’t fit too tightly.
Types of Corsets Materials
As with any other fabric-made items, manufacturers use different types of materials to produce them. You’ll find that most corset styles are made of the following:
- Brocade: This material is perfect if you want eye-catching types of corsets that exude class and elegance.
- Cotton: This is the best material for corsets that you prefer to wear under your clothes or when you live in a humid area because of its breathability.
- Lace: Similar to cotton, lace is breathable but will give you a sexier feeling. You can also wear it under thin or see-through clothes since it isn’t as thick as cotton.
- Leather: As a thick material, leather corsets are worn over your clothes or as is.
- Mesh: Like lace, the mesh is breathable, lightweight, and thin, making it perfect for summer and hot weather, as well as for thin or see-through clothing.
- PVC: Probably the sexiest corset material, PVC will contour your body well as long as you perfectly wear it. Keep in mind that, like leather, PVC corsets are best worn over your clothes or as is because of their thickness.
- Satin: This lustrous, smooth, and slippery material makes the corset look luxurious. Just make sure it’s thick and has a medium weight.
Boning and Corsets
Nearly all corsets have some kind of stiffening or boning to give them support and structure. Of course, modern corsets don't actually use bone but rather steel boning or plastic boning.
Plastic boning is more lightweight and flexible than steel bonding and is more likely to be used in comfortable fashion corsets.
Boning is inserted into channels or casings that are sewn into the length of the corset. These can be fabric casings sewn on top or created within the seams themselves. Of course, the number of channels can vary, but typically there are boning channels in the side seams and up the front and back panels.
Which Types of Corsets Should You Choose?
Deciding which corset to add to your closet is actually more of a personal choice. Just always consider your comfort, how you want to wear it, the pieces of clothing you usually wear, fashion style, and goals.
The best thing that you can do is to get several types of corsets, so you have one that you can wear underneath your clothes and another over your clothes on different occasions and seasons. Happy choosing!