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How to Buy a Corset
Getting Something to Cinch that Waist
By Jade Miller
When looking into buying a corset, browsing the World Wide Web makes you feel like you're on a quest for the Holy Grail. Quail Bell's here to give you some boning behind this garment.
By Christine Stoddard
First of all, you as the buyer need to decide if you would like an actual corset or a corset-style top. The difference is all in the boning, as a corset is boned with steel and shapes a woman's body by redistributing the body's fat to make for a more voluptuous shape. A corset-style top (or bustier) is boned with plastic and is only a fashion piece, with no real shaping happening. Do not wear a bustier as an actual corset--that can actually hurt you and leads to the rumors that corsets are bad for you. A properly fitted corset should not hurt, and if anything, does very minimal damage to the body.
Now that that's straightened out, let's move on to the more interesting tidbits that come with buying a corset. The number one thing to keep in mind is that corsets, true and well-made corsets, don't come cheap. A corset can range in price from $100 to $1000. However, the saying that 'you get what you pay for' certainly applies here as making a corset takes time and serious skill. So be wary of Etsy.com and eBay.com sellers who offer corsets for $50 (it's probably a bustier).
You have many choices to make before buying your corset. First off, do you want off-the-rack or custom made? Obviously, custom made is the best way to go as those corsets are made to your exact measurements and, really, if you have a more shapely body, this is probably the smarter way to go. If you have a pretty standard size body, then off-the-rack will work just fine, and is actually the slightly cheaper route. When sizing, the rule of thumb is 2 to 4 inches smaller than your natural waist. So, a 30'' waist becomes a 26'', etc. with bust and hips, and almost every corset is sized by the waist, so really stick with that measurement. Some women will be able to cinch in 6'' or even more. This, of course, all depends on YOUR body and YOUR comfort.
Then of course there's the underbust corset, which starts at the ribs and ends at the hips, or overbust option, which covers the breasts, and all the options that go with either of those choices. There are also modesty panels; different types of grommets and steel; and decorations like lace and ribbons.
The best thing to do when looking for a corset is to get out there and research! Only go with vendors who are trustworthy and have great reviews, since there is a lot of money involved and a long time between pay and getting your finished product. And always, ALWAYS, get dates for when to expect your piece.
Once you get your corset, there's not much you can't do in them, but try to lace up loosely before eating or drinking to keep from cramping. Also keep in mind the little things like going to the bathroom and putting on your shoes—the corset will present slight challenges in the beginning.
A Quail Bell(e) is always the epitome of vintage fashion and it wouldn't do to have an unlaced Victorian-style Oxford when every other piece of your outfit is perfection!
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