This astoundingly amazing blog post is by one of my readers-come-friends Alayanna Bates. She is a busty beauty with a healthy corset obsession…

Jessica Rabbit, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Bettie Page and Mame Van Doren. What do all these women have in common? Well, besides the fact that I would give my soul to look like any, or combination of them? HOURGLASS figures! Are these luscious ladies with their coveted curves naturally occurring? Maybe…Or it’s more likely help from a dear friend of mine the Corset. And who knows…Maybe I have some other tricks up my sleeve too.

“In a woman with a true hourglass figure, the measurements of hips and bust are essentially the same, and the waist measurement is equal to less than 75% of either the hip or bust measurement. The result is a very curvy figure which emphasizes broad hips and large breasts, two traits which have been prized historically in many cultures. In cultures where the hourglass figure is considered a beauty ideal, the narrow waist is considered a sign of femininity.” (

I could go into some lengthy explanation about how corseting started and for what purpose etc etc, but we all have Google, so I’ll move on to the lesser found info on the web. Things I’ve learned through years of trial and error.

Hard lesson #1
There is a HUGE difference between Corsets, bustier and clothing items with “boning” made of plastic.

Words to look for when purchasing a corset: Suitable for tight-lacing, Steel boning all around, Steel busk (be sure this follows with steel boning all around), Canvas, Heavy satin material, Waist belt, modesty panel, heavy duty cording.

Dead give always that it’s not actually a corset: Its CHEAP (Sorry, its true), Spiral steel, Boning (they will leave out what type IE its PLASTIC), “Fashion Corset”, Ribbon ties, any corset that looks overtly adorned (this is possible, but mostly you will find corsets are rather plan minus a few gems or ruffles/fringe)

Cheap Fashion corsets do NOTHING for a figure, in fact, as seen below:

they will even make it appear LESS hourglass. There is no reason to own these monstrosities, if you have one, throw it out!! Besides, you know the plastic boning has already folded over and is sticking out making a strange shape, because that’s what they do!

Hard lesson #2

Sizing and length/Over bust or underbust/Premade or custom

How to pick your waist size.

If you are average or smaller sized lady, Go for 4 inches under your natural waist (the smallest part of your body were you nip in) For curvier average to plus size girls go 4-6 inches under your waist size (we can squish in a bit more, so its an advantage for corseting)
Now you say, But my waist is 34 inches, but my hips are 54, will that fit me!? Or my waist is 30 but so are my hips!? Either way, you will be fine. One thing I do recommend though. If you have a “problem spot” try to think about how you want your corset to fit before purchasing one. Have Large bust (Like most or all of us here) Go for an under bust, then you don’t have to worry about fitting your breast in, besides unless you have extremely full perky bust, they will not look that great without support or they will tend to fall out of the corset (see photo of me in over bust). Got big lovely hips? Go for just a waist cincher (short length corset, maybe around 13 inches depending on your torso length) and avoid corseting your hips at all and focus on your middle. If you’re like me and have a bit (or bunch) of a tummy pooch, you’ll want to go with a long lined corset, which is generally 14 inches or longer. The under bust corset below in magenta and black is considered a long line at 15 inches long. This is enough to come down over my pooch and help push it in. (I’ll go into how to smooth it out later) be sure that you pull your tummy up a bit into the corset before lacing so it’s not hanging out the bottom. You can do this by getting your corset on, then tightening a bit, but still have enough room to reach down from the top near your bra and gently pull your skin up, so everything is contained in the corset, the proceed to tighten.
I’d generally recommend an under bust for anyone’s first corset. They will do the most for your shape with the most comfort. Take a measuring tap and find out where your corset will sit on you, is it long enough etc, take all that into account.

As for pre-made ready to order (polka dot corset is an example size 30 inch waist from Corset Wholesale) or custom made (made to your body, such as my under bust pink and magenta is) that is ultimately up to you. Just like anything you get what you pay for (mostly) and it’s the difference of buying a dress of the rack or having one custom made for every delicious curve on your body. The pricing difference can range from slight to extreme, but you can pick up a custom corset for around $200 USD. Keep in mind to buy from a reputable corset maker. They should take three measurements of your bust, waist and hips, then the length of your torso, the length of your waist to your hips, the measurement of your hips when you sit, so that your corset doesn’t dig into your legs etc, they may even take more. The more the better! Here is an example of a GREAT fairly priced corset maker’s measurement list, also a great place to buy from with lots of options.

Terms to learn: Modesty panel – The back panel usually made of the same heavy duty material as the corset that covers where the laces are so that you do not see any skin. Keep in mind that a correctly fitting corset should have about 2-4 inches in the lacing, so that you can continue to corset down. Mine is too big for me, as I can no longer lace down, it prevents me from taking my waist in further.

Cording- Cording should be made of heavy duty smooth cord. NO RIBBON, as ribbon is not strong enough to withstand the pressure of tight lacing.

Hard lesson #3

Do you want to tight lace, or just wear for fun?

Big difference!

Tight lacing is the art of moving your ribs and sometimes organs in efforts to permanently reduce waist size, even when the corset is no longer on. This requires between 12-18 hours DAILY for several months before you will see results, but you will! Then you only have to occasionally lace to maintain the shape. Keep in mind the more drastic the reduction the longer it will take. Most women will get an inch reduction within a month or two. This is how all the famous curvy cuties from the fifties looked the way they did! The ladies I mentioned at the beginning of this article are ALL tight lacers (minus the cartoon character that is)

Just for fun?

Cool! You can see some real differences with the right corset in an INSTANT. You can safely reduce your waist with a corset by 1-2 inches on your first try. While most of us CAN go smaller, you should not. One reason is that the corset needs to be broke in or it will get “stress marks” or pulls in the fabric. It will not stretch properly and will lose its shape or WORSE break. Also, your body needs to adjust as well and feeling light headed and not breathing right are terrible things to do to your body. You should feel comfortable (another reason why customs beat out pre-made hands down) and non-restrictive, but secure. Also, if you have any medical conditions (especially HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE) you should talk to your doc before you lace!!! Lacing has been known to increase blood pressure!!


Corsets are laced the same way. One side from the top to the middle then the other from the middle to the top. When you lace you should start by grasping the top middle cords and pulling downward (toward the ground), once they are in place you should tie them, then proceed to the bottom middle cords pulling upwards (toward the ceiling) and then tie. Never pull straight out from the middle. It’s best to have a friend help until you are effective at tight lacing yourself.

Too smooth out lumps under a tight fitting outfit: Place a shape wear garment OVER your corset. This will smooth out most edges (see photo) Also, be sure you are wearing a corset stocking (it’s a tube top that you wear between your corset and your skin, and it helps prevent your body oils from breaking down the corset.

Start breaking your corset in by wearing it for small amounts of time and a moderate lacing (not too tight) and working your way up each day. Maybe start at 10 minutes an add 5-10 minutes a day until you either break in it (after about 10-15 hours of continuous wear broken down into small increments) or up to 18 hours if you are wanting to tight lace. They even make tight lace corsets that are meant to be slept in so that it’s easier to train!

Do not eat big meals while wearing a corset or while training. You should eat six small (200 calorie) portions each day if attempting to train your body into a smaller corset. Make sure that these meals contain mostly protein and veg. IE 2 ounces of Chicken breast and 2 cups of spinach. Avoid overly processed foods. You will not see a waist reduction if you gain weight while training!

To help build up your core muscles (your bodies natural internal corset) Do waist exercises such as these and these:

Also, to develop a more hourglass shape remembers to asses your body type. Are you larger on top and smaller in the hip (like myself)? Then you’ll want to bulk up your outer thighs and hips through weight lifting exercise (high weights and low reps) to balance out. Hips larger then your shoulders, then aerobics and leg lifts (low weight high rep) will help slender that out. It’s important that you take an unbiased view of your body to see if what you can do to balance your top and bottom half, while working to have a smaller waist. If you want a quick fix to it with clothing! You see how the blue shift and fuller skirt visually takes inches off of my waist!

Also, to melt fat off of your midsection try walking! Did you know that keeping your heart at 65-75% of its max heart rate will burn off mostly BODY FAT, while your harder exercises and workouts burn off mostly sugar? That’s right; you can work out comfortably and burn a TON of fat just by putting one foot in front of the other. Keep in mind that you must work out for 30 minutes before your body starts burning stored body fat, so work up to 45min to 1 hour 5 times a week to really see a difference! I’ll link a place to find your target heart rate below. This WORKS girls, I’ve lost 10 inches off my waist in only 5 months!

Remember that this calculates your TARGET heart rate. You should then multiply it by .065 and .075 to find out what 65%-75% is and keep your heart rate within that range. This is normally you talking ok, but just a tad out of breath.

I am constantly testing ways to improve my hourglass shape and will share more as they come along!

Alaynna Bates of Vintage Imagery Photography

Well, I hope this is enough info to get you excited about corsets! Long live the hourglass!

Wow, I need a lie down!
I hope that Alayanna’s amazing post has been of some use to you. Let me know your thoughts, as ever, in the comments section.
You can follow Alayanna on Twitter here
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