I love corsets. When I was about five years old, I went into my Mom’s closet and found her black and red brocade corset hidden in her hope chest. I put it on (it fit me like a dress) and sauntered into the living room feeling like a queen to show my Mom. She was mortified, yelled at me to take it off and then promptly got rid of it. She was about 24 years old and had worn that corset to go out dancing and for ‘sexy time’. To her, it was a naughty, forbidden thing that was not appropriate for children. For me, however, it was just a beautiful piece of clothing that made me feel amazing.
As an adult, I have an entire corset collection, now. I’ve been wearing corsets and have been corset training for about twenty years. They still make me feel amazing, and I thought it would be awesome to share some of my experience and knowledge about being a fat woman who wears them and loves it. I also want to help you make the best decisions you can about buying your next (or first) corset.
This is going to be a very intensive blog with a lot of information in it. I asked plus babes in my social media reach to give me questions they have about plus size corsets and wearing corsets (and they really delivered! I got asked some amazing questions that I wouldn’t have thought to address).
This blog will be exclusively featuring corsets from Orchard Corset, but will hopefully address your general corset concerns and questions. I have owned a lot of corsets, including a $500 custom corset from a very posh high-end corset boutique (which I do not recommend). Orchard Corset has the best ready-to-wear corsets out there at the most reasonable prices (under $100 and often on sale). They have a great range of corsets for a variety of body types and torso lengths. Their customer service is incredible. They will help you choose a corset to fit your unique size and shape based on your measurements. They also allow for exchanges if the corset doesn’t fit you when it arrives. Don’t feel like you have to jump into buying a corset and decipher your body’s needs alone! They’re experts and incredibly understanding and helpful about the entire process.
I now own a handful of Orchard Corsets, myself.
I’m confident that once you find your favorite fit and ideal size, you’ll become addicted!
What Is A True Corset?
Corsets are a type of shapewear. They lift parts of your body up, push parts of your body down, hold parts of your body in and cinch it at the waist for a more defined and smooth shape.
Corsets come in a few different types (see next section). What you really want to look for in a true corset is lacing in the back and steel boning throughout. If you’re buying a very inexpensive corset with plastic or ridgeline bones, you are going to have an awful time with it because it will buckle and warp. You also will not get a good cinch with a cheap corset (it will also fall apart faster). If the seller doesn’t tell you what the bones are made of and the corset is under $100, it’s safe to assume that they are plastic.
Bustiers (anything with hook/eye closures like the band of your bra has) are not corsets.
Corset tops are fashion tops in the style of corsets… but, they are not true corsets, and you should not expect them to shape you like a true corset would, even if it is really tight.
For fuller figures, you want double steel boning. Always. Don’t settle for single boning in a plus size corset. The boning is what keeps the corset shape, holds it up and holds you in.
Some corsets have busks (which is the steel front closure with the tabs and pins) for ease of putting them on and taking them off. I prefer corsets with busks because they are easier to wear and have the added flattening power of the flat steel.
However, busks are also prone to warping and bending if a corset is removed without fully unlacing it and loosening it entirely first (bending the busk completely destroys the corset–more on this later!).
There are a variety of styles and types of the corset… from Waspies to Edwardians to Stovepipe to Cinchers. But, when you boil it down, there is truly only two types of a corset. Corsets that are underbust and corsets that are overbust.
Overbust corsets do exactly as the name suggests: They go over your bust and compress your breasts as well as your torso down through your waistline. This type of corset is going to give you the ample hoisted up cleavage and frequently has a flat front (though some do come with jutting cups for a more bra-like support and silhouette).
If you are just starting out, I recommend that you begin with an underbust corset.
There is a reason why there are more options for underbust corsets than overbust corsets: They’re more comfortable, and they fit a wider range of body types. You are going to be able to sit, move and function better in an underbust corset. They are like highly specialized back braces (and I know quite a few ladies who use them for back pain/support).
Corsets come in a variety of materials for a variety of purposes. Higher end corsets can come in expensive silks, delicate velvets, taffetas and dramatic elaborate brocades with embellishments. When it comes down to it you should order a corset that appeals to you most–but, here are some tips on materials that Orchard Corset has available.
The corset I am wearing in these blog photos is leather. I love leather corsets because leather is incredibly durable and flexible. When real leather warms to your skin, it will flex and mold to your body, unlike any other corset material. Leather also needs to be taken care of differently than other materials.
**Another bonus to leather is that you can paint it with professional quality leather paints (see my tutorial here) and it will look professional and slick. So, if you’ve been wanting a TARDIS corset or want a specific corset for a costume, stage act or for cosplay… you can start with a leather base and paint it to match your character.
The cool thing is that you can also paint over your paint job and reuse the same corset again and again for different costumes.
Cotton corsets are the best corsets for corset training or wearing under your clothing as shapewear. Cotton is durable and resilient. I own three cotton corsets from Orchard Corset and absolutely love them! Over time your cotton corsets will mold to your body as you break them in more and more. They will not have the same molding capabilities as leather, but they will have more firmness and less flex to them than the leather does, but not as much firmness as satin or brocade does.
All corsets have an inner cotton layer that sits closest to the body and protects the corset from your body oils. Regardless, you should always wear something cotton under your corset if you plan to wear it for an extended period of time or plan to waist train in your corset.
**Note: I would not recommend dying the cotton or painting the cotton with anything waterbased. Corsets are dry clean only and have a fused material between the layers that help with the structure. When those layers break down, you lose integrity. Cotton is not as ideal for cosplay or costuming unless you use a specialty fabric paint or plan to glue pieces to your corset for the stage.
Satin corsets have a beautiful sheen to them and a richness of color that you can’t get with other materials. Satin is going to have less molding ability and will retain its original corset shape. Advantage: On top of being beautiful, satin is the firmest of the materials you can get your corset in. Satin is also ideal to wear under silky materials that you want to be able to move and slide over your corset. Disadvantages: Satin is going to stain more easily than cotton or leather. If you snag your satin corset or get a gouge or pull in the fabric, it will show very easily due to the sheen.
Brocade is another very firm material with a more ornate appearance. Brocades are thick and very durable along with being beautiful. The advantage to brocades is that you will get a much stiffer structure from your corset. The disadvantage of brocade is that it will tend to wear more easily than cotton or leather over time, as threads in the weave can be easily rubbed by your clothing and caused to fray. This won’t compromise the ability of your corset to function, it just will start to look more worn and abused faster than other materials.
Mesh corsets are quite popular, right now, because they are very breathable and light. I admit that I have never owned a mesh corset, myself, and have no experience with them! But, I am interested in checking one out. My primary concern with mesh and my plus size figure is strength and durability. My next corset from Orchard Corset will absolutely be a mesh style (and I will report back to you guys about how I feel about it, as it will be a whole new experience for me).
Corset sizing can seem a little strange, but it is the most reliable sizing that you will find in clothing because corsetry uses a universal sizing standard of waist measurement. The measurement is what the waist is when the corset is completely closed tight in the back.
For example: A 32″ corset is going to have a 32″ closed waist.
You typically don’t want to have more than a five-inch gap in the back of your corset. You can have a larger gap if you are a larger lady, but 5″ is the standard length for modesty panels that go over your skin and protect you from your laces digging into your flesh.
So, a 32″ corset can accommodate the desired waist measurement of 37″.
Most corsets are going to compress your waist about 4-10″ depending on how fluffy you are and how much your body compresses in the midsection. Larger ladies will usually be able to achieve more compression. It’s easy to tell if you will be easy to compress by placing your hands at your waist and gently squeezing inward towards your waist. If you get a lot of resistance when you press, you aren’t going to be able to get a lot of compressions. If you get a lot of giving you’ll be able to get more exaggerated shapes and more compression.
If you are just starting out, I very much recommend not attempting to buy a corset alone. Take advantage of the customer care over at Orchard Corset. They will be able to take your measurements and ask you some questions to help you pick out a corset that will work best for you.
How To Measure
- You are going to want to take five measurements. Be sure to wear a bra.
- Take a tape measure and measure your Bust, Underbust, Waist, and Hips.
Bust: Under your armpit and over the fullest part of your chest.
Underbust: Under your breasts where the band of your bra starts. (a lot of plus brands call this your waist. It is not your waist unless your breasts are ample and sit very low on your torso).
Waist: Bend to the right and put your left arm up over your head. With your right hand, you can feel the point where your body bends. That is your natural waistline (don’t worry if you don’t have a dip there, we just want to measure where you bend).
Hips: This is the point above where your leg bone starts/moves and around your booty.
Don’t worry too much about your numbers. They are merely going to help you get the right fit and style so that you are comfortable and happy in your corset.
Too Tight? Of Corset Is! (A Painful Myth)
A lot of people believe the myths that corsets squeeze you hard, are difficult to breathe in, are very uncomfortable and damage your internal organs. Because of these myths, a lot of people end up ordering and wearing corsets that are not the correct size (especially plus-sized women who are also given unreasonable expectations of what a corset will do to their body shape).
Let me blow your mind: YOUR CORSET SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE!
A properly fitted corset should feel like a firm hug.
You should be able to sit, breathe, move, eat, walk, talk and function fairly normally in your corset if it fits you appropriately.
If your corset is painful, you need to take it off immediately. I was once involved in a show with a freelance clothing designer who fancied herself a corsetiere but had no training in corset construction. She put a very small corset on a plus-sized lady (she had zero experience with plus-sized bodies, and it was obvious–and her corsets were tight tube tops with random boning). The plus-sized girl being fitted said that it hurt her back and legs and the designer replied: “Oh, that’s normal.” I barked at them both “NOPE! Get it off of her NOW!”
The designer thought that I was overreacting. I had to show her that the bones in the back were cutting into the dancer’s back over nerves at the girl’s hips… if she had danced the planned choreography in that ill-designed and ill-fitted corset, it could have given her permanent nerve damage. An ill-fitting corset can absolutely damage the nerves in your back and legs. Ignorance at that level can be incredibly harmful. This is another reason why it is crucial to get your corset from someone who knows what they are doing, specializes in corsetry and sells a quality product.
A properly fitted corset will not hurt you. It will not make it hard to breathe. It will not make you feel weak or make you pass out. Yes, it will be a bit tighter than you are used to (at first)… but as you wear it in (Orchard Corsets come with instructions regarding this) and your corset and body relax into each other you will be rather comfy.
In fact, there are people out there who do corset training (myself included). Corset training is the act of wearing corsets almost all the time (or the majority of the time–especially to bed) in order to modify the shape of the body slowly over time. This can be especially effective in plus-sized bodies where compression will change the distribution of fat and alter how your body will retain fluid within your fat cells.
In the photos I’m sharing, here, of the Leather CS-426, I am wearing it comfortably so that I can still fit both hands in the top and both hands in the bottom and the lacing is properly even all the way down (top to bottom) as it should be. A corset is like a really advanced feat of engineering. The tension needs to be the same throughout so that you don’t have any extra pressure on any single point.
As you can see, the back has the same tension from top to bottom and the same space between the back panels. This is the appropriate way to wear a corset. You can wear it looser or tighter than this (you can always tuck the modesty panel inside the corset if you need to wear it looser), but space should always be even between the back panels.
Questions From The Community
I asked fellow plus sized ladies in my community if they had questions regarding plus size corsets and wearing corsets. Here are some of the awesome questions I got:
I can’t find a corset that makes me completely flat in the front and back. Should I give up hope?
I want to take a moment to talk to everyone about body perception in the corset world. Even on Orchard Corset’s Sizing at a Glance portion of their site you only see bodies that fit into size 28 and under corsets! You can see how their bellies and waists are easily contained in the corset and flattened by the busk. It gives us larger babes unrealistic expectations about what a corset can and will do for our bodies.
With larger sizes (I am wearing the size 40 corset in this blog) you are going to get a different effect. Our bodies end up looking more like segmented spider bodies or super dramatic hourglasses with the corset creating a narrow center with more volume up top and down on the bottom. This is completely normal. Completely natural. And, completely sexy! The reason we don’t think it’s normal, natural and sexy is because we aren’t seeing it enough in corset advertising or on sites selling corsetry, and are expecting our corsets to be the TARDIS for our fat bodies. It just doesn’t work that way for us. And, honestly… honey… why would we have it any other way? Our fat bodies are amazing, and the shapes we get with corsets are dramatic, and unlike anything, smaller flatter bodies can dream to achieve.
Refocus your mind towards shaping your body instead of flattening it out, and you are going to have a lot more fun in corsets. Your corset is going to accentuate your body, not hide it. Embrace that.
Can a plus size 30/32/34 realistically wear a corset?
There are absolutely corsets out there for larger bodies. The trick is being realistic about your body shape and size. A corset is not going to give you a flat stomach (corsets don’t give me a flat stomach either). What you want is to accentuate and enhance your natural shapes.
Orchard Corset’s largest size is a 46. Add the modesty panel to that, and you have a 51″ waist (cinched). You can easily start with a 55-58″ waist and try the size 46 corsets. Orchard Corset also now has a new design with hip ties that I highly recommend to ladies with bigger bellies/hips because the hip ties will allow you to let out the bottom a bit more for comfort.
My problem is that I have back rolls and an “apron”. I love wearing my fetish corset, but my problem is that I can’t sit down nor tuck the back fat in. I would love a corset I can sit in and wear to work. Any suggestions?
I’m absolutely certain that your back fluff isn’t as unsightly as it feels to you! But, I do understand your concerns. We ladies with larger bellies do have our bellies push down into our laps more when we wear our corsets. Your fluff isn’t meant to be contained under the corset; the corset is merely shaping your fluff. If your corset is too long (or if you have a short torso), you can have an issue with the corset constricting your movement or forcing your apron, breasts and back fluff dramatically in the wrong directions.
The key with both of these concerns is to get a corset with enough flare at the top and bottom to accommodate your body shapes and not force them to creating an appearing of what I call “spillage”, where your fluff comes spilling out of the top and bottom and jutting places (like your face or lap). For standing up, lying down or fun fetishwear moments, having a corset that creates spillage isn’t that big of a deal. But, when you want to wear a corset for fashionable reasons or wear one to work, you do want more smooth lines and curves (and to be able to sit and move comfortably).
As I mentioned above: Corsets are Shapewear. You wear them to accentuate the shapes you are already working with. I highly recommend getting an underbust corset and wearing a bra that fits you comfortably. Your back fluff is a reality and being at peace with it (instead of fighting with it) is the key to loving your corseted figure, and don’t try to force your body into a corset with the thought in your head that you’re going to be flat on the back or the bottom of your belly.
For shorter torsos with dramatic curves or ample bellies, I recommend the Orchard Corset CS-426 Short. It’s about 10.5 inches long in the front. It is longer than a cincher but considerably shorter than the standard CS-426 (which is a little short on me and my long torso).
The CS-426 Short with hip ties (shown below in black cotton) will also give you more room to let you figure out on the bottom a little more.
The CS-426 line of corsets also sits up a little higher in the back than the front (which I find helps with directing my back fat forward into my breasts and jutting them outward a bit more).
Who has the best customer service for plus size women looking to buy corsets online?
Orchard Corset’s team will totally work with you to find something that will work for you.
Give them a call or shoot them an email and they will wow you with their help and suggestions.
Your body is as unique as you are and may have different needs than I’ve suggested here.
PLEASE NOTE: Their Customer Service team is getting a flood of emails from ladies interested in getting corset sizing and style suggestions. They promise to get back you to within 24 hours, so just hold tight and know that you are in line and definitely a priority to them.
And, if you feel so inclined, please let Orchard Corset know that you would love to see their Full Figure corsets on larger bodies on their site! Nothing helps you get a realistic idea of what your body type and size will look like in a corset than seeing corsets modeled by people who are a similar size/shape to you.