Not all corsets were created equal. In fact, a lot of the garments that are sold as ‘corsets’ today are more corset-style tops than the real deal. They might look good but they won’t shape the waist and that’s what most of us want a corset to do. The right corset should look fabulous, bring in the waist, and – depending on the style you go for – give you a cleavage to die for. Corset specialist Jess has four top tips for choosing the right corset for you.

Tip #1: Go for quality. The first thing to do is make sure what you’re buying is actually a genuine corset. True corsets rely on more than just silk and satin to do reshape and support your body. It takes more than that- look for a steel boned corset. They don’t appear any different outwardly but you’ll see the difference in the mirror when you put it on.
Steel boned corsets are not necessarily uncomfortable. In fact, many wearers find them just the opposite. If you’re a naturally curvy woman you’ll almost certainly appreciate the support offered by a good boned corset.

Tip #2: Get the size right. A well-laced corset can bring in your waist by four or five inches but they still need to be sized carefully. Most corset stores size in waist inches rather than dress sizes so it pays to measure or go by the label on your favourite jeans rather than your normal 8, 12, or 22. The best size charts will give an initial waist size and an expected waist size while wearing the corset, to avoid confusion.

Tip #3: What will you wear it with? There are two main types of corset to choose from. The overbust style lifts the breasts as well as pulling in the waist. You can wear these corsets as they are without anything underneath, and that’s what people usually do. Think strapless corset wedding dress or burlesque outfit.

The classic Twenties and Thirties look is best created with an overbust corset. For best effect, choose one with a ‘sweetheart’ or deep heart-shaped bust. This will maximise your cleavage as well. On the other hand, underbust corsets are all about the waist. For obvious reasons you’ll need to wear a blouse with an underbust corset. These are the more popular corsets for Victorian costumes and historical recreation purposes, although some modern underbust corsets are made to couture standards for evening wear.

Some corsets have integrated suspender loops (ideal if you’re going to wear vintage-style stockings), and it can also be handy to opt for one with a modesty panel for easier, less revealing lacing.

Tip #4: Buy for your fingertips. Although it can be difficult if you’re shopping online, try to take into account the way the corset will feel. Textures are one thing that vintage designers often understood very well, and the best corset manufacturers do too. A satin or subtle brocade outer finish adds a whole new dimension to a corset-wearing experience. You should feel strong and sexy in every sense.

Jess writes for Corsets UK and isĀ  firm believer in vintage fashion, particularly corsets.