Corsets: beginner's guide

Hell(o) there !
I finally have some time and patience to do this guide for corsets.
 I hope you find it useful ;)

Definition from wikipedia : ''A corset is a garment worn to hold and train the torso into a desired shape for aesthetic or medical purposes (either for the duration of wearing it or with a more lasting effect). Both men and women are known to wear corsets, though women more commonly do.
 In recent years, the fashion industry has also borrowed the term "corset" to refer to tops which, to varying degrees, mimic the look of traditional corsets without actually acting as them. While these modern corsets and corset tops often feature lacing or boning and generally imitate a historical style of corsets, they have very little, if any, effect on the shape of the wearer's body. Genuine corsets are usually made by a corsetmaker and are frequently fitted to the individual wearer.''

For more info about the history of corsets, the Wikipedia pages offer great information ;) 

We have 2 types of corsets according to use and functionality :

Real corsets : made with high quality materials and metal boning, design to last for many years with intensive wear (8-16 hours a day). They are many times custom made although you can find off the rack corsets (pre-made) that can be quite good. Real corsets can be used for waist training/ tight lacing. They give amazing shape to the body. Usually pretty expensive but you can find good deals online.
TIP : use a magnet to find out if the boning is metal
This is an example of real corset. It's by the famous brand 'What Katie Did'

Fashion corsets : the sole purpose of these corsets is fashion, offer little to no support and they are made from cheaper materials, not so resistant and usually have plastic boning. Sometimes the busk and back have metal boning but they should never be used for training or long wear. Some fashion corsets can be high quality and can last for many years if worn occasionally, it's a great choice for those who don't necessary need a lot of support and 'sculpting' but love the look. It's great for formal events, cosplays, photo shoots etc.  Depending on the maker, materials and design some temporal shaping can be achieved.
 Here's an example of a fashion corset, it's just a random design

Also in the fashion corsets category we have the lingerie corsets, these have no boning, they are just sexy tops inspired by the corset design.
Lingerie corset example. This is a Victoria's Secret design.

Here's a comparison video. It's made by Lucy from Lucy's Corsetry, one of my favorite corset trainers, she has a lot of useful info on her site and youtube channel. If you are into corsets you should check her out. 

Type of corsets according to the design

 Over-bust corset :  as the name says, this type of corset  covers the high hip area, waist and the bust.
 This is an example by restyle
 pros & cons :

Under-bust corset: there are many types of underbust corsets. They go from under your bust to the hips, depending on the length of the corset and the length of the torso.
Here are some examples by Draculaclothing : cincher, regular underbust, longline underbust and vest type underbust.
Another video from Lucy where she explains the difference between waist cinchers and longlines (or regular underbust corsets)

Benefits of wearing a corset

- If you are training your waist properly you can achieve a more hourglass shape, semi-permanent or at least as long as you are wearing the corset.
-  It can help with back pain.
- I helps a lot with your posture (even a cheap corset).
- It can alleviate anxiety & help gain confidence.

Dangers of wearing corsets

Long story short : if you wear it properly there are absolutely no dangers.
The dangers might occur if there is a preexisting medical problem or intensive wear ( like 20 hour a day for several months or years).  Some organs might move a little with time, also the lower ribs can be bended to give the shape even when you are out of the corset. These changes however need a lot of time. Many corset wearers got their natural waist back after they stopped training.
Done in moderation with proper knowledge it shouldn't be a problem.

Things to take into consideration when buying a corset :

- Do you want a semi permanent (or permanent) body modification trough the corset or you just want to wear it occasionally ?
- Learn how to mesure yourself
-The corset should be  4-6 inches/10-15 cm smaller than your waist. Example : If you have a 25 inch waist you should get a size 20 inches.
- If you want to waist train make sure the corset you are buying is for waist training ! Plastic bones can actually hurt you (because they don't bend to fit your body properly) also if the material is not strong enough it will stretch very soon or even break.
- If you are corset training make sure you strengthen the abdominal muscles with exercise.
- If your goal is to loose weight don't rely just on the corset, you need proper nutrition and exercise. 
- Don't forget to season your corset (braking in)! This is pretty important :

Where to buy corsets

My personal recommendations (on a budget) :  Leatherothics (UK) for waist training, Draculaclothing for fashion (they also have a few waist training corsets but haven't tried them yet), Restyle for fashion and training (they are amazing) , Orchard is a very popular site from US for fashion and training, don't have anything from them yet but the reviews and prices are very decent. It's just that I do prefer to buy from Europe. There is also this awesome site called True Corsets (I think from UK) it has great deals and designs but they don't ship to my country (Romania) :(((. I sent them an e-mail and they told me this...

Conclusion :
Do all the research you can find. There is a lot of info out there, this is just a basic version.
See what works for you.
Everything in moderation.
Even the fashion corsets should be good quality.
Don't expect training results from a fashion corset.