Glossary of Corset Terms

With the help of some friends, I have compiled a list of common abbreviations and terminology.

AEC: Alter Ego Clothing, North American based OTR corset company

Bespoke: a custom corset created specifically to your measurements, solely for you

Bones / Boning: straight and spiral steel* sewn into the corset to give the wearer the shape of the corset instead of the garment taking the shape of the wearer

*can be made of other materials but steel is considered the strongest and most popular

Bunny ears: loops straddling the waist tape at the back of the corset; these are used to tighten and loosen the corset

Busk: front closure of the corset

Buskless: a corset with no opening in the front

Cincher: often made of latex or similar material, often wrongfully referred to as a waist trainer

Conical: conical corsets offer less room in the lower rib thus making your silhouette look more flat from the front and side. It tends to compress the floating ribs. It’s a more traditional look for corsets, ideal for wearers with flexible ribs or those interested in rib training

Corset: a garment worn to hold and train the torso into a desired shape, traditionally a smaller waist or larger bottom, for aesthetic or medical purposes (either for the duration of wearing it or with a more lasting effect), or support the breasts. Both men and women are known to wear corsets, though this item was for many years an integral part of women’s wardrobes.

Cupped: cupped rib corsets offer more room in the lower rib. Tends to give a more rounded silhouette from the front and side. Cupped rib corsets tend to give the wearer the ability to cinch down further. It’s ideal for wearers with large or less flexible rib cages.

Double-faced satin: ribbon lacing used for corsets, usually 5/8” in thickness

Fashion corset: a corset that is not considered to have enough curve or structure to waist train

Floating ribs: the last two ribs on each side of the rib cage that aren’t connected to the sternum

F4R: Fitted 4 Royalty, US-based customizable corset company

Gap: gap in the back of the corset between eyelets; should not be larger than 4” (6” absolute max) to avoid pattern displacement, which can lead to injury and or warp the corset

Grommets: the eyelets on the back of the corset that hold the lacing

Hip gap: extra room between your hips and the corset; in a proper fitting waist training corset, these gaps will be equal to the gap in the back of the corset, and will go away as you train down and get closer to closing the corset

Hip spring: the difference between the waist size and hip size of a corset; for example if you have a size 20 corset, that means it’s 20″ at the waist when closed, and if it has an 8″ hip spring, it’ll have a 28″ hip measurement when closed. Waist size + hip spring = hip size; 20 + 8 = 28

MCC: Mystic City Corsets, US-based OTR, MTM and MTO corset company

MTM: made to measure; made to a wearer’s specific measurements

MTO: made to order; corsets created with a level of customizability, though choices in fabric, busk options, etc; usually referring to custom modifications of an existing OTR style

OC: Orchard Corset, US-based OTR corset company

OTR: off the rack; pre-made, ready to sell corsets with predetermined measurements

Parallel: the ideal shape of the gap in the back of the corset; when the grommets are all parallel to each other, often described as || 

Reduction: the amount of cinching done at the waist, for example if you have a 30″ natural waist and close a 24″ corset, that’s a 6″ reduction.

Rib gap: extra room between your ribs and the corset; in a proper fitting waist training corset, these gaps will be equal to the gap in the back of the corset, and will go away as you train down and get closer to closing the corset

Rib spring: the difference between the waist size and the rib or underbust size of a corset; for example if you have a size 20 corset, that means it’s 20″ at the waist when closed, and if it has an 8″ rib spring, it’ll have a 28″ rib measurement when closed. Waist size + rib spring = rib size; 20 + 8 = 28

Rib training: compression to the floating ribs over time in order to slowly move them inwards to either enhance the hourglass shape or to bring in flaring ribs; rib training is hard and poses more potential risks than regular waist training does so we strongly advise you speak with an expert before attempting it

Seasoning: a process in which you wear your corset for a short period of time so that your body can get used to the compression, and you gradually soften and break in the corset fibres. Seasoning schedules exist, but you can just listen to your body (known as intuitive seasoning). If you’re sore or uncomfortable you should loosen up and if it’s just too much, take it off.

Semi-cupped rib: a happy medium between cupped rib and conical rib corsets

Stealthing: wearing or hiding a corset under clothing

Tightlacing: also sometimes referred to as extreme waist training, it’s a particular style of corseting with the goal of shrinking your waist to the smallest size physically possible; some believe lacing down by a set number of inches is tightlacing while others believe it is lacing down by a percentage of inches of your natural waist

TT: Timeless Trends, US-based OTR corset company

Waist tape: a “tape” between the layers of fabric that reinforces the waist section of a corset; upon close examination, it is usually visible from the outside

Waist training: a form of body modification; repetitive use of a corset for several hours a day with the goal of shrinking one’s natural waist semi-permanently

Warped / Warping: caused by a corset being laced with a () or )( gap, causing the bones to twist in their channels and become permanently curved

Waspie: a short corset designed to exclusively cinch in the waist; popular among those who want the extra mobility and aren’t as concerned about back and lower tummy coverage

WKD: What Katie Did, a corset maker in the UK

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I would like to thank Amanda, Laura, Victoria and others for their contributions to this glossary.

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