There are two types of Goth girls in this world: Those who work the corset, and those with more sense. While I would like to say that I fall into the latter camp, I’m not going to lie to you, I do go round the block every now and then with the whole rib-breaker deal. While I certainly haven’t got to the stage where my waist now stays in on its own, I do have a little bit of wisdom to share with the uninitiated regarding how to “do” the corset, particularly if you are a corseting noob. Stripy Tights and Dark Delights has some tips of her own for younger Goths with an eye to the corsets as well, here.
How to pick a corset
You can grab a corset for under £20 on Ebay, or spend well north of £200 if you’re prepared to really commit to the look, and one of the main factors that dictate comfort, fit and shape is the material that the corset’s ribs are made of.
Cheaper corsets tend to have thin, flexible metal ribs that are rather apt to bend and stab you in odd places and not really hold their shape, as well as distorting the weft of the fabric once you begin to cinch them. Added to this, the hooks, eyelets and lace holes will tend to be rather poorly constructed on cheaper corsets, and do not lend themselves well to tight lacing.
However, it is wise to hold off spending mega-bucks on a lovely bespoke corset until you are both used to them and sure that you wish to persevere, and so that you can get used to the feel and fit of a corset, and know what kind of shape and support you wish to achieve.
The more ribs a corset has, the more supportive it will be and the less likely to become misshapen; you will then need to pick between short and long line, over bust or under bust, all of which are a simple matter of personal choice.
Regardless of price, style and materials, fit is everything; it is worth getting properly fitted by a professional, particularly for your first big purchase. The Everyday Goth has some more tips on selecting a corset here too.
This corset is not a good fit.
Putting on a corset
Now comes the fun part; get help if you can! It is not impossible to put on a corset on your own (I know from experience) but it is much harder than having help, particularly if you are new to the whole thing. First things first; put your tights, boots and skirt on before the corset. You can’t bend properly in a corset. Nor breathe properly either, half the time.
The hooks and eyes at the front do up first, then the back laces; you want to get your corset tied in the middle of the back where your waist is, not at the top or the bottom, as this is where you will need to cinch it.
Corsets come with an inbuilt “modesty panel” at the back; a strip of fabric that lies under the lacing. You can either fold it inside of the corset so that the lacing falls on the fabric you are wearing underneath (or your bare back) or fold it out, but unless you want to look like a div, don’t wear it half and half, not quite meeting at the sides.
Still determined to have a go yourself? Check out these tips.
Wait until you’ve had your corset on for at least half an hour before you start to cinch it; work up to tight lacing slowly over the course of a couple of hours. The more you wear a corset, the tighter you will be able to lace it, so don’t try to rush the process! Cinch from top to middle and bottom to middle, using two separate laces.
Vintage Goth has seven easy to follow tips on cinching for you to follow too!
Good luck with that.
If a corset is not really for you, or you find things like eating, breathing and not breaking a rib kind of important, there are a range of cheats that you can go for instead of a real corset. Basques, waspies, corset-effect tops (like this very cool Emmy top by Spin Doctor)
You can achieve a similar effect without cramping your style, and unless you really want to train your waist and make corsets a long-term part of your life, may be a good alternative for the odd night out when you’re trying to achieve a certain look.