All you could hope to know about starting on the waist training lifestyle. Vintage and figures go hand in hand. Girdles will accomplish so much so why not bust out the serious stays and make a real change in your waistline? I will try to cover everything from the science behind it, to proper corsets, and functioning in it daily. This is geared toward the 1950’s lady who will be wearing her cincher every day under her dress and will want to be comfortable, but these principles will work for any lifestyle that wishes to waist train.
I have been a waist trainer and corset enthusiast since I was 15. I got my first corset as a gift at 15 and then took to a local lingerie/fetish shop to buy my second not long after that. When I was 16 I bought 2 custom made corsets for myself, an underbust and an overbust. Since then I’ve bought many more and made my own. All of my corsets are steel, flat steel or spiral steel; my leathers, my vinyls, my canvases, my cottons, my silks, and brocades, all of them. I know my way around a corset to say the least. All of my knowledge comes from research and experience.
- Only wear properly fitted corsets
- Work your muscles daily
- Listen to your body
- Be patient
The Facts – What To Expect
- Results will not be over night.
- You will need to build up endurance, stamina, and muscles over time to be successful.
- You should never be breathless or in pain
- Getting used to the corset and breaking it in will take time.
- Your first corset should only be 4 inches smaller than your natural waist.
- Depending on your goals and progress you will eventually need to upgrade your corset to a smaller size.
- A training corset will be spiral steel and “double boned” (two stays at each seam around the garment)
- Underbust is best.
When you decide to start waist training it is first best to have a plan and adhere to the rules I placed above. You MUST work out. Keep your core muscles strong and engaged to keep from your muscles atrophying. Do at least 10 crunchies/situps a day, stretch your back and you stomach muscles by arching. If you already live a healthy lifestyle and work out daily then just make sure to get your abdominal exercises in. Something I like to do while wearing my corset is keep my lower abdomen tight–this prevents that “bulge” you see some corset wearers get as well as helps your muscles stay strong.
You MUST be patient and listen to your body. Go slowly. Once you get your new corset you need to break it in. This means your corset and your body are getting used to each other. The fabrics and metal will warm to your body temperature and begin to shift and mold to your natural figure, making the gradual decrease more enjoyable. To do this you should try to start off wearing it at least one hour and try to increase that by 30 minutes every day or two. This is where you must listen to your body. If you start to get uncomfortable, take it off. Do not build a negative emotional association to your corset. During this time you should only have it cinched down one inch max. As you build up longevity in your corset your body will begin to remember the corset and conforming to it. As it feels comfortable without pushing yourself, allow the lace to draw itself tighter.
Remember during this time your body is also getting used to performing necessary daily functions such as eating as well as your own daily duties such as walking, bending over, lifting, reaching. Shocking it with sudden all day wear at 4″ reduction will not help you in any way but leave you sore and breathless and unable to comfortably exist. Gradually increase your hourly wear, gradually decrease your waist. Once you can wear your corset without issue for 8-12 hours then everything else is a breeze. During this time you might also have managed to decrease your waist by 2″ while wearing it. If not, that’s ok too. This process takes time. It will likely take you 2 weeks at least of everyday wear to make it 12 hours comfortably at a 1″ reduction.
Everyday from there you will probably tighten your laces minutely, so minutely that you may not even notice if you measure, but by the end of the week you might be laced down another half inch. Keep this up. Your corset should never feel tighter than a gentle hug. Eventually you will close the corset with no problem. If a week has gone by and you have NOT gone down at least a half inch, the next week pull a little harder on the lace and get that half inch in. So long as it is not painful, keep that half inch all day and all week and pull another half inch the next week. While you’re wearing your corset try to keep moving–do chores, walk around, do mild activities so your body can get used to the feeling of the corset and your muscles can adapt to the restrictions while moving.
Once your corset closes you will want to continue wearing it until it starts to feel loose around the ribs and waist (and it will). Then you are ready to upgrade. Measure your natural waist now; it is likely as much as a couple inches smaller than when you started! Subtract 4 from THAT number and purchase your next corset. Once you have broken in your new corset (similar to your starting corset but can be more vigorous this time: wearing all day with only a half inch reduction (you already have the longevity) and allow it to tighten slowly over the coming weeks) and have warn it to a couple inches of reduction your old corset can now be used as your sleeping corset.
Sleeping corsets are not an absolute necessity of waist training and certainly hold their own controversies among some trainers, but it is a personal choice to train in your sleep and it is only your decision to make. The sleep corset should be a bigger size than your day corset. It should be able to close and still be comfortable. When you lay down you should still feel free to turn and move as usual. For what it is worth I do not personally sleep in a corset.
During this time your organs are actually rearranging. Your liver may begin to grow vertically and the natural process our bones go through with breaking down and building back up will cause your floating ribs to curve in smaller and your upper ribs to flatten and restrict your core. You will be breathing from your upper chest and shoulder which may cause some soreness due to muscle inactivity as most of us are stomach breathers (which is the correct way to breath). These pains will subside and you will gain strength in these areas to make breathing effortless.
Until you are used to your corset you may find leaning back while sitting to be uncomfortable and returning upright from that position is trying. It is perfectly fine to engage your abdominal and back muscles to help yourself up. Laying down may be uncomfortable too and could cause heartburn. Swallowing, should not be difficult but smaller bites and more thoroughly chewed food will prevent any “stuck” feeling you may get when your reductions become more dramatic.
When done correctly waist training is not dangerous and potentially permanent. Our bodies change with age so if you stop corseting throughout your years, inevitably your results will wane.
Corsets and Health
Spine You should NEVER get a corset that manipulates the spine to train in. If you have certain spinal conditions such as scoliosis you will need a custom corset made to your needs.
Sciatica and Nerves If you have nerve or sciatica issues (which I do) you may want a corset that is tailored more toward that. Due to my own sciatic nerve problems my training/corsets are tailored to allow more room in the hips. I hardly reduce my hips which works to my benefit since it is a look I strive for. If I wear the bottom of my corset too tight (which Timeless Trends corsets are built for) then my hips and legs will become numb. Instead I prefer a modified Edwardian style corset that does not arch the back but has special panels for the hips. If you feel any pinching or numbness under your corset or in the extremities then loosen the lace. If it continues, stop your training and consult your doctor.
Digestion Depending on your body a corset may or may not constipate you. Yup, that’s right. It restricts EVERYTHING in the abdomen. Try to eat lots of fibrous foods and drink plenty of water. Loosen it if you have a problem or even take it off as needed. Stool softeners may also be an option.
Breathlessness and dizziness are definitely a possibility when waist training, but this can and should be avoided by practicing patience and slow reduction. If you are practicing modest training and still experience unusual and excessive shortness of breath and dizziness you should stop training and consult your doctor.
Abdominal Pain should never be experienced while waist training. This could, however, be a result of digestion or illness. Try to assess your condition and use good judgement if you feel the corset is hindering the condition. If the pain is unbearable then remove the corset, see how you feel, and take proper action. If you are having unbearable pain still and your condition worsens then see a doctor immediately or call 911. While your corset will not cause any organ failure or infection you may be experiencing an unrelated illness which should receive proper medical attention.
Menstruation Corset training should not affect your menstrual cycle whatsoever. It may not be comfortable, however, due to bloating, cramps, and other aches and pains. Take a break or just go easy on yourself for that week. If you use a menstrual cup (as I do) you may find things are pushed downward a bit more making proper insertion a little more cumbersome. It can be done, however, and the corset will not push it out, but there will be some extra pressure. I have worn my cup with a corset successfully for some time and anyone can do it too.
So where do you get a corset? What type should you get?
With a popularity in corsetry growing there are many places to purchase your corset. Ebay and Amazon of course are top contenders, but there is also TimelessTrends.com (where I personally got my training corset) whose corsets are inexpensive and come with a warranty, OrchardCorset.com, CorsetDeal.com, FairyGothMother.com, and Corset-Story.com to name a few.
What you are looking for is a fabric that, ideally, breathes and is light. This means you should avoid the decorated and embellished corsets since they will appear lumpy under clothes. They are perfectly fine to own, just not for daily wear. If a corset is to be worn every day you should associate it the same as underwear. You should be able to wear it under clothes (or over if that suits your lifestyle, but for the vintage woman that will not due) and it should be underbust. The underbust will allow for the building of those upper chest muscles and not restrict your breathing by crushing your bosom and allowing you more mobility. The training corset should be spiral steel. Spiral (or watch spring) steel is far more flexible than flat steel while still being just as effective. The flat steel should be worn for shorter periods of time as it can put a lot of stress on the body. The spiral steel will also lay very flat and be unnoticeable with a well made corset. It should be double boned which means the stay channels are doubled. If the corset is boned at the seams then each seam will hold 2 bones–the boning is doubled.
I prefer Timeless Trends because they meet these qualifications and the lacing is actually ribbon which, at least for me, makes for a flatter back to the tied corset than cord would and allows for easy lacing since the ribbon makes little friction when pulled. My corset from Timeless Trends is a nude color which I prefer since it blends into my skin and is less conspicuous under certain clothes than a bright red corset would be. No matter the color, as long as it is flat it will not be much issue–the color will depend on your personal wardrobe and needs.
Putting On The Corset
You will have to learn to do this on your own especially if you are doing daily wear. Loosen the corset completely and match the waist-line of the corset with your natural waist. Close the busk (if using an open busk). Give the middle loops a tug. Starting at either the top or bottom of the corset (I prefer starting at the top) find the X of the top lace and pull. Move down (or up) to the next X and tighten the slack of the last. Do this all the way down until you get to the middle loops and pull those from the top or bottom to tighten the slack. You may have to do this a couple times to get the corset as tight as you like. Give the middle a tug straight back and tie a bow. Do not wrap the excess lace around the front, tuck it into the corset. Tying the bow around the waist will wear the fabric at the most strained part of the garment.
When it is time to take the corset off, undo the bow. Starting from the middle and working out pull the lace at each X until completely loose. It should not hug ANYWHERE on your body. Undo the busk and store. Not fully loosening the corset will cause undo struggle and wearing of the fabric and seams.
How To Conceal The Corset Under Clothes
If you are wearing a 50’s dress then it will not be an issue. Make sure the top of the corset especially is tight enough to lay flat against your ribs so it does not flare out when you move. A wiggle dress will depend completely on its design but having some high waisted shapewear has proven very useful for me when I need to conceal any lace and seams of the corset in tight clothing. Remember to engage those lower abdominals too! Nothing will give away your training secret if you can tell your corset is pushing everything down.