In all my years of making and selling corsets there is one thing I hear over and over. One thing I fight against. One fact that I try to teach to every person who comes into my booth looking at my corsets. The importance of quality boning. If you never buy a corset from me, I hope you walk away with one bit of knowledge and that is the kind of boning in a corset really, really does matter. I carry samples of all 3 types of boning on my person at shows, so I can say, “feel the difference, bend it, twist it, which do you think will support you more?” So today via the nets, since you can’t bend the boning I’m talking about you get photos of ill fitting corsets!
The boning in a corset is like the frame of a house, or the under body of a car. If they are built with quality materials you have an item that lasts a long time, works properly and runs like it is supposed to. A corset made with good steel boning will shape you, lift you and make you look amazing. A corset with substandard materials will never fit right, it will bulge, and you will feel more like a sausage than a beautiful person.
There are 3 types of boning used in modern day corsets. Plastic, spring steel, spiral steel.
Plastic boning in my opinion does not work for a majority of people. It does not shape the body at all. It bends, causing the corset to be the most uncomfortable tube of fabric that has ever been made. It will eventually either fold or form a very attractive s-shape that can cause pinching and bruising. They normally offer little to no bust support. Corsets that are made with plastic boning are normally a single layer of fabric, that alone is a problem when you want lasting support and shaping. A single layer of waxed satin and some plastic boning isn’t going to do the job for very long.
I’ll fully admit, my very first corset was one of these. It came from Victoria’s Secret, it was a tube that really did nothing for my shape. It cut my boobs in half rather than lifting them up for the world to behold. That corset fitting so badly is one of the reasons I started making better corsets. People who have only tried a plastic boned corset are normally the ones that come into my booth and say “corsets hurt” to which I answer, just try one on and you’ll feel the difference. Your body should be supported in a corset not left to fold out at odd angles. I”m not saying you can’t make a supportive corset with plastic boning, it’s just going to need to have 20-30 pieces of boning as apposed to 11-15 pieces of spring steel.
All metal boning is not the same. Spiral steel, is essentially a coil of wire that has been flattened. In my opinion spiral steel is something that should be used in conjunction with spring steel. On it’s own it has little more support than plastic. It allows for a lot of movement and is great when used in dancers costumes as is allows them to move naturally. However corsets that are made with spiral steel will fit and bulge just like plastic boned corsets. Many corset companies use a combo of spiral and spring steel.
The best boning for a body shaping or transforming corset is spring steel. Spring steel comes in many thicknesses and widths. Most spring steel used commercially is coated white, light weight and in most cases does the job to offer the right amount of support for the majority of the people buying corsets. But, like all things there is difference in the quality of steel, (I grew up in a steel manufacturing family, so maybe that is part of the reason why the right steel boning for the job is so important to me.) and not all corset companies use the same stock, but it is all referred to as spring steel. This can be confusing to customers that are trying to buy a quality corset, it is much harder when you are shopping on the internet and can’t feel the weight and even test the bend in the steel.
I do not use the coated steel. I buy rolls of spring steel, I cut the steel to the size I need to fit my longer lined patterns correctly, I grind each end and then dip them in liquid plastic so the boning doesn’t come through the corset. I do this because the spring steel I get is 1/2’’ wide and measures .025 thick. The coated white spring steel pictured above (with the paint on) is ½” wide and measures to .015 thickness. That tiny difference in thickness shows up in how much the piece of spiral steel bends. You can see in the photos above how easily the spiral and white spring steel bend, I have to use the wall to bend my spring steel because my little hands can’t hold the bend and take a photo.
How much of a difference does boning make in the shape? In the photos below, I have to assume that these corsets are single or at the most 2 layers of fabric and boned with light weight spring steel. The bad fit has in the back view has caused the corset to shift during the day. I’m sure she has been tugging on it all day wondering why it is so uncomfortable. The creases in the fabric at the side hint that it is not well boned and that it is doing very little shaping. The light boning is not doing it’s job in creating a true hour glass figure, it’s simply pinching in at the sides, and pushing everything up or down. In the side view photo we can see how little and how awkward some lightly boned corsets support the bust. Also note her posture, you shouldn’t be able to slouch that much in a good corset. The light weight boning has taken on a severe curve in front, causing further support issues.
A corset is a body shaping garment. It should evenly shape and support your body. I love hearing people when they try on a properly steel boned corset for the first time. They are amazed that it’s more comfortable than there plastic or light weight steel corset. They are amazed they can still breathe. They look taller because it supports the back and pulls the shoulders back as well. They marvel at the hour glass figure they have, that there is no unflattering bumps and bulges. I want you to look amazing in your corset. I want you too feel beautiful and empowered. We want you to look like the photo below!