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What Katie Did Corsets

I first discovered corsets when I worked at Skin Two Clothing in 1995. I loved the way they immediately changed the figure and emphasized the waist.

Purchasing your first corset is a big step and you need to take some time to research and decide what corset is best for you. If in any doubt, please contact us.

lavender cotton corset

Above: Katie in a lavender cotton corset

I developed the first corset line for What Katie Did in 2004, and over the years, have built up a range of designs to suit a variety of different body shapes. Our corsets have been made in the same factory throughout.

Our corsets are not mass produced, but made singly by one corsetier from start to finish. While we keep most of our black satin corsets in stock, our other corsets are made to order. This allows you to make changes if you desire, either by ordering from our 'Design Your Own Corset' page or contacting me direct katie@whatkatiedid.com (please only use this email address for technical enquiries). It is possible to make any of our corsets, in any of the corset fabrics we hold stock of, to add a waistband, take a little off the waist, reduce the length or remove (or have a 'slot in') modesty panel.

Over the years we have tried to make fully bespoke (custom) corsets but have now reached the conclusion that there are just too many margins for error working with a factory that is not on site, and from measurements that aren't taken in person. From trialling bespoke corsets over the years, I've discovered that the custom fit is little better than our standard corset fit - and of course with one of our standard corsets you can return if you decide you don't like it. This is why we have far more shapes of corset than other corset manufacturers, ideally you should be able to find a corset that suits your body shape, and if you have already started corset training, a curvier corset that will take you to the next stage.

When you receive your corset, you’ll find the strings are tied in a knot. Undo the knot carefully, then work the two sides apart (do not unlace your corset!) You’ll need a gap of several inches at the back.

Once you’ve loosened it up enough, undo the busk at the front. Put the corset on like a belt. All What Katie Did corsets all have a modesty panel at the back.

At this stage you should have a gap of several inches at the back of your corset.

how to put on a corset

Fasten the busk at the front. You can start at the top or the bottom - whichever is easiest for you.

Take a moment to ensure that the busk is completely fastened, as it's not uncommon to find you’ve missed one hook!

Please note that as this is your first time you are not trying to close the corset. You need to check for size, before ‘seasoning’ (see below).

how to put on a corset

Pull gently but firmly on the centre strings (or bunny ears). If you are wearing a narrow underbust corset this might be all you have to do!

If, however, you’re wearing a longer corset, pulling the bunny ears will only tighten the centre of the corset. So, keeping the strings taught, hook your thumb under the looser strings towards the top, allowing the taut centre strings in your other hand to pull up the slack.

Repeat on the bottom half, and keep going until you’ve tightened the corset to a comfortable fit.

how to put on a corset

You're nearly there.

Now all you have to do is tie the strings in a bow at the back. If you aren't sure about having a 'tail' then you can either tuck the excess lacing under the corset for a smooth finish, or finish with a double bow instead.

how to put on a corset

The first time you try your corset on, it shouldn't close completely: if it does, it means it is too big for you. Your new corset might feel a little stiff, but should be comfortable and should fit well. While a corset will soften and mold to your curves after time (often called 'seasoning' or 'breaking in'), it will not completely change shape! While the top and bottom of the corset will pull in a little as you tighten the corset this is a slow process and you shouldn't have a lot of space at the rib and hip. You need to check at this early stage that the fit is good for you. You really should not have a gap at the back of more than 4 inches, even at the beginning, as waist training is a long and slow process.

Some corset companies insist on 'seasoning' saying that stitches can break if a period of seasoning is not observed. We would see stitches breaking as a manufacturing issue and is not an issue with seasoning.

Always loosen the laces before undoing the busk. You can damage the busk of your corset if you try to take it off without loosening the laces. Tip: Never be tempted to tie the corset laces around your waist as this will cause a lot of wear and tear on the outer fabric of your corset and can damage the internal boning.

1. Wear a liner. If you plan to wear your corset frequently then you can prolong it’s life by wearing a corset liner. We advise wearing a close fitting stretch cotton camisole with little spaghetti straps that can be tucked inside the corset or snipped off if required. We don't sell corset liners as cotton camisoles are so cheap and easy to pick up.

2. Hang up to air over the back of a chair or draped over a clothes hanger. Always air your corset before storing.

3. Although we advise professional dry cleaning it is possible to sponge clean (check lighter colours as this might result in water marks). If you air your corset and use a corset liner then you should be able to go a long time without full cleaning.

There is a lot of intrigue concerning steel boned corsets and what they do to your body. As corset designer for What Katie Did I have over 20 years experience in fitting and designing corsets and whether you're thinking about trying one, or would like to learn a little more about them, you're in the right place!

What Katie Did corsets are designed for people who want to wears a corset for an evening out once a month, right up to someone who wears one on a daily basis day. They are ideal if you want to start day corset training but are not suitable for 23/7 training for which you need full made to measure corsets, along with expert advice.

What Katie Did Sophia Corset

Above: What Katie Did Sophia Corset. Our most popular overbust style. It's gentle curve to the waist is ideal for first time wearers, but curvy enough to give a great hourglass shape.

If you are looking at trying a corset for the first time, please remember that your current figure will effect the outcome. Whilst you might think that Dita Von Teese has the most famous trained waist in the world today in reality most of it is down to her fabulous genetics. While she waist trained at the beginning of her career, which no doubt helps considerably when she tight laces today, her naturally hourglass figure is ideal for corsets.

Dita is in the enviable position of having a classic hourglass figure with an unnaturally small waist. She also has access to the finest bespoke corsetiers in the world and if you look closely you'll see that the majority of the waist reduction is confined to a small section around her waist. This allows her waist to be clearly defined without undue pressure on her ribs enabling her to wear a corset with dramatic results, whilst not waist training on a daily basis.

To achieve similar results to Dita when wearing a steel boned corset you will need to have, what we call, a Vintage Figure: one where the waist is a good 10 inches (or more) smaller than the hips. Figures like this do exist but they are becoming less common. I have a friend who is lucky enough to have an extreme vintage figure: 19" waist, 35" hips. She wears a 17" corset daily which, although looks extreme, really isn't much of a reduction. If you have a more modern figure (with a waist less than 10 inches smaller than the hips) then it will be hard for you to gain such dramatic results, especially if you only want to wear a corset on the odd occasion. Harsh words I know.

That's my personal opinion anyway. Women in our boutiques are always seem thrilled at their corseted shape! Talking of which, always allow at least half an hour for a corset fitting as although you might have decided which corset you'd like in advance, a different style might be more suitable.

What Katie Did Morticia Corset

Above: What Katie Did Morticia Corset. Our most popular underbust style gives a definite 'burlesque' style corseted shape.

All of our underbust corsets have full measurements for underbust, waist and hips, along with vertical measurements for the length under the 'sizing' tab by each item. It's not just about the waist! You do need to take into account your rib and hip measurement, along with your torso length. Grab a tape measure and get to work! When you measure your waist, you need to measure firmly, as if you're wearing a belt. We supply measurements for the top and bottom circumference of each corset so you need to measure your ribcage and hip at that level.

Purchasing a corset is a big investment for most of us, so if you have any questions please contact us by livechat or email before ordering so we can check that the corset you've selected is perfect for you.

Three Different Body Shapes 

(Of course, there are a lot more than 3, but let's try and keep things relatively simple.)

The Modern Figure

Hip ratio of less than 9" (ie, 26" waist, less than 35" hip).

Over the last 20 years the modern figure has taken over from the hourglass and pear. The modern figure can be found on both slender and curvy girls.

Corsets for modern straight up and down figures

If you have a straight up and down figure then you need to go for the gentle curves or our Overbust Sophia Corset, or Underbust Gina. Our Mae Corset also works well on this figure type as it fits closely to the hips and ribcage while neatly nipping in your waist.

The Hourglass Figure

Hip ratio than 10-12"  (ie, 26" waist, 36-38" hip) with bust in proportion: the classic pin up 36-26-36

1950s hourglass figure

The Hourglass Figure was the commonest figure in the 1950s, and as our designs are inspired by the 1950s it's the figure type we specialise in.  Overbust corsets to suit and Hourglass Figure include our Laurie (moving onto our Extreme Laurie which gives an extra 2" reduction to the waist), Antoinette (moving on to our Extreme Antoinette) and Storm. underbusts which work well on an hourglass figure are our Extreme MaeMorticia and Vamp Corsets. 

The Pear Figure

Hip ratio over 12"  (ie, 26" waist, 39+" hip) with bust small in  proportion

Corsets to suit a pear shape figure

The Pear Figure is quite a common figure type in the UK, with a small bust and defined waist in relation to the hips. The British Pear was around well before Kim Kardashian!

A pear shape suits our underbust Lily and Elsa Corsets.

If you decide to wear a steel boned corset for an evening out it's really not going to have any effect on your torso, apart from giving you a delicious waistline of course!

With anything new it's always best to have a trial run and this is especially important when wearing a corset for the first time. Please 'practice' wearing it before your big event, wearing it at the reduction you'd like, for the amount of time you are likely to be wearing it. While it might have felt comfortable for the few minutes you initially tried it on for, it might start to become uncomfortable after a couple of hours.

By having a trial run, your body will have time to get used to the feel of being corseted and you'll know how tightly you can comfortably lace making amendments if necessary (for example, if you think you will become uncomfortable then don't lace your corset tightly until you arrive at the event - and remember you can always loosen the laces later in the evening as long as your dress allows it!)

What Katie Did Extreme Laurie Corset

Above: What Katie Did Extreme Laurie Corset. The gored hips and shaped cups on this overbust corset make this corset curvy enough to satisfy every corset fan.

If you would like to define your waistline a little then this is possible by wearing a corset on a regular daily basis. How long it will take to see a noticable difference depends on your body and how long you wear your corset for but you're probably looking at about 3 months. Please remember that all results are temporary. 

When you first start waist training you really need to listen to your body. It is normal to lace tighter or looser from one day to the next, or to have to make adjustments throughout the day especially in the first few months. If you are sitting for a long period of time your corset might start to pinch, in which case it will help to walk around, stretch, and if required, loosen the corset a little. Wearing a corset should not be painful: if it is, your corset is too tight for that particular moment so please loosen it!

In an ideal world you should be wearing your corset for at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Personally I take things easier at the weekends and only wear for a few hours, sometimes at a lighter reduction: wearing a corset for a couple of hours once or twice a week is not going to get you anywhere when it comes to waist training. Consistency is the key.

We recommend underbust corsets for waist training, as they restrict the torso less than overbust styles and allow for the movement needed for a modern lifestyle!

Your Ribcage and Corsets

All corsets will put some pressure on the lower ribs and there are some rather extreme diagrams from the 19th century showing how the rib cage can be distorted. Whilst this is not a myth (modern day tight lacer Cathie Jung has been x-rayed in her corset and yes, her ribs are distorted) you have to tight lace seriously and over time for your lower ribs to be effected.

It is also worth remembering that the skeletal system is very adaptable. If you take a deep breath in and out you should feel your lower ribcage expand and contract. Wearing a corset will keep your lower ribs at the contracted level for the duration of time you're wearing the corset. You should be able to breath normally when wearing a corset as most of your lungs will be above corset level, and during normal activities we only use a small amount of our lung capacity.

What Katie Did Baby Corset

Above: What Katie Did Baby Corset. Designed to put minimal pressure on the ribcage and hips this 7" mini corset gives an extremely dramatic silhouette.

Your Muscles and Corsets

Corsets support your back. If you have a back injury it is common to wear some kind of back brace or corset and quite a high number of corset wearers, wear a corset simply to support their back.

If you are waist training and wearing a corset on a daily basis you need to think about your core muscles in as long time wear, without exercise, can result in muscle atrophy. Please note that I'm talking long term daily wear, not once or twice a week! You will need to do regular exercise to keep your core and back muscles strong, this is non-negotiable if you want your body to stay strong and healthy.

A lot of gym routines are geared towards men and getting the perfect six pack and while it is important to have strong, flexible muscles, the last thing you want is to build muscle on your mid section - particularly your obliques at the side of your waist - as muscle is difficult to shape. Yoga and pilates are particularly popular with waist trainers as they result in strength and flexibility, not bulk.

If you do not have a gym/yoga/pilates instructor and are considering body modification (which is what regular corset training is) then you should think seriously about finding one.

To achieve the most dramatic result takes time and discipline. We're talking wearing a corset 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the dedication required to attain a waistline like that of Mr Pearl and Cathie Jung (both current day tight lacers). Serious corset training is not to be taken lightly and What Katie Did corsets are most definitely not suitable for 23/7 training.

If you are even considering serious waist training you need to seek out others who have tight laced and read about their experiences. A made to measure corset is a must for 23/7 waist training. Do not even consider using an 'off the peg' corset for 23/7 waist training as you need one tailored to your exact measurements made by someone who is experienced in working with serious body modification.

Celebrities are currently in a waist training frenzy. They're 'waist training' by wearing fajas (renamed waist trainers) while working out, sleeping or during the day. Fajas were originally designed to be worn after pregnancy to gently compress and support the torso and coax everything back into place. It has been common in many cultures, for hundreds of years, to bind the torso after pregnancy and fajas are useful in this case.

However, fajas put an equal amount of pressure on the whole torso, so they will not help attain a defined waist. Any weight lost will be temporary water weight (I'm old enough to remember 'sauna suits' in the 1980s and really can't believe that we haven't moved on very much since then). Many faja manufactures make wild promises 'lose 2" in 2 weeks!' - if you wear a faja while working out, or overnight and then measure yourself straight after using it you might (unlikely but might...) find you've lost an inch or two, but in a matter of minutes your body will return to normal.

Even if you waist train for several months, daily, in a steel boned corset designed to cinch the waist, the results will be temporary - we're talking hours, days or weeks depending on your body and how long you've been training for.

As always, if something seems to good to be true, it normally is. Just don't!

Thanks to the internet we now have more corset information at our fingertips than ever before.

What Katie Did: Information on specific corsets, styling tips and more on our blog.

Check out Lucy's Corsetry for reviews and indepth corset and waist training information.

Check out Staylace particularly for medical and Ethel Granger's story

Join The Tightlacing Society on Facebook - particularly welcoming to new tight lacers.

Find out more about Dita Von Teese and her love of corsets in her book: Burlesque and the Art of the Teese / Fetish and the Art of the Teese which is packed with fabulous pictures and advice.

For more serious reading check out The Corset: A Cultural History by Valerie Steele. There might not be as many pretty pictures as in Dita's book, but you'll find out everything you ever wanted to know about corsets.


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London Boutique: What Katie Did, 26 Portobello Green, 281 Portobello Road, London, W10 5TZ
Tel: 0345 430 8943

Los Angeles Store: What Katie Did, 3420 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, California, 91505 USA
Tel: 1 877 221 2472 or 1 818 955 7710 (from outside US)

Head Office:


What Katie Did,
Unit 8 The Old Mill, 61 Reading Road,
Pangbourne, Berkshire, RG8 7HY


Tel: 0345 430 8743 or
+44 118 976 7676 (from outside UK)

Registered in England with company number: 05752881