You are here: Corset Guide
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.
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 - it isn't really trained at all, and Dita is the first to admit it!
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 stores 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.
Above: What Katie Did Morticia Corset. Our most popular underbust style gives a definite 'burlesque' style corseted shape.
If you have a Vintage Figure: try one of our styles with gored hips:
Or any of our Extreme Corsets
If you have a Modern Figure: try a style without gored hips:
Our corset shapes with gored hips are specifically designed for hourglass figures and will not fit a very Modern Figure. Our corsets without gores are suitable for both Modern and Vintage figures. By the way, we have found a lot of companies using our pictures illegally: if a corset doesn't say it's What Katie Did, even if it uses our picture (and especially if it's cheap!) it will be counterfeit.
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 for a few hours before your big event. Whilst 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 or two, 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!)
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. Your body will soon get used to the feel of being tightly hugged and you will be gradually be able to pull your corset in tighter. If you are looking to wear a corset on a regular basis we recommend you select an underbust style as this is less restrictive on torso movement. We also highly recommend our Baby corset which cinches the waist but, due to it's small size, doesn't restrict the rib cage and is ideal for modern lifestyles. If you do wear a corset daily then your waistline will gradually reduce although it will return to 'normal' disappointingly quickly when you stop wearing.
All corsets will put some pressure on the rib cage 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 ribs to be effected. It is also worth remembering that the skeletal system is very adaptable. The rib cage expands during pregnancy, with some of the internal organs being pushed upwards to allow room for the baby. After pregnancy, over a period of months, the skeleton returns to normal.
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.
If you have a bad back then a corset can be great as it supports the back bone meaning that your muscles are under less stress: but this also has it's disadvantages. If you are intending to wear a corset on a daily or near daily basis then you do need to consider your back muscles which will require extra exercise to keep them strong. Yoga and pilates are the exercise regimes of choice for tight lacers: 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 as muscle is difficult to shape. If you do not have a gym/yoga/pilates instructor and are considering light body modification (which is what regular corset wearing is) then maybe 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 waist training. Do not even consider using an 'off the peg' corset to waist train as you need one tailored to your exact measurements.
Information on sizing and putting on corsets, can be found in our What Katie Did Corset Sizing Guide.
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.
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)
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