Spiral Steel Boning in Corsets and Shapewear

Spiral Steel Boning in Corsets and Shapewear

What's Inside Your Corset?

Inspired by a question somebody raised on Reddit about corset boning, I thought it was time to do an article about what exactly is inside our corsets and waist cinchers.


Can you tell if boning is Plastic or Steel?

To put your mind at rest, if you purchase a corset from a reputable corset company - by which I mean a company that specialises in corsets to shape, not an add on to their lingerie collection steel boning will be used. The question brought up on Reddit was about an affordable corset brand where the writer thought the boning felt too flexible to be metal. The company has been around for many years and really wouldn’t be where it is today if it didn’t use metal boning, especially as it states it uses metal boning in all the product descriptions!

If a company has been around for a while and describes it’s corsets as steel boned then you can be pretty sure that metal boning is actually used. If you want to double check the easiest way is to use a magnet.

The better corset companies (including What Katie Did and the company mentioned in Reddit) use Spring steel which, as the name suggests, springs back into shape. Spring steel boning does increase the life of a corset, in particular the busk, but it you are only wearing a corset on a special occasion it is not a deal breaker.

If you buy a ‘corset’ or ‘waist cincher’ from a fashion lingerie company that doesn’t specialise in corsets or shapewear then the use of spiral steel boning is not guaranteed. Many years ago I bought a waspie waist cincher from a designer lingerie brand which was hugely reduced on sale. When it arrived it didn’t feel right. Not only had plastic boning been used throughout (including either side of the lacing eyelets at the back) but the boning at the waist had actually broken into several pieces. It had obviously been sent back by a previous mail order customer and then sent out to me. Luckily, because I picked it up at a bargain price I was able to replace the boning but had I paid full price (£200) then I certainly would not have been impressed!


spiral steel bone for corset
plastic and steel corset bones
plastic bone for lingerie

Why Should Spiral Steel Boning be Used?

Spiral steel boning is used in corsets and shapewear because it bends in all directions and springs back into shape.

Plastic boning is cheaper, but once it has bent into shape (for example, if you bend over in a corset) then the plastic won’t spring back into shape. It is also liable to snap after a short amount of time.


Why Does Steel Boning feel different?

The weight of boning used in corsets and waist cinchers varies drastically. At What Katie Did we use a heavier bone for corsets and waist cinchers and a very lightweight one for our Glamour Waspies. A lot of people have thought that our Waspies use plastic boning as they feel very lightweight, but this certainly isn’t the case.


Spiral vs Flat Steel Bones

There are two types of steel boning. Spiral steel bones which flex in all directions are the most common and also used for either side of the corset lacing panels. Flat bones might also be used: we use the either side of the busk in corsets, and on the tummy panel in our Demi Waspie Corset. Flat bones are more rigid than spiral steel bones. While they bend from front to back, they are rigid from side to side so they help keep the lacing panels in place. If you work with a bespoke corsetiere they might incorporate more flat bones than you’d find on a ready to wear corset depending on the look and feel you’re looking to achieve.


At What Katie Did it's Always Steel!

Since day one, at What Katie Did we've always used spiral steel boning in our Corsets and Shapewear. While you might expect to find spiral steel boning in our Glamour Waist Cinchers and Waspies, we also use it in our Merry Widow Basques and Girdles.

The only place you will find plastic boning is in the side bones of our bras and the vertical boning in our Cathedral Bra Cups. If something's designed to cinch it has to be steel!

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