Waist Training 101: A Beginner's Guide to Corsetry

February 17, 2021 8 min read

Waist Training 101 

The Beginner's Guide To Corsetry

INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY OF THE WAIST TRAINER

By now, I'm sure you've all heard about the waist training revolution, which was popularised in 2014 by social media sensations, Kardashian sisters. But, what is waist training? Where did it all come from? What kind of considerations should you make before you strap yourself in and hit the gym?

Waist training has been weaving its way in and out of fashion for thousands of years, since the moment our ancestors figured out that extra-tight clothing worn in particular spots could draw the eye to other parts of the body. Their history can be traced back as far as 1600BC[1], though it's entirely possible they existed long before then.  

During the feminist movement of the 1960's, the corset fell out of fashion for a time as a "tool of the patriarchy". New types of fabric and new styles supplanted it, but - humans being humans - the trusty corset wasn't to stay out of the public mind for very long.

In the 1970's, iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood grabbed the idea of the corset and twisted it into a tool of feminine empowerment and the punk rock ethos with her Pirate Collection and beyond[2,3]

The corset began to appear in other fashion collections throughout the 1980's, on stage with popular musicians, and on the waists of women around the world. Briefly ostracised as a tool of the patriarchy, the corset made a triumphant return as the ultimate symbol of female sexuality.  

The modern corset is very different to the kinds worn by the people of generations past, thanks to the invention of new light-weight materials. What used to be a heavy garment made of leather and iron or heavy linen and bone has become a light-weight and unobtrusive thing that can be almost undetectable when worn under the clothes - or make a heck of a statement when worn on top.[4] 

Whether it's being worn by a hardcore steampunk enthusiast or the every-day person trying to lose a couple of extra pounds at the gym, the corset - now more commonly known as the waist trainer - is here to stay.

IS WAIST TRAINING SAFE?

It can be done safely, but like any other trend that can potentially have an extreme impact on your body, it should be done with care[5]. If you just slam yourself right into the tightest waist trainer you can find, there's a risk of doing serious harm to your body, or potentially even killing yourself.  

As with all things in life, the key to waist training safely is moderation. Take things slow, don't push yourself too hard, if you start feeling strange then stop. Always start with the largest size that fits you and gradually tighten it over the course of weeks or even months.  The slower you go, the less likely you are to hurt yourself, and the more likely you are to see long-term change.  

Consult with a medical professional before you begin, especially if you have any kind of underlying medical conditions or have recently had a baby.  Always listen to them, and listen to your body. If it starts to hurt, it's not good for you. 

Whatever you choose, do it safely. A narrow waist and a flat tummy is nice and all, but it's not worth dying for!

About Our Sizing

If you've ever bought clothing online before, then you know that there is no such thing as standardised sizing. Every brand has its own sizing, and there's nowhere that is more obvious than in waist trainers. The absolute best thing you can do when picking a waist trainer is to get your own measurements, and pick your trainer based off those rather than off your dress size. Waist trainers are unforgiving, and a rough guess isn't going to do the trick. 

Our waist trainers come with a size chart that shows the approximate clothing size of customers who usually buy that size, based off my own experiences fitting customers. However, like I said, there is no standardisation between clothing brands. You could wear a Size 10 in one brand, and a Size 16 in another. As such, I highly recommend checking your measurements.

The most important measurement for fitting your waist trainer is your underbust, that is the measurement around your ribcage, just under your breasts.  I say that's the most important one because that's the least flexible part of your body. You need to make sure it fits there, because your ribs aren't exactly going to squish to fit, whereas your tummy will. 

In addition to your measurements, then you also need to consider your tolerance for pressure and comfort threshold. It can be tempting to go right to the hardcore waist trainers, but I recommend starting with one of the mid-range ones, such as The Eve. She's great for beginners, because she provides the robust support of steel boning with the comfort and stretch of latex. 

If you're new to waist training: go one size down from the top size you normally wear. If there is more than one size in your range, pick one near the middle. e.g. if you are a size 12 and new to waist training, the Size L will probably be best for you.

If you are experienced at waist training: You probably already know your tolerance, and may want to pick the trainer at the tighter end of your size range.

If you've just had a baby: Pick the trainer at the looser end of your size range - and check with your doctor, too!

If you have a narrow waist and wide hips, or find your size naturally fluctuates throughout the month: I recommend getting two trainers in different sizes so that you can alternate them depending on your needs.

Be prepared to switch trainers regularly, especially if you're planning to exercise while wearing your trainer. Latex doesn't last forever, and it will stretch out through normal use, just like any other garment.

Dressing Guide

Having trouble getting into your waist trainer? Don't worry, it's just a learned skill, much like putting on a bra. Here are some tips to help you get started: 

  1. Slip the waist trainer around your midsection like a belt, with the fasteners at the front. The tag should be at the back, directly beneath your bra strap.
  2. It's easiest to start fastening at the top, beneath your bust, and work your way down. If you go the other way it will still work fine, but it's generally less comfortable.
  3. If you have trouble gripping the waist trainer to do the fasteners up, try lying down on your back. Gravity can be very helpful!

Wearing Guide

Though it feels tough and strong, latex is a very sensitive product and has a limited lifespan. You can extend the lifespan of your waist trainer by doing the following:

  • For best results, always wear a top or singlet under your waist trainer to protect it. Human sweat is extremely damaging to latex, and will shorten the lifespan of your waist trainer significantly.
  • It's generally safe to live, work, eat, exercise, and even sleep in your waist trainer, but the more you wear it the faster it'll wear out.
  • While it is generally safe to live in your waist trainer, as mentioned above, it's also critical to listen to your body. If you experience any pain or discomfort from wearing your waist trainer, stop using it immediately. waist training should NEVER be painful. If you're uncertain, check with your doctor before you begin or resume waist training.
  • If you choose to wear your waist trainer daily, be sure to clean it regularly.
  • Exercising in your waist trainer is guaranteed to shorten its lifespan, but you can minimize the damage by making sure that you clean it immediately after your workout.
  • Store out of direct sunlight when not in use.

Cleaning Guide

It's important to clean your waist trainer regularly. Human sweat damages latex, and the smell isn't very pleasant, either. Be careful, though; if you do it wrong you can destroy your waist trainer!

To clean your Waist Trainer, get a bowl of hot water, some gentle soap (like shampoo), and a soft towel. Don't use a sponge. Put a small amount of water and soap on your towel, and carefully rub it over your Waist Trainer. Remove the soap the same way, using a small amount of water on the towel. Gently pat the Waist Trainer with your towel to remove any excess water, then lay it out to dry.

When your Waist Trainer gets wet, either from cleaning or the rain, lay it out flat to dry for at least 2-4 hours. Latex can (and will!) rot if not dried properly, and water can discolour it. Dry out of direct sunlight. Do not wear your Waist Trainer while it's wet. Make sure the Waist Trainer does not come into contact with other fabrics while it's drying, especially leather. It can damage them, or they will damage it.

IMPORTANT: NEVER, EVER MACHINE WASH YOUR WAIST TRAINER!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are these the same ones the Kardashian's wear/are sold on waisttrainer.co.nz?

A. Yes, they are.


Q. Are they 'genuine'?

A. I get asked this a lot. The answer is a little complicated. Waist trainers have actually been around in various forms for hundreds of years, and it's a little hard to brand something that's literally older than underwire bras. I get them factory-direct from the same source, so yes I'd say they're genuine. There are quite a few factories who make them, but they're all basically the same except for some quality variables.


Q. Why are they cheaper?

A. They're cheaper because I charge a much smaller mark-up. That's all.


Q. Are they good quality?

A. YES! I am a corsetry enthusiast and hold a degree in fashion, so I've deliberately chosen the highest-quality waist trainers I can find. My high-quality latex waist trainers are genuine and have nine steel bones each. A lot of the cheaper ones you see around have seven or even as low as four bones, and may use plastic for their boning instead of steel. Plastic boning is weak and brittle, and less bones mean less support. Nine steel bones is the best you can get, and will provide the maximum support and structure.


Q. I heard it's unhealthy to waist train. Is that true?

A. Only if you're silly about it. This type of waist trainer does not displace organs, nor does it give you an artificially narrow waist. They're like super-Spanx, except you don't have to take it off to pee. They support your back, improve your posture, and suck in your wobbly bits to make you look a little smoother under clothing. They do not actually alter the shape of your physiology. People frequently confuse latex waist trainers with Victorian waist training, where the goal is to force the body into the narrowest waist possible, and they're not the same thing. Thankfully! Displacing organs is bad!


Q. I picked the wrong size. Can I exchange it?

A. So long as the trainer is still in as-new condition, yes you can return it for an exchange. Please note the following terms and conditions:

  1. You are responsible for the cost of shipping in both directions. I recommend choosing a signature courier to return the original to me, for your own protection. 
  2. For hygiene reasons, I cannot accept a return on any item that has been worn against bare skin, or worn for an extended period of time. Please try your trainer on over a singlet or t-shirt. Thank you!

If you would like to discuss Returns & Exchanges, please CONTACT US.

About The Author

The above guide was written by author, artist, and entrepreneur, V. L. Dreyer.  It is supplied free of charge exclusively through CK Swagworks. Please DO NOT DUPLICATE without express written permission, but feel free to reference and/or link back to this guide in your own work. Thank you!

References

  • Vogue: The History Of The Corset (https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/history-of-the-corset) 
  • Vivienne Westwood: A Taste Of The Past (https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/vivienne-westwood-a-taste-for-the-past)
  • Vivienne Westwood: The Story So Far (https://blog.viviennewestwood.com/the-story-so-far/)
  • Bustle: The Evolution of Shapewear (https://www.bustle.com/articles/140999-the-evolution-of-shapewear-from-ancient-crete-to-2016-proves-one-thing)
  • Bydie: Does Waist Training Work? We Asked Fitness and Medical Professionals (https://www.byrdie.com/waist-training-4783065)

Victoria Dreyer
Victoria Dreyer



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