Corset terminology

An overview on the Terminology used in Corsets, comparing traditional and modern terminology (how the terminology has adapted due to misuse of the original words.)

Over centuries, the definition of the corset has changed, predominantly since the corset reentered the mainstream market courtesy of Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier, the transformation of the terms were aided drastically by the invention of online shops and auction sites.

This will be a dynamic thread, a permanent work in progress. We will update it with new terms as often as possible. Please send us requests for terms not yet included. We will do our best to research them and add them in!

The modern definitions are what people now perceive them as, these are the phrases generally used on the world wide web and what are meant by them within the realm of corsetry!

Originally, the definition of a corset was a pulled in waist i.e. a corseted waist. Corsets were typically boned with canes, card, thread, wood and whale bones and later steel bones.

The modern "corset" is a much looser term and it applies to just about any tight fitting garment that resembles a corset, including the spandex plastic boned lingerie corsets and unboned heavy weight corset style tops and even belts at times. Hence the need to further specify.
Steel boned corset:

Originally a variation of the normal corset with steel bones instead of whale bones.

A decade ago it was the term use for a proper corset, typically with a 4 inch waist reduction.

The modern steel boned corset is typically defined by tight fitting garments with steel boning resembling traditional corsets but may not have any waist reduction. Further specification was again required.
Tight Lacing Corset:

Tight lacing was often used to describe the traditional corsets that pulled in the waist more than 4 inches. Up until a few years ago this term was also used for modern corsets that pulled in your waist more than 4 inches.

The modern definition is now any corset that reduces your waist by 2-4 inches. They do not necessarily have to be steel boned but most are.
Extreme tight lacing Corset:

This is a relatively new term, it came about to replace the original meaning of tight lacing as above, meaning a corset that reduced your waist by more than 4"
Heavy Duty Corset:

This is a fairly new term, originally used for heavy weight corsets with 3 or 4 layers, 2-3 layers of heavy weight coutil and an outer layer in the chosen fabric. Used for long lasting corsets or extreme tight lacing.

In modern times they are typically 2-3 layers, either a heavy coutil with an outer or 2 layers of medium weight fabric and an outer. Used for standard tight lacing corsets (2-4inch reduction)
Long line corset:

Originally referred to corsets that go all the way down to below the buttock.

Although there are a handful of places around today that still produce proper long line corsets the term usually applies to corsets that come down to or below the belt line, covering some of the hip.
Grommets and Eyelets:

Grommets or eyelets are the Holes at the back of the corset for lacing. The term grommet is used mostly in the USA, the term eyelet is used mostly in the UK.
Flat/sprung/spiral steel boning:

Flat steel boning (sometimes called sprung steel boning in the USA) is a thin flat boning made of spring steel (the same steel springs are made from but in a flat solid piece) It is usually coated in plastic to prevent rust and the edges cutting through.

Spiral steel boning (sometimes called spring steel boning in the UK) resembles a spring that has been crushed flat, it is also made from spring steel but actually looks like a spring rather than being a solid piece.

These two types of boning are used predominantly throughout steel boned corsets, the spiral boning offers a little more flexibility. Occasionally Rigid steel bones are used in fetish/torture corsets.
Waspie/Waist cincher corset:

A waspie or waist cincher (UK or USA respectively) in the sense of corsets is a small corset only controlling and pulling in the waist. This term is often applied to underbust corsets and wide belts.
Underbust corset:

A corset that starts below the bust and usually ends near the belt line.
Overbust corset:

A corset that starts above the bust and usually ends near the belt line.

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