Corset vs. bras

BRASSIERES VERSUS CORSETS

(Work down, earliest to latest)

1. Billee:

As you (LISA) know, I originally wanted the overbust corset for horseback riding to control bounce, and for added support, but having worn it just a few times, I have come to rely on it for comfort under any conditions.

I've had to wear a bra since I was 13 years old. I've always hated the slippage, and the trenches in my shoulders caused by the straps. Since I was always large breasted, it was always insisted by lingerie specialists that I use heavy underwiring and side boning. The underwires always ended up poking under the arm, even when I was thin, and caused all kinds of discomfort and bruising. And this was from bras that I was fitted for by a reputable bra specialist. The side "boning", little plastic pieces of nonsense, never stood up to any test of time or activity. The few I've had with metal side boning bent easily, twisted, poked and cut.

I was a very active teenager, taking part in sports like volley ball and basket ball, ballet, modern dance and horse-back riding. All these things caused a lot of upper body bounce and high breast impact. These heavy duty bras caused severe bruising and chafing around the entire breast area and
under the arms, to a point where my GYN thought I was being abused, and told me I should wear something less severe, and cut down on my activity, as the bruising could cause deeper damage which could lead to possible cancerous growths. Decreasing my activity was out of the question. Sports bras were not made for larger breasted women at that time, so I tried all kinds of things to try to control the bounce, from ace bandages, to wearing jacket vests a couple of sizes too small. None of these worked very well. There are a few sports bras available now, but they are not comfortable, and still rely on your shoulders and uncomfortable over compression to work.

The overbust corset is the best thing I've ever worn. Just yesterday I wore it to work, and was so comfortable all day, not feeling my shoulders and upper back being dragged down by the bra straps. What to wear over it, the odd twisting motion (which LISA warned me about), and the exaggerated breast height are the only problems I am encountering, and that's only because my wardrobe and current fashions do not mesh with the look. (For the twist, I just have to adjust my gait, and not swing my hips too much when I walk.) I can honestly say, though, that many of the armor-like bras I've had to wear in the past caused the same look, both in height, and the way they poked through clothing.

I understand that not every woman has the same problem, but for those who do, I think an overbust corset is the best answer! So far, I have had no problems causing any restriction of activity. I have not ridden in it yet, but I did make a (successful) jump to kill a bee on a 9' ceiling, and did not even have to run to the ladies room to readjust. When I make a motion like that w/a bra on, I usually pop out of the cups.

The original white C&S underbust also did a lot to help the situation originally. The blue one seems to be too short in height, and I needed to go back to wearing a bra with that one.

Sorry for being so wordy, but I cannot say enough how much better things are for me physically since I've started corseting.

2. Frank:

The article of Colin on the update log of 10/11 is astonishing, mostly in its conclusions. I, of course, would find great that women wear corsets again. But I wonder if a corset, that has much more contacts with the body surface, and normally much tighter than a bra, would not cause in fact other disagreements. When I read on your site or elsewhere that even women liking to wear a corset don't like riding a car or bending, which actions are very common in an active wife's modern life, you can agree with my doubts. About effect of bra on cancer, I think Colin forgets that the older people live, the more probability they have to develop a cancer. So, places where women don't wear bras are maybe just the same places where people don't live too long. You always must be careful, about a statistical correlation, to find the REAL causal link, which can be quite different to the compared parameters.

3. Billee:

I feel the need to open my big mouth once again. But, I am speaking for myself, and of my own experiences. I am not trying to speak for any one else.

I admit to being a novice, as I have been corseting for only one year. In that year I have obtained a 6" reduction. My corsets have been professionally fitted by LISA. When going for fittings, we discuss what I've been doing, what problems I've had w/the current corset, and what I would like to achieve w/the next. I have asked for longer, tighter, straighter across, more pointed at the top, bottom or back. I have listened to Tom's advice, and, when I've been stubborn, he contacted C&S for their advice.

I must also admit that upon first looking at every one of the three corsets I've ordered from C&S (so far) out of the package, I have been disappointed due to them NOT looking exactly as I had hoped. BUT - immediately upon wearing the garment, I have been completely satisfied. In no time at all, they come to fit like a most comfortable glove.

I drive a 4 speed manual Toyota Tercel, a Chevy Lumina mini van, and an old Ford van type school bus. I have had absolutely no discomfort or problems in any of the vehicles, and I drive a few hundred miles a week for one of my businesses. I also have had no discomfort performing any of my daily activities. (I am fat, but very active.) Tom even asked me some specific questions recently about comfort and the corset.

For example (against all advice), I tend to tighten down the new corsets within a few days to almost closed. Tom was worried about digestive problems, and discomfort around the hips, ribs and abdomen. As I said to Tom, I don't know if it is because I am so fat, but I have not experienced
any problems like these. I believe it is because my corsets are properly measured by someone who knows corsets intimately. I know that when I get home after a fitting, I re-measure myself and say, "Well, I think he could have gone smaller here, longer there, etc." I am sure were he to listen to me, I would have experienced all sorts of discomforts, and probably would have given up tightlacing. In some cases, the customer is not always right. (This won't stop me from asking!)

If you are serious about wanting to wear corsets, my suggestion is that you get properly measured, by someone who knows how to measure for a corset. If no one is available, I'm sure Tom would be more than happy to send advice about where to be most conservative about your measurements. Corseting really is a wonderful experience in so many ways, I hate to think of anyone missing out due to an improperly made or fitted garment.

I do have a (very thin) family member who has been tightlacing longer than I have. She has experienced some discomforts at times, but she admitted to me that it was because she over tightened for a party, and over ate at the same time. A bad combination. She has also had some problems with chafing. I think it may be because she is so thin, and possibly should wear a thicker layer under the corset to pad her (skeletal, not corset) bones. I hope she isn't angry at me for mentioning this.

4. Rena

The bra vs. corset question is interesting. I started out many years ago with both bra and corset, although my teenage bust was contained with a relatively small bra. After two deliveries I've grown a bit heavier on top and I had to modify (gussets) the corsets to avoid the shelf effect. Although an under-the-bust holds up A's and maybe small B's it does not look very nice for most B's and larger, so some kind of support is needed. Soft bras your size or one larger are good, provided they have a wide band to avoid getting rolled up under the top edge of the corset. Over the bust works too, especially the soft cupped ones.

From a health and comfort perspective, I hate a tight bra, so I can imagine the circulatory problems with the usual binding types. Proper corsets do not bind, even though they can be made very tight. The compression, if it's properly made, is very even. 

As far as daily corset wear, the usual problems that are mentioned, like sitting in a car, can be helped by making sure the front stays do not go down all the way to the edge. This way the bottom can fold up when driving, without cutting into the thighs. With suspenders or garters it will straighten itself out when standing up.

If you are a long time wearer, the self-consciousness becomes less and less over time, although clothing styles that do not over emphasize, prevent giving too much away. Although I think corsets can be very decorative, for every day wear I'd like to have it concealed. Besides it's certainly a tease when someone is wondering if there is something there or not.

Everyone has their own reasons for lacing, but aside from the figure benefits, I am convinced that the support is very much a health benefit. I never have back problems, which for people my age appears to be unusual. Without any drastic lacing it is a great way to maintain or reduce weight. Admitted that I struggled a bit after the deliveries, but without the support, I don't think I would have gotten back somewhat close to my original size. 

Returning to "bra vs corset", my Grandmother used to mention that she used her chemise as she called it, for proper coverage, but she also was not very large on top. It was worn under the corset and it if pulled and adjusted the right way, once the corset was on tight, it provided sufficient containment. Then, the heavy fabric dresses provided some external support as well. 

As far as health, she was convinced, and she certainly convinced me, that there was not much to worry about. This question came up more than once when she attempted to convince my mother that my odd behavior was harmless. She pointed out that the bra and girdle were probably less comfortable than the corset, and having tried both, I can only agree.

For modern day women, I think that the corsets that are now available from the renowned makers are a reasonable alternative and the support they provide make it a sensible choice, especially for working women. There is no need to over tighten to look good. It's surprising what an improvement even a few inches of reduction make to the overall appearance. Today there is enough variety in the corsets, that most lifestyles can be accommodated. An example is the ribbon styles, which are wonderful for younger figures and hardly inhibit or restrict movement.  Most shorter corsets are very wearable, although containment below the waist is always important for comfort.

For those of you considering getting into the act of lacing, I can only recommend it. 

5. Dr. Ann Beaumont - LISA's resident physician

I believe there is an element of speculation in thinking that compression in itself would cause cancer. Certainly the way bras are constructed there is significant potential for excessive localized pressures by use of straps or bands that are too narrow and thus focus the pressure over narrow regions of skin. This causes circulatory deficits in those regions. I would assert this only for heavier breasted women. A proper breast support should have wide enough straps to distribute the pressure and maintain comfort and avoid irritations.

The comparison with the corset is appropriate as it preceded the bra. In general, corsets were probably not worn all that tight, so that the comparison would favor the corset and not the bra. I would certainly expect this to be valid for average 2-4" corseting.

On the converse side, as mentioned by others and myself, any overly tight corset that does not smoothly fit the body will likely cause a variety of problems. I explore this topic in more detail in "Corseting the Human Body," which investigates the various health aspects of the practice.

Another often-ignored aspect of corsets is that their size is usually fixed, whereas elastic garments exert continuous pressure.  In a corset, the body can adapt so that the actual degree of constriction diminishes somewhat over time, making the corset more comfortable. This aspect is, of course, also used in training to effect body reshaping.

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 Everyone has their own reasons for lacing, but aside from the figure benefits, I am convinced that the support is very much a health benefit. I never have back problems, which for people my age appears to be unusual. Without any drastic lacing it is a great way to maintain or reduce weight. Admitted that I struggled a bit after the deliveries, but without the support, I don't think
I would have gotten back somewhat close to my original size.  If you are looking to lose weight through the help of a diet then using a discount code on Nutrisystem is a great place to start.