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Corset vs. Waist Cincher

Choosing between corset and waist cincher can sometimes be confusing. Discover the difference between the two here.

Victorian style black corset.

Fashion can get confusing since so many items resemble each other. Corsets and waist cinchers fall into this category. They look a lot alike, but they do vastly different fashion jobs.

What is a Corset?

White corset, rear view.

A corset covers your entire torso from the top of your breasts to beneath your waistline. A few corsets cut off at the waist, but most go just beyond that. A corset uses ties, snaps, buckles, or Velcro for its enclosures.

These fashion tops have no sleeves. Some fit under the breasts. Designers fashion them from a variety of materials, most frequently from cotton or leather.

One designer, Nicole Moan, creates ceramic corsets that use satin ties to close.

While ceramic corsets don’t require boning to provide structure, those made of cloth do. Think of boning like the underwire in a woman’s support bra. In the old days, they used actual bone, hence the name.

Now, they use metal.

Corsets can take time to get used to wearing. They uplift the breasts though and can tuck in the waist somewhat. They don’t work quite like a waist cincher does though.

What is a Waist Cincher?

Young woman wearing a waist cincher.

A waist cincher does not cover the individual’s entire torso. Both genders wear waist cinchers, a device worn underneath the clothing to pinch in the waist to make it seem smaller. When properly applied, a waist cincher can make a person’s waist seem up to an inch smaller.

The waist cincher covers from just beneath the breast line to just beneath the waist. It does not affect the breasts or support them. Women would still need to wear a bra to support their breasts which would sag otherwise.

Originally, women wore a waist cincher over their clothing, but that occurred in medieval times. Today, the waist cincher always goes under the clothing. Their designs differ now from those used in medieval times.

The waist cincher became an underwear item, sold alongside bras, panties, and pantyhose. Consider it the torso and waist version of Spanx.

How to Wear a Corset

Woman wearing a black corset.

You can wear a corset over a shirt or alone. Most individuals wear them alone over their bare skin. You can wear a cropped jacket or biker jacket over a corset, but make sure that the jacket cuts off before the waist or at it.

The jacket should be the same length as the bottom of the corset or shorter.

You can pair a corset with shorts, pants, or a skirt. Some corsets pair well with a strapless dress or a spaghetti strap sundress. In these cases, you would wear the corset on top of the dress.

When worn over a shirt, it works best with a spaghetti strap top such as a camisole. You can also pair a corset with some button-down shirts. It tends to pair best with those made from silk or satin, but you can also pair one with an Oxford cloth button-down shirt for a funky look.

How to Wear a Waist Cincher

Waist cincher, rear view.

When you want a seamless fit for a dress or other outfit, wearing a waist cincher beneath your clothes slims your figure and accentuates your waist. You can wear these with a bra and panties or an all-over shaper.

Most waist cinchers go under your clothing, but a few designers craft them for wear on top of an outfit. Typically, this stems from outside of mainstream fashion in genres such as nostalgia wear, cyberpunk, or steampunk. These typically use satin ties for the closures and come in an array of colors, such as festive reds and bright blues.

Choose a bodycon dress or another form-fitting outfit to top with a waist cincher for the best results.

Combining a Corset and Waist Cincher

Black corset and silver waist cincher combination.

Wearing both a corset and a waist cincher can provide a sexy look. Combining the two pieces of clothing 

in one outfit seemingly slims a person’s torso and uplifts their breasts. When wearing these items together, typically, the waist cincher goes beneath the clothing while the corset goes on the outside of the outfit.

Women wear this look most frequently for formal events, such as a prom, college formal function, or wedding. Some wedding dresses may integrate the features of a corset and a waist cincher into the design, including the steel bones.

Today’s fashions provide numerous ways to wear these traditional women’s support garments in a 21st-century manner. Although today’s designers craft them in a different way, they still provide the same functions.