What’s the Difference Between Bustiers and Corsets?
Here at Bits of Lace it’s our job (and passion!) to have an extensive knowledge on all things lingerie in order best serve our customers. We understand that most people don’t recognize all of the minor details and differences between the various styles of lingerie like we do, so we’ve decided to do a little crash course on two of the pieces near and dear to our hearts: bustiers and corsets. What is the difference between them? What makes them so special? Let’s find out!
While some people are still fans of the rigid corset, this antiquated garnet has generally fallen out of use in modern society. Corsets were extremely popular for many centuries and were worn for hours at a time to train the waist to be smaller. Today we know that wearing a corset for long periods of time is considered dangerous and can lead to difficulty breathing and internal organ bruising. Despite its shortcomings, however, the corset remains a crucially important part of the history and development of lingerie. Therefore, we feel it’s still an important garment to discuss.
The History of Corsets
Corsets were introduced to France in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici and quickly gained enormous popularity throughout Europe. Women embraced the garment and used it as a tool to shape their bodies into the “perfect” feminine shape. During this time period corsets shaped the torso into an inverted cone and held the chest flat, pushing up the breasts upward. Then, during the middle of the 16th century, whalebone was introduced and changed the corset structure. The whalebone was sewn into the garment and allowed the corset to keep its shape, even when off the body.
During the 18th and 19th centuries corsets were worn to support to the back, shape the bust, tighten the midriff, and improve posture. Many corsets during this time period didn’t completely constrict the torso, although they were often still tight on the waist. Health concerns for the corset rose out of the Victoria-era corset which aimed to create an extreme hourglass shape by tightening the waist. Doctors during this period warned that wearing corsets could be dangerous.
The undergarment remained widely popular until the early 20th century when the onset of World War I lead the U.S. War Industries Board to ask people to stop buying corsets in order to conserve metal for production during the war.
Like corsets, bustiers are a form-fitting garment that push up the bust and are worn tightly on the midriff. The main difference between the two, however, is that bustiers are shorter in length than corsets and are worn snugly, rather than extremely tight, around the waist.
Bustiers also draw focus to a woman’s curves. They push the breasts up and together to create cleavage, similar to the push-up bra. A bustier may lace up in the back, like a corset, or simply hook like a bra. They are considered the more comfortable choice because they emphasize your natural waist rather than restricting your midsection to an extreme degree
Bustiers can be worn as lingerie, or even evening wear. Most don’t have sleeves, but may have a shoulder strap. Some might have light bonding to provide extra shaping. Bustiers can be made of a variety of fabric such as silk, lace, and satin. Here at Bits of Lace we offer a number of bustiers such as the Marie Jo Jane Padded Bustier.
So there you have it, a brief explanation of corsets and bustiers: one pulls the body into a certain shape, while the other accentuates your natural curves. While many women still find corsets appealing, the choice is ultimately up to individual preference. We are huge advocates for comfort, however, and bustiers do have the reputation of being a bit more comfortable than corsets. We offer a variety of styles of bustiers on our website. Some even have removable straps, so if you’d like to wear it as a halter one day, or strapless the next, you have that flexibility.
When selecting lingerie, what is most important to you? The Victorian era, for example, emphasized shape in spite of any discomfort or possible health concerns it could cause. Today, most women prefer comfort above all else. Whichever you prefer, we hope that this has been a helpful explanation of corsets and bustiers. We look forward to sharing more lingerie history and information with you next time!