How to Choose a Basque, Bustier or Corset

Basques, bustiers, and corsets are the ultimate lingerie pieces that create a seductive hourglass shape.

In this Lovehoney lingerie guide, we will tell you all that you need to know about choosing a sexy basque, bustier or corset. We will cover all your questions from how to measure yourself properly to what to wear alongside a corset, what is basque lingerie and everything in between.

Definitions for basques, corsets and bustiers vary between brands. In this guide, we will give you the rundown on Lovehoney’s bustier vs corset vs basque products.

For starters, any piece of lingerie with lacing down the back or an hourglass shape can be considered a corset, which can cause a lot of confusion when you’re deciding what to buy and how to measure yourself. So, what is the difference between these garments and how does that change how you wear them? Let’s get into it.

What's the Difference Between a Basque and a Corset?

Watch our expert video on how to choose the right fit of sexy basque lingerie and corset.

What Is a Basque?

A basque is an undergarment that looks similar to a corset but has cups for the breasts. The main difference between the garments is that a corset is built to reduce the size of your waist, while a basque may only have plastic bonding to emphasise your shape.

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How is a Basque measured?

Basque sizing is measured in the same bra or clothing sizes, making selecting your size a straightforward process. Think of a basque as a longer version of a bra, or a more supportive camisole. To measure yourself for a sexy basque, begin by measuring your bust or underbust the same way that you’d measure yourself for a bra. You can also check your measurement against standard New Zealand sizing charts to check that you’ve got the right size.

Basques for larger Busts

Basque lingerie is a perfect choice of lingerie for those with larger busts as they provide a great amount of support. Padded underwire cups work to lift your tatas, while the longline material surrounding the waist shapes an hourglass figure.

A lot of Lovehoney’s basques for the fuller figure also come with flexible plastic boning and soft material panels which add structure to the set and create a gorgeous silhouette for the wearer. Lovehoney has a seductive range of basques for plus size bodies like this gorgeous red number.

What is a Bustier?

A bustier, pronounced “boo-stee-ay”, is a shorter garment that looks like a corset but can also be worn as a top, over a dress or as an undergarment. Bustiers are much like a longline bra in shape and they smooth the upper area of your torso without restriction. Your bustier may have plastic boning or a steel front busk, but bustiers won’t reduce your waist size or change your shape as a corset does.

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How is a Bustier sized?

Bustiers are usually measured in clothing sizes, but you will still need to refer to a size chart for measurements as brand sizes may slightly vary. Lovehoney also offers plus size bustiers and bustiers for larger busts. To measure yourself for a bustier, you need to measure your bust, waist and hips. Then, compare them against the size chart for your desired garment to find your suited size. Remember that bustiers are not designed to reduce your waist and you'll therefore have to think sensibly about whether the bustier will fit. If it is too small, it is likely to rip if you try to squeeze into it.

If a bustier measures 34” 26” 34” and you measure 36” 27” 36”, you will be able to wear the bustier provided that it has back lacing and you are willing to leave a 2-inch gap at the top and the bottom of the lace-up panel and a 1-inch gap at the waist. If your bustier has hooks and eyes at the back, you will want to check with Customer Care to see if the hooks and eyes will provide enough extra width for the bustier to fit you.

Lastly, remember that a bustier may break or become damaged if you try to force it closed over measurements that are larger than its shape. The materials and construction of bustiers are not as strong as a corset and you should treat these as garments with no stretch.

How to wear a Bustier

With the current trend of wearing lingerie as outerwear, a bustier can be styled as underwear or alluring outerwear. A bustier adds a seductive, classy edge to your outfit whether you pair it with matching panties or denim jeans. Bustiers tend to lift the bust, so you can either embrace the push-up or layer it with a dress shirt for more coverage.

What is a Corset?

A corset is a form-shaping garment that incorporates metal or plastic bones to create an hourglass silhouette and reduce the size of your waist. The structure of a corset is designed to improve posture, reduce your waist and lift the bust. Corsets are versatile and can be worn as a top or undergarment.

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How is a Corset measured?

Corset sizing is measured in inches, which dictates how many inches the corset measures around the waist when it’s closed. If a corset is a size 26, the waist of the corset will measure 26 inches when the back is fully closed. As corsets are designed to reduce the waist, you will want to purchase a corset that is smaller in the waist than you are naturally.

How to buy a Corset

Corsets are measured in inches, so the sizes shown (for example, a 28 or 30) are what the corset measures in inches around the waist when the back is completely closed. As corsets are made to reduce the size of your waist, it’s best to purchase a corset that is slightly smaller in the waist than your natural measurement.

To find your corset size, start by measuring around your natural waist, which is the smallest section of your torso located directly under the ribs. If you’re buying a corset for the first time, your body won’t yet be used to being squeezed into a body-modifying garment, so it’s sensible to not try to suck in your waist too much while measuring. What size your body can handle will depend on what we call your ‘squish factor’, which is how easily you can squeeze in your waist. While measuring, stand straight and place the tape measure around your natural waist then gently tighten it to a comfortable level. This should be your corset size.

As a general rule, your first waist-reducing corset should be between 4 and 6 inches smaller than your waist and the easier you are to squeeze, the easier your waist will reduce in size. For example, if you have a waist size of 28 inches and can easily reduce your waist by 4 inches or more with a tape measure, it would be best to choose a corset that is more than 4 inches smaller than your waist as you are likely to be able to reduce your waist quickly with practice. You should therefore go for a 22-inch corset. If it was difficult, or you reduced it by less than 4 inches in total, you should buy a 24-inch corset as your body may take longer to adjust to wearing a waist-reducing garment and the 4-inch difference may be a challenge.

How to wear a Corset

When wearing a corset for the first time, a common mistake is trying to put it on all by yourself. If you’re not used to lacing yourself into clothing, you’re likely to get tangled or even warp the corset. If you have a close friend or partner nearby, ask for a hand securing yourself in.

A-Z of Corsets

When you’re thinking of buying a corset, it’s important to be across the different terminology that might pop up. By getting familiar with these terms, you’ll end up with a corset that you adore.

Busk: The fastening on the front of a corset looks similar to large hook-and-eye fastenings. The busk is usually made of metal and, in good quality corsets, will stay firmly closed and reveal no skin underneath.

Eyelets: The metal rings through which lacing is threaded.

Modesty Panel: This is a piece of material that is sewn into the inside of the corset near the lace-up back section. A modesty panel lies flat against the body and stops the skin from showing but can be folded over.

Plastic Boning: Strips of plastic that are sewn into vertical pockets in basques, bustiers, most corset dresses and some suspender belts and cinchers. It can twist, bend and flex more than steel corset boning and won't create an hourglass figure, but provides a firm shape to the garment so it looks the same on you as it does when it's on a hanger.

Steel Boning: These are thin strips of metal that are sewn into vertical pockets in the corset. Steel boning shapes the body and it provides the waist-reducing effect you achieve from wearing a corset.

Shop the Lovehoney range of Basques, Bustiers and Corsets

Browse the Lovehoney selection of basques, bustiers and corsets. Styles range from leather to lace to classic, helping you to feel your sexiest.

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