Custom Made To Measure Corsets Vs. Off The Rack Corsets

Corsets have been steadily gaining popularity in all forms of fashion, from club wear, to high fashion, through to bridal and fetish wear. With the increased popularity, comes increased Measurements Waist To Corset Topdemand, and many companies popping up offering corsets. Many skilled custom corset makers have come on the scene in recent years, as well as many more companies also offering “custom corsets”, which for them, can mean offering a corset style in both blue AND black. Then there are the companies offering corsets made in China for $25.

How does someone choose? I mean, how can you go wrong with a $25 corset, right?

Well, aside from the conditions under which most of these individuals making these super cheap corsets are working (which is a huge can of worms that I will not be opening here), there are issues to think about, such as quality, fit and of course price point. Here are some benefits and disadvantages to both.


Photo: Billy Archos

A good custom made to measure corset will last decades. As a company that has been around for a long time, we often have clients return their 20 year old corset, requesting only new laces. A person’s bone structure doesn’t necessarily change very much over their life time, and if your weight is kept relatively stable (within a 20 pound range), your custom corset can last a life time. Because custom made corsets are made from the pattern up,  you have the opportunity to collaborate with the corsetiere to patterncreate a corset that is completely unique. You can pick your own fabric, colour, detail placement and embellishments. Top of the line materials are almost always used in reputable corset houses. Always be sure to check for steel bones, high quality coutil and a back protector, or modesty panel. Custom made to measure corsets are almost always 2 or more ply, meaning there is at very least an outer layer (usually one or two inner layers, and a durable lining. The fit of a good custom made to measure corset can’t be beat. Your custom made to measure corset begins with several of your measurements, and is custom pattern drafted to your body. When the pattern is drafted to fit you, instead of a sample size, your corset will fit like a hug, and will be quite comfortable. Custom made to measure corsets are almost always crafted in house, and often made by the person whose name is on the label and if not made by, is at least quality checked by the head designer.

The draw back, for some with the custom made to measure corset can be the price point. Because of the high quality materials, top-notch drafting and constructing expertise, a custom made to measure corset from a reputable company can cost from $450 to thousands of dollars. Custom made to measure corsets also can take months to create from drafting your pattern, through the fittings and finishing details.

Photo: Billy Archos
Photo: Billy Archos

Ready to wear, or off the rack corsets are created using a standard pattern, often in varying standard sizes, either s, m,l, etc. or by waist size: 22”, 24”, etc. Most custom corset houses who also provide ready to wear corsets have created these standard sizes after years of assessing clients measurements to come up


with proportions that more readily fit a range of body shapes within a simple size. Often, the ready to wear corsets are created using the same techniques as their custom corsets, or they are made using slightly fewer bones, fewer layers and less expensive fabric. Often though, they are exactly the same quality. Ask your corset maker what the difference between their ready made vs. custom corsets are. Ready to wear corsets can be a good option for those who aren’t ready to fully commit to a custom made to measure corset, or just want to see what the excitement is all about. Ready to wear corsets are also immediately ready to purchase and take home if you need one right away. If you are looking for a ready to wear corset, choose a corset from a reputable company, who preferably makes them in house. A well made ready to wear corset can cost between $200 – $400 at most corset shops.

Then there are corset companies who you can find on ebay or various websites who make “corsets” for anywhere from $25 to $150. Be ware of these corsets, as they are often made in poor working conditions, using bottom of the line fabrics and sometimes plastic bones. Almost always, these corsets will be a single layer of poor quality fabric, sometimes they will have a waist tape, and a busk closure. Neither the fit nor quality will give you a good idea of what a real corset will fit or last like. These are possibly good options for a Halloween costume, since you can only expect to get a few wears out of them before the bones will pop out, or the fabric will fray.

In all cases, do your research on the company. Look for reviews, and not just on-site testimonials. Google is your friend! See how long the company has been around, what is their reputation like? In any case, look for steel bones, a busk closure, back protector (or modesty panel), at least two-ply, including a durable lining and preferably a coutil layer, either as the outer fabric or inside the corset. Be very cautious of companies who don’t have an easily accessible phone number. With corsets, in most cases you will get what you pay for.


  • January 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Off the rack corset? Not with my back!

    Dianna, I love the corset you made me and I know it’s going to last forever. And It Fits. And it doesn’t hurt me to wear it.

    I bought a corset off the rack many years ago and my back always hurt when I wore it and I thought that was the price you pay for wearing a corset. Apparently not so!

    Love you. Love the corset.

  • January 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t find too many options for off the rack women’s corsets that will fit a male figure. All my Starkers custom made to measure corsets are so comfortable to wear that I actually feel sad about unlacing them.

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