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What is the difference between a corset and a basque ?

There always seems to be a bit of confusion from my customers when they are looking for some bridal lingerie to provide a bit of shaping.  The terms corset and basque seem to be used inter-changeably – so I thought I would outline what I think the main difference are.

In my mind corsets and basques are very different garments – and they will often not be suitable for the same bride or even the same wedding dress.

In general terms:

  •  a corset is a far more sturdy piece of underwear designed primarily to give a great shape by seriously pinching in your waist and shaping your torso.
  • a basque does a similar job but in a more gentle way


For me there are four main differences


1.  The fastening at the back is different


A corset has laces at the back – and basque has a hook and eye fastening.


The laces on a corset are instrumental in achieving the dramatic shaping effect.  They can be tightened a little bit at a time – to achieve the desired effect (typically a 4″ reduction in the waist measurement).  The harder you pull – the more it will shape !

A basque will have two or three rows of hooks and eyes – and so the extent to which the torso can be shaped is a bit more limited


2.  The bones which provide the shape are made of different materials


Generally a good corset will have solid steel boning – the bones in a basque will be made of a more flexible material.

In order to provide the shaping in a corset the boning is generally made of solid steel.  This is pre-shaped to a “standard” figure – which is the shape that will be achieved with the laces fully done up.  This does mean that if you are particularly top or bottom heavy you may need a custom made, rather than a standard corset.

The bones in a basque are generally a lot more forgiving and are made either of a spiral steel or a good quality stiff man-made fibre.  As they are less rigid they are able to accommodate a wider range of body shapes.


3.  The height of the back


Corsets generally have higher backs than basques


There is really no such thing as a low backed corset.  The very nature of the shaping requires the garment to have a high back – without it your skin would just bulge out as the laces are tightened.  The rear of lowest backed corsets will sit approximately 1″ above the back of where the top of your bra strap would sit.

With a basque – the back can be a lot lower as there is less tension in the garment.  In fact, they can be virtually backless (as shown above).  However, the lower the back the less shaping that is possible – so the virtually backless basque (or bustier) will just support your boobs rather than shape your torso.

With the increased popularity of backless and open backed dresses many brides find that a corset will not match their dress very well.


4.  The amount of shaping


I guess in summary all this means that a corset can provide more dramatic shaping, but a basque is often easier to wear.


I hope this has helped clarify the main differences between a basque and a corset-  and helped you look at the perfect bridal lingerie for you and your dress.

You can take a look at my collection of corsets by clicking here – or my basques by clicking here.

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