PASSIONAL Corsetry Definitions

PASSIONAL Boutique is Philadelphia’s resource for corsets, fashion, and passion. In addition to corsets for women, men and everybody, we carry a variety of clothes and accessories. Before we explore specific definitions to help you shop for and understand our corsets, please make yourself aware:

Many lingerie stores do not have the human resources to guide customers through the process of learning to wear corsets. What store such as Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret often sell as “corsets” do not qualify using our definition (see below).We call these types of garments “bustiers“,  which are essentially bras masquerading as corsetry. We offer these and other definitions to educate our customers about our products:

Corset: PASSIONAL defines the corset as a tailored waist-reducing garment with steel reinforcements and strong back lacing. Traditionally worn under clothes for body shaping, corsets have recently become popular as high fashion outerwear as they are often crafted with luxurious fabrics like velvets, satins, silks, leathers and brocades. Our hand crafted genuine corsets represent the designs of skilled corsetiers from Philadelphia, the U.S. and Europe. All PASSIONAL corsets are constructed with strong fabric of varying ply (layers of thickness) and bendable steel stays.

BUC-280 - Red Flocking CincherPASSIONAL corsets are sized by waist size when fully closed (generally your natural waist around the belly button size minus 4” for proper fit). PASSIONAL corsets can be appropriate for formalwear, business attire, eveningwear, nightclubbing or private romance and fantasy. Our ready-to-wear corsets can provide back support and basic waist reduction suitable for basic waist conditioning, although we recommend made-to-measure corsets for serious tight-lacing enthusiasts.


Cincher: a short corset that resembles a wide belt and reduce the waist without covering the chest. Cinchers have the same construction specs and defining features as our full torso styles, but they focus only on the waist. Many fabrics and are available that can be worn over separates or suits as a wide belt or unisex cummerbund. PASSIONAL carries unisex designs that can be worn with suits and tuxedos, making them useful to both men and women.


Bustiers: are easy to buy as a gift or just for good old fashioned glamour. A bustier is a longline bra, often with spandex or elastic panels, that is reinforced with heavy seams or stays made from plastics or light metals. Sometimes worn as outerwear, recent bustier styles have mimicked the corset with back laces and front closures. Most bustiers are sized using standard bra measurements, and most are constructed with only one layer of a relatively inexpensive synthetic fabric. If there are stays, they are usually plastic or an inexpensive metal such as aluminum. Bustiers are less expensive (generally $50-$100) than corsets (generally $150-$500) and are very easy to sizeNothing wrong with bustiers, they are fun, affordable, fashionable and comfortable lingerie that can be worn as outerwear if you want to flaunt what you got with style and ease! While PASSIONAL Boutique offers corsets, cinchers, corselettes and bustiers for sale, each style group has its own identity.

Corselettes: Occasionally we find fabulous styles that are lighter than “corsets” but higher quality than standard “bustiers,” often from corset designers. We call these items “corselettes,” but depending on the sizing system used, you will find these garments on the PASSIONAL website and in the PASSIONAL store in the “bustier” section if they are sized using standard chest/bra measurements, or you will find them with “corsets” if they are sized using waist measurements (corselettes usually only provide a 2” waist reduction so to find the proper size, deduct 2” from your natural waist size). In either case, the item description on our tag or on our website will read “corselette.”

Custom Corsets: have many fashion and health advantages, especially for hard to fit sizes or those interested in body modification. Although PASSIONAL features ready-to-wear corsets, a customer may choose to schedule a CUTSOM FITTING with a small deposit, or fill out a measurement chart for long-distance orders.

Waist training: a body modification practiced by persons who seek to gradually change their body shape and reduce their waistlines through continuous wear of waist cinching belts and corsets. Waist training often involves wearing a corset nearly 24-7, and only removing it to bathe. PASSIONAL staff are not trained to consult on this technique, and the guidance of a doctor is recommended.  A great resource for waist training info is and for other advanced corset techniques is

Stays: All PASSIONAL corsets are supported by flexible steel stays, also called “boning” (thanks to the Victorian use of whalebones in corsets). The stays are a very important part of the corset, determining the entire structure and feel of the garment. It is very important for the stays to be kept under several layers of fabric to prevent discomfort

Spring Steel Stays:Spring steel stays are flat bendable steel supports that bend two ways (inward and outward) and are almost always used to reinforce the lacing panel on the back of most corsets, and are also frequently used in the body of corsets.

Spiral Steel Stays:Spiral Steel stays are premium stays that are a flattened spiral spring, which provides support but bends in any direction for comfort.

Modesty Panel: A flap of fabric sewn onto the back of a corset to protect and camouflage the skin which would otherwise be visible through the corset laces.

Busk: The standard hook and eye connector that closes the front of classic corset styles.

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