The saying, "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck", applies to corsets as well!
So whether it is called a bustier, a basque or a corset it is really the same "family", just as a Barbary duck, a Mallard duck and an Aylesbury duck are different, but are the same family and are all ducks. Enough with the ducks.... lets get on with talking about the differences between basques, corsets and bustiers.
The bustier is most likely the newest version of the corset, having made its first appearance in the 1970's.
The bustier is usually a fitted garment, very frequently boned and can come in strapless as well as strapped versions. The most distinguishing and consistent feature of a bustier is the body length, as most bustiers are shorter than either a basque or corset and finish at or near the waist.
A very typical example of a bustier is the Luxxa Balance bustier shown on the left.
It has under wired cups which are lightly padded, rear hook and eye fastening and crossed ribbon lacing at the front which can be use to adjust the fit of the garment.
In 2012/13 we saw a trend emerging from manufacturers who produced a style of bra with deep bands, not quite bustiers but moving in that direction and some manufacturers actually named these deep band bras, corset bras.
Moving on, the word basque is French in origin and in early times referred to a close fitting short coat or bodice. By the twentieth century the basque had morphed into a form of undergarment similar to a corset but not as rigid in form. Most glamour corsets are in fact basques if defined by structure. So in short a basque is a lightly boned corset that usually extends to the hips, with suspenders, It usually has under wire cups and most frequently fastens at the front. Imagine the Balance bustier extending to the hip and you have a basque.
There is an exception to this description and that is the soft basque. Examples of this style can be found in the Diki collections. A soft basque has no boning, will usually have a loosely shaped soft bust section and the body part will extend to the hips. Again there will be suspenders attached to the bottom hem.
Lastly we move on to the head of this small family - the true or traditional corset. The history of the corset is much longer than either of its cousins and extends well back into the last millennium. There is so much to say about the traditional corset that it deserves a blog post all of its own and we will do that at some time in the future. In summary, the main elements of the true corset are it is always boned, can be over or under-bust and has laces at the back which are used to tighten the garment once it is on. The corset body extends to the hips and has suspenders which in some case can be removed to allow the corset to be worn as an outer garment.
The traditional corset differs from both basques and bustiers when it comes to sizing. The basque and the bustier are sized either on bra or dress size but the corset sizing is based on the wearer's waist. In order to choose the correct size you should take your waist measurement and then order a size up to 4 inches less. Some suppliers don't give you the option to order in this way, while others may have already deducted the 4 inches - so always check carefully when ordering a corset on line and don't ever be tempted to try wearing a corset that is more than 4 inches smaller at your waist.... remember you do want to breathe and blue is not an attractive skin tone!
For basques, bustiers and traditional corsets visit our corsets section.
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