What Is the Difference Between a Basque and a Corset?

  • October 27, 2020
  • / By April Stevens
bride and groom

A basque and corset are two popular types of shaping garments. While they look similar, many women are still unsure of what the difference between them is.

The difference between a basque and a corset is that a corset is worn to cinch the waist and give an hourglass figure, while a basque does little or no  shaping. Basques are usually longer than corsets and have cups, while corsets have internal bones and adjustable back laces.

bride and groom

Each of these garments have features that cater to specific needs. Read on to find out more about these features.

Basques and corsets are worn for different reasons. These are reflected in the features built into each kind of garment, which is why a basque merely hugs the body and a corset cinches the waist to produce an hourglass figure. In fact, a corset is the only kind of garment that can effectively change the shape of one’s body when worn regularly.

  • Boning: Good quality corsets are usually made with rigid, solid steel bones, while a basque may or may not have bones and if they do, they are more flexible, typically made with stiff fibers. The internal boning in a corset is responsible for slimming the waist.
  • Back fastening: A corset has laces on its back, which are instrumental for dramatic shaping. They can be adjusted: tightly tied laces are more effective in cinching the waist, and they can also be loosened for a more comfortable wear. Instead of lacing, a basque can have two up to four rows of hook-and-eye enclosures, which limit the amount of shaping that will be done.
  • Back: Most corsets have a higher back because shaping would not be possible if the back of a corset is low. On the other hand, some basque designs feature a much lower back. The garment has less tension and they can support wearers who have backless clothing.
  • Cups: Basques usually have cups designed to support the chest, while a corset does not.
  • Straps: Basques typically have detachable straps with them, and corsets traditionally do not. However, more modern corset styles these days offer straps too.
  • Wear: Depending on the design of corsets, they can be worn inside clothes for discreet body shaping, paired with a dress skirt or jeans, or used as lingerie. Meanwhile, basques are used as a type of bridal underwear and worn underneath clothes, or as lingerie . This is why it’s common to see many people use corsets as a costume or wear them to a party, while the same is not true for basques.
  • Fit: Corsets are much more fitted and rigid than a basque because of tight laces on its back which aid in achieving an hourglass effect. Basques are more relaxed in fit since they hug the body.

Since basques are used as bridal underwear or lingerie and are not dangerous to wear, it’s important to understand that corsets as waist trainers come with some potential risks especially when worn extremely tight. For women who want to dramatically reshape their waists by wearing a corset, it may restrict movement in the midsection when it’s too rigid.

In the worst case scenario, corsets can make it difficult to breathe and even impact your lung function, causing you to faint especially when worn too long. In the best case scenario, corsets can reshape the body as long as you limit its wear each day. Many also use corsets as part of a costume, and if you plan to do this, it’s generally safe as long as you don’t tie it too tightly.

How Can I Choose the Right Basque?

Basques are most popularly used as bridal underwear. They shape the body gently underneath your wedding gown, and are sexy too! Aside from bridal underwear, many women love basques as lingerie. Here are some general tips to help you choose a good basque:

  • Measure your bra size: If you don’t already know your bra size, get it professionally fit.
  • Measure your waist: Basques do cover most, if not all, of your midsection. To ensure you get a good fit, measure your waist before purchase.
  • Straps: Decide if you’d like to use straps with your basque or not. There are many styles available that cater to straps and strapless designs.

If you are going to use a basque as bridal underwear, there are other considerations to think about:

  • Dress structure: It’s always recommended to have a talk with your bridal designer or dress maker. All basques do not go with all wedding dresses, since it’s necessary to choose a basque that complements your dress internal structure. While some bridal dresses don’t have any internal structure or are free flowing, others have internal bones or a lace-up back. The last thing you want is a basque and a dress that interfere with one another since it will not look good in photos, and it will also not be comfortable.
  • Color: Ideally, basques should match the color of the dress but a nude or skin tone basque is also recommended. The idea is always for the basque to be completely visible underneath your dress.
  • Neckline: The cups of the basque should be invisible when you wear your dress. If your dress features a plunging neckline, it can be hard to find a matching basque and you may need to use another type of bridal underwear that matches.
  • Back of wedding dress: Backless or low back dresses are increasingly popular, so choose a basque that has a back as high as possible while matching your dress. Keep in mind that the higher the back of the basque, the better the shaping and support it provides. Don’t use a low back barsque if you aren’t wearing a backless dress.
  • Fit of wedding dress on the hips: The basque’s bottom edge is usually designed with a small ridge, meant to sit right on top of the hip line. This would then be very visible if your dress is made with smooth material such as satin, though it wouldn’t be a problem if the dress flairs right at the waist. If your dress is made with smooth, soft material, choose a basque that ends at the waist. Wearing shapewear on top of the basque can help in producing a seamless look.

How Is Choosing a Corset Different to a Basque?

There are so many different corset styles out there, so it’s important to choose one that complements your body type. Here are things you should consider before buying a corset:

Boning

Traditional corsets are made with steel, plastic, or double bones. Steel boned corsets are known for effective waist training, and are also more supportive. They are usually more comfortable than plastic bones.

Plastic boning is commonly used in modern corset styles, as it’s also more affordable. These types of corsets can be used as fashion statement pieces, or as costume. However, plastic boned corsets can’t be used for waist training, and they are not recommended for use by women with larger bust sizes because they do not provide support.

Double boned corsets are sturdy, and widely used for waist training. They use twice as much steel as a steel boned corset and therefore are more supportive.

Underbust or overbust

An underbust corset is simpler to buy since it only requires waist measurements. Overbusts cover the entire chest area, and require more measuring to get a good fit. If you intend to wear the corset underneath clothing, underbust corsets are recommended since they are less visible.

Fabric

Corsets come in several different kinds of fabrics. Choose one based on your unique corset needs. These are the common types of fabrics used in corsets:

Satin

Satin looks and feels shiny. It’s usually designed as the fabric’s outer layer. Satin corsets are a good choice if you intend to wear it underneath clothing.

Brocade

Brocade corsets are meant to be worn as fashion statements because they are extremely elegant and come in beautiful patterns. They are thick types of fabric, and can take some time breaking in. Once you do though, brocade is very comfortable to wear. 

Cotton

Cotton is a low-maintenance fabric choice and extremely comfortable as corsets especially after they’ve been broken in. Cotton tends to mold to your body shape, though they’re thicker than other kinds of fabric which may not be as discreet under clothing.