Corsets vs Waist Cinchers - What's the Difference?

Posted on September 13, 2016

"What's the difference between a waist cincher and a corset?” It's a question we get asked all the time, and the quick answer is “LOTS!” This article will help you understand the differences between a corset and a waist cincher (now also called a "waist trainer" thanks to Kim Kardashian. Please see our Waist Training 101 article for more info), and how you can use them both to work together toward your waist training goals.

The terms "waist cincher" and latex "waist trainer" are used to define those shaping garments that target the abdomen specifically. That is where the similarity to corsets ends. A waist cincher will usually shave an inch or two from your waistline while you are wearing it and is designed to provide a slimming affect underneath your clothes. Corsets can be worn over or under your clothes, and are designed to create that "hourglass figure", instantly taking inches off your waist (generally 3” to 6”, depending on your body type and how much weight you carry around your midsection). 


Construction - Corset vs Waist Cincher

Steel boned corsets are constructed from a strong, yet flexible fabric (cotton / satin / leather/mesh) that is reinforced with steel boning (flexible steel rods) to give the corset great strength for pulling in your waist and accentuating the curve of your hips and bustline. Most waist cinchers are made from a combination of nylon and latex or Spandex, some with plastic or steel boning. If you carry your weight in your tummy, they can help give you more of a waistline, but not the same hourglass curves as a steel boned corset.

How They are Fastened & Tightened

Corsets help you to re-shape your body over time (like braces for your teeth) because they can be tightened using the laces, whereas a waist cincher (contrary to the name) can not because the closure on a trainer has only eyes and hooks, not laces. You will need to purchase a new cincher if you lose or gain too much weight because it can only be loosened or tightened minimally depending on how many rows of hooks and eyes the cincher has. Typically corsets are tightened by fastening the front busk (a piece of corset hardware consisting of two steel stays, one with metal loops, the other with metal 'pins') and then cinching the corset by tightening the laces in the back.


Corsets are made to fit around your midsection and can be either an “overbust” or an “underbust,” and depending on your style, can be worn over your clothes or under your clothes. Corsets come in a number of styles that have less and more extreme curves, and that fit a variety of different body types.
(Related: See Corsets Styles & Buyer's Guide.)

Waist cinchers / trainers come in a variety of colors, patterns, and prints (some with fun sayings). You can also find cinchers that offer a variety of different coverages, from the simple waist trainer, to thong body suits, versions with straps, and even body briefs.

Effectiveness for Waist Training

If you're seriously considering waist training, there's really no contest: use a corset. Corsets are much sturdier, and are designed to pull in your waist line over time (vs all at once with a cincher), making waist training a more natural process. That said, waist cinchers / trainers can be used as part of your waist training routine.
(Related: See Waist Training 101)

Many women find they want to waist train almost around the clock, but sleeping in a steel boned corset is not for everyone ... and you certainly shouldn’t work out in one! That is where you might benefit from both products. Cinchers are more comfortable to sleep in and work out in, but still provide some support and shaping. Corsets are bulkier, and if you are looking to for some slimming help underneath a fitted top or dress, the cincher is easier to hide (as it is meant for that).
(Related: 14 Tips for Safe & Effective Waist Training)

Another coupling of these two products comes in reducing or eliminating that dreaded “back bulge” that can arise from wearing some styles of corsets. The CS-426 sits high on the back (which usually prevents any bulge), but not everyone can wear a longline underbust. For women with average to short torsos, the CS-411 or CS-305 work better, but can sometimes leave an unwanted back bulge between the corset and the bra line. Wearing a high-backed cincher or other bodybriefer form of shapewear under your corset will help.