Structured, boned garments based on corsetry principles are worth exploring as a safer and more effective alternative to traditional binders.
These are qualitatively different from traditional corset styles, which are pretty much just for pulling in the waist and emphasizing an hourglass shape. Instead, we’re using a careful combination of both compression and the opposite of compression (building up the “valleys” of the body, not just pulling in the “hills”) to create an entirely new silhouette.
For trans men or non-binary people, these “binding corsets” can serve as a body shell, “exoskeleton,” or a foundation garment under clothing which create a profile they feel more comfortable showing the world or themselves. A properly customized corset can build a more angular, straighter silhouette by combining two things:
(1) Safe, limited, controlled compression of your chest and/or hip area
(2) Filling in the hollows of your waist indentation and the area under your chest.
Traditional binders vs. structured binding “corsets”
Corset-based binding systems can prevent spot compression hazards
Straight-line corsets are often more comfortable and less risky to wear (especially long-term) than traditional chest binders. Many binders create unpredictable spot compression and pinching, which can carry serious health hazards, especially with long-term or extended wear. They may be fine for people who are just binding their chest for a few hours for cosplay, but if you’re looking for something for constant daily wear, you may need better and safer options.
The sturdy boning of a corset-type system distributes the compression over a much larger area than the random, concentrated inward pull of wrappings or elastic. This reduces the chances of dangerous restriction of your nerves, circulation, and other soft tissue in the same way that walking with snowshoes makes it less likely for you to sink into the snow.
Structured “binding shells” reduce the need for compression
A structured, boned garment is self-supporting, and that means it can fill in the hollows of your body, not just squish down the parts that “stick out” more than you want it to.
This is very important to your safety and comfort! There’s a limit to how much you can compress your soft parts over top of rigid bones. If you press your chest too hard against your rib cage for a long time, for instance, you can do real damage to your nerves, circulation, or even glandular tissue.
A solidly boned straightening shell can “float over” and support the areas of your body where you go “in,” which seriously reduces the need to push down the bits where you go “out.”
Boned binding garments can provide full-torso straightening
Many traditional binders are only meant to compress the chest area, and can’t do much with the waist and hip area. Even longer wrap- or bandage-style binders will not significantly change the curvature of these areas without some serious boning.
So if you want to straighten your profile below chest level as well, you may need to opt for a full-length boned binding shell or corset. Many people find that it takes some pretty sturdy boning not only to reduce the outward curve of the hip, but also to fill in the indentation of the waist, in order to get enough straightening for their preferences.
If you’re interested in exploring further
Any kind of boned binding system that’s used for compression and longer-term wear demands that the boning be placed extra-precisely at the right points and length in order to be comfortable. This means Kitty will need to customize each and every one. So unless your questions are super-general, please take the time to fill out our measurement and photo form first so she can give you intelligent answers.