Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Corset-a-Long: Materials - Busks

A busk is not vital to a corset, but it does make things a lot more comfortable!  It used to be that there were only two kinds of busks out there, so choosing one was easy, but nowadays there are tons more choices:

Wooden Busk
This is a straight piece of wood used to keep the front of a corset straight.  It is used for 16th ct - Regency corsets, so earlier than this corset-a-long.

Standard Separating Busk
This is a busk that has posts on one side and loops on the other so that it opens and closes kinda like buttons.  It makes a corset much more comfortable to put on and off because you can undo the laces a little bit and put it on around your body as opposed to over your head..  Because of this corsets with a separating busk can use much shorter laces than those with a closed front.  Traditional busks are white with silver clasps, but there are now busks in a ton of clasp colors including brass, antiqued, black, and even studs with diamonds in them.  When holding a busk remember that the busk closes like a button-up shirt, so the studs should be on the left hand side of the wearer.  Some busk lengths have two clasps closer together on the bottom.

Heavy Separating Busk

A heavy busk uses thicker, stiffer bones than a standard busk.  It creates a more rigid front.

Spoon Busk

Spoon busks were invented to provide more stomach control with a thicker, rounded bottom.  They are historically accurate mostly for the 1880's.  They are also the most expensive type of busk to buy.

Conical Busk
As a cheaper alternative to Spoon Busks modern corset suppliers have created the conical or tapered busk.  The clasps are attached to bones that are thinner at the top and thicker at the bottom to provide stomach control with less cost.


Keep in mind that a busk can always be made stiffer by slipping stiff bones into the casing along with the busk (this is usually called an underbusk).  Also it can be more comfortable to only stiffen one side of a busk (usually the stud side), keeping the other side more flexible to make it easier to open and close.  This might make the corset lopsided, though, so beware.

My Corsets

I'll be using a standard busk in my Truly Victorian and a spoon busk in my Silverado.  For the straight-front corset I'll be using an underbusk to keep things straight and help with the silhouette.


  1. Spoon busks are used in corsets where the wearer wants the stomach area to remain flat (generally in longer corsets). Most Victorian corsets achieve the "hourglass" silhouette by compressing the waist and pushing the excess flesh up and down, which can create a significant tummy bulge. Doesn't matter in 1860's corsets with straight busks worn with voluminous skirts. Does matter in late Victorian styles that fit closer to the body, and Edwardian styles.

  2. Where do you get your busks, Aurora? I've always found spoon busks hellaciously hard to find.