Obviously the price one can afford is different for everyone. It also matters how you are going to use the corset and what quality you are going to need. Just like shoes, if you're going to wear a corset every day you want to get something that is going to be comfortable and that is going to last. Sometimes your needs might be equivalent to a pair of dress heels you're only ever going to wear once and you might be able to get away with something less expensive. And you might not even be sure corsets are really for you, so you want to start with something reasonably priced.
So I will be offering a few corset sellers at a range of prices who I would recommend, based on everything I know about them. Note that I have not ever personally purchased from ANY of them. What I know is based on what I've been told by friends who are customers, internet research, and word of mouth. This is also not at ALL an exhaustive list, but merely somewhere to start. There are lots of small sellers as previously discussed, and some larger sellers who I simply don't know enough about to feel confident recommending. (Also, I have received no compensation of any kind from any of the following companies, except where noted.)
1. Orchard Corset - This company has been around a while, but they've recently stopped selling
anything but their own brand. Everything I've read about their corsets has been very positive. They use spiral steels and strong twill fabrics with waist tapes. The best thing is that they have three different silhouette levels depending on how curvy your figure is, so they can accommodate those of us with larger hip-springs or tightlacers with their "level 3" corsets. No, actually the best thing is probably the prices. Their underbusts start at $69 and overbusts at $79. Those are extremely reasonable prices, actually lower than what Corset Story typically charges these days, and the quality is much higher. So this is definitely my go-to recommendation for anyone who was buying from considering Corset Story (Corsets-UK, etc). The only caution is that these may not be the most long-lasting corsets and I'm not sure if they would be strong enough for waist training. Also it seems they still have some fashion corsets and off brands in their clearance section, so make sure whatever you buy has the CS prefix before the model number.
2. Timeless Trends - This brand of corsets is very popular, both online and as sold through their many distributors. You often see these corsets being sold by small vendors at Faires, conventions, etc. The good news is that from everything I've heard, they are well made and very durable. They have a lifetime exchange guarantee, even! Everything else is similar to Orchard Corsets in that they use mostly spiral steels and twill fabric for strength. They have a range of corset styles and a huge number
of fabrics available. My main complaint is that a lot of their corsets seem to have the same shape (I typically identify them on sight, but then again that's true of lots of brands) and don't have a very large hip-spring. They seem to work best on slim to average figures IMO, although they have a line with laces over the hips to adjust for larger hips. (Personally I'd rather buy a corset that fits to begin with.) Prices for underbusts start at $99.
Isabella Corsetry - Isabella Corsetry makes both custom and "immediate" standard sized corsets. Her corsets are very attractive and curvy in shape and I'd say quite influential on the corset world. Materials are similar to others in this price bracket and I believe all of these are handmade, unlike previous entries on the list. The only drawback is that because they aren't mass-produced, limited colors, fabrics, and sizes may be in stock and there may be a wait for custom work. Prices start at $160 for underbusts and go up from there.
4. What Katie Did - What Katie Did is a UK based company (that has a US branch) that sells all kinds of awesome vintage lingerie. If you want bullet bras or girdles for a pin-up look, you should go to them. They also carry a line of very nice corsets. I've said before online that if I was going to buy an OTR corset, I'd probably buy from them and that's (probably) still true. They cater to "vintage" figures which means large hip-springs (hey look, it's hard to shop for a corset when you have a 14" hip-spring, ok?). Many of their corset designs use hip gores to give it extra curve and strong hips. My favorite feature of their store is their "Design Your Own Corset" section where you can take one of their corsets and chose your fabric, add contrast casings, waist stay, lace overlay, etc. You can create something individual for you that matches your needs! Prices are in the $200-300 range, although custom additions add extra, of course.
(Note: I am an affiliate for What Katie Did. This means that if you buy something from them after clicking my links or the banner on the right I will get a commission. I became their affiliate because I love their corsets!)
And those are the recs! I think that once you hit the $300 range you should probably be looking at the smaller corset makers and seriously considering having something made custom. As I said, there are other brands and options out there in these price ranges, but either I just don't know much about them or what I've heard has been mixed.
So I hope you've learned something through this series, and feel more confident going into any future corset purchase.
See the rest of this series: