Category Archive: Dressing with your Corset

Chest Binders and Corsets – my experience

Back in May 2104, I wrote about compatibility between corsets and conventional bras, and how to avoid possible issues like underwire entrapment (when the underwire of your bra gets pushed uncomfortably against your ribcage) or the double lift effect (when the top edge of your corset pushes up on your bra, which then pushes up your breasts unnaturally high).

However, a number of followers have asked me if it’s possible to wear a bust binder in conjunction with a corset (whether to prevent accentuating a larger bust when seen in contrast to a smaller waist, or to present a more androgynous figure, or attain a particular silhouette for a costume). This may also apply if you have a very high-compression sports bra (I notice that I have a similar, but not identical, effect in my Enell Sport bra).

I’ve always been fascinated with fashion and how the line of clothing could change the apparent figure of the wearer – when I was in high school, even before discovering corsets, I used to play around with fashion and had no problem wearing a frilly dress one day and my brother’s button-down shirt the next day. I might have worn a padded bra with one outfit and a minimizer or binder with the other outfit, based on how I felt that day. So fortunately when a few people asked what it was like to wear a corset and chest binder together, I already had this experience.

Since I’m full-busted, my Underworks Tri-top binder doesn’t completely flatten my chest, but it still does an impressive job at taking down my apparent bust by at least 2 cup sizes. However, this flesh has to be displaced somewhere, and on me, some of my tissue is pushed upwards toward my collarbone, giving me a “pigeon-chest” effect (which means I only wear my binder with higher-cut necklines), and I get a bit of squishing out of the sides around my armpits. (I have squidgy armpits to begin with, as anyone who’s seen one of my overbust reviews can attest. I simply hide this by wearing a looser shirt.)

One other thing that’s important to note when combining a corset with a binder is to be aware of which way your binder is pushing your mammary tissue. Some have told me that when they normally put on a binder, they pull it straight down so their breast tissue is pushed down – however if your underbust corset extends quite high on your ribcage, you may run the risk of trapping some of your bust under the corset. When I wear my binder with a corset, I first pull the binder on downwards, but then reach inside and redistribute my flesh upwards a bit so as not to trap any of that tissue uncomfortably under the top edge of my corset.

There are some advantages to wearing a binder with a corset, however, including some elimination of muffin-top in the back – and since my Tri-top binder extends down to almost the navel, I find that it also acts as a semi-liner underneath my corset as well. Another corseter also told me that for people with a smaller cup size, the corset can control any bumps on your chest left over by the binder and create a more smooth effect overall – so the corset can compensate for the binder in the front, and the binder can compensate for any muffin top caused by the corset in the back.

In my experience, wearing a binder with a corset is a bit more restrictive on my breathing (compared to wearing one or the other separately) and I admit that I prefer to just wear a well-fitting underwire bra with my corset as I don’t tolerate much pressure on my upper chest – but on occasion, I do appreciate the minimizing effect a binder provides. Click the following links if you’d like to see my reviews of the Genie Bra, the Enell Sport and Lite bras, and the Goddess longline bra in conjunction with corsets.

Do you prefer to minimize your bust when wearing a corset? If so, what products do you use?

Pairing your Corset with Leggings

I will preface this by saying that it took me many years to jump on the legging/ jegging bandwagon. When I first saw leggings coming back into fashion around 2005 (along with the skinny jeans), I thought it wouldn’t last more than a season or two before they went the way of the neon spandex pants of the 80s. However, nearly 10 years later, leggings are just as popular as ever – and about five years ago, I finally tried a pair and was immediately sold on their comfort (and more importantly, their compatibility with my corsets).

I’m often asked what kinds of jeans or trousers to wear with corsets, because those with a thick, inelastic waistband don’t work well with corsets:

  • If you try to wear them underneath your corset (especially a longline corset), you may have issues when going to the restroom and may find that you have to loosen the corset to access your fly.
  • If you wear your jeans overtop of your corset, the waistband will likely be much larger than your corseted waist, and you may experience gaping or jeans that want to fall down on you. You might be able to belt it, but the bunching of that excess waistband may not be the most comfortable or the most flattering look. (Of course, if you like how it looks, go for it!)

The beauty of leggings is that they are thin enough that you can wear them comfortably under your corset without causing a lot of bulk, and they are elastic enough to wear them over a corset without any of that annoying gaping at the waistline.

If you plan to wear your leggings more often underneath your corset, you may want to opt for those that have a thin, low-profile waistband where the elasticity is woven right into the band (as opposed to having a separate elastic sewn into a channel in the waistband. The former is thinner and will be more comfortable and less bulky if you have the pressure of a corset overtop of it. You may also want to look for leggings that are more medium-to-low-rise instead of high-rise in the waist (especially if you plan to wear the leggings under a longline corset) so after you go to the restroom, you can more easily tuck the waistband up under the corset again. If, however, you plan to wear your corset underneath your leggings, then you don’t have to worry about either of these.

Remember that long tunic style shirts and dresses are great for hiding even longline corsets – watch the video below to see six example outfits featuring leggings, jeggings and tights, so you can see how incredibly easy it is to hide your corset under your clothes and not have to struggle every time you go to the restroom!

OOTD: Combining Dark-Side Panel Dress with Corsetry

I’m usually one to eschew the color-blocking in favor of some good old-fashioned monochrome, but I had never denied that some sneaky dark side-panel ensembles helped create a slimming figure. (I still remember back in 1999 when Victoria Beckham wore a slimming outfit onstage to camouflage her baby-bump.) More recently, the fashion piqued my interest when I saw Kate Winslet wearing this Stella McCartney dress – and I was curious as to how this style would work with a corset underneath.

Kate Winslet for Stella McCartney. Photo: Getty

Sourcing out a budget-version of the dress that was willing to ship to Canada, I decided to grab one in my “natural” size instead of my cinched size, in case I wanted to wear this dress sans-corset. When I received the dress, I realized that it was a stretchy cotton knit and I could have taken a size down. In the video you can see me play around with the dress, wearing it as intended, with a belt, and also quickly taken in at the waist to fit closer to my corset.

As it turns out, a fitted, contoured dress over a corset makes for pretty insane eye-trickery (especially when I wear my hair down and you can’t quite distinguish my dark hair from the dark side panels of the dress. Suffice it to say, this dress is staying in my wardrobe – and I may even reconsider my stance on color-blocking, and source out more fun “dark-side” shirts and dresses for my wardrobe. I will be making another video in the near future about how to avoid the pesky “corset crotch point” underneath fitted dresses, though!

What do you think about the “dark side” dress? Would you wear it with your corset?

Wearing a bra with your underbust corset

One question I get semi-frequently is whether you have to wear a bra with your underbust corset. With an overbust corset, it’s easy to go without a bra as the corset itself provides support, lift, and shaping – but what about underbust corsets?

As a wearer of corsets and a keeper of long hair, I’m no stranger to confrontation. On a regular basis I have people telling me that I’m not fashionable; that I’m gross or disturbing or an eyesore. I often stealth my corsets and wear my hair up, because what makes me happy and is not hurting others doesn’t necessarily have to be flaunted. And this experience has made me hyper-aware of what I say to others in terms of fashion and dress.

So what does this have to do with wearing a bra with your underbust corset?

I am in no position whatsoever to make you wear a bra or not wear a bra with your corset. End of story.

But if you are expecting your underbust corset to lift, support, and shape your breasts the way that a conventional bra will, you may be disappointed to know that this isn’t the case. An underbust corset doesn’t cover the breasts and cannot support what it doesn’t touch. So if you want the support /shaping of a bra, you can wear a bra in conjunction with your underbust corset.

I understand that there can be some incompatibility between underbust corsets and certain bras. I’ve been through the frustration of trying to wear mainstream underwired, push-up bras with your underbust corsets. If your corset is just a little too long in the torso, then the top edge of the corset can push up on your underwire and cause a “double-lift” effect – and this is often made worse when sitting down! Many fuller-busted women have complained to me that this looks and feels unnatural, and they don’t like the end result that has become colloquially known as a “chin-rest”. Also, if your corset is too tight around the ribcage and your underwire becomes trapped between your body and the corset, the wire can dig quite uncomfortably into your ribs (I call this “underwire entrapment”).

This is the reason why I always ask for a person’s torso length along the princess line, from the underwire to the lap when sitting down. This is the maximum length that an underbust corset can be before the top edge starts pushing up on the bust, or the bottom edge starts digging into the lap.

So, what can you do if you’d like to avoid the modern bra/underbust corset compatibility issues, but you’d still prefer to wear bras and corsets at the same time?

If you look closely, my left underwire slipped to the outside of the corset. My right underwire is still under the corset, hence the asymmetry. If I had just worn both wires overtop, it probably would have been less noticeable and more comfortable for me as well.

In one of my old, looser-banded bras. My left underwire slipped overtop of the corset. My right underwire is still under the corset, hence the asymmetry. If I had just worn both wires overtop, it probably would have been less noticeable.

 

  1. Opt for shorter corsets or cinchers, which stop lower on the ribcage and steer clear of the underwire of your bra. If you are savvy with a sewing machine, you can shorten some of your own corsets along the top edge.
  2. Wear a well-fitting wire-free bra with your corsets. I don’t have a huge collection of these, but I like my Enell Lite as it’s wire-free and has a non-rolling band. I like the bust-shaping and support it gives, and it works well under my graphic tees and high-neckline shirts.
  3. If you can’t afford or don’t have access to wire-free bras /shorter corsets, as another resort you can simply lift up your bra and position the underwires overtop of your corset instead of underneath. This works best if you wear your corsets under your clothing instead of overtop, and it really only works with a bra that’s slightly big in the band. Does it mean slightly less support from your bra? Yes. Does this look a little unusual if you’re wearing the corset on the outside of your clothing? Perhaps a little. Are the passionate bra-fitters pulling their hair out at my even suggesting this? Maybe. But I used this technique regularly before I got new well-fitting bras, and I found it resulted in a more natural-looking bust (compared to wearing the bra under the corset and getting the “double-lift”) and it was more comfortable too.

In conclusion: are you required to wear a bra with your underbust corset? Not necessarily, but know that an underbust won’t give you the same lift, support and shaping that your conventional bra will. If you have bra/corset compatibility issues, try out one of the three solutions I listed above and see if any work for you.

Do you have any alternate solutions to avoid “double-lift” or “underwire entrapment” caused by bra/corset incompatibility? Let me know in a comment below!

Enell Sport / Enell Lite Bras (combined with Corsets)

Back in November 2013, I was consulting with a lovely lady who confided in me that she loved to wear Enell bras with her corsets. I have seen Enell here and there online, but this is the first time the name really caught my attention. I looked into it; the bra was supposed to be “The Terminator” of all sports bras; the one that leaves no room for movement. I nearly only got the Enell Sport because its use in my high-impact workouts (kickboxing) looked very appealing; but I’m glad I had consulted with Mara from Enell beforehand, who suggested that I try both the Sport and Lite versions.

It is not hyperbole to say that these bras have changed me. Although the Enell Sport gave me a flat profile and tended to accentuate my underarm pudge. It didn’t look quite as natural under clothing, and the way that it paired with the corset was *okay*. It was definitely comfortable, being a well-supportive, wire-free bra designed for large busts, but it wasn’t the look I was going for everyday wear. But when I wore this bra during my workouts, I found that they instantly became more intense as I wasn’t afraid of boobling out all over the place. My jumps were higher, my sprints were faster, I was moving with more confidence and motivated to work out more because I was finally being supported the way I was supposed to.

However, the Enell Lite really shone when paired with a corset. The Enell Lite was designed to be a daily-wear or low-impact sports bra, which can be used during yoga, Pilates, or anytime. The cups lift and separate, and create a lovely shape without smooshing you. I also found that since the band at the underbust was not as OMG constricting on this piece, that it created a beautiful smooth transition between the top edge of the corset to the bra, with very little muffin top. The 4″ back came up high enough although not too high, so it wasn’t creating back rolls above the band, and the lack of underwire meant that an underbust corset could come up as high as you want on your torso and you don’t have to be afraid of pinching.

Both types of Enell bras have a different sizing system compared to other bras – you simply measure your underbust circumference and your full bust circumference, in cm or inches, and get the size whose range you fall into. Some people don’t like this sizing system, but in the confusing world of different cup sizes and band calculations depending on what country is manufacturing a bra, I find Enell’s system extremely simple to use, and rather fool-proof. If you don’t fall into the regular size range, you can also check out Ebay where factory seconds are sold at discount, which often have different ratios of band to cup compared to their standards.

The only thing I wish is that this bra were not so high-cut on the chest, as it does show under even simple V-neck shirts. If this bra were somehow available in a more balconette or plunge version and still provided the same wire-free support, I would buy two in every colour and wear them everyday.

If you’d like to see both the Enell Sport and the Enell Lite bras in detail, as well as how they pair with an underbust corset, you’re welcome to check out my video review below:

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