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Enell Sport / Enell Lite Bras (combined with Corsets)

30 Dec

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:

Dressing with your Corset: Playing with Necklines

23 Oct

Fashion magazines are always telling us to “dress for our body type”. They know that different cuts, styles, colours and shapes of clothing can give the illusion of a different silhouette. Today I investigate this phenomenon by experimenting with different necklines while wearing the exact same corset (thus, having the exact same silhouette with each shirt). A certain neckline can make your neck look longer or shorter, make your shoulders look broader or more narrow, make your bust look larger or smaller, and almost create completely different silhouettes, even if the corset itself doesn’t change. Ultimately, I wear what I want – whether it’s flattering or not to conventional fashion – because I like these shirts. If you’re looking to create a certain illusion of silhouette, this comparative guide may help. Feel free to watch the video where I explain in more detail, or refer to the quick guide below the video.

Neckline ScoopScoop neckline: accentuates the décolletage but doesn’t show too much cleavage. The scoop neckline makes the shoulders and bust look slightly more broad but may also make the torso look shorter in the process.
Neckline HalterHalter neckline: the eye follows the “swell” of the fabric which may emphasizes a slender neck, large bust, small waist and large hips. I’d recommend the halter for those who have a long neck and pronounced clavicle. The halter emphasizes the breadth of the shoulders by leaving them bare.
Neckline PlungeV-neck or plunge necklines can emphasize cleavage but also make the top look a bit slimmer and the shoulders look more feminine. The “downward arrow” of this neckline echoes the V shape created by the ribs tapering down to the waist, and the V cut of the bottom edge of the corset. The cap sleeves on this shirt also somewhat echo this effect, almost making my torso look longer.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.57.05 PMSweetheart and Queen Anne necklines I consider to be universally flattering and feminine. The sweetheart cut emphasizes the roundness of the bust and draws the eye in and down like an “attention funnel”. The almost diamond-shape of the Queen Anne also draws the eye up to the neck and clavicle region and looks nice on people with both broad and narrow shoulders.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.58.34 PMOff-the-shoulder necklines (what I consider to be a portrait neckline) typically show off the neck and clavicle area, and depending on how low it sits off your shoulders, may also draw attention to the décolletage. The wide band on this shirt, combined with the light colour make my shoulders appear very broad and creates contrast with the small waist (emphasized by being in a dark colour).
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.59.12 PMBoat necklines also go straight across horizontally, except they are typically cut across right at the clavicle line. This particular sweater dress further emphasizes the hourglass shape, as epaulettes on this piece create the illusion of broader shoulders (and can give definition to sloping shoulders), and the horizontal zipper at the widest part of the hip helps with the illusion of a fuller hip. The dress is belted at the waist with the corset underneath, which completes the hourglass effect.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.59.56 PMSquare necklines are almost like scoop necklines but with more personality. I find that it shows off the décolletage while showing less cleavage than the scoop neckline; the horizontal line cutting across the bust makes the bust look full, while the vertical lines going up to the neck helps prevent a “squat” looking torso. I enjoy playing with geometry in my outfits and feel that the square neckline nicely contrasts the triangular or conical shape formed by the corset.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 1.00.39 PMLet me preface this by saying I’m not a huge fan of turtlenecks in general; I have an issue with things wrapped too tightly around my neck. However, these thin microfibre pieces are generally fine as the neck is typically short and not too tight. I find that the turtleneck looks best on people who have broad shoulder and/or long necks. I find that it tends to minimize my bust (which is not necessarily a bad thing) yet accentuate my shoulders, and gives a nice “plain canvas” for my corset to be the center of attention.

What is your favourite neckline or type of shirt to wear, either over or under your clothing? Let me know in the comments below!

Outfits with your corset: lightweight “corset-style” tops (& the corset + Jeans conundrum)

27 May

My fascination with corsets started when I was around 15, but at the time I didn’t even know that real corsets still existed. I made do with longline bras and fun “corset-style” shirts that were lightly structured with cheap featherweight boning – the gingham shirt I show in this video is one example of this.

This shirt’s tag says “DS Lab” and when I tried searching for the store/ label, all I came up with was hair products. I originally purchased this shirt from Winners about 10 years ago, so finding others like it is probably slim to none – but if I ever do source it, I’ll be sure to let you know!

At one point I did have a natural 23-24 inch waist and had few curves, so I liked to create the illusion of curves through the use of shirts like these which are loose and roomy through the shoulders and chest, and the adjustable ties in the front/back create a fitted waist. The shirt is obviously not strong enough to do any cinching, but the other day I did notice that it fit remarkably well over my proper corsets.

The only issue I have with this shirt is that it ends so short on the waist (especially when pulled in smaller around the corset) so I have to pair it with high-waisted trousers or jeans in order to prevent the corset from peeking out under the shirt.

I do have some high-rise slacks, but they were a little too dressy and hot for today, so instead I opted for Mom Jeans. (Literally, they are my mother’s jeans.)

Usually when it comes to jeans, I (and many other corseters) have two problems:

  1. If the jeans are low-rise, they either slide down, they create a line of flesh squidge between the bottom of a cincher and the waistband of the jeans, or they simply don’t fit over the extra bulk of a longline corset.
  2. If the jeans are high-rise, you either have to deal with a wrinkly/floppy waistband (or having it awkwardly scrunched up when belted) or if you wear those jeans under a longer corset, you will have a fun time trying to get them down when you have to pee.

I like my Mom’s mid-rise jeans which stop right around the iliac crest. My mother and I are nearly the same size in pants, although she prefers hers to come higher up on the waist and have more ease around the iliac and hips. A longline corset overtop of my nulliparous hips pretty much perfectly fits under her jeans – which means no floppiness, no sliding down, and no bathroom emergencies.

Now we just need to bring mid-rise Mom Jeans back into fashion. ;)

 

Storing your contemporary hoopskirts

1 May

Not directly corset-related (and don’t worry – I will resume the season-with-me posts soon!) but here is a cool video demonstration (not done by me) on how to fold your crinoline/ hoopskirts for travel or storage. I tried following along with the video and managed to achieve the fold once or twice – if I learn how to do it consistently and can figure out a way to explain it effectively, then I might post a tutorial for it.

Once folded, it needs to be held in place so it doesn’t pop open again. You can use the drawstring to tie it in place, or store it in an appropriately-sized drum bag or a hat-box with a latch. Here’s a budget cymbal bag that might just work.

Please note that this folding trick will likely only work on contemporary skirts that are stiffened with spring steel, and I wouldn’t attempt this with any hoopskirts stiffened with reed, bamboo, wood, etc.

What do you think? Can you fold your crinolines this way? Let me know!

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By the way, did I ever post about my crinoline video on this blog yet? If not, here you go:

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Cheers!

OOTD/ Dressing with your Corset – Belted fashions

17 Feb

Fashion is kind of interesting. When I pair my corsets with modern clothing (especially wearing my corset overtop of modern clothes), many people think it looks out of place, and that my waist looks unusual or too dramatic. However, when I wear my corset under New Look style dresses, people think my outfit is amazing – my small waist doesn’t look out of place at all.

I have asked some people why they thought women of the 50′s are a different shape that they are today, a few of them told me that they simply thought the silhouette was due to an illusion in the dress, or that women simply were  naturally shaped differently back then.

While people did have a different standard of living 60 years ago, I assure you that this is not enough time for the human body to evolve with a completely different body shape.

In any sense, if you would like to accentuate your corseted silhouette without showing off the corset itself, and you don’t have access to vintage outfits (or simply don’t like them), consider accessorizing your sweaters, tunics and dresses with belts and sashes.

In the video below, I show how a simple toddler’s belt can dramatically change the shape of one of my old sweaters, and also show what kind of belted and sashed dresses I look for when I’m going 2nd-hand shopping.

If you like making your own clothing, consider some dresses with built-in sashes, such as Simplicity 9891 (which is actually a Halloween costume, but you get the idea. It can be easily modified to make an acceptable ‘everyday’ dress).

Enjoy!

Why would I hide my corsets??

4 Feb

Last week, by request I released another “Dressing with your corset” video in which I showed how to hide your corset under clothes such as bubble shirts and tunic sweaters. I had done a similar video in the past, in which I showed how empire waisted shirts work well in concealing corsets. Both times, in the days following these videos, I got a confused backlash in the community about the reasons that one would want to hide their corsets. After all, don’t people wear corsets for the purpose of showing off their tiny waists?

Not everyone. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten so many requests to do these videos in the first place.

One viewer made a very good point that in an office setting where open-toed shoes are frowned upon and denim skirts (even ankle length) have the employee sent home, corsets would definitely not be appropriate attire. If you would like to wear your corset at your desk, you will have to hide it under your shirt.

But even more than that, some people still consider the corset to be strictly an undergarment, and would feel weird about showing it off. Even today, I constantly get comments on my videos from people saying, “Aren’t you supposed to wear that thing underneath your shirt instead of overtop?”
I find this question irritating only because it’s so common. But if some people believe that the corset is designed to be worn under clothing, they shouldn’t be berated for it.

Some wear corsets to relieve back pain, or to help with their posture. Some use the corset to boost their confidence and control their appetite. Some wear corsets because they enjoy the deep pressure, but the figure-altering aspect is secondary. This is why I made a point of making those videos first, before resuming my “dressing with corsets” videos; to help people understand that there are corseters who wear them for reasons apart from the visual aspect; who are not ashamed by their practice, but they simply don’t want / feel the need to broadcast their corset. Despite a common interest in corseting, different people still have different tastes in dress.

What’s my excuse?

One fan on Facebook asked me why I specifically would want to hide my corset, when I’m a public figure in corseting, and it’s so well known among my friends and family?

I do like to wear my corsets out in evenings and at special events, but when I’m working (I do have a job outside of corsetry), I don’t consider corsets to be appropriate work attire. Also, although it’s well known in my personal circle that I wear corsets, the corset community is pretty much nil in the little town where I live. When I’m running errands and need to get a lot done, I simply don’t have the time to be stopped and asked about my corseting – for this same reason, although I have long hair and I show it off when I want to, there are also days that I can’t be bothered to be gawked at or confronted so I put it up in a bun.

I guess it all comes down to the fact that although my personal tastes are alternative, and although I’m not ashamed of the way I dress or look, I don’t consider it anyone else’s business. I wear corsets (and also keep my hair long) for my happiness, but don’t necessarily need others’ attention in order to feel validated.

I’m sure that many people can relate to this in a different vein – it’s kind of like having a tattoo or body piercing that nobody knows about but you, or even wearing matching underwear on a good day; this little secret can make you happy and put a bounce in your step without the need to show it off at all times. As long as it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

But if I don’t need validation, why do I show off corsets all the time in my videos?

My Youtube/ Facebook/ website feel sort of like my ‘domain’ where I feel okay about making my corsets visible. As my public pages and channel are clearly a place where people seek out more information about corsetry, it would be confusing if I didn’t show off my corsets in that respect, actually. It’s not only so that I can promote the fantastic creations of various corsetieres and show the incredible diversity in cut, silhouette, fabric, color etc. But imagine how weird it would be to have a cooking channel, but there’s no food in sight. Imagine a documentary about mountain lions, but there were no mountain lions shown. If I didn’t show corsets in a corset-related channel, it might be considered just as unusual.

Bottom line.

I don’t know how to put this any other way, and the fact that people from within the corset community are pointing fingers for something as petty as wearing your corset over or under your shirt is a bit ridiculous. If you want to show off your corsets, show them off. You’ve worked hard for your waist. But if you want to hide your corset under clothing, go ahead and hide it. I don’t consider you vainglorious or an exhibitionist to make your corseting public, and I don’t consider you ashamed or apologetic to keep it secret. And neither should anyone else. What you do with your body (and how you portray it) is your business alone.

Whirling Turban Wing Bust, Sarong Skirt Dress!

10 Jan

This is a very special OOTD episode, where I feature a lovely vintage reproduction dress made by Whirling Turban. I was introduced to Whirling Turban’s products via Ashley of “Lisa Freemont Street”, fellow vlogger on Youtube and blogger. (Ashley is also a full-time mom and an integral part of the Whirling Turban team, in addition to a few other jobs – and manages to look fabulous doing it all! She’s a modern Superwoman.)

If you would rather watch and listen than read, feel free to watch the video below (lots of eyecandy!).

Many people know me for my detailed corset reviews, but it wasn’t until I got my vintage dresses last year that I really started paying attention to the quality of the rest of my wardrobe. When a garment (corset or otherwise) is made with care, attention, time and skill, it really shows. And it may cost a tad more (for instance, the standard size wingbust dress on WT starts at $235), but I consider this a very fair investment considering it makes me feel like a million bucks.

This dress is adjustable in several ways – its flexible wing bust allows the wearer to flip the ‘wings’ up into cheeky points to conceal the contrast fabric, or to curve the wings down for a softer look and to expose more of the contrast. The dress also comes with a halter strap which matches the contrast, a halter strap which matches the main fabric of the dress (whichever color you like, since there are 9 colors of sharkskin to choose from), and these straps can be interchanged/ adjusted in length using two pairs of small buttons on the inside of the bust.

You can also wear it strapless, and the lightly boned bodice will keep the dress from falling down on you. The light boning and the shirring both keep the bodice wonderfully smooth instead of shifting or bunching. However, this bodice is not designed to nip you in at the waist, so WT recommends wearing a corset underneath to give you a period-accurate silhouette. In my video ab0ve, you can see me model the dress first with my What Katie Did Morticia underbust, and then with my Versatile Corsets Mimosa overbust, so you can see the difference that your foundation wear makes in silhouette.

The sarong skirt is attached to the bodice, and flares out dramatically from the waistline to accentuate full, feminine hips. There are several neat pleats in the front which would nicely conceal any lower tummy pudge; and otherwise add to the very 50′s-accurate profile. I chose my skirt to end about one inch lower than the fullest part of my calf, which gives a slight leg-lengthening illusion. The sarong is a kind of wiggle skirt, and hugs my legs in a flattering yet non-restrictive manner, as the slit between the two overlapping panels of fabric in the front accommodate any extra room you may need to climb a steep set of stairs, or to quickly sidestep your manic puppy. (Both happen frequently, in my case.) A lovely casual tie on the side of the hip, like an understated bow, finishes off the look and provides very minor adjustment in the hips.

The more I look at the dress, the more details pop out at me. Not one aspect of this dress was constructed without some sort of consideration for the wearer. The material is 100% cotton, which drapes beautifully and is a dream to wear, as it doesn’t cause sweating, itching, static cling, etc. The wings on the bustline are meticulously pressed and sewn into crisp edges; the shirring is symmetric on both sides of the bodice; the clothestag is concealed and prevented from poking into my back; the matching colored zipper is cleanly inserted and doesn’t catch; and even the interfacing is sew-in instead of fusible. One of the most important features is the pinked edges, which provide a non-bulky way to prevent fraying and unraveling of seams.

If this post sounds like I’m waxing poetic about the work of Whirling Turban… it’s because I might be! Looking at the craftsmanship of this dress, I’m tempted to get rid of many of my worn-too-quickly $15 eco t-shirts and start to take more pride in the way I dress on a regular basis.

If you would like to see Whirling Turban’s selections, feel free to visit their site here.

Using Corsets for a 1950′s “New Look” Accurate Silhouette

22 Oct

Earlier today I posted an “OOTD” video, showing that the right undergarments can make all the difference when trying to dress in a period-accurate manner.

If I could show you the difference of the fit of these dresses with and without a corset, I would – alas, I couldn’t get either of them zipped up without a corset. The little black wiggle dress has a 24″ waist, the blue dress has just under a 25″ waist. I have a natural 27″ waist – close, but no cigar.

After reading Sarah Chrisman’s bookWaisted Curves…” and remembering what she said about the subtle lessons we can learn from studying and wearing vintage clothing, I decided to pay more attention to my own posture and behavior while wearing these dresses.

The Little Black (Wiggle) Dress (LBWD?)

This is a sophisticated little number. By modern standards, it’s very conservative (covers much more skin than most cocktail dresses available today) but there’s something alluring about it. The dramatic dip in the waist is unexpected to most people today, and the bodice of the dress will not be having any self-deprecating pose from me. The width of the back panels are more narrow than that of the front panels, forcing my shoulders down and back, making me look confident and proud even in situations where I’m feeling painfully shy.
The only feature I find less-than-absolutely-perfect about this dress is the little lower-belly pouch that sticks out from the skirt, making my profile look a little dumpier than I actually am. Whether this is just a result from the the skirt’s darts and pleats, or if this was designed in due to the shape of many women during this time, I’m not entirely sure – but I am told that this is normal of wiggle dresses of the period.

The Blue-Grey Shelf-Bust Twirly (Swing) Dress

I have no words for how much I love this dress. The teensy pleating over the bust area; the way the silhouette is created by elongated hourglass-shaped panels (much like the panels in a corset) dipping in at the waist and swooping back out again in the skirt; the sweet little bow detail on the shoulder; the heavenly silky blue fabric with pink lining which go perfectly with my new lemon-meringue-colored petticoat – wearing this dress makes me want to play hooky from work and just twirl in this all day.
Whereas the LBWD makes me feel mature and sophisticated like a siren or femme-fatale, this soft blue dress makes me feel distinctly youthful, sweet and girly. I feel like a flower; something to be nurtured and cherished.

The psychological effect of clothing is incredible. When I hung up the femme-fatale dress and the delicate-flower dress and donned my comfy, frumpy, fleece pajamas this evening, I felt a little silly – how could I let my clothing affect me so much? Is there any merit to that age-old saying “The clothes makes the man” (or woman)? It makes me wonder if wearing a corset has shaped my behavior over the past couple of years, and if so, how (and how much) has it changed me?
Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely fun!

Outfits with a Corset: Hiding your Corset with Empire Waists

3 Sep

I know what some of you are thinking: “You spend hundreds of dollars for a high-end training corset, and countless hours of effort and discipline whittling down your waist, and you want to hide it?”

Hiding or concealing your corset isn’t about shame. Sometimes it’s necessary to conceal the corset during work or school hours (especially if one’s waist is obviously unnatural, such as a wasp-waist or pipe-stem). The same way that employees and employers alike cover their tattoos with make up or take out their gauge earrings (plugs), so corsets may be a form of body modification that’s frowned upon in the workplace. Even outside of corporate life, some people wear corsets for personal reasons but don’t feel it necessary to make it anyone else’s business.

That being said, there are several ways to fairly easily hide your corset under clothing. One of these ways involves empire-waist shirts and dresses.

Empire-waist tops are “cinched” in at the underbust level, and fall freely below that point (very much the popular silhouette during the Regency period). As such, the waist of your shirt will fall at, or just above, the point where your underbust corset will start. Since corsets tend to not constrict your upper ribcage, the high waistline of your shirt in this area will look natural, and then the surplus of fabric beneath that point will easily conceal the sharp inward curve created by your corset.

In the video below, I show a couple of different examples of empire waist shirts. They may have an elasticated bottom (in order to create a “bubble” effect) or they may be free and loose on the bottom, like an A-line skirt that starts just under the bust area. Both of these work well to hide corsets.

Generally speaking, heavier fabrics are better at hiding your corset than more lightweight fabrics. While lighter fabrics can still conceal a corset, any breeze or draft that pushes your shirt aside will show your silhouette beneath. (This can be used to your advantage sometimes!) The lighter the fabric is, the looser the cut of the shirt must be in order to conceal the corseted figure.

Even if this style of shirt or dress isn’t “in season”, there are two places that you’re likely to find them. The first is 2nd-hand stores, also known as fripperies, consignment shops, “vintage boutiques”, Goodwill/ Salvation Army/ Value Village etc. The second place where you will always find empire waists in fashion is a maternity clothing store, as most of their clothing is designed to conceal (or have enough folds of fabric to accommodate) a growing belly. In fact, most clothing which is designed to hide so-called “problem areas” (protruding bellies, apple-shapes etc) are also quite good at concealing other “odd” shaped torsos, such as a corseted figure.

In the next few weeks I’ll be making more of these “Dressing with your corset” videos and posts, to show you the different ways that you can either accentuate or hide a corseted figure.

To see my outfits in detail, watch this video:

Best wishes,

Lucy

Outfits with a Corset: Victoria’s Secret Ruched “Multi-way” Dress

7 Jul

Let me start by saying that I’m a huge fan of convertible/ infinity dresses. Usually made out of a soft, flattering jersey (I like cotton and bamboo jerseys), they can be worn a multitude of ways. I’ve made 6 of them in the past for myself and purchased another two. I’ve also made several for other people – as birthday gifts for friends and family, for dancers, and even brides! These dresses are great for dressing up or down – they easily go from work to a picnic with kids to a night out dancing, depending on how you wrap it.

In this particular video I’m wearing one of my purchased ones – this is the ruched “Multi-way dress” from Victoria’s Secret (I think in the colour “sassy berry”).

I find that the fitted, ruched skirt serves well to fit over the curves of the corset nicely while still hiding the boning channels and other hardware of the corset. The long straps, which are most conveniently wrapped around the waist several times, also serves to “hide” and soften any harsh waspwaist made by the corset, resulting in a flattering but non-obvious corseted figure. In this video I show how to wear a convertible dress two different ways, although the possibilities are nearly endless – you just have to experiment for yourself and see which styles in this dress hide the corset best.

Also in this video I show how to easily and quickly put on strappy sandals while wearing a corset (either slip-on sandals, one with an elasticated heel or this even works with shoes that have a buckle at the ankle). Bonus: you can even get a quick quad stretch with this method.

To see my outfit in detail, watch this video:

Cheers,

Lucy