I very much admire Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique/ Dark Garden for her most recent article on The Lingerie Addict, defending ready-to-wear corsets. I’ve already discussed my stance on OTR/RTW corsets last year – they are a good jumping board into the world of corsetry. In light of Marianne’s article, and also piqued by a recent forum discussion on whether or not cheaper OTR companies should even be promoted, I would like to outline what I consider the 5 most important factors when it comes to OTR corsets (and the companies that make/ distribute them).
Although this list is in no real particular order, most clients will agree that the first three factors are most important to them – but all 5 should be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, I think that there is no OTR company that gets a full 5 stars – but then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find any maker or company that will receive all 5 stars, all the time. If you want the best quality, you have to pay for it.
Without further ado:
Is the corset going to hold up to regular use/ the rigors of tight lacing? You should familiarize yourself with the company or brand, and consider their main clientele. Do they usually use the corset for costumes or burlesque shows, in which the corset gives a strong cinch, but only worn for about an hour at a time? If so, they may not necessarily hold up to giving a strong cinch 24/7. There’s a difference between simply tightlacing occasionally, and training on a daily basis!
2. Silhouette/ fit
Will it be comfortable and give you the shape you desire? When it comes to an OTR piece, some compromise will almost always be made. I consider myself very lucky to have fairly “standard” measurements, so many OTRs are comfortable and more-or-less flattering on me. But not everyone will have the same experience. This is why my shape/fit sections of corset reviews are really subjective. I’ve provided my natural measurements on this page so people can compare their proportions with mine before purchasing a corset.
Does it fit your budget, or are you willing to save up for a more expensive piece? Remember where you save on price, you may have to sacrifice strength of construction, quality of materials, or comfort/ silhouette. I very much like Marianne’s quote “When you are corset shopping, that is not the time to bargain hunt.”
4. Customer service
Do they help you find your correct size before you order? Are they even familiar with their own corsets in the first place? Do they respond to emails within a week? (The very good ones respond within 1-2 days.) Does your corset come with a refund or exchange policy, or guarantee? I have ordered from a few corsetieres who make absolutely beautiful and strong pieces, but their customer service was lacking. (They would rarely answer emails or they would be short/curt with their responses.) Whether this is important really depends on the person, and also how demanding the client is. When it comes to an OTR company, some exchange/return policies may be available – but when it comes to custom-made corsets, unless there is something structurally wrong with your corset right out of the box, don’t expect independent corsetieres to bend over backwards at your requests. (I will make a video about this at a later date.)
5. Global impact
Is the company resourceful with materials? Do they make use of sweatshops? Some clients consider it very important to have no glue (including fusibles) and no synthetic materials in their corsets. Some companies accommodate this, while others don’t. Other clients would like to have the convenience of an OTR corset while still being able to purchase locally. A couple of corset companies, while they do source their corsets overseas, find it important to visit the manufacturer and make sure working conditions and pay are fair. If this is important to you, then don’t be afraid to ask customer service (see #4) about your concerns.
What are your most important factors when it comes to choosing a corset? Let me know in the comments below!