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

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. ;)

 

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Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 10″, shortest part is 8.5″. It’s a shorter corset that fits closer to a cincher on my body. Gives a moderate hourglass shape – this is a Level 2 silhouette, so the ribcage is 4″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are about 8-9″ bigger than the waist.
Material 3 main layers – the outer coarse-weave poly-brocade fashion fabric, flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in twill.
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). The shape of the panels is very similar to the cincher by Isabella Corsetry, although the contours are slightly less, the ribcage and hips a little smaller. Constructed with a slightly modified sandwich technique.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from commercial black satin bias strips, machine stitched on both sides. There are no garter tabs in this corset.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers. I did not check to see if there was glue used in this one (see my CS-426 review if you want to know more about that particular corset).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of a layer of black satin and a layer of twill. 5” wide (~3″ usable space) and attached to one side with a line of stitching.
Busk Slightly heavier busk, slightly under an inch wide and 9” long, with 4 pins. It is fairly sturdy; less bendy than a standard 1/2″ busk.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset. On each side, 6 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side), with a small flange, spaced equidistantly. On the underside every grommet is split and quite scratchy, but they don’t catch on the laces so I can’t complain.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy – you just have to tug a little harder to get the corset to stay closed because of the elasticity of the laces. However, Orchard has some higher quality laces (in several colours) available on their website – I very much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces.
Price Currently $69 USD.

 

Final Thoughts:

Although this particular fashion fabric is not available to purchase through Orchard Corset (as it was a prototype), the cut of the corset, construction methods, and other fabrics/ materials should all be the same – so in this review I’m really commenting on these features as opposed to strictly the shell fabric.

I very much prefer this style of thicker poly-brocade compared to the thin shimmery satin shown in my CS-426 corset review. I found that satin had a tendency to wrinkle easily, when the satin started to pull in places, you could see the crossweaves of coral and brown threads and the wear of the corset was quite apparent. The satin also pulled and frayed easily where it had caught onto things (keep it away from any hooks, scratchy/sharp edges, or especially velcro!). This brocade is sturdier, doesn’t wrinkle as easily, is harder-wearing (doesn’t pull or fray as easily) and is better at hiding general wear and tear. A bird told me that Orchard may begin stocking all-cotton corsets in the future, which would be an even better choice for those looking for regular support.

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Waisted Creations Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Waisted Creations Underbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 12 inches long, and the shortest part (from underbust to lap) is 9″. Unique silhouette in which the ribcage follows the natural contours but nips in dramatically at the waist for an extreme hourglass shape. Hips end a little lower than the iliac crest and very rounded. Luthien specializes in extreme hip springs, so this shape would be comfortable for hourglass or pear-shaped corseters. This corset was made to measure.
Material Fashion layer is dupioni silk in “dragonfly”; backed onto cotton coutil; lining is lightweight printed cotton.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Top-stitching between panels, many bones sandwiched between the layers, and a floating liner. No garter tabs. One of the seams at the waistline did rip, but has held up well after mending.
Binding Matching dupioni silk, machine stitched outside and hand-finished inside. Slight frayed area in the top edge of the binding, but I will be fixing that later.
Waist tape 1/2″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel None. (Not requested.)
Busk Heavy-duty wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 11″ long (5 pins).
Boning Heavily boned; 34 steel bones not including busk. Most of the ones around the side are spiral steel; double boned on the seams and additional bones in the center of the panels. Another two steel flats sandwiching the grommets on each side at the back.
Grommets 26 grommets total, 5mm two-part Prym eyelets with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – no splits, there are some that didn’t roll perfectly, but there is no fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Zero spring.
Price At the time of recording this video, a made-to-measure, unembellished underbust corset is £200 (about $310) and overbusts start around £300.

Final Thoughts:

This corset was used in my “corset seasoning” mini series a number of weeks ago – anyone who had watched those videos will know that this review doesn’t tell the whole story of my ups and downs with this corset. I was originally upset that my mini series didn’t run as smoothly as anticipated, but over time I’ve come to agree with viewers that a “perfect” seasoning process wouldn’t have been half as useful, as I wouldn’t have been able to show people what is normal wear and what is atypical during seasoning, or offer troubleshooting/ solutions to issues as they were encountered. You’re welcome to learn more about how this corset wore in over time by reading or viewing the mini series here. (I do promise to catch up on the written versions!)

Much of this corset was left to the creative liberty of the maker. I had provided my natural measurements, gave suggestions of silhouettes and shapes that I liked, and requested a specific silk from Silk Baron. At the time that I received my mockup to test the fit, the maker mentioned that she was not able to get the specific colour of silk I wanted, and offered some complimentary embellishment as compensation. The change in colour was subtle and I didn’t need to match the corset with a pre-existing skirt or anything, so this wasn’t a huge issue for me at the time. I chose the gold lace to go along with the shade of green silk provided. The crystals/rhinestones weren’t discussed; they were a surprise. Once again, not a huge issue for me, but if you are the type to want to know exactly what you’re receiving, please be very specific before ordering.

The turnaround time of this corset was approximately 5 months, which is a longer duration than I’ve experienced from other corset makers – there seem to have been some complications, and the maker is very busy. If you plan to commission a corset, be sure to contact her at least 6 months ahead of time, in order to give your corset a proper break-in session prior to your event. She mentions that at the moment she is not accepting new orders, but she normally only accepts commissions on an extreme case-by-case basis.

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Responding to Media Sensationalism… Again.

One of my friends linked me to Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home yesterday evening, in which one reporter uncovers the dangers of living in the Victorian era. Not surprisingly, corsets were featured (the corset segment starts around the 17:50 mark).

I would like to address some of the concerns mentioned in the video. Now, I’m not going to make sweeping generalizations and say that corsets are everyone’s friend. I don’t believe that everybody should wear corsets and I don’t deny that injuries from corsets have occurred on occasion. But I’m willing to believe that corset-related injuries were more the exception than the norm – just like injuries from everyday beauty products today, like:

  • high heels (bunions, broken toes, hammer toes, corns, modification of posture/weight distribution, broken and sprained ankles)
  • hairstyling products (thermal burns, chemical burns and severe allergies to certain products)
  • pierced ears (infections, keloid scarring, tissue necrosis)

I could go on.

Anyways – onto addressing some of the concerns in the video:

 

  • Liver being pushed upwards, and grooves forming in the liver – yes, I don’t doubt that the liver moves. All organs in your peritoneal cavity are designed to move. If they weren’t designed to move, then pregnancy, exercise, stretching, or even digesting your food (peristalsis) would kill you. Once again, look up nauli kriya on Youtube – the intestines (and presumably everything above it, like the liver, pancreas and stomach) are pushed up into the ribcage using one’s own muscles. Maybe I’m insensitive, but indentations of organs don’t irk me, because I’ve seen from dissecting various organisms in biology lab that organs have indentations from other organs as it is. If you have a large amount of visceral fat, or if you a fetus inside you, you will also experience considerable organ compression.
  • The stomach moving downwards – Ann Grogan (Romantasy) and Fran Blanche (Contour Corsets) both vouch that the stomach actually moves upwards instead of down. Also, the stomach (and intestines) are not solid: they’re hollow membranous organs, often full of food/waste and air, which get pushed out when a corset is properly worn and slowly cinched down. ***Note, as of October 2014, we now have MRI evidence of the stomach and liver moving upwards.
  • Uterine prolapse – I did agree with the woman in the video as she said that the corset may exacerbate pre-existing problems; that is, the corset may not have caused uterine or vaginal prolapse per se, but if the pelvic floor had already been weakened, the extra intra-abdominal pressure may exacerbate this condition. My article on corsets and the reproductive system.
Screencap from the documentary: Lipscomb's tidal volume, uncorseted (red line) and corseted (blue line). Y axis depicts volume from 0.2L to 2L. X axis shows time: blue area = at rest, green area = during exercise, pink area = recovery
Screencap from the documentary: Lipscomb’s tidal volume, uncorseted (red line) and corseted (blue line). Y axis depicts volume from 0.2L to 2L. X axis shows time: blue area = at rest, green area = during exercise, pink area = recovery
  • The reporter’s experiment on respiration/ cardiac output during exercise – it is undeniable that the corset (especially Victorian overbust corset that is restrictive enough to fully support the breasts) is capable of reducing the lung capacity. Due to reduced capacity, the body compensates by taking higher and more frequent breaths to maintain the same amount of oxygen exchange. The conclusion of the experiment was that the reporter took in an average of 200-300 mL more air with each breath. But they’re still not telling the whole story:
    Photo from Hole’s Human Anatomy and Physiology, 8th edition (1999). This graph is actually of the average male – a female has a slightly smaller total capacity at about 4L. Click through to read more.

     

  • The total lung capacity in an average woman is about 4L (4000 mL). The vital capacity (which does not take into account residual volume) is about 3L (3000 mL).
  • The average tidal volume (uncorseted) is about 500 mL. So the tidal volume while corseted is an average of 750 mL.
  • This means that the corset has caused about a 10% increase in breathing, compared to vital capacity (not even the total capacity).
  • Also consider that it was the first day she tried lacing up (so she wasn’t adapted to wearing a corset), she was wearing the corset over a sweater (so her internal measurement was even smaller than 24 inches), and it was an overbust corset (which restricted more of her ribcage than an underbust would), and then did she did cardio exercise (which isn’t recommended while wearing corsets to begin with). Most women today wear underbust corsets which stop lower on the ribcage, they wear the corset over a very thin liner, and a well-made corset today is properly fitted to the body, rather than Victorian corsets which were sometimes made to force the body into an ideal shape to fit clothing of the day.
  • Note the spoon busk that curves around the tummy, hip gores, and expandable side ties to accommodate a growing belly. Some of these corsets also had flaps at the bust to allow for nursing post-partum.

    Women of higher class were tightlaced to reflect that they didn’t have to run around the house. The working/ industrial class and servants did wear corsets, but laced loosely to accommodate for the high amount of activity. One would also consider it insulting to “show up” the  woman of the house by having a more fashionable silhouette than she had.

  • Pregnancy corsets – I don’t doubt that women who were trying to hide their baby bump by tightlacing during pregnancy could have resulted in (possibly/probably deliberate) terminations. But pregnancy corsets were designed to accommodate a growing belly by having adjustable ties around the tummy, while providing back support for the gestating mother.
  • Pneumonia/ tuberculosis – if a corseted woman contracted a respiratory infection, then the corset may have contributed to exacerbating the condition since the woman would not be able to cough up the sputum and clear her lungs. But whether the corset actually caused women to contract the infection in the first place is unclear. Both pneumonia and TB are bacterial infections, commonly spread in a time where germ theory was non-existent or just being discovered. Whether corsets were the cause of respiratory infections is somewhat disputed. Some sources say that the corset may have prevented contraction of pulmonary TB (consumption). (Nevertheless, I do not condone wearing corsets if you have any kind of respiratory infection.) I have an article on the respiratory system here.

    Susan B Anthony ca. 1900, wearing a corset around age 80.
  • The dress reform and the women’s suffrage movement were not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they were still two distinct movements. Many female suffragists (sometimes distinct from the boorish “suffragettes”) still wore corsets, including Susan B. Anthony (often called the mother of the women’s rights movement).
  • Broken and deformed bones – I agree that corseted individuals with bone issues such as rickets may result in a higher risk of distorted ribs, but this is not a common case today. In fact, a 2015 anthropological study on the skeletons of impoverished women in the Victorian era showed that although there was some rib distortion, age markers of these women showed that they all reached and in some cases exceeded the life expectancy of the time.
  • The comment around timepoint 29:45 “There are stories of ribs breaking and piercing the lung underneath.” disappointed me – it’s difficult to tell sometimes what is a factual report or simply an urban legend. Whether or not these stories are true, Sarah Chrisman explains in her book that “ribs” also referred to the whalebone or reed that was used as boning in the corset, which can become dry and brittle over time – so broken “ribs” are said to often describe the ribs of the corset, not of the human body. If you’ve ever had a bra bone that pokes into you, you can imagine the discomfort. If a whalebone were to snap, a sharp shard could perhaps puncture the skin of the wearer – but as flexible steel is now used in corsets, this problem is almost unheard of in higher quality corsets unless the garment has been abused for years.

Well, this was a long post. Hopefully it cleared up some popular misconceptions about corsets in the Victorian era.

What were your thoughts and reactions on the segment?

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The 5 most important factors of an OTR corset

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). If you’re interested in watching the video instead of reading the article, you’re welcome to do so here:

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:

1. Strength

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.

3. Price

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!

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Corset seasoning sessions 11, 12 and 13 – final observations

Over the weekend, I finished up seasoning this corset with seasoning sessions 11, 12 and 13, totaling 30 hours of wearing this corset at a 2-inch reduction for about 2-3 hours at a time. The entire seasoning period was about 2 weeks. This article aims to recap the changes that I feel while wearing the corset, and changes to the corset itself as time has passed.

How the corset feels on me after two weeks of seasoning:

  • I’m able to lace the corset about 0.5 – 1 inch smaller than I had on the first day, while still keeping within the 2″ guidelines (from 26″ corseted from a 27.5″ natural waist on the first day, to 25″ corseted with a 27″ natural waist on the last day of seasoning)
  • The ribs don’t feel as restrictive; they cup smoothly around my ribcage
  • The waist hooks under my ribcage and doesn’t ride up on me, and the corset no longer feels “wobbly”
  • Some wrinkles around the hips have smoothed over
  • There are no hot spots or area of uncomfortable pressure. There is no irritation or poking from any corners or bone tips. The corset has conformed to the curve of my spine.
  • I’m relaxed and have a comfortable posture in the corset; my muscles aren’t fighting the corset and I feel that I would be able to accommodate a larger reduction.

At this point, now that the corset is properly seasoned, I will begin to gradually increase the hours each day as comfortable, and then start to close the corset more in the back, until I’m able to wear it closed for the official corset review.

I’m going to go over what is normal and what is not normal in a hypothetical corset after a proper 2-week seasoning period. The points in bold are what I experienced during this seasoning session:

  What’s normal What’s not normal
Bones by the grommets A bit of distortion of the fabric due to tension

Bones may become slightly more flexible along its proper axis, to hug the lumbar area more, and not dig into the tailbone

Back bones permanently bent, kinked, warped or twisted in their boning channels.

Bones popping out or wearing away the fabric of the channels.

Fabric around the grommets Some wrinkling of the fabric around the grommet panel may be normal Grommets pulling away, or the fabric around the grommets are starting to fray, or grommets feel wiggly or loose
Fabric around the waistline of the corset Tension in the thread around the waistline

Some fabric pulling or distorting around the waistline, and seams looking a bit wobbly when off the body

A bit of horizontal wrinkling, especially in the side-back, or over the front hip, particularly in an OTR/ standard-sized corset
*Note that a well-made corset may actually have some wrinkles smooth out over time

Broken threads or gaps where there are no stitching

Ripped stitches or fabric, no matter how small

Lining layer Some usual wrinkling of the lining and minor tension on the threads of the lining (although the lining shouldn’t take any tension if it is not the strength fabric) Broken stitching or gaps in the lining

 

If you have any other points to add regarding what is normal or not normal when you season your corsets, I would love to know! Leave me a comment either under this post, or on Youtube.

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10th Corset Seasoning session – possible causes of headache/tension while corseted

I’ve been wearing the corset a total of 24 hours (of a minimum seasoning time of about 30 hours). I’m now quite comfortable in this corset, and the corset is wrapping around my body very nicely – I’m noticing negligible change from today’s seasoning session compared to the previous couple of sessions. Another person had written me about their corset giving them a migraine, which I’d like to address:

Why might one get a headache, neck ache or tense back while wearing a corset?

While I’d like to remind everyone that I’m not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one on the internet, there are several possible reasons I can personally think of that might cause tension, soreness or headaches while corseted.

  • it may be due to holding a posture that you’re not accustomed to, and subsequently getting sore/tense and knotted back muscles. It’s also important not to tie your corset too tight or too long such that you experience pain or discomfort, as people in discomfort have a tendency to round their shoulders and tense their muscles – you want to be comfortable, relaxed, and sitting with your shoulders down and your chest open. (If it’s too late and you do have some muscle tension, I offer some stretching ideas in the video, like lying with a pile of pillows or a squishy large ball between your wingbones to open up the chest –  and I also suggest bumming a massage off one of your good friends to loosen the knots)
  • it may be caused by dehydration (drink more water while you’re corseted, even if you feel you don’t need it – I personally notice that symptoms of dehydration come on much quicker while I’m corseted).
  • it could be caused by hypertension – although not all headaches are caused by high blood pressure, and not everyone with high bp may experience headaches, there is a positive correlation between headaches and elevated bp, so do make sure your blood pressure is in a healthy range and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have before starting to wear corsets. I talk more about this in my article about Corsets and Blood Pressure here.
I should also add (AGAIN) that pain while corseted IS NOT NORMAL. Whether it’s in your abdomen, in your hip, in your neck, head or big toe, you should NOT feel pain in a well-fitted, properly worn corset. Please practice some common sense when you’re corseted and don’t force yourself down more than you’re ready for any reason. Got it? Good.

Changes in the visible wear to the corset after the 10th seasoning session is negligible, although I was able to get in touch with the maker about getting some matching silk to cut down and change the binding, to fix the fraying area. Some of the crystals have started to become slightly loose (my fault) which I show in the video.

 

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9th Corset Seasoning session – the difference between normal corset ‘tenderness’ and inappropriate pain

After this corseting session, I estimate that I’ve worn the corset a total of 22 hours (for a minimum of 30 hours of seasoning). In reality, I squeezed in two break-in sessions on the same day (the  8th session in the morning and the 9th session at night). Because I wore this corset a total of about 5 hours that one particular day (two 2.5-hour sessions), I do feel a few differences in how my body is responding to the corset:

  • This corset is curvier than the corset I was wearing in the mid-afternoon so there’s more of a “stretching feeling” in my obliques compared how I felt in my less curvy corset. I compare the stretch in my obliques to that stretching feeling that one would experience after working out and stretching their hamstrings. It may feel warm, not quite stinging but perhaps tingling on the sides of your torso, but you don’t want it to feel like it’s “burning” or “ripping”.
  • I also feel some pressure and tenderness in the back and wrapping around the sides of my ribcage, which feels as if the corset is gently guiding my 12th rib forward. I compare the feeling of my ribs shifting to wearing a mouth retainer – it’s a little sore or achy if pressure is put on it directly, but I know that this tenderness will subside after a few hours or a day. When I take off my corset, I gently stretch my torso by bending it from side to side to alleviate this feeling of pressure.

Of course every person is different in how they feel in a corset, because every body is a different shape and size, each person’s nervous system is wired slightly differently, etc. But hopefully by my sharing these experiences, it will better help you to understand where your ‘limit’ is – the difference between a sensation and real discomfort or pain, and use this knowledge to loosen or take off your corset when you feel that’s no longer benefiting you.

This is also why I get irritated when people say “no pain, no gain” or that “corseting must always hurt the wearer” because it tells me that this person has corseted down tighter than their body was ready for, or worn the corset longer than was proper for their experience level, or had been wearing a corset that was simply the wrong shape or poor quality. Corseting doesn’t have to be a painful experience, and for many people it’s just the opposite; it can alleviate chronic pain whether physical or emotional.

Like I mentioned in my “Corsets, Nerves and Pain” video, if you are the type of person who is extremely sensitive to pressure, there is nobody forcing you to lace down further than what feels comfortable for you. Anyone who chastises you for not being able to lace down as much or as quickly as they can, they’re a fool who simply does not understand how each human body is built differently and has different limits. If you really want to try corseting but even 1 inch waist reduction feels unbearably tight for you, then you can wear your corset with zero reduction, until you just get used to maintaining an erect posture in the corset – after this point, you might want to lace down just 1/4″ (about 5-6mm) until you get used to that. There is nothing wrong with slow and steady.

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8th seasoning session – commonalities between breaking in corsets and shoes

Today I’m up to around 19 hours of wear, and the mend is still holding up well. Although I’m a bit more delicate today than I have been in the past (before the tear happened), I’m reasonably more comfortable than I was yesterday. As I begin to trust this corset more again as time goes on, I will probably learn to totally relax in this corset again.

Recently someone asked whether it’s okay to start wearing your corset all day immediately after the seasoning process (i.e. immediately after the 30 hours of seasoning are done, can I shut the corset immediately and wear it all day)?

Even though I can wear a well-seasoned corset up to about 16 hours a day, I try not to do that with freshly seasoned corsets. After seasoning, I’ll gradually increase the hours of the corset so that I’m wearing it at least 10-12 hours, and then I will start to lace it down tighter from there. There are a couple reasons that I do this:

  • So I don’t put too much pressure on the corset all at once and give it undue strain.
  • So I can test how my body reacts to the corset – I want to make sure that I won’t develop sores on my body, and don’t put more pressure on my body than it is ready for.

It’s a similar situation to breaking in a new pair of nice high heels. How my feet react to these heels when I’m just wearing it around the house on carpet and sitting down most of the time, isn’t necessarily reflective of how my feet will feel if I’m dancing on a hardwood floor for six hours. In that same vein, seasoning your corset at a light reduction, and wearing your corset completely closed during an all-day event may feel very different.

For the same reason that I bring a pair of comfy flats in my purse (if I need to change out of my heels), I will often bring a change of clothing or a spare corset to a special event. It’s always good to be prepared and have alternative fashion options when you need to listen to your body and either loosen your corset or take it off completely.

In the video, I also discuss what’s normal wear and tear when you choose a fashion fabric that is relatively delicate like dupioni silk. Although silk is supposed to be one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, it can still show wear! Especially in an iridescent silk like this one, which is violet-shot-green (when it becomes damaged, it loses its iridescence). If you’d like to see the wear to the corset, it’s available for viewing here:

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Storing your contemporary hoopskirts

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!