Contour Corsets Review (Summer Mesh Underbust)
This entry is a summary of the review video “Contour Corsets Summer Mesh Underbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:
|Fit, length||Front is about 12.5 inches long, back is 13.5″ long. Unique silhouette in which the ribcage mostly follows the natural contours, tapering a bit through the lower ribs, but nips in dramatically at the waist for an extreme hourglass shape – almost wasp-waist in silhouette. I had requested this type of ribcage – if you prefer a more natural shape, this can be accommodated. This is called a “mid-hip” cut; coming slightly over the iliac crest but not longline. Extreme hipspring. See the “Final Thoughts” section on other fitting notes.|
|Material||Primarily one layer of very strong, almost no-stretch poly mesh. I chose the “gold” color to match my medium-olive skin tone (it’s a cross-weave of a light yellow and deeper pinkish-copper). Despite being synthetic, the holes in the mesh allow my skin to breathe. Still, I always wear it with a liner underneath. Boning channels and binding are made from somewhat matching light-brown twill.|
|Construction||6 panel pattern, with most of the hip-curve between panels 3-4. At least triple-stitched: Lock-stitching between panels, seam allowances pressed open and zig-zag stitching to further stabilize the seam, then external boning channels, double-boned on the seams (external channels often contribute to an even stronger seam). No garter tabs (not requested).|
|Binding||Brown twill that matches the boning channels; machine stitched inside and outside.|
|Waist tape||None. This corset is strong enough without a waist tape, and in fact stronger than many of my corsets that do contain waist tapes. (I admit I had my doubts, but this corset has been tried and tested for nearly a year.)|
|Modesty panel||4″ wide stiffened modesty panel (lacing guard) in the back, suspended on the laces. 1″ wide modesty placket under the front closure, with a very heavy flat steel bone (essentially a boned underbusk).|
|Front closure||Not a busk! The front closure is a “stayed zip” – heavy duty metal YKK zipper, secured into twill panels with the mesh overlayed. A 1/2″ flat bone is on either side of the zipper, and a 1/4″ flat bone sits on top of either side of the zipper as well. The very stiff and heavy 1″ underbusk further stabilizes the zipper so it doesn’t buckle. This has been my first tightlacing corset with a zipper and I’ve had no isssues with it.|
|Boning||29 total steel bones. On each side, there are 10 bones in external channels, then 2 flats on either side of the grommets in the lacing system, as mentioned before another 1/2″ steel beside the zipper, another flat bone on top of the zipper, and the last 29th bone is the heavy underbusk underneath the zipper.|
|Grommets||26 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with a large flange; set closer together at the waistline; high quality – no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets|
|Laces||I opted for the heavy-duty lacing; nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up; they glide through the grommets well but hold their bow tight. Zero spring.|
|Price||The Summer Mesh underbust costs between $520 – $575 at the time of this review. The price depends on the size and other considerations (see below). Asymmetric patterns (for those with scoliosis, etc) add $100. You can see her full price list here.|
When I first recorded the review and did the “first edit”, it was nearly 20 minutes long because I had so much to say about this corset. It is like no other corset I’ve had before, so even for a review such as mine (which is on its own pretty objective, but still comparable if you read across the tables of different reviews on this site), it can’t really be compared to other corsets in my collection. The posture, the materials, the construction, the pattern/ silhouette – everything about this corset is just… different. Be prepared for a really long discussion (and as model KathTea had once said, “If this is tl;dr then corseting is probably not for you”).
Although this corset is one of my smallest, it is not my absolute smallest. My Contour Corset has a 20.5″ waist. I have two 20″ corsets from both Puimond and Jupiter Moon 3, and a 19.5″ cincher from Beespoke (although that one is nowhere close to being closed) and each of them give a totally different silhouette. I believe that the great polarized reaction received from this corset was due to the unique patterning which lends to the most dramatic silhouette of any of my corsets. This is precisely why the name of the company is called “CONTOUR Corsets”, because the contouring of the hip spring creates an illusion that makes the waist look much smaller than it actually is. (Fran used to have a video explaining this, which I’m not sure where it’s gone to now.)
Because the pattern/ cut of this corset is not typical, the measurements I took when commissioning this corset shouldn’t have been my “typical” way of doing things, either. Over the years as I worked with more corsetieres, I’ve learned to slightly “fudge” my measurements so I can predict the way that the final corset will fit. Some of the ways I tend to fudge measurements:
- I know that I have a long torso/ low waist, so I know that I need a longer-than-usual waist-to-underbust measurement. I will typically request around 5.5 or 6 inches (changes with posture) but no more, because I predict that I will need a bit of space between my bra underwire and the top of the corset to wear the corset comfortably.
- I know that I have a bothersome left hip, but rather than requesting an asymmetric pattern (which almost invariably costs more, no matter which maker), I will often simply state my iliac circumference as one inch larger than usual (I’ll ask for ~34″ instead of my usual 33″) and sometimes state my iliac bone to start about 0.5″ higher than it actually does, so the corset isn’t abrasive against my iliac bone (for some reason, even when I’m heavier I just don’t get padding around that bone).
- I know that I’m capable of reductions up to about 7″ but if the maker simply refuses to make corsets with any more than a 4″ waist reduction, then I will state my natural waist to be 1-2″ smaller than it really is. (i.e. my real waist is about 27″, but if I want a 22″ corset then I’ll say my waist is closer to 26, so to avoid winding up with a 24″ corset). I didn’t have to do this in the case of commissioning my Contour piece, though.
With other makers, this has worked beautifully. But Contour has a different way of measuring the body, and I learned a few things about drafting for bodies at higher reductions:
- My natural figure is more or less straight up and down. When corseted, curves are created (duh). Between two given fixed points, an arc will always be longer than a straight line, and the more curved the arc, the longer the line will be (yay, math). This means that as my waist is capable of greater and greater reductions, the distance between my waist and my underbust increases – and if the corset cups around the ribcage instead of creating a conical shape, this line has to be made even longer and must be drafted in.
- The same goes for the waist-to-iliac measurement at higher reductions. When uncorseted, my waist-to-iliac is typically around 3″, but when corseted this distance increases to 3.5″ or 4″. This particular corset has pre-bent bones along the side seams that contribute to the dramatic silhouette, so in this corset I notice most of the cinch in my waist along the obliques and pretty much none along the front abdominal region, which means the distance is even greater.
- Fran has also mentioned that due to the high reduction of this style, there may be a greater downward “shift” in the intestines and the area below the waist may become fuller (read: a possible inevitable lower pooch, not from fat but from organs). While the strong underbusk prevents a lot of the roundness of the lower tummy, there is a bit more space drafted below the waist to accommodate this shift.
- I also learned some things about my own body that I hadn’t known before, such as the tendency of my flesh to squish more upwards instead of downwards, and the fact that my xyphoid process is freakishly high compared to some other people’s.
All that said – because a corset maker is essentially taking all this into account and predicting a body shape and that had not yet existed on my body (and also predicting how my body would respond to the pressure), and because I had slightly messed up on the measurements based on incorrect presumptions of what she was going to do with those measurements, it turns out I needed about an inch more length at the top (this is also due to the corset being extremely posture corrective) and likely a bit less space in the hips. Lesson learned: never fudge your measurements. If you’re not sure about certain measurements, ask the maker if it is okay to take photos of the measurements to ensure that they are accurate. Because each corset maker does things a bit differently to everyone else, this is the advantage to keeping some “brand loyalty” and sticking with one maker throughout your waist training journey, because they can make modifications to your corsets as needed, and as your body changes over time.
But given the fact that there was no mockup involved and this gives a better shape than many of my corsets that did have a mockup fitting, I still think it’s pretty amazing – it’s also one of my most comfortable corsets.
My particular corset is very posture-corrective, gives a high reduction, and tapers along the ribs with increasing pressure down to the waist. However, this is not the only type of silhouette available. Fran takes into consideration your experience level and preferences, so if you only want a light reduction, she can do that. If you want less tapered ribs, she’ll do that. She can also make corsets that are more posture-corrective or more accommodating compared to mine. This is what is meant by a true bespoke piece.
This corset is sort of what turned many my preconceptions about corsetry upside down. Because of this corset, I realized that coutil is not always the most appropriate choice, and in some situations synthetic does have its advantages. This corset taught me that waist tapes are not always necessary (Jeroen Van Der Klis of Bizarre Design, who has a background in engineering like Fran, also doesn’t use a waist tape), that lock-stitching can indeed be very strong when treated properly, that flats over the sides of the corset are actually amazingly comfortable when pre-bent in the right shape, that zippers can be used effectively and can be extraordinarily strong in corsets, and the lacing system (which doesn’t bow or distort whatsoever) is a bit magical.
Because of this corset, whenever a beginner corseter asks me what are the BEST features of a well-made corset, I find myself having to add asterisks and sprinkling grains of salt all over my responses – probably to the confusion of the beginner – in order to avoid “lies-to-children” (to reference the Science of Discworld). But all this really goes to show that you really must learn and become a master of the rules, before you go breaking them.