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Contessa Gothique Semi-Mesh Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Contessa Gothique Semi-Mesh Underbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is about 11″ long, from the true underbust to lap (top of the “sweetheart”) is 12″, and the side length is 10″. This is made to my measurements. Hourglass silhouette, just a very slightly rounded ribcage but bordering on wasp. Not quite longline.
Material 2 layers no matter which panel you’re looking at; the coutil panels have black spot broche on the outside, black herringbone coutil on the inside. Mesh panels have a more coarse/ sturdy mesh on the outside, and a more delicate tulle-like mesh on the inside.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Seams appear to have been top-stitched with the two mesh layers sandwiched within the 2 coutil layers. Boned on the seams and also in the middle of the panels.
Binding Bias binding in strong spot broche, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished neatly on the inside.
Waist tape A 1″ wide black waist tape – exposed on the inside of the mesh, but sandwiched between the layers of coutil.
Modesty panel Floating modesty panel made from spot broche and steel bones, contoured so it matches the panel shapes in the center back. Also has 1″ wide modesty placket under the busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk with 5 pins (equidistantly set), about 10 inches long.
Boning 22 bones (not including busk or modesty panel), 18 are 1/4″ wide spiral steel; and then 4 flat steels, 1/4″ wide beside the grommets.
Grommets 22 2-part eyelets total, size #x00 (very teeny!) with small flange; spaced closer together at the waist so there is more control while lacing. Absolutely no wear/fraying/pulling out.
Laces 1/4″ flat black cotton shoelace style laces.
Price At the time I’m writing this, a semi-mesh corset made to your measurements starts at $280.

Final Thoughts:

The same semi-mesh corset as it appears on the website

This is my prettiest summer corset. I love how the cool mesh is not only utilitarian, but the sheerness of the alternating panels also adds some visual interest, and the corset immediately matches any shirt I’m wearing underneath. ;) I wouldn’t have a problem showing this corset over my clothing in the summertime, unlike my other two corsets which I ordered to be more or less designed for under-clothing use. There is quite a bit going on in this corset at one time – spot broche, sheer panels, heavy corded lace appliqué on the hips, Swarovski crystals – but as it’s all black, the embellishment is understated and sophisticated, and it all blends together quite nicely.

I’m quite impressed at how this corset has held up over time; I don’t wear it everyday, but the fine mesh is much more delicate than in my other mesh pieces, yet it shows almost no wear. There is a strong “scaffolding” in the corset created by the strong spot broche surrounding the mesh on all sides (including the binding), added spot broche external boning channels in the center of the panels, and of course the sturdy waist tape. The hardware of the corset (busk and 2-part eyelets) are both black as well, creating a seamless overall look. I appreciate May’s extreme attention to detail. You can learn more about Contessa Gothique corsets on May’s website, and if you’d like to know more about the construction of this corset, her Foundations Revealed article is here.

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Timeless Trends Short Underbust Corset Review

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

Fit, length Center front is about 8″ long and the shortest part of the corset (close to the side seam, from underbust to lap) is about 6.5″ – so this corset would be able to fit short waisted wearers. Gives an extremely slim silhouette; the ribcage is about 2″ larger than the waist, and the hips are about 3-4″ larger than the waist.
Material 3 layers; the outer nude/sand poly fabric is fused to twill interlining. Lining also in twill.
Construction Seams appear to have been lock-stitched with seams pressed open; the layers of fabric secured to one another by stitching in the ditch, with the boning sandwiched between the two layers of twill.
Binding Bias binding in matching colour and fabric; machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape A 1″ wide invisible waist tape – sandwiched between the two layers of twill.
Modesty panel No back lacing protector, no front placket.
Busk Standard flexible busk with 4 pins (equidistantly set), about 7 inches long. Further reinforced by a flat steel on either side of the busk.
Boning 26 bones (not including busk), 20 are 1/4″ wide spiral steel; 6 flat steels, 3/8″ wide, beside the busk and grommets.
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with small/moderate flange; absolutely no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommet.
Laces 1/2″ wide, single-face satin ribbon. Holds fine for my purposes; I have only ever once experienced SF satin ribbon snapping (after 1.5 years of use, after I ironed it). The laces you get depend on the style of the corset, so be sure to look at the back of the corset to know whether you’ll be receiving ribbon or shoelace.
Price Most are $89 USD or £65 in the UK when not on clearance.

Final Thoughts:

Timeless Trends nude cincher as it appears on the website

This short underbust was a surprise when I first tried it on. I was so used to having at least 6″ space in the ribcage and about 8″ space in the hips compared to the waist, like my standard-length underbust corset from Timeless Trends. However, their short corsets are much slimmer than this, having only a couple of inches flare at the top and bottom. For this reason, I really recommend this corset primarily for those who have quite slim hips to begin with, and/or only carry a lot of their weight around their abdomen. This corset would mostly be marketed to those who would like a corset-belt fashion to accentuate their outfits without having too much waist reduction. It would likely fit best if you ordered a size up from what you usually buy (i.e. about 2-3 inches smaller than your natural waist).

The quality of construction is still the same; in the several years I’ve owned their corsets, I have never once had an issue with a bone poking through, a seam ripping, a grommet coming loose etc. At worst, I had heard of the busk being bent and a pin popping off (which can happen to even the best busks if not handled properly) from one person who achieved nearly 10 inches reduction in the waist in one of their longline corsets. If seams do have a gap, it’s considered a manufacturing flaw that is easily rectified with their exchange policy. I think Timeless Trends’ presence in the corset industry would be much stronger if only their corsets would accommodate more of a curve.

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Dressing with your Corset: Playing with Necklines

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!

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Setting waist training goals – focusing on proportion

Back in 2010, I made a two-part video mini-series on waist training 101 – the basics that you should know before you start any corset training regimen. The very first thing I mentioned in those videos were setting goals for yourself – what waist size would you like to have, and why? Sometimes a beginner will tell me, “I want to have a 24 inch waist.” Well, do you want that to be your corseted measurement, or your natural measurement? One takes much more work than the other. (I had mentioned in a previous video that if you want a natural 24″ waist, you may have to lace down to 20″ or even less in the corset to be able to maintain that natural waist measurement.)

I also know women who have started out close to a 34″ waist, and want to be able to close an 18″ corset. While that’s certainly aiming for the stars and I don’t want to shoot down your dreams, it will likely take you several years and several corsets to properly train down to that point. Also, have you considered what an 18″ waist would like like on your frame? An 18″ waist may look out of place if you are 5’10” and 180 lbs. But for a petite woman who is 4’11” tall and weighs perhaps 100 lbs, an 18″ waist may not look out of place at all on this  woman. Instead of focusing on arbitrary numbers for your waist training goals, perhaps you should consider proportion instead as a way to determine your ultimate corseted goal. Below you’ll see a few examples (or you can just watch the video above to learn the same ratios):

Method A: The waist circumference = 0.7 x (hip circumference)

 

Excellent example of where to measure your waist and full hip to determine your ratio. Picture from HealthCentral.com

This equation has been touted by doctors and athletes for years as being the modern accepted “healthy” and “attractive” waist-to-hip proportion. Women with a natural waist below 0.7x(hip circumference) often have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as it’s often a marker of carrying less visceral fat (the fat that physically chokes the organs in the peritoneal cavity, and is also metabolically more active than subcutaneous fat, releasing hormones that can lead to metabolic abnormalities). If a woman with a 40″ hip circumference were to calculate her goal waist based on this equation, then her goal waist circumference would be 0.7 *(40 inches) = 28 inches.

Method B: The waist circumference = your thigh circumference

Whether this goal is reasonable/ attainable often depends on your body shape. I have seen many pear-shaped women with shapely thighs (likely between 25-30 inches in circumference) because they gain their weight in their hips, thighs and bottom, often leaving the waist naturally small. In this situation, this method may be quite attainable. However if you are naturally an apple shape and you have a tendency to gain around your middle, while having thin legs and thighs (close to 16-20″ in circumference), this may not be the best goal for you.

Method C: The width of your hips = 1.618 x (your waist width)

This is likely the oldest equation. It’s based on phi, (aka the Golden Mean, formed from the Fibonacci sequence) and it is the ratio/ proportion that animals and humans alike are able to innately detect. This proportion is seen everywhere from the crest of waves and the form of a spiral galaxy, to the seeds in a sunflower and the honeycombs of bees. The closer that a person’s proportions adhere to the Golden Mean, the more attractive they appear and the healthier they seem to be overall. When it comes to setting your goals in this manner, you will need a stiff measuring tape, ruler or pair of calipers, and a mirror or someone to take your picture because this proportion is based on the planar measurement (the width of your hips while facing head-on) rather than the circumference. A woman whose hips are 14 inches wide will calculate their waist width as such:

Waist width = (14 inches)/ 1.618 = 8.7 inches.

With corsets, many of them pull the sides of the waist in primarily, bringing the waist in from an “oblong” shape more towards a proper circle. If you imagine that the waist is a perfect circle, then the width of the waist is also the diameter. From this, you can calculate your goal waist circumference if you wish = (8.7 inches)x 3.14 = 27 inches.

 In this situation, the waist measurement for methods A and C are actually pretty similar, but on you it may not be – method C would depend on how much of your hip circumference is distributed from side-to-side (i.e. hips or “saddlebags”), vs distributed front to back (in a full low-hanging tummy or a protruding bottom).

If you don’t like to crunch numbers, then you can simply invest in a “Fibonacci Gauge” or Golden Mean calipers, which are made with 3 “prongs” – no matter how wide or narrow you hold the calipers, the width of the larger gap in the prongs will always = (width of the smaller gap in the prongs x 1.618) so you will always be able to measure and mark out the Golden Mean. On any given day, no matter what your weight, you can use these calipers to mark out the width of your hips, and then compare that to the width of your waist using strictly proportion, but without having to focus on numbers. I personally love numbers, which is why I find the study of phi so fascinating, but I understand it’s not everyone’s thing. This Ebay store has the least expensive calipers I have found – I’ve already purchased 3 and given two to my friends. Do support a phi carpenter if you can.

So you can see, there are many ways that you can set waist training goals for yourself, using your own body’s shape and frame as a reference rather than using arbitrary numbers (which may or may not be realistic for you). It’s using what you already have to an advantage so you can know on a mathematical (and also a natural, almost subconscious) level, whether your waist is truly in proper balance and proportion with the rest of your body. You can also watch my video on waist-hip proportions and using the calipers in the video below.

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The Bad Button Teal Underbust Corset Review

This post is a summary of the Bad Button Teal Underbust Corset Review video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length This corset was a sample from Etsy, so it was not made to measure – however any corset you commission from The Bad Button will be custom fit to your measurements, so the measurements of my piece is a bit moot. But for the curious: Center front is about 11.5″ high, but on the sides the corset is 9″. The silhouette is an hourglass, the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are also about 10″ bigger than the waist.
Material Likely 3 main layers (some panels are 4 layers): fashion fabric is medium weight teal/cerulean satin, backed onto a strength layer (The Bad Button always uses coutil for custom commission) and a beautiful decorative fan-themed lining made from lightweight cotton.
Construction 11 panels, with an extra wide center front panel (closed front). Sandwiched bones (double boned on the seams) and floating liner. No garter tabs.
Binding Matching teal satin bias strips, hand-finished with an invisible stitch; incredibly tidy.
Waist tape Waist tape is perhaps 1/2″ or 3/4″ wide extending through all panels of the corset – invisibly secured between the lining and interlining of the corset.
Modesty panel No modesty panel in this sample, but if you requested one in a custom commission it can be accommodated. Closed front, so no placket needed.
Busk No busk (closed front) – instead, there are four 1/4″ wide flat steel bones keeping the center front sturdy. I call these “magic bones” because the stitching for the boning channels are not visible on the outside or inside of this corset – this helps to not distract the eye from the embellishment (Embellishment will be covered in “final thoughts”)
Boning 30 total bones (including the four magic bones in front). Double boned on the seams with 1/4″ wide flat steels on the straight seams, and 1/4″ spirals on curved seams and on the sides for greater curve. Flat steels sandwich the grommets in back.
Grommets 22 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets (in black to match the embellishment) with medium/large flange; set equidistantly – held in very well.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-faced satin in black – extremely long.
Price At the time that I’m writing this, to commission this piece (or something similar) custom made for you would be $475 USD.

Final Thoughts

This is the second time I have reviewed a Bad Button corset, and I’m even more enamoured with this piece than I was with the previous Bridal piece. The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets is run Alisha in Kentucky, USA, whose meticulousness and creativity is nicely demonstrated in the embellishment on this sample underbust – the base corset I could tell started very smooth and plain, featuring the “magical bones” that keep the center front flat, yet do not show any channel stitching on the outside nor inside. This creates a beautiful canvas for the black corded and beaded lace appliqué which is laid across the top edge, featuring a large decorative beaded motif in the center front, with more small bits of appliqué on the bottom sides to accentuate the curves of the hip. Each bit of lace was hand-stitched in painfully tiny stitches. Additionally, there is some simple V flossing at the bottom of the corset, not only securing the flat steels in the corset but also adding balance to the embellishment overall. The closer I inspect this corset, the more I realize that there is quite a bit happening all at once, but it all blends in seamlessly with one another and they play off one another rather than overwhelming the little corset. The finishing must have taken an incredible amount of time and does not go unappreciated!

Alicia’s smooth, wrinkle-free pattern also shows her attention to fusing the fabrics, reinforcing them and possibly roll-pinning so as not to put too much pressure on the satin shell. Her patterning skills are also excellent in that this corset only gives me a couple of inches reduction, the pattern works to beautifully accentuate the waist and make the hips look fuller, making me look much curvier than even many of my smaller-waisted corsets.

If you would like to see some other creations by The Bad Button, visit the main website or Etsy store.

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Waist Training vs Tight Lacing – what’s the difference?

In a previous article, I mentioned that close to half the emails I receive are from people wanting to know what is the “best” corset for waist training or tight lacing – but today I want to touch on the topic of waist training vs tight lacing (or tightlacing or tight lacing) because it’s very important to know that they are not synonymous, and the definitions vary depending on the source.


Some corset companies use the terms interchangeably, which can be confusing or possibly even dangerous because saying that a corset is designed for “waist training”, a client may come along with an entirely different idea of what “waist training” really is, and may end up using the corset in a way that it was not designed for. So when a corset company (especially an OTR company) claims it to be appropriate for waist training, be very careful about how they define the terms waist training vs tight lacing before you decide to invest. Email them and ask them to get more specific, if possible.

I have talked about the book Corset Magic before (written by Ann Grogan, owner of Romantasy – you can find the book here). The book is primarily about waist training, but there is an entire chapter featuring different people’s arguments about what is and what is not considered proper “tight lacing”. After 3 years, I still refer beginners to this manual because it is a wealth of information.

It seems that many people find it difficult to come to a consensus about what “tight lacing” is and what “waist training” is. I’ve talked about this with other lacers, other trainers/trainees, other corseters/corsetees (as different people also define themselves by different terms) to try and come up with a definition that everyone can agree with. So far, this has been rather unsuccessful – but I will explain the definitions of tight lacing and waist training as I have come to understand them:

WHAT IS TIGHTLACING?

  • Some people say that tight lacing is anything beyond a 4 inch reduction. This may be challenging if you have a natural 24″ waist, but easy if you have a 40″ waist.

    This is my main waist training corset. I waist train to be able to achieve a certain tight laced reduction.
    This Contour corset is my main waist training corset. I waist train primarily to achieve a certain tight laced reduction.
  • Others say that tightlacing is anything more than 20% reduction, which would obviously be different if you are starting from a different size. This would be the equivalent of a person with a 24″ waist lacing down to about 19″, while the person with the 40″ natural waist being able to lace down to 32″.
  • Still others say that tight lacing is arbitrary and dependent on the individual’s personal squishiness, tolerance to restriction, etc. Therefore two people with the same starting waist may each cinch down to a different point, they may have a different apparent hip spring, etc. but as long as they are laced to the point where it is a ‘challenging’ (but not painful) reduction, each may be considered a tight lacer in their own right.

At the time that I’m writing this, own views of tightlacing hover somewhere between the second and third points. In my own experience, I can differentiate between “lightly laced” (feels like nothing) “moderately laced” (snug), “tight laced” (challenging but not painful) and then “over laced” (which is where you may begin to feel unwell or in pain – in this case, you have pushed yourself too hard and I’d advise not getting to this point for any reason, not even to “test yourself”).

Nevertheless, almost everyone I’ve talked to seem to agree that tightlacing is something that can be done “once in awhile” – for photo shoots, performances, special events etc. In the case of waist training, this is not something that can only be done “once in awhile”.

WHAT IS WAIST TRAINING?

Just like weight training, voice training or marathon training, waist training is something that you work at over time. It involves a certain intention, end goal, consistent work and dedication.

I can’t lace down by 4 inches. Can I still be called a waist trainer?

If you are just starting out with waist training and you cannot tolerate high reductions, then you can still call it waist training if you want. Some people wear their corsets all day, every day at a 2-3 inch reduction, which to most lacers would likely not be classified as “tightlacing”. But I know a few individuals who have actually noticed a difference in themselves while lightly laced if they consistently do this for 6 months or more. If you’re petite with a natural 22″ waist and you can’t lace down that much – or even if you’re larger but you just can’t tolerate a lot of pressure – but you are dedicated and try to wear your corset on a near-daily basis, don’t let anybody tell you “that’s not waist training”. Like I said, definitions vary depending on the source.

If you can tightlace, and you do so every day (even if you only do it because you enjoy it and don’t have particular goals), some might be consider this to be waist training as well. You can be a tightlacer without waist training, and you can waist train without being a tightlacer (to a point). But many people are both at the same time, if they can achieve high reductions for long durations on a daily basis.

Why do people waist train? (What are their goals?)

  • Some people waist train so that they will be able to tightlace to a certain reduction – so if I want to close my 20″ corsets, I have to train to get there.
  • Many other people waist train with the intention of making their natural waist smaller even when they’re not wearing the corset.

I would argue that the vast majority of people who contact me about waist training fall into this category, so lot of the time I use this definition of waist training (if only because it’s by popular vote):

Waist training (corset training): achieving moderate to high reductions in a corset for long durations (months or years) with the intention reducing one’s natural, uncorseted waist – whether by indirect means (e.g. weight loss), or by direct means (e.g. altering muscle, ribcage and/or fat-pad morphology).

 

Is it possible to “accidentally” waist train (reduce your natural waist without intention)?

Yes, it’s possible – I know some people who wear a corset every day for medical purposes (e.g. to relieve back spasms, or to provide bust support) and many have experienced that their natural waist measurement reduces over time. Some of these have been delighted at the “unexpected perk” to wearing corsets, but several others have been annoyed or upset by this development. Continually purchasing smaller and smaller corsets is not something everyone can afford, so sizing down can occasionally be unwanted. This individual may not consider this “waist training” as they used the corset for another reason entirely, but some others might consider it “accidental” waist training.

HOWEVER – other people may consider this a “happy accident” to train their natural waist down. In one sense, this is what happened to me. I used to have corseting goals of making my natural waist smaller – and getting back down to a natural waist somewhere around 24 inches, which was where I was at when I was around 20 – 21 years old (at that time, my waist was achieved with diet/ exercise, not with corsets). These days, I don’t have the same goal of having a natural 24″ waist. The main purpose for my waist training was to be able to close my size 20″ corsets – I was waist training to achieve a tightlacing goal, and as I got closer to that goal, my natural waist dropped from 28-29 inches down to about 26.5 – 27 inches – and it would stay that way for 24 hours or more after taking off my corset. (However, if I stopped maintaining that reduction for weeks, my waist would begin to expand again). Having a naturally smaller waist was a waist training bonus for me, even though it wasn’t my primary goal.

 What corset should I look for if I want to Tight Lace?

If someone asks me what kind of corset is appropriate for tightlacing, I presume they mean something that is:

  • strong enough that it’s not going to rip the first couple times you wear it
  • gives a noticeable waist reduction and shaping, because it’s not elastic,
  • has steel bones, not plastic bones that easily warp, and
  • has a hip spring and rib spring that is wide enough that the corset will effectively cinch in the waist without squishing or pinching everything else.
  • A tightlacing corset may be either custom fit or standard size.
  • I have two video on how to shop for a tightlacing corset, whether you’re shopping in person/ in store, or if you’re shopping online.

What corset should I look for if I want to Waist Train? 

This corset has coutil strength layer, a smooth floating liner, waist tape, and carefully dispersed bones.
This custom Puimond corset has a coutil strength layer, a smooth floating liner, waist tape, and carefully dispersed bones.

If someone asks me what corset is appropriate for waist training, I presume that they will be using the corset on a daily or almost daily basis, likely for long hours and eventually at high reductions. If you intend to waist train, GO CUSTOM FIT. Even if you have rather “standard” measurements, a custom fit piece is almost always more comfortable. Many corsetieres will construct specific “waist training” corsets. Some of the differences I’ve observed with “waist training” corsets vs regular or “tight lacing” corsets amongst corsetieres:

  • waist training corsets may have higher quality and stronger materials like coutil or special corsetry broche (whereas tightlacing corsets may be made only from twill)
  • waist training corsets may be constructed with stronger seams or they may feature triple or even quadruple stitching (tightlacing corsets may have double stitching but that’s it)
  • waist training corsets sometimes have more bones, but more importantly the boning may be interspersed in such a way that it helps avoid giving the wearer pressure points. (Please note that just because a corset is double boned on the seams, doesn’t automatically means that it is suitable for waist training.)
  • waist training corsets usually have a smooth interior to prevent wrinkling or abrasion (tightlacing corsets are sometimes constructed with internal boning channels, which I find least comfortable of all construction methods)
  • waist training corsets may feature a reinforced busk/ extra wide busk, modesty panel, stronger laces and other upgrades to make your lacing experience more comfortable (tightlacing corsets may or may not include these. Please note that even for waist training corsets, some of these features may need to be purchased or requested)

All this makes a waist training corset not only more comfortable, which means you will be able to lace tighter and longer in comfort, but it also lasts longer without falling apart and overall, it’s more effective at molding your body and will be a more positive experience. You save time, you save money, and you save yourself from discomfort and frustration by choosing a higher quality corset that is made for the job you’re giving it.

THE BIG QUESTION: is it possible to waist train in an OTR, tight lacing corset?

It’s possible. You may see progress, but it might not be as comfortable compared to a waist training corset. Depending on the brand, your corset may break or stretch significantly after a few months because it wasn’t designed to take daily rigorous use.

Like I’ve said in many Youtube videos and blog posts before, an OTR corset is something that you can test the waters with and see if corseting is for you. If you are tight lacing on an occasional basis or wearing it for temporary shaping and fashion, OTR corsets are fine. But after the first OTR corset, if you want to cinch down past the advised 4-6 inches and continue sizing down in corsets, it would be worth your while (and probably your wallet) to get a well-made, properly fit corset that will hold up to the tension you put on it and last you a long time. 

If you see an OTR corset company that boasts up to 6-8 inches reduction and says they’re appropriate for waist training, and especially if they make no distinction between tight lacing and waist training, proceed with caution. Educate yourself as much as possible before investing in a corset – your body deserves the best.

How do you define tight lacing vs waist training? What do you think are the features of a good tight lacing corset vs a waist training corset? Let me know in the comments below!

You may also want to read my related article: “What is the BEST Corset Brand for Tight Lacing/ Waist Training?”

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Corset Connection (Versatile) Scarlett Overbust review (& comparison)

This entry is a summary of the review video “Versatile/ Corset Connection Scarlett Overbust Review (and Comparison!)”. If you want visual close-ups and further details, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 14″, the longest part from peak of the bust to lap is just under 16″.  Gentle sweetheart neckline, not too long on the hips – good for average to long waists. Definitely modern slim silhouette. The bust is 6″ bigger than the waist (suitable for smaller busts, A – small C cup), and the hips are about 10″ bigger than the waist.
Material 3 main layers – the outer fashion fabric is satin, stabilized/ fused for strength, lined in polyester fabric.  Newer versions are lined in herringbone coutil for custom commissions (the blush piece I showed was a display sample so lined in twill)
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). One version has sandwiched boning channels and a floating fashion layer. Depending on your request, either method of construction can be used (this method or the external boning channel method).Same basic pattern. The other version has topstitched panels, external boning channels, no floating fashion layer.
Binding Binding is made from matching strips of fashion layer material. Binding is machine stitched on both sides. There are also 6 garter tabs; in the old stock, tabs point down while in the new stock, tabs point up.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, either hidden between the layers or exposed on the inside depending on the construction method.
Modesty panel There is a 7.5″ wide modesty panel, attached to one side, covered in matching shell fabric. Also a matching unstiffened front placket.
Busk Busk is 1/2″ wide on each side and 1.5” long, with 6 pins (equidistantly spaced). Reinforced with a flat bone on each side.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset. Double boned on the seams, except for the seam that goes over the bust curve) and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets and a steel supporting the busk on each side. All flat steel bones (no spiral).
Grommets There are 36 2-part size #00 grommets (17 on each side), with a medium flange, spaced equidistantly. Rolled very nicely, few or no splits, not fraying or popping out.
Laces The laces are 1/8” wide round nylon cord. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, with no stretch – however they can often be slippery.
Price  Currently the Scarlett overbust costs $378 for the standard size. Custom fit is a $90 markup.

Final Thoughts:

Asia DeVinyl models a custom-fit Scarlett overbust

It was an interesting venture to compare the old stock Versatile Corset pieces to the new stock. The old “Antoinette” overbust from Versatile Fashions was renamed the “Scarlett” overbust when the company was sold by Ms. Antoinette over to Corset Connection. And with the changing of hands in the company, there were also a few changes to the way the materials that the corsets were constructed with as well – the current Versatile corsets include fused delicate fashion fabrics for smoothness and strength, a herringbone coutil strength layer (instead of polyester lining), and improved spacing in the grommets.

It’s worth noting that the method of assembly itself hasn’t changed that much. In the video, you can see that the red corset has sandwiched boning channels with an invisible waist tape, while the blush corset has external boning channels and exposed internal waist tape. Both these construction methods are still used today, and depending on the style you order (whether or not you want external boning channels or hidden channels), you may receive your corset constructed either way.

This corset also received 4 stars out of 4 on the Bust Test, as the bust line came up high enough on my chest to hold me in during activity. The bust is designed for smaller cups though, as it pushes everything upward – but it still contains my bust as long as it’s laced loosely enough. However if I were to go back and order this custom-fit, I would certainly request more space in the bust area and perhaps have it “cup” over and above the bust more completely. You can see other styles of the Scarlett corset in Versatile’s photo gallery, on their sale page here.

 

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A ‘Personal’ Blog: My quest for the elusive “Perfect Corset”

Today I made a video that was a bit off the cuff, but the idea had been floating in my head for a few months. It was inspired by many people – by SilentSongbyrd‘s floppy corset, by Trollsneedhugs‘ latest video on gratefulness, by HarmanHay‘s post on looking for perfection, and by the number of viewers who have suggested that I have “lost touch” with what it’s like to be a normal lacer due to how many corsets I own.

How did I get to own so many corsets anyway? I never intended to have a large collection of corsets. 

When I started this corset journey…

My front-lacing Bezerk cincher - from my very first Youtube video.
My front-lacing Bezerk cincher – from my very first Youtube video.

I had a couple of handmade corsets, a couple of OTR corsets, and the one front-lacing Bezerk corset that I thought would carry me all the way to my goal to a corseted waist of 20 inches. There were complications (the shape of that corset and the front-lacing caused pressure points on my ribs), and I stopped wearing that corset and began searching for another corset that would help me achieve my goal.

I bought other corsets in late 2010 and I practiced sewing other corsets, and each time I was “hoping” that this would be the last of it. Each time the corset came in the mail, I told myself, “THIS is going to be the one perfect corset for me – the one that will last me the next 2-5 years, maybe 10 or 20 years if it’s good quality and if I treat it well” – and that would be the end of my search. But each time, I found that it’s not right in the length here, or it makes my hip go numb there, or it causes pressure points, and I would start my search over again. I reviewed these corsets on Youtube to show the pros and cons of each style, so that others could learn from my journey/ my mistakes, and hopefully spare themselves the time, money and frustration that I had spent.

When I started reviewing corsets in my unique way, I didn’t really intend for it to become “my thing”. WKD took a chance on me to review their products, and at that time the Morticia corset was my one BIG DREAM corset – that staple, “little black dress” corset that would be with me always. But foolishly I got the wrong size (size 18″ – what was I thinking?? – which had no hope of closing over my underbust and hips) and once again I found myself disappointed. 

But by that point that I was bitten by the corset bug.

 

My Contour Corset was very close to being perfect - it just needed perhaps 1.5 - 2" more length in the underbust, and tweaking around the hips.
My Contour Corset was very close to being perfect – it just needed perhaps 1.5 – 2″ more length in the underbust, and tweaking around the hips.

That’s when the “collection” began – and I not only collect corsets, but also in a way, I began to invest more in making videos on this channel. With each successive brand I reviewed, I hoped that this would be “the one” for me. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to spend anymore on future corsets. Those that didn’t fit me well, I sold to be able to afford a different corset that I hoped would turn out right. There were corsets that I bought solely for the purpose of reviewing (due to so many requests) – but I never lost that goal in the back of my mind to find that one “perfect” corset that was comfortable, strong, and could be used everyday.

The perfect corset came really close with both my Contour Corset and Puimond Corset earlier this year. But the thing about sizing down in corsets is that the little quirks and bugs of your body come out – sometimes you can’t even predict them with a quick mockup fitting, because it requires extended use of the corset. You simply have to take note of these issues and adjust for that in your next corset. But of course, that requires a “next corset”. The corset journey can be very long and quite expensive, especially if you’re as picky as I am.

So, is it worth it to be that picky?

In my personal opinion, I’d think it is worth it to be picky – because in the case of tightlacing, good comfort also translates to health and safety. I want that custom corset that fits me perfectly. But then, I’ve heard some people argue that “the perfect corset” doesn’t exist, and you will just have to put up with a bugaboo here or there.

Given my success rate thus far, I am tempted to agree with them, but I’m not giving up yet. You don’t make compromises with an inanimate object, or negotiate with a garment and tell it to fit you better. If you don’t like something about it (and if you have the resources) then change it!… right? Or maybe after a long enough time, one has to change one’s goals to be more realistic.

So. I’ve accidentally found myself becoming a “corset hoarder”.

In this video, I show 50 of my corsets. I've acquired more since then. Send help.
In this video, I show 50 of my corsets. I’ve acquired more since then. Send help.

And I certainly have my favourites in my collection (such as my custom Sparklewren overbust which I’m unlikely to ever sell), but not the one staple underbust training corset. I don’t have that corset that is used so often that it gets a little threadbare and feels floppy, or starts to smell a little stale. I haven’t found my one perfect match yet, and I’m actually a little sad about it. But in all this, I’ve realized that this actually is a journey. I feel extremely privileged to be a ‘corset reviewer’. I really like reviewing corsets. I like being a guinea pig, I like informing my viewers and teaching them to be picky. I like helping others save money by making wiser purchases, and advising them so they can be well on their way to finding their perfect corset.

Maybe if I had found my “perfect” corset right off the bat, then I wouldn’t have learned as much – because I wouldn’t have any motivation to. Maybe I would have run out of ideas for videos and have gotten bored with Youtube. Maybe I wouldn’t have honed my corset making skills and have learned appreciated the YEARS of work that goes into the art and the architecture of corsetry. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so involved with the corset community and gotten to know so many awesome people.

I still haven’t found my perfect corset.

…but I’ve unexpectedly found something better. And I don’t know what’s down the road for me. I don’t know if I’ll continue making Youtube videos, or will even be interested in corsetry forever. I don’t know if this will ever somehow turn into a success or fizzle out – but coming up to my 3rd anniversary of making videos on Youtube, I do know that you (dear reader and viewer) have changed my life. So, thank you friends, for sticking with me through this corset journey.

(I’m still on the lookout for that corset though!)

 

Do you believe that “the perfect corset” even exists? Do you think that what constitutes as “perfect” changes over time, and that this is a journey to be enjoyed, or are you all about the end goals? Have you found YOUR perfect corset yet? Let me know in the comments below!