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OOTD: Combining Dark-Side Panel Dress with Corsetry

I’m usually one to eschew the color-blocking in favor of some good old-fashioned monochrome, but I had never denied that some sneaky dark side-panel ensembles helped create a slimming figure. (I still remember back in 1999 when Victoria Beckham wore a slimming outfit onstage to camouflage her baby-bump.) More recently, the fashion piqued my interest when I saw Kate Winslet wearing this Stella McCartney dress – and I was curious as to how this style would work with a corset underneath.

Kate Winslet for Stella McCartney. Photo: Getty

Sourcing out a budget-version of the dress that was willing to ship to Canada, I decided to grab one in my “natural” size instead of my cinched size, in case I wanted to wear this dress sans-corset. When I received the dress, I realized that it was a stretchy cotton knit and I could have taken a size down. In the video you can see me play around with the dress, wearing it as intended, with a belt, and also quickly taken in at the waist to fit closer to my corset.

As it turns out, a fitted, contoured dress over a corset makes for pretty insane eye-trickery (especially when I wear my hair down and you can’t quite distinguish my dark hair from the dark side panels of the dress. Suffice it to say, this dress is staying in my wardrobe – and I may even reconsider my stance on color-blocking, and source out more fun “dark-side” shirts and dresses for my wardrobe. I will be making another video in the near future about how to avoid the pesky “corset crotch point” underneath fitted dresses, though!

What do you think about the “dark side” dress? Would you wear it with your corset?

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How to Waist Train: Comparing Corset Training Methods

In previous articles, I’ve talked quite a bit about waist training, but I’ve never actually focused on the different methods at length. Just as there is more than one path to physical fitness or other physical goals, there are also different methods of waist training. This article will outline the two most popular waist training methods, and their pros/ cons as I tried them for myself.

(Always check with your doctor before wearing corsets for any reason, and should you decide to take up waist training, remember to have your health monitored throughout your journey.) 

 

Romantasy “Roller Coaster Method”: 

My front-lacing Bezerk cincher - from my very first Youtube video.
In 2010, I went from wearing corsets occasionally to actually waist training. I started with the Roller Coaster Method.

In my very first waist training video, I mentioned that this is the method I started with. The “roller coaster” method was developed by Ann Grogan, president of Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry and waist training advisor for nearly 25 years.

Grogan outlines her roller coaster method of waist training in her manual, Corset Magic (you can watch my overview of the book here) but for those who need more guidance, she also offers personalized waist training plans and full 3-month waist training programs.

The roller coaster method can be a bit strict – it relies on you maintaining a specific waist reduction, for a certain duration of time, for a certain number of days. For instance, let’s say that your natural waist is 30” and you’re wearing the corset at 28 inches (a 2-inch reduction over the corset). You would start just by wearing your corset for a couple of hours each day, until your corset is seasoned.

  • Once you are ready, you can increase your wear by another couple of hours per day (so you’re wearing the corset for 4 hours each day instead of only 2) for several days or a week. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can once again increase your wear for several more hours per day – being mindful to always remain at 28 inches and slowly building up your tolerance for longer durations of time.
  • Once you’re able to wear your corset for over 8 hours or all day at that 28 inch measurement, you can tighten your corset just a little bit, but also drop your hours back down so you’re cinched in tighter, but wearing the corset for a shorter duration of time.
  • Just like before, over the course of days and weeks, you can slowly build up your tolerance for longer hours at that restriction. When you’re ready, tighten your corset just a tiny bit more but then drop your hours down again. Grogan has a sample outline of this method on her website on this page, for you to view freely.

This method of waist training requires you to watch the clock carefully, and to also monitor your reduction daily or multiple times a day, using a tape measure over the corset. If you need a really concrete instructional guide for waist training and you enjoy structure and discipline, you will probably appreciate the Roller Coaster method.

 

Contour Corsets “Cycle Method”: 

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.
After a few hiatuses, I reached my waist training goal of 20″ in 2013 by using the Cycle Method.

This waist training method was first outlined by Fran Blanche, owner of Contour Corsets. The cycle method is less strict and scheduled compared to the roller coaster method, and is described as more intuitive and ‘zen’ by those who use it.

It takes into consideration the fact that your body is not always stable; it’s in a constant state of flux – your natural waist measurement can change by several inches over the course of a day just from water retention, what you eat, your menstrual cycle (if you have one), your stress levels and more. And these factors can all affect how much you’re able to comfortably lace down on a given day or even a given time of day. Because of this, it may feel more intuitive to lace down more on days and times that you’re able to tolerate this greater restriction, and lace down less on days and times that you need more space.

In other words, if the corset feels too loose, tighten it. If the corset feels too tight, loosen it. And some people may find that they need to loosen or tighten the corset many times throughout the day – there is nothing inherently wrong with this.

Fran says that with consistent wear (even when cycling your pressures), a waist trainer may find that over a long period of time, their ‘average’ waist measurement will reduce, even if it may not feel like it by having to vary the measurements slightly every day.

Here, the exact number of your waist to the half-inch is not as important as your overall comfort level – but the cycle method also somewhat implies that the trainer is wearing the corset for longer hours each day compared to the roller coaster method (which tends to aim for a duration of 2-8 hours a day).

 

How many hours a day is best when it comes to waist training?

This answer is different for everybody. Some people are able to see quick results in a corset with fewer hours put in, and some people have slower results even when wearing their corset all day. Of course, when we’re talking about “results”, not all of us waist train for the same reasons or have the same goals.

But many experienced waist trainers will agree that the length of time that you wear a corset is a bit more important than the actual reduction. If you are able to wear your corset at a 3-4 reduction comfortably all day, this will likely be more comfortable and more productive for your waist training compared to wearing a corset at a 6-7 inch reduction for only 1 hour and having to remove it to recuperate for the next couple of days (this is effectively overlacing). The latter scenario could set you up for discomfort, injury, it may lead to you having to take unwanted time off to regroup – and it also may lead to you associating the corset with pain and negative experiences, which is the exact opposite of what a waist trainer should experience.

Some people aim for wearing their corset for a specific number of hours each day. The Romantasy roller coaster method suggests 8 hours a day, 6 days a week as a good duration to strive for. In order to break my 22-inch plateau, I found I had to corset for about 12 hours a day.

Some people wear their corsets during waking hours (they put on their corsets when they get up in the morning, and take off their corset when getting ready for bed) – which may be in the range of 16 hours a day.

Others may do the opposite and only wear their corset during sleeping hours – they may not wear their corset during the day, but they cinch their waist when getting ready to sleep, and so they unconsciously get 8 hours in per day.

Some very dedicated trainers will wear their corset 23 hours a day – reserving one hour per day for bathing and exercising – often trainers will have to work their way up to this lifestyle over the course of months or years, because jumping into a 23/7 waist training regime can be a drastic change in lifestyle: all the things you did before without your corset, you would have to adjust to doing it with a corset, eliminate activities that are not compatible, or substitute some things that are more compatible. I do not recommend the 23/7 method for beginners, nor do I believe that a 23/7 lifestyle is really necessary for any waist trainer except under extenuating circumstances (like if they are going after the world record).

And it’s worth mentioning that sometimes the results from the 23/7 method are not worth the challenges that come with them. Heidi, aka Straight-Laced Dame/ Corset Athlete, has written a fantastic article which compares your enjoyment/ comfort level while wearing a corset, with the effectiveness of your training – and finding that “sweet spot” where you get your highest return on investment.

 

Which Method of Waist Training is Best?

I can’t tell you which waist training method is best for you, as I said before – we all have different bodies, different schedules and different goals. But myself, having tried both the Romantasy Roller Coaster method and the Contour Corsets Cycle method, I found that the Roller Coaster method gave me what I was looking for in the beginning, when I was still relatively new at corseting – back when I needed technical, straightforward, step-by-step guidance on wearing a corset.

Slowly building up my hours over many weeks and months at a time helped to teach me how my body is supposed to feel during the process of waist training, and how it’s not supposed to feel. I used the roller coaster method to successfully train down the first 5 or so inches of reduction.

Of course (as with most other forms of training!) I eventually reached a plateau. I had a hard time lacing past about 22″ comfortably for long periods of time. I sort of felt myself a failure at that point because I wasn’t advancing with the same speed I was before. Not wanting to risk pain or injury, after some time off and some research, I invested in a number of better fitting corsets and also found myself gravitating more to the Cycle method.

The Cycle method allowed me to be a bit less hard on myself if I didn’t meet a certain goal within a certain time, because I was no longer focusing on time. The method respected the limitations of my body and the signals it was giving me. It felt healthier – like I was allowed to be more gentle with myself, while still presenting enough of a challenge to see progress and advancement if I chose.

And I began enjoying wearing my corset again – it allowed me to take my eyes off the clock, to stop measuring my waist circumference every day, and to just enjoy the feeling of being in a corset – the posture support and the feeling of being hugged, my silhouette under a vintage gown, and the empowerment of wearing a form of armor. This method reminded me to enjoy the journey, as opposed to being unhealthily and impatiently focused on the destination.

In this article I touched on just a few different methods of waist training. I encourage you to do a little of your own research into waist training and to find the one that you find the one that feels most safe and comfortable for you. If you waist train, leave me a comment below and me know which method works best for you, or which methods you’ve tried in the past!

*Please note that this article is strictly my opinion and provided for information purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of a medical physician. Please talk to your doctor if you’d like to start wearing a corset.*

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WAIST TRAINING RESULTS: How long should it take?

 

Here’s a question I receive nearly every day:

“My natural waist is 30 inches, and I just started waist training. How long will it take to see real results, and obtain a natural 24 inch waist?”

 Of course, the exact wording, the numbers, and the goals all vary slightly from person to person. But I will tell you what I tell all of them – and you will not be happy:

I DON’T KNOW. And unfortunately, neither can anyone else. If someone claims that they CAN give you a specific duration of time that you will achieve your waist training goal, they are flat out lying.

If you look at these Before / After Waist Training examples, you will see that people have achieved all kinds of results, in all different durations. Some saw a marked difference in three months, while others achieved less dramatic results over two years. It’s different for everyone.

WHY is this?

The (semi)permanent results of waist training is dependent on a number of factors, including your body’s current state and your genetic pre-disposition, the quality of your corset and its compatibility with your body, and the way you train in your corset. Let’s break those down in further detail:

 

Factor #1: Your body type and current body stats

Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral - and they affect your corset training differently.
Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral – and they affect your corset training differently.

Your Body Fat

  • Adipose tissue can immediately compress down a lot more than muscle in a corset, but it also bounces back when you remove the corset. Some with a high body fat % are able to cinch down 10 inches in the waist, while someone with very low body fat may only be able to cinch down 2-3 inches.
  • Weight distribution also plays a role. Do you tend to carry more weight in your belly, or do you carry more weight on your hips and thighs? If you do carry weight in your belly, do you have a lot of visceral fat or subcutaneous fat? Subcutaneous fat sits under the skin but above the muscle, and makes your skin soft and malleable. Visceral fat is the more ‘dangerous’ fat that sits under your abdominal muscle, between your organs. Someone with more subcutaneous fat (even over their tummy) will probably have an easier time lacing down than someone with visceral body fat.

Your Muscle Tone

  • Very toned, dense muscles may be more difficult to cinch down compared to less toned muscles, BUT if you time your workouts well, you can actually use your resistance exercise regimen to your advantage in waist training to change the morphology of your oblique muscles and have them almost “grow” into the hourglass shape encouraged by the corset. Also, once you get to higher reductions, you have to “stretch” those side muscles, and also the tendons and ligaments. Some people’s bodies seem to more readily accommodate to this than other people’s bodies.

 Your Skeletal Frame

  • Do you have wider ribcage or smaller ribcage? Are your ribs flexible and are you able to accommodate corsets with a conical ribcage easily, or is your ribcage very inflexible and difficult to move? Those who are easily able to train their ribs are likely to see faster waist training results than those whose ribs are very rigid. My article on the corset’s effect on the skeleton goes into more detail about this.

Your Age

  • More mature waist trainers have bones that are not only less dense, but less malleable compared to younger trainers. For more information on how age can affect your corseting, see my article on waist training and age restrictions.

 Your Organs

  • When you look at human anatomy in a textbook, you’re seeing a general “average” of the size and orientation of organs. But not everyone’s organs look like that! Some people have larger organs, some have smaller organs. Even the position and orientation of organs can very slightly differ between individuals, and that small variation might make a huge difference in how well your body can accommodate the restriction of a corset. For further information, see my article on corsets and organs.

Your Water Retention

  • What’s your water content like? If you are often bloated or have water retention, either due to your lifestyle or because of a medical condition, you not only won’t be able to lace down as much or as readily, but you have more of that “temporary squish” to you as opposed to contributing to that “long term training”.

Whether You’ve Been Pregnant Before

  • Have you had a baby before or not? While this point is a bit more anecdotal, it seems that mothers are (on average) able to lace down more readily/ more comfortably/ to higher reductions compared to nulliparous women. Maybe this has to do with the fact that the baby had moved around a woman’s organs (especially in the final trimester), or the relaxin in your system during pregnancy had stretched out some tendons and ligaments already, or the woman was already accustomed to the feeling of restriction or breathing higher up in the chest, so she may be psychologically more comfortable with the feeling of being corseted. Read more about corsets after childbirth.

 

Factor #2: Your Corset

This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage.
This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage compared to a rounded ribcage.

Proper Fit

  • Is your corset comfortable? Does your corset fit you properly: when you lace down, does it reduce only the waist, and is it lying flat and gently supporting your upper ribcage and your hip area? Is your corset gap straight or uneven? Or is the corset overall not curvy enough: and is it giving you muffin top, pinching your hips or causing any lower tummy pooch to spill out underneath? A well-fitting corset is not only more effective at shaping, but it’s also much more comfortable, so you’ll be encouraged to wear it longer and more often.

 Strength

  • Is the corset strong? Does it hold up to the tension without buckling? Are the seams securely stitched? Are the bones creating a proper scaffold and not digging into your body? Are the grommets holding in? Having to put your training on hold – not because you want to, but because your corset breaks every 2 months and you have to replace it – is not cost effective and it’s not time-effective. If you’re in this for the long haul, invest in something strong and custom. See my article on Waist Training vs Tight Lacing, which also covers different requirements of a suitable corset for each.

Silhouette

  • Is the corset the right silhouette to do the right job? If you want to train your ribcage, you might need a conical ribcage corset, which gradually tapers down and increases the pressure on the lower ribcage. A corset with a mild silhouette or with a corset with a rounded ribcage will give you a different effect. Be sure that the corset you are using is designed to do for you what you want. You can’t force a round peg through a square hole and expect a triangle to come out.

 

Factor #3: Your Lifestyle Habits and Training Methods

I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.
I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.

 Supplementary Exercise

  • Are you exercising alongside your waist training? Adding or increasing core resistance training can help you see results faster by encouraging your muscles to “heal” in a certain way. Even if you have no intention of losing weight (you only use a corset to see a change in your silhouette), exercise is still important! If you don’t add some core resistance training, your torso may see some shaping from the corset, but it may be squishy and complacent, and not hold that hourglass shape as well as if you were combining it with resistance training.

 Eating

  • Are you eating clean? Are you getting enough fiber so that you stay regular when corseting? Are you avoiding foods that you know can cause bloating or discomfort in your corset? Are you having regular small balanced meals, or are you the type to fast and then feast? Corseting over a large meal can be uncomfortable and difficult, and the quality of that meal also counts. You don’t necessarily need a specific diet for waist training, but eating sensibly goes a long way.

Drinking

  • Are you staying hydrated? Are you getting a lot of clean water or tea? Are you keeping your electrolytes balanced (this ties in with water retention). Are you watching your blood pressure (which relates to your blood volume)? Do you take in a lot of caffeine or other diuretics, and are you making sure that your water intake balances that out?

Duration of your corset wear (and reduction)

  • To get the best results in a corset, you have to use it. What method of waist training are you using? There is Romantasy’s “Roller Coaster” method, and there is the Contour Corsets “Cycle” Method (see the differences between the two waist training methods). Some people use a combination of both, or they may try a different method altogether. Some people consider waist training as wearing their corset only 8 hours a day while they’re out working. Others waist train by only wearing a corset to bed at night. Some people wear their corsets 12 or 16 hours a day, and a few very dedicated ones wear their corset 23 hours a day.
  • The body responds best to consistency – for reasons I’ll explain in an upcoming article, you’ll probably see more results (and more comfortably!) if you wear a corset at a light or moderate reduction for long hours, as opposed to tightlacing or overlacing your corset for an hour and then not wearing it again for a few days.

Let’s use an infomercial exercise program as a metaphor for waist training expectations. Many exercise programs say that you CAN lose UP TO 20 lbs per month (as an example), but read the small print and you find that these results are not typical. Many of these programs are also backed up with a guarantee that with proper compliance to the program, you will see some kind of result (often within 60 or 90 days) or your money back.

But you will notice that they do not guarantee a certain number of inches lost, because people have different bodies, different fitness levels, different levels of compliance. It’s the same with a waist training program.

Ann Grogan (of Romantasy) offers the only corset training program I currently know of – in her some 25 years of working with waist trainers and 14 years officially coaching, she is able to confidently say that with her 3-month waist training program, you’re likely to see some noticable results in your natural waist with proper compliance to the program (the program covers a lot of factors: the type of corset you’re using, the reduction, the hours, the foods you eat, the exercises you do, etc). But since each program is personalized based on goals, each person’s compliance is different and each person’s body accommodates their corset differently, it’s still very difficult to precisely predict how many inches you’ll lose, or how fast.

What I have found is the highest indicator of success is whether you actually enjoy wearing your corset and find it completely comfortable. If you practice patience, and wear your corset consistently (and ironically, not be overly attached to your end goal), you are likely to see more results over time than someone who is less patient and is only corseting for the end result. But I will cover that in another article soon.

Do you currently waist train, or did you train in the past? How long did it take you to see results? Let me know in a comment below!

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Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique Cream Fan-Laced Overbust Corset Review

This post is a summary of the “Boom Boom Baby Cream Overbust Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length Center front is 14.5 inches long, and from the peak of the bust to the lap along the princess seam is 15 inches. Center back is also 15 inches. Circumferential measurements: waist is 21″, full bust is 29-30″, high hip is around 29″ too). The silhouette is a gentle hourglass, bordering on modern slim.
Material 3 main layers – fashion fabric is cream colored densely-woven canvas and twill. There is an interlining between the fashion fabric and lining. The floating liner is black herringbone coutil.
Construction 5 panel pattern, with some of the panels in the front tapering toward the lower tummy. Fashion layer and interlining were flatlined (lining is floating). Panels assembled with a top-stitch at the seams. Single boned on the seams; channels are sandwiched between fashion and interlining layers.
Binding Bias strips of matching cream-colored twill, machine stitched on both sides (slight top-stitch on the outside). No garter tabs but there are suspenders (black elastic garters) tacked to the outside of the corset as embellishment.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the layers. It does not extend through all panels; this waist tape starts between panels 1-2, ending towards the back of the corset.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is slightly under 6″ wide (about 4″ of usable width), finished in the same cream fashion fabric and black coutil lining. Secured to one side of the corset with a simple row of stitching. No modesty placket in the front.
Busk 13 inches long with 6 pins (bottom two are closer together). Fairly stiff, heavy duty busk, 1″ wide on each side.
Boning 12 total bones not including busk. On each side there are four 1/4″ spiral steel bones. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 30 eyelets total, size 5mm Prym brand two-part eyelets with medium flange; set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely.
Laces 1/4″ black flat braided shoe-lace style laces (feels like a cotton blend). Virtually unbreakable. Has zero spring. It seems that a few of them have been sewn together for length, which caused a little “bump” when lacing up, but otherwise seems to be holding together.
Price At the time that I’m writing, an overbust in your size starts at around $240 USD in the Boom Boom Baby Etsy shop.
Little Twiglet models the corset by Kirsteen Wythe.

Other Thoughts/ Observations:

For this review I had to do something I never had to do before (although I have a feeling that it won’t be the last time) – I had to model this corset on a pillow, because the fit of this corset on me was so unfortunate that I don’t think I would do it justice wearing it for the review. However, this is no fault of the maker herself; the corset had been a sample originally modelled by Little Twiglet, and it was not at all made with my measurements in mind. I am disappointed, but only at the circumstances, not the designer.

This corset has no shortage of embellishments: decorative fan-lacing details cover the bustline, with laces anchored at the grommets along the top edge converging down into the fan-lacing slides below. Black elastic suspenders run over the shoulders, resembling a bit of a harness. A pair of garters on each side to keep stockings up (knowing me, I would probably hang a chatelaine or other doodad from them instead!). On the back of this corset, unfortunately away from view, there is also semi-functional fan-lacing (the laces in the back must go through the fan-laced details, although the slides are anchored and cannot be pulled to easily tighten the corset). All the strappy details transform an otherwise sterile-looking off-white sweetheart overbust into a truly intriguing piece of art.

You can see what other corsets Kirsteen Wythe (Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique) has for sale in her Etsy shop HERE, or read what she is up to on her main website HERE.

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Should you Work Out in your Corset?

A Victorian “circus strongwoman”, who made a living performing athletic feats while wearing a corseted costume.

I often receive inquiries from people wanting to specifically buy a “work out” or “exercise” corset. I’m not entirely sure where they got the idea that they are supposed to exercise in a corset (and sometimes exclusively wear the corset during exercise or sleeping hours) but it may have something to do with those elastic shapewear cinchers that seemed to have exploded with popularity over the last couple of years. From my understanding, vendors of these latex cinchers claim that exercising in one of these will cause the wearer to sweat more in their midsection and temporarily lose inches of water weight from this area. However, genuine corsets work by entirely different means, and they are not designed to be worn during heavy activity.

I have always recommended that you intend to waist train (more than 8+ hours a day) then in order to avoid any dependence on your corset, it’s a good idea to start or increase your exercise regimen, particularly your core resistance training (strengthening your abs and back). But do not exercise in your corset – take it off, do your work out, take a shower and put the corset back on. As I mentioned in my previous Corsets and Muscles article: if you do your intense core resistance training at the very end of your workout, you take your shower and put the corset on within an hour of finishing your session (while the muscle fibers are still ‘broken’) then it’s possible for your oblique muscles to build themselves to the shape of the corset and retain more of an hourglass silhouette semi-permanently (even when not wearing the corset). Wearing your corset during your workout is not required for this! Let’s go into some of the reasons why I don’t recommend working out in your corset:

 

Exercising in your steel-boned corset may ruin your corset.

  • When you sweat profusely, the moisture, salt and pH of your sweat can damage the fibers of your corset. Silk eventually breaks down even in mildly acidic conditions, and the salt can be corrosive over time too (not to mention salt and sweat stains can make your corset look dingy).
  • If you happen to sweat on a regular basis in your corset, the fabric can become a breeding ground for microbes. Remember that mold and mildew absolutely love dark, moist, anaerobic environments like the inside of your corset, and this is not healthy to wear next to your skin for an extended amount of time!
  • Not only this, but the moisture can cause steel bones to rust over time. Remember that even galvanized (zinc-coated) or even stainless steel are not protected forever – over time with constant exposure to moisture and oxygen, they can form rust spots as well.
  • While you could wash your corset, detergents are often made from salts and have a very basic pH which can further compromise the integrity of your corset, not to mention submersing your corset in water can be a nightmare for the metal hardware.
  • Additionally, if you are moving vigorously in your corset (say you’re doing high-impact aerobics, kickboxing, lots of bending and twisting in your corset), it’s possible to warp the fabric if your corset over time or possibly even tear seams of your corset.
  • Weak corset bones (even some lower quality steel boning) can kink, warp or possibly even break with enough force, which may leave you with a misshapen and uncomfortable corset.

Overall, if you work out in your corset, you can expect your corset to have a considerably shorter lifespan.

 

Exercising in your steel-boned corset may potentially be dangerous for you.

  • If you’re not used to a certain level of activity in your corset, it can leave you winded or light-headed. A tight corset has been shown to decrease your total lung capacity between 10-30% depending on the restriction and the individual. If you’re used to intercostal breathing (taking breaths higher in your chest instead of “breathing into your abdomen), then at rest, this restriction may not be that noticeable because your tidal volume is only around 15% of your total lung capacity. However when doing hard cardio work, your body requires more of your lung capacity to draw in large breaths, it’s likely that you’ll feel that diminished capacity to a larger extent and you may feel short of breath.
  • Corsets can also increase blood pressure when worn, so do be careful when exercising in a corset, especially if you have a history of hypertension. It’s a common misconception that corset wearers feel faint because they feel short of breath – realistically speaking, when at rest, a corseter should be able to breathe relatively freely. From my research, fainting has more to do with abrupt changes in blood pressure, so a corseter would be more likely to faint if their blood pressure drops too low or too quickly – so do be aware of your own blood pressure levels, and if you do intend to exercise in your corset at all, then make sure you warm up very slowly, that you don’t go too hard and fast with your workout, and that you cool down slowly as well.

 

Although I don’t personally condone working out in your corset, I know several people who do. And these people have a few things in common:

  • They are all advanced waist trainers (at one point or another they have trained up to 23 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, and they are very familiar with how their body functions while laced).
  • They all own multiple corsets, and may consider some of their corsets to be expendable. This means that if a corset were to warp, rip or break during a workout (horrors!), they will have backup corsets so they’re able to continue waist training.
  • They all know how to make corsets – their experience and skill level may vary, but they have all made their own corsets and they understand exactly how much time, materials and labor go into each piece. Some of them are professional corsetieres, and testing out the strength and integrity of their own corsets would be beneficial as they’d be able to determine how much abuse their product can take, pinpoint and improve any potential weak spots in their construction, and set a specific guarantee.
  • The majority of them are also experienced athletes – they are already familiar with how their body works and feels when they’re pushing themselves in sports, and they would be able to recognize when they’re pushing themselves too far. One of them has worked as a personal trainer, another one does CrossFit and runs marathons, and many of these people have been seasoned athletes for years, some even before becoming interested in corsetry – so I trust that they know what they’re doing and how to read themselves if they are determined to work out in a corset.
  • I have heard of a few athletes who wear their corset in lieu of a weight-lifting belt in the gym. Although I have not personally tried this, I understand that if the corset were not tied too tightly, a short corset can function very similarly to a lifting belt. If anyone has tried this in the gym and has more information, I would be very interested to learn more from you!

In summary: I generally do not recommend exercising in a corset, and I personally have not and would not work out in my corset. Those few people who do exercise in their steel boned corsets, I trust that they are well-educated about the risks involved and understand how to minimize them, and it is their sole prerogative if they want to put this kind of strain on their corsets (and potentially their bodies as well).

Additional links on exercising while corseted have been kindly provided by KathTea Katastrophy; all from Staylace: (1) (2) (3)

Please note that this article contains my opinion and observations. It is provided for information purposes, and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. Please contact your trusted physician if you would like to start or change your exercise regimen, or if you plan to wear a corset for any reason.

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Can you wear your corset backwards?

Orchard Corset CS-426 red cotton

There are quite a few people out there who, if they decided to corset, would not be able to reach around and access any laces behind them – these may include people who may have limited mobility or strength in their arms and shoulders, or those who may use a wheelchair. Since front-lacing corsets are so few and far-between, it’s not uncommon for me to get the question, “Can you turn a regular corset back-to-front and wear it as a front-lacing corset?”

Truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend it. Your body is not symmetric from back-to-front. In the front of your body, you have your peritoneal organs and soft tissues; you have to worry about the corset being rigid enough to hold in the tummy and keep your abdomen supported and flat. Many people are also concerned about the corset being long enough to support the lower tummy, but short enough to be able to sit down comfortably in it.

In the back, you have your retroperitoneal organs, and a good corset will not affect these organs. The corset should be high enough in the back to prevent muffin top, and the bones in the back edges should be strong enough to support the grommets, but flexible enough to contour to the natural curve of the lumbar spine, and avoid pressing uncomfortably into the tailbone or the bum area.

So what happens when you wear a corset back-to-front? I demonstrate in the video below with three different corsets: a longline underbust, a mid-hip underbust, and a cincher. Watch the video below to see the conclusions.

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Longline underbust corset (CS-426 from Orchard Corset), worn the right way:

  • The sturdy busk in front keeps the tummy flat.
  • There is this contoured shaping at the underbust and lap area.
  • There is the flat steel boning that is a little less rigid than the busk – so it can conform to your lumbar curve, but still support the grommets. 

Longline underbust corset, worn backwards:

  • The lumbar curve is mostly lost from the rigid busk – it’s forcing me into an unnatural posture.
  • I feel a little unsupported from the laces now in front; the laces are bowing at the lower tummy.
  • I feel a bit more pressure on my hips in the front, and less pressure on the back.
  • The cut on the top and bottom edge is too long in front so I cannot sit comfortably, and the contouring looks ridiculous from the back.
  • I feel that I cannot expand my lungs quite as much as when the corset is worn the right way around, because of the awkward/ unusual pressure on the back of my ribcage, and less in the front.

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Short-hipped underbust corset (Timeless Trends “Spring Delight” standard underbust), worn the right way:

  • Tapered panels in the center front cause the bones to converge towards the lower tummy and give more support.
  • At the bottom edge of the corset, there is less pressure on the sides (hips) than in the front.
  • Although the bones in the back are still less rigid than the busk, these bones are more sturdy than the bones used in the longline underbust.
  • There is some contouring of the top line to curve under the breasts, but not that much contouring at the lower edge.

Short-hipped underbust, worn backwards:

  • The support from the tapered panels has been lost from the center front, so I feel less flattening of my lower tummy and more pressure along the front hip. However, due to the sturdier bones compared to the last corset, I don’t feel as much bowing in the center front.
  • The rigid busk is not conforming to the natural curve of my spine – there is a gap between my spine and the corset.
  • The length now in front is slightly better compared to the last corset, but the contoured line in the back is still a little ridiculous and it accentuates my back fat. We need to try this experiment one more time, with a corset that’s nearly identical from back to front. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 10.51.31 PM

Last try: Cincher (Orchard Corset CS-301, which has no contouring under the bust), worn the right way:

  • This corset is very short, and there is no contouring under the breasts or over the lap, so it shouldn’t look that bad when worn front to back.
  • There are only 4 panels on each side of this corset, and the shape of the panels are nearly identical from front to back, so I’m curious to see the fit.

Cincher, worn backwards:

  • This one is the least conspicuous when worn reversed (but it’s probably still a good idea to hide the busk in the back)
  • Busk is still not laying flat to my lumbar curve, and the bottom edge of the busk is poking into my sacrum uncomfortably.
  • The corset is angled a little bit, so that the now-front of the corset is not covering my tummy all the way.
  • There was a tendency for the bones by the grommets to bow in a ( ) shape. I felt that I needed a stiffened modesty panel to properly support and flatten the tummy.

Conclusion – although it is certainly possible to wear a corset from front-to-back and wear it as a front-lacing corset, it is not the most comfortable or flattering experience. If you require a front-lacing corset, would recommend commissioning a corsetiere to make you one specially, or I would recommend modifying a corset to replace the busk with some front lacing, so you can still wear the corset the right-way forward, but avoid complications with fit and comfort. However, wearing a corset upside-down, when more comfortable and more flattering for an individual than right-side up? That is still fair game.

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JC Creations Men’s Corset – Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “JC Creations Men’s Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset has a bit more of a masculine shape, but still has a fairly cinched in waist. the underbust is 33″, waist 27″, hips 34″. Center front length is about 11 inches, side seam is 9 inches and back is 12 inches long.
Material 2 main layers: outer layer is a black spot broche (comparable to coutil in strength, but also nice as a fashion fabric), and a lightweight plain black cotton lining.
Construction 5 panel pattern, with seams (and bones) converging in the bottom center front. Panels are assembled using a lock stitch. Double boned in internal boning channels.
Binding Black satin bias tape, machine stitched on the outside and inside (top-stitched on both sides). No garter tabs.
Waist tape 3cm (a bit over 1 inch) wide waist tape, exposed on the inside, only supporting panels 2-4 (does not extend from the busk to the back laces).
Modesty panel There was no matching modesty panel that came with this corset, but on the website, all prices include a modesty panel that appears to be separate and stiffened. There is an unstiffened placket on the knob side of the busk.
Busk 26cm (a bit over 10 inches long), standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 5 knobs and loops (the lowest two are a bit closer together for control over the lower tummy).
Boning 20 bones total (10 bones per side). Mostly 1/4″ (or a bit wider) wide spiral steels, double boned on all the seams. There are two flat steels sandwiching the grommets on each side.
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #00 (possibly), small to medium flange, set equidistantly. There is some damage to the grommets at the waistline, but I’m not sure how old or how used this corset is. Good wide washers; no splits on the back.
Laces Laces are 1/4″ wide, flat black nylon braided laces – very little stretch, very difficult to break.
Price On the website, the ready-made (standard-sized) corsets for men are advertised as €210, which converts to $290 USD.

This corset was a gift from EgapTesroc for me to study, along with the Creations L’Escarpolette corsets I showed in January 2014. But because I don’t know the full history of this corset, it’s difficult to gauge its quality: whether it’s standard-sized or custom-fit and if it has stretched out over time; how well it stood up to training since I’m not sure how old the corset is and how rigorous its use, or even if the pattern and construction are still current are all variables. However, JC Creations remains a respected business with a high reputation, even having made corsets for notables like Cathie Jung and various European celebrities. If you have any questions about the corsets by JCC, I recommend contacting them directly with your questions. (Please note that their website is NSFW.)

Huge thanks to EgapTesroc for giving me the opportunity to study and share this lovely corset with my viewers and readers. If you currently own a corset made by JC Creations and you can confirm if the quality and construction are current, as well as share your own experience with the corsets, leave a comment below!

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Wearing a bra with your underbust corset

One question I get semi-frequently is whether you have to wear a bra with your underbust corset. With an overbust corset, it’s easy to go without a bra as the corset itself provides support, lift, and shaping – but what about underbust corsets?

As a wearer of corsets and a keeper of long hair, I’m no stranger to confrontation. On a regular basis I have people telling me that I’m not fashionable; that I’m gross or disturbing or an eyesore. I often stealth my corsets and wear my hair up, because what makes me happy and is not hurting others doesn’t necessarily have to be flaunted. And this experience has made me hyper-aware of what I say to others in terms of fashion and dress.

So what does this have to do with wearing a bra with your underbust corset?

I am in no position whatsoever to make you wear a bra or not wear a bra with your corset. End of story.

But if you are expecting your underbust corset to lift, support, and shape your breasts the way that a conventional bra will, you may be disappointed to know that this isn’t the case. An underbust corset doesn’t cover the breasts and cannot support what it doesn’t touch. So if you want the support /shaping of a bra, you can wear a bra in conjunction with your underbust corset.

I understand that there can be some incompatibility between underbust corsets and certain bras. I’ve been through the frustration of trying to wear mainstream underwired, push-up bras with your underbust corsets. If your corset is just a little too long in the torso, then the top edge of the corset can push up on your underwire and cause a “double-lift” effect – and this is often made worse when sitting down! Many fuller-busted women have complained to me that this looks and feels unnatural, and they don’t like the end result that has become colloquially known as a “chin-rest”. Also, if your corset is too tight around the ribcage and your underwire becomes trapped between your body and the corset, the wire can dig quite uncomfortably into your ribs (I call this “underwire entrapment”).

This is the reason why I always ask for a person’s torso length along the princess line, from the underwire to the lap when sitting down. This is the maximum length that an underbust corset can be before the top edge starts pushing up on the bust, or the bottom edge starts digging into the lap.

So, what can you do if you’d like to avoid the modern bra/underbust corset compatibility issues, but you’d still prefer to wear bras and corsets at the same time?

If you look closely, my left underwire slipped to the outside of the corset. My right underwire is still under the corset, hence the asymmetry. If I had just worn both wires overtop, it probably would have been less noticeable and more comfortable for me as well.
In one of my old, looser-banded bras. My left underwire slipped overtop of the corset. My right underwire is still under the corset, hence the asymmetry. If I had just worn both wires overtop, it probably would have been less noticeable.

 

  1. Opt for shorter corsets or cinchers, which stop lower on the ribcage and steer clear of the underwire of your bra. If you are savvy with a sewing machine, you can shorten some of your own corsets along the top edge.
  2. Wear a well-fitting wire-free bra with your corsets. I don’t have a huge collection of these, but I like my Enell Lite as it’s wire-free and has a non-rolling band. I like the bust-shaping and support it gives, and it works well under my graphic tees and high-neckline shirts.
  3. If you can’t afford or don’t have access to wire-free bras /shorter corsets, as another resort you can simply lift up your bra and position the underwires overtop of your corset instead of underneath. This works best if you wear your corsets under your clothing instead of overtop, and it really only works with a bra that’s slightly big in the band. Does it mean slightly less support from your bra? Yes. Does this look a little unusual if you’re wearing the corset on the outside of your clothing? Perhaps a little. Are the passionate bra-fitters pulling their hair out at my even suggesting this? Maybe. But I used this technique regularly before I got new well-fitting bras, and I found it resulted in a more natural-looking bust (compared to wearing the bra under the corset and getting the “double-lift”) and it was more comfortable too.

In conclusion: are you required to wear a bra with your underbust corset? Not necessarily, but know that an underbust won’t give you the same lift, support and shaping that your conventional bra will. If you have bra/corset compatibility issues, try out one of the three solutions I listed above and see if any work for you.

Do you have any alternate solutions to avoid “double-lift” or “underwire entrapment” caused by bra/corset incompatibility? Let me know in a comment below!