Posted on 4 Comments

Restyle Wide Hip Corset Review

Black Brocade longline underbust by Restyle, $52

This post is a summary of the “Restyle Wide Hip Corset Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube (below the table of quick stats) if you prefer:

Restyle Quick Stats

Fit, length Center front is 12 inches long, the princess seam (under the breast to top of the lap) is 9 inches long, with about 4 of those inches from the waist up. The side seam is 12 inches, and the enter back is shorter at 11.5 inches because it sweeps up at the bottom edge slightly.  Circumferential measurements: waist is size 23″ (label is size 22), underbust is 28 inches, high hip (iliac) is 35 inches, and the low hip at the lap is about 36 inches.
Material Fashion fabric is polyester black brocade (but it’s also available in matte black cotton), the strength layer is black cotton bull denim.
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 taper in the lower front, and most of the curve of the hip is in panels 3-4.
For the construction, the fashion fabric and strength fabric have been tightly fused and the corset was constructed like a single layer corset. Panels were lock-stitched, and double boning channels were made with internal strips of black cotton twill over the seam allowances.
Binding Bias strips of black cotton twill, machine stitched on outside and inside. There are also 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
Waist tape Waist tape has been added to all Wide Hip corsets as of May 2015.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is 6.5″ wide (will cover a back gap up to 4.5 inches wide) and finished in the same black brocade as the fashion fabric. It is unstiffened, and stitched to one side of the back of the corset (can be removed if desired). 1″ front modesty placket under the busk, finished in black brocade and stiffened slightly with buckram.
Busk 10.5 inches long with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Wide heavy busk (1 inch on each side). It sounds like there’s a buckram reinforcement around the busk.
Boning 24 total bones not including busk (12 on each side). 1/4″ wide spirals, double boned on the seams. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #00 with a small/medium flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, about an inch apart.
Laces Black flat shoelace-style laces, slightly springy, but not annoyingly so. They slide through the grommets, but I find that they snag more than flat laces.
Price About €42 on the Restyle site, which converts to around $50 USD.

This corset has added a new price bracket to the market of fairly decent OTR corsets, offering a curvy longline corset for close to $50 USD. It’s what I call a “longline corset for a short-waisted person“, offering some hip coverage and lower tummy control while not being so long that it causes more petite wearers problems with underwire entrapment or problems sitting down. For someone with a longer torso like myself, you may find that the “underbust” line of the corset stops a few inches short of your true underwire point.

The silhouette is quite curvy, and has a slightly conical ribcage. I am not able to completely fill all the space at the high hip due to my natural body shape, so there is a “pocket of air” between myself and the corset. For this reason, I say that this style corset is excellent for people who have naturally prominent hip bones or a high square hip shelf – I can’t imagine how this corset would ever press into the high hip!

When I got this corset in 2014, the corsets didn’t have a waist tape included and they also had a tendency to run slightly large (at least 1 inch bigger at the waist than the label) however this has since been rectified, and the owner Ewelina now says that all wide hip Restyle corsets come with an internal waist tape and they are checked for accurate sizing these days.

Ewelina also says that the corset is suitable for waist training or daily wear, with a two-year guarantee. As of 2016, Restyle has since added some new styles, both in the popular Wide Hip (denoted by WH) style and also in a new “CU” corset style, which I have yet to review. Find the Restyle corsets here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Can you Layer your Corsets?

Not long ago I received some questions regarding whether you can wear one corset on top of another, for greater control or more “effective” thermal conductivity. I’m presuming this question was actually inspired by Jessica Alba’s mysterious “double corset” from 2011 (which is now presumed to be two elastic garments, not two genuine corsets).

It is technically possible to layer one real corset on top of the other, but I don’t see the functional benefit because:

  •  corsets come in all levels of thickness and rigidity (the soft mesh corsets from Orchard Corset being the most flexible I’ve experienced, and the waist training corsets from Contour Corsets being the most rigid I’ve experienced – both with their advantages and disadvantages).
  • putting one corset on top of another is likely to increase bulk around the waistline, not decrease it.
  • layering corsets is not likely to improve the fit or comfort – on the contrary, it may worsen the fit of the corset by putting too much pressure on the ribs and hips.
  • if the corset underneath has a more delicate fashion fabric, there’s a risk of that fabric being damaged by the friction of the corset overtop.

Some corsetieres and designers may layer a cincher or a yoke on top of a corset as an accent piece, but this is more an aesthetic motive rather than a functional one – and these are typically custom made to fit perfectly overtop of one another.

But if you feel that your corset is not “strong” enough and you want more control, then you don’t need to layer your corsets – it’s just that the corset you have is not doing its job properly and it would be time to invest in a corset that has the rigidity and gives you the waist reduction you’re looking for.

Swiss Waists

In some fashion plates, you may see Victorian women wearing something similar to a waspie or underbust corset over their dresses – these were not real corsets per se; their real corsets were still underneath their clothing. The Swiss waist was simply an accessory to accentuate the waistline, usually in a darker color. Swiss waists may still have been lightly boned just to maintain some structure through the garment and keep it smooth over the bodice, but they weren’t as heavy-duty as a corset and not functional in the same sense.

Can you use a real corset as foundation under fashion corsets/ bustiers?

Absolutely – I’ve seen this a lot at conventions. Almost every costume shop stocks cheap, plastic boned fashion corsets that may be cute and interesting (especially the superheroine themed corsets around Halloween) but in my opinion, those are not the most comfortable garments. Once the plastic boning begins to warm to the body and soften, they may begin to warp and kink, poking into the body and collapsing in places which (at least on me) can create what looks like rolls on my body where rolls never existed before! By wearing a more structured, higher quality corset underneath, this provides support for the bustier and as well as protection for you against any rogue plastic bones threatening to poke you in the side. Note that the bustier is not as strong as a genuine corset, and don’t be surprised if the lacing in the back is a mess (see my video below).

A real corset almost always looks better (in my opinion) but using a cheaper garment over a higher quality corset may be a more cost-effective solution for those with smaller budgets – and corsets can transforms costumes instantaneously.

Posted on 6 Comments

Do Corsets Carry any Health Risks?

corset_carrot

I can and have talked for hours on this subject, but writing a dedicated article on corset health risks is undoubtedly going to open a can of worms.

Not surprisingly, I get this question a lot. When I look at my site search term referrers for the past month alone, I see:

  • dangers of waist training
  • is waist cinching dangerous
  • risks of corset waist training
  • waist trainer dangers
  • the dangers of corsets
  • health risks corsets
  • waist training risks
  • is waist training bad for you

If you search for any of these terms and happen to click on an online newspaper column or a fitness blog, they will probably parrot the same horror stories and urban legends that have been repeated for the past century – ever evolving, like a game of broken telephone.

In a previous article responding to BBC’s “Hidden Dangers of the Victorian Home”, I explained how other clothing generally considered acceptable today, especially high heels, can pose risks in certain situations.

In the interest of keeping this post short, I won’t go into specifics about every single corset-related ailment ever uttered; if you are interested in learning how the corset may affect specific systems, the Physical Effects of Corseting series is there at your disposal. You’re welcome to watch the playlist on Youtube or read the corresponding articles in this section of my site. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet, but my biochemistry degree has  given me a fair understanding of how the body works, and taught me how to do proper research.

Any time someone asks me whether corseting is dangerous, I will always tell them the same thing: if you are already in good health, if you invest in a well-made corset that actually fits your body properly, and if you are responsible about how you use the corset, then danger can be minimized. But one time a reporter tried to get me to state that I believe corsets pose zero risk. No. Even as a regular lacer and a proponent of corsetry, I will never say that corsetry poses zero risk. There is a risk with everything. Let me explain:

Carrots pose a risk to your safety

I’m sure most dieticians would tell you that carrots are very healthy, but my aunt spontaneously developed a fatal allergy to them while pregnant with my cousin (she had been able to eat them all her life, then one day she went into anaphylaxis from them). One of my friends in university once accidentally inhaled a baby carrot and it lodged in his throat.  In both situations, they were home alone. Had they not been able to take proper action in time, carrots could have killed them.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I was chopping a carrot into sticks, and it rolled out of place and I ended up slicing my finger open! I was lucky – had the knife been sharper, had the angle of the knife been different, or had I dropped the knife, I could have lost a finger or hit a larger blood vessel and bled profusely. Sounds ridiculous, but accidents happen every day.

Everything (even corsets and carrots) comes with risks, but it depends on what conditions you’re already predisposed to (e.g. my aunt’s allergy) and it depends on how responsibly you use it (e.g. in the case of my buddy who choked due to user error). And in the case of my slicing my finger open chopping carrots? Well, the slicing was really done by the knife, and caused by myself (also user error) – not the carrot. It didn’t stop the carrot for taking the blame, though. To this day I hate chopping carrots, although I’m fine with using a sharp knife to cut up other food. Both my friend and my aunt avoid carrots, for obvious reasons. Had carrots not been so ubiquitous, I might have thought that carrots were killers, as so many think of corsets today.

Exercise poses a risk to your safety

There are tales of CrossFit athletes developing rhabdomyolysis (this is the disintegration of muscle fibers causing an influx of myoglobin carried through the circulatory system), which can overload the kidneys, and in some situations cause kidney damage or failure and the need for emergency dialysis.

Weight lifting can cause hernias, it can cause uterine/vaginal prolapse in women, and with poor form it can lead to broken bones or ruptured tendons.

People who were otherwise completely fit and healthy have been known to suddenly die of heart failure in the middle of sports or running, due to a previously asymptomatic and undiagnosed congenital heart condition.

I am not saying this to vilify carrots or any type of exercise. I have always stressed that a healthy lifestyle is not without proper nutrition and exercise. But it would be irresponsible to say that anything in this world, no matter how common or how seemingly innocuous, comes without risk. Water has risks. Heat and cold have risks. Corsets have risks too.

When you use the right tools, when you go about it with proper form, when you are responsible and you accept your body’s limitations, that’s when your risks are minimized.

For almost everyone, the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks. And for many people, for instance Sasha who survived a motorcycle accident, corsetry becomes a necessary medical tool and increases one’s quality of life – and the benefits outweigh the risks.

What are some negative risks or dangers associated with corsetry?

Here are real stories that I have heard first person from modern corset wearers (not urban legends from long ago):

  • Some find that their blood pressure can become elevated while they’re wearing a corset (although those with chronically low blood pressure have found this to be beneficial for them)
  • Others find that if they have uterine prolapse, that the pressure from the corset makes it uncomfortable.
  • In my case, a corset that is not properly made to fit me can end up pressing on a superficial nerve on my hip and causing pain, tingling or numbness in the area (although this doesn’t happen with a custom corset designed to fit me; and other people who don’t have this asymmetry do not seem to have this issue).
  • Wearing a corset regularly (especially in the heat and without a liner underneath) can potentially cause skin problems which can become worse if you don’t treat it properly and take a break from the corset.
  • Some report slight constipation (although another chronically constipated person had reported becoming more regular since the use of corsets; results vary).
  • Other individuals have experienced headaches or acid reflux (although Sarah Chrisman reported reduction in her migraines and reflux, interestingly).
  • I have also legitimately opened my closet door and had a pile of corsets drop on me before.

What are some positive risks or benefits associated with corsetry?

There is an entire section of my website called Corset Benefits that is dedicated to collecting the positive stories and benefits people have experienced since they started using corsets. It’s three pages long; covering physical, mental, emotional, societal and economical factors.

Corsets are not made for everyone, just as certain types of shoes are not made for everyone. If you have certain health conditions (including but not limited to) hypertension, certain types of hernias, or conditions that cause gastrointestinal inflammation (irritable bowel, Crohn’s, colitis, etc), you may find that certain risks outweigh the benefits. This is why I will always say to talk to your doctor if you would like to use a corset for any reason, whether it’s for fun or aesthetic reasons, whether you are waist training, or whether you wear the corset for therapeutic purposes.

Talk to your doctor.

I put that in the largest font WordPress would let me, because it’s extremely important. My family doctor, my chiropractor, and even my dentist all know about my corsets. I have also had my chiropractor take an x-ray of me while wearing one of my corsets. I’ve also had the opportunity to show some of my corsets to a clinical psychologist, a psychotherapist, and several registered nurses to see what they think. Not one of these practitioners have told me to stop wearing corsets. Nevertheless, I still have my health monitored regularly because I want to do this responsibly.

I also invest in custom corsets that fit my body and accommodate my individual quirks (like the nerve that runs over my left hip) so they don’t cause me discomfort. I listen to my body: I put on a corset when I feel like it, and I loosen or remove the corset when I feel like it. There is nothing heroic about pushing yourself further than your body can handle.

So here I am, a corset cheerleader, telling you that wearing corsets does carry some risks. If you tell me that you plan to wear a corset or that you already wear corsets, I trust that you have already done extensive research on corsetry (from multiple sources), that you are aware of corset health risks or side effects of corsets (both good and bad), that you have talked to your trusted practitioner, that you have been given the thumbs up in your health (or that your health conditions merit the therapeutic use of a corset), that you are able to read and respond appropriately to your body’s signals and go about wearing corsets responsibly. If you haven’t, then you are putting the risk of user error into your own hands.

Posted on Leave a comment

Review of “Oriental Princess” Ensemble – Serinde Corsets

This post is a summary of the “Serindë “Oriental Princess” Corset Outfit review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 10 inches long, the shortest part of the corset at the side seam is 7.5 inches (cut very high over the hip), and the enter back is also 11.5 inches. Circumferential measurements: waist is 24″, ribcage 26″ (measured about 3 inches above the waist), high hip 32″. The silhouette is very mild in silhouette; gently curved in the waist.
Material Fashion fabric is red brocade, the strength layer is coutil, and the lining is a lightweight black cotton.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Fashion fabric and strength fabric were flatlined, panels assembled with a top-stich, and it’s double-boned on the seams. Floating liner.
Binding Red taffeta which matches the rest of the ensemble (halter and skirt), machine stitched on outside and hand-finished inside. Gold-tone beads and coins also attached by hand every inch or so around the top and bottom edges.
Waist tape 1 inch wide twill waist tape, invisibly stitched between the layers.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 5″ wide, finished in the same fashion fabric (red brocade and black lining). Stiffened with 2 steel bones (criss-crossed on the panel) and suspended on the laces. There is also a 1/2″ wide modesty placket in the front by the busk.
Busk 9 inches long with 5 pins, last two closer together. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side). Finished in a gold-tone.
Boning 26 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide spirals, double boned on the seams. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, as well as one 1/4″ flat steel by the busk on each side, making a total of 13 bones on each side.
Grommets Size 5mm Prym eyelets (very good 2-part eyelets and washers) with medium flange, finished in gold to match the rest of the hardware. Set a little closer at the waistline for ease of cinching. They’ve all rolled nicely.
Laces 1/2″ red double faced satin ribbon. Zero spring. They glide well through the laces.
"Oriental Princess" ensemble made by Serinde Corsets. Modelled by myself (Lucia Corsetti), photo by Remedy Photography.
“Oriental Princess” ensemble made by Serinde Corsets. Modelled by myself (Lucia Corsetti), photo by Remedy Photography.

If memory serves correctly, this is the first time that I’m reviewing an entire outfit / ensemble, as opposed to simply a corset – I’m very fortunate that this fit well enough to review even though it wasn’t made to my measurements. This outfit was originally called “The Oriental Princess” by Serinde Corsets.

The halter is directly sewn onto the top edge of the corset, and they can be adjusted with ties in the back of the neck. There is enough curve to conceivably give enough room for even quite large cup sizes, but it can also be pulled very tightly to fit smaller cups.

The mermaid skirt is also in a matching taffeta-texture fabric, with hand-sewn gold beads set approximately knee-level. This skirt is unfortunately just a little short for me, as it was made for a model a bit shorter than I am, but if I wear the outfit in flat slippers it’s not too noticeable. The back of the skirt is a little longer than the front – not a train per se, but it flares out beautifully behind me when worn. 

Lastly, the lace shawl was ingeniously created from a simple tube of lace fabric, and again gold-tone beads were fastened on the edge of the “sleeves” and scattered throughout as well.

Serinde is currently on hiatus from commissions, but you can visit her Facebook fanpage here.

Posted on 7 Comments

Corsets Boulevard Global Curvy Overbust Review

This post is a summary of the “Corsets Boulevard Global Corset Overbust review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer. Unfortunately Corsets Blvd Global’s website was hacked so I have removed all links to it. This review is staying up for posterity.

Fit, length Center front is 16.5 inches long (due to the tabs that extend down in the front), the princess seam (where you see the highest part of the sweetheart of the bust) is 16 inches long, the side seam is 15.5 inches, and the enter back is shorter at 13 inches. Circumferential measurements: waist is size 24″, full bust is between 34-35 inches, high hip (iliac) is 34-35 inches as well, and the low hip at the lap is about 37 inches in circumference. The silhouette is relatively curvy, definitely a traditional hourglass.
Material Fashion fabric is black satin (but can be specially ordered in any color satin), the strength layer is black twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Most of the ease for the bust is in panels 1-2, and most of the ease for the hip is in panels 3-4. The construction is the “welt-seam” method, which is different from a normal topstitch. The corset is double boned on the seams, and sandwiched between the layers.
Binding Commercial strips of 1-inch-wide black satin ribbon (so it wasn’t folded under; the edges of the ribbon were left raw). There are 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape No waist tape (at least, none could be detected when I inspected the corset carefully).
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 5″ wide (will cover a back gap up to 4 inches wide) and finished in the same black satin as the fashion fabric. It is unstiffened, and stitched to one side of the back of the corset (can be removed if desired). Unstiffened front modesty placket under the busk, again finished in black satin.
Busk 14.5 inches long with 8 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side).
Boning 24 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide spirals, double boned on the seams. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, making a total of 12 bones on each side.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 with a small flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, about an inch apart.
Laces Black round cord, it is small enough and slick enough to slide through the grommets, but I find that they snag more than flat laces.
Price £55 or around $68 USD
The Curvy overbust as it appears on Corsets Blvd Global's website. Click through to learn more.
The Curvy overbust as it appeared on Corsets Blvd Global’s website. Since the site was hacked, I have removed all links to it.

This corset is definitely one of the least expensive overbust corsets for curvier wearers, offering a 10-11 inch bust spring, and a 13 inch low hip spring. This brand also offers a large range sizes for this corset, from 18″ up to 40″.

I also appreciate how high the corset comes up over bust, and continues high around the sides to control my “armpit squidge”. In the back it comes down a little lower, but not so low as to accommodate very low-back dresses.

The busk keeps my tummy flat, and doesn’t seem to bow outwards. Having 8 loops and pins, it’s one of the longest corsets I’ve tried to date!

The one feature I wasn’t crazy about are the flaps in the bottom of the center front which are not supported by any steel so they can bend upwards (and therefore don’t offer much in terms of function or support). I believe these to be a nod to the antique Edwardian suspender corsets, but obviously the suspenders/ garters were omitted in this style so the flaps is a bit “vestigial”.

Other overbust corsets of equivalent curve (and support for large cup sizes) tend to average around $300 USD, even for ready-to-wear. Yes, the satin of this piece isn’t quite as lush, and the stitchwork isn’t as pristine as the other brands — don’t expect this piece to live up to the standards as the others — but at its current price, it’s filling a place in the corset industry that other brands aren’t.

I wouldn’t personally waist train in this corset, due to the apparent lack of waist and due to the construction method causing one bone out of each pair being essentially held in by the satin fabric instead of being securely sandwiched into a denser weave cotton (there may be a risk of a steel bone popping through the fabric if this is worn daily for weeks or months). But it would be great for occasional use, special events, and possibly to use as occasional relief from a heavier bust.

On the Corsets Blvd Global site, this curvy overbust in black satin is named the “Keira” corset, and if you get it before February 15, 2016, it will be £55 or around $68 USD currently. Unfortunately Corsets Blvd Global’s website was hacked so I have removed all links to it. This review is staying up for posterity.

Posted on 23 Comments

In Memoriam: Christine Wickham

 

On Thursday, July 3rd at approximately 2:40pm EDT, I received a call from Christine’s loved one to say that she had passed away. It was a bomb-drop that I will never forget.

I came to know Christine Wickham in late 2012, and from there developed a friendship that can’t be replaced. Of all people in the corset community, I trusted her most and I am indebted to her as a colleague and friend.

Christine Wickham: agirlfromdownunder, graphic artist behind Cardinal Graphic Design, corsetiere behind Ariadne’s Thread, promising medical student, weight lifter and genuinely one of the best people I have had the privilege of knowing. She was an immensely talented young woman, incredibly ambitious and productive, always a go-getter in her own endeavours, yet always had time to be there for those who mattered to her most. And she had the incredible ability to make everyone feel like they mattered to her.

Christine was highly vocal and appreciated in the online corsetry community. She moderated close to half a dozen groups on Facebook, she provided a free underbust corset pattern for beginners, and she was also active on Youtube and Tumblr. Christine seemed to have more hours available in her day compared to other people, and in her just-shy-of-22-year life, she managed to accomplish more than some twice her age.

She and I worked closely on several projects together: Christine did all the graphic work behind my Corset Designer Doll game, as well as recently tweaking my logo. She was also my biggest cheerleader, picking me up when I felt disenchanted with Youtube and handing me honesty when I needed it most. More than once, she pulled me out of a dark space and reminded me why I began this journey – and I know that she has done the same for others. I’m still floored at the unbelievable amount of work she put into the coordinating the Indiegogo campaign for me a few months ago (although I would give up that money in a second if it meant bringing Christine back). Enriching the lives of everyone around her, Christine was a superwoman.

Sharing a passion in corsetry, health sciences, long hair and Sailor Moon, Christine and I joked about being long-lost sisters – and I regret not being able to meet her in person and getting to know her real family, who are no doubt experiencing a much deeper loss than myself.

I extend my most heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones. Christine is and will always be terribly missed, but her impact on this community will remain for many years to come and her incredible spirit will be an inspiration to me forever.

Beautiful, intelligent, funny, hardworking, compassionate Christine – you were taken too soon. Sending you ALL the Jedi hugs from across the world – rest in peace, my friend.
Lucy

(Please feel free to share your memories of Christine, but please note that I will not be answering comments or questions at this time.)