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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.)

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Dark Garden Cincher Review

This post is a summary of the “Dark Garden Cincher Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, the side-front (princess seam) is 9.5 inches, the side seam is 9 inches, and the enter back is also 12 inches. Circumferential measurements: waist is 22″, ribcage 28″ (measured about 4 inches above the waist), high hip 32″ (measured about 5 inches below the waist). Gives an hourglass silhouette; a very slightly rounded ribcage and moderate curve.
Material Fashion fabric is silk/rayon brocade with a black diamond motif, and the strength fabric (lining) is densely-woven black canvas.
Construction 4 panel pattern. It seems as though all layers were flatlined for each panel, panels were assembled with seam allowances facing outward, and these seams were then covered with external boning channels (2 bones per seam).
Binding Bias strips of matching black diamond brocade, machine stitched on both sides, with a slight topstitch visible on the outside. 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape 0.75 inch wide black cotton twill waist tape, exposed on the lining side of the corset. It starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and ends at the center back seam.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 5″ wide, finished in the same fashion fabric (black diamond brocade) and black canvas lining. Stiffened with 4 steel bones and left separate to slip under the laces when worn (or you can choose to not wear the modesty panel). There is a teensy seam in the center front which is not a modesty placket per se, but it does help prevent a visible gap between the busk.
Busk 10.5 inches long with 5 pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side). There is also a 1/2″ wide flat steel on either side of the busk for reinforcement.
Boning 18 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide bones, double boned on the seams. The side seams must be flat steel since they are pre-bent. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, as well as one 1/2″ flat steel by the busk, making a total of 9 bones on each side.
Grommets 28 grommets total, size #00 with medium flange, finished in black and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely and don’t catch on the laces. Washers are large to prevent the grommets from falling out.
Laces 3/8″ black double faced satin ribbon. Zero spring. They glide well through the laces.
Price Available from sizes 18-38, and at the time that I’m writing this review, the corselette costs $315 for plain black poplin, and $365 if you want an identical style to this (with black diamond brocade).
Cincher: Dark Garden. Photo: Remedy Photography. Model: Me (Lucy Corsetry)
Cincher: Dark Garden. Photo: Remedy Photography. Model: Me (Lucy Corsetry)

This is the second of four reviews of Dark Garden’s ready-to-wear signature corset line, including the Corselette, the classic Valentine and the Risqué Valentine

While I normally categorize a “cincher” as being a shorter underbust corset (8″ or less on the side seam), this cincher fits average length torsos very well and extends down 5″ below the waist. The thing that I noticed about this corset in particular is how incredibly quickly it seasoned to my body and how comfortable it is. As this was a sample and I didn’t know which fashion fabrics to expect, I was really pleasantly surprised with the black diamond brocade – it looked polished and professional, and it would have been easy to add this to a business suit. I did a photo shoot on the hottest day in June with this corset, and found that this cincher was surprisingly more cool and breathable than I had anticipated.

But one of the things I appreciate most about Dark Garden is their ethics. Every one of their corsets are made from start to finish in the US and they take enormous pride in their construction, which is evident in the pattern matching in their lace or brocade corsets for a luxurious final effect.

The Cincher can be viewed on Dark Garden’s website HERE.

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Roberto Cavalli Waistcoat Corset

This post is a summary of the “Roberto Cavalli Corset-Style Vest/ Waistcoat” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 9.5 inches long, the side seam is 11 inches (from the armscye to the hip), and the center back is 19 inches from the collar to the bottom. Circumferential measurements: waist is 26″, full bust is 32″, high hip is also 32″. The silhouette is modern slim – not made for tightlacing or waist training.
Material Fashion fabric is a dusty blush colored wool/viscose blend, and the lining and back panels are 100% silk.
Construction 12 panel pattern. The panels were cut to look like a ribbon cincher on the fashion layer. The floating lining is more simple and streamlined.
Binding None. The garment was sewn right-sides together, flipped right-side out, and the lower seam was hand-finished and pressed so the seam is hidden.
Waist tape None (didn’t expect to find one as it’s not a genuine corset, and also ribbon cinchers tend not to have waist tapes in general).
Modesty panel None. The exposed gap in the back allows heat and perspiration to escape, like the vents in other garments.
Busk 9 inches long with 5 pins, the last two of which are closer together. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side).
Boning 10 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide bones, all plastic / acrylic. Three bones on each side panel, and two more 1/4″ wide bones sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 24 grommets total – very tiny (size #X00) 2-part eyelets with very narrow flange, finished in gold and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely and don’t catch on the laces. Washers are teeny as well, but they do their job.
Laces 1/4″ pale pink flat polyester shoelace. Zero spring. The garment game laced with the bow at the bottom as opposed to at the waistline.
Kristin Chenoweth in Roberto Cavalli at the 2014 Oscars

 

 

 

I fully admit that I’m a bit of a Cavalli fan, even though this is the first designer piece I’ve ever owned. I found this garment on Ebay whilst 2nd-hand corset hunting, and after many months of contemplation, decided it would be worth checking out – because of the circumstances, I haven’t been able to track down the year / season of this piece or the retail value. But if this is a genuine Cavalli, then going by the price of his current designs, I would say that I got a decent deal on this.

Jennifer Lopez in Roberto Cavalli at the AMFAR in 2011.

 

 

 

 

Although this waistcoat is not a genuine corset per se, it has some interesting “corsetty” aspects (the ribbon cincher panelling, the front busk, the back laces) so I thought it would be interesting to compare this piece (which is the product of a mainstream fashion designer) and see how it measures up in the context of my normal corset reviews.

It is actually well-constructed with lovely muted fabrics and surprisingly strong despite the tiny eyelets and the lack of a true strength fabric, and the sparingly-used acrylic boning kept the lines smooth, so I was pleasantly surprised. 

My one mild annoyance was at the faux pockets actually, as I prefer not to carry around handbags and would love to see more women’s clothing with useable pockets – but I can understand how having functional pockets on such a small and fitted garment might ruin the silhouette or stretch out the lining. But all in all, I’m pleased with this garment and will be keeping it in my wardrobe as a fun accessory and a nod to corsetry.

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Dark Garden Corselette Review

This post is a summary of the “Dark Garden Corselette Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, the shortest part of the corset at the side seam is 5.5 inches (cut very high over the hip), and the enter back is also 8.5 inches. Circumferential measurements: waist is 22″, ribcage 26″ (measured about 3 inches above the waist), high hip 28″ (measured about 2.5 inches below the waist). The silhouette is quite dramatic; I consider this a wasp waist. Side bones are pre-bent to give a nipped-in waist.
Material Fashion fabric is red poplin, with a black lace overlay (every panel is mirror-matched), and the strength fabric (lining) is densely-woven black canvas.
Construction 4 panel pattern. It seems as though all layers were flatlined for each panel, panels were assembled with seam allowances facing outward, and these seams were then covered with external boning channels (2 bones per seam).
Binding Black satin bias binding, machine stitched on both sides, with a slight topstitch visible on the outside. 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape 0.75 inch wide twill waist tape, exposed on the lining side of the corset. It starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and ends at the center back seam.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 5″ wide, finished in the same fashion fabric (red poplin with black lace) and black canvas lining. Stiffened with 4 steel bones and left separate to slip under the laces when worn (or you can choose to not wear the modesty panel). There is a teensy seam in the center front which is not a modesty placket per se, but it does help prevent a visible gap between the busk.
Busk 10 inches long with 5 pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side). There is also a 1/2″ wide flat steel on either side of the busk for reinforcement. In the pointed cinchers, the busk seems to be shaved down on an angle so the tips follow the same line as the fabric!
Boning 18 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide bones, double boned on the seams. The side seams must be flat steel since they are pre-bent. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, as well as one 1/2″ flat steel by the busk, making a total of 9 bones on each side.
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #00 with medium flange, finished in black and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely and don’t catch on the laces. Washers are large to prevent the grommets from falling out.
Laces 3/8″ black double faced satin ribbon. Zero spring. They glide well through the laces.
Price Available from sizes 18-38, and at the time that I’m writing this review, the corselette costs $315 for plain black poplin, and $395 if you want an identical style to this (with coloured poplin and mirror-matched lace overlay).
Dark Garden Corselette, modelled by Victoria Dagger and photographed by Joel Aron photography

I’m extremely pleased to say that this is the first of four reviews of Dark Garden’s RTW (ready-to-wear) corset selection, including the Cincher, the classic Valentine and the Risqué Valentine

The Corselette is one of the shortest corsets I’ve ever tried, with a side length of only 5.5 inches which may fit even the shortest of waists. This particular style is pointed in the front with a 10 inch busk; but if you don’t like pointed corsets or you prefer something that is more conducive to hiding under clothing, you can request that the Corselette be made with a more rounded center front instead (the center front may be slightly shorter in this case). If you think you need more control around the sides and back to control flesh spillover, or if you want your lower tummy pulled flat, I would suggest trying one of their slightly longer underbust corsets.

I love how they used flat steel bones along the side seams that had been pre-curved to nip in the waist and kick out the hip, making a very curvy and comfortable corset from the first time I wore it – no numbness around the hips.

But one of the things I appreciate most about Dark Garden is their ethics. Every one of their corsets are made from start to finish in the US and they take enormous pride in their construction, which is evident in the pattern matching in their lace or brocade corsets for a luxurious final effect.

The Corselette can be viewed on Dark Garden’s website HERE.

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Chest Binders and Corsets – my experience

Back in May 2104, I wrote about compatibility between corsets and conventional bras, and how to avoid possible issues like underwire entrapment (when the underwire of your bra gets pushed uncomfortably against your ribcage) or the double lift effect (when the top edge of your corset pushes up on your bra, which then pushes up your breasts unnaturally high).

However, a number of followers have asked me if it’s possible to wear a bust binder in conjunction with a corset (whether to prevent accentuating a larger bust when seen in contrast to a smaller waist, or to present a more androgynous figure, or attain a particular silhouette for a costume). This may also apply if you have a very high-compression sports bra (I notice that I have a similar, but not identical, effect in my Enell Sport bra).

I’ve always been fascinated with fashion and how the line of clothing could change the apparent figure of the wearer – when I was in high school, even before discovering corsets, I used to play around with fashion and had no problem wearing a frilly dress one day and my brother’s button-down shirt the next day. I might have worn a padded bra with one outfit and a minimizer or binder with the other outfit, based on how I felt that day. So fortunately when a few people asked what it was like to wear a corset and chest binder together, I already had this experience.

Since I’m full-busted, my Underworks Tri-top binder doesn’t completely flatten my chest, but it still does an impressive job at taking down my apparent bust by at least 2 cup sizes. However, this flesh has to be displaced somewhere, and on me, some of my tissue is pushed upwards toward my collarbone, giving me a “pigeon-chest” effect (which means I only wear my binder with higher-cut necklines), and I get a bit of squishing out of the sides around my armpits. (I have squidgy armpits to begin with, as anyone who’s seen one of my overbust reviews can attest. I simply hide this by wearing a looser shirt.)

One other thing that’s important to note when combining a corset with a binder is to be aware of which way your binder is pushing your mammary tissue. Some have told me that when they normally put on a binder, they pull it straight down so their breast tissue is pushed down – however if your underbust corset extends quite high on your ribcage, you may run the risk of trapping some of your bust under the corset. When I wear my binder with a corset, I first pull the binder on downwards, but then reach inside and redistribute my flesh upwards a bit so as not to trap any of that tissue uncomfortably under the top edge of my corset.

There are some advantages to wearing a binder with a corset, however, including some elimination of muffin-top in the back – and since my Tri-top binder extends down to almost the navel, I find that it also acts as a semi-liner underneath my corset as well. Another corseter also told me that for people with a smaller cup size, the corset can control any bumps on your chest left over by the binder and create a more smooth effect overall – so the corset can compensate for the binder in the front, and the binder can compensate for any muffin top caused by the corset in the back.

In my experience, wearing a binder with a corset is a bit more restrictive on my breathing (compared to wearing one or the other separately) and I admit that I prefer to just wear a well-fitting underwire bra with my corset as I don’t tolerate much pressure on my upper chest – but on occasion, I do appreciate the minimizing effect a binder provides. Click the following links if you’d like to see my reviews of the Genie Bra, the Enell Sport and Lite bras, and the Goddess longline bra in conjunction with corsets.

Do you prefer to minimize your bust when wearing a corset? If so, what products do you use?

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RetroFolie Alyssum Underbust Corset Review

This post is a summary of the “RetroFolie Alyssum Underbust Corset Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, along the princess seam (underbust to lap) is 9.5 inches, and the enter back is also 12.5 inches. The corset is cut low in the center front to control lower tummy, and then the corset gradually cuts upwards in the back to give a high back at the top, and stops just above the tailbone on me. The Alyssum corset is not longline (stops around the iliac crest). Circumferential measurements: waist is 22″, underbust 30″, high hip 32″ (this is her standard-sized option). The silhouette is a gentle hourglass.
Material 3 main layers – fashion fabric is printed cotton sateen (interfaced twice), featuring “L’escarpolette” (The Swing) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.  There is a twill interlining between the fashion fabric (note that Julianne has started using herringbone coutil as the strength fabric in her corsets now). The floating liner is black cotton as well.
Construction 6 panel pattern, with some of the panels in the front tapering toward the lower tummy. Fashion layer (interfaced) and cotton interlining were flatlined (lining is floating). Panels assembled with a top-stitch at the seams (quadruple stitched). I requested double boning on the seams; channels are sandwiched between fashion and interlining layers.
Binding Commercial black bias binding, machine stitched on both sides, with a slight topstitch visible.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the layers. It starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and ends at the seam of the last panel (between panels 5-6).
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 6.5″ wide, finished in the same fashion fabric (featuring the shoe flying off the lady’s foot) and black cotton lining. Stiffened with what I presume is buckram (the same stiffener found in hats, Julianne says) and suspended on the laces with grommets near the top and bottom. There is also a 1″ wide modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 10 inches long with 5 pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side). There is also a 1/4″ wide flat steel on either side of the busk for reinforcement.
Boning 28 total bones not including busk (remember I requested double bones in my corset). On each side there are eleven 1/4″ spiral steel bones. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side, as well as one 1/4″ flat steel by the busk, making a total of 14 bones on each side.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 with medium flange, finished in silver and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely. Washers are large to prevent the grommets from falling out.
Laces 1/4″ black flat braided shoe-lace style laces. Virtually unbreakable. Has a bit of spring. There is quite a bit of friction while lacing up, but this might be due to the modesty panel more than anything else.
Price At the time that I’m writing this review, a historical artwork Alyssum underbust starts at $270 – $290 USD through her Etsy store. Several upgrades are available such as a modesty panel (extra $20), and custom fit (extra $25).

Other Thoughts/ Observations:

From her Facebook fanpage: L’Escarpolette corset is RetroFolie’s best seller

 

RetroFolie is the business name of Julianne Coriandoli, who was also the 2014 Grand Prize winner of the Foundations Revealed “geometric” theme corset contest. Today she is more known for her incredible “Historical Artwork” corsets, in which she takes beautiful historical paintings and turns them into 3-dimensional pieces of wearable art.

Many people initially thought that the corsets were put into a printer after completing construction – in fact, the paintings are printed onto flat fabric (cotton sateen) and each panel is carefully cut out and stitched to match the others by the millimetre – the picture spans beautifully unbroken over the front of the corset, and I know from personal experience how much time and care is necessary for such a project.

Julianne says that she’s happy to take custom requests for paintings, as long as they are within the public domain (the artist has been deceased for 70-100 years, depending on the country and laws).

When I ordered this corset this past spring, default RetroFolie corsets had a cotton twill interlining and single boning. Today, it seems that all of her corsets now feature double boning and a herringbone coutil strength interlining, so you no longer have to order those as markups!

In the near future I will also be reviewing RetroFolie’s longline Azalea corset, which was also made-to-measure.

You can see what other corsets Julianne has for sale in the RetroFolie Etsy shop HERE, or check out her main website HERE.

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Pairing your Corset with Leggings

I will preface this by saying that it took me many years to jump on the legging/ jegging bandwagon. When I first saw leggings coming back into fashion around 2005 (along with the skinny jeans), I thought it wouldn’t last more than a season or two before they went the way of the neon spandex pants of the 80s. However, nearly 10 years later, leggings are just as popular as ever – and about five years ago, I finally tried a pair and was immediately sold on their comfort (and more importantly, their compatibility with my corsets).

I’m often asked what kinds of jeans or trousers to wear with corsets, because those with a thick, inelastic waistband don’t work well with corsets:

  • If you try to wear them underneath your corset (especially a longline corset), you may have issues when going to the restroom and may find that you have to loosen the corset to access your fly.
  • If you wear your jeans overtop of your corset, the waistband will likely be much larger than your corseted waist, and you may experience gaping or jeans that want to fall down on you. You might be able to belt it, but the bunching of that excess waistband may not be the most comfortable or the most flattering look. (Of course, if you like how it looks, go for it!)

The beauty of leggings is that they are thin enough that you can wear them comfortably under your corset without causing a lot of bulk, and they are elastic enough to wear them over a corset without any of that annoying gaping at the waistline.

If you plan to wear your leggings more often underneath your corset, you may want to opt for those that have a thin, low-profile waistband where the elasticity is woven right into the band (as opposed to having a separate elastic sewn into a channel in the waistband. The former is thinner and will be more comfortable and less bulky if you have the pressure of a corset overtop of it. You may also want to look for leggings that are more medium-to-low-rise instead of high-rise in the waist (especially if you plan to wear the leggings under a longline corset) so after you go to the restroom, you can more easily tuck the waistband up under the corset again. If, however, you plan to wear your corset underneath your leggings, then you don’t have to worry about either of these.

Remember that long tunic style shirts and dresses are great for hiding even longline corsets – watch the video below to see six example outfits featuring leggings, jeggings and tights, so you can see how incredibly easy it is to hide your corset under your clothes and not have to struggle every time you go to the restroom!

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Weighing in on “The Corset Diet”

The first time I heard about the “Corset Diet” was late last year (2013), and at first I didn’t quite know what to think of it. I laid low, watching carefully what the media was doing with this “new-old fad”. Despite many people asking me what I think about it over the last 8-ish months, I have eschewed the topic up until now, because while I don’t feel that the “corset diet” is totally invalid, I do think that the concept is highly flawed.

(Please note that I will continue to use the “corset diet” in quotation marks for the remainder of this article, for reasons I’ll explain shortly. I had my own independent experiences with weight loss while waist training long before the “official corset diet” came to exist – but I cannot say I’ve tried the “official corset diet” as recommended by their website, because they only guarantee the program if you use one of the corsets they supply (either latex cinchers or Corset-Story stock), and I have had bad experiences with both of these product brands in the past.)

I will admit that at first I was intrigued that this “corset diet” designed by a doctor – I have had a few doctors quietly buy corsets from me in the past, but here is one that is actually willing to publicly condone the use of corsets and monitor his patients’ health! But the products recommended by the program, and the way they choose to market the concept in itself, both left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The greatest issue I take with this program is that they choose to call corseting a “diet”.

“The Corset Diet”: it’s short, punchy, and it attracts people’s attention. They also claim a 100% success rate, and guarantee a loss of at least 2 lbs per week. I understand why they opt to call it a diet, but I don’t agree with it. When I think of a diet, I typically think of limiting certain foods, eliminating others completely, moving the time of day you eat or the frequency you have your meals, and sometimes limiting the volume of food or the amount/type of calories you eat. From a glance, it seems that this “corset diet” is only limiting the volume of food, by stomach constriction from the corset.

Here’s the crux of it: a corset is not a diet. It is no more of a “diet” than a pair of running shoes is a “marathon”.

A corset is a garment, and I have never ever believed, mentioned, or condoned that it is a way to replace proper nutrition and exercise. It’s a piece of clothing! Let’s compare this to a different piece of clothing: the running shoe. Just because you own a pair of running shoes, doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful at running a marathon. You still have to put time, effort and dedication into running on a regular basis. Granted, a good quality pair of running shoes can certainly help you run better than a pair of high heels – the shoes can aid you in your goal, can support your feet properly and keep your body in alignment. They can help you bring your A-game, but the shoes are not an exercise routine in and of themselves. This idea is flawed. 

Moreover, do you only wear running shoes when you’re running marathons? Not necessarily – you can wear running shoes because you like them, and you can wear them every day if you desire. It’s the same with corsets – not all people wear running shoes when they’re training for a marathon, just as not all people wear corsets for the purpose of weight loss. To presume so is incredibly narrow-minded and it is a form of prejudice based on one’s choice of dress.

However, for some people, a corset can aid in weight loss in some ways, so the argument is not totally invalid, but it is flawed. This article will discuss the specific application of a corset as an aid in weight loss, and examine the pros and cons with respect to this corset “diet”.

 

The Pros of the “corset diet”

(or rather, not the official “corset diet” but rather the general use of corsets as one tool/ aid for weight loss, or for positive changes to your nutrition and fitness levels)

Ann Grogan from Romantasy has shown for years that it’s not unusual to lose weight when waist training – she says that a corset can act like an external, less invasive gastric band, by putting pressure on your stomach so that it’s not able to expand as much during a meal. (Have you ever heard of a ‘food baby’, where you eat so much your abdomen is distended? This is impossible in a corset.)

Many people are accustomed to eating heavy foods and large portions; they may eat way too quickly, and some customarily binge in the evenings from the time they get home from work until whenever they go to bed. For many people, their stomachs have stretched to a very large capacity (they can accommodate a huge volume of food at any one time), and these people may have issues with their leptin/ ghrelin hormone levels (leptin insensitivity can inhibit a person from feeling full or satiated, while high ghrelin levels can cause that person to feel hungry all the time). 

 

How a corset may combat appetite issues is by increasing intra-abdominal pressure – some of the first organs to respond to this are the stomach and intestines (the more hollow and membranous organs, in contrast to the more solid organs). In the stomach and intestines, most of the volume is filled with air, food and waste. When those contents are excreted and not replaced (or not replaced quite as much), the stomach and intestines are easily able to flatten and reduce in volume. (In my corsets and toilet issues article, I described how wearing a corset can sometimes encourage bowel movements just from a “toothpaste effect”.) 

By wearing a corset and decreasing the capacity of your stomach, it may help you feel full faster (and if you eat too much, it becomes uncomfortable faster). So if you consistently wear a corset with your meals, particularly your largest meal of the day (which is dinner for many of us), then you will quickly learn that it’s not quite as easy to overeat in a corset compared to when you’re not wearing one.

And while it’s not the same for everyone, for some people who have those malfunctioning hunger signals, it’s possible to recondition and reset your appetite over time: not only learning to take smaller portions, but also feeling satisfied with less.

 

Another way that the corset may help (which is a bit more controversial as it deals with personal body image) is that a corset may allow you to see yourself in a way you always wanted to look, but could never visualize before that moment. A lot of people give up on “diets” or fitness regimes because they don’t see their figure transforming fast enough – but a corset is able to give you an instant hourglass silhouette, and sometimes allow you to instantaneously fit into smaller or more fitted clothes that perhaps you couldn’t fit into before. The corset smooths out any bumps under an outfit and makes your clothing hang differently; for some people, that gives them a boost in confidence and makes them feel fabulous.

But at the risk of naysayers telling me that I’m encouraging people to “fool themselves” into having a figure they don’t naturally possess, I am proposing the possibility that if a person is currently not 100% happy with the way they treat their body, and they have problems motivating themselves to change their current lifestyle (due to a lack of results or not being able to visualize themselves any different from their current state), these people may find that the immediate change they see in their figure by the use of corsets can serve as inspiration and motivation. A shocking, sudden shift in your self-image (being able to ‘imagine results’ before they happen) may help to kickstart a new regime: help you to start a fitness program or to choose higher quality foods, because you know you deserve to treat your body well, to give it clean fuel and keep it strong.

But please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, because I’m not suggesting that all people with a sedentary lifestyle who eat junk food have low confidence/poor body image, or even people who carry a little more weight than the “average” have low confidence. Confidence and positive body image can exist at any size. Ultimately, those who wear corsets choose to do so because they enjoy it.

 

The Cons of the “corset diet”

(or rather, the expectation that corsets can be used as the only tool for weight loss/ changes to your nutrition and fitness levels)

A lot of people apply the first law of thermodynamics to dieting and weight loss: calories in, calories out. Fuel in, energy out. Energy density within certain foods, and which foods tip that scale. (I know a lot of people don’t believe in the concept of equal calories but just bear with me here. For many people, this is the oversimplified relationship between diet and weight loss.)

Now let’s look at the simplified view of corseting as related to diet and weight loss. It’s a matter of physics instead of chemistry now: how large of a volume of food can you fit comfortably in your body at one time (whilst your stomach capacity is reduced by the corset)? Let’s say that while you’re wearing your corset, your stomach can only comfortably hold 2 cup of food, instead of 5-6 cups.

But you can easily see where this concept doesn’t work for everyone, because it completely removes the factor of the quality of food you’re eating – you’re not looking at nutritional density at all!

  • If you eat 2 cups of very calorie dense foods (cheese, deep fried foods, or nutritionally deprived foods like candy), instead of a cup of calorically-low and nutritionally-dense foods (steamed cruciferous vegetables, squash, berries or eggs), then don’t be surprised if the “corset diet” doesn’t work.
  • Conversely, if you already eat healthy to begin with and you maintain your healthy habits after you take on corseting, you may not see any change with the “corset diet”.
  • If you are the type to not eat meals, and you just graze 16 hours throughout the day (keeping your stomach volume small at any given time but your total day’s quantity of food is high while its quality is low overall) then the “corset diet” may not work for you.
  • And if you get tired of wearing the corset and you take it off halfway through your meal to be able to eat more, then the “corset diet” is probably not the right method for you. 

Not all people’s bodies are the same, either. There will always be those types who are able to constantly shovel in poor quality food (with or without a corset), and still not experience any undesirable effects in their health, their appearance or how they feel. And while there are some people whose appetites are curbed by wearing a corset, I’ve actually talked to some individuals who feel more hungry when wearing a corset! So as with any other “diet” in this world, results will of course vary with the effectiveness of this “corset diet” as well. 

 

My Personal Experience

(with the general use of corsets as one tool/ aid for weight loss, or for positive changes to nutrition and fitness habits)

In the past, I’ve talked about “stomach hunger” (appetite, physical hunger, need for fuel) versus “head hunger” (food cravings, food addiction, stress/ emotional eating). I have personally found that the corset helps with my “stomach hunger”, but I must still practice some willpower when it comes to overcoming my addiction to refined sugar and junk food – even when wearing a corset, you have to choose foods that are of higher nutritional quality, and you have to choose to not remove the corset when the corset makes your body feel full before the meal feels ‘over’.

However, while I can’t speak for everyone else, I know that in my experience, wearing corsets has helped train me to avoid certain foods over time. Carbonated drinks, ice cream, cheesecake, fried dishes, certain types of heavy meats, a lot of artificial sweeteners (especially the sugar-alcohols that can cause bloating), and empty calorie foods high in corn syrup and refined sugar all tend to give me a slight stomach ache when I’m corseted. So, what do I do when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me? I avoid it!

When I’m corseted, I notice that I have a tendency to choose lighter foods and higher quality foods – smoothies and protein shakes, salads, grilled vegetables, overripe fruit, and leaner meats – obviously depending on your lifestyle, your beliefs, your health and what feels good in your stomach, you may opt for different foods, but 99% of the time, the foods that are gentle on my stomach have also been foods that are more healthful (less processed and more nutritionally dense).

In my experience, when I am actively waist training (as I was through mid 2012 through to mid 2013), I tend to drop weight. When I realized that I didn’t like my silhouette with a 20-inch waist and I stopped waist training, then consequently my weight and my natural waist size both went back up.

However, it’s important to note that corsets have not been about weight for me to begin with. People have told me that I’m just lazy for strapping on a corset, and that I’m trying to “trick” people into thinking I’m thinner than I really am. But for me, having a temporary vintage hourglass figure when I’m wearing a corset was always more about creating curves and having vintage clothing fit a certain way, not about “looking skinny”. For me, corsets are about the waist, NOT the weight.

 

 

When I was contacted by a producer of The Dr Oz show a few months ago, they asked me how much weight I lost by corseting, and how long have I kept off the weight – I knew that they were trying to put a certain spin on what corseting is supposed to offer, but I wasn’t ready to lie. Before I started corseting, I was a university student, living off $5 a week for food. I ate lentils, carrots and apples for months at a time. When I didn’t buy a bus pass, I often walked 45 minutes to class (which was situated up on a steep hill), wearing a 20 lb backpack. (I wish I were hyperbolizing, but those who have gone to school with me know that I’m not.)

These days, I work a cushy job, I live in a suburb where it’s customary to drive most places, and I can pay for more than just lentils. I’m not eating the same, I’m not getting the same exercise, and I doubt I have the same metabolism I did in my late teens or early 20s. If you want to look at the whole 5-ish year span between the time before I started corseting on a regular basis and today, it’s clear that I have gained weight!

If I wanted to lose that weight, I know what I need to do. Yes I would personally include corsets in my regimen, but that will not by any means be the only tool. Once again, I have never ever ever said that corsets were designed to be a substitute for proper diet and exercise. In fact, I have regularly said that when you start corseting, that’s a good reason to increase your core strength exercises, and to reflect on what you eat and drink in order to make your waist training as comfortable and smooth as possible.

(For what it’s worth: with what I know about weight and health these days, I’d probably be happier with a shift in composition as opposed to a flat-out loss in weight. Remember that weight and BMI alone cannot accurately tell a person the state of their health. Instead of wanting to lose a flat 30 lbs, it would perhaps be healthier to try for 20 lbs of fat loss, but 10 lbs gained in muscle – so the scale may only register 10 lbs lost overall, but my body would probably look and feel incredibly different.)

 

In summary:

WEIGHT ALONE IS NOT NECESSARILY AN ACCURATE REFLECTION OF HEALTH, and should not be too closely tied to your body image. Focusing on your fitness and overall health is more important than what the scale reads.

CORSETS ARE NOT A DIET, and they are NEVER a substitute for good nutrition and fitness.

WAIST TRAINING IS NOT AN EASY, SHORT-TERM SOLUTION. It is often a form of slow body modification that directly affects your ribcage and muscle morphology – any effect on weight (or particularly body fat percentage) is by indirect means. Reduction of your waist size may be independent of any change in the scale.

While weight loss by use of a corset is possible, the expectation that it works perfectly/quickly/effortlessly is flawed. Again, and forever: it should not be the only tool you use to take control of your fitness or body image.

 

Have you experienced any weight loss or change in body composition with long-term use of a genuine corset, whether intentional or unintentional? Does your appetite increase, decrease or stay the same in a corset? What about the quality or the volume of food you eat? Leave a comment below.

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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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 10.44.05 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 10.51.02 PM

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!