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What to Look for in the Perfect “Stealthing” Corset (Hiding corsets under clothing)

“Lucy, what’s the best corset that hides perfectly under clothing?”

Unfortunately, there is no corset in existence, past or present, that looks and feels completely like skin and flesh – however there are a few features to look for that can get you as close as possible. Keep in mind that all corsets are rigid though – at present, all corsets must contain strong fabric, bones for maintaining vertical tension, and laces in the back to adjust the measurements. But apart from that, the options are almost endless. Let’s look at what you should look for in a great stealthing corset. (Some links below support Lucy’s Corsetry so she can continue providing awesome info for free.)

COLOR:

Go for “nude” or skintone fabrics. Bright fabrics can draw attention under thin or light colored tops. Ivory, loomstate, peach, beige, tan, brown, etc – whatever you can find that is closest to your natural complexion.

(Some shameless self-promotion here) The skintone range by Timeless Trends is available in my shop – it suits 7 different skin tones: creme, vanilla, butterscotch, latte, caramel, cinnamon and chocolate. Most good OTR shops also have at least one “nude” option, which may range from peach to ivory to tan colored. Other examples include Orchard Corset, Isabella Corsetry, and Morgana Femme Couture.

Click here to see the full skintone collection in my shop ($74 – $99).

 

FABRIC CONTENT & WEAVE:

Satin is smooth and slippery and allows your clothing to glide overtop. But if you do go for satin, be sure that it’s fused to a stronger backing or roll-pinned – because unsupported satin has a tendency to wrinkle from stress, and these wrinkles can be noticeable. One example of a nude satin in OTR corsets is from Isabella Corsetry. You have the option of going with a peach, nude, or ballet pink cotton-backed satin (satin coutil) if you order custom from almost any reputable maker, which is the best of both worlds (strong, hardy, smooth and glides well under clothing).

For the purpose of training or daily wear corsets, when purchasing OTR / RTW, I usually recommend cotton twill or similar as an outer fabric – yes, it catches slightly more than slippery satin, but it generally doesn’t conduct static, it’s more durable and abrasion resistant, and it’s more breathable than synthetic polyester and better for the skin. Morgana Femme Couture uses nude cotton coutil, and Timeless Trends’ creme corset is 100% cotton as well.

Morgana Femme Couture Nude Coutil Waist Training / Tightlacing Corset ($230, Etsy)

BONING CHANNELS:

There are three different types of channels: external, sandwiched, and internal. I’d recommend either sandwiched or internal, as they create the smoothest finish on the outside of the corset.

Internal boning channels have the potential to be the most smooth on the outside but they are the least comfortable in my opinion (one rare exception is my Mimosa corset by Versatile, which has sandwiched bones on the inside and a floating fashion layer).
External channels are sewn to the outside of the corset, often in contrasting colors which is quite pretty – and truthfully, they have the potential to be the most comfortable with training corsets too, because you don’t have to deal with any bumps or pressure points with bones against your body – but external channels are not good for stealthing.
Sandwiched boning channels is what you see in many American OTR corsets like Orchard Corset (the double-boned styles only, like the 411 or 426) or Timeless Trends – they are a good compromise between smoothness, comfort and fashion, and they’re also often seen in training corsets.

Orchard Corset CS-411 in tan cotton ($69, use code CORSETLUCY for 10% off)

 

TOP AND BOTTOM EDGE:

Something that’s cut straight across is best, but gently rounded on top and bottom are pretty good too. Avoid points because they can bow and poke out under clothing, or they could dig into your sternum or pubic bone.

One example of a corset that’s cut fairly straight across the top and bottom edge is the CS-411 from Orchard Corset, the Classic Cincher from Isabella Corsetry, and the Mae and Gina corsets by What Katie Did (these can also be special ordered in a peach, ivory, cream, etc).

What Katie Did Mae Corset in cream raw silk (starts at $230 USD)

FRONT CLOSURE:

Good OTR training corsets are typically going to have a busk in front so you can quickly and easily get into and out of it, but it does cause a line of bumps down the front, especially if you’re wearing a fitted shirt.

Some training corsets come with the option of a closed front. You have to open the back laces a lot and slip the corset over your head (or slip it up from your feet, depending on whether your hips or your shoulders are larger) – so getting into and out of the corset isn’t going to be very quick. Busks are much quicker but more noticeable under clothing. One example of a closed front corset is the Meschantes trainer that I had reviewed a few years back.

If you are able to go custom with a maker that offers a good quality zipper in the front, but you will typically have to go custom for that.

Meschantes Nude Waist Training Corset with closed front ($119, Etsy)

 

BACK CLOSURE:

Unfortunately there’s no such thing as a corset with no laces! However, there are ways to hide your corset laces effectively – see the video below:

What are your requirements for the features in the perfect stealthing corset? What was the best stealthing corset you’ve ever tried? Leave a comment below!

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C&S Constructions Double Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Rainbow Holow Corset! Two C&S Constructions Corsets (Review / Study)” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Rainbow Holo Corset

Fit, length Center front is 10.5 inches long, princess seam is 9,5 inches, side seam is 9.5 inches and center back is 11.5 inches.
Underbust 29″, waist 21″, high hip 34″.
Rounded ribcage and rounded hips. The busk is flexible and allows inward bowing.
Material 2 main layers: fashion layer is holographic silver foil (almost like interwoven tinsel). Lined in herringbone coutil.
Construction 4 panel pattern! (Surprising as it’s so curvy.) Layers were flatlined, panels were assembled and reinforced with sturdy topstitch (seam allowances facing outside). External boning channels laid down over the seams.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape “invisibly” installed between the layers, full width.
Binding Bias strips of matching holographic foil material, machine stitched on both inside and outside (zigzag stitch; the foil material likes to shred/fray).
Modesty panel None (this is a sample). However on the C&S website, they say that all corset commissions come with a back modesty panel.
This corset sample does have a wide boned underbusk, covered in black herringbone coutil.
Busk 9″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side). The boned underbusk gives a bit more stiffness, but the corset still “dishes” on my body (this may be deliberate – common of C&S corsets, and this also seems to help me achieve a higher comfortable waist reduction in this corset).
Boning 11 steel bones, not including busk. 5 on each side, plus boned underbusk in front. On each side, 3 spirals single boned on the seams, and 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 30 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; spaced a little closer together at the waistline for easier lacing up. Underneath the grommets there are wider washers that act as a wider flange – they may help protect them from pulling out, they give more thickness for the grommet to “bite down” on (preventing wiggling or looseness, and they also hide any fraying or splitting of the outer holographic material. There are no splits in these. No wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces 3mm wide satin rattail cord. They have zero stretch, they glide well through the grommets (slippery), and they are long enough.

 

Purple with Lace Longline Corset

Fit, length Center front is 12.4 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches, side seam is 11.5 inches and center back is 13 inches.
Circumferential measurements: Underbust 28″, waist 20″, high hip 35″.
Conical ribcage. Slight hip shelf, and longline corset. Also bows at the front (likely a deliberate effect to get more of a waist reduction).
Material 3 main layers: fashion fabric is Cadbury purple satin (may be a satin coutil, or fused to a strength fabric), overlaid with black lace. Lined in black cotton drill.
Construction 4 panel pattern! (Surprising as it’s so curvy.) Layers were flatlined, panels were assembled and reinforced with sturdy topstitch (seam allowances facing outside). Black external boning channels laid down over the seams, plus extra bones in the middle of the panels (sandwiched between the layers).
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape “invisibly” installed between the layers, full width.
Binding Black satin ribbon (the same ribbon used for external boning channels), matchine stitched on both sides using a zigzag stitch.
Modesty panel None (this is a sample). However on the C&S website, they say that all corset commissions come with a back modesty panel.
This corset sample does have a wide boned underbusk, covered in black satin coutil.
Busk 11″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side). The boned underbusk gives a bit more stiffness, but the corset still “dishes” on my body (this may be deliberate – common of C&S corsets, and this also seems to help me achieve a higher comfortable waist reduction in this corset).
Boning 17 steel bones, not including busk. 8 on each side, plus boned underbusk in front. On each side, 3 spirals single boned on the seams, and an additional 3 bones in the middle of the panels. Also on each side there are 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 34 grommets total, size #x00 two-part eyelets with tiny flange; set closer at the waistline to make lacing up easier. On the underside, the eyelets were perforated (petals splayed out) but they don’t catch on the laces. There are still very large washers on the underside to prevent the eyelets from pulling out.
Laces 1/8″ wide flat black cotton shoelace. They have zero stretch or springiness, they glide well through the grommets, they hold knots and bows securely, and they are long enough.

 

C&S Model Karen models the same holographic corset – see this and other pictures on C&S Constructions website, in Gallery 1!

Final Thoughts:

Both of these corsets were made for one of C&S Constructions’ previous models, who had a slightly smaller ribcage and slightly fuller hips than me – so these weren’t made to measure for my body, but we’re “close enough” to be able to fit the same corsets similarly.

I adore the holo corset especially, and it’s a very thin and lightweight corset. Even though both corsets are a smaller waist than I’m accustomed to wearing these days (I prefer to stay at 22 inches, but the holo corset is 21″ and the purple corset is 20″), I’m able to achieve slightly more of a waist reduction in both of these because of the comfortable patterning, and also likely because of the slight “dishing” or bowing in the center front busk.

In both corsets, the construction is a bit more “rugged” than I’m accustomed to seeing these days. The overlocking / zigzag stitching is visible (especially on the inside of the corset). I thought this might have just been because these were sample corsets for photoshoots, but from other C&S customers I’ve spoken with, it seems that this was just the way many corsets were constructed in the 90s and early 2000s. While they’re just not as “tidy” in their finish compared to most corsets on the market today, these corsets have held up well over the years and give a beautiful silhouette, and are a reflection of C&S’s good reputation. Visit C&S Constructions website here.

Do you own this corset or another piece from C&S Constructions? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

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Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

We’ve talked about the shape of your lacing gap before (multiple times) and said that a parallel gap is what most people strive for in a well-fitting corset. But even in a corset with a parallel gap, how wide should that gap be? (And is it okay to wear it completely closed?) That’s what we’re going to discuss today!

 

Long story short: whether you wear a corset with a gap in the back or laced closed is 99% preference, unless a gap in the back is enforced by the specific corset maker you’re commissioning from.

With most OTR corsets, the size you see is the size you get.

In other words: if you order a corset that says it’s size 30″, then when it’s laced closed, your internal corseted waist will also be 30 inches (barring any stretch or ease).

Tomto Taifun corset
Taifun men’s corset by TO.mTO: An example of a corset that’s pretty much laced closed in the back. If you were to lace it any tighter, the edges would begin to overlap. (This lacing gap is okay!)

By the way, the definition of a “closed” corset is when the two edges of the lacing panels are touching. A closed corset does not mean one that is “simply laced enough for the modesty panel to reach across the back”. (There is way too much variation between the width of modesty panels of different brands – some panels are 4 inches wide, others are like 7 inches wide, and some don’t have modesty panels at all!)

So closed means that it’s laced shut and you can’t get it any smaller without actually altering the corset (see photo to the right).

Why would someone want or need a lacing gap in their corset?

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to wear a corset with a small lacing gap:

  • it can add some flexibility to the back of the corset. I’ve heard it described as the open laces acting like a hinge – so as you swing your hips when you’re walking or bending or doing activities, the corset can shift and swing with you.
  • If you have a sensitive spine (say you have very low body fat and your vertebrae visibly protrude from your back), you might find it more comfortable to wear the corset with a gap so the steels of the corset don’t rub against your back.
  • Having a gap in the back also accounts for weight fluctuations. If you happen to lose 5-10 pounds, your corset will still fit without feeling too loose.

But then again… if you want to wear your corset closed, that’s okay too.

  • Almost everyone I’ve seen in a corset, regardless of their body fat, experience the “Venus fold” – this is where the skin and erector muscles of your back get pushed together to create a cleavage in the back. (That’s not necessarily fat, people of every size can get that to some degree – and same with “muffin top” in corsets with a too-tight ribcage.) So if you are prone to the Venus fold, which more than likely you are, you might not have to worry about the corset rubbing against your spine, and you might be able to wear the corset completely closed with comfort if that’s your desire.
  • Also, if you are like myself and many others, and your weight fluctuations tend towards increasing as opposed to decreasing (especially as you age), you may find it more economical to order your corsets in such as size that they lace closed when at one’s lower end of your comfortable weight range. I do this as well (I’m happy to lace closed my size 22″, and if /when I eventually gain some inches, the gap in the back of my corset will not be too large).

I don’t wear my corsets closed all the time.

A relatively tubular corset laced in a )( shape, to make the corset seem curvier than it really is. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

Because I prefer the cycle method of wearing my corset (even though I don’t train per se anymore), throughout the day I may fluctuate the tightness based on my personal comfort level. For the purpose of my corset reviews though, I like the tidy look of a closed corset – and a corset that is closed from top to bottom is giving no illusions about the size I am wearing, or the silhouette the corset gives. I can’t “lie” about a tubular corset being curvier than it actually is by wearing the corset with a wonky )( shape in the back. In my reviews, I’m all about transparency – if the gap in the back is closed, you know that what you see is what you get.

I’m also transparent about the size I’m wearing, so you aren’t getting any illusion about the amount of curve you receive in a corset relative to the size. A 10-inch hip spring on a size 20″ corset is a 50% difference from waist to hips, which makes that small corset seem incredibly curvy. But a 10-inch hip spring on a size 40″ corset will only look half as curvy, because the waist is twice as big. Over the years I’ve worn corsets as small as size 20″ and as large as size 26″, and I mention this in my videos because the size does affect the apparent curve of the corset.

(There have been some corset makers who tried to make a range of corsets where the rib- and hip-springs increased proportionally with the size, but the complications involved in producing and fitting customers is with those types of corsets is a story for another time.)

Many OTR brands recommend a 2-3 inch wide lacing gap.

black-steel-boned-long-hourglass-back
OTR corset with a standard 2-inch lacing gap in the back, to account for fluctuations. Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset, available from my shop. (This lacing gap is okay too!)

Like I said before: most OTR corsets are designed and made such that, if you wear the corset closed, then your internal waist will measure what it says on the label. However, it’s worth noting that many OTR brands train their employees to give sizing advice such that the customer will wear it with a 2-3 inch gap in the back. So if Sally-Joe from Blorset Corsets looks at your measurements and says your measurements almost perfectly match a size 30″ corset laced closed, she may recommend you buy the size 28″ instead, so that it’s deliberately worn with a gap. This may be for several reasons:

  • If you as a customer are extra compressible and lace the corset closed on the first wear, it would be considered too big (even if the ribs and hips of your corset fit flush with your body)
  • If your OTR corset is known to stretch or ease over time, the size 28″ might expand to fit you similarly to the (unstretched) size 30″. This is often the reason for going down a size in mesh corsets, for instance.

When prospective clients are coming through my personalized sizing service for the corsets in my shop, I will often recommend two sizes – the size that will lace closed in the back, and the size that will fit them with a small gap in the back.

If the client is in the process of losing weight, I will recommend the smaller size as it may fit them for a longer time (they may not drop in size proportionally, but at least the larger corset will not be too big in a short amount of time). If the client’s weight fluctuates towards increasing, I might recommend the larger corset, for the reasons I mentioned above in this article. If the person aesthetically likes the corset laced closed, they can choose the larger corset – or if they like the corset with a gap, they can choose the smaller corset.

How wide of a gap is too wide?

A too-small corset: the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

I’ve spoken about this in my addendum to corset gaps article. If you’ve got a 10-inch gap in the back of your corset –> the side seams of the corset are offset too much from the side of your body –> you don’t have appropriate torque to tighten the corset –> this runs the risk of putting uneven stress on the corset and warping it, and putting too much pressure on the back of your body and not enough tension at the front of the body. (See picture to the right.)

What is a good guideline for a gap that is just the right size?

A 1-3 inch gap is generally fine for many people and it won’t offset the seams of an OTR corset or the intended fit too much, even if your weight fluctuates by an estimated 5-10 pounds.

One guideline for the maximum gap in the back of the corset is the distance between your Venus Dimples.

For other brands (e.g. Dark Garden), they say that a gap that is about 10% of your size of your corset is fine. So if you wear a 60 inch corset (which do exist, just not in OTR), your gap in the back can be 6 inches wide and it won’t affect the fit by too much. But a 6-inch wide gap on someone wearing a size 20” is definitely not going to look/ feel/ fit the same way, and its best to aim for a 2-inch gap for that size.

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What Katie Did Vamp Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “What Katie Did (WKD) Vamp Corset Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, the princess seam is 9 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10 inches, and the center back is 11.75 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, low hip spring is 13″. The rib is conical, and the hip spring is rounded / shelf-like and dramatic.
Material 3 main layers – the fashion fabric aubergine silk and contrasting pewter brocade (see Final Thoughts below), it has a cotton twill strength fabric, and it’s lined in black cotton twill as well.
Construction 7-panel pattern (14 panels total) including hip gores. Fashion fabric was flatlined to strength fabric, panels were assembled, and external boning channels laid down overtop. The lining is floating.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape, usually installed “invisibly” between the layers. This corset has an external waist belt which is aesthetic and also functional.
Binding Made from strips of pewter brocade, machine stitched on outside and inside (topstitch on both sides, may have a special attachment that stitches on the binding in one pass). Also has 6 garter tabs, 3 on each side.
Modesty panel Nearly 8″ wide, unstiffened, finished in aubergine silk (fashion fabric) and lined in cotton. Attached to the corset (sewn into the lining of the corset, so can’t easily be removed).
In the front, there is a 3/8″ wide placket under the knob side of the busk, slightly stiffened (buckram?) and finished in matching raw silk.
Busk 10 inches long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. 3/4″ wide on each side (slightly wider than a standard flexible busk), with an adjacent flat steel on either side of the busk for extra stiffness.
Boning 18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Some seams are single boned and some seams are double boned, depending on how much space there is (perhaps the larger sizes have more bones?). The bones on the seams are all ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are ¼ inch wide flat steel, as well as the bones by the busk.
Grommets There are 22, two-part size #0 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver.
Laces The laces are black, 3/8 inch flat nylon shoelace. They have a little spring, they’re difficult to snap, they hold bows and knots well, and they are long enough.
Price Available in size 18″ up to 34″.
Price starts at £169.50 GBP ($275 USD) for the classic Vamp in solid satin colors, and price may go up from there depending on what you choose in their “Designer” section.

 

Final Thoughts:

WKD Vamp corset in black satin.

Of all the underbust corsets from What Katie Did, this might just be my favorite. It’s just as curvy as the Morticia underbust, but made to be a more “squat” version so you get all the curve in less of the length. It provides the look and support of a longline corset while still allowing those with a shorter waist (or shorter of stature) to sit down comfortably.

True to WKD aesthetic, it’s quite conical over the ribs, dramatic over the hips, and gives a very flat tummy, making it ideal to wear under retro clothing.

 

I chose the color and overall design of this Vamp corset by submitting my choices in their Corset Designer – for the fashion fabric, I chose a rich, deep aubergine raw dupioni silk, and I requested external boning channels, binding and an external diamond waist tape all made from a pewter / gunmetal (dark silver) floral brocade. You can choose different colors or fabrics for all of these components, or you can choose to not have any contrasting channels or any belt at all (you do need binding, but you can have it match the rest of the corset). Ordering a special design corset automatically makes the corset a WKD Gold Label corset.

Do keep in mind that their “Design your own Corset” section is mainly for colors, fabrics, embellishments and trims for a selection of their standard sized corsets, and it does not give a made-to-measure option. They can make corsets 1 inch longer or 1 inch shorter at the top / bottom edge compared to the base pattern, but this is the extent of the pattern changes they’re able to do.

What Katie Did’s Vamp corset can be found on their website here.

EDIT 2018: What Katie Did has discontinued the Vamp corset and has created an entirely new line of corsets! The probable equivalent of their old Vamp is their new Extreme Morticia Nouveau corset.