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California Corset Adventures – NALACE, Puimond, Interviews & More

As you know, throughout 2015 I spent about 2 months traveling for business. You might recall my Thailand adventures video and my Texas adventures video, so here is a brief continuation of what happened in California in July of 2015. (Unfortunately I broke my phone and I had also misplaced some memory cards for my travel camcorder for two years so I lost a lot of my footage – but by some stroke of luck I found one of my SD cards which had a few tidbits of footage).

The clip with myself, Sarah, and Jim Cox (the owner of Timeless Trends) at the beginning of the video above is of one of the first prototypes of the Gemini back in June of 2015 in Bangkok. I had included a very short clip of this in my Thailand video two years ago, but I didn’t want to give away too much about the two different silhouettes and the cut, but now that the Gemini corset is for sale, I’m comfortable extended version now!

After staying in Texas for about 3 weeks, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry) and I flew to Los Angeles together to attend the first ever North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium, coordinated by Jasmine Starfire. Some of the teachers included Jasmine of Sin & Satin, Amara from Vintage View Atelier, Jessica from Ties That Bynde, Sidney Eileen, and also in attendance was Heidi from Strait-Laced Dame, Alisha from The Bad Button, Lori of Bound Angel Designs (who also helped me on the Corset Database), and Lori’s mom Celia, who was everyone’s mom for that weekend. Celia unfortunately passed away from cancer in early 2017. If you would like to support her family during this difficult time, please consider donating to their GoFundMe here.

Two examples of Sin & Satin ribbon cinchers without a side seam.

There were some great workshops during this weekend, including:

  • Jasmine (Sind & Satin): how to create her signature ribbon cinchers without a side seam.
  • Jessica (Ties That Bynde): how to drape and modify patterns from start to finish, and how to grade sizes of a standard size collection.
  • Sidney Eileen: flossing and other couture hand-finishing techniques.
  • Jasmine Starfire (the coordinator): millinery techniques that can cross over to corsetry, including using bronze molds on silk petals to make custom flower embellishments.
  • Amber (Lovely Rats): how to pattern-match / motif-match.

And there were also opportunities to stay longer and visit the amazing fabric market in the LA area.

I also got to catch up with Sidney Eileen, and interviewed Sidney on how her health has improved since the 2013 fundraiser to help treat her lyme and anaplasma infections.

After the Symposium I decided to stay for an extra two days in California and take in what the LA area had to offer (what I could afford at the time). Unfortunately I did not make it to Disneyland, but Laysa and I went shopping in Burbank, visiting stores like Pinup Girl Clothing, What Katie Did, and Unique Vintage. Laysa also took me to Venice Beach where I touched the Pacific ocean for the first time, and the two of us also spent a day with Puimond and his two adorable and well-behaved dogs, Dobby and Handsome (RIP to them both, they passed away I believe in 2017). If you want to see the full interview with Puimond, click here.

I wish I had more footage to show but it really was a whirlwind trip of about 4.5 days! I definitely would love to visit California again in the future. Californians, if you can think of anything that is an absolute “not to be missed” attraction that you think I should see next time I’m there, leave a comment below and let me know!

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Glamorous Corset “Emma” Mesh Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Emma” underbust corset in black mesh, made by Glamorous Corset. 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 just short of 10.5 inches long, the princess seam is 10 inches, the side seam is also 10 inches and the center back is 11.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 6″, hip spring is 6″. The waist does tend to run a bit large / expand in mesh corsets. Offers a gentle (modern slim) silhouette.
Material The mesh parts are single layer hexagonal-hole “fishnet” style netting (seemingly industry standard for OTR). The front and back panels, boning channels and binding are all black cotton bull denim (a coarse weave twill).
Construction 5-panel pattern (10 panels total). Mesh panels were assembled together, and seams were sandwiched by boning channels on the outside and inside. The channels straddle the seams and reinforce the seams.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from single-faced satin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset and secured at boning channels. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. The front was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
Modesty panel 5.5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, also finished in black cotton.
Busk 9” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side) with an additional ¼” spiral steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset, 11 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones adjacent to the busk are also spiral steel. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Only a few splits on the underside of the grommets, and due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch much.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Comes in black mesh, white mesh, and 4 shades of satin.
Sizes 18″ – 28″ are $79 USD, and sizes 30″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here.

 

Final Thoughts:

Emma Mesh underbust (available in black mesh and white mesh), model unknown. $79-$84 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

The Emma corset is a mid-length mesh corset that offers gentle waist reduction. If you have a seated torso length that is less than 10 inches, you may be more comfortable in their shorter “Bella” mesh cincher, and if you prefer a curvier, longer corset, their “Jolie” longline may suit your preferences.

The mesh is the OTR standard “fishnet” type cotton netting, which offers breathability and quite a lot of flexibility, while the sturdy double boning adds body and rigidity to the corset for posture support and vertical tension. Do keep in mind that because the mesh can expand, this mesh corsets (like other mesh corsets) can expand 1-2 inches when worn (I find this is true of nearly all OTR corsets with this kind of fishnet material, regardless of the brand), so if you’re looking for a specific waist reduction, you may need to go one size down from your usual size – but ensure that your ribs and hips will fit that smaller size as well.

One viewer on Youtube asked about the similarities and differences between this Emma corset compared to True Corset’s mesh cincher, which I reviewed a few years back. For the similarities, both corsets have the same number of panels, and the top and bottom edges are cut straight across in a similar way, and the type of mesh / fabrics used are comparable, but that’s where the similarities end. The measurements are different (in the True Corset, the rib spring is +5 inches, and the hip spring is +8 inches. In this Emma, the rib spring and hip spring are both +6 inches). The Emma also has a slightly different construction technique (double boned, and the boning channels seem to be reinforced as well) – and because of the heavier boning, it lends a smoother, more mild silhouette than the True Corset. If I recall correctly, True Corset dipped or sealed their steels in a kind of shrink tubing, whereas in the Emma corset, they used cotton channels on inside and outside.

Find the Glamorous Corset Emma and other mesh corsets in Glamorous Corset’s shop here.

Do you have the Emma corset, or another piece from Glamorous Corset? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below.

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Corsets and Riding a Bike / Motorcycle

Welcome to another Fast Foundation Friday! Today we will explore the question of whether you’re able to ride a bicycle / motorcycle while wearing a corset.

While I don’t own a motorcycle or a bike (so I can’t give you a live demo unfortunately), I do however know a few corset wearers who do ride bikes or motorcycles. The have informed me that the corset works on a bike similarly to how corsets helped cavaliers on their horses in the 19th century: the corset helps correct posture while on the motorbike, it can act like a kidney belt to prevent organ jiggling especially over gravel, and it can provide another layer of proprioceptive feedback (telling you when you’re leaning and when you’re straight).

One acquaintance who rides motorcycles, Deanna, contributed to my Solaced book. Hers is the first story of the Back Injuries chapter, you can read her story for free if you go to Amazon and read the kindle sample. In her testimony, she mentioned that she had wiped out on her motorcycle twice – once before discovering corsets (and wearing a corset helped in back recovery) and quite a bit later, she had an accident again – this time while wearing her corset. The second time she had an accident, she said she had injured almost every part of her body except where her corset covered (armor indeed!).

“Love Will Find a Wheel” by Sarah Chrisman – a story about Victorian Biking Clubs. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Regarding bicycles, there are many accounts of corset wearers biking while in a corset. The first person that comes to mind is Sarah Chrisman, author of Victorian Secrets. She is a lifestyle corset wearer and has many pictures of herself on a bike as well as many resources from the Victorian era regarding bicycling.

For those who are looking for some advice regarding how to start riding your bike while in a corset – some common sense tips include getting used to riding your bike without the corset, and getting accustomed to wearing your corset before jumping on a bike. Learn how to breathe, bend and move in a corset before your first bike trip, and learn your bike paths and figure out how much you’ll be exerting yourself.

While on your bike, in your corset, pace yourself so you don’t get too winded e.g. when going up hills, and don’t be afraid to stop and loosen the corset if you feel the need to. I will always say safety first on the road, so if a corset prevents you from turning properly to check any blind spots behind you (regardless of the vehicle) then you may want to consider going without the corset – take it in your bag and put the corset on when you get to your destination.

Do you have any other ideas or questions you want answered in future Fast Foundation videos? Leave a comment below!

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Your Corset Doesn’t Fit… Now What? When to Alter Your Corset, or Let It Go.

In this post we’re going to discuss corset alterations to adjust the fit of your corset, and when it’s worth it to try to go DIY, when to leave it to professionals, and when to cut your losses and just toss (or sell) your corset.

Before I get to that, I will say that if you absolutely hate sewing and you have the funds to commission someone else for alteration or repairs, there is no shame in doing so. Back in 2010 I made a video titled “Should you buy a corset or make one?” where I explained (with math and tables, in all my nerdy goodness) to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a corset or making one by myself.

But one thing I didn’t factor in was your willingness to learn and how much you value your time. Let’s say it takes ~20 hours to make one good-quality-yet-relatively-simple corset. (This is about right for me, as I’m a very slow and meticulous worker.) If you have no desire to learn how to sew, and you’re lucky enough to have a job where you’re paid over $30 per hour, that means you can work 10 hours and commission a corsetiere to make you a custom corset for $300 (instead of making a corset in 20 hours and saving yourself $300). If you have zero interest in sewing, it’s better to go with the former situation as you’ve just saved yourself 10 hours of labor.

Just as there’s no shame in buying a custom corset if you can afford it (and you simply don’t like sewing), there’s also no shame in sending your corset to a tailor or corsetiere for alterations – nor is there anything wrong with selling your poorly-fitting corset to someone who would fit it better, and buying a new corset that will fit you correctly! Consider your personal situation and use your discretion.

By the way, altering your corset is something you do when your return / exchange period has expired (or if the company you bought your corset from doesn’t have a decent exchange policy). To see the various exchange / return windows of different OTR corset brands, see my page “Can I Waist Train In That Corset?”

With that said, let’s start with fitting issues with your corset, and what can be done about each.

 

The hips of the corset are too narrow

The A Shape corset gap

(By the way, this gives the “A” shaped corset gap.) You have a corset that is not curvy enough in the hips, and the solution is to create more space in the hips.

If the corset was constructed using the sandwich method (and only the sandwich method), it’s probably fastest and easiest to add hip ties. The advantage with hip ties is that you can adjust them as you train down your waist – if the waist is loose, you can tighten the hip ties to be snug around your own hips, and as you tighten down the waist, you can loosen up the hip ties to accommodate your own hips as that corseted hip spring gradually becomes larger – so the hips of your corset always fit. With a corset with a fixed hip measurement, there’s a narrow window where it fits best, without being too loose or too tight.

Time needed to add hip ties: 2-4 hours.

If your corset is not made with the sandwich method, or if you don’t like hip ties, you can add hip gores which are easiest to do by slashing the middle of the panel, that way you don’t have to take out the boning and pick out all the seams between the panels.

Time needed to add hip gores: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores.


The ribcage of the corset is too small

The V shape corset gap

(By the way, this gives the “V” shaped corset gap.)

Some people asked if “rib ties” are a thing. Technically yes – you can do the same thing on the top half of the corset compared to the bottom half. But generally there’s a bit more pressure on the ribs than there are on the hips, especially if it was a conical rib corset. If you put in rib ties, even in the most straight-ribbed corsets, they will automatically create a cupped-rib corset. Another concern is that over a longer time, those laces would push against your ribcage and that pressure might get uncomfortable over time.

So I would recommend only gores for introducing more room in the bust or ribcage. With gores, you can also control how round or how conical you want the ribcage to be.

Time needed to add “rib gores”: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores

If you want to add hand flossing to the gores to strengthen the seams, give yourself extra time for that!


The steels by the grommets are too straight and hurt your back.

Corset with hand-curved back steels to support lumbar curve. Click through to see my tutorial on how to curve the steels.

This is a pretty easy fix, you don’t even need to get out your seam ripper. You can use your hands to gently curve the steels to fit the curve along your back.

You can also do this in the front, curving the busk itself, or the steel bones adjacent to the busk. It can create a slightly “spoon busk” effect so if you have a protruding tummy, the busk “scoops” it up and in. However if you are very slender (you have a flat tummy with protruding pubic mound), then I might not recommend curving the busk inward, as the bottom of the busk might jab into your pubic bone.

(If your corset contains carbon fiber bones instead of a malleable steel, you don’t have a chance in heck to bend those bones. Don’t even try.)

Time needed to curve the back steels: 10-20 minutes.


The corset is too long (you can’t comfortably sit down in it)

You can cut down the length of a corset, although it’s a more complicated job. My tutorial on cutting down a corset shows how to turn an overbust corset into an underbust (by only cutting down the top edge) but you can also cut down the bottom edge to your desired length.

Cutting down the top edge will stop the corset from pushing up on your bustline, while cutting the bottom edge of the corset will stop the corset from digging into your lap when you sit down.

For a very long corset that’s problematic on both top and bottom, do not attempt to just cut down one edge and “fudge” the fit by changing where you put the waistline of the corset on your body. If you’re tempted to cut corners, you’re better off selling the corset and using the funds towards a better-fitting, shorter corset for yourself.

Cutting down the corset involves removing the binding, removing the bones, cutting down the corset fabric, cutting down the bones (and busk), retipping the bones and putting them back in, and finally sewing on the binding again. See my video tutorial here!

Time needed to cut down your corset: 5+ hours, depending how many bones you need to cut down.


The corset is too short (it’s not fully covering or supporting your lower tummy, and/or may be causing some “muffin top” at the ribs or back)

There are not a lot of effective ways to lengthen a corset. If you are stuck with that corset, then pair it with some shapewear: control top briefs can help pull in and support your lower tummy if the corset stops too high on your hip, or a longline bra can help smooth your ribs and the skin along your back if the corset stops too low on your ribs. But honestly, if at all possible, I would exchange that corset for a longer one – or if an exchange is not possible with your vendor, just sell the corset and use the funds toward a longer, better fitting corset.


The corset is too big or too curvy – can you take in a corset?

Does your corset flare at the ribs and hips, even while laced completely closed? Then it’s too big or too curvy for your body.

Technically it is possible to sew darts or pleats into a corset, but it’s not a good idea because it can create pressure points on the body. I discussed this in my first “Sizing Down in Your Corset” post here.

To “take in” a corset the professional way, where you would never have known it was altered: you would have to apart the corset completely – seam by seam – and cut each panel smaller. But there are so many seams in a corset that it would probably take longer to alter a corset than it takes to make one from scratch. Also, by ripping apart so many seams, it’s possible to damage the fabric beyond repair (and if you don’t have sufficient seam allowance, you’re done for).

You can make a new corset by gutting the last one for parts and reusing the busk and bones, or you can sell your old corset if it’s in good condition and use the funds towards a new, smaller corset.

Time needed to properly “take in” a corset: 20+ hours depending on the complexity, number of panels, etc.


Bonus: you hate the unstiffened, attached modesty panel

Example of a standard, unstiffened, sewn-in modesty panel hanging from the left side of the corset. These panels can be removed if desired.

Some people hate modesty panels. If you just want to remove your modesty panel, and it’s a standard unstiffened panel of fabric that’s simply sewn into your corset – just take your seam ripper and detach the modesty panel from the rest of the corset. The exception is a WKD corset, where you might have to cut it out instead because it’s sewn right into the lining of the corset and you don’t want to compromise the integrity, the strength of the corset by removing it.

Time needed to remove a modesty panel: 2-5 minutes.

To bone or otherwise stiffen the modesty panel and suspend it on the laces, give yourself an hour. See my tutorial here on how to make a stiffened modesty panel using a sheet of plastic canvas (more affordable and easily accessible than steel bones, and allows the panel to be hand-washed without fear of rusting).

 

Were there any fitting issues I missed here, or any other fitting alteration tutorials you’d like to see? Let me know in a comment below!

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Vanyanis “Ruby” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the Vanyanis “Ruby” Corset Review video. 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 12 inches long, the princess seam is 8.5 inches (4 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 11 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 28″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 22″, and hip is 34″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribcage is very conical, and the hips are gently cupped.
Material 3 main layers: the fashion is red satin with black lace overlay. The strength fabric is herringbone coutil, and the floating lining is a soft black cotton.
Construction 7-panel pattern (14 panels total). Panel 4 is designed to curve over the hip so there is no true “side seam”. Construction: satin was flatlined to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement; each seam was stitched at least 4 times for extra strength). Internal bone casings laid down, and covered by a floating lining.
Waist tape 2 cm wide (slightly less than an inch) cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric.
Binding Made from strips of black duchess silk, machine stitched on outside and inside. Stitched in the ditch on the outside and tiny topstitch on the inside.
Modesty panel Awesome modesty panel in back – 4.75″ wide, finished in matching red satin / black lace overlay on outside, and cotton inside. Quilted and boned with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical bones, and comes with snaps to easily suspend the panel on the laces, or remove the panel when desired.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from the knob side of the busk, covered matching red satin with black lace.
Busk 11” long, with 5 loops and pins, the bottom two a little closer together. Wissner brand, standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side) and a bit flexible, but there are added flat steels adjacent to the busk to add stiffness. The busk is also covered in a matte black powder coating.
Boning 30 bones total in this corset, 15 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel, and more flexible than usual, so it could curve to the lumbar spine. There are 4 flat steels by the busk (2 on each side).
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-to-medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in gunmetal grey or pewter. No splits on the underside.
Laces Black 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough). Finished with nice metal aglets.
Price Available in sizes 20″ up to 30″.
Price is $795 AUD (converts to about $635 USD).
VIP mailing list members get $100 AUD coupon, which brings the price down to $695 AUD (about $550 USD).


Final Thoughts:

Vanyanis is a couture brand based in Australia, run by Lowana O’Shea.

This corset is the best quality OTR piece I’ve ever seen. Made with herringbone coutil, expertly-matched fine lace, black hardware, evenly distributed steels, and an insanely comfortable pattern, Vanyanis has set a new bar for factory-produced corsetry.

For the pattern of this corset, I believe Lowana mentioned that this started out as the same dimensions and silhouette as her “Alecto” corset (a standard size, made-to-order Vanyanis product made by Lowana herself, introduced back in 2014) – however, the “Ruby” Corset was cut to have points on the top and bottom edges and to ride a bit higher over the hip. The “Lilian” corset is a grey / silver satin, and cut more straight across the top and bottom edges, but still the same general pattern.

And of course, the “Ruby” and “Lilian” corsets were made in a factory under Lowana’s supervision, which is why she describes these as an “off the rack” collection as opposed to the usual “ready to wear”.

One of the best features about this corset is the painstakingly pattern-matched lace in this corset. Because the lace had to be cut to each panel and flatlined (as opposed to pieces overlaid when the whole corset was finished being assembled), Lowana says that there was quite a lot of time and care (and stress) put into this step at the factory, and quite a lot of fabric wastage as well as they had to think about having sufficient seam allowance on each piece. This drove up the price of the corset – but it has a truly stunning final effect.

Lowana says that this corset is definitely strong enough for waist training, but due to the delicate nature of the lace overlay, it might become “roughed up” over time, so do keep in mind that the more you wear this piece, the more worn it will look.

This is Lowana’s first OTR line and as such it’s a small run to start (only 25 of the Ruby and 25 of the Lilian corsets in all sizes). If these sell well, Lowana is interested in making more colors, styles, and perhaps extended sizes as well.

If you’d like to see my interview with Lowana of Vanyanis, click here. And if you’d like to visit her Vanyanis shop, click here.

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“Friendship Corset” Collaboration (Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry)

This entry is a summary of the “Friendship Corset” Case Study (Collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry). 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 12.5 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10.75 inches and the center back is 11.25 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 29″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 23″, and hip is 35″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribs are gently rounded and the hips are slightly cupped, giving a comfortable and flattering silhouette that was designed for my long torso and low waist.
Material 3 main layers: the fashion fabric pink rainbow crystal organza, fused to white herringbone coutil – and the lining is a “Monet” inspired printed lightweight quilting cotton. Boning channels / binding were custom dyed satin coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge towards the lower tummy in center front, panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip. Construction: organza was fused to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement). Single external boning channels laid down (one on each seam and one in the middle of each panel), and the lining is floating.
Waist tape One-inch-wide twill cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of green satin coutil, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished on the inside. No garter tabs (I don’t use them anyway).
Modesty panel None, as we were short on time and I tend to lace my corsets closed in the back anyway.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from under the knob side of the busk, covered in the lining fabric, and stiffened with coutil.
Busk 12” long, with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk, slightly wider than 1″ on each side, and very stiff. The busk extends into the binding.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (the bone on the center back edge is 1/2″ wide, and the bone on the “internal” side of the grommets is ¼ inch wide).
Grommets There are 22, two-part size #00 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. There is the occasional split on the underside of the grommets (my doing as this was my first time using her grommet press) but they’re all holding in securely.
Laces Granny Smith apple green 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).


The Story Behind the Corset:

Some of you who watched my “Unboxing Week” videos in summer of 2015 may remember this corset and the story behind it.

The pattern was a posthumous gift from one of my closest friends in the corset community, Christine Wickham (A Girl From Down Under / Ariadne’s Thread). Christine did a lot for the corset community during her active years from around 2011 – 2014 (including spearheading a fundraiser for me to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry). I also worked with Christine on a number of projects; she was the illustrator for my Corset Designer Doll and she also helped rework my logo. But one of the things that she was most well-known for was that she developed her own underbust corset pattern and released it online for free in the “Learn to Make Corsets Like a Pro!” Facebook group so other fledgling corset makers could use her corset pattern as a place to start.

What I didn’t know is that she was also working on a made-to-measure corset pattern as a gift for me. The only other person she told / showed this pattern to was our mutual friend Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry (to have Amber check over the pattern and suggest improvements). Christine passed away suddenly in July 2014 after a yoga injury led to pulmonary embolism, and it shook the whole corset community. It was less than 72 hours between her being fine and being gone.

Christine and her generous nature is still regularly discussed among my group of friends, and when I stayed with Amber for two weeks in July 2015, she printed out the pattern that Christine had planned to give me. We decided it would be a good tribute to her memory to create a corset from the pattern, using a combination of our materials / tastes and construction techniques – thus the “friendship corset” was born, a collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats, and Lucy’s Corsetry.

See the video above for all my commentary on the different parts of construction, why certain elements were chosen over others, and what I learned from this “mini internship” at Amber’s studio. If you’d like to see my interview with Amber (done at the same time as we were collaborating on this corset), click here.

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Orchard Corset CS-511 Mesh Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “CS-511 Mesh Overbust 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 15.5 inches long, princess seam is 16.5 inches long (10 inches above the waist, 6.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 14 inches, and the center back is 13 inches long.
Full bust spring is 11″, and lower hip spring is 14″.
The silhouette is hourglass, but the flexible mesh allows for more contouring around curves = giving more of a rounded ribcage, and hips of the corset can contour around your own hips, whether your hips are slanted or shelf-like.
Material Single layer of fishnet style black mesh, and the boning channels / are made with an outside layer of black cotton twill and internal layer of polyester grosgrain ribbon.
Pattern & Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 give space for the bust, panels 3-4 curve over the hip. Construction: Panels were assembled and then boning channels sandwiched the seams (on outside and inside), covering and reinforcing the seams.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from grosgrain ribbon, sandwiched between the boning channels. Full width (center front to center back).
Binding Made from matching black cotton twill. Machine stitched on both sides, stitched in the ditch (between the corset and the binding) in front, and a necessary top stitch on the underside. 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel 5” wide and unstiffened, made from 2 layers of cotton twill, and attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching – this is easily removed, and you can also remove the tags in the back by removing that seam with the modesty panel, in case you find that the tags show through the mesh.
There’s no front modesty placket in this corset.
Busk 14” long, with 6 loops and pins (last two are a bit closer together). Standard width busk (half an inch wide on each side), but Orchard’s busks tend to be more rigid (less bendy) than other busks of the same width.
Boning 14 bones total in this corset. On each side, 7 of them are spirals about ¼” inch wide, in single channels, equidistantly spaced. Then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide, sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness dissipates over time. Orchard also sells double-face satin ribbon if you prefer.
Price Available in waist sizes 18″ to 40″, in black and in white mesh.
Sizes 18-32 are $79 USD, and sizes 34-40 are $82 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

 

Brittney from Orchard Corset (the very same I consulted with on sizing) models the mesh CS-511 overbust. Click through to see their selection.

Final Thoughts:

Full disclosure, this corset was sent to me as a sample. I normally take a size 24″ in OTR corsets, but as I’ve been shrinking rapidly this year I requested the size 22″. Brittney from Orchard Corset suggested I go a size down, to 20″ because the mesh has a tendency to expand over time. The thought of wearing a size 20″ in an OTR overbust was a bit mind-boggling, but I hesitantly agreed.

The very first time I put on this corset, I thought it would never fit – but as I wore it in more over the weeks, I did indeed notice that it stretched out, to the point that I can wear it with their recommended 2 inch gap in the back. The hips of this corset are quite large (seemingly much larger or has a higher tendency to stretch compared to the bustline) so I would be more comfortable wearing this corset with a “V” shaped lacing gap, which seems to be par for me with OTR overbusts.

However, this is by far the most affordable mesh overbust currently available on the market, starting at $79. The other mesh overbusts include What Katie Did ($375 USD), and Dark Garden ($895 USD) can be out of many clients’ budget. I can see the mesh CS-511 being used by those who would like some breezy bust support in the heat of the summer, or wearing this corset under strapless dresses (there is a white mesh version as well for summer brides). Because my mesh corset has a few construction imperfections (it’s asymmetric over the hip), I’d be more likely to wear this corset under my clothing as opposed to overtop anyway.

CORRECTION FROM THE VIDEO: Orchard Corset’s mesh underbust corsets usually have bones are evenly distributed around the waist – and the bigger the corset size, the more bones are included – this is still true. However, it seems that this isn’t the case for the mesh overbust corsets (at least, not from what I’ve seen in pictures). It appears that all sizes have the same number of bones, same as with their all-cotton or satin corsets.

Shop for the CS-511 mesh overbust corset from Orchard Corset here, and remember you can save 10% by using the code CORSETLUCY (I don’t get any kickback from this, it’s strictly a coupon/ discount code for you).

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Knix / Knixwear 8-in-1 Evolution Bra Review

As you know, I’ve been on the lookout these last few years for a good wireless bra that is compatible with most of my corsets.

I’ve reviewed the Enell Sports and Lite bras in the past, as well as the Genie Bra and the Underworks Binder, trying to find the perfect bra that is comfortable to wear with my corset.

I define the “perfect bra” as:

  • it has no underwire (so there is no metal for the corset to shove into my chest, as well as no wire to pop forward over the top edge of my corset)
  • the band is wide enough that it doesn’t cause a thin roll of flesh pinched under the band and the top of the corset
  • it doesn’t cause “muffin” or flesh spillover in the back
  • it’s comfortable enough to wear all day, and doesn’t leave marks or scars on my skin
  • it still gives moderate support and a relatively flattering shape in the cup (which my Genie bra didn’t really do)
  • Bonus points if the bra is also low-cut enough to wear with my scoop-neck shirt (which is the one thing my Enell Lite didn’t do).

Knixwear is a Canadian company that started by making menstrual underwear, and they launched a Kickstarter for the Evolution bra in September 2015 to revolutionize the modern bra. They well surpassed their original goal; in fact I was one of 13,642 backers to help crowdfund over a million dollars on their project. I received my bra this summer and tried it out for a couple of weeks.

The Knix says it’s 8-in-1 because it’s reversible so you can have two different colors (I chose the black and beige), and comes with black and beige convertible straps which can be worn traditionally, criss-cross (racer) back, or even halter if you wish (although I wouldn’t recommend strapless).

My true bra size is 30F, but I normally sister-size to 32DD because it’s easier to find in my local shops. The way that Knix sizes their bras is by the “+2 inch” system, which puts me at an approximate 32C (size 2 in the Evolution bra). As my underbust (bra band) measurement is naturally 29 inches, I anticipated the band to feel loose on me while giving a bit of “quad boob” in the front, and I was right. So if you have a full bust and small band like I have, you will likely have to heavily sister size as well.

However, when I wear a corset, my body tends to “squish up” and my natural 29″ ribcage becomes closer to 30-31 inches in a corset – so the loose band of the bra fits me better in a corset than without.

Support-wise, it’s equivalent to a light support sports bra (for low-impact activities – I would not do contact sports in this bra). It gives slightly more support than the Genie bra I reviewed previously, and it’s comfortable and moisture-wicking in the heat of the summer.

One feature I like about it is the bonded seams instead of sewn, so it lies flat against my body and doesn’t cause welts or marks on my body. (Because I have a darker complexion, I also get hyperpigmentation scarring on my skin – this bra doesn’t leave marks on my body, even after wearing it for hours.

Knixwear says that their bra band doesn’t roll up, and I’ve found this to be mostly true. The one thing I would love is for the band to be a little longer, even by an inch or so.

I got the padded version, not because I want extra fullness in my cup but rather for coverage and smoothness, and it does its job. Regarding the shape of the cup – it’s not a shape I personally find the most aesthetically pleasing, but I may be biased towards my underwire, molded-up balconette bras that I wear almost daily. But I like how the Evolution bra looks under fitted t-shirts, especially graphic tees where I don’t want to stretch out the design in front.

The scoop neck design also prevents the bra from peeking out under my scoop-neck shirts. I’d be interested in trying one of their V-neck bra designs to see if it gives less “boobling over” in the front.

If you’d like to try their Evolution bra for yourself and support my reviews at the same time, click here! (referral link)

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Pearls & Arsenic Red Swarovski Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “REVIEW: Pearls & Arsenic Red Swarovski Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11.25 inches long, princess seam is 9 inches (3.5″ above the waist, 5.5″ below the waist), side seam is 8 inches and center back is 12 inches.
Underbust 26″, waist 22″, low hip 33″.
Conical ribcage. Comes down low over the tummy, and sweeps up high on the back. This type of corset would fit someone with a high waist.
Material 2 main layers; fashion layer is red satin, with many “garnet” (dark red) and “ruby” (light red) colored tiny Swarovski crystals. The strength fabric (lining) is black cotton coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 3 gives space over the hip, and panels 5-6 give plenty of space in the back. For construction: both layers were flatlined and treated as one. Panels were assembled and topstitched (seam allowances on the inside), and internal boning channels (cotton twill) were laid down to cover the seam allowance.
Waist tape 1.25″ wide waist tape, made from single-faced satin ribbon, exposed on the inside of the corset and secured down at boning channels. Partial width (from seam between panels 1-2 to seam between panels 5-6).
Binding Bias tape made from matching red satin, neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside with a small topstitch (may have been stitched in one pass, using a special attachment). There are also 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
Modesty panel 7.5 inches wide and finished in red satin fashion fabric / black cotton lining. Unstiffened, but quilted with many lines of stitching. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired), and finished with binding on top and bottom. In the front there’s a slightly stiffened placket, 1 inch wide, finished in red satin, extending out from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 10″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly wider (3/4″ on each side) and slightly stiffer than a standard flexible busk.
Boning 14 steel bones not including busk. On each side, 5 spirals (1/4″ wide) are single boned on the seams, and 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 24 grommets total (12 on each side), size #00 two-part grommets with small-to-moderate flange; set a bit closer together at the waistline, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets. I see no splits in the back, and the back panel is very good at not bowing or warping (see Final Thoughts).
Laces Strong 1/4″ black nylon flat shoe-lace style laces; they have a bit of string, they hold bows and knots well, they glide well through the grommets, and they are long enough. (I would love to switch out the laces for some lush double-face satin ribbon to match the rest of the corset!)
Price Although the corset in this review is a sample, Pearls & Arsenic corsets start at $193 USD.

 

Designer Raven Tao (center, in white) poses with her Pearls & Arsenic team Vera Lui (left) and Natasha Noir (right).

Final Thoughts:

Pearls & Arsenic is described as Hong Kong’s first luxury brand, owned by Raven Tao (who has her own Youtube channel, as well as a channel specifically about corsets!).

There are hundreds of small Swarovski crystals encrusting this corset, arranged in a gradient of deep “garnet” red crystals at the top and tapering down to lighter “ruby” red crystals towards the bottom. These were all hand-applied by Raven herself, and you can tell it was done with care – just the right amount of adhesive was used and each crystal was cleanly applied so there were no strings or residue oozing out from under the crystals. There was also care to keep the design symmetric on both sides, and to not have any crystals under the loops of the busk so it could be fastened properly. The crystals are also holding on securely and none of them are falling off.

On the center front and center back of this corset, there is a heavy-duty interfacing / canvas / buckram, or some other stiffener that helps keep the center front smooth (wrinkle-free) and flat, and prevents the back steels or grommets from warping or bowing along the horizontal plane. I seldom see corsets stabilized in this way and I found it interesting.

See more designs by Raven Tao on her Pearls & Arsenic site here, and see the official Pearls & Arsenic Youtube channel here!

Do you own a corset by Pearls & Arsenic? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

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Exceptions to Corset Rules

There is a concept (that was popularized by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld books) called lies-to-children which says that we tend to oversimplify concepts and make “black and white” rules in order to familiarize beginners (or kids) with certain concepts before they can move on to understanding the more nuanced reality of these topics. Corsetry is no exception; there are so many “rules” that ring mostly true (like “good OTR corsets contain steel bones and not featherweight”, or “the waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching or ripping at the waistline”) but it’s high time we talk about the people who are successfully breaking corset rules – because not all corsets are made equal!

 

Corset Sizes

Rule:

Corset sizes are mostly 20”, 22”, 24” etc, and we should avoid any corsets sold in “street sizes” (e.g. US size 6 / UK size 10, or small / medium / large) because street sizes are arbitrary and not standardized.

Exceptions:

A few respected corset makers do prefer to sell their corsets by the S/M/L/XL system.
One of these brands is Ms Martha’s Corset Shoppe (I wear a size Medium in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).
Another maker is Ties That Bynde (I wear a size XS in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).

Jessica, the owner of Ties That Bynde, also wrote a testimony for my book Solaced last year. She’s an immensely skilled corsetiere who has made medical / therapeutic corsets for herself and others, and her corsets have been covered by medical insurance in some cases. Jessica suffered a debilitating car accident and she made several corsets for herself to helped her recover from her sustained injuries, and her corsets have also corrected her scoliosis. The reason that she prefers this sizing system over numbers, she says, is because she sells at conventions where the demographic can be a bit different, and many customers don’t like knowing what their waist size is in inches. They tend to be a bit more receptive to her current sizing system.

Number of layers

Contour Corsets blue summer mesh underbust
Contour Corsets blue summer mesh single layer underbust (with front zip and no waist tape!)

Rule:

Many OTR corsets will boast that their corset has three, four, or even more layers of fabric in their waist training corsets, because in the idea that “many hands make light work”, we also think it’s logical to believe that more layers equals more strength.

Exceptions:

I have worn some amazingly strong and comfortable single layer corsets, probably the most well known being my mesh corset from Contour Corsets, but also my spot broche piece from Bizarre Design. Both of these corsets started with premium quality fabrics that were painstakingly cut on grain, and constructed with external boning channels which straddle and reinforce the seams, and each seam is stitched multiple times (zig-zagged in my Contour Corset, and with a twin-needle machine in my Bizarre Design corset) so there is little to no risk of a seam ripping even under high reductions.

If I were perusing Ebay and looking at “corsets” shipped from China for $15, I would be a little hesitant to spend that much if they said it were a single layer corset, because I’ve tried one before and it didn’t do much for me. But a single layer corset made from a specialty coutil or broche, made by a reputable independent corsetiere? I wouldn’t bat an eye at that.

While on the topic of Contour Corsets and Bizarre Design, and how they have engineering backgrounds and like to bend the rules – neither of my corsets from them contain any waist tape.

 

Waist tapes

Rule: 

Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird’s wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.

The waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching and ripping of the corset at its point of highest tension (the waistline) and corsets that don’t have a waist tape are unsuitable for waist training.

Exceptions:

My Contour corset was my primary training piece through 2012-2013, and it was still barely stretched or eased a fraction of an inch at the waist despite note having a waist tape. (The only reason I stopped training in that corset was because I found it a very dramatic silhouette, and once I achieved a waist of 20″ I decided I preferred to stay at 22″ instead.)

For cheaper quality corsets, having a waist tape is a sign of insurance: if one of the seams fail and the stitching pops at the waistline, at least the waist tape should hold fast because it doesn’t have any seams. But some corsetieres have appeared to construct their corsets in such a way that renders the waist tape superfluous because the corsets are strong enough on their own.

Some corsetieres, like Sparklewren and her Bird’s Wing corsets, would deliberately make her corsets a touch smaller in the waist than the customer wanted (0.5 – 1 inch smaller) – because she anticipated there would be a little bit of ease at the waistline without having a waist tape – however, once that fabric settled, it would more or less be around the size originally requested – so this is how some corsetieres are able to circumvent any complications around not installing waist tapes. The Bird’s Wing corsets are constructed with lapped seams (which are also extremely strong and secure – and because they can be made with a single layer of strong coutil or broche, adding a waist tape in these corsets would be tricky but also ruin the line of the delicate looking antique-inspired couture corset.

Also, consider that ribbon corsets typically never contain waist tapes. One exception to that is Pop Antique’s ribbon cincher.

 

A happy client snaps a selfie of her custom mesh underbust from Mitchell Dane (MDC Designs) with a front zip closure.
A happy client snaps a selfie of her custom mesh underbust from Mitchell Dane with a front zip closure.

Zippers

Rule:

Any “corset” on Ebay that shows a hook-and-eye closure, or a zipper on the side or back of the body (especially colored zips with nylon coils instead of metal teeth), are not genuine heavy duty corsets designed for waist training or tight lacing.

Exceptions:

Some corsetieres use zippers successfully in their corsets, even their tightlacing and waist training corsets! The strongest zippers have metal teeth – not plastic – and the zip is well-supported with flat steels on either side. The zip will also typically be placed on a seam that doesn’t have much curve (like the center front) and not on a side seam, so that there is no unequal strain on the zip that might cause it to fail.

I believe Amy Crowder of Wasp Creations had once written about how a good quality and well-installed zipper can possibly even be stronger than a conventional busk.

Some makers who utilize zippers in their work include Puimond, KMK designs, Mitchell Dane, Sin and Satin, and of course Contour Corsets. See my gallery of genuine corsets with zippers here!

 

Number of panels

Rule:

Karolina Laskowska shows the pattern and final result of her single panel corset experiment. Click through to see her Facebook post with more info.

A proper corset must have 4-6 panels per side (8-12 panels total).

I’m sure most of you have done this thing in geometry class where you make a square, and then a hexagon, and then a heptagon, and an octagon, and on and on until you have a polygon that has so many sides that it nearly makes a circle. And theoretically, this is what we aim to do with corsets – to take flat 2 dimensional panels, albeit made from malleable fabric, and wrap it around a multitude of curves. This is where we’ve arrived at the idea that “the fewer panels there are in a corset pattern, the less curvy / the more wrinkly / the more uncomfortable it is.” It would be bonkers to make every corset have an infinite number of panels, so we strive for a happy medium of 4-6 panels per side in most cases, and we can further tweak the fit with gores and fluted panels, like What Katie Did does.

Exceptions:

I have seen corsets with two panels per side, like Damsel in this Dress, and I’ve seen corsets with like 20 panels per side, like Sparklewren’s bird’s wing corsets. 99% of the time, OTR corsets will have between 4-6 panels per side.

Each seam is an opportunity to adjust the fit to suit your body, and oftentimes clean seams are more comfortable than sewing darts and pleats, especially when it comes to something as close-fitting as a corset. But I have occasionally worn corsets with four panels that were more comfortable than other corsets with more panels. And more panels does not necessarily mean that the corset will be curvier – the curve depends on how each panel is shaped, not how many there are.

Karolina Laskowska took this idea to new levels by making a corset with only ONE panel! Instead of adding more fabric where she needed ease, she started with her largest circumferential measurements instead and added tucks where she needed to take it in at the waist or over the bustline. It was very clever.

Bones

Antique (with real whalebone) vs Laurie Tavan’s reproduction (with synthetic whalebone). Photos by Laurie Tavan

Rule:

Featherweight boning is awful, Rigilene is the devil, and generally just run away from plastic boning and always look for steel.

Exceptions:

There are some people doing amazing things with synthetic whalebone – which is a type of plastic, but it’s from Germany and it doesn’t behave the same way as featherweight or rigilene that you find here in North America. Luca Costigliolo and Laurie Tavan are two corset makers who do beautiful Victorian reproductions and have worked successfully with synthetic bone.

 

Grommets

Rule:

Grommets in a corset should be size #00 (5mm) or #0 (6mm) and have a medium-to-wide flange to prevent popping out over time.

Exceptions:

Some older corsets like those made by Créations L’Escarpolette contained grommets / eyelets in size #x00 (an internal diameter of 4 mm) or even smaller, and with a teeny tiny flange, yet they’ve held up to a lot of wear, as these corsets are over 10 years old now (if I recall correctly). Even though the grommets are quite oxidized, none of them are actually falling out because they’re set so tightly.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen corsets with enormous grommets (size 1 or 2), which are almost comically large, but I can see it working with a certain aesthetic.

 

So you see, although there are standards for most corsets these days, there are always exceptions to the rules. We live in an amazing time where we have access to laser cutting and 3D printing and so many awesome materials, and people around the world can blend their knowledge from previous backgrounds and apply them to the art of corsetry, and that is exciting and amazing.

Standards are usually set for a reason, so it’s good to learn why things are constructed in a certain way and using certain materials – it often comes down to accessibility, cost, tradition, etc.

I’ve experimented a lot with corset making in the past, only to reinvent the wheel and learn for myself why “some things are the way they are”, but that’s all part of the process, and I would assume that almost any experienced corsetiere has done the same. But innovation is the spice of life, so learn the rules as a beginner, so you can learn to break them later. ;)

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Glamorous Corset “Bella” Mesh Cincher Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Bella” cincher in black mesh, made by Glamorous Corset. 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 just short of 8 inches long, the side seam is 6.5 inches and the center back is 8.25 inches long.
Rib spring is 4″, upper hip spring is 5″. The waist does tend to run a bit large / expand in mesh corsets. Offers a gentle (modern slim) silhouette.
Material The mesh parts are single layer hexagonal-hole “fishnet” style netting (seemingly industry standard for OTR). The front and back panels, boning channels and binding are all black cotton bull denim (a coarse weave twill).
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). Mesh panels were assembled together, and seams were sandwiched by boning channels on the outside and inside. The channels straddle the seams and reinforce the seams.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from single-faced satin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset and secured at boning channels. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. The front was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. No garter tabs.
Modesty panel 5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, also finished in black cotton.
Busk 6.5” long, with 3 loops and pins. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side) with an additional ¼” spiral steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones adjacent to the busk are also spiral steel. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 16, two-part size #00 grommets (8 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Only a few splits on the underside of the grommets, and due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch too much.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Comes in black mesh, white mesh, 5 colors of satin, and 5 colors of leather.
Sizes 18″ – 30″ are $79 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here.

 

Final Thoughts:

Bella Mesh cincher, model unknown. $79-$84 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

The Bella is quite possibly the shortest mesh cincher I’ve ever tried – so if you have a very short torso and you’re looking for something you can easily sit down in, which can offer lumbar support through your work day without making you overheated, the Bella may be a viable option for you. However, if you have a longer torso, you might experience a bit of “rib squidge” above the corset and below your bra band like I experienced. For people like us, there are longer mesh corsets available (like the gentle silhouette “Emma” underbust, or the curvy longline “Jolie” corset).

The mesh is the OTR standard “fishnet” type cotton netting, which offers breathability and quite a lot of flexibility, while the sturdy double boning adds body and rigidity to the corset for posture support and vertical tension. Do keep in mind that because the mesh can expand, this mesh corsets (like other mesh corsets) can expand 1-2 inches when worn (I find this is true of nearly all OTR corsets with this kind of fishnet material, regardless of the brand), so if you’re looking for a specific waist reduction, you may need to go one size down from your usual size – but ensure that your ribs and hips will fit that smaller size as well.

Find the Glamorous Corset Bella and other mesh corsets in their shop here.

Do you have the Bella corset, or another corset from Glamorous Corset? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below.

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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.

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No, Wraps Don’t Cause Fat Loss or Detox Your Body

This Fast Foundation Friday topic is thanks to a fan request – thanks to “KT” for suggesting a video on plastic wrap under corsets. (If any readers have requests for future FF videos, leave a comment below.)

Wearing plastic wrap under your corset is not the best of ideas. Wearing plastic wrap at all isn’t a good idea, actually.

Back in 2011 I made a couple of videos explaining potential skin issues that can arise from wearing corsets improperly or in an unhygienic way – some of these issues can include bacterial and fungal skin infections, broken skin, etc. There are ways to prevent these issues, like wearing a washable, breathable and moisture-wicking corset liner between yourself and the corset, trying mesh corsets for better air flow to your skin, etc. But in this post I’ll address the two main reasons why people claim to wear plastic wrap, other types of wraps, or unbreathable garments next to their skin: for weight loss, and for detoxification purposes.

Myth #1:

Wraps heat up the body through “thermogenesis”, and helps “burn more fat” around the waist and lead to spot reduction.


“Sweating out the fat” is unfortunately bad science.
When I was a kid I remember an adult saying “if you’re not sweating while you’re exercising, you’re not working out hard enough, you’re not burning enough calories”.

 

Why this is incorrect (the scientific explanation)

If you’re exercising, you’re taking organic molecules of fat and sugar and combining it with oxygen you breathe to transfer the energy in those bonds to ATP, and then converting ATP to ADP and free phosphorus and energy to move your actin and myosin, which makes your muscles move. This is an exothermic reaction (moving from higher energy bonds to lower energy bonds) and also a fairly inefficient reaction, so part of the energy is lost as thermal energy (aka heat). This causes your body to heat up during exertion and then your body produces sweat, which absorbs your body heat and then evaporates in an effort to cool you down.

Sidenote: If your body heats up too much without a cooling system like sweating, then by the time your body reaches ~42°C (107°F), many of the proteins in your body’s cells actually lose their shape (denature) and stop working, and this can be fatal. This is why they say if you ever have a fever of over 106°F you should immediately go to the hospital.

(The layperson’s explanation)

That is to say, the heat is a byproduct of exercise, but heat in and of itself does not mean that you’re burning more calories. You may might burn a tiny amount of energy just through the mechanism of vasodilation and sweating, however shivering from the cold activates your muscles and also burns calories. A sizable number of the calories you consume in a day is allotted to maintaining your body heat at 37°C (98.6°F) instead of having it cool to room temperature. What are you doing if you’re helping your body increase its core temperature more efficiently?

Put another way: an engine gets hot because it’s working. Simply heating up an inactive engine will not necessarily make it work.

 

Myth #2:

Wraps increase the amount you sweat and “help you to detox” your body more effectively.


There are people who say that you can sweat out heavy metals and other toxins. This is to a small extent true, but your skin is only responsible for about 1% of the total detoxification of your body (according to toxicologist David Cruz). Your liver, kidneys, lungs, and even your gut helps with most of the detoxification of your body.

The body’s natural detoxification processes (the abridged scientific explanation)

Let’s say you eat something toxic. Your microbiome, partially comprised of your beneficial gut bacteria, can help to deactivate some toxins and prevent them from being absorbed into your gut in the first place, so it passes through your body instead of absorbing it into your blood stream.

If it does get absorbed from your intestines, your liver should filter out the majority of toxins. Anything you absorb from your guts goes through the portal vein to the liver to be cleaned and processed before it gets into the rest of the body. Your liver has well over 500 functions in the body, so it gets “first dibs” in many of the nutrients, and it also cleans and filters the blood before it’s sent out to the rest of your body.

And if the toxins still get through to the rest of the body, then the liver or kidneys are constantly filtering them to catch them again and dump them into the poop or urine. Some water soluble toxins can also be expelled through the lungs. By the time toxins are circulating through your body long enough to get pushed out of the blood stream into the interstitial fluid, percolate into your dermis and be sweated out, this might mean that the other detoxification systems in your body didn’t catch them in time, meaning they are not as effective as they should be, or may be overwhelmed.

 

(The layperson’s explanation)

Of course, sweating is good (even if it is a relatively inefficient form of detoxification). But your skin would not be a form of detoxification, however small, if it weren’t necessary. However, trapping the sweat in next to your skin for hours may be defeating the purpose.

In a normal situation, you sweat, then it beads up and rolls off your body, or gets wicked into your absorbable fabric, or it evaporates with the wind. But putting plastic wrap or unbreathable fabrics over your skin traps the sweat in, and that clamminess you feel when you take it off means that whatever you sweated out before, just turned around and got absorbed by your skin again.

Think of transdermal patches (like the birth control patch), cortisone creams, and other topical medications which get absorbed into your skin and circulate throughout the body. Whatever you detox out through your sweat, if it stays next to your skin for hours every day, can also have the opportunity to be absorbed right back into your system. (Same as toxins that get dumped by your liver into the intestines – if you have a lazy bowel, these toxins can be reabsorbed again, but I’ll address this another day). So unfortunately, forcing your body to sweat but not getting rid of the sweat doesn’t work to detoxify the body the way that many people hope it does.

 

“But why do I lose weight and why do I look more muscular when I wear wraps?”

Let’s say that you do sweat profusely and this sweat was wicked away. You’ve lost both water and electrolytes, and you’ve effectively dehydrated yourself. This temporarily relieves edema in your skin, and this is a well-known trick amongst body builders and fitness models to bring out the definition of the muscles and vascularity. But drink some water, rehydrate your body, and take in a balanced amount of electrolytes, and you will see plumpness return to your skin and that water weight come back.

If you are personally an advocate for sweating for detoxification, I would say that a more effective way of sweating is taking a warm bath and letting your sweat be washed away by clean water. But plastic wrap is never required for waist training, weight loss, or detoxification – and for certain people, this may be doing more harm than good.

 

What do you think about the “wraps” trend? Leave a comment below or under the Youtube video.