Settle in kids, today I’m going to tell you a story of how I possibly got scammed on a Facebook Buy / Sell/ Trade group.
I thought I was a savvy corset thrift-shopper – after all, I’ve made videos on how to prep and pack your gently used corsets for shipping, as well as tips and tricks when buying gently used corsets – but in this most recent transaction, there were so many red flags that I disregarded, and I wound up getting burned for it. So in this post, I’ll be pointing out the red flags and discussing what should have gone differently. (You can watch the video above, or read the written version below.)
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not giving any identifying information about the other party in this video – this video is not about slander, I’m not going to name and shame the person, but I do want to share a cautionary tale so others learn from my mistakes.
The corset I tried to buy was What Katie Did brand, but I have never had any issue with this brand’s customer service or quality – I’ve reviewed this brand a dozen times on my channel before – their corsets have stood up over time. So there is no issue with WKD themselves.
It was a regular August afternoon, just like any other.
Each month I put up a poll on my Patreon page asking my lovely patrons which corset brand and style they want me to review next. In July there was a tie between an Etsy sample and one of the new WKD style (since they recently redesigned all their corsets).
I was about to purchase a corset directly from WKD’s site, but I decided to check some BST (buy, sell, trade) corset groups in various forums and social media pages, just in case someone posted a WKD corset in my size.
Almost serendipitously, there was someone selling their Luna waspie in my size! I messaged them right away. The price new would be £140 while this person was selling theirs for £100 plus shipping. (This is a reasonable price for a 2nd hand corset; I usually look for a savings of 60% to 75% of the original price, if it’s gently used with no damage and little signs of wear.)
I am very experienced with buying and selling lightly used corsets, so I didn’t anticipate this situation to be any different than the others.
Red Flag #1: Asking that I cover the Paypal fees.
First, the seller asked that I cover the Paypal fees. This is against Paypal’s terms of service (which I’ll explain later) but I know that this sort of this is common in these groups. So I made a mental note of this, but I thought “Whatever… adding another 3% on top of the discounted price is still a good deal.” I agreed to pay £119 total: £100 for the corset, £15 for shipping and £4 on top of that (which amounts to ~ 3% fees).
Red Flag #2: Asking additional fees after I had already paid what we agreed on.
I sent the payment through Paypal and when they received the money, they told me it wasn’t enough and wanted me to pay an additional amount on top of the fees I had already paid for. At that point I was getting a little bit suspicious, but I kept it polite and cordial – I explained that we did not agree to pay more than what we had previously discussed, so if it was going to cost more than that, I change my mind about the purchase and could they kindly give a refund. (The corset hadn’t shipped yet so it was still fair to ask this).
The seller said “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, the price is close enough,” and shipped the corset. (They said they would ship it on the 10th, but the stamp said it was not shipped until more than a week later – but this is small enough that I don’t consider it too big a red flag; after all, life gets busy sometimes.)
Red Flag #3: Overstating the value of the corset in the customs forms.
Several weeks later, I went to the post office to pick up my new corset, and was shocked to hear that I owed them $126 in taxes and duty. The reason for this is because the value stated on the parcel was (for some bizarre reason) £200, or $348 when converted. That is not what the Luna corset was even worth brand new (even with the price of shipping, VAT, any additional fees, etc, it still would not have come up to that much). This is twice the purchase price we had agreed on for the corset itself. The only reason I could think of for them overestimating the value of a parcel is if they:
a) wanted to cash in on extra money if the parcel were lost in the post (which is deceitful anyway), or
b) they might have been bitter about my refusing to pay more, and wanted me to get dinged by the post once delivered.
I had no choice but to pay the $126, but I will be contesting it because I still have the Paypal receipt for what I paid – but from what I’ve read, people do not often successfully get reimbursed when they’re overcharged duty.
Over $330 dollars later (more than I would have paid if I just bought the corset brand new), the corset is finally in my hands.
Finally, I unboxed the corset during this month’s Patreon livestream. I noted that it was very similar in its cut and construction to WKD’s old styles, but it was dark at the time so I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until the next morning that I was taking a closer look at it, that I realized it’s not the Luna corset at all.
Red Flag #4: It’s not even the right corset!!
After looking closely at some archived images and dimensions (thanks to the Wayback machine and my Corset Database), I realized that I had received the Baby waspie, one of their WKD’d old styles, which I have already reviewed in the past.
- The measurements match the Baby, and does not match the stated measurements for the Luna.
- It has a 3-pin busk (like the Baby) instead of a 4-pin busk (like the Luna).
- It is single boned on the seams, with external boning channels, like the Baby (the Luna has sandwiched double bones).
- It has an attached modesty panel like the Baby corset (the Luna does not come with a modesty panel, but a floating panel can be purchased separately).
- The hardware, like the busk width/ quality and the grommets are all old-style, whereas they’ve changed their hardware sources for the Luna.
Normally I prefer to assume the best in others – what if this person purchased the corset in WKD’s shop, and they thought it was the Luna corset but they were mistaken? Maybe they couldn’t tell the difference. But then again, the Baby corset has been discontinued for well over a year now.
I also know that in some buy/sell/trade groups, some people will buy out dresses or products in side-walk sales, clearance racks, and liquidation events for up to 80% off, and then re-sell those items in Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for profit. (Oftentimes Facebook marketplace allows this – this type of resale of clothing is technically not illegal). Could this seller have done the same in this situation, snapping up a Baby corset at deep discount and selling it for more?
There was technically only one way to find out: I messaged the seller.
Red Flag #5: No response / ignored by the seller.
Again, I tried the sugar approach – I told them that the corset arrived safely, thanked them for the prompt shipping, but mentioned that I noticed that it’s not the Luna corset as advertised, it’s the discontinued Baby corset instead. I noted the evidence of the corset being the Baby and not the Luna (old hardware, old measurements, old construction). I asked them around what timeframe they had purchased this corset. I kept it cordial and asked a clear question, allowing them space to answer, or even give some kind of excuse.
My message was read just a few minutes later, but they never responded.
So, over $330 later, I have a corset that is… wearable (it’s functional!), but it’s not what was advertised and it’s useless for a review. However, I could (and I’m tempted to) re-review this corset out of spite, so that my money wouldn’t be a total
waist waste. The last time I reviewed the Baby corset, it was 2011 and I hadn’t yet established my systematic order of doing reviews – so if you want me to review this corset again, comment below and I can do so – but I don’t know who it’s going to serve because this style is not available for purchase (unless you want to buy this corset off me, so I can get a bit of my money back).
I thought I was a savvy and seasoned corset shopper, but even I messed up this time.
So, what should have been done differently?
Here are some tips for buyers so you can avoid getting scammed in these BST groups (and sellers, so you can learn to play by the rules properly):
- The seller should never ask the buyer to cover Paypal / bank fees. It is a common occurrence in buy/sell/trade groups, but you have to know that this is against their terms of service. If they catch you, they could terminate your account without warning or appeal. If you’re a seller and you hate the idea of losing $3-4 on your $100 corset, you can inflate your sales price (e.g. $105 instead of $100), and it’s up to the buyer if they want to meet your price. But you cannot specifically demand that others cover a sales fee.
- Send your payment as “goods and services”. The seller should not specifically ask or demand that you send payment as a family or friend (unless the seller really is family / friend and you trust them a lot). If you send money as a friend, then as far as the system is concerned, you are sending a loved one a monetary gift, and there is no buyer protection – so if your parcel gets lost in the mail or if the seller doesn’t ship anything, you’re not able to easily dispute it.
- When you’re sending payment, there is usually a box to write comments – spend the extra 30 seconds or a minute to fill it out with the details of your purchase. Break down the cost for each part – for instance, write, “Hello [seller’s name], here is $80 for the [brand, style name, color, size] dress, plus $10 for shipping.” Sellers: if you are sending an invoice, you can break down the price like this too – so you have absolute proof of what you agreed on, in case you need to contest the value, or you accidentally received something different.
- If you are selling and shipping an item, state the purchase price of that item on the parcel as the value, no more, no less. Don’t include the shipping fee in the value of the item. Don’t include the tax of the item (if you’re shipping to a different country, that international customer DOES NOT pay state/federal taxes!). Buyers, DO NOT ask a seller to declare the value of a parcel as less than it is (like stating that a $100 item is only $10 or something) because that’s illegal, and the highest penalty for that could be tax fraud. But there are also problems with stating the value as too much – like the government charging too much duty.
- Do save the listing of an independent seller and compare it with the original listing on the brand’s website. Screencap the listing if necessary, and compare both the pictures and the descriptions, side by side. Count the busk pins if it’s a corset. Ask for more info if the listing is sparse. Ask for close-up photos if none are provided in the listing (especially if there’s any damage declared). (In my case, the listing was removed before I could save it, but I do have FB messenger evidence.)
- If you doubt the label/ brand of the corset, ask for photo evidence. In my case, I received a real WKD corset (not a knockoff), but if you have doubts about whether someone might be selling a knockoff of a certain dress or design, ask for a photo of the label. Ask the seller to include a post-it note with your name or the date written on it, stuck beside the designer label so you know that the seller didn’t just swipe a picture of the label off the internet and send it to you.
What do you think – rookie seller mistake, or scam? What other tips would you include to avoid getting scammed? Leave a comment down below!
Hey everyone! I’m creating this in the middle of a heat wave, it’s a humidex of 40°C here or (~105°F) and I realized that I hadn’t really made a video solely dedicated on preventing overheating while waist training. (Despite my Caribbean heritage, I’m actually a bit heat intolerant so I have to be extra careful not to get heat exhaustion, so I have plenty of experience with trying to stay cool in the summer.)
When you’re wearing a corset, you have several extra layers of fabric around your core, holding heat in — so it’s all the more important to stay cool and hydrated.
Every once in awhile I will hear or read of another corset wearer who fainted at a nightclub / convention / Renfaire, and oftentimes it can be explained by dehydration and overheating, low blood sugar, or exhaustion. However, the Victorians’ weird preoccupation with swooning ladies did not help with the rumors around the alleged dangers of corsets (read more about the Victorian swooning culture here, because it was definitely a learned behavior and not necessarily due to the corset itself).
I will make another video in the future on tips for wearing corsets as part of your cosplay, but for now, let’s jump into my 3 tips for keeping cool in general, whether you’re wearing your corset over or under your clothes:
1: Invest in a mesh or ventilated corset
Choose a corset that’s thinner or more breathable. Mesh corsets are the first and obvious choice that comes to mind, but they have their pros and cons. I have a whole other post dedicated to comparing mesh corsets here. Mesh corsets are more thin and breezy, which allows heat and sweat to escape — but they usually don’t have the longevity of an all-cotton corset.
Victorian corsets were often made from a single layer of strong cotton, which you can do as well. Upon the resurgence of the corset’s popularity in the last ~10 years, single-layer corsets used to relatively unpopular because they seemed a bit flimsy compared to the “4-5 layer super-duper heavy-duty training corsets” that certain OTR corsets were touting as higher quality — and subsequently, this formed the misconception that fewer layers meant less strength — but it makes more sense that a single layer of good quality coutil is more breathable, and also stronger/ less resistant to stretching out compared to 3 layers of cheap elastic satin, for instance. and as the community of waist trainers has grown in recent years, including many who train throughout the year and some who live in hotter climates year-round, I think the demand for thinner and more lightweight corsets has grown.
Victorians also had mesh and ventilated corsets to help keep themselves cooler (despite the several layers overtop). Lace Embrace Atelier makes recreations of mesh and skeleton corsets, as well as corsets made from cute cotton eyelet fabric.
Narrowed Visions also has recreated 1895 ventilated corset below which looks gorgeous. (I had experimented with making my own skeleton corset, which came out hideous but it was a good learning experience that later led to my sports mesh corset.)
2: Stay hydrated.
It’s probably obvious, but it’s too important to leave out. Even if you don’t think you’re sweating under your corset — believe me, you are. Even if you’re in an air-conditioned building (and air conditioned spaces tend to have dry air), still take in water. But especially if you’re out and about, bring a water bottle and sip it every half hour at minimum, and do not down it all at once. Because if you feel dehydrated and nauseated, and then you chug a pint of water all at once, you’re probably going to feel even more sick. If you’re sweating profusely, you’re also losing salt, so put a pinch of salt or an electrolyte mix in your water bottle and sip frequently.
3: Try a Bodice Chiller!
If you have a tendency to overheat, one amazing thing that was recommended to me was a bodice cooler or bodice chiller. It’s essentially a metal vial that you put in the freezer in advance and stick it in your cleavage or down the front of your corset to keep you cool. This works better with overbust corsets than underbust, because most overbusts leave you a bit of space between the breasts and at the sternum, whereas underbusts tend to fit more flush around the ribs.
Now, these are surprisingly difficult to find. Sometimes they are sold at Renfaires, they can be made from metal or glass — I’d personally be afraid of putting glass that close to my solar plexus (but if it’s designed to go from hot to cold frequently, then most likely it will be tempered glass that’s resistant to shattering). I’ve found one on Etsy here made from stainless steel — it’s available in several different colors and designs, and best of all it’s $20 USD which is much less than you’ll find at most Renaissance Faires.
If you can’t find a bodice chiller nearby, you could also get one of those long stainless steel chillers designed for beer or wine. I have actually not bought a bodice chiller yet, but what I have done is take small freezies or ice pops, wrap it in a paper towel so the plastic doesn’t risk cutting me (and the paper towel also catches condensation and prevents frostnip), and the best part is that they’re easy to find and only cost ~20 cents each. Since they’re sealed, you can pop them back in the freezer when you’re done — but let’s be honest, I usually end up eating them.
What did the Victorians do to keep cool?
While Victorians didn’t have air conditioning (currently my best friend), they did have ventilated, mesh, or skeleton corsets as mentioned above — other ways that Victorians kept cool was by using fans and carrying parasols to shade themselves from the sun. There are patents dating back to the 1800s showing that they even had ceiling fans in some areas, although they worked using a spring and crank, and were usually operated by slaves / servants (another reason why we can feel better about modern air conditioning). Lastly, Victorian women also had summer dresses made from lightweight cotton and linen, which despite wearing multiple layers can sometimes still be cooler than modern synthetic fabrics.
Ready to buy a mesh or a lightweight summer corset? Hey, I’ve got them corsets in my shop! Support this blog and stay cool this summer at the same time.
This entry is a summary of the review for the “Axfords Peach Vintage Overbust (C140) Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
|Fit, length||Full bust: 31 inches (79 cm) (bust spring of 9 inches)
Closed waist: 22 inches (56 cm)
Low hip: 35 inches (89 cm) (hip spring of 13 inches)
Length: 14.5 inches in front and side. 8 inches are from the waist up, 6.5 from the waist down.
Silhouette is conical through the bust/ribs, rounded through the hips due to the hip gores.
Cut relatively straight across at the top, and “scalloped” on the bottom between the attached garters.
|Material||Two main layers: the fashion fabric is peach satin (rayon viscose / cotton blend), the lining is 100% cotton in a lightweight but dense canvas weave – the grain looks to be quite straight.|
|Construction||8-panel pattern (16 panels total): On each side, 6 of the panels are full length (and the 1st and 2nd taper slightly towards the lower tummy), while two large hip gores on each side contribute to the fullness and roundness of the hip.
Construction: fashion fabric and coutil were flatlined, Panels assembled with a topstitch, seam allowances facing inward. Herringbone twill tape was laid down on the inside to cover seam allowances, provide channels for the boning, and reinforce the seams.
|Binding||Skinny peach grosgrain ribbon which matches the peach fashion fabric very well; neatly applied (no fold-under as the edges are already finished).|
|Busk||13 inches long, wide heavy-duty stainless steel busk (1 inch wide on each side). 6 loops and pins; the last two are a bit closer together.|
|Boning||14 bones (not including busk). Single-boned on the seams with 1/4″ spirals (attracts magnet well); and contains 1/4″ flat steels along the back by the eyelets.|
|Grommets||42 two-part tiny eyelets, probable size #X00 (smaller than standard; reminiscent of antique corsets), with very small flange. All have rolled nicely, no splits; washers present on the underside. They are placed 3/4″ apart (relatively close together) which allows for good control while lacing up.|
|Laces||1/8″ wide (made of 44% cotton and 56% polyester) white flat lacing – “workhorse laces” with no stretch and plenty of strength. Just wide enough to fit through the eyelets easily.|
|Price||£160 GBP (around $217 USD) for a made-to-order corset in your choice of fabric.|
Other Thoughts and Observations:
Axfords is a corset brand from Brighton, UK. They are one of the oldest corset companies in the world, having been in business since 1880.
Many of their overbust patterns are the same patterns from antique corsets in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and some of their methods (lack of waist tape, lack of modesty panel, copious tiny eyelets, very lightweight construction) are also reminiscent of the way many corsets were constructed during the late Victorian / early Edwardian periods.
Axfords offered me a new sample for review, and because I have a long torso, I had asked Axfords to send the longest overbust style they currently make. At 14.5 inches, it is definitely a better fit lengthwise for me compared to my previous review, but much of that length ended up being from the waist down: this corset is designed to extend a bit beyond the lap level; the bones are deliberately shorter and pushed towards the top, to allow the fabric at the bottom to bend at the hip and allow you to sit comfortably.
The circumferential measurements unfortunately weren’t a perfect fit for my body, but this corset wasn’t made-to-measure so it would be unfair to expect this corset to fit like a custom-fit or bespoke piece. I can see this corset working fantastically with someone who has a more ‘pear-shaped’ figure: someone who has broader hips than mine, but a smaller bust or more narrow back.
Michael from Axfords mentions that all their in-stock satin is made and processed to their specifications (dyed to the perfect shade and reinforced for extra strength). I remember when I reviewed some of their other corsets over 6 years ago, I was very surprised to see that they chose to use a lightweight cotton canvas as a strength / lining fabric. However, since then I’ve come to realize that a few other brands (namely Dark Garden in the US) also use a dense-weave canvas, and this seems to work fine as long as it is carefully cut on grain (which this is).
There are other details about this corset: 2-inch wide frilly white floral lace covers the top and bottom edges of the corset, and along the bottom there are 6 wide, white elastic suspenders (garter straps) directly attached to the corset. These have a good amount of spring and contain high quality metal hardware.
There are also a few tiny, delicate-looking white satin bows along the top and bottom lace.
This corset might be the frilliest, most feminine corset I’ve reviewed to date – it reminds me of a frothy sherbet punch! But as each of their corsets are made to order, you can choose the color and even order the corset without lace, if you prefer.
See more at Axfords website here.
This week is part “story time”, part “Physical Effects of Corseting”, and hopefully an opportunity for others to learn from my early mistakes.
In early 2010 I purchased my first custom corset, which also happened to be a front-lacing corset – but these days, I would not recommend a front-lacing corset for higher reductions (tightlacing more than 6 inches) or daily waist training, and this post will explain why.
Why I chose a front-lacing corset for waist training in the first place:
In 2010 I was still in school which required copious time sitting in class, and I figured that if a corset has no laces in the back, then there wouldn’t be an annoying lump in the back when I’m resting against a hard plastic flat-backed chair.
I also figured that if I were to wear a corset in my sleep, a front-lacing corset might be more comfortable to sleep in since there wouldn’t be a knot at my back. I could fall asleep comfortably on my back, and if I ever needed to tighten or loosen the laces throughout the night, I could continue lying down on my back and easily reach in front of me to loosen the laces a bit – this (I figured) would disrupt my sleep less, as I wouldn’t have to sit up or get out of bed to adjust laces behind me.
Even though I was able to lace a back-lacing corset pretty well (since I had ‘normal’ back-lacing OTR corsets and homemade corsets for several years already), I had to admit that it was a pretty attractive idea at the time to not have to twist my neck to see what I’m doing in the mirror, and not have to twist my arms behind my back to lace up my corset every morning: a front lacing corset felt very intuitive; I didn’t even have to open my eyes to just tighten my corset in the morning and start my day.
I was also dealing with anxiety back in 2010 for several reasons (performing well in school, living so far away from family, dealing with a difficult relationship, etc.) and I figured if I ever had a sudden panic attack or began to feel claustrophobic, it would be easier and faster to cut myself out of a front-lacing corset. I also worked in a microbiology lab at the time so I was constantly around open flames and caustic reagents – and even though many lab coats have a fire-resistant coating, I figured that if there were ever a fire or if I ever spilled something on myself and needed to disrobe quickly, then – again – cutting the laces from the front would be faster and easier.
Admittedly, I was also attracted to the novelty / rarity of a front-lacing corset: I had seldom seen anyone else commissioning one – and I wondered why, because it seemed like the greatest idea at the time.
As it turned out, I was just reinventing the wheel – if front-lacing corsets were so functional and comfortable for everyone, they would have caught on long ago and survived through the centuries. It was after around 6 months of consistently training with this corset that I realized that a front-lacing corset is not as practical as I had hoped.
At first I blamed myself and my body… “Why had my waist training progress halted? Why am I experiencing discomfort when I feel that I was going about my training in a responsible way, and I had a made-to-measure corset? What was I doing wrong? Is my body just not made for corseting?”
It was only when I decided to stop training for a short time, let my body rest, and then start my training anew with a new custom fit corset with back lacing, that I realized that the issue was with the tool I was using, rather than my waist training technique per se.
Why I Don’t Recommend Front-Lacing Corsets for Tightlacing or Waist Training:
This post is not to bash the maker of my first custom corset – they were an engineer who made corsets in their spare time, and they discontinued shortly after my commission. My inexperience in ordering custom corsets combined with their inexperience with waist training at high reductions. The corset construction was strong and durable, and it gave a beautiful silhouette – however, although it matched my measurements, it did not fit my body for several reasons which could not be predicted by the numbers alone. This is one distinction between a made-to-measure corset and a truly custom corset that includes a mockup fitting.
If I remember correctly, my front-lacing corset was spiral boned all the way around the corset (with exception to the center front by the laces). This means it also included fine spirals in the center back – which I thought I would love for the flexibility, but the corset ended up being slightly too curved in the back for me. It was trying to create curve where my spine normally is, so I felt a band of pressure on the vertebra that was directly under the waistline of the corset – this led to a bit of lumbar pain when I laced down too much, and (where many corsets have the opposite problem of being too straight in the back) the front-lacing corset created an unnatural swayback in my posture while I was wearing it. The profile view in the corset was lovely, but it was not comfortable or healthy for me.
Also, this corset was conical in silhouette as I was interested in training my floating ribs at the time. instead of placing pressure in the front “tips” of my floating ribs, my front-lacing corset placed more pressure on the back of my ribs – imagine trying to close a door by pushing on it close to the hinge instead of near the doorknob. The torque just didn’t feel right. It felt like too much force with little efficacy, resulting in “hot spots”. (Now, if your body is a little larger and your corset affects mostly the adipose over your abdomen and doesn’t affect the placement of you ribs, you might not notice the difference in how the pressure is placed, but at the time I personally felt the pressure on my ribs).
The curve in the back and the pressure on my ribs could possibly have been eliminated if the pattern were improved and the construction slightly changed – perhaps taking out some of the curve at the back seam, installing flat steels instead of spirals, and making the ribs more rounded – but at the moment, this is not something I’m keen to experiment with – because there are other issues with front-lacing corsets, which I’ll continue below.
I also felt that more pressure was placed on my retroperitoneal cavity and kind of pushed my flesh forward, which is not a great idea. One big reason why traditional back lacing corsets work (and this is explained in further detail in my Corsets and Organs article) is because the majority of the pressure is on the peritoneal cavity which primarily consists of hollow organs, like the stomach and intestines. These are not solid organs (although they contain food, waste and air) and they are designed to move. They can also compress and flatten out of the way, like during yoga or pregnancy. As long as you have soft stools and good peristalsis, and as long as you take your time lacing down slowly, digestion and elimination should not normally be adversely affected.
But my front-lacing corset didn’t put pressure on the front (peritoneal) cavity – instead, it placed a lot of pressure on the back, where solid organs like the kidneys are location, and it made my tummy pooch out in turn. (You can see in my self lacing video, my abdomen was bulging a bit.)
One thing that would have made my front-lacing corset better would be if it included a modesty panel to support my abdomen where the lacing gap left no support. Alas, my corset didn’t come with one. Back in 2010, at the time I thought I would be okay because the bones sandwiching the grommets were flat steel – but I quickly learned that I needed more support, especially I was dealing with large waist reductions (my natural waist was around 28 inches and my corset was a size 20, worn with about a 1.5 inch gap in the front). I ended up having to make a separate boned modesty panel myself to help support my abdomen, avoid bulging and keep it flat.
Another reason why a front-lacing corset is not the best for me: as it turns out, I prefer to sleep on my stomach! I always start out falling asleep on my back, but more often than not I wake up on my front. However, having a big knot / bow in the front is uncomfortable to lie on (rather than “princess and the pea”, it was more like a mess of laces which felt more like the size of a tennis ball on my abdomen when I laid flat on it).
Under What Circumstances Would I Recommend a Front-Lacing Corset?
- If it’s a waist training corset that you’ll be wearing for long periods of time, I think a back lacing corset would be more appropriate – it provides the proper support and compression from the front of the body and not the back. I would not recommend a front-lacing corset here.
- Same if you’re tightlacing, or lacing down 6, 7, 8 or more inches – it will likely be more comfortable if you have a back lacing corset, not a front-lacing one.
- If you’re using a light reduction corset, say not more than 2-4 inches of waist reduction, for medical purposes or posture support, a front-lacing corset might be okay.
- If you have an abdominal hernia, especially an umbilical hernia, I would never recommend having a front-lacing corset.
- If you have mobility issues in your shoulders or strength issues and you are unable to lace up a corset in the back, then front-lacing is a reasonable option for light reductions (as mentioned before) but also, a fan-lacing corset might be an option for you.
If you’re making your own corset and you just have no access or funds for a front busk – try a metal zip, or closed front corset, or a corset that is laced in both front AND back.
A corset that is laced in both front AND back is better because you’re able pull in the front by two inches, then pull in the back by two inches, and keep alternating so that you’re bringing in both sides of the corset laterally (placing pressure pretty evenly on either side of the body), without creating any weird torque at the back of the body. Just remember that if the front of your corset has a lacing gap, it’s best to have a stiffened or boned modesty panel to support the abdomen.
Later on, I plan to make a video on fan-laced corsets, what they’re good for (and what they’re not good for), and pehraps a tutorial on how to convert a regular laced OTR corset into a fan lacing corset, if I have the time.
I’m also talking with a friend on making a collab video with helpful info on how to put on and take off a corset, whether you use a wheelchair or have issues with strength or mobility. This is still in the early planning stages, but I hope to share more with you later.
Again – hopefully my loss is your gain, and you can learn from my mistakes so you have a more comfortable corseting experience. Let me know in a comment whether you’d like to see those upcoming videos, and leave a question below if I’ve forgotten anything or if you’d like to know more about any other details of my front-lacing corset.
This entry is a summary of the review for the “CU8 Burgundy Underbust” hourglass corset, made by Restyle.pl. 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 10.5 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 10.5 inches long.
When I measured this before wearing, the ribcage was 30.5″, the waist was 22″ and the hip was 36″.
The waist and hips matched their measurements on the size chart, but the ribcage was a bit smaller (ribs are stated to be 31.5″ on the site).
|Material||The fashion fabric is polyester-based burgundy satin, with black mesh overlay on the side panels and a couple of contrasting black satin boning channels. The lining is black cotton twill.|
|Construction||6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 1 is wide and panel 2 is skinny, probably for aesthetic effect. Panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip.
Constructed with the welt-seam method.
|Waist tape||One-inch-wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).|
|Binding||Black satin bias tape, machine stitched with a slight top-stitch on both outside and inside (may have been done on a single pass with a special attachment). 4 tiny garter tabs, 2 on each side.|
|Modesty panel||Just short of 7 inches wide, finished in burgundy satin and black twill. Unstiffened, attached to one side of the corset with stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a 3/4 inch wide modesty placket, finished in matching burgundy satin, slightly stiffened.|
|Busk||9.5” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Very slightly wider than a standard flexible busk, and slightly stiffer too. It’s also black powder coated for a matte black finish.|
|Boning||22 bones total in this corset, 11 on each side. Single boned on the seams and also single boned in the middle of the panels with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steels, ¼ wide as well.|
|Grommets||There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-to-medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in black powder coating as well. Rolled nicely in the back, and small washers present.|
|Laces||¼ inch wide, black, flat, nylon, shoelace style lacing (standard workhorse laces).|
|Price||Available in black cotton, mesh, this burgundy satin, and several colors of brocade.
Sizes range from 18″ to 34″.
This style (burgundy CU8) is $50.49 USD
I have to admit, Restyle has been killing it lately with cute, curvaceous and shockingly inexpensive corsets that start around $50. It is not a perfect fit (the hips are several inches too large for me, which is more noticeable in the back than it is in the front). However, construction-wise, this corset somehow hits my bar of standards for most OTR corsets today, and even includes some of my more favorite features: equidistantly-placed bones (one in the middle of the panel and one on the seams – instead of being just double boned on the seams), and black hardware (powder-coated busk and grommets).
Poland’s OTR corsetry trifecta (Restyle, Rebel Madness, and PaperCats) are breaking all the rules regarding “you get what you pay for”, as I’ve tried corsets over $200 which was not nearly as comfortable or well-made as these corsets. Part of me is wondering if the other shoe is eventually going to drop (I do hope manufacturing methods are ethical), while the other part says to not mess with a good thing.
Restyle’s corsets are designed more for slightly pear-shaped people, with both their ‘WH’ and their ‘CU’ style corsets able to accommodate around a 14-inch hip spring. Much of their hip spring is distributed a bit more towards the back of the body as opposed to directly on the sides; this might be an indication that the corsets were drafted to be worn with a lacing gap in the back, so the hip spring is angled forward slightly – but it might also be good for some people who have a bigger booty and need more space along the back.
Check out Restyle’s corset selection on their website here.
I recently received an email from a client who had purchased a corset and garter straps (suspenders) from my shop. They had assumed that when they’re purchased together, they would come attached, but in reality the garter straps are detachable and interchangeable (which means you can use them in many of your corsets!) but it does mean that there is “some assembly required.”
Most brands of corsets come with garter tabs, which are small loops at the bottom edge of the corset – they’re usually sewn upwards so that when they’re not in use, they are out of the way and not visible from the outside. They are also pressed very flat so as not to irritate your skin in any way.
When you do want to attach your garter straps to the corset, you take the “hook” side (it looks just like the hooks that come with interchangeable bra straps) and slide it through the garter loops.
Make sure that you’re not attaching your garter strap inside out! There’s an inside and an outside. The outside has the metal slider which allows you to adjust the length of the strap. You will also see that the “button” part of the garter clip faces outwards, for ease of use and to prevent your skin from touching the metal wire loop.
Check out the video below to see how to attach your garter straps to your corset. It’s much easier to do this before you put on the corset as opposed to when you’re wearing the corset.
You can also adjust the length of the garter strap (if it’s your first time attaching your stockings and you’re not sure how taut you need the straps to be, it might be easier to lengthen the garter straps as far as they will go when you attach to your stockings, and then tighten to your preferred amount once everything is attached.
To adjust the length of your garter straps:
- Flip up the metal slider to unlock it – this helps it glide easier.
- To lengthen the strap, grab the upper portion (with the single layer of elastic) while pulling down gently on the slider, allowing the lower portion (the double-layer loop of elastic) to glide freely. This makes a smaller loop, lengthening the strap.
- To shorten the strap, pull up on the metal slider with one hand and you may also need to pull gently on the loop of elastic below the slider as well, if there is tension on the strap from your corset being attached to your stockings. The aim is to make that loop bigger, which shortens the strap.
- Once you’re happy with the length, remember to flip down the metal slider – this makes the “teeth” of the slider bite into the elastic, keeping it in place!
My corset has 6 garter loops, but I only have 4 garter straps!
This can happen if you ordered your corset from a different shop as your garters, or if you lost a couple of garter straps – but not to worry! You can still use your straps.
There are 3 garter tabs on each side of your corset – I would recommend attaching your straps to the first one (closest to the front busk) and the last one (closest to the back laces), leaving the side seam without a strap.
Or – if you have a bigger bum, or if your garters just don’t like to stay attached at the back of your stockings when you sit down or stoop, you can attach your straps to loop 1 (by the busk) and 2 (on the side seam) and leave the back unsupported. This does mean that your stockings might sag a little at the back, but if your skirt / slacks are long enough, this won’t be visually noticeable.
My corset has only 4 garter loops, but I have 6 garter straps!
Keep those extra two garter straps for backup in case you lose a couple. ;)
Today I’m going to demonstrate how to curve the busk of your corset for a more deliberately dished front on the longline corset in the video above.
- The first curve will make it resemble more of a spoon busk, so it wraps around and slightly underneath a full lower tummy, and helps pull it up and in.
- The second curve will bring in the lowest tip of busk to prevent the look of a distracting “pelvic protrusion”.
- The third curve to the busk is creating a concave “dished” profile to make the side-view look more curvy and slender.
- The fourth and last curve will push outwards the very top edge of the busk – this will help those who have sensitive sternums, as the top of the busk will put less pressure on your diaphragm / not poke into the solar plexus area.
Do you have to bend your busk?
Not at all! If you already get great abdominal support from your corset, it gives you good posture, and you’re comfortable, and you like the look of the profile, feel free to keep your corset as is!
Can you buy a corset with a pre-curved busk?
Very rarely do OTR corsets actually come already sold with a curved busk – busks are manufactured to be straight, and then some spoon busks are curved or pressed after the fact to give their characteristic shape. WKD used to sell spoon busk Morticia corsets, and I think Corset Story sold quasi-spoon busks that were wider at the bottom but not curved. But usually if you want a corset to come with a busk pre-curved, you will need to go custom and specifically ask the corset maker to curve the front for you.
If you DO want to go the custom route, the corsetieres I know for certain will curve the front busk for you if you ask them, include:
- C&S Constructions (they’re arguably the most well-known for their very dished fronts)
- Corsetry & Romance
- Lovely Rats Corsetry
- Tighter Corsets
- Jupiter Moon 3
- Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry
Before you start: Respect the brand / shop policies…
When you can’t afford to go custom and your only option is OTR – in pretty much all OTR corsets, the busk will come straight, and if you curve the busk yourself this means you’re deliberately manipulating the corset – this will, in all likelihood, render any warranty or return policies void and they will not accept the corset, so before you bend the busk, be sure you’re going to keep the corset and not send it back.
Bend each side of the busk separately or together?
You have the option of bending each side separately or bending both sides of the busk together.
If your corset has a boned underbusk that has an extra wide, stainless steel bone under one side of the busk, and the actual busk itself is a very flexible, standard width busk, I would first manipulate the side with the underbusk – then I’d put the busk together and see if curving the other side is even necessary or not, because sometimes a flexible busk will bend to the curve of the stronger underbusk.
If your hands are strong enough, I’d curve both sides of the busk together, clasped closed, so that both sides of the busk have the same amount of curve – this will ensure that the loops and pins will always line up. You’ll want to support the areas where the loops and pins are riveted in, so the busk doesn’t break there or the pins don’t fall out. What you’re aiming for is for most of the curve to occur between each bracket, and not much right at the bracket.
If your hands are not strong enough, you can curve each side of the busk separately – it is the more careful way of doing things, but it also takes longer to make sure that both sides of the busk are curved the same amount, and that all the loops and pins line up exactly.
Does the type of busk matter?
If your corset has carbon fiber bones adjacent to the busk (which will only be included by special order in a custom corset), don’t even bother trying to bend it. It will be too stiff to manipulate significantly with your hands, and carbon fiber is designed to be strong but relatively brittle. Rather than holding a curve, poor quality carbon fiber would rather shatter – so if you want a curve to your front, you will have to remove those carbon fiber bones and replace them with steel.
A wide stainless steel busk and a spoon busk may be more tricky to bend, but it is possible. Flexible standard width busks are relatively easy to bend.
Some extra tips:
Like I said with my other article on curving the back steels – only bend a little bit at a time, try it on, and then if you find you need a little more curve, then take it off and bend a little more, just small amounts at a time. Go with what is most comfortable and compatible with your body, not just the amount of curve that happens to look dramatic and cute, because that might be too much curve for you.
If your hands are too weak to curve the busk on your own, use the curve of your thigh or your knee, or a tailor’s ham. You can try (very gently) to curve it over certain rounded countertops, but don’t bend it too much as to form kinks, and try not to bend it back and forth because bending it too much one way and then the other will weaken the steel. Below you’ll find a guide on which countertop edges are best for curving steel, if you choose to go this route.
For all of the descriptions of the different types of curves below, you can check out the video above for the demonstrations!
SUPPORT LOWER TUMMY POOCH (FUPA)
This first example is for those who have a panniculus, which is the medical term for lower tummy pooch, mother’s apron, or (more crudely) a “FUPA”. Curving the busk just a little bit under to cradle the bottom of a protruding abdomen can sometimes help fight that gravity that wants to pull your tummy out from under the corset.
- You want to create a convex curve at the lower tummy, usually below the belly button. If you need to try on the corset and mark the area lightly with tailor’s chalk, go ahead and do so.
- Again, focus on curving the areas between the brackets, and support the brackets as you place pressure on it.
GET RID OF THE “PELVIC PROTRUSION” (corset dingdong)
Curving the very bottom of the busk inward will help prevent a distracting point from poking out at your pubic region. (But as a general guideline, starting with a corset that’s cut straight across or at least gently rounded will help hide the bottom edge much more effectively than a pointed or dramatically contoured lower edge.)
- Here you want to start as low down as possible – if you have a longer busk with fewer brackets (pairs of loops/pins), then you could possibly even start below the last brackets. If not, you can start curving from the area between the last and second last brackets. Curve towards your body.
Just a note: if you have a very low body fat percentage or very flat lower tummy, curving the bottom edge of the busk too much can cause it to jab into your pubic mound or pelvic bone uncomfortably, so be careful here and curve less as opposed to more here, until you get a comfortable compromise.
CREATE A DISH IN THE WAIST
If you find that your corset is too “thick” or flat in the profile and you prefer the look of an inwardly dished front at the waistline, you can create a gentle concave curve.
- Start right at the waist tape, and unlike the two curves above, focus on curving outward instead of inward. Try not to create too dramatic a bend here – curve the busk a little at a time, and keep trying on your corset as you go. The inward curve does not affect your posture or cause you to lean forward. It should also not put any uncomfortable pressure on your diaphragm.
- The more dished a corset is at the waist, the more it kicks out the top and bottom tips of the busk. You may need to adjust the bottom edge more to prevent that pelvic region from sticking out.
CURVE OUT THE STERNUM
I deliberately left this one for last, because if you had curved inward the waistline, sometimes that is enough to kick out the top of the busk enough to take pressure off of the diaphragm.
Some corsetieres sew a tiny pillow or cushion to make the top of a busk more comfortable at the sternum like Creations L’Escarpolette, but another potential option is to gently curve outwards the top tip of the busk so it points just very slightly away from your sternum.
- It is essentially the opposite of the “pelvic protrusion” bend. In this situation, you want to start as high up as possible – above the highest set of loops and pins – or if that is not possible, then you can start curving from the area between the first and second sets Curve towards your body.
If you apply all of these curves to the same corset, it will end up looking slightly like an S shape. Again, I’d recommend doing only a little at a time, and keep trying it on. Obviously you don’t want to overdo all of these and end up giving yourself a worse posture than before.
Hopefully this guide is helpful for you! Do let me know if you have any questions, and if you have any other tips leave a comment down below.
How many of you have stood in front of the mirror while wearing a corset, admiring the narrowness of your waist – and then you turn to the side and find that your profile leaves something to be desired?
Everyone knows that wearing a corset nips in the side of the waist (at the obliques), giving you the illusion of a more narrow waist. And the interesting thing is that a corset can also do this without really reducing the waist at all: where a cross section of your torso is usually oval or ellipse shaped (wider from side-to-side than it is front-to-back), a corset makes it more into a circle – simply by placing pressure on the body bilaterally (on either side of the body), and allowing that volume to distribute more front-to-back. Liz from the Pragmatic Costumer wrote about this in more detail a few years ago on her blog.
The downside that some corset wearer’s see, especially if they naturally have a more flat abdomen, is that a corset often makes you look wider in the profile than you did without the corset – this is due to the redistribution of your flesh, combined with the thickness of the corset as well (you’re a couple of inches smaller underneath your corset).
Your Corset Profile can have Two Shapes:
For simplicity’s sake, there are two main ways the front of the corset can look – it can be totally flat, or it can be “dished” or curved to create a more concave front. The Victorians were known for their dished-front corsets and sometimes exaggerated lower tummy pooch (likely more exaggerated in medical illustrations and fashion plates than in real life) but the lower pooch was actually considered attractive and womanly at the time.
But with the popularity of the straight-fronted S-bend corsets at the turn of the century, you can see that it resulted in the illusion of even more dramatically nipped waists, as the majority of the volume was coming off of the sides and little to none in the front. Arguably, if you were to take an Edwardian corset and a Victorian corset with the same waist size, the Edwardian might look more nipped in in the front view but thicker in the profile view.
I should give a disclaimer here: whichever corset you personally find “prettier”, there is no universal right or wrong way that a corset should be (despite the Edwardian propaganda above). Some people like the concave dished front, while others like an extremely flat and rigid front. It often comes down to the corset maker’s aesthetic, combined with the natural body type you have, the effect you’re striving for in a corset (including how much waist reduction), and what you personally find comfortable.
So the “dished vs straight” debate is not only subjective, but it’s also conditional.
It also depends on the posture you want to achieve. The straight-fronted, S-bend corsets had a habit of thrusting the body into an overcorrected posture – they weren’t slumping, but they were also flexing their lower back in an unnatural way. When I had X-rays done of myself while wearing various corsets, my chiropractor found that rigid-fronted, Edwardian-inspired corsets encouraged a very unnatural, kyphotic neck curve in my body. The corset pushed my chest forward, and my shoulders and hips back, which forced my head to come forward as a counter-balance. In some people, this might eventually lead to neck strain, pain, cervicogenic headaches, etc.
Meanwhile, when I wore a more Victorian style corset, it allowed me to maintain a more neutral posture and my spine was in a more natural alignment. So, just because a corset gives you a flat front does not mean you have necessarily have a healthy posture.
A couple notes on terminology before we start comparing corsets – I’ll be using layman’s terms here as much as possible:
so when I say “cross section” that means the transverse plane,
when I say “profile” that means the sagittal plane,
and when I say “front view” that means the coronal plane.
My Uncorseted Waist
This is a screenshot of me from 2012, around a time where I was not consistently waist training. My natural waist is around 27 inches.
It’s well and good to compare different corsets, but keep in mind that I am naturally very wide from the front, but when I turn to the side I practically disappear, so my cross section is very oblong. My oblique muscles might “resist” compression more compared other people, and my lower abdomen is not prone to “pooching” – if I and another woman were to wear the same corset in the same size and stand side-by-side, it might look very slightly different on each of us.
Contour Corset “Summer Mesh” Mid-Hip Underbust
My Contour corset is almost totally flat in the front. This one is 20.5 inches in the waist, laced closed.
- In the profile, it makes my body look slightly thicker than it is naturally (while not wearing a corset)
- In the front view, it looks shockingly nipped in on the sides (this isn’t even my smallest corset!)
- In the cross section, I might actually be a bit thicker from front to back than I am side to side.
Puimond PY09 “Curvy” Underbust Corset
My Puimond corset is actually half an inch smaller than my Contour corset (it’s 20 inches laced closed), but despite being smaller, it looks less dramatic.
- In the profile, you can see that the front is slightly dished, but in an attractive way, at least for me. It’s nipped in slightly at the front but it doesn’t create a dramatic ski slope at the pelvis. Also notice that I don’t look that thick in the profile.
- In the front view, the sides are obviously nipped in, but it doesn’t look as dramatic as the first corset.
- So in this corset, if you looked at the cross section, the distribution of my waist is still slightly ellipse shaped with more of that length being side-to-side rather than front-to-back.
- This shape is nearly a circle though – probably the closest to a circle compared to any of the other corsets here.
C & S Constructions
Let’s look corset with a more dramatically dished front like the one below from C&S Constructions. This corset is also 20 inches, but I’m wearing it at 21 inches because it wasn’t custom made for my body (the ribs of the corset were a bit too narrow for my own ribcage).
- In the profile view, the waist is pulled inward, and actually I have a slight forward leaning posture which is interesting. It is a deliberately curved front to make sure that the profile looks slender. (But it also gives a forward leaning posture.)
- In the front view, the waist is still nipped on the sides, but it’s still wider in this view than it is in the profile view.
- So the cross section of my waist is still an ellipse, that is wider from side-to-side, just a smaller one.
Sparklewren Cranberry Butterfly Overbust
Let’s look at my Sparklewren overbust, which is closed at 23 inches (so we can see how less of a reduction / a bigger waist may affect the cross section and silhouette).
- In the profile view, her corset gives me a very flat front here, in fact possibly slimmer than some of my smaller corsets that are patterned differently.
I vaguely remember having a conversation with Jenni (Sparklewren) about this probably 5 years ago. She told me that she likes to preserve the flatness in the profile as much as possible, but once the waist is reduced by a certain amount (i.e. under 18 inches in circumference), some dishing in the front may become necessary to achieve further reduction.
- In the side view, there’s nipping in at the waist but it appears to be very clearly wider than the profile, but it’s still a lovely silhouette.
- So the cross section is more clearly an ellipse.
Versatile Corsets “Mimosa” Cupped Overbust
The “Mimosa” overbust by Versatile is another corset that gives me a slender profile and flat abdomen. This is a size 22″, but I’m probably wearing at 23.5 or 24 inches here. (It wasn’t a full custom, just the waist measurement and bra size were taken into account).
- The profile view is relatively flat, similar to how my abdomen looks naturally.
- The front view is a bit more gentle and sweeping – not a super dramatic silhouette, not nipped in sharply at the sides.
- Obviously the cross section of my waist is more of an ellipse.
All this being said, it’s worth reiterating that this might be subjective for my own body. I naturally have a pretty wide waist, but if I turn to the side my abdomen is very flat. It is more likely that a corset would make me a bit thicker in the profile compared to a different person who has more of a protruding abdomen.
Profile Silhouette in Someone with a Protruding / Hanging Tummy
(Thanks to my aunt for modeling this early custom corset I made for her back in 2012). You may remember my aunt from this tutorial on pulling a hanging tummy up into your corset. She’s had a few children and she’s a more mature woman and has developed a bit of hanging tummy. She asked for a corset to provide back support and to flatten her tummy under her work uniform, but not give a shockingly dramatic waist from the front, which is why it’s not that much of an hourglass. This corset is a size 34″ if I remember correctly; drafted to give her a 6 inch reduction which is about 15% reduction.
- I specifically used a spoon busk for her, and you can see that this corset makes her slimmer in the profile. Arguably, most of the reduction came off the front instead of the sides of her body.
- In the front view, it gives a relatively natural looking hourglass from the sides.
If you want to see whether your corset makes you thinner or thicker in the profile view or front view, you can measure this using calipers.
If you want a very rigid front (as rigid as possible), you might be interested in adding carbon fibre bones adjacent to the busk – they’re about 24x more stiff than a flat steel bone, and you’ll find these exclusively at Vena Cava Design.
Conversely, if you want your corset to have more of a dished shape, I will make a video next week on how to curve your corset busk to your preference. The process is very similar to curving the back steels.
I hope you found this helpful! Just a note that there is no right or wrong way, some people like the concave dished front, some people like an extremely flat and rigid front. it all depends on your body type, your subjective preferences, your natural posture, and the aesthetic of the corset maker and how they pattern your corset as well.
Leave a comment below telling me whether you prefer the flat front or the dished front better for your own corsets. If you have any question regarding the “flatness” or “dishiness” of any other corset in my collection, as well as the rigidity of the busk, the posture it gives, etc., feel free to ask.
Disclosure: I purchased these bras at a local store to satisfy my own curiosity, but I do wear them regularly. This article also contains affiliate links which help my blog stay online!
I’ve made a video on Corset Bra Compatibility in the past and the issue with wire entrapment and the “double lift” that comes with wearing conventional bras with underbust corsets.
It just occurred to me that I never made a blog post specifically about my Genie Bra review, although I have made posts about my Enell bras and Knixwear Evolution bra, as well as the Underworks binder. Today I’m rectifying that. Below you’ll see a summary of the video (and some updated opinions about these bras, since it’s been nearly 6 years since this video came out).
There are many similar bras to the Genie bra, like the “Air Bra” and the “Ahh Bra”, and although I haven’t tried them, I imagine they work similarly. If any readers have tried these substitutes, let me know how you liked them (or if you didn’t like them) in a comment below.
While the silhouette is not perfect, the Genie bra helps prevent exaggerated back rolls below my bra band and above a cincher that stops short on my ribs – and because it doesn’t have any underwire, I don’t have to worry about the underwire being shoved into my ribcage from a taller corset, or any underwire slipping overtop of the corset and making my bust look oddly asymmetric. The Genie bra gives less support than an underwire bra (this is to be expected) but gives about the same amount of support as a low-impact sports bra. I can wear it under my fitted tees and it gives a slightly minimizing effect, but I would not do contact sports in this type of bra.
There are also no seams and the bra leaves no marks on my body, and there’s a 2-inch-wide band around the ribs that is also comfortable and long enough to overlap with the top line of my corsets (which helps with smoothing). Since there are no bones in this bra, it means that the band does have a tendency to roll or fold a bit though, so it has its pros and cons.
The bra also comes with bust pads which create marginally more fullness over the bust, as well as nipple coverage – but they’re also removable if you don’t care for these features. My favorite part of the bra is that it can be thrown in the washer and dryer (remove the bust pads first, as they can disintegrate in the wash). Washing the bra helps restore some of its tightness, but do keep in mind that this type of bra will definitely stretch out over time. (By the way, I own these bras in size Small, but they continued to fit me through a 40-lb weight gain and 4-cup size difference, because my underbust / back measurement didn’t change all that much. However, after the weight loss, the bras were too stretched out to wear and I will probably replace them.)
The coverage is moderate; I can wear it with most of my scoop-neck and V-neck shirts, just not with my plunge shirts (although the black one especially just looks like a camisole under your shirt if exposed). The wide arm straps are comfortable on my shoulders, but it means the straps are highly visible under tank tops.
If you’re the type to sleep with a bra, I have also forgotten to take this bra off a few times and found it very comfortable to sleep in, even as an active sleeper that moves around a lot.
While the Genie bra is no longer available at the stores I mentioned in the video, they are easily accessible on Amazon here and because they’ve been out for such a long time, they’ve dropped in price. Check out the Genie Bra on Amazon.
Over the past little over a year, I reviewed a whopping nine different mesh corsets, and many of them had very different types of mesh (different fibers, weaves, stretchiness and quality), and not all mesh corsets are made equal! It can be a little different to tell them apart on video and confusing when there are so many different terms, so let’s go through the most popular types of mesh for corsets and discuss the pros and cons for each one.
Featured in my past reviews:
- Orchard Corset: CS-201, CS-411, CS-426 underbusts; CS-511 overbust
- Mystic City: MCC-64 (old stock)
- Glamorous Corset: Bella cincher, Emma underbust, and Jolie longline.
This is a very open type netting made with cotton or polyester – it looks a bit like string or yarn twisted or knotted together. It is very flexible, can be a bit stretchy, and usually has a hexagonal shape to it. (As we know from nature, hexagons maximize the area inside each hole while minimizing the materials used for each wall – so the fishnet can cover a large surface area while not using much fabric to do so.)
Pros: fishnet is probably the coolest and breeziest type of mesh, and it comes in many different colors – Mystic City used to sell these with red mesh, blue, orange, green, etc. Orchard Corset regularly keeps these stocked in black and tan (and sometimes white), with occasional limited colors like red, gold, and navy blue. This is the most ubiquitous type of mesh corset, so it’s easy to find.
Cons: this fabric has a lot of give and definitely stretches out over time. Because there’s technically only a few threads holding in each bit of the fishnet within the seams, it can rip over time.
(I don’t know whether you call it a pro or a con, but the net leaves temporary impressions in your skin so when you take off the corset it looks like you have lizard scales. It looks cool but can feel rather itchy.)
A slightly more tight-knit version of fishnet is used in Brazil, and I noticed that their mesh corsets have smaller, square shaped holes instead of hexagonal – I feel that this might work better for corsets as it has a clear warp and weft to follow.
My Madame Sher mesh cincher is still holding up very well and I’ve worn it every summer for the past 4 years. It can still show a little damage over time, due to the nature of the fabric, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its longevity.
Featured in my past reviews:
I believe that the newer stock of Mystic City corsets also use this mesh, and this is becoming probably the standard in many custom corsets.
Corsetry mesh is a synthetic fine woven net. It is fairly stiff and slightly reminiscent of the fly screens that you would see on windows and doors (except this is polyester/ nylon, and not aluminum or fiberglass which real window screens are made from).
Pros: corsetry mesh is smoother, stronger, and less likely to warp with wear. You can somewhat achieve a more conical rib with this type of fabric, but I’ve found that it still has relatively more give compared to more rigid, multi-layer cotton corsets.
Cons: this mesh is not as breathable as the holes are smaller (and it’s a synthetic fabric so it can feel plasticky). It can occasionally rip (usually if the seam allowances are not wide enough and it pulls from the stitching. Also, this type of mesh can be quite pokey. If any seam allowances do end up poking into the body, these threads can be snipped off with nail clippers and the rest pushed back under the fabric.
Tips for corset makers on reducing the “pokey” seams while using this type of mesh:
- Some makers if they’re very particular, they might melt the seams with a small flame or a hotknife, but this can also risk warping the mesh from the heat.
- Another simple way around this is by sewing the corset with the seam allowances on the outside of the corset (facing away from the body) and putting thick boning channels overtop so they won’t poke through.
- Vanyanis uses a plush velvet ribbon on the inside to further protect from any pokiness, and she taught Timeless Trends this finishing technique as well when she styled their OTR mesh corsets.
Featured in none of my previous corset reviews.
Bobbinet is almost exclusively used in custom corsets by specialist corsetieres, for very lightweight corsets and foundationwear under couture dresses. It’s been used by designers like Crikey Aphrodite, Morúa Designs, Sew Curvy Couture, Laurie Tavan, Karolina Laskowska, Crimson Rose Corsetry, Ivy Rose Designs, etc.
It’s made from cool and breathable cotton – it flows well over curves and is super lightweight. It has a lot of give, and as such it’s often used in a double layer for extra strength (and a bit more opacity if desired). Because it’s cotton, it can also be dyed – but it’s such a delicate fabric that I wouldn’t train in this. You’re not likely to see this used in OTR corsets.
Tips for corset makers: Ivy Rose Designs made a tutorial on working with bobbinet for Foundations Revealed. If you’re not an FR member and you would like to become one, please use my referral link (there’s no difference in price).
Aida cloth (or Java mesh)
Featured in none of my previous corset reviews.
When you look at mesh corsets in the Victorian and Edwardian periods (e.g. their activewear corsets while playing tennis, or the corsets used by British women during the colonialization of India and other places of warmer climates), the mesh they used sometimes looked similar to this. Aida cloth is intended for cross stitching and comes in various weights and counts, so not all Aida cloth is made equal.
Pros: Aida cloth is cotton, so it’s a natural, breathable and cool fiber, and it can also be custom dyed.
Cons: Aida cloth can be difficult to source, and can also fray and shred.
Tips for corset makers: The Bad Button made a tutorial on working with Aida cloth on Foundations Revealed. If you’re not an FR member and you would like to become one, please use my referral link (there’s no difference in price).
Featured in my past review: Contessa Gothique semi-mesh sweetheart underbust
This is a beautiful lightweight fabric (think of the stiff tulle you’d find in crinolines / underskirts), but better suited as a semi-mesh corset with plenty of reinforcement. The tulle in this corset is limited to relatively straight panels (not super curvy ones), and the tulle is flanked on all sides – bones on either side (as well as the center of the panel), and even the binding at top and bottom is coutil to prevent stretch or warping.
The waist tape also takes the tension at the waistline, so the tulle is mainly just preventing the flesh from bubbling out of the “windows” but it’s not contributing to the actual reduction of the waist in a significant way.
Pros: it’s pretty, easily sourced, and comes in almost any color imaginable.
Cons: I think if it were forced to take more of the tension, it might risk tearing. The tulle makes for a lovely and delicate look – but I wouldn’t use this for everyday intense training.
Featured in my past review: JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement “Christine” underbust
This (I’ve been told) is also the type of mesh used by Restyle for their mesh CU underbust, and I think Mystic City has experimented with this in limited styles as well.
Sports mesh is also known as athletic mesh, tricot fabric, or (especially in the US) “football fabric”. This type of fabric is what’s often used in shoes and team jerseys, and also the non-stretch mesh pockets found in luggage and schoolbags, as well as non-stretch mesh laundry bags and gear sacks. It’s made from polyester and can come in a rainbow of colors.
While it may look similar to fishnet at first glance, it behaves very differently – it has little to no give or stretch, and the holes look more circular (or sometimes square), as if they were ‘punched’ out of the fabric (this is what gives it its tricot look) – however, if the holes were really punched out, this would weaken the fabric. Where fishnet looks like the ‘yarn’ is the same width everywhere, the sports mesh will have areas that look thicker and thinner – many of them have an almost ‘checkerboard’ appearance.
It’s a bit difficult to find the right type of sports mesh online, even when trying to use the correct terms and definitions, as fabric sellers on Ebay, Etsy and Alibaba will often use long strings of vaguely related words. If I can find a reliable source for this fabric in many colors, I’ll link it here, but I recommend going to a local fabric store and testing the stretch out for yourself – the right type of mesh should have little to no stretch, whereas fishnet is designed to stretch and give.
But the sports mesh costs only maybe $2 more per yard than the fishnet (therefore costs $1 more per underbust corset, depending on the size), and it comes in as many colors, for better quality and strength – so I would encourage more OTR corset manufacturers to test this fabric.
Pros: Imagine all the pros of fishnet without the cons. Sports mesh has bigger holes more on par with fishnet, so it’s more breathable than the corsetry mesh (which is a “plasticky” feeling fabric). It also doesn’t stretch out or warp as easily as fishnet. Sports mesh can come in a huge range of colors, as JL Corsets demonstrated with the corset to the right.
Cons: while sports mesh is stronger than fishnet, it’s not invincible – where there are holes, there is the risk of it catching on something and damaging the fabric. Also, while I actually prefer sports mesh compared to the fishnet, but I suppose because of the sports connotation some people might think it’s less cute than the fishnet.
Heavy Duty outdoor mesh
Featured in my past review: Contour Corset summer mesh underbust
This is a heavy duty mesh, similar to synthetic outdoor upholstery mesh. The only thing I can compare this to is the type of fabric you’d find on deck chairs or boat seats, but to this day I have not sourced the exact same fabric that Contour Corsets used to use.
Pros: this heavy duty mesh is the strongest type of mesh in this list, and comes in a rainbow of colors (in the video above I showed my gold corset, Strait-Laced Dame has a metallic silver and purple corset, and the one to the right shows the sky blue option).
Cons: this mesh is difficult to wear against the skin, absolutely requires a liner but I pretty much always wear a liner anyway. It takes a long time to form over curves, Fran said that the break-in process for one of her corsets lasted up to 100 hours of wear.
Featured in my past case study: Homemade Sport Powermesh “Corset”
This is specifically designed to have stretch and give, with mild compression – it has spandex in it. You’d find this more in Merry Widows and girdles as opposed to “real” corsets. However, it has its uses (especially those who love a strong cinch combined with maximum mobility).
The rough version of a powermesh corset I made for myself featured satin coutil front and back, boning channels and diamond waist tap – but never finished the binding on it (it means I can wear it under my clothes and it creates a surprisingly smooth line – and this mesh doesn’t really fray as it’s a knit).
Pros: it makes a very flexible and comfy corset, allowing you a lot of movement.
Cons: are that although it is still a single layer corset, because it’s a finely-woven synthetic material, it can get a little warm compared to the other types of mesh. This corset will definitely not give you a conical ribcage, as it stretches around every natural curve of your body. Also, the bones a not placed relatively close together, there is a risk of parts of the corset shrinking or rolling up in places (which is why it’s most often used in girdles, where the garter straps / suspenders keep it pulled down and smooth).
These are the most popular types of mesh and net used in corsets, but if you’d like to see even more examples of mesh, sheer, and summer corsets, (including some made from lace, organza, and horsehair), I have a whole gallery over on this permanent page! Do you know of other types of mesh that are used for corsets that I didn’t mention here or in the gallery? Comment below and let us know.
Today I’m providing a walkthrough and review of Romantasy’s newest book, titled Corset Waist Training: A Primer on Easy, Fun & Fashionable Waistline Reduction written by Ann Grogan. This was released in late 2016 and I read through it in 2017.
Differences between the Primer and Corset Magic:
This is a different book to the one I had reviewed back in 2011 (Corset Magic), and there are quite a few differences (and improvements made!) to this new book. I still maintain that Corset Magic is the most thorough publication I’ve ever read on waist training – but it was a daunting read at the time, being well over 125,000 words (over 300 A4-size pages with smallish font, single-spaced). I remember that the search function / page numbers didn’t work with my Adobe PDF reader, making it easy to lose my place.
The Primer is a bit shorter (perhaps closer to 100,000 words, in 4 very digestible parts), more concise, more organized, and easy to search for words and find your place again) in the PDF reader. It has also been carefully edited, proof-read and beta-tested to create a more user-friendly read overall. Resources and links have also been updated from the old Corset Magic version, so they work properly and no longer lead to dead links – so from a technical standpoint, the Primer is a huge improvement!
The Primer is not meant to be a full replacement for Corset Magic, but it definitely helps you get started (hence: Primer). You can still buy Corset Magic for $50 which goes into more detail about what happens to the body when you wear corsets; it’s more heavy on research, and also seems to have additional chapters (e.g. on men wearing corsets). Corset Magic really is a comprehensive resource for the keeners (no shame; I fall into this category too!) but the Primer will still give you more than enough information to get started, and at a more attractive price ($14.95 on this site), it’s a much smaller and more manageable investment.
Like I said in my old Corset Magic review: if you’re not sure if waist training is for you, then it’s wiser to invest [now $15, for the Primer] to educate yourself than it is to spend $300 or $400 on a custom corset, discover that you’re not the biggest fan of wearing corsets or your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to wear corsets, and find that you just wasted hundreds of dollars on a garment you’ll never wear.
Some disclaimers before we start:
Oftentimes in this book, waist training is mentioned hand-in-hand with weight loss, and there’s considerable emphasis placed on the obesity epidemic and the importance of losing weight or having a svelte figure. While weight loss admittedly does seem to be the general trend with many people who waist train, I also know of several people who have successfully trained their waists and developed a curvier natural silhouette while staying the same weight or even gaining weight, so I know that training can be achieved independent of weight loss.
So if you’re rocking the plus size and have no intentions of losing weight, there are portions of this book which will not apply as much to you – and try not to take offense to some passages in this book which emphasize weight loss. If you have a history of disordered eating, some concepts in this book may be considered triggering (small portion sizes, calorie counting, food restriction / denial).
Ann does acknowledge the fact that not all waist trainers lose weight, writing on pg 24: “When following the basic waist-training steps outlined in this book, depending on your figure size and shape, it’s not unusual to find that you permanently lose 2″ to 3″ or more from your waist with or without weight loss.” But then also adds: “You also might lose from a few pounds, up to 20 or more.”
Edited to add: since I knew there are a few trans women and non-binary folks who visit my site: in this book there are terms used like “genetic male,” “transsexual”, etc. in reference to trans women. From my understanding, some of these terms are inaccurate and outdated and might be cause for concern – I had emailed the author to suggest using some more updated terminology (AMAB, transgender) but she said she checked with the transgender community in San Francisco regarding her writing and received no negative feedback. Since I’m a cis woman, it’s not my place to police these terms, so I let the subject go. Use your own discretion when coming across these terms in the book.
PART 1 (includes Introduction and Ch 1-3)
The Introduction goes into parallels between corset training vs dieting/ starting a fitness regime. One might think it all starts with how tight you wear your corset or how long you wear it (in the former), or how much you exercise or what you eat (in the latter). But in reality, all starts with your mind and in identifying – and setting – your priorities. It might involve a quite a bit of mentally “checking in”, and she says that our default behavior in times of stress (challenging times, emergencies) is particularly telling compared to times when life is smooth sailing. A little mindfulness can go a long way, and she recommends checking in with a waist training coach, having a buddy system, or if possible, even talking to a counselor to identify unhealthy automatic behaviors.
Ann also says that waist training regimens are highly individual and not a “one size fits all” approach, the same way that one person can feel amazing on one diet while another person can do the same diet and end up very sick. I fundamentally agree with this as a nutritionist – if one diet worked for everyone, we’d only ever have one. We all need to find what works best for our bodies.
Chapter 1 discusses some of the many benefits you may experience with wearing corsets – not only physical benefits (better posture, back support, appetite reduction if that’s your thing), but also the comforting aspects of deep pressure, some possible reduction in stress and anxiety, etc.
Chapter 2 is all about the “Corset Question” which is “Don’t corsets hurt?” And obviously the answer to that is an emphatic NO!… as long as the corset is of decent quality, properly fitted to the unique hills and valleys of your body, and you’re wearing it responsibly (which also includes the fact that you will loosen the laces when you feel the need to).
This chapter also goes into various unsavory experiences Ann has had with sensationalistic TV segments and news reports which negatively portrayed corsets, and I sympathize as I have multiple responses to such news segments here on my blog.
Chapter 3 explains how waist training works. Ann provides plenty of before and after examples, showing many of her students who permanently lost inches on their waist, most of them losing a significant amount of weight as well (the most dramatic being one client who lost 50 lbs in 3 months). However, Ann is also quick to mention that corset waist training is not a “lose weight quick” scheme – it requires considerable discipline and consistency, and often a lifestyle change. She says waist training works best if you focus not only on wearing the corset, but changing other elements as well (including what to eat and how to exercise).
But even though this regimen requires control, Ann recommends going into it with an open mind and positive mindset – you don’t want to force the process and end up developing resentment towards your corset or your routine.
PART 2 (includes Ch 4-5)
Chapter 4 is a big chapter. It goes into her official requirements for the perfect waist training corset – I remember reading this checklist back in 2010 or 2011 and being very surprised by the amount of scrutiny that went into every detail of the corset. Now, in 2018, I agree that these components are reasonable, and most could even be considered obvious! Some of these requirements include non-stretch tightly woven fabric, strong thread and tidy stitches, steel bones, front busk, 2-part grommets, presence of a waist tape, etc.
She says for best results, get an underbust corset made custom to your measurements, and she goes into detail on how to measure yourself accurately for a custom corset. Above all, Ann recommends you don’t rush into getting a corset.
She is vehemently against OTR corsets (this is where she and I disagree). But what I do agree with is that if someone is impatient about choosing a corset/ they don’t want to put any homework into exploring their options/ they choose “rock-bottom prices” over their own comfort and proper fit, then this person is not likely to be successful regarding waist training over time. Waist training is a long, slow process which requires considerable discipline and control, so if you can’t bring yourself to spend at least a few weeks exploring your options for corset brands, quality, and fit, then you’re not likely patient enough for waist training to begin with.
Ann also discusses turnaround times for corset makers: some may be 4-6 weeks, while others in very high demand might take 6 months to a year (or more!). She also troubleshoots many corset fitting issues, like if the top edge is too loose or too tight, the corset is too long or too short, and she also gives special consideration if the client has scoliosis.
She also discusses client-maker communication – and, should you find anything you suspect is wrong with your corset, to first check that you didn’t lace it too high, too low, upside down or on a slant, and to check whether your demands are unreasonable, like if one stitch is 1mm longer than the others.
Finally, she talks about how to lace up your corset, the seasoning (break-in) process, and beginning your waist training regimen – which takes us to chapter 5.
Chapter 5 is where Ann introduces us to her 13-step system for successful waist training. She walks you through the preparation before you even begin – knowing what to expect, taking your “before” pictures, and writing down your stats. Then she shows you how to set realistic goals for yourself: writing down not only the number of inches off your waistline you want to lose (and/or how much weight you want to lose), but also how long you want your intensive training period to be. She recommends a minimum of 3 months, lacing 6 days out of the week and giving yourself one rest day per week.)
She also walks you through the Roller Coaster method of waist training, and ways to keep striving toward your goals and not lose motivation. Some suggestions she makes include writing a contract with yourself, hiring a coach or having a buddy system, betting money on your success (or having some other kind of reward and punishment system), having a daily ritual and daily journal, and even visualization or meditation.
PART 3 (includes Ch 6-7)
Chapter 6 deals exclusively with food and eating habits, and she recommends breaking up your meals into 6-8 small meals and snacks spread throughout the day, cutting down on refined sugars and processed foods, and taking in more fiber and water.
As I’m a registered nutritionist, this is the one particular chapter where I found I disagreed most, especially regarding certain generic statements e.g. calorie counting (as some people can easily run away with that), and some of the portion sizes mentioned in the book are smaller than I would recommend – but I understand that Ann is discussing this in the context that one may not be able to eat full-size portions while wearing a waist training corset. Ann mentions that she eats quite often (around 7-8 times a day) and requires a considerable amount soluble fiber to keep her own gut happy. Others may eat 4 times a day or whatever personally works for them.
What I do agree with is mindful eating, eating at a relaxed pace if your work/lifestyle allows it, and especially to avoid overeating to the point of discomfort when in a corset. I also agree with keeping a focus on more nutritionally rich foods, and checking in with yourself if you feel compelled to eat out of boredom, stress, or during emotionally challenging times.
Ann also goes into the plausible reasons as to why and how corsets act similarly to bariatric surgery (without the same risks that surgery carries). Ann is quite strict about the idea that food is for nourishment, and although it’s fine to mindfully enjoy what you do eat, she says it’s important not to overindulge or treat food as a crutch, especially during social outings.
Chapter 7 is all about exercise – and in particular, toning and strengthening your core.
There are some lifestyle waist trainers who enjoy wearing their corsets almost 24/7 and they are scared of building up muscle that may interfere with their training, but Ann recommends maintaining your muscle tone in your back and core – her waist training regime doesn’t require a 24/7 schedule (in fact it requires as little as 2 hours a day, up to 8 hours a day – although you can wear your corset for 12+ hours if you desire).
In addition to doing some core-strengthening exercises every day, Ann also recommends taking one day per week off from your corset to make sure you’re not growing dependent on the corset for back support, and this I agree with.
Obviously, we all have different starting points regarding fitness: we have different strengths and weaknesses, different ranges of motion/ flexibility, and some of us may have old injuries that we need to be careful of, so Ann ensures that not all exercises are suited to everyone. But she does illustrate and explain some of her favorite exercises for warmup / cooldown, strengthening the core and back, and improving flexibility.
Part 4: includes Ch 8-9 and Appendices
Chapter 8 is about making waist training easy and comfortable. She says there are 3 challenges to waist training: Logistical, Emotional, and Physical.
Logistical issues include which types of furniture to sit on comfortably, and some tips on riding in a car or plane when corseted. She also gives advice on sleeping in a corset, preventing yourself from overheating, how to stealth in your corset, etc.
Emotional issues include impatience, frustration, or excitement around waist training. Whats your emotional state when wearing your corset – uptight or relaxed? Ann says that the goal is to remain a bit detached to the whole process of waist training, “even a bit blasé.” She also gives some tips on how to overcome the judgmental reactions from strangers or colleagues regarding your figure, and how to keep up your personal motivation.
Physical challenges include concerns as to what happens to the body when you wear a corset, and Ann quotes a few studies on pressure on the waistline delivered by corsets (first done in 1887 and repeated again in 1999 with similar results).
Ann has a section on discomfort: how much is normal, and when you should loosen your corset or when you should bear up. She says that training should be challenging, and one should aim for a 6 or 7 on the discomfort scale out of a possible 10, and bear up as long as you’re in good health. I tend to disagree (I don’t like wearing corsets that make me uncomfortable, and I think anything more uncomfortable than a pair of shoes means something about the fit of the corset or the method of wearing it is wrong). Where both Ann and I agree is that discomfort is subjective, bodily autonomy is a thing, and as long as an individual is not causing injury to themselves or others, it’s up to that individual as to how tight or loose they want to wear their own corset.
She also addresses other things like blood pressure, what to do if you have acid reflux, skin problems like itching, bruising or redness (although bruising is not normal and shouldn’t happen), and various restroom issues.
Chapter 9 is on maintenance corseting: once you’ve reached your training goals, how to keep your results while corseting less (if you want. If you like wearing your corset every day then do what you like!).
The appendices can be quite helpful as well; there’s a guide on the difference between different corset silhouettes, a discussion on the difference between tight lacing and waist training, some recipes, a typical measuring guide for a custom corset, and a chart to keep a record of your waist training progress over 3 months.
All in all, you’re receiving a huge amount of information in this book – essentially four books for the price of one. As much info as I described in this overview, it still only covers perhaps 2% of the entire Primer.
The Corset Waist Training Primer answers nearly every question you ever had about corseting (and some you’d probably never thought to ask as well). At $15, it is much more accessible to those with smaller budgets compared to Corset Magic ($50) and it’s more than sufficient for beginners and intermediates.
As Ann and I are both very passionate about corsetry (and also strongly opinionated), take my criticisms with a grain of salt – at the time I’m writing this, there is still no other waist training book on the market has come close to the length, detail and scope as this Primer (with the obvious exception to the even more exhaustive Corset Magic). If you choose to read this book, incorporate the things that resonate with you, and leave the rest (but I don’t have you tell you this; this is true of any book!).
Click here to go to Romantasy’s site and learn more about Ann’s newest book (not a referral link): Corset Waist Training: A Primer on Easy, Fun & Fashionable Waistline Reduction
This week is an update on corsets and rib removal (rib resection being the proper term for it), because this surgical procedure has been circulating in the news again recently. Back in 2012, I believe I said that there was no medical documentation of anyone in the no one past or present had ever surgically broken or removed their floating ribs for purely aesthetic purposes, and I turned out to be mistaken! Pixee Fox (The Living Cartoon) had three pairs of ribs removed in 2015, and more recently Rodrigo Alves had two pairs removed in late 2017. Since both of them habitually wear corsets, many people have emailed and messaged me to ask my take on this, so this gives me the opportunity to correct what I stated 5-6 years ago.
Why Did I Doubt Cosmetic Rib Resection Before?
I originally got this information from Chapter 10 of Victorian Secrets by Sarah A Chrisman (it’s still an excellent memoir on corsets and waist training otherwise), and also from Valerie Steele’s book The Corset: A Cultural History which was published in 2001. At the time, Steele couldn’t find any official publication from the 19th or 20th centuries regarding elective cosmetic surgery to remove the ribs:
“Historians sometimes claim that rib removal occurred, but without providing evidence, or they hedge their bets by mentioning the ‘rumor’ that certain women had this operation … It would have been very difficult for a woman to find a trained surgeon willing to undertake such a hazardous operation for cosmetic purposes. Histories of plastic surgery to not mention rib removal.
“Rumors of movie stars having their lower ribs removed still circulate. It would now theoretically be possible to perform such an operation, and someone somewhere may have done it. ‘But there’s never been anything published about it; no one has owned up to performing such a procedure, much less to having had one,’ says Dr. John E. Sherman of Cornell University’s medical school.” (Steele, 2001, p 73-74)
This was obviously in specific context to rib resection as a purely cosmetic surgery, however. Nobody doubts that rib resection has been used for various medical purposes.
Medically Necessary Reasons for Removing the Ribs Today
- If someone breaks a rib by injury, or has a congenital condition that led to severely deformed and rotated ribs, and there’s a chance it might never be corrected (in the case of broken ribs, they might never heal properly), sometimes the surgeon believes it’s better for the patient to remove it.
- If there is any cancer that spreads to the bone and it cannot be effectively treated by other measures like chemotherapy or radiation, the bone is amputated.
- The ribs can also be removed to use in reconstructive surgery in smaller parts of the body. A common place to use these bones is in the face and jaw (after a bad injury or oral cancer, etc.) because using your own tissue is said to have a lower chance of rejection or reaction, compared to titanium plates and the like.
- Sometimes the upper ribs are removed for medical purposes: the first rib (close to the clavicle (aka collarbone) can be removed in hopes of correcting Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, blood clots in the neck and shoulder, Reynaud’s Syndrome, or other medical complications that might arise from nerves or blood vessels growing around the bones of this area above the collarbone. Some people even have little vestigial cervical ribs that grow out of the neck (this is rare – like being born with a tail).
- There are also many open surgeries where the ribs are temporarily broken or removed to get at the heart, lungs or kidneys, and then the surgeons usually put the ribs back again.
You can read more about the more common reasons for rib resection on this site.
However, Victorians Did Not Remove Their Ribs
The idea that millions of women in the 1800s removed their floating ribs for the sake of vanity is absurd. This was a time before anesthetic was able to be calibrated based on a person’s size and weight – at the time, ether or chloroform was used as anesthetic, and depending on how much was administered to the patient, there was a risk of them either waking up in the middle of surgery, or never waking up again.
Puncturing a lung and causing it to collapse was also very real risk (and is still a risk today) because you’re working so closely to the area, trying to separate bone from the intercostal muscles that lie overtop of the lungs.
Also, people didn’t know about blood types until around the year 1900 – if a patient lost too much blood and needed a transfusion, it was a game of roulette to find a donor that would match their blood type (if one could find a donor fast enough at all).
Germ theory was only really starting to be accepted around the 1880s, so before this time, many surgeons would not sterilize their tools or even wash their hands. Even if a physician were an early adopter of germ theory and did learn the importance of hand washing, it would still be about 50 years before penicillin would be discovered in 1928 (and even then, it wasn’t officially medically distributed until closer to 1940). So infections, complications, and fatalities associated with any surgical procedure (medically necessary or not) were still extremely high.
Remember that surgical procedures were so feared that as recently as WWI, among those who needed life-saving surgery, many opted for death instead – so the idea of many women to voluntarily opt for cosmetic surgery around this time is simply ridiculous and not based in fact.
In fact, a lot of rumors about Victorian period (rib removal surgeries, tightlacers’ spines breaking in half when not supported by a corset, forced tightlacing to 12″ waist circumference by strict school headmistresses, etc.) were actually stories from 19th century fiction pieces and fetish magazines. People forget that fanfiction was still a thing a few centuries ago; not every surviving publication from the era was documented fact. (A great documentary to learn more about the gruesome history of surgery is one called Blood and Guts, a History of Surgery).
Also worth mentioning: a sizeable number of surviving photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been edited (essentially an early form of “Photoshop”) by painting over parts of the negatives to make women’s waists look smaller, more tapered, and more extreme than they really were. Karolina Żebrowska did a great video explaining this (and giving a very easy modern example), which you can watch here.
When Did Cosmetic Rib Removal Start Getting More Popular?
According to Steele’s book (as of 2001), rib resection as a purely elective cosmetic surgery was not something that had been medically documented before. While there are countless rumors of various celebrities having their ribs surgically removed (Cher, Marilyn Manson, Cindy Crawford, etc.) they have never been medically verified… but from my research, around 2006-2007-2008, rib removal has been discussed as a procedure for trans women to create a more narrow torso and waistline.
Here is a video from 2011 by Dr. Aaron Stone performing a tummy tuck, liposuction and rib removal on one patient to create a smaller waist (content warning: very graphic – blood, muscle and bone tissue clearly visible, as well as some genitals).
However, the procedure is invasive that most doctors will not consider performing it. Some patients claimed to fly down to South America to have it performed, as they were hard-pressed to find doctors in Europe or North America willing to do it. And it goes without saying that the surgery carries all the same risks as other major surgeries: risk of reaction to anesthesia, infection, sepsis, problems healing, etc. (And there’s still a risk of collapsing a lung during the surgery and then you’d have to re-inflate it.)
Notable (and Documented) Cases of Cosmetic Rib Removal
We can’t have a comprehensive article on modern rib removal without talking about arguably the most famous case of cosmetic rib resection, which was performed on Pixee Fox, who is another corset enthusiast! For her “living cartoon” project, she had 3 pairs of ribs removed in 2015 (the four floating ribs and a pair of false ribs above them), which allowed her to cinch her waist down further in her conical-rib corsets. More accurately, according to Fox’s surgeon, her ribs were not fully removed but rather shortened, as he explained in this interview in 2016.
The two lowest ribs (11th and 12th ribs) are “floating” and don’t wrap fully around the ribcage to begin with. If you look at a skeleton, the bottom two sets of ribs are only connected at the back, and can swing like hinges in and out with your breath. According to Fox’s surgeon, he shortened her ribs by removing the cartilage tips on the sides but left part of ribs in the back, around the kidney area.
Another documented case of voluntary rib removal was performed on Rodrigo Alves who had two pairs of ribs (the floating ribs) removed. To prove that it was real, the consultation and surgery streamed on Alves’ Instagram, and Alves was allowed to take home and keep his removed ribs in a jar. Click here for an interview with Alves on This Morning (content warning: his removed ribs are shown around 30 seconds into the interview).
My Opinions on Cosmetic Rib Removal
If you’ve followed me for long enough, you know that I prefer to report objectively on corset-related news; especially when it comes to health and medical cases relating to corsetry. However, there was an overwhelming number of requests for my my personal opinion on Pixee Fox and Rodrigo Alves after reading their recent stories in the media. Let me be clear: asking me to gossip and share my personal opinions of people I’ve never met is not very classy.
Regarding my opinion of cosmetic rib removal of the procedure itself: It is not something I would ever consider, and I don’t find it necessary because corsets are able to shift the ribs very dramatically over years or decades (as in the case of Cathie Jung).
Of course having your ribs surgically removed is not an average procedure, and both Pixee and Rodrigo have said that they were never going for average – both of them have said in interviews, in their own way, that they prefer to stand out: they are not aiming to look like anyone else, and they’re each setting records and pushing the limit as to what plastic surgery is able to do. While I wouldn’t recommend removing ribs for purely aesthetic reasons, it’s really not my place to say to other people “Hey, you’re not allowed to do that with your body!” because their body is not mine to begin with.
Considering how difficult it is to spread the message that corsets are capable of promoting self-esteem and body-image, they can be empowering and are a strong expression of bodily autonomy, it would be especially hypocritical of me to drag anyone for having a procedure that they researched thoroughly, responsibly consulted with professionals, and really, really wanted for themselves. I am less familiar with Alves’ experience (partially because it’s so recent), but it is obvious that Pixee Fox had done plenty of research and was aware of the risks; she sought many professional opinions on rib removal before going through with it, as was evident by the fact that so many doctors refused to perform the procedure before she found one that was willing.
Moreover, I have never heard Fox pressure her followers to do the same; she’s never said, “Hey everyone, you all NEED to do this!” Rather, she always says in her interviews, “I’m doing right by me, and you should do right by you.”
Regardless, the procedure is finished and what’s done is done. I’m happy that the operations seemed to have gone well for all three medically documented cases (the trans woman in 2011, Pixee Fox in 2015, and Rodrigo Alves in 2017).
My final word regarding my opinion on all of this: it’s not something I would ever consider, but my opinion is irrelevant. For people who have already gone through with this surgery, whether they’ve “gone public” with it or not – from what I can see they’re not committing any harm to others, and so they deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else.
Creating a Smaller Waist and Ribcage Using Corsets
It is entirely possible to achieve a small corseted waist without surgery – Cathie Jung has been wearing corsets for some 40 years, and has a 15 inch waist underneath her corsets – if you look at her X-rays, you’ll see that she has all 12 sets of ribs; they’ve just been contoured and formed over decades of training.
You can also see the same in the skeletons of women who waist trained in the 1800s, and even Rebecca Gibson’s studies of impoverished French women in the 19th century showed that they experienced some tapering of the ribs as well.
So it is possible to achieve an extreme shape with corsets and creating a tapered ribcage with a conical rib corset, while still keeping all your ribs. It does take many many years (possibly decades for some), and it does require that one has a relatively flexible ribcage (flexible costal joints, where the ribs connect to the spine) to begin with. Some people have extremely rigid ribs and don’t tolerate compression on their ribs at all (their ribs would rather bruise than move). With this in mind, I suppose that the motivations of some people for going forward with surgery are:
- they don’t want to wait years / decades for results, and
- they may have a very rigid ribcage and are physically unable to compress their ribs using corsets.
In conclusion, I wanted to come round and confirm that:
- Rib removal / rib resection is a real surgery.
- It is used more commonly for correcting pre-existing medical problems or for reconstructive surgery in other parts of the body.
- It can be performed as a cosmetic procedure on its own, but it is still relatively rare (and secretive) and most surgeons do not recommend it.
- It’s not a procedure I would consider for myself / widely condone.
- It was certainly not successfully done in the Victorian era; there were too many risks and medicine was not that refined enough.
I hope this cleared up some common misconceptions about rib removal. What do you think of the myths and truths surrounding the procedure? Have you experienced tapering of your ribs from corsets? Leave a comment below!