This entry is a summary of the review video “Corset Review: Ebay ‘Corset'” which you can watch on YouTube here:
This corset, I have found, is a knock-off of the “Agnes” corset made by Eternal Spirits.
Front is about 13″ long. Modern slim silhouette, not hourglass.
One layer of 90% polyester, 10% spandex (stretch satin)
Top-stitching between panels, bones inserted into internal boning channels made from a soft tape.
None, instead there is a ruffle trim on top and bottom.
Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side), about 12 inches long, 6 pins. Busk is poking through the fabric after only 2 wearings.
PLASTIC boned, NOT steel boned. 12 bones not including busk. Do not sandwich the grommets.
18 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Polyester single-faced satin ribbon.
I had paid about $16 CDN plus shipping for this.
This review was really to make a point that you have to go higher than $20 (indeed, usually higher than $50) in order to get a garment that even remotely has corset-like qualities. I would never have bought this if I didn’t get so many requests to review one of these. If you’re going to a costume party and you need something super cheap, then you can use this corset. You can perhaps even cannibalize this corset for materials (like the busk, if you trust it) in future corsets. But I wouldn’t consider this a ‘real’ corset and can’t recommend it.
This entry is a summary of the review video “Comparison: Leatherotics 1811 vs Budget Ebay Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:
Chinese Ebay Corset
About 12 inches high; very straight busk that does not bow outwards. Gives a very gentle silhouette. Appropriate for average to long torso length.
Center front is about 13 inches high; busk bows outwards a bit, giving the appearance of pooch. Gentle silhouette. Slightly longline compared to Leatherotics. Appropriate for average to long torso length.
2 layers; fashion layer is black polyester satin, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Only one layer; a red satin that has a kind of sturdy non-stretch backing.
6 panel pattern, assembled with a lock-stitch. Internal boning channels. Also has 4 garter tabs.
6 panel pattern, assembled with a top-stitch. Internal boning channels. Also has 4 garter tabs.
Matching black satin (made from bias strips of the same fashion material), machine stitched on both sides, finished cleanly.
A close colour match (but not exact) red satin commercially made bias tape, machine stitched on both sides in one go, finishing is not clean.
1″ wide visible waist tape made of satin ribbon, seen on inside, stretching across all panels and secured down at boning channels.
1/2″ wide waist tape made of grosgrain ribbon, seen on inside, stretching across ONLY panels 3-4-5, leaving the other panels unprotected. Secured down at boning channels. One side has the waist tape wrinkled in a seam.
Attached lacing protector on the back made of two layers (black satin and twill); also includes a placket overtop of the busk to hide it.
Attached lacing protector on the back made of one layer (red satin) and lace around it, also includes a placket under the busk.
Standard 1/2″ wide busk on each side, about 10.5″ long (5 pins). Very sturdy.
Wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 11.5″ long (5 pins), however it’s more flimsy than the Leatherotics busk.
12 steel bones not including busk. 8 spirals (1/4″ wide) 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
14 steel bones, all spiral steel bones even on the back by the grommets. Bows and collapses when trying to tighten up.
28 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly from eachother and between the two bones; no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
20 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly, except offset towards the last bone at the back edge. Starting to pull out around the waist after only 2 wears.
Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces
Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces
Plain satin version of this is currently £40 in the UK, or $60 USD – and they offer custom sizing, more bones, different fabric/ colours.
Plain satin version of this is currently $35 USD on Ebay, no other options for custom sizing, fabric etc.
Final Thoughts: You get what you pay for! If you just want a simple cheap fashion corset without any waist reduction, OR if you’re looking for a cheap corset just take apart in order to learn how to recreate a corset pattern, then the cheaper corset may suit your purposes. However the Leatherotics brand offers custom sizing – this will give you as much or as little curve as you like. But remember the limits of each brand – if you want to be sure you get a corset made exactly to all of your measurements and specifications, you will have to go with an independent corsetier(e).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the corsetieres who made this famous for corsets and corset girdles is Sian Hoffman. Also Morgana Femme Couture makes an overbust option (shown right) and an underbust option as well.
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.
Almost every month I go through my corsetiere map and make notes on which corset makers are inactive, which have closed down their businesses and websites, and I add new makers that are popping up all the time on Etsy. Like with many craft / creative home businesses, it’s difficult to make corsetry a lucrative career.
Even I took custom commissions for a few years, and while I had no shortage of clients wishing for a corset (I was one of the lucky ones), I had my own reasons for going on an indefinite hiatus.
Because of my corsetiere map, corsetieres contact me when they want to be added or when they would like to be removed. In the latter situation, while I never pry as to their reasons, they often tell me anyway, and many of their grievances boil down to the same main points over and over again.
Although I cannot (and will not) go into the specific set of reasons as to why any one specific corset maker has decided to shut down their business (as that would be betraying their confidence), I can speak generally about it – perhaps discussing this would be helpful in having customers understand that corsetieres are human too, and for other corset makers out there, it can help them avoid the same mistakes.
Corset Supplies are Scarce and Expensive
Making a corset is relatively complicated, as far as garments go. There are a lot of specialty components that go into it (like a busk and steel bones) and depending on where you live, sometimes even good quality 2-part grommets are difficult to source. Most people can’t find these at their local fabric shop, and most corsetieres order online. The materials themselves can often add up to at least $50, before you even put your time into making the corset! This is one reason why corsets themselves are more pricey than other, more common articles of clothing.
Many corset makers end up supplementing their income by creating accessories – corset liners are simple and fast to make, as well as storage bags, or boleros, or dresses or other outfits that go well with their corsets. These are not only made from materials that may be less expensive / easier to source, but they typically take less time to make, so the designer can bring in enough to support themselves.
Corsets Take a Long Time to Make (and have a steep learning curve!)
Someone can buy 2 yards of fabric for $20, make a dress out of it in 2 hours and sell it for $50, so she ends up paying herself $15 per hour. Many people wouldn’t even bat an eye at spending $50 for a simple handmade dress. But let’s say you buy corset materials for $50, and spend 20 hours making a corset. If you paid yourself the same hourly rate ($15 per hour), then that corset will cost a minimum of $350, and (while this is actually a very reasonable price for a custom corset these days) so many people are not willing to pay that much.
Too often, fledgling makers enter the scene with competitive introductory pricing, such that some of them are not even paying themselves minimum wage, and this influences the market and drives down prices for everyone. (And we haven’t even gotten into the hidden costs of running a business… see the “Unexpected Expenses” section.)
There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day, so how do some corset makers make more money with the time that they have? A lot of them get help or take on side jobs:
More and more corset makers are now holding sewing classes classes, where people come in for a weekend and pay a fee to be taught how to make their own corsets. These classes are seemingly pricey (many start at $300 for a group class, up to and above $1000 for private instruction), but it’s a way for makers to supplement their income. As a student, if you think about the fact that you can buy a corset for $300 or learn to make as many corsets as you like for $300, the price of a class becomes justified (if you enjoy sewing, that is). And for the corsetiere, it’s an opportunity to take a break from the laborious work of crouching over a sewing machine all day.
Some makers take on interns to help (maybe once a week), so the interns learn how to make corsets for free without having to pay for a one-on-one class, and in return the maker gets… essentially unpaid labor. (From what I understand, depending on where you live and the type of industry you work in, this is an ethically grey area.)
Some fashion schools allow (or even require) at least one semester of free study, co-op experience, or internship. These “private study” semesters can dramatically help local designers, as flocks of students look for corset-making instruction and need to get their minimum hours filled.
SO many corset makers ask their husbands or siblings for help, even if it’s just tipping bones or setting the grommets.
Some makers even hire a virtual assistant to take care of customer service and admin (because dealing with people is not everyone’s strong suit – more on that later in the “Artists Sometimes Suck at Business” section).
Many corset makers go the way of ready-to-wear corsets. After a few years, corsetieres will likely notice that there is a certain “average” of measurements or proportions from their clients, and they can make one or several standard corset pattern(s) that will maybe 60-75% of bodies. Then they can batch out their corsets in bulk, which is much more efficient on time compared to custom corsets – it means you can stack your fabric layers and cut out several corsets at once, you can stock up on the same length bones and busks all the time (instead of cutting them to length or special-ordering them for each corset), and you don’t have to waste as much time switching tasks. However, after awhile, standard sized / stock corsets can be depressing (see the section “Beggers Can’t Be Choosers“).
Some corset makers make enough to be able to hire a team to make corsets in a small assembly line – so even when paying their team an hourly rate, since they have specialized machinery and people with specific skills, everything goes much smoother and faster. But of course, that special machinery comes at a hefty price – and training those workers takes time and money too.
Oftentimes when a corset maker burns out and stops making corsets, it’s because they were working alone for so many years without any help whatsoever – they were doing all the labor and admin themselves.
Making Corsets is a Full-Body Workout.
Cutting fabric on the floor; cutting and grinding bones; hammering or pressing grommets; spending hours upon hours in front of the sewing machine – these can be very labor-intensive and can cause injuries if you’re not prioritizing the ergonomics of your work area.
After my car accident in 2014, I wasn’t able to sew beyond very short periods of a few minutes (essentially short mending jobs) because I couldn’t crane my neck down for extended durations. Some people with muscle weakness need help cutting bones or setting grommets. Some people have arthritis in their hands and don’t have great dexterity in their fingers. And if you are sewing 12+ hours a day, almost every day, it can start to create a lot of wear and tear on the body.
Some corset makers do become more skilled and faster at making corsets, and some get better equipment so the process is more ergonomic (but that costs money too).
There Are Unexpected Expenses When Running a Business
Many corset makers only charge for the cost of materials + their labor in making the corset (and corsetieres have a habit of underestimating the number of hours required to finish a project!). But there are so many more expenses involved in keeping your business alive. Here are just a few “hidden costs” in any creative business:
Registering your business.
Filing for a trademark / copyright.
Admin work – bookkeeping, answering emails, etc.
Doing footwork / research / testing for the suitability of materials in your projects, or upgrading your skills.
Liability insurance for yourself, any employees you might have, insurance on your studio or dwelling, and insurance on your equipment and inventory.
Repairs and servicing for your machines / equipment.
Electricity that runs the equipment everyday (overhead).
Seller fees for Etsy, Ebay, and whatever you’re using to process payments.
Web hosting and maintenance.
Some countries require that businesses of any size, even the “hobbyists”, file your taxes every quarter. That’s every 3 months! That eats away at your time you’d rather spend Making Things, and some businesses are required to pay taxes every quarter.
Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant that knows all the legal stuff around running a business, and what’s claimable and not claimable around tax time (but this is a very wise investment and highly recommended – what I pay my accountant is much less than the amount I save by doing my taxes properly).
A corset maker can raise their prices to cover these fees, but that is a double-edged sword because it means fewer people are willing to buy from a brand that charges more.
Beggers Can’t Be Choosers
When I started making corsets, I considered it an amazing creative outlet. I could make any design, any color, any silhouette I wanted, with any combination of embellishments. I could let my imagination go wild! But when I started taking commissions, it became a case of “10 plain black waist training corsets in a row”, and while I take pride and put care in all of the corsets I make, it quickly became boring, soul-draining work.
Many corset makers now turn away prospective customers who want a plain underbust corset, because these makers only want to focus on luxury or couture work (and that is their right and their prerogative! If they’re able to maintain a successful business while turning away commissions, more power to them!). Other corset makers will take any commission they can get because it pays the bills – and what was once a lovely creative outlet for them has become a sad, drudging job.
Artists Sometimes Suck at Business…
…. Also, Difficult Customers Exist
Another potential issue with bespoke corsetry is that it’s so very personal: it’s designed to fit just one person exactly (even down to their anatomical asymmetries and idiosyncrasies) and the colors, fabrics, and embellishments are to that client’s specific taste. And oftentimes, if that commission is not 110% to the client’s standard, that is the difference between the maker getting paid and not getting paid. Of course, the maker should know this coming into the business – and know what’s fair and unfair in business dealings.
This is where contracts would be useful when taking commissions: be absolutely clear as to what’s included in the outfit / costume / corset commission, what communication and tasks are required of both the maker and the client (yes, some tasks are required of the client, like taking body measurements, being clear about what types of embellishments and how much, giving feedback during mockup fittings, etc), when payment(s) are due, etc. so there is less miscommunication and confusion.
Depending on a corsetiere’s PR skills, one really bad review can potentially ruin a maker’s reputation and put them out of business. (Some corset makers are really really good at making corsets, but their customer service leaves something to be desired.)
Several makers who have owned corset companies for 20+ years have all told me something similar (and somewhat controversial): for better or for worse, when it comes to the corset industry, it’s seldom that a laid back client comes along. While many don’t quite hit “bridezilla” status, occasionally a customer comes close, and the corsetiere has to learn how to be a good businessperson (not just a good artist) and know where to draw the line with “pickiness”: when to either put their foot down and when to cut their losses.
More unfortunately, there are many corset makers who hear nothing but crickets when their clients are happy with their commissions, and they only ever hear from their unhappy customers. This seems to be more universal: no matter what the industry or what the product / service is, unhappy customers are always louder than the happy ones. And this hurts businesses in real ways:
Let’s say a hypothetical corsetiere sells 50 corsets on Etsy. 48 of those customers are happy, and 2 of them are unhappy.
Let’s say only 3 of the happy customers leave 4 or 5 star reviews, but both of the unhappy customers leave 1-star reviews. That makes her Etsy rating look really spotty, close to a 60% satisfaction rate, even though in reality they have a 96% satisfaction rate.
I would not be willing to purchase from a corsetiere with a 60% satisfaction rate, would you? I might even think that they’re stealing photos from other makers and distributing knock-off designs, and the “three positive reviews” might be fabricated / shill reviews, or from customers uneducated about genuine corsets.
If many other prospective customers look at their poor ratings and think along the same lines, that corsetiere’s business suffers – she could be one of the most talented artists of our generation, but some people might never even give her a chance.
So if you purchased something off Etsy or even off a maker’s website and you were happy with your purchase, please consider leaving that corsetiere (or costumier, or artist) a positive review, or a testimonial that they’re able to share on their site – it only takes a minute, and it can really help with their reputation. If you have a bad experience with a corset maker then by all means speak your truth – but when you are happy with your product, also take the time to promote what you love, because some corsetieres’ livelihood depends on your feedback.
These are just a few reasons why so many makers decide to shut down their businesses. There are obviously many more reasons than these, some much more personal to the individual – this is why there is an entire industry (books, courses, mentorships, summits, etc) on how to properly run a business as a creative – no one is born knowing this, and most of us are flying by the seat of our pants, learning as we go. But if we’re to stay in business, we must be aware of these things and learn how to avoid them as best we can.
If there are any big reasons that I missed regarding why corsetieres or costumiers choose to leave their businesses, feel free to leave a comment down below and let me know. As always, be respectful in the comments.
There is a concept (that was popularized by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld books) called lies-to-children which says that we tend to oversimplify concepts and make “black and white” rules in order to familiarize beginners (or kids) with certain concepts before they can move on to understanding the more nuanced reality of these topics. Corsetry is no exception; there are so many “rules” that ring mostly true (like “good OTR corsets contain steel bones and not featherweight”, or “the waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching or ripping at the waistline”) but it’s high time we talk about the people who are successfully breaking corset rules – because not all corsets are made equal!
Corset sizes are mostly 20”, 22”, 24” etc, and we should avoid any corsets sold in “street sizes” (e.g. US size 6 / UK size 10, or small / medium / large) because street sizes are arbitrary and not standardized.
A few respected corset makers do prefer to sell their corsets by the S/M/L/XL system.
One of these brands is Ms Martha’s Corset Shoppe (I wear a size Medium in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).
Another maker is Ties That Bynde (I wear a size XS in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).
Jessica, the owner of Ties That Bynde, also wrote a testimony for my book Solaced last year. She’s an immensely skilled corsetiere who has made medical / therapeutic corsets for herself and others, and her corsets have been covered by medical insurance in some cases. Jessica suffered a debilitating car accident and she made several corsets for herself to helped her recover from her sustained injuries, and her corsets have also corrected her scoliosis. The reason that she prefers this sizing system over numbers, she says, is because she sells at conventions where the demographic can be a bit different, and many customers don’t like knowing what their waist size is in inches. They tend to be a bit more receptive to her current sizing system.
Number of layers
Many OTR corsets will boast that their corset has three, four, or even more layers of fabric in their waist training corsets, because in the idea that “many hands make light work”, we also think it’s logical to believe that more layers equals more strength.
I have worn some amazingly strong and comfortable single layer corsets, probably the most well known being my mesh corset from Contour Corsets, but also my spot broche piece from Bizarre Design. Both of these corsets started with premium quality fabrics that were painstakingly cut on grain, and constructed with external boning channels which straddle and reinforce the seams, and each seam is stitched multiple times (zig-zagged in my Contour Corset, and with a twin-needle machine in my Bizarre Design corset) so there is little to no risk of a seam ripping even under high reductions.
If I were perusing Ebay and looking at “corsets” shipped from China for $15, I would be a little hesitant to spend that much if they said it were a single layer corset, because I’ve tried one before and it didn’t do much for me. But a single layer corset made from a specialty coutil or broche, made by a reputable independent corsetiere? I wouldn’t bat an eye at that.
While on the topic of Contour Corsets and Bizarre Design, and how they have engineering backgrounds and like to bend the rules – neither of my corsets from them contain any waist tape.
The waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching and ripping of the corset at its point of highest tension (the waistline) and corsets that don’t have a waist tape are unsuitable for waist training.
My Contour corset was my primary training piece through 2012-2013, and it was still barely stretched or eased a fraction of an inch at the waist despite note having a waist tape. (The only reason I stopped training in that corset was because I found it a very dramatic silhouette, and once I achieved a waist of 20″ I decided I preferred to stay at 22″ instead.)
For cheaper quality corsets, having a waist tape is a sign of insurance: if one of the seams fail and the stitching pops at the waistline, at least the waist tape should hold fast because it doesn’t have any seams. But some corsetieres have appeared to construct their corsets in such a way that renders the waist tape superfluous because the corsets are strong enough on their own.
Some corsetieres, like Sparklewren and her Bird’s Wing corsets, would deliberately make her corsets a touch smaller in the waist than the customer wanted (0.5 – 1 inch smaller) – because she anticipated there would be a little bit of ease at the waistline without having a waist tape – however, once that fabric settled, it would more or less be around the size originally requested – so this is how some corsetieres are able to circumvent any complications around not installing waist tapes. The Bird’s Wing corsets are constructed with lapped seams (which are also extremely strong and secure – and because they can be made with a single layer of strong coutil or broche, adding a waist tape in these corsets would be tricky but also ruin the line of the delicate looking antique-inspired couture corset.
Any “corset” on Ebay that shows a hook-and-eye closure, or a zipper on the side or back of the body (especially colored zips with nylon coils instead of metal teeth), are not genuine heavy duty corsets designed for waist training or tight lacing.
Some corsetieres use zippers successfully in their corsets, even their tightlacing and waist training corsets! The strongest zippers have metal teeth – not plastic – and the zip is well-supported with flat steels on either side. The zip will also typically be placed on a seam that doesn’t have much curve (like the center front) and not on a side seam, so that there is no unequal strain on the zip that might cause it to fail.
I believe Amy Crowder of Wasp Creations had once written about how a good quality and well-installed zipper can possibly even be stronger than a conventional busk.
A proper corset must have 4-6 panels per side (8-12 panels total).
I’m sure most of you have done this thing in geometry class where you make a square, and then a hexagon, and then a heptagon, and an octagon, and on and on until you have a polygon that has so many sides that it nearly makes a circle. And theoretically, this is what we aim to do with corsets – to take flat 2 dimensional panels, albeit made from malleable fabric, and wrap it around a multitude of curves. This is where we’ve arrived at the idea that “the fewer panels there are in a corset pattern, the less curvy / the more wrinkly / the more uncomfortable it is.” It would be bonkers to make every corset have an infinite number of panels, so we strive for a happy medium of 4-6 panels per side in most cases, and we can further tweak the fit with gores and fluted panels, like What Katie Did does.
I have seen corsets with two panels per side, like Damsel in this Dress, and I’ve seen corsets with like 20 panels per side, like Sparklewren’s bird’s wing corsets. 99% of the time, OTR corsets will have between 4-6 panels per side.
Each seam is an opportunity to adjust the fit to suit your body, and oftentimes clean seams are more comfortable than sewing darts and pleats, especially when it comes to something as close-fitting as a corset. But I have occasionally worn corsets with four panels that were more comfortable than other corsets with more panels. And more panels does not necessarily mean that the corset will be curvier – the curve depends on how each panel is shaped, not how many there are.
Karolina Laskowska took this idea to new levels by making a corset with only ONE panel! Instead of adding more fabric where she needed ease, she started with her largest circumferential measurements instead and added tucks where she needed to take it in at the waist or over the bustline. It was very clever.
Featherweight boning is awful, Rigilene is the devil, and generally just run away from plastic boning and always look for steel.
There are some people doing amazing things with synthetic whalebone – which is a type of plastic, but it’s from Germany and it doesn’t behave the same way as featherweight or rigilene that you find here in North America. Luca Costigliolo and Laurie Tavan are two corset makers who do beautiful Victorian reproductions and have worked successfully with synthetic bone.
Grommets in a corset should be size #00 (5mm) or #0 (6mm) and have a medium-to-wide flange to prevent popping out over time.
Some older corsets like those made by Créations L’Escarpolette contained grommets / eyelets in size #x00 (an internal diameter of 4 mm) or even smaller, and with a teeny tiny flange, yet they’ve held up to a lot of wear, as these corsets are over 10 years old now (if I recall correctly). Even though the grommets are quite oxidized, none of them are actually falling out because they’re set so tightly.
On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen corsets with enormous grommets (size 1 or 2), which are almost comically large, but I can see it working with a certain aesthetic.
So you see, although there are standards for most corsets these days, there are always exceptions to the rules. We live in an amazing time where we have access to laser cutting and 3D printing and so many awesome materials, and people around the world can blend their knowledge from previous backgrounds and apply them to the art of corsetry, and that is exciting and amazing.
Standards are usually set for a reason, so it’s good to learn why things are constructed in a certain way and using certain materials – it often comes down to accessibility, cost, tradition, etc.
I’ve experimented a lot with corset making in the past, only to reinvent the wheel and learn for myself why “some things are the way they are”, but that’s all part of the process, and I would assume that almost any experienced corsetiere has done the same. But innovation is the spice of life, so learn the rules as a beginner, so you can learn to break them later. ;)
This entry is a summary of the review for the mesh underbust corset made by JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Circumferential measurements: Underbust 28″, waist 22″, high hip 32″.
Length: Center front is 12.5 inches, princess seam is 9.5 inches, side seam is 9 inches, and center back is 12 inches. Slightly rounded in the ribcage, and a hip shelf.
Single layer of mesh made from quality “sports jersey” or athletic shoe type of material. The boning channels and binding are made from fashion fabric of teal silk (sourced by Christine), black herringbone coutil strength fabric, and a cheery bright green lining.
5-panel pattern (10 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge over the lower tummy, panels 3-4 give space over the hip. Mesh panels were assembled and boning channels sandwich the mesh fabric, straddling the seams and reinforcing the seams.
1-inch-wide waist tape, installed on the inside of the corset and secured at the boning channels. Full width, extending from center front to center back.
Made from strips of matching teal silk, machine stitched on outside and inside (tidy topstitch on both sides).
No back modesty panel.
The front modesty placket is 3/4 inch wide, extending from the knob side of the busk, made from matching teal silk (probably fused to coutil).
11 inches long, with 5 loops and pins, the last two a bit closer together. 1″ wide on each side (heavy duty busk), fairly stiff.
20 bones total in this corset, 10 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are ¼ inch wide flat steel.
There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (14 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced a bit closer together at the waistline, and finished in black. Most likely Prym brand eyelets.
The laces are black, 1/8 inch flat cotton shoelace. They have no spring, they hold bows and knots well, and they are long enough.
JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement is a one-woman business based in Wales.
This corset has a sentimental connection to our mutual friend, Christine Wickham (AGirlFromDownUnder / Ariadne’s Thread). Around 2013, Christine commissioned a couple of corsets from Jacinta of JL Corsets, sending her some lovely teal silk all the way from Australia to Wales to be used as the fashion fabric. Christine adored her mesh corset from Jacinta especially.
Shortly after Christine’s passing, Jacinta had some leftover teal silk from Christine’s previous commission, and she made a second corset in a standard size – a “twin” to one of Christine’s corsets, and auctioned it off on Ebay with 100% of proceeds going to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), an organization that Christine passionately supported and hoped to one day join, once she became a physician.
The measurements of this auctioned corset were similar enough to my own, Christine was a dear friend of mine, I knew that she adored her own corsets from JL Corsets, and the proceeds were going to an excellent cause, so I felt that I had to win this auction.
Although I’m not certain whether Jacinta is still in the business of making corsets, I’m so grateful to her for her charitable work and lovely keepsake that I will cherish for many years to come.
Do you have a corset from JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below! See more corsets from JL Corsets on Facebook and on Etsy.
This entry is a summary of the video “REVIEW: PaperCats “Longline Cherries” Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:
Center front is 12.5 inches, and princess seam is 9.5 inches, side seam is 10 inches, and center back is 12.5 inches long. The size Small is equivalent to 22″ in the waist. The sizing chart on their website says that the ribcage would be 29″ and low hip 34″ for this corset, but when I measured mine, it was 27.5″ in the ribcage and 33″ in the hips. Conical through the ribs.
Two main layers: The fashion fabric is a poly-cotton blend with cherry print, and the lining is black cotton twill.
7 panel pattern (14 panels total), constructed using the welt-seam method with one bone on each seam.
Made from bias strips of black cotton twill. Machine stitched on the outside and inside. No garter tabs.
6.5 inches wide, unstiffened, finished in matching cherry print fabric and sewn to one side of the corset. There is also a 1-inch wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, also finished in cherry print.
11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a heavier busk (1 inch wide on each side), with a bit of flexibility.
16 bones total, not including busk. Single boned on the seams, using 1/4″ wide spiral bones. Beside the grommets, the outer bone is flat while the inner bone is spiral, giving some flexibility to the back.
34 two-part grommets, size #X00 (very tiny), with a small flange. Finished in silver, and equidistantly spaced about 0.75″ apart. Small washers in the back; splits in the back but they don’t catch the laces too much.
Standard black nylon shoelace style laces.
This particular style is 155 zł (about $52 USD)
Papercats is the second brand of the “Polish OTR Corset Trifecta” I’m reviewing (along with Restyle and Rebel Madness). Lately Poland has been dominating the niche of curvy budget corsets with pieces that start from less than $50 for certain styles.
While I wouldn’t personally waist train in this corset (there is no waist tape, and the tiny flange around the grommets make me nervous that they might eventually pull out) I think this corset is adorable and much curvier and more comfortable than some other corsets of equal price that you might find on Ebay. Its lightweight construction and flexibility may make it a good “starter corset” for someone who is unsure if they want to dabble in wearing corsets and they don’t want to break the bank.
As of 2017, it seems that Papercats has brought back this particular design! They are always releasing beautiful designs on their main website, and also their newer website reserved just for their limited corset collections as well as their Etsy store.
Most corsets today have a single method of size / fitting adjustment – the laces in the back. Depending on your comfort and your personal tastes, you could theoretically wear a corset with a large gap, small gap, no gap at all in the back; or when a corset isn’t a perfect fit, one can sometimes make do with any combination of gap shapes. I prefer to wear corsets with a small (2-inches or less) gap in the back, and sometimes completely closed.
When it comes to most OTR corsets, it’s generally believed that either a particular shape / pattern works for your body type, or it doesn’t – and there’s little middle ground. But with the introduction of more corsets with hip ties, back expanders and other adjustable features, you can get a little more wiggle room and fit a few more body types into a single corset style. Below you’ll see some standard size and custom corsets that may allow you squeeze a little more use out of it!
Corset makers, if you have a corset style that has multiple adjustment points and would like your work featured here, please email me with a photo and brief description of your piece – Safe For Work photos preferred! Thank you!
Timeless Trends offers unique OTR overbust corsets in that they have three points of adjustment – you not only choose your waist size, but for each waist size, there are three different bust sizes available for purchase – so say you know you wear a size 28″ corset, closed waist. If you have an A cup, you would choose 28S. If you wear a B-C cup, you would choose size 28M. If you wore a D cup, you would choose size 28L for your corset. The third adjustment point comes from the expandable hip ties, which are included in every TT overbust (hip ties are also featured in all TT longline underbusts). You can find TT overbust corsets here on their site, and also through my own online shop. See my review.
What Katie Did recently discontinued their Tempest overbust in their classic overbust line, but it’s still available for purchase through special order. I owned two Tempest corsets at one point, and loved how the hips could be expanded to comfort, and the bust lacing could be loosened or tightened depending on how much you were comfortable showing. WKD also offers their Sophia and Laurie corsets in large and small bust options, and a few “Extreme” options that nip in the waist an additional 2 inches. See my review.
Mystic City Corsets also introduced their mesh line in the summer of 2014, and it continues to be one of the curviest OTR mesh corsets on the market, and also boasts expandable hip ties for those tightlacers who have a particularly generous hip-spring. The mesh also comes in a variety of colors, including black, pink, green, red, blue and orange.
TheFoxglove underbustby Versatile Corsets is a beautiful longline corset with adjustable/ expandable hip ties, accommodating hip springs from 12 up to 18 or more! Their Candy Garden limited edition line (above) is particularly stunning! It features an expertly pattern-matched center front motif, along with ruffles and silk side panels, for $343. For those that prefer a more simple design, the original Foxglove is $328.See my Foxglove review.
Back in 2013, Iposted a tutorialto Youtube on how to add adjustable hip ties to your CS-426 corset.Orchard Corsetnoticed, and decided to incorporate hip ties into their new line! So for those who have a hip spring too dramatic for the regular 426 corsets but otherwise it fits alright, the the 426HT was made with you in mind. This is the least expensive option with hip ties in this gallery at only $82.
Since these corsets are made to order, one would typically not think about the need for expandable hip ties or other adjustments, as it would already be made to your measurements – but rarely, some customers do request expanders or additional adjustable systems if they know that their weight or size will fluctuate quite a lot – and some corset makers have experimented with possible solutions.
In the 19th century, maternity or nursing corsets with multiple lacing systems were not out of the ordinary – the corsets were designed to expand to accommodate a growing fetus, and contract back down again after childbirth so that the mother would not have to purchase multiple corsets for each stage. Dark Garden revolutionized the maternity corset for one client who requires a chiropractic brace due to weak bones and ligaments. The corset is adjustable in the sides and back, and the underbust portion zips in the front and contours over a convex pregnant tummy. The overbust portion is separate and opens with a short busk, for nursing access. Read more about this corset here, and learn more about Dark Garden from their website.
This remarkable corset by Crikey Aphrodite has multiple laced openings specially made for an ileostomate client – one side of the corset has mock contrast gussets, and the other side has overlapping panels to protect the bag and allowed the panel to open right up for access. Inside the corset, the panels against the bag had removable, washable panels for cleanup when there is leakage. Corsetiere Alison says, “[the client] had a huge confidence boost from the corset as it meant the bag wasn’t visible at all, which was a huge thing for her… As numbers of young women undergoing this procedure has massively increased (especially here in Scotland for some reason) being able to do this was incredibly rewarding.” Learn more about Crikey Aphrodite from her website.
Izabela Pitcher of Prior Attire has created this awesome reproduction of an 1884 C.W. Higby patent, a midbust Victorian corset with three lacing systems – one in the back, as usual, and another two diagonal seams on each side. Looking closely at the corset pattern, the panels are also all diagonal, and even curly and swirly! The side ties can be let out to fit different body types, or to accommodate for more rigorous activity – and one can see that the aesthetic value of it translates well into Steampunk. You can read about how Izabela created this corset step-by-step here in her blog (with plenty of photos!).
Sparklewren was inspired by one old interesting photo where one of her corsets was reflected out of two mirrors of slightly different angles, creating the illusion of “seeing double” and in particular the corset appeared to contain a double busk. Jenni explains that the diagonal-seamed, Edwardian-inspired overbust has no definitive side seam, which means that either the front or the back of the corset could technically be extended without the angle at the sides becoming misaligned with the hips of the body – so discomfort or awkward fit should not be an issue. This busk insert increases the size of the corset by a full inch, and could be removed by the wearer if they happen to train down or lose weight.
PureOne Corset works, based in Japan, is highly skilled in making an assortment of interesting corsets, including mesh, fan-laced, and also expandable / reducible corsets such as the one seen above. It features a 5cm-wide stiffened back modesty panel, fully suspended and incorporated into the corset so that there are two separate lacing systems in the back – each lacing system can be finely tweaked to your comfort (like the antique corset shown at the top). When the wearer is ready to size down, provided the ribcage and hip curve can be accommodated, the center back panel can be removed and the corset can be re-laced like a conventional corset with a single back lacing system, thereby providing two corsets for the value of one, designer Yoneyama Junichi says.
Please note that I have not tried every corset in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every brand featured in these Guided Galleries. This is for informational use only. Please contact the individual corsetieres for more specific information about their adjustable corsets. Affiliate links help this page stay online and keep the galleries free for everyone to use.
These days, it seems that most people who seek out corsets are looking for anything but the modern slim shape – many are specifically looking for an hourglass or dramatic wasp-waist silhouette – but the beauty of personal taste is that inevitably some people do seek out a corset with a ‘softer’ silhouette, whether because it fits their body type more comfortably or because they’re using their corset as posture support without wanting too much waist reduction.
These corsets would fit ‘ruler’ or ‘apple’ shaped bodies (those with more narrow hips and a natural waist that is nearly the same size, or possibly even larger than their iliac crest measurement). If one has a protruding, convex tummy that is larger than their hip measurement, it’s even theoretically possible to “tightlace” in one of these corsets, and would be a more appropriate entry-level corset compared to a concave / more hourglass corset (which may result in too much flaring at the top and bottom edges).
Below you will find some of the more popular corsets with a modern slim silhouette. Those who are naturally more of an hourglass may be interested in starting with a different silhouette, however.
Timeless Trendswas the first OTR brand I started with, and I personally found that their corsets offered a gentle curve, sturdy back support, and nearly indestructible construction (they back their corsets with a lifetime guarantee) for a relatively affordable price. In fact, I started distributing these corsetsin my own shop – and it’s my policy to ensure that the measurements and needs of each customer will be properly met before they purchase a corset. Carried in sizes 18-42″, with over 200 different styles and colours.See my comparison of the different silhouettes here.
TheVictorian Riding Underbusthas met such fame, it even has its very ownfanpage on Facebook! Part of the Affordable Excellence line on Corset Conection, this corset is cut high on the hip to offer higher mobility, and just a gentle nip in the waist. Available in 7 different fabrics and ranges from size 18 to 38.
TheScarlett overbustis the best-selling style by Versatile Corsets. While this one does give a little more of an hourglass shape, I personally found this corset to be comfortable for beginners who are not accustomed to large waist reductions, and provide bust support with little gaping at the top edge from the start. The standard-sized version offers approximately 6 inches of room for the bust, and up to 10 inches of room in the hips (coming down a little below the iliac crest) which can be filled out with a fluffy skirt if your hips are more on the slim side.See my review.
True Corset offers a selection of cinchers with a softer silhouette, gentle back support and affordable price. Their fabric selections include trusty satin and taffeta, beautiful brocade, and even some cool and breezy mesh versions, The company has both UK and US locations to serve more people, and you can evenfind them on Amazon! See my review.
Vollers Corset Companyis one of the oldest purveyors of corsets in the UK, and possibly the world! Many of the styles on their site are slimmed-down, modernized versions of their original 19th-century patterns, so you get the nod towards the traditional with the flair of cheery fabric options, and an unintimidating fit for those not interested in necessarily shocking silhouettes.See my review of the similar Aida underbust.
What Katie Did is a well-respected brand with boutiques in both the UK and the US, and while they’re probably most well-known for their super curvy corsets, they have a few options for those a bit less curvy as well! Featured above is the small-bust version of the Sophia corset, currently their only overbust which does not have the hip gores so it gives a smooth, swooping silhouette without dramatic angles from the waist over the hips. For those with a fuller bust but slimmer hips, the Sophia does come in a D+ option as well! You can see myreview of the corset here, although do note that I definitely prefer a curvier WKD cut for my body type.
Eternal Spirits is the original designer ofthe Agnes corset, which you might recognize because its picture has been stolen and used on countless Ebay and wholesale site listings, by irresponsible companies selling cheap knockoffs of the general design. I was just one of hundreds of customers scammed into believing that I was receiving a high quality item when insteadI received this. So when I finally learned that Eternal Spirits was the genuine creator, I wanted to review their products to see what the real quality was like. I didn’t end up getting theAgnes corset though, I instead stumbled across thisbeautiful Audrey corset. The silhouette is gentle yet pleasing, and the construction is quite unique as far as corsets go.See my review.
*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company in these guided galleries. This is for informational purposes only. Please contact the individual corset makers and sellers for more information about their gentle silhouette corsets. Affiliate links help keep this site online and keep the use of these galleries free for both corsetieres and shoppers.
This post is a summary of the “Roberto Cavalli Corset-Style Vest/ Waistcoat” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:
Center front is 9.5 inches long, the side seam is 11 inches (from the armscye to the hip), and the center back is 19 inches from the collar to the bottom. Circumferential measurements: waist is 26″, full bust is 32″, high hip is also 32″. The silhouette is modern slim – not made for tightlacing or waist training.
Fashion fabric is a dusty blush colored wool/viscose blend, and the lining and back panels are 100% silk.
12 panel pattern. The panels were cut to look like a ribbon cincher on the fashion layer. The floating lining is more simple and streamlined.
None. The garment was sewn right-sides together, flipped right-side out, and the lower seam was hand-finished and pressed so the seam is hidden.
None (didn’t expect to find one as it’s not a genuine corset, and also ribbon cinchers tend not to have waist tapes in general).
None. The exposed gap in the back allows heat and perspiration to escape, like the vents in other garments.
9 inches long with 5 pins, the last two of which are closer together. Standard flexible busk (half inch on each side).
10 total bones not including busk. 1/4″ wide bones, all plastic / acrylic. Three bones on each side panel, and two more 1/4″ wide bones sandwiching the grommets.
24 grommets total – very tiny (size #X00) 2-part eyelets with very narrow flange, finished in gold and set equidistantly. A few splits on the underside, but for the most part they’ve rolled nicely and don’t catch on the laces. Washers are teeny as well, but they do their job.
1/4″ pale pink flat polyester shoelace. Zero spring. The garment game laced with the bow at the bottom as opposed to at the waistline.
I fully admit that I’m a bit of a Cavalli fan, even though this is the first designer piece I’ve ever owned. I found this garment on Ebay whilst 2nd-hand corset hunting, and after many months of contemplation, decided it would be worth checking out – because of the circumstances, I haven’t been able to track down the year / season of this piece or the retail value. But if this is a genuine Cavalli, then going by the price of his current designs, I would say that I got a decent deal on this.
Although this waistcoat is not a genuine corset per se, it has some interesting “corsetty” aspects (the ribbon cincher panelling, the front busk, the back laces) so I thought it would be interesting to compare this piece (which is the product of a mainstream fashion designer) and see how it measures up in the context of my normal corset reviews.
It is actually well-constructed with lovely muted fabrics and surprisingly strong despite the tiny eyelets and the lack of a true strength fabric, and the sparingly-used acrylic boning kept the lines smooth, so I was pleasantly surprised.
My one mild annoyance was at the faux pockets actually, as I prefer not to carry around handbags and would love to see more women’s clothing with useable pockets – but I can understand how having functional pockets on such a small and fitted garment might ruin the silhouette or stretch out the lining. But all in all, I’m pleased with this garment and will be keeping it in my wardrobe as a fun accessory and a nod to corsetry.
Back in November 2013, I was consulting with a lovely lady who confided in me that she loved to wear Enell bras with her corsets. I have seen Enell here and there online, but this is the first time the name really caught my attention. I looked into it; the bra was supposed to be “The Terminator” of all sports bras; the one that leaves no room for movement. I nearly only got the Enell Sport because its use in my high-impact workouts (kickboxing) looked very appealing; but I’m glad I had consulted with Mara from Enell beforehand, who suggested that I try both the Sport and Lite versions.
It is not hyperbole to say that these bras have changed me. Although the Enell Sport gave me a flat profile and tended to accentuate my underarm pudge. It didn’t look quite as natural under clothing, and the way that it paired with the corset was *okay*. It was definitely comfortable, being a well-supportive, wire-free bra designed for large busts, but it wasn’t the look I was going for everyday wear. But when I wore this bra during my workouts, I found that they instantly became more intense as I wasn’t afraid of boobling out all over the place. My jumps were higher, my sprints were faster, I was moving with more confidence and motivated to work out more because I was finally being supported the way I was supposed to.
However, the Enell Lite really shone when paired with a corset. The Enell Lite was designed to be a daily-wear or low-impact sports bra, which can be used during yoga, Pilates, or anytime. The cups lift and separate, and create a lovely shape without smooshing you. I also found that since the band at the underbust was not as OMG constricting on this piece, that it created a beautiful smooth transition between the top edge of the corset to the bra, with very little muffin top. The 4″ back came up high enough although not too high, so it wasn’t creating back rolls above the band, and the lack of underwire meant that an underbust corset could come up as high as you want on your torso and you don’t have to be afraid of pinching.
Both types of Enell bras have a different sizing system compared to other bras – you simply measure your underbust circumference and your full bust circumference, in cm or inches, and get the size whose range you fall into. Some people don’t like this sizing system, but in the confusing world of different cup sizes and band calculations depending on what country is manufacturing a bra, I find Enell’s system extremely simple to use, and rather fool-proof. If you don’t fall into the regular size range, you can also check out Ebay where factory seconds are sold at discount, which often have different ratios of band to cup compared to their standards.
The only thing I wish is that this bra were not so high-cut on the chest, as it does show under even simple V-neck shirts. If this bra were somehow available in a more balconette or plunge version and still provided the same wire-free support, I would buy two in every colour and wear them everyday.
If you’d like to see both the Enell Sport and the Enell Lite bras in detail, as well as how they pair with an underbust corset, you’re welcome to check out my video review below:
Note that this post is a copy of the same one under the “Research Corset Brands –> Guided Galleries” menu. It is part of a collection of articles to help corset enthusiasts shop more wisely.
Rather than an hourglass silhouette, some people prefer their corsets to give them a more conical, tapered ribcage like what was so popular around the 1950’s New Look era. A human’s floating ribs (the 11th and 12th ribs) often have flexible joints, and they’re designed to swing in and out like a hinge with each breath you take. It is also possible for some individuals to train their ribs to be pushed inward, so they have a slightly tapered ribcage with or without the corset on. There are arguably over 100 different makers who can cater to the conical ribcage to give that 50’s “wasp waist” look, but I will just show some of my personal favourites, and some particularly impressive corsets that I’ve found to give this shape.
As mentioned before, different ‘schools’ of corsetry have different definitions for silhouettes. I was first introduced to this style as the “wasp waist” silhouette, as rib shaping is often more demanding to wear compared to more rounded hourglass silhouettes. Others may call this the conical silhouette, or the ice-cream cone silhouette – so when purchasing a corset, do clarify what kind of silhouette you’re looking for.
Rather than an hourglass silhouette, some people prefer their corsets to give them a more conical, tapered ribcage like what was so popular around the 1950’s New Look era. A human’s floating ribs (the 11th and 12th ribs) often have flexible joints, and they’re designed to swing in and out like a hinge with each breath you take. It is also possible for some individuals to train their ribs to be pushed inward, so they have a slightly tapered ribcage with or without the corset on. There are arguably over 100 different makers who can cater to the conical ribcage to give that 50’s “wasp waist” look, but I will just show some of the corsets I’ve tried over the years, and some other particularly impressive corsets that I’ve found to give this shape.
As mentioned before, different ‘schools’ of corsetry have different definitions for silhouettes. I was first introduced to this style as the “wasp waist” silhouette, as rib shaping is often more demanding to wear compared to more rounded hourglass silhouettes. Others may call this the conical silhouette, or the ice-cream cone silhouette – so when purchasing a corset, do clarify what kind of silhouette you’re looking for.
Corsetieres, if you also specialize in making corsets with a conical ribcage and you have a photo to contribute to the gallery, you’re welcome to email them to me here. Safe for Work photos are preferred! Thank you!
What Katie Did has a special place in the OTR corset market. Their corsets are not quite Victorian, and not exclusively “modern”, but they fit nicely into the niche of 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s retro and pinup fashion. Arguably their most popular corset is the Morticia underbust corset ($275) named after the popular wasp-waisted character from the “Addams Family” show in the 1960’s. In my review of this corset, you’ll see it creates a very conical ribcage and a wide hip spring. Their Baby corset is cut from the same pattern, just shorter. See my Morticia review.
Isabella Corsetry‘s creations almost all have a slightly conical ribcage, but her Josephine underbust corset (normally $175; currently on sale for $140) is particularly well-known for its tapering ribcage and swelling hip spring. You can see my review of this corset here; the ribcage is just slightly more rounded than the Morticia above, which may be a bit more gentle-looking but still effectively training the ribs inward. They also have a new petite Josephine which is a bit shorter. See my Josephine review.
Morgana Femme Couture has dozens of beautiful and high-quality corset selections, made in the UK. The majority of their corsets arguably feature a slightly conical or tapered ribcage; many of them Edwardian inspired like the longline piece seen above. They offer bothready-to-wearand made-to-measure options, with their cinchers starting at just £130. See my MFC review.
Sparklewren debuted a new line of limited edition, ready-to-wear underbust corsets in 2014 called the Phoenix, which was inspired by the construction of antique Bird’s Wing style corsets. These corsets have a great many panels (sometimes 30 panels!) with only one steel per panel, which allows the corset to shape the body very precisely and smooth around curves like no other. This shape lends itself very well to a dramatic wasp-waist and tapered ribs, to which model Aurelia can attest.
Also specializing in wasp waist/ conical silhouettes is Julia Bremble of Clessidra Couture/ Sew Curvy. Using only the highest quality materials available in Europe, Julia has the ability to turn the idea of a simple black short-hipped underbust corset into a stunning statement piece with her dramatic yet comfortable silhouette, and striking red flossing. Her underbusts start at just £200, or $325.
Gerry of Morua Designs demonstrates how her corsets create a beautiful conical silhouette here in her peacock-bedecked overbust! She specializes in bespoke corsetry, guaranteeing a couture experience – each corset is made to your requirements and measurements. Gerry works in both the US and in the UK at certain times of the year, and takes commissions in both areas. Overbust corsets start at £425, or about $695.
MystiC City Corsets is a popular Ebay and Etsy brand which offers very curvy OTR corsets with straight ribs. This store specializes in small stocks (often just 3-4 corsets in each size) and their styles are constantly rotating with slight variations in proportions, so it’s likely that sooner or later a corset may pop up with the measurements you need. If you want to be certain of a perfect fit, Sylwia also takes custom commissions on a limited basis.
Contour Corsets is very popular for summer mesh corsets that are designed to be strong enough for daily waist training, extreme reductions and stunning silhouettes. My own Contour Corset is one of my favourites in my collection. Since these corsets are all custom, Fran can make the silhouette more rounded/ hourglass if you prefer, or make the ribcage more tapered. Her corsets feature impressive hip springs, and Fran herself could even balance a glass of water on her own hip shelf! Prices start at $595 for the mesh corsets. See my Contour Corset review.
Jeroen Van Der Klis, the engineer behind Bizarre Design, is especially known for a very distinctive wasp waist silhouette. The impressive silhouette and highly skilled corset construction has gotten the attention of the likes of Cathie Jung – Jeroen can fit the most challenging of bodies, and create a beautiful tapered ribcage for those who enjoy this aesthetic.
Yana Sinner is a corset model-turned corsetiere, and often showcases the impressive results of her own creations. Yana is capable of creating slightly different variations; you may notice some of her corsets are slightly rounded through the ribcage, while others are more conical. Her Rock’n’Rose overbust corset is an example of one of her more conical pieces; and this style also features large impressive hip gores to contribute to a very dramatic hip spring. Sinner Couture corsets can be made to your specifications and start at $300.
Jupiter Moon 3 has made over 1500 corsets (so far!) and her most popular style is the conical silhouette shown above. This is described as her “hourglass” silhouette when you order from her website; she also offers a more gentle, swooping “sloped curve” silhouette if you prefer. Jennifer achieves the conical ribs by hand-bending the flat steels at the sides to help mold the waist into this shape and contribute to a more impressive hip spring. Her standard sized underbusts start at just $160. See my JM3 review.
Corsets & More is a one-woman business by Doris Müller, located in the heart of Germany. Doris is capable of creating nearly every imaginable silhouette available, from extreme wasp, to pipestem, to gentle hourglass. Here you can see a beautifully sculpted wasp silhouette, with an impressively smooth finish on the cherry blossom Chinese brocade. Her underbust corsets start at €215 or $295.
Serindë Corsets is one of my favourite French designers; her overbust and longline underbust corsets tend to have a slightly straighter, conical ribcage which lends itself to a stunning silhouette. Serindë is regularly commissioned for couture outfits and formal gowns, and is known for her elegant use of lace, beading, Swarovski and flossing. She takes custom corset orders on a limited basis and can be found primarily on Etsy and DaWanda. See my Serinde corset review.
*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company in these guided galleries. This is for informational purposes only; please email any of the above makers to learn more about their corsets. Affiliate links help keep Lucy’s Corsetry online and keep these galleries free for everyone!
To me, it means that however many dollars I spend on an object, it had better last me at least that many days.
Take this in the context of corsets: If I buy a corset for $60, it had better last me two months’ worth of wear. I once had a corset that cost me close to $45, but it only lasted me perhaps 20 or 30 wears before falling apart. I consider this to be a bad investment, no matter how cheap it is. However, a $400 corset that lasts me 600 wears over a two year span is a much wiser investment, because if I follow through with my intention of wearing a corset on a nearly daily basis and I’m on a budget, I don’t want to be continually buying a new corset every couple of months. Even if the price tag hurts now, you will find that it’s more economic in the long run.
It works for more than just corsets, too.
Electronics: My $1000 at-the-time laptop lasted me 5 years before crashing. I spent approximately 55 cents a day owning this computer.
Junk Food/restaurants: If you buy a chocolate bar for $2, break it in half and enjoy each half on a different day. This method has greatly helped me deal with my binge issues. I also rarely go to restaurants. If I dine out once a month, I have no problem spending $30 on a meal.
Other clothes: apart from corsets, I almost never buy “designer” clothing. If I buy a decently nice shirt for $40, I’ll likely wear that shirt once every two weeks, over two years (a total of 52 wears). In the past, I’ve purchased a cheap bra for only $15. I’m not sure if it even lasted me 15 wears, because it was so uncomfortable.
I purchased an elliptical machine off Craigslist for $50. Since gym membership is between $1-2 a day in my area, I told myself that if I could use the elliptical 5-6 times a week for a month, I would consider the machine “paid off”. I’ve had the machine for 2-3 years now and used it well over 50 times.
I purchased a CD for $20 and put the album into my playlist to listen to while I sew. I’ve listened to the playlist almost 80 times over the course of the last year, which means I paid about 25 cents for each playthrough of that album.
My parents purchased a $2000 piano when we moved into this house. I played it nearly every day between the age of 13 and 19, and I still play it occasionally today, so I would estimate that it cost about 75 cents per day that it’s used.
An example of something I don’t buy/ don’t consider “worth it”: I don’t go to the movies or buy DVDs unless they are in the bargain bin for $2. It’s unlikely that I’ll watch any movie more than a couple of times. I tend not to buy books (unless they’re classics/ collectors’ edition) when I can simply go to the library instead.
Examples where this sentiment doesn’t work:
Housing and transportation – an $18,000 car won’t last you 50 years being driven every day, even with the best upkeep. Likewise, you will probably not live 250 years in a $100,000
house (or any house, really).
Good food/meals – at one point I was able to live on $5/ week for food. It was a lot of beans, carrots and apples. However it’s not the most nutritious, and it’s not long before insanity from meal boredom sets in.
Luxuries – I don’t know how else to put this: luxury means that you don’t worry about the cost. That’s why it’s a luxury. There is a certain threshold (with any item, not just corsets) where the hardiness and utility of an object sort of levels off compared with price. The corset that’s worth over $1000 sitting wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in an engraved box in my room isn’t going to be worn 1000 times. Probably not even 100 times. But just owning it and admiring it as a piece of art brings me joy, and I hope that it will stay in the family for 100 years or more.
Is that corset worth it?
I’ve mentioned before that an affordable “starter” corset off a place like Ebay may cost $50, but it may only last you 500 hours or even less, and come with no warranty. If you purchase a corset for $500 but it lasts you 10,000 hours of wear, that’s double the return on your investment, because you spent 10x more, but you gained 20x more use out of it.
I’m not saying to never buy cheaper corsets, because they have their place too – for instance, if you buy a $100 corset but only wear it for 3 months before losing interest, or only wearing it once in awhile, it’s a lot better to have only spent $100 instead of $500. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy more than one corset either. I’m certainly guilty of owning many corsets – I consider them luxuries. What I am saying is that when it comes to medium-to-large investments, consider the realistic long-term benefits and consequences of your purchase.
Above all else, never expect a $50 corset to perform like a $300 corset. Swindlers and crooks aside, you get what you pay for. After having wasted thousands of dollars on cheap corsets, I’ve never found a loophole in the quality/price relationship. I’ve created an enormous playlist of reviews, available for free, so that you can make an informed purchase and save your money. My loss is your gain. Please use it to your advantage.
This entry is a summary of the review video “Meschantes RTW Waist Training Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:
Front is about 11″ inches long, back also 11″ long. From underbust to lap at shortest point is 10″. Moderate hourglass silhouette. Mid-hip corset (not short on the hips but not longline) – good for average-to-long torsos. Will hold in a bit of lower tummy pooch. Looking at the size chart for the RTW corsets, the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips about 8″ bigger than the waist. Always take this into consideration before buying a certain size.
2 main layers; fashion layer is cotton twill and the lining is bull denim. Some interfacing on the back panels.
6 panel pattern. Sandwiched boning, double-boned on each seam. Top-stitched between panels. The liner doesn’t float, and there are no garter tabs.
Black satin bias tape machine stitched on both inside and outside.
1″ wide invisible waist tape between the two layers.
Attached 7.5″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back, can be removed if desired.
No busk; closed front. Instead there are four flat steel bones in the center front, all 10″ long. Two center bones are 1/2″ wide, and adjacent to those are two flats about 1/4″ wide. Keeps the center front quite flat.
24 bones, including the center front bones (where the busk would normally be). On each side of the corset you’ll find 8 spirals steels (1/4″ wide) double boned on the seams; then 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets; and as mentioned in the “busk” section above, another two reinforcing the center front **Please note that some people have found plastic bones in the center front instead of steels in their Meschantes corsets. I had picked the binding of my Meschantes corset and found spirals in the channels I checked, but I didn’t check every channel so I can’t say whether my corset had plastic or steel in the center front.
24 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with large flange; colored black on the outside (washers are silver). Grommets are set closer together at the waist for more control when cinching. No splits, no catching on the laces.
Strong flat shoe-lace style laces; they grip well and they are long enough that I can pull the corset over my head when putting it on and taking it off (because there’s no busk). No springiness to the laces, and difficult to break.
Ranges from $140 – $185 depending on the size and where you purchase it. They have a regular website, but I recommend purchasing from their Etsy store instead (see Final Thoughts below).
Final Thoughts (and discussion on conflicting reviews):
Even though I’ve received requests for a couple of years now to do a review of Meschantes, I was hesitant to do so because of so many other conflicting reviews out there. Meschantes has a very enthusiastic and loyal customer/ fanbase, and then another significant group of people who’ve had very disappointing experiences with the company. My own contact with them was also limited as they didn’t respond to my own emails. Although I had wanted to try their custom/ made-to-measure service, in the end I decided to try one of their RTW corsets. I usually don’t like to depend much on heresay, but I’ve heard enough stories from people getting their corsets months late (or not receiving their custom orders at all) that I didn’t want to risk dropping my money on something that I knew couldn’t be shipped out immediately.
That said, I found fit and the quality of the RTW corset to be decent for the price (especially if you go by the price on Ebay). Meschantes is different to some other companies in that all the layers used are cotton (instead of polyester), allowing the skin to breathe. The shape/ silhouette it gives is quite lovely, and the reduction is decent on my figure (although due to the rib-waist-hip ratio, I would have fit the size 24″ better than the size 22″). For those who are conscious about the economy and fair trade, all of Meschantes corsets are constructed in the U.S.
Meschantes theoretically has a lot going for them; they have the ability to make beautiful and high quality pieces. I want to like them – my only wish is that their service were a bit more consistent. Very rarely do I see a company in which their customer base has such a “black or white” opinion; it seems that many people either love them or hate them. Granted, it’s usually the people who receive exceptional service and products (whether exceptionally good or exceptionally bad) who are the loudest. Although corset makers are human and we all make mistakes, after hearing from customers “for” and “against”, it sounds like purchasing from here is rather a game of roulette.
If you want to try Meschantes but you are nervous about the service, I would definitely recommend purchasing throughEtsy– the positive/negative feedback system on these sites can add incentive for sellers (in general) to deliver what they promise.
If you have any real, 1st hand experience with Meschantes or their products, whether good/bad/meh, I encourage you to comment below this post – maybe then we can see a proper reflection.
I don’t know if there’s something in the water, but many people in the corset community have been under scrutiny this past week. Quite frankly, I’m a bit bored of all the drama.
Since my trip to Washington, a small handful of people have come forward – one asking me about whether I’m paid by Orchard Corset, one telling me not to undervalue myself by associating with OTR companies, and one who has felt that my channel has a bit too much of a marketing feel as of late.
I thought I would answer this openly, to set the record straight. I have always tried to be as transparent as possible while still maintaining some semblance of privacy, and I thought I had made my sentiments towards OTRs clear before, but this situation is worth addressing publicly because for every one person who mentions something, there are usually 100 more thinking it but not wanting to speak up.
My trip to Washington was hosted by Orchard Corset. The owners had gone to lengths so that I wasn’t in debt for the trip, but that is just what a good host and a friend does. However, they didn’t pay me for my time there. I am not an employee and don’t consider myself affiliate – we are friends, but I don’t receive a cut of any sales and they have never paid me to do videos.
They wanted to privately show me how they operated. We also talked about what happened on ABC 20/20 last autumn, and how the corset community on Youtube is evolving as it allows corseters to speak about our experiences without fear of editors twisting our words or taking phrases out of context.
They never asked me or even expected me to film a tour – I just thought it would be something that my audience would find interesting – I had asked Orchard permission to show their place. It was also entirely my idea to interview them, to get a handle on where an OTR company sees itself in the spectrum of the corset market, amongst all the corset makers. The interview wasn’t scripted (I had prepared my questions, but I had no part in how they answered). If the interview sounded contrived, it might be because we had to film it twice – the first time there was a bunch of noise picked up from outside; truck engines and people talking loudly so we had to re-film it – so naturally they had smoother answers the 2nd time around.
I broke even on the trip financially, and can say in all honesty that I didn’t gain from making these videos. Not even a real jump in views or subscribers. I feel richer in experience though and considered it an adventure. I had documented it not only for my own memories, but I wanted to take my viewers along.
In terms of the sample corsets – of approximately 100 corsets, I kept two that had broken in on my body during my stay. I chose about 15 more for auction on Ebay – I could have used all of them for another giveaway, but I personally made the decision that Sidney’s health and raising funds for her was more important.
I’m not trying to defend Orchard Corset, and I’m not saying that their corsets are as good as custom-fit, coutil-based corsets out there, because they are not – even the owner of Orchard says that they are not at that level (and they have no desire to compete with that – OTR companies and bespoke corsetieres can co-exist peacefully).
If you got the impression that my channel was turning into one big commercial and that I promote too many products or makers, that barrage of unwanted media was not intended – but either way, it’s my fault and nobody else’s. If it is a commercial, then I am sure as hell benefiting the least of everyone on a financial level. The money I’ve spent on my channel is well into 5 digits now. And I say this without bitterness, just with truth.
If any of this were “just for the money”, I would be long gone. I have no secure future in maintaining my channel; I keep it because I love it. And I agreed to the trip because it would be a great experience to meet other people who love corsets as much as I do. For anyone who says that I have undersold myself by meeting with perfectly nice people, let me point out that perhaps it’s not me who is undervaluing myself, but maybe it’s others who put me on a pedestal and overestimate my reach. Opportunities to meet other corset makers/ sellers don’t come every day for me, especially where I live.
But I am really appreciative of those who had the courage to step forward and tell me their thoughts, because as they say – where only one person speaks, there are 100 others thinking the same thing.
I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed any of you. And one more reminder that Youtube is not my livelihood – I keep making videos because I enjoy it, because of the great people I’ve met along the way, and I try to support those makers whose livelihood actually does depend on creating beautiful corsets. But if what I’ve been doing has been detrimental to the community, I will have to put some deep thought into what I will do with this channel. This is no way meant as a threat to shut down completely, but perhaps after reviewing the corsets already purchased this year, I will stop doing them.
It’s a sad day when people are suspicious simply for one wishing to share her spotlight with others.