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Chinese Ebay Corset Review

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.

Fit, length Front is about 13″ long. Modern slim silhouette, not hourglass.
Material One layer of 90% polyester, 10% spandex (stretch satin)
Construction Top-stitching between panels, bones inserted into internal boning channels made from a soft tape.
Binding None, instead there is a ruffle trim on top and bottom.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel None.
Busk 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.
Boning PLASTIC boned, NOT steel boned. 12 bones not including busk. Do not sandwich the grommets.
Grommets 18 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Polyester single-faced satin ribbon.
Price I had paid about $16 CDN plus shipping for this.
The Agnes overbust by Eternal Spirits Corsetry is the original inspiration for this corset – the original design is made from silk dupion with real Swarovski crystals; my cheap knockoff is quite different.

Final Thoughts:

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.

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Comparison/ Double review! Leatherotics 1811 vs Chinese-made Ebay Corset

This entry is a summary of the review video “Comparison: Leatherotics 1811 vs Budget Ebay Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Leatherotics Corset

Chinese Ebay Corset

Fit, length 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.
Material 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.
Construction 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.
Binding 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.
Waist tape 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.
Modesty panel 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.
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.
Boning 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.
Grommets 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.
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces  Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces
Price 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).

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Comparing Different Mesh Corsets

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.

Fishnet

Jolie longline corset in black mesh, by Glamorous Corset (from $74).
Jolie longline corset in black mesh, by Glamorous Corset.

Featured in my past reviews:

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.)

Madame Sher mesh ribbon-style cincher

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.


Corsetry mesh

Featured in my past reviews:

Galaxy Mesh hourglass standard length underbust corset. Available in my shop!

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.

Bobbinet

Featured in none of my previous corset reviews.

“Champagne” underbust made from custom dyed bobbinet, Crimson Rose Corsetry. Photo: WeNeal’s Photography

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.

Summer corset made from cotton Aida cloth (The Bad Button, courtesy of Foundations Revealed)

Aida cloth is less well known, not used in OTR, but some corsetieres have experimented with this for custom corsets, like The Bad Button and Bridges on the Body.

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).


Tulle

Featured in my past review: Contessa Gothique semi-mesh sweetheart underbust

Contesssa Gothique tulle semi-mesh corset

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.


Sports mesh

Featured in my past review: JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement “Christine” underbust

JL Corsets “Kingfisher” mesh corset, using 3 colours of sport mesh

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

Contour Corsets blue summer mesh underbust
Contour Corsets blue 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.


Powermesh

Featured in my past case study: Homemade Sport Powermesh “Corset”

Morgana Femme Couture cupped overbust corset-girdle with brocade and powermesh (from $510)
Morgana Femme Couture cupped overbust corset-girdle with brocade and powermesh

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.

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Why Do So Many Corsetieres Go Out of Business?

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.

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Exceptions to Corset Rules

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

 

Corset Sizes

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

Number of layers

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

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

 

Waist tapes

Rule: 

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

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

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

 

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

Zippers

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

 

Number of panels

Rule:

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

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

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

Bones

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

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

 

Grommets

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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JL (Sultry Confinement) Mesh Corset Review

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:

 

Fit, length 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.
Material 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.
Construction 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.
Waist tape 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.
Binding Made from strips of matching teal silk, machine stitched on outside and inside (tidy topstitch on both sides).
Modesty panel 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).
Busk 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.
Boning 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.
Grommets 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.
Laces 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.

 

Final Thoughts:

JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement teal silk and mesh underbust, as it appeared on auction. Model unknown.

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.

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Papercats Longline Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “REVIEW: PaperCats “Longline Cherries” Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length 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.
Material Two main layers: The fashion fabric is a poly-cotton blend with cherry print, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 7 panel pattern (14 panels total), constructed using the welt-seam method with one bone on each seam.
Binding Made from bias strips of black cotton twill. Machine stitched on the outside and inside. No garter tabs.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel 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.
Busk 11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a heavier busk (1 inch wide on each side), with a bit of flexibility.
Boning 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.
Grommets 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.
Laces Standard black nylon shoelace style laces.
Price This particular style is 155 zł (about $52 USD)
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.

 

Other Thoughts:

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.

Longline Corsets for Shorter Waists

Aesthetically speaking, I love the look of a longline corset more than any other cut – and I know that many others would agree! It’s unfortunate though that most OTR or ready-to-wear longline corsets are designed with longer torso lengths in mind; someone with a shorter torso may find that a too-long corset will cause the top edge of the corset to push up on their bust, or cause the bottom edge of the corset to dig into their lap.

A few OTR corset companies have responded to this by releasing “short longline corsets” – basically, corsets that extend low on the hip and provide some lower-tummy control, yet their underbust-to-lap (princess seam) length is still short enough to allow those who are short-waisted (and/or short of stature) to sit comfortably while wearing them.

The following longline corsets have a princess seam length of 10 inches or less, some with options to have them cut even shorter.

If you know of any OTR or ready-to-wear longline corsets suitable for short waists, do send me an email and let me know!

Gemini corset in both silhouettes (Timeless Trends / Lucia Corsetti label). $124 USD.

In 2016, my very own design, the Gemini corset, was finally released under Timeless Trends! The Gemini corset is a touch shorter than their regular length corsets (accommodates a 9 inch torso) and boasts a number of unique features – including 32 steel bones (a few extra bones in the middle of the panels for a smooth effect, especially in the larger sizes), gently rounded top and bottom edges for a smooth finish under clothing, high back to help prevent “muffin top”, a generous hip spring of 16 inches, and – most importantly – two different silhouette options: rounded rib or conical rib! The Gemini corset is the first of its kind in OTR. The Gemini corset is only $99 USD. Learn more here!

Glamorous Corset “Jade” Underbust, $89

Glamorous Corset has most torso lengths covered (literally!) with their standard underbust Lara, their longline Jolie, and their waspie options like Bella – however the Jade corset made me pause, not only was it incredibly curvaceous on the body, but it’s also only 10 inches at the princess seam. This is in between a mid-hip and a longline corset, and its gentler contours at the top and bottom edges make it a bit easier to stealth in compared to the Jolie.

Vamp underbust by What Katie Did, $230

What Katie Did‘s Vamp underbust served as my original inspiration for this gallery. It is said to be the shorter, curvier version of their famous Morticia corset (which the older make used to be featured in the other longline gallery). The Vamp corset has a center front length of 11.5″ and a princess seam length of 10″. The newly restyled Vamp is available for $275 in the US or £159.50 in the UK.

PaperCats “Cherries” Underbust, $59

PaperCats is one brand of what I call the “Polish Trifecta” of very curvy, affordable, and quality OTR and ready-to-wear corsets by Polish brands. (The other two being Restyle and Rebel Madness, both featured below!) Papercats offers this cheery, cherry-print longline corset that reaches well below the hip bone, but is still only 9.5 inches at the princess seam. Their prices are one of the lowest featured in this gallery, at less than $60 USD – but it is single boned and doesn’t contain a waist tape. See my review!

Rebel Madness “Mini” Underbust, $119

Rebel Madness, run by the super pair Magda and Maciej in Poland, makes some of the most beautiful, curvaceous and surprisingly lightweight corsets. The quality / price ratio can seldom be found elsewhere, and beyond their classic, stealthing undergarment corsets, RM makes breathtakingly beautiful decorative corsets that are truly a shame to hide away. Their Mini underbust is only about 3.5″ from the waist up, but closer to 5″ from the waist down for more tummy control. Check out their Etsy shop for their seasonal designs as well as their classic collection in this silhouette.

Black Brocade longline underbust by Restyle, $52
Black Brocade longline underbust by Restyle, $62

Restyle, a Polish clothing business and the third in the Trifecta, became immensely popular for their corsets back in 2014 – their Matte Cotton wide hip corset and their black brocade version (seen above) can barely be kept in stock! Perfect for people with short torsos and generous hips, this corset boasts a 12-inch hip spring at the iliac crest. The length of this corset in the center front is 12 inches, and the length along the princess seam is only 9 inches. The most surprising part: this corset is only $62 USD.

Petite Josephine in mesh by Isabella Corsetry ($180 USD). Photo: Le Mew photography

Isabella Corsetry released a Petite version of her most famous Josephine corset, explaining that it’s at least an inch shorter than her standard Josephine. The length varies based on the size, but the smaller sizes (waist sizes 20 through 28) are said to have a center front length of 11″ and a princess seam length of 9″. The Petite Josephine is also the same price as the regular Josephine, at $185 USD. If you purchase a “Made to Order” Josephine corset, you also have the option of requesting an even shorter length. Note that Isabella Corsetry groups her regular and petite Josephine corsets on the same page, so choose carefully before ordering!

MCC-63 by Mystic City Corsets, $89

Mystic City Corsets has arguably the widest range of different silhouettes of any OTR brand. Rather than focusing on a small capsule collection of <10 silhouettes with a rainbow of fabric choices, MCC has gone the opposite route: offering dozens of different corset patterns with varying rib spring, hip springs, rib shapes, and torso lengths, etc., while keeping the fabric options relatively limited. Here is the MCC63 which is only 9.5″ long at the princess seam, but offers plenty of lower tummy coverage.

Venetian Underbust by Meschantes, Basic style starts at $195

Meschantes is more of a made-to-order corset brand rather than OTR – and all of their corsets are sewn in the USA). They are more well-known for their basic training underbust corsets, but on their website you’ll see a wider range of options, including their Venetian which is a shorter longline style that covers the upper hip, and has an attractively contoured lower edge. Do see my review on their corsets and read the comments, so you can make an informed choice!

CS-426 Short underbust ($76) compared to the original longline ($80)

Orchard Corset released the short version of their popular CS-426 longline corset. The 426-short is about 2.5 inches shorter in the front compared to the original (10.5″ in the center front and just over 8″ along the princess seam, vs 13″ CF and 10.5″ Princess on the longline ), but it retains the high back to help control for muffin top. This allows people with shorter waists to experience a similar “curve” to the original 426 corset, but still have the ability to sit down easily. The short version is also less expensive than the original CS-426 corset, starting at $80.

Longline Underbust by Valkyrie Corsets (available in long version is 10.5″, short version is 9.5″ along princess seam), $370 USD. (Model: Miss Deadly Red)

Valkyrie Corsets (Brighton UK) offers made-to-order and bespoke corset options alike. In Geraldine’s Etsy shop, you’ll find several training underbust options, including the Bellecurve, Longline, and Contour styles. All of these are available in two lengths, the longer version (10.5 to 11 inches at the princess seam) or the short version (9.5″ at the princess seam) to fit a variety of torso lengths.

Gibson Girl underbust by Pop Antique, from $375
Gibson Girl underbust by Pop Antique, from $625

Pop Antique is a much higher calibre of ready-to-wear, as all corsets are hand-made to order by the individual Corsetrix, Marianne Faulkner – but her Gibson Girl corset (an Edwardian-inspired, short-ish longline underbust) is too adorable to leave out – and according to the Pop Antique site, it’s only limited made to order according to her website. Her staple Ingenue longline corsets are typically 11.5″ at the center front and 10″ at the princess seam (with options to make longer or shorter if desired), and her Gibson Girl corset looks to be an even shorter version with an enviable hip spring – short and curvy corset wearers rejoice!

~Honorable Mentions~

Corsets Boulevard Global (defunct)

Corsets Blvd Global used to make some incredibly curvaceous underbust and overbust options at mind-boggling prices (under $60 USD!) unfortunately their light burned bright and fast. They seemed to have their start on Ebay, where their quality corsets were a needle in a haystack of cheap bustiers. When their curvy overbust went viral, they quickly sold out, and couldn’t keep it in stock long thereafter! Their underbust previously featured in this gallery was a cut-down version of the same viral overbust, offering one of the few OTR styles that accommodated a wide hip spring and narrow ribcage. Unfortunately it seems that they could not keep up with demand and the brand quietly disappeared.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only. Please contact the individual corsetieres or businesses for more information on shorter longline corsets, including more specific measurements. Affiliate links help keep this gallery online, and free to use for everyone.

Modern Slim Corsets

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.

Glamorous Dita midlength corset for sale at Lucy's Corsetry $84 USD
Glamorous Corset “Dita” Underbust, Price starts at $89 USD

Glamorous Corset offers a wide selection of slim silhouette corsets, but the Dita underbust is a unique contender – it has nearly identical rib and hip springs, so for those who love the look of the Libra corset but might not be curvy enough to fit it comfortably, the Dita is a fantastic stepping stone on your waist training journey, or all on its own. Carried in sizes 18-40″, it’s a piece that looks unassuming at first, and only comes alive when you put it on, which is the main reason why I started carrying it last year.

 

Black Floral Brocade underbust, $109.
Slim Silhouette Black Floral Brocade underbust by Timeless Trends, $114.

Timeless Trends was 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. After several years of praising their products, I started distributing these corsets in 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 100 different styles and colors possible through special order. See my comparison of the different silhouettes here.

Orchard Corset CS-305 “Modern Curve” Underbust Corset, available in different lengths and fabrics.

Orchard Corset has recently organized their corsets into four different silhouette styles: “Modern” (previously level 1, least curvy), “Romantic” (previously level 2), “Hourglass” (previously level 3) and “Extreme” (previously level 4, the most curve).  Here the CS-305 is a moderate length and gentle silhouette underbust that is designed to support and hold, while stealthing well under clothing.

Scarlett overbust by Versatile Corsets, $408

The Scarlett overbust is 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.

Black mesh cincher by True Corset, $85

True Corset offers a selection of cinchers with a softer silhouette, gentle back support and affordable price. Their fabric selections include satin and taffeta, beautiful brocade, and even some cool and breezy mesh versions,  The company has two warehouses locations, one in the US to serve those in North and South America, and one in the UK that ships to the rest of the world. They also have a wide reach on AmazonSee my review.

Lace Embrace Atelier Edwardian Underbust, Price starts at $355 USD

It’s not only OTR corsets that provide a relatively gentle silhouette! Lace Embrace Atelier is one of the most well-known corsetieres in the world, having designed countless corsets for TV, movie and theatre productions, as well as celebrities on the red carpet. Their Edwardian underbust in their classic corset collection is a longline piece that has been designed in cooperation with local physicians to help support the back, hips, and tummy, and these corsets are even prescribed by cosmetic surgeons for their patients to wear after lipo surgery.

Passion cincher by Vollers, $179 USD via Etsy (aff link)

Vollers Corset Company from the UK is one of the oldest purveyors of corsets in 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 un-intimidating fit for those not interested in necessarily shocking silhouettes. See my review of the similar Aida underbust.

 

~Honorable Mentions~

Victorian Riding Corset by Corset Connection

The Victorian Riding Underbust had met such fame, it even had its very own fan page on Facebook! Part of the Affordable Excellence line on Corset Connection, this corset was cut high on the hip to offer higher mobility, and just a gentle nip in the waist. Was available in 7 different fabrics and ranges from size 18 to 38.

“Sophia” Satin Overbust by What Katie Did (now discontinued)

What Katie Did is a retro brand focusing on mid-century pin-up and burlesque fashion, with boutiques in both the UK and the US. While they’re probably most well-known for their super curvy corsets like their Morticia and Vamp, they have a few options for those a bit less curvy as well! Featured above is the small-bust version of the Sophia corset, which was their only overbust which did not have the hip gores so it gave a smooth, swooping silhouette without dramatic angles from the waist over the hips.

Audrey overbust by Eternal Spirits, £210

Eternal Spirits is the original designer of the 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 instead I 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 the Agnes corset though, I instead stumbled across this beautiful 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.

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Roberto Cavalli Waistcoat Corset

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

Jennifer Lopez in Roberto Cavalli at the AMFAR in 2011.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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Stormy Leather Lombard Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Stormy Leather Lombard Overbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset is custom fit (made to measure), so a corset for you may fit differently. Center front is about 16 inches high, and there are adjustable shoulder straps so there is no real point where the bustline “peaks”. Measurements of the size Small: Waist 22″, underbust 26″, full bust 28″, high hip (iliac) 32″. Gentle hourglass, slightly 18th-century-inspired hybrid.
Material 1 layer of unlined leather. While this corset does pull me in, the website mentions to expect the regular leather to stretch a couple of inches over time with regular use. The center-front panel is treated (patent leather), so less stretchy than the other leather.
Construction 5 panel pattern, very flat front. For assembly, there is nothing to flatline as it’s a single layer. Panels were stitched together, with internal cotton boning channels straddling each side of the seams for extra strength, while at the same time covering the seam allowances. Single boned on seams.
Binding Matching strips of leather, machine stitched on outside and inside (stitched in the ditch). Inside has a raw edge (normal for leather binding) but edges were not folded over, rather just cut off at the corners.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel Back modesty panel is 4.5 inches wide, continuously boned with six 1/2″ wide steel bones. Finished in leather, stitched to one side. Front placket is a single layer of patent leather.
Busk 14 inches long, standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 7 knobs and loops, equidistantly spaced.
Boning 10 bones total (5 bones per side). All 1/2″ wide flat steel bones, single boned on the seams, and in the back by the grommets there is only a single bone in the center back edge (not sandwiched on each side).
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size #00, large flange, held in strongly, set equidistantly. Nice washers, grommet rolled on the back with no splits.
Laces The original laces were 1/8″ wide round nylon cord, too slippery and frustrating to use so I switched it out with some longer, gripper flat laces.
Price At the time I’m writing this, the silk/satin version is $380 while the leather version is $409.
Stormy Leather is now defunct but you can still find the Lombard on Poshmark here.

 This corset was admittedly not purchased directly from Stormy Leather’s website (so I’m not sure about the quality of their customer service), but I had found this piece at discount from a previous owner and had verified that this was indeed a genuine Stormy Leather style. This corset intrigued me as it seemed to have a slight 18th-century-stays inspired style or silhouette – the very flat front, straighter bustline and conical ribs seemed to be a nod towards an almost “Marie Antoinette” style, and had this corset been made from a light-colored linen or cotton, and tied at the shoulders with ribbons instead of buckles, this corset certainly would have passed as modernized, hybrid stays (it has more of a hip curve and no tabs at the bottom edge compared to reproduction stays). Nevertheless, the pattern of the corset didn’t work with my body.

For a relatively simple 10-panel corset, there is a lot going on in it: the leather gives it a tough ‘biker’ or nightclub look – yet if you choose, you can thread a pretty pastel-colored satin ribbon through the decorative grommets in the front panel to soften it and create a juxtaposition. The shoulder straps are adjustable based on your body type and comfort level, and the incorporated roller buckles makes sure that the leather doesn’t get damaged from stress/ abrasion.

The continuously-boned modesty panel is one of my favorite parts of this corset, as it laid nice and flat as I was lacing up – it didn’t wrinkle or warp, and although I had quite a large lacing gap, I felt fully supported partially thanks to the structure of this panel.

While Stormy Leather San Francisco’s online store is no longer available, you can continue to find extant Stormy Leather corsets and other goods gently-used on Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, and Ebay.

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Where to buy Conical Corsets for Training the Ribs

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.

Christian Dior’s “New Look” (1947) required a tight wasp waist with a preferably conical ribcage.

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.

Continue reading Where to buy Conical Corsets for Training the Ribs

Corsets that create a Conical Ribcage

Christian Dior’s “New Look” (1947) required a tight wasp waist with a preferably conical ribcage.

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!

OTR/RTW Conical Rib Corsets
Custom Conical Rib Corsets
Honorable Mentions (archived/retired)

OTR/RTW Conical Rib Corsets:

 

What Katie Did Morticia underbust corset ($230). Model: Miss Miranda

What Katie Did has a special place in the OTR corset market, having carved out a niche in 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 the older version of this corset, you’ll see it creates a very conical ribcage and a wide hip spring.

Timeless Trends Gemini Longline Underbust Corset, $131

Lucy’s very own own creation, the Gemini corset, was named after “the twins” (one being the conical rib, and the other being the round rib, so you are never limited by just having one silhouette!). Available in standard length (9 inch) and longline (11 inch) versions, as well as over 50 different colorways (including special orders), there may be a Gemini to suit every taste (as long as it fits your other measurements!). See the Gemini longline review/ feature video here.

Mystic City Corsets, MCC-125 Overbust Corset, $119

MystiC City Corsets is a popular OTR brand that had its humble beginnings on Ebay. It has now moved to Etsy and offers some of the curviest patterns in the OTR corset market, some with rounded ribs and some with straighter 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. Be sure to check both their website and Etsy as they sell different styles and sizes on each platform. 

Rebel Madness Waist Training Underbust Corset, $115

Rebel Madness is a run by Magda and Maciej, the incredibly RM duo in Poland, and RM is the first of the “Polish Trifecta” of OTR corsets. Their corsets are somehow lightweight, strong, beautiful and incredibly underpriced for their quality. I have already gushed about their grommets in multiple past reviews. See my review of their simple black underbust here.

PaperCats Underbust Corset, $55

PaperCats is a Polish brand (the second in the Corset Trifecta) and arguably the least expensive corset options on this list, with the cincher starting at just $55 USD. While their corsets are not the curviest, they are lightweight, fashionable and affordable, and their construction is strong enough to taper the ribcage. Many of their corsets are well-suited to those with shorter torsos, with even their longline corsets being only around 9 inches in length.

Restyle Wide Hip Underbust Corset €52 (about $61 USD)

Restyle is yet another affordable option in this list, at just €52 (about $61 USD). The third and last brand of the “Polish Corset Trifecta” on this list, the Restyle WH corset is a “short longline” corset designed for those who have a shorter torso, narrow ribs, and a wider pelvis. See my review of the Restyle WH corset.

Meschantes Waist Training Underbust Corset, $129

Meschantes corsets are made in the US at unbelievable prices, and often blur the line between OTR, RTW and custom. Their most popular design is the bare-bones closed-front waist training underbust, available in black or beige. This design sports a somewhat conical ribcage and mid-length rounded hip. I would recommend purchasing from their Etsy shop as communication is somewhat limited through their main website. See my review here.

Morgana Femme Couture MF1333 underbust, $517. Model unknown.

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 both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure options. See my MFC review.

Isabella Corsetry’s Josephine underbust corset ($180 normally). Photo: Mitzi.

Isabella Corsetry‘s creations almost all have a slightly conical ribcage, but her Josephine underbust corset (normally $180; currently on sale for $144) 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, and you can special order the Josephine as a custom option if desired.

Vanyanis Ruby Underbust Corset, $795 AUD. Model/photo: Threnody in Velvet.

The Vanyanis Ruby Corset may be RTW but it is truly in a league of its own. Lowana’s first collection featured the Ruby (above) and the longer hipped, silver-hued Lillian corset, both of which featured a distinctive Vanyanis conical silhouette and impeccable wrinkle-free finish. This corset is almost continuously boned, and smothered in lace – at $795, it’s a limited edition collector’s piece not to be taken lightly.

Custom Conical Rib Corsets:

Versatile Valerian Overbust Corset
Versatile Corsets Valerian Overbust Corset, $478

Versatile Corsets has a wide selection of patterns and styles; some with gentler silhouettes and others with more curvaceous silhouettes; some with more rounded ribs, and this Valerian off-shoulder overbust which is designed to have a more conical fit, with contrastic tapering panels contributing to an even more dramatic visual effect. Every Versatile corset is made in California so American clients can feel good about purchasing sustainable, ethical and local. See my review of this very same Valerian overbust, here.

Wyte Phantom Conical Overbust Corset, Modeled by @ambellinauk, Headdress by @patine_noire, Photography by @newo_imagery

Jennifer of Wyte Phantom is a UK based designer with an ongoing project to clear her neverending fabric stash by making some of the most breathtaking samples in a variety of sizes on Etsy. Wyte Phantom corsets are usually one of a kind, but they all have the same “fingerprint”; their patterns usually feature a conical rib and front panel shapes, and often fit well for those who are long-waisted.

Dark Garden “Sweetheart” Overbust Corset, $645 Photo by Joel Aron.
Dark Garden has two locations, their original base in San Francisco CA, and their newer boutique in New Orleans LA. Quite possibly the oldest brand in this list, Dark Garden has been around for over 30 years and has extensive experience drafting any rib shape and for any body type, even medical grade corsets. See my review of Dark Garden’s Valentine overbust here, which is a modified sweetheart for those who are a little more top-heavy.
Valkyrie Corsets Bellecurve Underbust, $385. Model: Miss Deadly Red.

Geraldine is a one-woman business in the UK who runs the immensely popular Valkyrie Corsets. Several of her made-to-order styles like the Bellecurve (shown above) sport a very conical rib and dramatic-yet-graceful hip spring, but she is capable of customizing the pattern to suit your preference and comfort, as well as tweaking the length of her corsets (shorter, standard or longer).

L’Atelier de LaFleur (Toronto, Canada) Underbust Corset

L’Atelier de LaFleur usually focuses on opulent, luxurious showpieces, but every so often Mina does take the odd order for a simpler commission, like these “twin” corsets in red rose coutil. Mina has been in the business for the better part of 20 years, and has extensive knowledge in drafting anatomical-shaped corsets, extreme round rib corsets, as well as conical rib corsets seen here.

Clessidra Couture Wasp underbust, from £200. Model: Tessa Kuragi. Photo: Catherine Day
Clessidra Couture Wasp underbust, from £400. Model: Tessa Kuragi. Photo: Catherine Day

Also specializing in wasp waist/ conical silhouettes is Julia Bremble of Clessidra Couture/ Sew Curvy (Now JB Corsets). 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 £400.

Morua Designs Peacock Overbust
Morua Designs Peacock Overbust. Photo: Chris Yates. Model: Camilla Yadgaroff

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 $900.

Waisted Creations Overbust Corset, Photo/model: Threnody In Velvet (PDF Corset Pattern is also available on the website)

Waisted Creations (UK) has a specific aesthetic as well, often patterning for a small, tapered ribcage and fuller cupped hips. After having carefully honed her craft for years, Lucy is now capable of creating incredibly smooth, wrinkle-free silk designs with painstakingly matched lace embellishment.

Bizarre Design underbusts start at €251 or about $296. Model: Marilyn Yusuf

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.

Innova Corsetry Wasp Waist Underbust Corset

A very early piece from Innova Corsetry (Puerto Rico, USA) for a very long-waisted, tapered-rib customer with the measurements 30″ (rib), 20″ (waist), 36″ (hip) with posture-correcting shoulder straps, contrast rib and hip gores, and a most impressive hip shelf. Innova has since honed their aesthetic and primarily make gorgeous corset dresses and men’s corset vests.

Orchard Corset CS-479 Extreme Curve Underbust Corset, $87

Orchard Corset‘s only “level 4″ or Extreme Curve corset, the CS-479, is said to sport an impressive 9″ rib spring and up to 16” hip spring! This has a conical rib and a gently cupped hip, and is meant for extra-compressible or extra-experienced folks.

Yana Sinner modelling the Rock'n'Rose overbust by Sinner Couture ($490)
Yana Sinner modelling the Rock’n’Rose overbust by Sinner Couture ($308)

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 $288.

Jupiter Moon 3 underbust corset with conical ribcage. Model: Lauren WK

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. (Currently on Maternity Leave) See my JM3 review.

Doris Müller models her Corsets & More underbust, starts at €340

Corsets & More was a one-woman business by Doris Müller (Now under new management), located in the heart of Germany. They are 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. Underbust corsets start at €340 or $400.

Lace Embrace Wasp Waist Underbust Corset, Modeled by Talita and Christina

Lace Embrace Atelier (Vancouver, BC Canada) offers several historical / historically inspired and modern designs, including the Wasp Waist underbust which has a quintessential Edwardian “swoop” in its pattern! Edwardian corsets are better known for their straight front and conical rib, and often dramatic cupped hip in the sides and back (sometimes for padding, sometimes for booty). Melanie can customize the fabric, color and even the front closure (if you look closely, you’ll see that the black corset has a zipper closure).

Retrofolie Underbust Corset

Julianne of Retrofolie (Montreal, QC Canada) is better known for her incredible classical art painting pattern-matched corsets, but this more simple floral broche design highlights her patterning skills. Her corsets are usually straight in the front, with a conical ribcage and a sweeping hip spring – she developed her patterns to optimize the ease of pattern-matching while also fitting the body comfortably with a moderate cinch.

Heavenly Corsets made one of my first wasp-waist style corsets; they’re very affordable, starting at just £120 ($200).

Heavenly Corsets are made to measure in the UK, and offer corsets in a standard-spec option (for occasional use/ light lacing) or a waist training option (said to be strong enough for 23/7 use and extreme reductions). They are one of the more affordable brands for custom-fit corsets, with their pieces starting at just £120. See my Heavenly Corsets review.

Rainbow Curve Corsetry “Opal Garden” Overbust Corset, Modeled by Kitty of Crimson Rose Corsetry

Several years ago, Kitty Krell commissioned several talented corsetieres around the world to make their their own unique version of an “opal” corset, to curate a very particular personal collection. What you see above is the hand-painted creation of Switzerland-based Joni of Rainbow Curve Corsetry. Kitty requires a conical rib from her corsets in order to stabilize her ribs from subluxing, and Joni’s strong, curvaceous pattern stood up to the challenge with ease. See also the incredible hip shelf!

Crimson Rose Corsetry and Couture Wasp Waist Overbust Corset

The aforementioned Kitty is also a talented corsetiere in her own right, as the owner of Crimson Rose Corsetry and Couture. Above is Kitty’s own wedding corset, designed to be worn under her wedding dress. The pattern started as a collaboration between Kitty and Lowana of Vanyanis; two layers of natural bobbinet were hand-dyed for a subtle opalescent hue, with individually dyed external boning channels encrusted with Swarovski crystals, and finally embellished with iridescent lace – all makes for a truly one of a kind, breathtaking overbust with an impressively conical rib especially for a more flexible fabric as the bobbinet.

 

~Honorable Mentions~

Angela Stringer Studio Overbust Corset

 

Sparklewren Phoenix underbust, starts at £300
Sparklewren Phoenix underbust

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.

My Contour Corset was very close to being perfect - it just needed perhaps 1.5 - 2" more length in the underbust, and tweaking around the hips.
Contour Corsets (from $595), modelled by myself (Lucy Corsetry)

Contour Corsets was very popular for summer mesh corsets that were 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 were all custom, Fran could make the silhouette more rounded/ hourglass if you preferred, or make the ribcage more tapered. Her corsets featured impressive hip springs, and Fran herself could even balance a glass of water on her own hip shelf!  See my Contour Corset review.

Serindë corset, neck corset, train and skirt. Model unknown
Serindë corset, neck corset, train and skirt. Model unknown

Serindë Corsets’ 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 has stopped taking commissions but some of her samples can be found primarily on Etsy. 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!

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Another Day, Another Dollar – is that corset worth it?

(via Pixabay)

There’s an old saying that goes, “Another day, another dollar” which originally meant a humdrum work day (if I understand it correctly). However, as of late I’ve put another spin on this saying.

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.

Other examples:

  • 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
    Can luxury purchases be justified?
    Can luxury purchases be justified? Corset: Sparklewren, MUA: Stella Amore, Photo: Trillance

    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.

If you liked this article, you may also like “The 5 Most Important Factors of an OTR corset“.

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Meschantes RTW Waist Training Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Meschantes RTW Waist Training Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Meschantes

Fit, length 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.
Material 2 main layers; fashion layer is cotton twill and the lining is bull denim. Some interfacing on the back panels.
Construction 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.
Binding Black satin bias tape machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the two layers.
Modesty panel Attached 7.5″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back, can be removed if desired.
Busk 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.
Boning 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.
Grommets 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.
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.
Price 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 through Etsy – 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.

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What is my relationship with Orchard Corset?

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.