Finally after months of work, I have finally consolidated this information in the new Corset Database!
Click to see the new database!
See the video below on how to use the database to its fullest potential, define your perfect corset, and add your input! At the end of the video I show you how to enter the launch contest, where you have the opportunity to win ANY corset, of ANY brand in the database, valued at $150 USD or less!
Contest closes on March 15, 2017 at 23:59 EST. The winner will be chosen on March 16th.
Good luck, and thanks to my many readers and subscribers for making the Corset Database a reality!
A few weeks ago someone asked where the word “seasoning” came from (in the context of corset seasoning).
I had looked up the etymology of the word “season” for kicks and giggles 2 years ago, but I hadn’t made a video about it at the time because, well, after my video/ article on intuitive seasoning I just got tired of talking about seasoning. People continued to argue about how to properly execute it, and it became like beating a dead horse. Some people prefer to follow a schedule, others don’t, that’s fine.
Where I disagree with some people is when they claim that seasoning is 100% for the person, and that the corset doesn’t change when worn over time (I’m of the opinion that it prepares a beginner’s body and the corset simultaneously). While I’m bored of this subject, I will probably make a video on it to explain why a person can pick up two corsets and they can still tell which one has been worn and which one hasn’t, even though both of their horizontal dimensions may still measure true.
But today, I’m focusing only on the etymology of the word “season”. It’s actually a bit romantic (just in time for Valentine’s Day, heh).
(And it has only a little to do with cinnamon and turmeric.)
Season: “a process of priming an object for a specific use”
This definition isn’t the first, but it is the most applicable – its use was first documented in the 1500s (close to the time that what we consider payres of bodies, the ancestor of corsets, was also first documented, coincidentally). However, the term “seasoning” was used more for timber: treating wood to be used for building, carpentry, etc. (Around the same time, “season” became slang “to make love to” a person or thing). Today, we still use “season” in this context for cookware: for example sealing and preparing a cast iron pan for a lifetime of use (baking oil into the pores of the iron, not sprinkling herbs into the pan).
So for over 500 years, to “season an object” has meant to prepare, prime, or ready that object for its intended use, and for 500 years has had sensual and gentle connotations.
If you don’t care about the other definitions of seasoning, you can stop watching the video here, but for those history buffs we can also discuss the other applications of the word “season”, starting with the Latin root from almost 1000 years ago.
Serere: “to sow” (and later Saison: “a period of time” e.g. seasons of the year)
The first definition of season came from the Latin word “to sow (a field)”. A specific period of time in which you perform a certain task. Sowing your field is also specific to a certain amount of labor or investment you put in and you expect to receive a return on your investment later on. In this context, seasoning your corset could mean that specific period of time where your body and the corset are getting familiar with one another, or putting in work in preparation for “harvest”, (in this case, priming your body to be able to tolerate waist training or larger corset reductions later on).
Assaisoner: “to ripen” and become ready for use
The most common modern definition of the word “season” is in context of flavors and spices. This came from the French word “assaisoner” which actually originated from the word “to ripen”. Unripe fruit starts out green and crispy, but over time as the fiber breaks down into digestible sugars, it becomes softer – more tender – and it’s quite tasty when it’s ripe. Adding herbs and spices to a meat or dish is a way of making it more palatable (and also softer/ more digestible after cooking it) and tastier.
When you get a new corset, particularly an off the rack corset, it tends to be pretty crispy – part of this is due to the thickness of the fabrics, the fact that the sizing (starches, pesticides and other chemicals in the fabric) wasn’t washed out before constructing the corset, and the number of layers – especially when it comes to OTR corsets, which can be 3-4 layers thick. But a “seasoned” corset makes it softer and less crispy (essentially “riper”) and it’s more comfortable for long term wear.
Also, wearing a corset gently also seasons you. I have gained flexibility in my oblique muscles, because the corset stretches these muscles. (Remember a curve is always longer than a straight line, so the more waist reduction my corset gives on the side, the more it curves inward, the more the oblique is being stretched. My body has been trained to tolerate this stretch over long durations and remain comfortable, so my body has become seasoned as well.)
Just as a mango is (ideally) plucked from the tree once ripe and it’s ready for consumption, so our bodies (and our corsets) when they’re seasoned and prepped, you’re ready to start training, if desired. Which leads nicely into the other context of seasoning, that being experience.
Seasoned by Experience (e.g. “a seasoned professional”)
A person who has a considerable amount knowledge, skill, or experience in a particular topic/ activity can be said to be “seasoned” – for instance a “seasoned pilot”. A well-loved and frequently-worn corset has, in a sense, gained the “experience” of fitting its its wearer – even after removing the corset, it retains the “memory” of the shape of its owner, all the curves, hills and valleys of their body. And of course, a person that wears corsets frequently or for many years can be called a seasoned corseter or seasoned lacer.
Any way you turn it, the word “season” works for corsets.
By contrast, consider the etymology of the word “break”
Of course, it’s considered more common to use the term “break in” with clothing, specifically shoes.
How ballet dancers break in their pointe shoes is interesting: they forcefully bend the instep, they hit the toe box against a hard surface like the floor (or they might just take a hammer to it), they tend to take a knife and score the sole, they may rip the shank to make it more flexible, etc. It makes your dance shoes much more comfortable, almost immediately, but dancers I’ve spoken with have told me that their shoes might last a few months at best, but many people go through several shoes for every performance – their shoes may not last a whole show.
Synonyms of break include: shatter, fracture, burst; injure, violate, destroy, disintegrate, disconnect, crush, pound, etc. Breaking in dance shoes is a relatively violent process, compared to breaking in a corset (which is basically just wearing it… just not quite as tightly as you plan to in the future).
Understandably, this is not what we associate with of the word “break in” today, and I don’t mind when anyone says that they “break in” their corset instead of season, because really in this context, the two are interchangeable. Even I use the terms interchangeably depending on the audience I’m speaking to, as some are more familiar with one term or the other.
I personally prefer to say season because it has soft, gentle, sensual, time-associated connotations throughout history. To me, the term “seasoning” seems more harmonious with my idea of corsets and what they represent.
But those who exclusively use the term “season” shouldn’t get hung up on the destructive connotations of the word “break”, and those who exclusively use the term “break in” shouldn’t get hung up on the culinary associations with the word “season”. This is how language flows and develops over time, and one term is not more correct than the other.
Do you prefer the term “season” or “break-in”, and why? Leave a comment below!
Lucy, I have discovered that corsets help greatly with my medical condition – but I’m hesitant to tell my doctor. How should I approach my physician with this information, and how can I convince my insurance provider to cover the cost of a therapeutic corset?
I’ve been receiving this question more frequently ever since my book Solaced was published, since the book covers many people’s true first-hand experiences of how they use their corsets not for vanity, but rather for medical purposes – like back support, pain relief, and anxiety reduction.
I’m not a doctor – I don’t have a medical license so I can’t give out medical advice. The book doesn’t violate this point, but of course, in the book and here on my site as well, I provide disclaimers that if you intend to wear corsets, it’s best to check with your doctor. Up until today however, I haven’t covered in detail how exactly I went about telling my own doctor (and chiropractor).
I understand that many people are shy or apprehensive about bringing it up with their doctor, but I must stress that it’s best for you to be open with your doctor about it, for better or for worse. Asking me for my opinion on whether you should or should not wear corsets is not that useful, because I have never met you – but if you have a family physician, they’re familiar with your long-term medical history. And just like your pharmacist would be able to tell you not to combine two different medications, your doctor might notice something in your medical history that might be incompatible with corseting (e.g. high blood pressure, inguinal hernia, gall stones).
Medical Professionals are People Too
Coming from a science background, I have several friends who have gone on to become doctors and nurses. Subsequently, I get to hear a lot of stories about their more interesting shifts, and believe me when I say that they’ve seen some pretty disgusting things. I honestly don’t think you mentioning that you wear corsets is going to particularly shock or faze them. In fact, there’s a surprising number of nurses who use corsets at work, to help support their backs while lifting patients. See the news segment below which features a nurse that wears a custom Starkers corset under her scrubs.
(All this said, if you work in an environment where there are potentially emergency situations where you need to spring into action, you will need to weigh the pros and cons yourself as to whether the corset would help with your strength vs hinder your mobility).
Remember that a (good) doctor’s office is a judgement-free zone. No matter what you show them, they’ve probably seen much worse. Smoking tobacco is almost universally seen as bad for your health, but you wouldn’t hide your smoking habit from your doctor. If you caught an STI, you would show your doctor. I don’t believe that corsets are as detrimental as cigarettes or STIs, even if they are considered by society as more controversial (that’s a post for another day) – but the point is that you should never be ashamed or afraid of bringing up anything with your doctor.
Also remember that all doctors are different, and different doctors may be more or less familiar with corsets depending on their location, their age, and what kinds of ‘side stories’ they learned from their professors in med school. A doctor from California has likely encountered patients wearing corsets more often than a doctor from Ohio. An elderly doctor who has childhood memories of their mother wearing corsets may have a different opinion about corsets than a younger doctor might, whose only exposure to corsets has been the sensationalistic social media posts on tightlacing.
How did I bring up the fact that I wear corsets with my doctor?
When I brought it up with my family doctor, and also my chiropractor, I did it as clearly and directly as possible. The first time I mentioned corsets to my family doctor, she seemed bored and was wondering why I was bringing it up in the first place. When you mention a corset to someone who’s unfamiliar, they might be thinking of flimsy lace bustiers, or perhaps latex or neoprene cinchers. (One person thought I was talking about floral corsages!) So the next time I had an appointment with my doctor, I brought one of my corsets in.
I showed them “THIS is exactly what I’m talking about, THIS is how it works. It has breathable material, it can be adjusted with laces, it has flexible steels, it’s rigid in these places, it presses on these areas of my body, it gives me this posture, etc.” That way, there was no miscommunication.
This isn’t my xray, but it looked very similar to this. Normally my neck is slightly lordotic (normal) but in this particular corset, my posture completely changed. Photo: e-Health Hall.
My chiropractor saw me lace into my corset, and took X-rays of my posture with and without my corsets. From that experience I learned that although I love the look of Edwardian inspired, flat-front longline corsets, they’re not the best for my posture and can lead to neck and shoulder strain over time. Longline, flat front corsets overcorrect my posture and give me an anterior (forward) tilting pelvis. This gives an exaggerated lumbar lordosis – not quite as dramatic as that associated with S-bend corsets, but it changed my posture all the same. This posture encouraged me to throw my shoulders back to counterbalance, and my head ended up popping forward too much, giving my neck a kyphotic curve. The hip bone’s connected to the… neck bone! (Abbreviated version of the song.) So, we learned that if I want to avoid neck and shoulder strain, I would need a corset that doesn’t tilt my pelvis and supports a more neutral posture.
If you have a G.P., a chiropractor, or some other health practitioner that you know and trust, I think it is in your best interest to tell them about your corseting for any reason – but especially if you are using it for therapeutic applications. Doctors need as much detail as possible to fully understand the situation help you the best they can, so the best way to approach your doctor is a directly and clearly as possible. They might be able to make suggestions about the way you’re wearing your corset to maximize comfort and minimize risks. For instance the tightness, or the duration, etc. (Or in my case, the type of corset to help improve but not overcorrect my posture).
Regarding convincing your insurance provider to cover the costs of a corset, unfortunately that is not my area of expertise. You will likely need a written note from your doctor in order to move forward, even a prescription for a custom corset (preferably one made by a corsetiere with some experience in orthopedics or medical devices). Your doctor may be able to give you more instruction on what to do next, and if the corsetiere is experienced in working with insurance companies already, they may be able to provide advice as well.
Have you told your doctor about your corsets? How did you tell them, and how did they respond? Leave a comment below!
Every year I write a personal post about the accomplishments and challenges of the year, and what I look forward to next year. You’re welcome to read the reflections from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.
This year I felt much less productive than usual; nevertheless, I did manage to accomplish more than half of my goals:
The old Lucy’s Corsetry site (courtesy of The Wayback Machine)
My redesigned website was launched in late February, creating a cleaner, less cluttered and more streamlined experience. Additionally, my Corset shop has become easier to navigate and more products added, including the Gemini corsets (see below!)
Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)
Solaced: 101 Uplifting Narratives About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope – my first kindle book was published on Amazon. This was a labor of love; I personally invested over $6000 into this project and poured over nearly 2000 contributor’s stories, narrowing them down to the main 100 stories (plus my own). This has been a huge joint effort and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make this book a reality! In the future, there may be a sister compilation focused exclusively on how corset makers stumbled upon this industry, and why they decided to dedicate their livelihoods to the craft.
Also in May, I joyfully witnessed my high school best friend get married! Unexpectedly, I also stumbled upon love that day. After 10 years of hearing zany stories about the bride’s crew from undergrad, one of them eventually gathered the courage to ask me out. (The bride was pleased!) (And so was I!)
NEW: GEMINI Corsets!
Through late September and well into October, I unfortunately suffered a bad flare-up in my neck (likely related to my car accident two years prior) which left me in excruciating pain. I spent much of this time lying flat on my back on the floor with no pillow, as it was the only way I could relieve the pain. This put a damper on my productivity as I was hoping to catch up on old blog posts and Youtube videos during this time.
Despite the setback, October saw the release of the Timeless Trends Gemini corsets! This was my exclusive line that I’ve been slowly working on since June 2015 on my Thailand trip. For the first run we decided on two neutral colors and natural fibers: the black cashmere and the creme cotton. In 2017, we plan to introduce the Gemini in more colorways and fabrics.
Also in late October, I did away with my office chair and invested in a treadmill desk (I will be making a video about this very soon!). Despite my doubts, I have seen a huge change in my body in a short amount of time thanks to walking slowly 4-6 hours a day. I lost 25 lbs in two months (combining my walking with a sensible nutrition plan – treating myself as my own nutrition client), my sciatica and the crepitus in my knees are almost completely resolved, I’m more awake and alert throughout the day, my back has strengthened and my shoulders are less tense, and my Winter Blues has been much, much better than it has been in previous years. Although it was a huge investment, it’s been one of the wisest things I’ve done for my health and well-being – ever.
Selfie on my graduation day. Dress is the Monica by PUG.
After handing in my final project and completing my board exams at the end of August, a very exhausted/burnt-out/happy Lucy finally walked the stage, graduating as a registered nutritionist at the top of my class with an average of 94%. I’m currently working to relaunch my vlog channel for those who are looking to supplement their waist training regime with a personalized nutrition plan!
Plans for 2017
Solaced in Paperback – While I was hoping that this would have been done before Christmas, unfortunately plans fell through with both the person I was working with for the internal layout, and also with the photographers I was consulting with. The perfectionist in me may never be satisfied with the final version of the paperback, but I know that so many people are waiting – so this will be a priority over the next coming months.
New Ebook Coming – Consultations have been on indefinite hiatus through 2016, as I’m currently working on an Ebook that answers 90% of questions covered in my previous consultations. This buyer’s guide and beginner’s manual means to empower the reader to navigate through the industry and find the corsetiere that perfectly matches their aesthetic, their physiological needs and their training goals. I’m updating and adding information that I’ve never included in videos or blog posts before, such as identifying higher quality corsets from the knockoffs, as well as scoring awesome designer corsets second-hand. When this Ebook is completed (I’m looking to launch in late spring/ early summer again), consultations may resume, but in a different format.
More Corset Designs – After the success of the Gemini line, Timeless Trends has invited me to create more designs with them over 2017. This is very exciting! I already have ideas for at least 5 more corsets that cater to “neglected body types”. My hope is to have at least 2-3 of these cuts released in 2-17. Previously, the hourglass and Gemini corsets were developed and graded all by hand. This year I’m starting off on the right foot by upgrading my skills and taking some CAD courses so I can easily draft and grade corset patterns digitally.
More Videos – in 2015 and 2016, I had the goal to create at least 60 Youtube videos. I achieved that in 2015, but unfortunately with finishing school, publishing a book, and creating a new corset line, my videos fell by the wayside and I only made 26 videos on my corset channel, plus 2 on my vlog channel. However, this coming year my goal is to consistently upload 1 video per week (52 videos) across my two channels. If I happen to make more than this, I’ll consider it a bonus! I have more Physical Effects of Corseting videos planned, as well as reviews of couture corsets made from independent corsetieres, as well as some sewing and repair videos planned for this year. Making Youtube videos was my passion, and I’m excited to get back into filming!
Nutrition Business – I’m keeping this a secret for now, but just know that it’s coming. 😉
Here’s to a great 2017, everyone! Do you have any resolutions, dreams, or business goals for the coming year? Let me know in a comment below!
See the video above for an explanation of several different front closures for corsets – or read away below!
HOOK & EYE
Hook and eye closures are usually found on bras and bustiers, not corsets. (This is the Goddess bra, click through for more information.)
You will pretty much never see this in a genuine, off the rack corset (or a couture one, for that matter). If you see a garment marketed as a waist training corset and it contains hooks and eyes, I personally wouldn’t trust it.
If you are making your own corsets, this form of closure is easy to source and fairly inexpensive. I’ve seen it done (recently) in a viewer’s homemade gentle reduction corset, but it was supported by steels on both sides, and still had a lacing system in the back – this allowed the wearer to fasten up the hooks and eyes with zero pressure on them until they were ALL fastened, and then they tightened the corset using the laces in the back. This can take a long time to fasten and unfasten!
One concern is that the little metal hooks can bend, warp and break if they have uneven pressure on them. If one breaks, you have a few others surrounding it that might be able to support it temporarily, but once the garment has uneven tension, more hooks will be at greater risk for also warping and breaking. The entire row of hooks and eyes would be inexpensive to replace as you can purchase them in a tape – but for me personally, I overwhelmingly prefer a busk.
Busks come in a multitude of colors, like these by Narrowed Visions (click through to the Etsy shop).
This is like your bread and butter closure for corsets. Loops on one side, and knobs (aka pins, aka pegs) on the other side, each side supported by a bone. Busks can come in a multitude of lengths, widths and colors. My friend Nikki (Narrowed Visions on Etsy) sells several lengths of heavy-duty busks in a rainbow of colors, as you see above!
But a corset that is deliberately front-lacing can be good for people with arm weakness, inflexible shoulders or just aren’t very coordinated when fiddling with laces behind their back.
A corset that has only a front lacing system and back closure will need to be loosened a lot and you’ll need to shimmy into it: either pull it down over your head, or step into it and pull it up from your feet.
I would personally not recommend a high-reduction corset that is closed in the back and laced in the front, as it personally caused some discomfort around my floating ribs after a while and I had to purchase a new waist training corset with back lacing.
My Contour Corset (metal zip closure) is strong enough for a dramatic silhouette, but incredibly smooth under my clothing.
Some of my favorite corsets have zippers, like my Contour Corset. A front zip should have metal teeth, it should be made to military specification, and it should be flanked by steel bones. The stitching around the zipper should fail before the teeth do!
The right zipper can be just as strong as a busk, and can also be zipped up and unzipped in seconds once you’re accustomed to it. Another nice thing about zippers is that they can be more discreet under clothing compared to busks.
However, those bustiers sold in Halloween shops that have a nylon coiled zipper and no supportive stays supporting them, so the fabric wrinkles around the zipper from stress? Expect them to fail if you lace them too tight.
But even if you use the best quality zippers – like with any other garment, if you break the zipper or lose a tooth in the zip, just replace the whole thing.
Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset with Swing Hooks, available through my shop (click through).
Swing hooks are neat, and they’re very very decorative, but very high profile and will not hide well under clothing. I first saw swing hooks used by Lucy of Waisted Creations, many moons ago. She even made a tutorial on Foundations Revealed on how to insert them yourself! After that, it spread like wildfire and you saw corset supply shops selling the swing hooks, and different OTR companies started selling corsets with swing hooks.
If you plan to use swing hooks in your own corset, it’s best to put a swing hook at the waistline where there is the most tension. If you don’t, the fabric in the center front will gape, and even the bones in the center front might bow a bit if they’re not high quality.
Closed front corsets allow for a beautiful unbroken line, but they’re less convenient. Corset: Angela Stringer. Model: Victoria Dagger. Photo: Chris Murray.
Closed front corsets have no opening, but rather are stitched completely closed. Similar to the front-laced corset, it will require you to shimmy into it! This takes some extra time, and if you have anxiety or claustrophobia I might not recommend this style – because it also takes time to get out of it. But this is the smoothest option under clothing if you want to “stealth” your corset under your clothes.
Which corset closure is your favorite? Do you know of any other closures not mentioned here? Leave me a comment below!
When better-known authors release a book and go on tour, they sometimes read the first chapter to a live audience at a book store or library. As my new book Solaced is only released on Kindle at the moment, I thought I would read my personal corset journey to you via Youtube. I know that it’s not quite the same, but hopefully many of you will appreciate it nonetheless. Fair warning, I do end up crying a little bit. :p
The story starts 1:37 into the video. If you like, you can click over to the Amazon listing and click “look inside”. My story is right at the beginning (in the introduction), and you can use Amazon’s free Kindle preview to read along with me on any platform.
Enjoy the reading… and thank you for being a part of this journey. ♡
This is a summary/ transcript of last Friday’s rant. You can watch the video, or read the abridged version below.
Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you…
This is a term in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Sorrows, and while it may not be in the OED (yet), it’s important nonetheless. Sonder is an important part of empathy, and it’s what I hope to share through my book.
It is so easy to take a person, their experiences, and their whole lived existence, and condense them down into a hard statistic: cause and effect. Before and after.
Don’t get me wrong: as a biochemist who dabbled in research and academia (before my creative side pulled me away) I still think quantitative studies are awesome because they can definitively show a correlation between two events (causation, however, is a different monster).
Coincidentally, Derek of Veritasium uploaded a vlog last week called Why Anecdotes Trump Data and showed that while (scientifically speaking) a longitudinal quantitative study with a large cohort is always more credible — sometimes personal experiences and strong, relatable narratives are more memorable, and carry more weight (emotionally speaking), even when the scientific evidence is not so strong.
While I would LOVE to do a longitudinal study on the long term physiological effects of corset wear (I’ve been saying this for a good 3-4 years now), I do not yet have the resources to do so. But every study starts with a proposal. And Solaced (the Corset Benefits book), while full of “anecdata” that may very well be pooh-pooh’d by some, will inevitably start a conversation.
The Importance of Empathy and Stories of Adversity
Through this anthology, over 100 writers have poured out their hearts and opened themselves up. Some have recounted past horrors and made themselves vulnerable to let you to step inside their heads and live vicariously through them for a few minutes.
Now, I know that normally “vicarious” is associated with something positive. A lot of the stories in this book are about adversity, and I would even warn that some stories may be considered triggering to some readers. But in many ways, stories of overcoming adversity is important too.
Not all of the testimonials in this book will necessarily have “happy endings” because:
In a true first-person narrative, the end of the story is the writer’s true lived experience up to that moment. Therefore it’s not really an ending.
“Happy Endings” imply perfection, and no life is perfect. The stories you will read in this anthology are far from a perfect outcome — but you will see where the writers have come from and where they are now. For some people, it’s not about perfection. It’s about a journey towards recovery, improved health, a highER quality of life than they once had. It’s inspiration and motivation to use the tools you’ve got (even if that tool is a simple corset) to get yourself to a better place.
The real question: why didn’t I write this entire book myself?
Well, gosh. That question sounds like I didn’t even do any work for this book. Even though there are over 100 writers who contributed to this book, I still put in a considerable amount of time and effort as the organizer, compiler, main editor, interviewer, and transcriber (for people who were too ill to write and sent in their stories through phone or Skype). I also consulted lawyers, made sure the writers were compensated (out of my own pocket), followed up on contracts, etc. — so it’s not like I had NO role in this book.
(On another note, I did write material and introductions to nearly every chapter, and soon realized that this book might be 2000 pages long — so, much of it was scrapped or stored for later for several future mini ebooks… One project at a time.)
Who cares about a book filled with the testimonials of strangers?
Update: Solaced is now available exclusively on Amazon! Click here to learn more.
Please refer to the above statements on empathy. Also, there’s nothing quite like a true, first-person testimonial straight from the source — even though a quantitative study is strongest form of research, the sworn testimonies in this anthology will always be stronger than me referring to a “friend-of-a-friend-who-claimed-blah-blah-blah.” It is more credible and more “clean” than a game of broken telephone.
I’m flattered that some people care so much about the content I write that they prefer to exclusively read my work, and are less excited about reading the experiences of others. But I feel it’s important to remind you that I do not pull knowledge out of the ether! I have useful research skills and have done my own footwork, yes — but a lot of what I know is because of people in the community just like these writers — because of YOU.
I am indebted to others for freely sharing what they know, because that is how we collectively grow. Knowledge is power, and it is meant to be shared — and everyone deserves a voice, not just myself.
So for those who object to this anthology, I think we’re focusing on the wrong question. Instead of asking “who cares about the stories of strangers,” the question should be: “Given that these ‘strangers’ granted me this platform in the first place, what good is my platform if not to give leverage to those voices that would not otherwise heard?”
Photo [Right]: Juno Lucina is one of the writers for Solaced – you’ll read her story of her personal transformation, The Art of Aging, in the Mature Corseting chapter.
As we take the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on the Solaced Corset Anthology, I’d like to make sure that we’re on the right track. Since the corset community has made this book possible in the first place (first by helping to build the list of corset benefits on this page, and then by submitting more in-depth experience for the book), it’s only fair that you, the community, also have a say in what stories end up in the final book.
I was initially worried about not having enough stories for the book, but after over 150 prospective writers (about 120 of whom submitted stories) as it turns out, I have too many stories now, and my editor has told me to cull. I’m very bad at this and need your help.
This book will have more of a focus on the therapeutic (physical and emotional) benefits of corsets, and there may be an opportunity to make another volume focused around the corset community and industry in general, as well as other “softer” stories (so whatever stories will be cut from this book, will likely make it into the next one!). Below you’ll find the list of topics/ chapters: you get a say in which topics interest you most, and which ones you would probably skip.
You can also let me know in your comment whether you prefer Kindle, Paperback, Audio, or another book format! Kindle will be the first to be released, but I will almost definitely bring the book to print a bit later on. Other formats I will consider if the demand is high enough.
Thanks so much for your feedback!
Solaced: 99 Uplifting Narratives about Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope
Chapter list (NOTE: This has been edited to reflect the final version of the book)
UPDATE: The book is now available! Click here to see it on Amazon!
Back Injuries – structural support after physical trauma
Spinal Curve – support or correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, or lordosis
Breast support – including treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome
Weight Loss & Lifestyle – using the corset as a kickstarter or external lap-band
Hypermobility & EDS – preventing subluxation
Disability – seven stories of how corsets help with various physiological disorders
Fibromyalgia – promoting muscle relaxation and drug-free pain relief
Gastrointestinal Disorders – helping with the symptoms of IBS, chronic constipation, and ulcerative colitis
Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis – using compression to reduce period cramping
Post-Surgical Abdominal Weakness – support of the abdominal muscles following surgery
Armor – the corset’s protective role during car accidents or against violent aggressors
Body Positive – recovery from eating disorders and body dysmorphia
Post Partum – treatment of diastasis recti, symphysis pubic dysfunction, and post partum depression
Gender Identity – overcoming gender/body dysphoria, assisting in expression
Anxiety & Depression – using deep pressure therapy to improve mental well-being
Autism Spectrum – using deep pressure therapy for those with ASD
PTSD & Coping with Adversity – pressure therapy following traumatic or difficult events
Mature Corseting – wearing corsets from middle age and onward, commentary on aging
Corsets & Metaphysics – essays on Reiki and the chakras
Newspaper Clippings – a small collection of Victorian newspaper articles on corsets saving the lives of wearers
Potpourri – stories that don’t quite fit in with the others
Which topics do you look forward to reading the most? Leave a comment below!
Miranda Rights, waist training advocate and journalism major, lost between 12-14 inches off her waist over several years through a combination of exercise, a plant-based diet, and waist training. She was told by Barcroft Media in late 2015 that her story and results were not “extreme” enough for media. Click through the picture to read her full response to Barcroft.
Ah, media. Through the years we’ve seen over and over (and over and over) that our words can’t be trusted to be conveyed clearly, fully or accurately in the news. For half a decade I’ve avoided speaking with reporters for fear of them putting a negative spin to my words and reflecting badly on corset wearers at large. What often ended up happening is that after I declined to be interviewed, these reporters sometimes found another innocent starry-eyed corseter who ended up saying something on the extreme side, and that one unfortunate sound bite was misconstrued and given a negative tone.
This is why this year I decided to start speaking up and answering questions about waist training, tightlacing and corset wear – because I’ve been in this industry long enough to know a bit about corsets, I choose my words wisely, and I always keep a record of what I say and write.
A few days ago Emma Reynolds, writer for News. Com. Au, contacted me wanting to know more about the difference between waist training and tightlacing (which was still confused in their final piece). Of course, at the time I was contacted, I was never given any hint that the article would have a negative spin, or that my answers would be spliced and creatively paraphrased, or that the photos of some of my friends would be used without consent to be treated as side show attractions.
Since I didn’t sign any NDA, I presume that it’s fair to post the questions presented to me by Reynolds, and my unabridged responses to the Australian news source, which were deliberately made extremely detailed, with an emphasis on listening to one’s body, being monitored by a doctor, and the community being body positive as a whole.
This is a long and winding story, but my initial goal was not to tightlace. I simply enjoyed making corsets for cosplay and re-enactment purposes, and later for back support when I was working up to 16 hours at a time. When I discovered that I was very comfortable wearing a corset for several hours at a time/ several days a week, I became interested in waist training and learned about the process through Ann Grogan of Romantasy. I think of it as a form of sport or slow, long-term body modification that can be varied, changed or reversed as one desires. Many people train in order to achieve a certain waist circumference or silhouette when not wearing the corset. However, my end goal was simply being able to close a size 20″ corset, I had no expectations for how I wanted my bare waist to look.
Why is it different/better than waist training?
Waist training is wearing a genuine corset for long durations (months or years) with some kind of end goal in mind, like closing a specific size corset or reducing the size of your natural waist. It’s worth noting that within the corset community, the use of latex or neoprene fajas is not waist training in the traditional sense.
Tightlacing is simply wearing a corset that is notably smaller than your natural waist. For some people, a tightlacing corset is at least 4 inches smaller than your natural waist regardless of your starting size – while for other people, they only consider it tightlacing if you reduce at least 20% off your natural waist (which would be 6 inches reduction if you have a size 30″ natural waist, 8 inches if you have a size 40″ waist, and so on). Yet others will say “if the corset feels snug to the point that it’s challenging but not painful, whether that’s with 1 inch reduction or 10 inches, that is tightlacing to the individual.” To this effect, an actress or model that never wears corsets except on set may be considered tightlacing. But what all of them have in common is that with tightlacing you don’t have to set a goal, and you don’t necessarily wear your corset for long durations.
Put more simply, waist training is a goal-oriented process, while tightlacing is simply an action. You can theoretically waist train without tightlacing (if you are wearing your corset at gentle reductions, but consistently enough to see results), and you can tightlace without waist training (wearing your corset with a dramatic reduction, but only on an occasional basis so your natural waist expands back to normal within a few minutes of removing your corset). Some people enjoy tightlacing on a regular basis with no initial goal in mind, but over time they will notice that their waist will be inadvertently trained smaller.
I wouldn’t say that tightlacing is better than waist training. Not everyone can tightlace as easily as others; it tends to be easier for those who have a higher body fat percentage, and according to some, it can be easier for women who have already given birth. It can be a little more challenging for athletes with more muscle tone than average. Of course, I would recommend that one be in good health before they wear a corset, whether it’s for tightlacing, waist training, or otherwise – and that they never lace to the point of pain.
How much does your waist size change and does it last?
My Contour Corset (21 inches) is my most “extreme” looking corset. It’s specifically engineered to be an illusion. In reality it’s slightly larger in the waist than my Puimond corset shown below, but the silhouette makes it look smaller than it really is. My waist is thicker in profile. Even though this corset is one of the most comfortable I own, once I waist trained to reach this goal, I found I preferred a gentler silhouette and less reduction.
When tightlacing, I am able to reduce my natural waist by 6-7 inches in a corset – but be aware that I have been wearing corsets off and on for many years. When I started, I was only able to reduce my waist by 2-3 inches. When I take off the corset, my waist expands back to normal within the hour.
When I was waist training several years ago, in the interest of staying comfortable in my corset for longer durations, I wore my corset on average 4-5 inches smaller than my natural waist, around 5 days a week, and up to 8-12 hours a day. The body responds best with consistency, so over several months even with this (relatively) lighter reduction, my natural waist went from 29 inches to around 26.5 inches out of the corset (even if I hadn’t worn my corset in days), and I was comfortably wearing my corset at 22″ while waist training. If I then chose to tightlace, I was able to wear my corset at 20″ for shorter durations (a couple of hours at a time) once my body was warmed up. Once I achieved this goal, I realized that it was more extreme in silhouette than I preferred, which is why I chose to back off and now I wear my corset closer to 22-24 inches, which I feel is more proportional to the rest of my frame while still lending a retro silhouette.
What do you like about it?
When the corset is laced snug I can use it as a form of deep pressure therapy – essentially, it’s like wearing a big bear hug that you can keep on all day and even conceal under clothing, if desired. At the time I started wearing corsets regularly, I was working in a STEM field and living away from home, working long and odd hours in a lab, with not much free time to socialize. I initially started wearing my homemade corset for posture support during those long hours, but I also noticed that it helped me feel more calm and relaxed. I was less anxious before and during presentations because I felt protected and held by a suit of armor. This calm, quiet confidence began to spill over into other areas of my life, and I became more sure about myself and carried myself more proudly even when I wasn’t wearing the corset. At that point, it wasn’t even about the appearance anymore.
What is the community like as a whole?
The international corset community is extremely varied, and that’s part of why I like it. We come from all walks of life and have many different interests – with some people, the *only* thing I have in common with them is a mutual interest in corsets. Some people love history and the Victorian era, while some people take more to the 1950s New Look style and pin-up era. Some people wear corsets simply because they’re beautiful and luxurious, some people wear them for medical or therapeutic purposes, and some people wear them as a challenging sport. Some are as blasé about putting on their corset in the morning as they are about putting on their socks, while some are excited about corsetry and consider it a fetish.
There are many online forums and Facebook groups to choose from, whether you’re a beginner or veteran, whether you want to tightlace, waist train, or just wear them for fun, whether you want to buy and sell corset from collectors, or even if you want to learn to sew your own corsets. In the forums I frequent, the community emphasizes body positivity. While we support individuals for the waist training goals they have already chosen for themselves, it is extremely frowned upon to push someone else into wearing a corset if they’re not interested – it’s equally offensive to try and push another person to lace past their comfort level, or shame them for their natural body type.
What are your limits? Do some people take it too far?
My Puimond corset (20 inches) is actually smaller than my Contour Corset above. No one batted an eye at this. Proportion matters, and so does context.
My personal limit was closing a size 20″ corset. I found it a challenging goal that took 3 years to achieve, and once I reached it, I was over it. Of course there were the few trolls online who egged me to train further and called me all sorts of names when I didn’t – but they aren’t representative of the community. I always listen to my body and I’m always 100% in control of my laces. There are other people who can lace down less than 20″ but some of them are 6 inches shorter and weigh 20kg less than me – so while it may look extreme on my body, for a petite woman with a natural 23 inch waist, she might not consider a size 20″ corset to be tightlacing at all.
It’s not my mission to put everyone in a corset, but for those who are interested in wearing them, whether for waist training or tightlacing (or both), I’ve spent the last 5 years creating hundreds of free educational videos and articles so that people can learn to choose a corset that’s right for their body, and know how to use them properly and safely. I say over and over that pain is not normal. When a tightlacer hasn’t put proper research into their practice, when they aren’t open with their doctor, when they ignore the advice of more experienced lacers and ignore their body’s signals, and they wind up hurting themselves, I know that it could have been prevented and it will end up reflecting badly on the tens of thousands of others who do wear corsets responsibly.
There will always be those who lace down faster than what I would normally condone, or smaller than my personal preference – but beyond offering free educational resources and ensuring that they are listening to their own bodies, that they are not in pain, that they are prioritizing their well-being, and that they have open communication with their doctor and have regular checkups, no one has the right to tell another what to do with their body. Their body, their choice.
This was the end of my correspondence with Reynolds, but if you would like to read some balanced perspectives on corsetry, both historical and modern, there are a few articles linked below.
Since we’re talking about both human bones and corset bones in this post, I’m going to distinguish between them by saying “bones” for the human skeleton and “steels” for the corset bones.
Human vertebral column from the National Cancer Institute SEER training modules. This work is in the public domain.
Looking at the profile of the OTR corset in the video above, it’s pretty straight in the back which is potentially good for supporting the spine and promoting better posture than someone may have naturally. However, if you look at a vertebral column in the sagittal plane (from the side), you’ll notice that upright humans are designed to have some curve to the spine. There’s a small amount of lordosis of the neck, a mild natural kyphosis of the thoracic region, lordosis again in the lumbar area, and then (fused) kyphosis in the tailbone. While any exaggeration of these curves is not ideal, neither is having a spine that is perfectly straight.
Esther Gokhale did a fantastic TED talk on this concept of the “J shaped spine” and primal posture, which you can watch here.
If you have exaggerated lumbar lordosis (more swayback than the average person) you may find that when wearing a corset with a very stiff, straight back may feel like they’re encouraged to hunch forward at the waistline – and people who have a high “apple bottom” may find that the steels tend to dig into the top of the bum as opposed to curving around it. What can be done about this?
When your new corset comes in the mail, the steels are straight – they are typically not pre-bent in any manner.
Interestingly, corsets in the late Victorian era used to be pre-seasoned by steaming the starched corsets, whalebone included, on formed mannequins as the last step in manufacturing! So these corsets did have pre-curved whalebone. Today, pre-bending steels is something reserved for custom corsets by some corsetieres – and some other custom brands prefer to use flexible steels in the back which easily bends to accommodate the lumbar curve. To prevent twisting or bowing of these flexible bones, see the post I wrote last week.
If you have pronounced swayback and you can afford to go custom, I would recommend Electra Designs, and also Lovely Rats Corsetry – both of these corsetieres have a case of lumbar lordosis themselves and have learned how to draft to accommodate this curve (and adjust the pattern for the severity of the curve of each individual client) so the curve is built into the shape of the panels in the fabric itself, in addition to the curve of the steels.
But if you can’t afford to go custom, or if you already have an OTR corset where the steels in the back are too stiff for you, here’s an extremely detailed, step-by-step tutorial on how to curve the steels yourself.
How to curve the back steels to fit your neutral posture:
Firstly, be sure that you are committed to keeping the corset. Curving the steels is manipulating the structure of the corset and this may void any returns or warranties.
Try on the corset as is, look in the mirror, and figure out where you’re experiencing the most stress in your back and the most unnatural curve to your spine. In my corset, I noticed the most stress was below my natural waistline – which on me, is below the pull-loops of the corset and around the “inflection point” of my spine, where the kyphosis of my thorax turns into the lordosis of my lumbar region. Mark this line with fabric chalk (make sure your chalk doesn’t have any oil in it and can brush off easily). I know that I will have to curve everything below this point.
Take off the corset and take the back panel of the corset in your hands, flanking the area where you need the most curve, and bend it gently to create a smooth rounded curve. Start with a small amount, of only a few degrees (enough that when you put the corset flat on a table, you can just barely see that the top and bottom edges of last panel doesn’t touch the table anymore).
Try the corset on – see if it’s more comfortable or if you need a little more curve. If you think you could use more curve, remove the corset and gently coax the steels with your hands, only adding a couple more degrees at a time. DO start with less and add more curve until you’re happy. It’s less ideal to start with a huge amount of curve and then try to straighten it back. If you do end up being a little overzealous, you can use your hands to coax the steels straighter again, but be careful to curve them in the same area as before so your steel bone doesn’t become “ziggly”. Also try not to bend the steel back and forth too much as this weakens the steel. DO go by comfort and listen to your body. DO NOT go by what simply looks cute – remember, S-curve corsets were considered alluring because they accentuated the curve of the bum, but they ended up creating more back pain and strain because of the exaggerated curve.
If you have weak hands and you do need more leverage: DO use a tailor’s ham like this one, or curve the steels over your knee. DO NOT fold the steels over completely backwards and create a kink in them. This is not origami. DO NOT brace the corset against the corner of a table to create more leverage to bend the steels.
We are not geometrically shaped, and a jagged bend in the steel bone can create uncomfortable pressure points – not only this, but a sharp bend can also weaken the steel even if you try to bend it back the other way! You don’t want to increase the risk of the steel snapping over time – so be gentle and only create a smooth rounded curve.
If your problem area is only your tailbone, then only curve the very bottom of the steels upward like a ski jump. This will prevent the bones from digging into your bum.
If your problem is more your upper lumbar area, then only curve this area instead. Again, try it on to test the comfort before making any other changes.
When I did this to my corsets, I noticed a few different benefits:
I no longer felt a strain in my lower back
Because my lumbar region felt more neutral, I stopped hunching forward with my shoulders and found that my chest opened up and I reduced tension in my upper back and neck
I could wear my corset for longer durations without feeling tired from my back trying to “fight” the corset to maintain proper posture
The upward flip of the bottom of the steels took pressure off of the top of my bum and personally helped improve my sciatica (a complication from my twisted pelvis from a childhood injury)
Remember that this is not a perfect science, so only go a tiny bit at a time, try it on for fit, see how it feels, then rinse and repeat until you hit a point where the corset feels most comfortable for you and your posture feels the most neutral. Most people have a natural lumbar lordotic curve between 40-60° (whereas a totally straight spine would be 0°), and some people will have a higher or lower bum, a more prominent or flatter bum, so not everyone will require the same amount of curve.
Other modifications you can make to a corset may include removing the back steels and replacing them with more flexible flat steel bones, or even spirals (however, this can be quite annoying and difficult to keep the back gap parallel), or you can add hip gores in the last or second-last panel to give the corset a bit more kick in the back and curve over your bum more comfortably.
How do you modify your corset for greater comfort? Leave a comment below!
Please note that this post is to modify the corset to help maintain your personal, natural posture for comfort purposes, and is not intended to be used to correct or modify any spinal deformities, whether congenital or acquired, for therapeutic purposes. If you feel that a corset can help improve your skeletal structure and/or health, please consult your trusted healthcare practitioner.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website (as well as the contents in Lucy Corsetry's Youtube videos, and on other social media) are based upon the research, opinions and personal experience of Lucy Corsetry and others within the corset community. Please note that the content on this site is provided for information and sometimes entertainment purposes, and it is not intended as medical advice, nor does it replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified medical physician. The information herein is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any ailment. Lucy Corsetry strongly recommends that you consult with your trusted healthcare professional(s) before purchasing or using a corset for any reason, and ensure that your health and well-being is monitored regularly. Although some individuals may use corsets for therapeutic or corrective purposes, you should ensure that you yourself are in good physical condition before pursuing corset wear, and also understand that any form of body modification is not without risks. If you purchase or wear a corset for any reason, whether aesthetic, therapeutic or otherwise, you agree that you do so at your own risk, i.e. you agree that you are voluntarily participating in such activities, you assume all risk of injury to yourself, and you agree to release and discharge Lucy Corsetry from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Lucy Corsetry's negligence.