Earlier this year, I worked on a new calculator to determine the ideal length of lacing anyone needs for their corset, and I shared it on Patreon but I completely forgot to share it here on my site once it was beta tested!
It looks extremely simple, and I’m hoping that ends up being a good thing for most. Do keep in mind however that this is an estimation – it’s not going to take into account teensy details like whether the grommets are closer at the waistline. That would be overkill for only negligible differences in the total lacing length. It’s just laces folks!
The calculator takes both centimeters and inches for your natural waist size and the corset size, and it will give you the total length lacing answer in both yards and meters.
I will eventually update this post with a video tutorial, but if you’d like to try the calculator for yourself, I’d love some feedback on it! If you don’t trust the calculator and you’d prefer to calculate your own length, then below the calculator I will post a step-by-step guide on how to determine for yourself how much lacing you need for your own corset and individual situation. :) But the calculator is designed to work whether you own the corset yet or not – in other words, if you’re trying to decide whether you need to purchase extra laces along with your new corset, this is a good way to test it before checking out.
Remember: this formula should theoretically work for any corset brand!
How to calculate the ideal length of lacing without my calculator:
(If you want me to “show my work” so to speak and break down how the calculator works)
Step 1: take your corset and expand the back enough that you’re able to do up the busk easily (if you’re struggling with the busk, the laces are too short). Don’t tighten the laces – just remove your corset and lie it flat, so that the laces are still extended to the ideal amount.
(The first step is important: don’t just take your corset off at the end of the day and measure the laces then. The point of Step 1 is to make sure you have a measurement of the lacing gap when you’re putting the corset on at the beginning of the day, not when you’re taking the corset off. Because the waistline is marginally smaller after several hours of waist training, it might take you 6 inches of slack to comfortably put the corset on, but only 4 inches to take the corset off, so be mindful of this difference.)
Step 2: take a tape measure and measure how wide the lacing gap is at the widest point – you want to measure from grommet to grommet (the holes that the laces are threaded through), instead of back edge to back edge of the corset.
Example: say your corset is 10 inches wide from edge to edge; it’s probably closer to 12 inches wide from the grommets on the left side to the grommets on the right side since you’re going over the bone and the fabric, to the middle of the hole.
Step 3: multiply that by the number of grommets in the corset.
Really we’re using the number of grommets as a substitute for the # of times the lacing criss-crosses the back. For the most common lacing methods without any tricky business, the number of grommets always matches the number of times the laces criss cross along the back but it’s easier to count grommets than it is to count a mess of laces. Don’t take my word for it, you can count it yourself!
Example: For the Gemini, it has 28 grommets, 14 on each side. You’ll see the laces criss-cross 28 times from one side of the corset to the other. Counting the Xs, there are seven on the outside the corset, meaning it crosses 14 times. On the inside of the corset there are another six Xs, so it crosses 12 times. Plus the very top and very bottom where the lacing runs straight across two single times.
So a 12 inch wide lacing gap x 28 criss-crosses across the back = 336 inches
Step 4: we’re not done yet – it’s good to have a little extra more, just in case. Do you see how each criss-cross, or “X” is on an angle, the laces are not going straight across? Remember back to trigonometry in school where you were made to find the hypotenuse of a triangle, the hypotenuse is always going to be a little longer than the base. When it comes to a triangle as squat as this, the difference is quite small, but when you add them up with 28 different triangles, all those little bits can add up!
But let’s not make it too tedious – let’s fudge the answer for the sake of simplicity and add the length of the back of the corset times 2.
Example: The Gemini is 14 inches high at the back, add (14×2 = 28 inches). Adding this to the above, 336 + 28 = 364 inches.
364 inches is about 10.1 yards, or 9.24 (about 9 and ¼ meters).
So, if you need your corset to expand at least 10 inches wide (from edge to edge) to get the corset on and off, that’s about how many inches of lacing you’ll likely need! When it comes to lacing I will almost always round up to the nearest half meter (because places like Fabricland or JoAnn will often ask for rounded measurements when it comes to lacing and trim). The additional length will to make it even easier to get the corset on and off, and if it’s excessive, I can always trim the lacing back if it’s too much. More than likely though, the extra tiny bit will just go into the bunny ears of the corset so that you can get a good grip on these to tighten your corset.
Remember, this formula should work for any corset brand!
Did this calculator work for you? Let me know in the comments what changes or improvements you’d make.
Did my experience with corset wear help or hinder me – or in any way affect my pregnancy experience? Here I’ve done my best to compare and contrast my 15+ years of corset training experience with my one pregnancy experience, separating them into five different categories: organs, skeletal frame, eating, breathing, and movement. In some ways, my corseting experience has helped prepare my body for pregnancy, making for a more comfortable or even semi-familiar experience – but in other ways, corseting couldn’t have possibly prepared me!
Read more below, and please excuse any typos, as I typed this as a sleep-deprived frazzled ball of newmom stress – hopefully you’ll be able to glean some useful information from this (and I’ll be able to edit this into a more coherent article by the time my kid is in school ;) ).
Displacing my intestines wasn’t (and still isn’t) a horrible experience, whether during pregnancy or while corseting, as intestines are designed to move – in fact, they move all the time due to peristalsis, and if they didn’t move, we would die out as a species.
While many pregnant folks complain of constipation, I kept my bowel movements regular through diet and regular physical activity as I’ve learned to do while corset training (I will also touch on this in my upcoming treadmill desk update).
But when the baby starts kicking your liver and head-butting your bladder, it gets uncomfortable for sure. Corsets make you more in tune with your body, so I know where each of my major organs sit while I’m in and out of a corset, and I also know which organ my baby was using as a punching bag in the moment. For instance, when my kiddo was having a dance party and I felt a sudden punt to my upper right quadrant (where my liver is), it made a different kind of vibration compared to when he was kicking the front of my uterus (which is stretched and pushed against the inside of my abdominal muscles), or my empty stomach on the left side. Physicians learn to tap on different parts of the body and listen to each organ (which a different reverberation) and they can determine whether the liver is enlarged or inflamed based on this reverberation. If you’re very still and in tune when babies kick you from the inside, you can sense different reverbs as well.
Another thing that an assertive kick to the liver does is cause a vasovagal response, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. The baby isn’t super strong, so these movements didn’t make me drop like a rock, but if I felt a kick in the upper right quadrant and instantly felt nauseated or a little light headed, I knew it was likely due to the baby hitting a nerve that caused a temporary vasodepression. Thankfully that didn’t happen too often – but this is an example of where corsets couldn’t prepare me. Corsets always give an even, constant, slow compression and don’t kick you from the inside without warning.
Corsets have also trained me to be okay with eating small portions throughout the day so as to minimize discomfort or reflux. Around 10 years ago I would have labeled myself a grazer. In recent years I really prefer not to graze but rather have two large meals a day – but once I became pregnant, grazing and having small, frequent meals eventually became a necessity, and it was easy to switch back into that mode of eating.
Because of my long-term experience with corsets, I was already familiar with the foods that were problematic to me: mainly dairy (mild lactose intolerance), and high FODMAP type foods like corn and grapes – the foods that cause bloating, indigestion and discomfort during corseting were the same foods that caused problems in pregnancy, so it was easy to recognize and avoid those.
Acid reflux was so much worse with pregnancy – my digestive organs were squished more than there ever was with a corset, but added to this was the hormonal factor: the high levels of estrogen and relaxin causing my esophageal sphincter to relax, which allowed more reflux than I had ever experienced before. Previously, the only corsets that ever caused even a little bit of reflux were specifically underbust corsets finished with a sweetheart shape in the front, (rather than a corset that was straight or pointed upwards at the sternum). The sweetheart shape dips down in the front, leaving part of my solar plexus area completely unsupported, which causes my diaphragm to bulge out over of the top edge of the corset – this difference in pressure is not a good time (I know that plenty of folks love the feel of a sweetheart underbust, and likely these folks have a lower sternum than I do, so that their xyphoid process covers more of their solar plexus and diaphragm than in my situation). But pregnancy was easily 10x worse for reflux compared to my worst corset.
Corsets taught me how to breathe from my chest rather than my abdomen, so I found it incredibly easy to breathe even with the growing belly – up to around 7 months gestation. The final two months were way worse than any corset, for several reasons:
Firstly, most of my corsets are generally rounded in the ribs and they only compress the squishiest part of the waistline below the diaphragm, so my lung capacity typically isn’t as affected by corset wear compared to those who might wear a stricter and higher corset (like a conical rib overbust corset, for instance) – or the growing uterus pushing up significantly on the diaphragm.
Secondly, the increased blood volume. I remember reading that a significant portion of protein consumption by the fetus and placenta (up to 50%) are not for growing the fetus but rather to make hormones that regulate the mother’s metabolism and homeostasis – including appetite and respiration rate, to ensure that there is sufficient nutrients and oxygen for the extra blood cells circulating the body – so there there is a hormonal and body fluid influence on respiration rate over and above the physical hindrance to the descent of the diaphragm.
Thirdly, carrying 35 lbs of extra weight tuckered me out faster than usual. I could walk easily, but dancing or running was more challenging. I would say that in the final 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, breathing was far more labored (ha!) than I had ever experienced in a corset.
Skeletal frame (ribs, hips, and lumbar spine)
In terms of my skeletal frame, I was able to somewhat predict in what ways pregnancy would be a little easier on me, and what ways in wouldn’t. For instance, I know from my measurements that I have a slightly longer torso (this can contribute to carrying small), but also it somewhat protects my ribs from dislocations in the final months, especially as my sternum is very high. My floating ribs are also very flexible, they would swing inward with relative ease with corsets, and could also swing outwards when I used to be a floutist and sang in choir, so this flexibility was used to my advantage.
Where pregnancy was probably a bit more difficult is the fact that I have relatively narrow hip bones. When compared to my friends in school, they often noted that my Venus dimples were closer together than anyone else’s; I was able to buy my jeans from the boys’ section; my gait was narrow (I would walk practically with one foot in front of the other); I’ve never had a thigh gap ever despite having a lanky frame through my teen years, etc.
Around the 6th month of pregnancy, the relaxin started kicking in to loosen the ligaments in my pelvis and widen the joints. My sacro-iliac (SI) joints started slipping, and it aggravated the sciatica that I sustained from my car accident eight years ago. And then about a month after that, I started getting pain in the front (symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD). I immediately asked my OB doctor for some exercise recommendations, and I increased my activity at my treadmill desk again through the 3rd trimester. I know that with those who suffer from extreme SPD, they can end up bed-bound, as they need to avoid anything that forces them to even temporarily balance on one foot or the other… including walking. So with SPD, your mileage may vary. (Literally.) I was fortunate not to have an extreme case of it, but if my SPD continued for months or years postpartum, I would certainly make use of my longline corsets to help stabilize my pelvis.
Regarding my lower back, I thankfully had a very positive experience here. I think a combination of my corset wear and my standing desk affected my posture greatly. For the first two trimesters of my pregnancy, I carried small compared to many other childbearers in my family (which, as mentioned before, is partly influenced by the length of my torso), but I think the other part of of it is due to the strength of my muscles in my lumbar spine, and around my hips and glutes – such that even as my center of gravity was shifted forward, I resisted developing that telltale lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt until the very last few months of pregnancy. But the thing about “carrying small” is also that the baby isn’t small – the uterus is just displacing more of your peritoneal organs in the abdominal cavity instead of growing outward past your ribs (see above for my commentary on displacement of organs).
(One last contributor to “carrying small” is a tilted / retroverted uterus, which I do not have, but it’s worth mentioning just for a complete discussion on this topic.)
The only negative effect I experienced with regards to my lower back was about three months of lower back soreness at the site of the epidural injection, and some “back labor” (painful contractions that are felt most strongly in the lower back and tailbone), which obviously subsided after the delivery.
Reduced range of motion:
Not surprisingly, I lost the ability to bend significantly at the waist about 20 weeks into gestation. Corseting prepared me for this loss of range of motion in my torso, and I was able to easily compensate by bending at the hip and squatting (putting more movement through my legs instead of my waist) when I needed to pick things up off the floor, putting my shoes on, etc.
As an aside: regarding the whole “boots before corsets” argument, as a Canadian who is not in the habit of wearing shoes in the home, this typically doesn’t really apply to me; although I have some indoor shoes that I use exclusively for my treadmill desk, and slippers that I use when walking across cold tile. Having a long shoehorn is a nice-to-have, but I can and do put my shoes on without one (in and out of a corset, and also during pregnancy), and I wouldn’t consider myself to be particularly limber.
It’s more about having the proper form, as well as not having the corset (or your pregnant belly) hang below the hip flexor. Another requirement is having enough leg and hip strength to squat when picking things up off the floor, which circles back to the importance of physical activity in my third trimester, in tandem with with my years of prior posture training from corsets.
That’s all I can think of at the moment about how corsets may have affected or influenced my pregnancy experience, but I may add more if it comes to me. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer regarding my experience with corsets vs pregnancy, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to add more to this article.
In summary, pregnancy was much more uncomfortable than corseting for a variety of reasons – and that’s coming from someone who has had a relatively easy and uneventful pregnancy experience. I’ll return to this topic again in several months once I have more experience with corseting postpartum, and how it relates to my nulliparous corseting experience – but I’ve only very recently returned to corseting, and would prefer have more experience before commenting on it officially.
If you have any experience with becoming pregnant before and/or after corseting and would like to comment on the differences between the two experiences, feel free to share your thoughts below!
As any historian would attest, the corset was not merely a fashionable garment designed to shape the wearer into the desired silhouette of the day. It was utilitarian foundation-wear that served to support the bustline before bras were invented, distribute the weight of 10+ pounds of petticoats, support the back of the working class, promote good posture (however that was defined at the time), and more.
Naturally, humans strive to invent, innovate, and improve upon earlier designs. As the corset fell out of mainstream fashion in the 20th century, many (and I do mean many) different garments and devices cropped up to functionally replace the corset. Some were improved upon, but as many of the writers in Solaced have come to realize, sometimes it’s reasonable to go old-school with a well-fitted corset that combines the functionality of multiple products here, rather than reinventing the wheel.
Here I’ll go through a dozen or so of the descendants of the corset. Call it an extended family reunion, if you will.
We’re starting with the most obvious, mostly because I want to get it out of the way. Yes, we are all familiar with the story of Mary Phelps Jacob and her 1914 patented handkerchief brassiere.
Bras hoist the bust tissue like a cantilever bridge using tension around both the ribs and the shoulders, while corsets provide a resting place for the breast to sit on, more like a beam bridge (the “beams” being the vertical bones) or perhaps a window flower box. The physics for each is different, but sound.
Where bras can become troublesome is with particularly heavy bosoms; too much tension on the shoulders can squeeze the nerves and blood vessels against the collarbone – this is much more serious than just permanent deep grooves in the shoulders. It can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, and eventually neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
2. Waist Trainer / Cincher / Faja
Often made out of of latex rubber or neoprene (blended with cotton or polyester), a trainer or cincher is a wide, stretchy belt that provides compression to narrow the waistline – albeit, a more gentle compression than corsets are capable of achieving, and the latex may dry-rot or stretch out over time. It may also cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
It is also designed to hold in body heat and sweat via its unbreathable fabrics (whereas cotton and linen corsets allow for heat exchange and sweat to be wicked away). These cinchers claim that the metabolism will increase with body heat, and increased sweating will detoxify the body. As we now know, it really just temporarily gets rid of edema and dehydrates the wearer but this does not cause fat loss.
The single one-up that this garment has over corsets is that it’s more flexible and “stealthable” under clothing, but modern innovations are challenging this claim with the No Line and the Power Corset.
3. Post-partum belly binder
Gentle post-partum belly binding has been practiced independently for centuries, by different civilizations all over the world. The belly cloth or binder goes by many different names – sarashi in Japan, faja in South America (originally a simple cloth, not to be confused with the rubber faja above), and Bengkung in Malaysia (seen here).
The binding practice is supposed to help keep the body warm (in line with the Indian practice of banantana, where no cold food or drink is allowed, no cool showers, drafty dwellings, etc), assist in contracting the uterus, and pull the abdominal muscles together to minimize diastasis recti. Especially notable is the way the bengkung is wrapped and tied back to front – not pulling from front-to-back as in the case of many front-lacing corsets.
If wrapped low enough over the hip bones, it can also stabilize the pelvis as relaxin leaves the body and your joints become less loosey-goosey.
The operative word here is gentle binding. I would not recommend wearing an actual corset any sooner than 6-8 weeks postpartum (or more!) – whenever your midwife/OB says you are finished with your pelvic rest period, your pelvic floor has fully healed and strengthened, and you’re free to return to normal activities, including vigorous exercise.
4. Post-surgical Compression Binder
There are many different types of post-operative binders, but most of them are some variation of a wide, stretchy, adjustable tensor bandage. Surgeons keep these on hand and gently wrap the patient with one of these bad boys (overtop of the regular gauze and dressings) after some kind of abdominal surgery – whether that’s bariatric surgery, liposuction, tummy tuck, gall bladder removal, endometrial excision, hernia correction, or some other type of surgery.
It is flexible enough to allow limited movement in the patient, but not so much that the patient will accidentally pop their stitches / staples. The compression will also curb edema and prevent the body from swelling too much (excessive inflammation can impede proper healing). This is also helpful after liposuction, where the skin may be slightly loose and the compression can help the skin to contract (to a limit).
After open surgery (where a large incision is made and organs might be moved/pushed out of the way), compression can help the organs return back to their original positions (more or less – peritoneal organs are less fixed than we believe!). In laparoscopic surgery where there’s usually insufflation (the abdomen is pumped full of carbon dioxide to inflate the area and allow the camera to see where you’re navigating), the gas has to eventually escape by whatever means possible – through incisions, burping, passing wind – and compressing the abdomen may help expedite this process.
This type of garment (made by NYOrtho in this case) is cheaply manufactured and designed to be discarded, which is a positive in this case as it will very likely become soiled with blood and other fluids draining from the incision sites. It would be a shame to soil an expensive corset!
5. TLSO (Rigid Orthopedic Back Brace)
There are dozens of different rigid corrective braces out there: Milwaukee brace, Charleston brace, Boston brace, Lyon brace, etc. but the Sforzesco brace (seen here) caught my eye, for reasons you can probably guess.
TLSO stands for Thoracic (the part of the spine where the ribs are attached), Lumbar (the lower back), Sacral (the fused part of the spine attached to the pelvis) Orthoses. A longline underbust covers from the lower thorax to the sacrum; an overbust can cover from even higher on the thorax.
The Sforzesco brace was created in Milan, a fashion-forward city, and was designed to functionally outcompete many other TLSO braces while at the same time being (mostly) transparent rigid plastic; thin and easily stealthable under clothing; and creating a (mostly) symmetric and fashionable silhouette – all features that may appeal to a self-conscious young scoliosis patient, thus encouraging patient compliance to wear the orthosis as much as possible, for the best possible outcome.
An SI-joint belt (SI = sacro-iliac) is designed more for symptomatic pain relief rather than claiming to correct an asymmetry, in the case of the TLSO brace above.
That being said, this particular belt by BraceAbility comes with many lofty promises, including being able to help with SI-joint dysfunction and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD, a condition that affects pregnant women where the joints of the pelvis loosen and slip around painfully), stabilizing hairline vertebral fractures, providing relief for arthritis of the spine and hips, and more. The “lacing gap” in the back also clears the tailbone if the wearer suffers from a cracked or bruised coccyx.
While SI-joint belts and lumbar braces come in many forms (usually padded velcro belts) I was tickled to see this one by BraceAbility with a pulley system that closely resembles the form and function of a back-lacing corset. It’s also not uncommon to find lumbar braces with vertical bones to provide the necessary perpendicular tension to hug the small of the back without collapsing on itself.
Spending all day, every day on horseback (or in today’s case, on motorcycles) constantly jostles the body – from bouncing steeds to vibrations on gravelly or pothole-riddled roads, your organs take a hit – now, the intestines are fairly durable, but kidneys are sensitive (they’re enrobed in a layer of fat and we have two of them for a reason, in case one eventually gives out). Riding often enough or long enough can result in kidney damage over time, and there was a time when it was not uncommon for a rider to see blood in their urine. This belt holds the kidneys still, minimizing injury – and the belt can also serve as armor, shielding the lumbar spine from damage if the rider is thrown.
The pink sash sported by Fairytale Groom Ken (which I had a very similar Ken doll in my toddlerhood) is designed to replace a waistcoat in a 3-part tuxedo – but more interestingly, it hails back to a protective and practical garment worn by military, sportsmen, and ushers alike.
The etymology and history of the cummerbund is one of my favorites. The name comes from two Hindi words: kamar, meaning “waist”, and band meaning “belt” or “tie”. So cummerbund literally means a cloth to bind the waist.
Cummerbunds were originally simple sashes used in the Middle East and India for over 400 years, worn by military (likely used for the same purpose as kidney belts or cavalry belts, see above). Today, some modern military groups (including the US Navy) still wear a cummerbund as part of their formal dress.
Cummerbunds were also used in sporting events in the 1800s and early 1900s – whether to wick away sweat or to provide postural support, perhaps in the same way as modern lifting belts (we’re getting to that next!).
Lastly, cummerbunds were often worn by servicemen in high-class facilities (“fancy buildings”). E.g. worn by ushers in opera houses, doorkeeps at galas, bellhops in high-end hotels, etc. The upward-facing pleats of the belt functioned as several tiers of shallow pockets – enabling the wearer to keep ticket stubs, cash tips/change, or other small items within easy reach.
Depending on how tightly a traditional cummerbund is fitted to the body, it can also pull in the abdomen and prevent one’s spreading figure from outgrowing their uniform.
These days, cummerbunds usually have an elastic or velcro backing and don’t provide much support, but are now only for show. They’re most commonly worn during proms or weddings as an alternative to a waistcoat – so it’s more lightweight and cool for someone who doesn’t want too many layers.
As mentioned above, the weight lifting belt has existed in “primitive” forms as a tight cloth wrapped around the waist back in the 19th century, and has since been reinvented as ever-more-macho wide leather belts designed to be worn around the navel.
Weight lifting belts serve several purposes – according to ProFitness (the producer of this particular piece), the belt supports and holds the lumbar spine and abdomen in a neutral position – preventing muscular strain, herniated discs, or other injuries. It also applies counter-pressure to the abdominal stress already being exerted on the body from the lifting action, preventing umbilical or abdominal hernias.
Encouraging good form and allowing the lifter to build good muscle memory will also enhance their performance and allow them to lift up to 10% more weight, they say.
10. Hernia Girdle
Sometimes hernias happen: whether you lifted too much without proper support (see above), you gestated a child and your diastasis recti was uncontrolled, you had surgery and the muscles never properly healed, or you have a congenital condition – plenty of people have abdominal hernias. Particularly common are umbilical hernias, because when you were in the womb, your belly button used to be a literal hole where the umbilical cord outside your body led to a vein inside your body (it went to your liver and vena cava, for those curious – and it closes up minutes after birth).
Anywho, you have quite a lot of pressure inside your body, and your muscles hold everything in nicely – most of the time. But if you have a hole in your muscles, and the pressure inside your body is greater than the pressure outside of your body, your intestines want to make their slippery escape. This is painful – and dangerous, if blood flow to the bulging intestine is pinched off. Hernia girdles stop this from happening by applying external pressure on the area and pushing the intestines back in.
Corsets have been known to do this as well – but it’s important to note that it’s only good for abdominal hernias. Inguinal (groin) or hiatal hernias (where the stomach pushes through the diaphragm) require a different type of bracing or truss (or surgery). Corsets, as well as the abdominal binder seen here, will not help with inguinal and hiatal hernias, and in fact might exacerbate the condition, so be sure to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
11. Shoulder Posture Harness
I don’t blame you if you’re confused by this harness being here, because back in #1 we discussed some of the advantages of corsets NOT having shoulder straps. But corsets can help reduce a rolled shoulder posture actively (through the use of waistcoat corsets or corsets with shoulder straps) OR passively, simply by virtue of taking the weight off the shoulders and allowing them to relax and return to a more neutral position.
Many folks who suffer with a heavy bustline will find that a supportive overbust corset relieves the weight that pulls the pectoral and trapezius muscles forward – allowing the wearer to open and stretch their chest muscles, hold their shoulders back, and reduce slouching much in the same way as this harness. However, one should be careful not to go overboard with a “proud” posture (looking at you, Edwardian S-curve!).
There’s such thing as “too much of a good thing” so whether you use a corset or a posture-corrective shoulder harness, be sure that it’s properly fitted and not too tight or forcing you into an unnatural stance.
I am loath to include this in the list (I’m a bit of a snob) but the family tree would not be complete if I didn’t invite the bustier to this reunion.
The bustier is visually the most similar to a corset, but it does have some marked differences in form and function. They are most often worn as lingerie or club wear.
Bustiers do provide some bust support, with or without shoulder straps. They can have separate cups, or look similar to the one shown here. However, they tend to come in a limited range of bust sizes – and because they are more lightly structured than corsets, they can have a tendency to slip down (but few people care if they plan to only wear it short-term anyway).
Most bustiers also have bones to hold vertical tension, albeit usually featherweight plastic boning. Bustiers also always have some elasticity to allow for greater range of motion, to more easily fit a wider range of bodies, and also to be able to use hooks & eyes or a zipper to secure the garment (instead of a lacing system).
As such, apart from some modest bust support, the bustier’s main purpose is primarily aesthetic – which is 100% okay, it just should not be conflated with the corset, which offers a broader range of practical uses.
I’m thrilled to announce that, 5.5 years after the release of my ebook, Solaced: 101 True Stories About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope is finally available in Paperback! Here are the links to where you can find the paperback depending on where you live:
in reality 110 stories (if you count my own “origin story” and the Victorian newspaper clippings!)
21 chapters and themes
new graphics and photos
a few story updates from contributors in the past 5 years, and two brand new stories
painstakingly polished by two editors and five proofreaders, for a final product that the corset community can be proud of!
The book is print-on-demand on Amazon, which means wherever you are in the world, you can have the book printed (relatively) locally and shipped as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
We pushed hard to get the book out in time to be delivered before Christmas, and it might make an ideal stocking stuffer for the corset enthusiast in your life. 💖
What’s changed & improved from the original 2016 ebook?
Two new stories have been swapped out: the new stories include “Stealthlacing VS Cancer” (using corsets to reduce scar pain after cancer removal, and restoring symmetry to the ribcage after the surgery) as well as “Chagas and Corsets” (using corsets to help with symptoms of mega-colon, as well as related hernia and blood flow issues due to long-term Chagas’ Disease caused by a chronic protozoa infection).
All stories have been re-edited by multiple copy-editors, proofreaders, beta-readers, and sensitivity readers. In addition to typos and misspellings being corrected, some passages have been edited for clarity (to avoid ambiguity) and outdated terms have been updated according to today’s standards on gender, disability, ethnicity, medical terminology, etc.
Names, pronouns, business names / job descriptions, etc. of some writers (and mentioned colleagues) have been updated to match their current identity.
Some stories have been updated with new information since their relationship with corsetry has developed over the past 5-6 years.
New vector graphics for every chapter, and new photos included for select stories.
What has stayed the same?
Overall, 95% of the stories have remained the same apart from some very light editing for punctuation, typos, grammar and clarity. I’ve strived as much as possible to keep every story in the contributor’s original voice, with no embellishments or hyperbole, and no pressure to make stories more emotional or punchier. It was (and still is) extremely important to me that each writer is portrayed exactly as they want to be, and were not censored from expressing their thoughts and views (even when some views contradict the views of other contributors).
You can also get a free Kindle sample if you’d like to read most of the first chapter, or use the “Look Inside” feature if you’d like to know more about the paperback book – here are the links once more (so you don’t have to scroll to the top):
Want to know even more details about each chapter?
(I like your style!)
Back Injuries~ corsets used to temporarily aid in recovery from injuries, or used as long-term support for chronic injuries (8 testimonies)
Spinal Curve ~ corsets used in correction and/or support for scoliosis, lumbar lordosis [swayback], or kyphosis, with related structural considerations like uneven pelvis / turned foot (6 testimonies)
Breast Support ~ corsets replacing bras for bust support; helping with thoracic outlet syndrome, migraines, pulled muscles, costochondritis, and other problems caused by a heavier bust (3 testimonies)
Weight Loss & Lifestyle ~ corsets used in appetite control, with or without bariatric surgery; improving quality of nutrition through promotion of good digestion while waist training (3 testimonies)
Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) ~ corsets used to support loose joints, prevent dislocations & subluxations, help improve low blood pressure, and prevent injuries (5 testimonies)
Other Physiological DisordersLucy’s note: this is one of my favorite chapters! ~ corsets used for asthma and low blood pressure, correcting an out-turned foot, providing a “barrier” for sensory processing disorder and improving apraxia, helping with bodily asymmetries caused by PFFD (one leg significantly shorter than the other), support during stroke rehabilitation and for spina bifida, Polio, and cerebral palsy (8 testimonies)
Fibromyalgia ~ corsets used to soothe chronic pain and chronic fatigue, and relaxing trigger points through traction and acupressure (5 testimonies)
Gastrointestinal Disorders~ corsets used to prevent blockages from mega-colon, as well as preventing constipation, and relieving pain from IBS and ulcerative colitis (5 testimonies)
Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis~ corsets used for pain relief during menstruation (periods), reducing cramping, lightening or shortening the duration of periods, or providing post-surgical compression after endometriosis surgery (4 testimonies )
Post-Surgical Recovery ~ corsets used to restore symmetry after abdominal muscle grafts or cancer removal, reducing hypersensitivity/ scar pain, providing support after abdominal muscles have been destroyed from multiple injuries/surgeries, and concealing ileostomy bags (5 testimonies)
Armor ~ corsets protecting against injury during car collisions and against violent aggressors / muggers (4 testimonies)
Body Positivity ~ use of corsets to combat body dysmorphia, improve relationship with the body, promote self-love and acceptance, and as a tool / part of a structured regimen in recovering from disordered eating (8 testimonies)
Pregnancy & Postpartum ~ corsets for SPD (pelvic girdle pain) recovery, soothing postpartum depression, as part of diastasis recti correction, and regaining sense of self / defining identity in motherhood (4 testimonies)
Gender Identity ~ the use of corsets for reducing gender dysphoria; shaping the figure to exhibit more (or less) stereotypically feminine traits, enhancing or binding the bust; transitioning and gender confirmation (3 testimonies)
Mental Health (Anxiety & Depression) ~ corsets as deep pressure therapy for calming anxiety, stopping and preventing panic attacks, providing a comforting hug during depression; acting as a “barrier” to the outside world to dampen agoraphobia triggers; grounding to keep the mind present during fugue / dissociation (7 testimonies)
Autism Spectrum ~ corsets as deep pressure therapy specifically in context of those with ASD; especially managing anxiety, overwhelm and overstimulation (2 testimonies)
PTSD & Coping with Adversity ~ corsets as deep pressure therapy specifically in context of past trauma and hardships; improving confidence, self-advocacy; escaping abusive relationships & domestic violence; and living one’s truth (8 testimonies)
Mature Corseting ~ corsets to maintain a youthful posture, figure & gait; manage menopause symptoms; protect osteoporotic spine, hips and ribs from fractures; assist in heavy lifting; and provide support after breast cancer recovery (3 testimonies)
Corsets & Metaphysics ~ corsets & new age spirituality; corsets as acupressure and steel bones as conductive rods in Reiki practice; activation of the solar plexus chakra during meditation (2 testimonies)
Noteworthy Newspaper Clippings ~ corsets saving the lives of Victorian women who were stabbed, slashed, or shot; woman thrown from a horse onto barbed wire; woman suspended from a bridge /overpass by her laces, preventing a fatal fall (8 newspaper articles)
PotpourriLucy’s note: this is another one of my favorite chapters! ~ corsets used as a tool in stage performance; improving public speaking; balancing on motorcycles; managing intracranial hypertension (IIH) treatment; smoothing hip-dips (violin hips) caused by poorly-fitted low-rise jeans; as well as thoughts on societal views, corset stigma, bodily autonomy, feminism, and the corset community (8 testimonies)
Are there any other changes, new formats, or improvements happening in the future?
I’ve received several questions on whether Solaced is likely to be published in hardback, as an audiobook, or other formats – the answer is likely no, unfortunately. This has been a costly passion project which has yet to break even in book sales (I honestly doubt it ever will), and the only way that it was possible to release the book in paperback 5 years later has been thanks to the generous support of my patrons.
However, if this book proves to be successful and the mission of the Solaced project inspires others to continue to write in with their own true stories of how corsets have helped them therapeutically, I would be thrilled for the opportunity to make a second volume!
Where can I learn more about the history of the Corset Benefits List and Solaced Project?
Click hereif you’d like to watch my YouTube playlist going back all the way to 2011 on Corset Benefits (previously called “How Corsets Heal” but I changed it for obvious reasons).
Click here if you would like to read previous posts about the Solaced project from back in 2015-2016 when the ebook was being compiled.
Click here for the official Corset Benefits list (organized by physical benefits, emotional/psychological benefits, and societal impact of corsets).
And finally, Click here for the original About Solaced page!
Click here if you would like to follow the development of the paperback on Patreon this past year.
If you have any other questions about the book, or if you want to share your own experience with corsets, or if you’ve found a wayward typo in the book and want to submit a correction, you are more than welcome to email me at any time!
This post was inspired by an email I received a few months ago from a client who was ready to graduate from OTR to custom, and asked me how I went about choosing which corsetiere to work with (amidst the hundreds of known options). Admittedly, I’ve commissioned a lot of custom corsets — and also admittedly, I’ve made a few mistakes along the way! I thought it would be great to share some of these experiences, what I learned, and what I’d do differently in the future.
Phase 1 (2010-2011): Price
I went with the cheapest corset maker possible; those that could make custom pieces under $200. What I found with these makers is that they were not always incredibly experienced, and many were just trying to get their foot in the market — so there were often fitting issues, strength/ durability issues, communication issues, long wait times, etc.
My very first custom corset was a front-lacing piece and I discussed all my regrets around this cincher in a previous post.
My second custom piece was by Heavenly Corsets, which at first I defended (as you can see when I addressed some complaints from others about untidy seams, the bowing steels in the back, etc), but over time I had to make several alterations and corrections to this corset and ended up selling it off. Although there are some unicorns in the corset industry where you can indeed find a decent custom corset for under $200, more often than not, buying the cheapest custom corset available is a risky game.
Almost no corset maker keeps their corsets under $200 or $300 for more than a year or two – either there are “catches” to their skills or service that justifies “you get what you pay for”, or they quickly become too popular due to their competitive price and they burn out or they have to raise their prices.
Phase 2 (2012-2013): Proximity
By 2012, I had purchased three custom pieces (each under $200) and spent about $500. After continual disappointment in fit, comfort, or usability, I began to see the value in not flitting from one “cheapest” brand to the next, and instead investing in a local (but more expensive) experience corsetiere who can do it once and do it right. So I started seeking out corset makers in the Toronto area, like Totally Waisted (now Bone & Busk Couture), Starkers Corsetry, and L’Atelier de LaFleur. With each of these corsetieres, I had a different experience.
In the case of Bone & Busk Couture, I visited Kate twice — first to have a bonafide mockup fitting where Kate was able to tuck loose areas and slash tight areas, and the second time to pick up my completed corset.
With Starkers Corsetry, I actually didn’t order a custom piece, but rather I took advantage of a sample sale and went to try on the sample before I purchased (so this wasn’t exactly a commission, but more on-par with trying on a ready-to-wear corset in-store before purchasing – an experience I never had before because there were never brick-and-mortar corset shops near me).
When I visited L’Atelier de LaFleur, because Mina and I wore a similar corset size at the time, I had the unique opportunity of trying on some of her personal corset collection and design samples, and we also got to chat and sit down to an interview together. While trying in several samples isn’t exactly like a mockup fitting (in that Mina didn’t slash or tuck the corset samples, she was able to determine what to change anyway. I then came back a couple of months later after the piece was completed.
Having an in-person mockup fitting is one of THE most valuable parts of the custom process. Depending on the corsetiere, they may offer a mockup fitting, or they might have samples for you to try on (depending on the size you wear; samples tend to be on the smaller side), or possibly even both if you’re lucky – but most experienced corsetieres will offer fittings. If you have any OTR corsets, I would even recommend bringing along your best-fitting one so you can show them how your body responds to the compression of a corset and you can discuss what you’d like to change. Trying on something in the presence of the maker and letting them know that you could do an inch smaller in the waist or you’d like two inches more height in the back, while getting their expert input as well on fixing certain areas that you may not have even noticed, is all included in the extra fee — you’re not just paying for a product (the corset), you’re also paying for the fitting service and for their expert input. In my case, buying locally meant that I had to pay easily twice the price of my first few customs, but it was worth it to me (I’m lucky that the Torontonian makers here all have close to 20 years of experience, as well as they all have made therapeutic / medical corsets in the past), and I also feel good about supporting my local artists.
(Incidentally, if you’re looking for a corset maker near you, check out the free Corsetiere Map. If you live in the US or western Europe, there’s a good chance that one or several makers are within driving distance of you!)
At this point I was still looking for my “perfect” Little Black Corset, but I started experimenting with getting little embellishments here and there (because purchasing a plain black corset from 10 different makers is boring). I also realized that there are SO many different construction methods, so many patterns and silhouettes that can come from the same set of body measurements, etc. It was a very expensive period of trial and error.
Phase 3 (2013-current) Prestige/ Ingenuity:
When I was ready to buy my first custom overbust, I immediately knew I wanted to work with Sparklewren, who was one of the most esteemed corset makers at the time (and some people still believe that she may be one of the greatest corsetieres of our generation). I knew that she only took orders sporadically but I trusted her quality, I loved her shaping and embellishment, and I knew that her prices would only go up over time, so once I had saved up enough, I jumped at the opportunity to own one of her luxury pieces.
It was already by this time that I realized that there is no “perfect” way to make a corset, just different ways that are more or less suited to your tastes. If you get an absolutely “perfect” corset for your very first piece, consider yourself a lucky part of the 0.001%
How to obtain The One (perfect corset) for yourself:
If I wanted one perfect corset for myself, I wouldn’t have flitted around from one corsetiere to the next for the past nearly 10 years. That’s on me because there is a veritable buffet of wonderful artists that I’d love to discover, befriend, support, and showcase their work. But for those who need an absolutely perfect corset (for lifestyle, medical, or training purposes), these clients tend to have some things in common:
They are willing to travel (even sometimes crossing country borders) to seek out a well-reputed corsetiere whose construction methods, artistic style, communication and philosophy suit the client’s needs, aesthetic, and communication style. They often prefer to be fitted in person.
They are excessively open and clear (but polite) with their communication, expressing their likes and dislikes during mockup/sample fittings, not being vague about potential fit or comfort issues (because lack of communication means this discomfort can be overlooked and perpetuated into the final corset).
They tend to be “loyal” and build a rapport with one or two corset makers, and as their body might change with age, weight fluctuations, training, recovery of any past injuries, stabilizations of any weakness (in the case of therapeutic corsets), they express these changes and continue to buy corsets every year or few years from the same corsetiere, making small tweaks with each one.
They are patient and understand that this can still be a pricey journey. (Medical corsets can be subsidized or covered by insurance depending on the maker and the country, but it’s still an investment nonetheless.) Perfection takes time and funds.
Did you have any distinct phases, major priorities, or criteria when you were choosing a corsetiere to work with for your custom corset? What mistakes would you be willing to commit to as you grew in your corset journey? Leave a comment below!
This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: Lara Mesh Underbust (Glamorous Corset)”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here. See the quick stats in the table below the video, and my written personal opinion at the bottom!
Custom drafted to my measurements: Center front is 12.5 inches long, princess seam is 10 inches (5.5 inches from the waist up, 4.5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 11 inches and the center back is 12.5 inches long. Rib spring is 7″, hip spring is 10″. Ribs are relatively conical and brings in the floating ribs, hip very slightly curved.
Essentially one layer of open weave fishnet style fabric. Vertical panels at center front, back, and boning channels are black cotton twill.
6 panel pattern (same pattern as their other Lara underbusts in different fabrics).Panels 1-2 converge towards lower tummy, panels 3-4 give space over the hip, panel 5 has a bit of curve for both the back and hip, and panel 6 is fairly straight.
Straightforward single-layer construction; the mesh fabric is sandwiched between the boning channels to reinforce the seams and provide a place for the bones to go.
Very apparent waist tape present of the inside of the corset, 1 inch wide black grosgrain ribbon.
Bias strips of black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. Stitched in the ditch on the outside, and edge serged and stitched flat on the inside (probably to reduce bulk). Garter tabs also included.
Back modesty panel is 5.5 inches wide (covering lacing gap of about ~4 inches). Made from 2 layers of black cotton twill, unstiffened, stitched to the side (easily removable if desired). There’s also a small modesty placket in the front, also made from black cotton twill (1/4″ wide).
Standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side), 11 inches long, 5 loops and pins with the bottom two closer together for better control at the lower tummy. Adjacent spiral steels add some support.
26 bones total in this corset, 13 on each side (not including busk or modesty panel). Double boned on the seams (5 seams on each side, so 10 spiral steels on each side). There’s also the spiral bone by the busk (see my thoughts at the bottom for more on that) and two flat steels sandwiching the grommets (these are stainless steel so they’re less magnetic than mild carbon steels.
There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small/medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Unfortunately a couple of the grommets at the waistline are loose / wobbly. (See Final Thoughts for more)
The laces are your standard workhorse of the lacing world: 1/4″ wide black flat nylon shoelace-style laces, which are extremely long, with a little bit of spring or stretch, and they’re abrasion-resistant.
Price & size range
The Lara Mesh is available in sizes 18″ through 40″ and priced at $84 USD. Glamorous Corset has generously provided a discount for my followers, which you can find through this link!
The first thing that stood out to me about the Lara Mesh is that it’s a lower-price point affordable OTR open-weave mesh corset, but it manages to retain its relatively conical / straight rib silhouette. Normally in fishnet-style corsets, the wearer’s ribs push out the corset to give a rounded silhouette. This doesn’t happen with fine-weave mesh, but fine-weave is usually a less cool and breezy option. Part of the reason that this corset retains its conical silhouette (apart from the pattern, obviously) is its heavy use of double-boning channels, leaving relatively little space between the panels for the ribs to allow expansion. I surmise that the smaller the corset (i,e. the less space between the panels), the more this retaining of the conical silhouette is true — and the larger the corset, the wider the panels, and the more likely the ribs are to show some roundness. But it’s an interesting observation nonetheless!
One odd choice in construction includes the spiral steel bones adjacent to the busk – spiral bones only contribute to maintaining vertical tension (helping to reduce wrinkling or collapsing of the fabric) but they tend not to add rigidity and flatness the way flat steels do. The purpose of the busk is not only for vertical tension, but it provides quick access in and out of the corset (obviously) and also flattens the tummy in the center front. The purpose of adjacent flat steels by the busk is to further flatten the tummy, so flat steels should always be used adjacent to the busk.
It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a corset with grommet issues, but unfortunately this corset did show some wobbly grommets right at the waistline. This might be due to less fabric for the grommet to “bite” into (compared to the all-cotton or velvet Lara corsets, assuming that all corsets have the panel-6 fabric extend right to the grommet system), and the mesh fabric obviously doesn’t have much to bite into. Another possibility is simply the property of the fishnet fabric itself being more flexible and allowing distortion of the back panel. This is not a slight against the company; as my fishnet style corsets from other brands have also eventually had grommet issues. If panel 6 were made entirely cotton twill and the grommet system were reinforced perhaps with one more layer, the grommets would have less chance of pulling out. But again, I’m not personally faulting Glamorous Corset, because to my memory, all of the curvy fishnet OTR corsets I’ve owned for 3+ months, regardless of the brand, had at least one grommet pull out.
This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: Custom Silver Ribbon Cincher (Court of the Emerald Queen)”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here. See the quick stats in the table below the video, and my written personal opinion at the bottom!
Custom drafted to my measurements: Center front is 13 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches (5.5 inches from the waist up, 5.5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 10.5 inches and the center back is 13.5 inches long — longer than the average ribbon corset.
Rib spring is 7″, hip spring is 12″. Ribs are relatively conical and brings in the floating ribs, hip is more curved than usual in a ribbon cincher.
Essentially one layer of synthetic ribbon. Vertical panels at center front, side, and back are lined in black herringbone coutil.
Ribbon cinchers may be considered one of two ways: all horizontal pieces are considered a single pattern piece (in which case there are ~2 main “pattern pieces”) or you can consider every piece of ribbon its own pattern piece (in which case this corset has 14 “pattern pieces”) and the vertical ribbons don’t necessarily affect the shape.
Straightforward single-layer construction; the horizontal ribbons are sandwiched between layers of coutil in the vertical panels at the center front, side, and center back.
By default, most ribbon cinchers do not have a waist tape – however, if one single long piece of ribbon were used at the waistline (not cut into individual pieces at the seams), this would essentially function identical to a waist tape.
Instead of separate binding sewn onto the vertical panels, Urszula chose to fold under the ribbon and stitched tidily to make a kind of “self binding” and finish the raw edges. The horizontal ribbons don’t need any binding as their edges are finished.
Back modesty panel is boned and suspended on the laces, 5.5″ wide, made from two layers of black coutil. A vertical piece of ribbon runs down the center so that if the corset were worn with a >2.5 inch gap, the modesty panel would match the rest of the corset. The modesty placket in front is 3/4″ wide, made from matching ribbon, and the center front is expertly mirror-matched (a great attention to detail).
Standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side), 11 inches long, 5 loops and pins with the bottom two closer together for better control at the lower tummy. Adjacent flat steels add more rigidity.
16 bones total in this corset, 8 on each side (not including busk or modesty panel). On each side: one flat steel adjacent to the busk, 3 flat steels in the center back panel, and 4 spiral steels all butted next to one another in the side panel.
There are 28, 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 silver. They may be Prym brand 2-part eyelets, which are high quality and tend to roll nicely and not pull out.
The laces are 1/2″ wide black double-faced (DF) satin lacing. They have no spring or stretch, they are lovely and flat so they wear nicely under clothing, the satin is a bit slippery but it holds bows and knots well (if tied properly).
The price for a custom ribbon cincher from the Emerald Queen Art ranges from $170 – $250 USD, and of course since this is a custom commission, you can choose any ribbon that Urszula can source, or possibly provide your own if it’s high enough quality. You can start a custom commission by messaging Emerald Queen Art on Etsy.
I’m going to get right to the point: this is my new favorite ribbon corset. As I progress through my corset journey, I find more and more that I’m gravitating towards more lightweight, flexible, breezier corset with an expertly patterned silhouette designed for cinching while accommodating my body’s natural idiosyncrasies, instead of working against them or forcing my body into a silhouette not right for my frame. And this custom ribbon corset felt almost like a second skin the moment I put it on.
Most ribbon cinchers are somewhat U-shaped in silhouette and are not designed to accommodate any convex curves around the ribcage or dramatically wrap around a hip shelf, but Urszula (the Emerald Queen herself) has somehow discovered a way to do it.
I love how Urszula mirror matched the vertical ribbons in the center front and center back – a fantastic attention to detail. It might seem like a small thing to others, but to incorporate a modesty placket in the front (thus creating a structurally asymmetric garment on the left and right halves) but still a thoughtfully mirrored center front aesthetically requires some planning and careful placement.
One thing that I love about this corset is the flexible busk and how it plays with the pattern and silhouette of the corset itself, creating a soft inward curve at the center front while still keeping the lower tummy relatively flat. Some of you may remember my previous post on how different corsets create different silhouettes in the side-view, which many consider a feature and not a bug. While I usually like a corset with a more rigid busk and straight front, I have to admit that the profile in this corset and the slight curve in the front is both comfortable and flattering on my figure.
While the modesty panel contains plastic bones instead of steel bones, I don’t mind this — I’ve seen plastic bones in modesty panels of other corset brands (and in fact, in previous sewing tutorials, I have used plastic myself to stiffen modesty panels). The primary concern around plastic bones is that they may warp or kink when put under a strong curve on the body — but when it comes to modesty panels, they typically don’t curve on the body much at all, unless you count the gentle swoop of the lumbar curve. The biggest advantage to plastic bones in a modesty panel is that the panel can be removed and hand-washed on a regular basis without worry of the bones rusting with repeated exposure to water.
Emerald Queen Art has extremely affordable prices for custom (it’s a well-observed trend that many corsetieres in Poland tend to offer lower prices), where her custom corsets can be less than many higher-end OTR corsets. This would be a great entry-point option for someone just starting to dip their toe into the world of bespoke corsetry. You can start a custom commission by messaging Emerald Queen Art on Etsy.
Do you have a piece by The Court of the Emerald Queen? What do you think of it? Leave a comment down below!
This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: Buxom Bodice Underbust Corset (Pirate Fashions)”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Center front is 13.5 inches long, princess seam is 11.5 inches (5 inches from the waist up, 6.5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 12 inches and the center back is very high at 16.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 4″, lower hip spring is 9″ (but can be expanded to 14″ or more!). Ribs are very conical and brings in the floating ribs – this corset would fit someone with a long torso and pear shape best.
Two main layers (poly brocade fashion fabric, cotton twill lining).
6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 2,3,4 and 5 all have a little bit of ease over the hip. Panel 2 is cut very long to create the shoulder straps, and panels 4, 5, and 6 are high to create the high back. Layers were flatlined and treated as one; panels were assembled with seam allowances facing inward and topstitched. Internal boning channels were laid down on the lining side and straddle the seams. Single boned on the seams (for sizes 20″ through 32″).
One-inch-wide waist tape made from satin ribbon, exposed on the lining of the corset, secured down at each boning channel. It’s a partial-width waist tape, starting from panel 2 and extending to panel 5.
Commercially-sourced black satin bias tape, machine stitched on both sides. Also includes 6 garter loops (garters sold separately).
4 modesty panels in this corset (large one at the back, 8.5″ wide, will cover back lacing gap of at least 5 inches), front narrow modesty panel (3” wide), and two small panels to protect hips under the hip ties (widest part 4.5” wide). All of them are finished in the same black brocade fashion fabric and cotton twill lining. (See Final Thoughts for extra details.)
No busk – the front is a lacing panel, 24 grommets. (see Final Thoughts for getting into and out of this corset!)
18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Mostly single boned on the seams, and mostly flat steel bones (exception being the bones on the side seam that run over the hip). Sizes 34-40 are double boned (they have 24 bones).
There are 32, two-part size #0 grommets (16 on each side). They have a small/medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. They’ve rolled nicely and they’re not pulling out, but I don’t tightlace in this corset (it’s a gentle reduction on me). A few grommets catch on the laces (the laces get “fuzzy” but they haven’t snapped).
The laces are black round nylon cord. They have no spring or stretch, but they hold bows and knots well enough, and they are definitely long enough (almost too long!).
Available in the red, blue, green, brown, silver, and black brocade. All colorways are available in waist sizes 22″ through 38″, while the black brocade is also available in two extra sizes (20″ and 40″). The price is $139 USD for sizes 20-32 but the price goes up another $20 (up to $159 USD) for sizes 34-40, because these larger sizes are fully double boned.
The Buxom Bodice somewhat qualifies as a waistcoat corset, as it has a high back and flexible shoulder straps.
I tend to see plenty of OTR corsets that feature halter straps, but not too many that include a high back and adjustable shoulder straps that can either go straight back or be criss-crossed for varying support. The high back prevents any back squidge (“muffin top”) whatsoever, and the straps pull the shoulders back to correct posture and prevent rounding of the shoulders. If this corset has the right measurements for you, it might even be an okay support garment if you’re looking to avoid postural kyphosis, at a fraction of the price of other corsets with shoulder straps. (Of course, if you have a medical condition and you need a therapeutic brace, please ask your doctor first!)
Because this corset is so long in the waist, I wouldn’t recommend this for someone who is short of stature/ short-waisted and spends the majority of their time sitting down, as the top edge will push up and lift your bust (hence “Buxom Bodice”) and the bottom edge may hit your lap. This corset best suits those with a longer torso – and because this corset is longer from the waist down than it is from the waist up, it would especially suit someone with a high waistline / deep pelvis. It’s very narrow through the ribs while the hips can be freely expanded, so it best suits straight or pear-shaped corseters.
While the chart above mentions that the hip ties can be expanded an additional 5 inches, in reality they can be expanded a bit more than that – however the little modesty panels under the hip lacing area will not stretch across the gap. I quite like the panels under the hip ties especially, as this is a fairly unique feature. (I’ve reviewed plenty of corsets with hip ties but this is the first that features cute panels underneath to protect the hips from the grommets/laces). But these panels can be tucked back or removed with a seam ripper if you dislike them.
The biggest issue I found with this corset is the time it takes to get the corset on and off, particularly because it doesn’t have a front busk (Pirate Fashions explained that they wanted to stay true to the Piratey aesthetic). How I put this corset on:
I first loosen the laces in the back by about 8 inches.
Then I undo the lacing knot at the bottom of the center front, and unthread the laces to about waist length.
Once the front is loosened enough, I can step into the bodice and pull it up over my hips, and slip my arms through the arm holes.
I quickly rethread the front of the corset (I might skip a few grommets for speed) and tighten just enough to test that everything is sitting properly on my body. I needed several try-ons to get the straps to a comfortable snugness. (This is so much easier with another person helping!)
Once the straps are at the right length and the bodice is positioned properly, I’ll rethread the front properly (not skipping grommets), knot it off at the bottom, tighten up the front and pull it closed, and tuck the “bunny ears” up into the top edge of my corset.
Then I lace up the back like a normal corset so it’s comfortably snug.
It’s definitely a process to get into and out of, and does take longer than a busk – but it does get easier after several wears!
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not giving any identifying information about the other party in this video – this video is not about slander, I’m not going to name and shame the person, but I do want to share a cautionary tale so others learn from my mistakes.
The corset I tried to buy was What Katie Did brand, but I have never had any issue with this brand’s customer service or quality – I’ve reviewed this brand a dozen times on my channel before – their corsets have stood up over time. So there is no issue with WKD themselves.
It was a regular August afternoon, just like any other.
Each month I put up a poll on my Patreon page asking my lovely patrons which corset brand and style they want me to review next. In July there was a tie between an Etsy sample and one of the new WKD style (since they recently redesigned all their corsets).
I was about to purchase a corset directly from WKD’s site, but I decided to check some BST (buy, sell, trade) corset groups in various forums and social media pages, just in case someone posted a WKD corset in my size.
Almost serendipitously, there was someone selling their Luna waspie in my size! I messaged them right away. The price new would be £140 while this person was selling theirs for £100 plus shipping. (This is a reasonable price for a 2nd hand corset; I usually look for a savings of 60% to 75% of the original price, if it’s gently used with no damage and little signs of wear.)
I am very experienced with buying and selling lightly used corsets, so I didn’t anticipate this situation to be any different than the others.
Red Flag #1: Asking that I cover the Paypal fees.
First, the seller asked that I cover the Paypal fees. This is against Paypal’s terms of service (which I’ll explain later) but I know that this sort of this is common in these groups. So I made a mental note of this, but I thought “Whatever… adding another 3% on top of the discounted price is still a good deal.” I agreed to pay £119 total: £100 for the corset, £15 for shipping and £4 on top of that (which amounts to ~ 3% fees).
Red Flag #2: Asking additional fees after I had already paid what we agreed on.
I sent the payment through Paypal and when they received the money, they told me it wasn’t enough and wanted me to pay an additional amount on top of the fees I had already paid for. At that point I was getting a little bit suspicious, but I kept it polite and cordial – I explained that we did not agree to pay more than what we had previously discussed, so if it was going to cost more than that, I change my mind about the purchase and could they kindly give a refund. (The corset hadn’t shipped yet so it was still fair to ask this).
The seller said “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, the price is close enough,” and shipped the corset. (They said they would ship it on the 10th, but the stamp said it was not shipped until more than a week later – but this is small enough that I don’t consider it too big a red flag; after all, life gets busy sometimes.)
Red Flag #3: Overstating the value of the corset in the customs forms.
Several weeks later, I went to the post office to pick up my new corset, and was shocked to hear that I owed them $126 in taxes and duty. The reason for this is because the value stated on the parcel was (for some bizarre reason) £200, or $348 when converted. That is not what the Luna corset was even worth brand new (even with the price of shipping, VAT, any additional fees, etc, it still would not have come up to that much). This is twice the purchase price we had agreed on for the corset itself. The only reason I could think of for them overestimating the value of a parcel is if they:
a) wanted to cash in on extra money if the parcel were lost in the post (which is deceitful anyway), or
b) they might have been bitter about my refusing to pay more, and wanted me to get dinged by the post once delivered.
I had no choice but to pay the $126, but I will be contesting it because I still have the Paypal receipt for what I paid – but from what I’ve read, people do not often successfully get reimbursed when they’re overcharged duty.
Over $330 dollars later (more than I would have paid if I just bought the corset brand new), the corset is finally in my hands.
Finally, I unboxed the corset during this month’s Patreon livestream. I noted that it was very similar in its cut and construction to WKD’s old styles, but it was dark at the time so I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until the next morning that I was taking a closer look at it, that I realized it’s not the Luna corset at all.
Red Flag #4: It’s not even the right corset!!
After looking closely at some archived images and dimensions (thanks to the Wayback machine and my Corset Database), I realized that I had received the Baby waspie, one of their WKD’d old styles, which I have already reviewed in the past.
The measurements match the Baby, and does not match the stated measurements for the Luna.
It has a 3-pin busk (like the Baby) instead of a 4-pin busk (like the Luna).
It is single boned on the seams, with external boning channels, like the Baby (the Luna has sandwiched double bones).
It has an attached modesty panel like the Baby corset (the Luna does not come with a modesty panel, but a floating panel can be purchased separately).
The hardware, like the busk width/ quality and the grommets are all old-style, whereas they’ve changed their hardware sources for the Luna.
Normally I prefer to assume the best in others – what if this person purchased the corset in WKD’s shop, and they thought it was the Luna corset but they were mistaken? Maybe they couldn’t tell the difference. But then again, the Baby corset has been discontinued for well over a year now.
I also know that in some buy/sell/trade groups, some people will buy out dresses or products in side-walk sales, clearance racks, and liquidation events for up to 80% off, and then re-sell those items in Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for profit. (Oftentimes Facebook marketplace allows this – this type of resale of clothing is technically not illegal). Could this seller have done the same in this situation, snapping up a Baby corset at deep discount and selling it for more?
There was technically only one way to find out: I messaged the seller.
Red Flag #5: No response / ignored by the seller.
Again, I tried the sugar approach – I told them that the corset arrived safely, thanked them for the prompt shipping, but mentioned that I noticed that it’s not the Luna corset as advertised, it’s the discontinued Baby corset instead. I noted the evidence of the corset being the Baby and not the Luna (old hardware, old measurements, old construction). I asked them around what timeframe they had purchased this corset. I kept it cordial and asked a clear question, allowing them space to answer, or even give some kind of excuse.
My message was read just a few minutes later, but they never responded.
So, over $330 later, I have a corset that is… wearable (it’s functional!), but it’s not what was advertised and it’s useless for a review. However, I could (and I’m tempted to) re-review this corset out of spite, so that my money wouldn’t be a total waist waste. The last time I reviewed the Baby corset, it was 2011 and I hadn’t yet established my systematic order of doing reviews – so if you want me to review this corset again, comment below and I can do so – but I don’t know who it’s going to serve because this style is not available for purchase (unless you want to buy this corset off me, so I can get a bit of my money back).
I thought I was a savvy and seasoned corset shopper, but even I messed up this time.
So, what should have been done differently?
Here are some tips for buyers so you can avoid getting scammed in these BST groups (and sellers, so you can learn to play by the rules properly):
The seller should never ask the buyer to cover Paypal / bank fees. It is a common occurrence in buy/sell/trade groups, but you have to know that this is against their terms of service. If they catch you, they could terminate your account without warning or appeal. If you’re a seller and you hate the idea of losing $3-4 on your $100 corset, you can inflate your sales price (e.g. $105 instead of $100), and it’s up to the buyer if they want to meet your price. But you cannot specifically demand that others cover a sales fee.
Send your payment as “goods and services”. The seller should not specifically ask or demand that you send payment as a family or friend (unless the seller really is family / friend and you trust them a lot). If you send money as a friend, then as far as the system is concerned, you are sending a loved one a monetary gift, and there is no buyer protection – so if your parcel gets lost in the mail or if the seller doesn’t ship anything, you’re not able to easily dispute it.
When you’re sending payment, there is usually a box to write comments – spend the extra 30 seconds or a minute to fill it out with the details of your purchase. Break down the cost for each part – for instance, write, “Hello [seller’s name], here is $80 for the [brand, style name, color, size] dress, plus $10 for shipping.” Sellers: if you are sending an invoice, you can break down the price like this too – so you have absolute proof of what you agreed on, in case you need to contest the value, or you accidentally received something different.
If you are selling and shipping an item, state the purchase price of that item on the parcel as the value, no more, no less. Don’t include the shipping fee in the value of the item. Don’t include the tax of the item (if you’re shipping to a different country, that international customer DOES NOT pay state/federal taxes!). Buyers, DO NOT ask a seller to declare the value of a parcel as less than it is (like stating that a $100 item is only $10 or something) because that’s illegal, and the highest penalty for that could be tax fraud. But there are also problems with stating the value as too much – like the government charging too much duty.
Do save the listing of an independent seller and compare it with the original listing on the brand’s website. Screencap the listing if necessary, and compare both the pictures and the descriptions, side by side. Count the busk pins if it’s a corset. Ask for more info if the listing is sparse. Ask for close-up photos if none are provided in the listing (especially if there’s any damage declared). (In my case, the listing was removed before I could save it, but I do have FB messenger evidence.)
If you doubt the label/ brand of the corset, ask for photo evidence. In my case, I received a real WKD corset (not a knockoff), but if you have doubts about whether someone might be selling a knockoff of a certain dress or design, ask for a photo of the label. Ask the seller to include a post-it note with your name or the date written on it, stuck beside the designer label so you know that the seller didn’t just swipe a picture of the label off the internet and send it to you.
What do you think – rookie seller mistake, or scam? What other tips would you include to avoid getting scammed? Leave a comment down below!
Hey everyone! I’m creating this in the middle of a heat wave, it’s a humidex of 40°C here or (~105°F) and I realized that I hadn’t really made a video solely dedicated on preventing overheating while waist training. (Despite my Caribbean heritage, I’m actually a bit heat intolerant so I have to be extra careful not to get heat exhaustion, so I have plenty of experience with trying to stay cool in the summer.)
When you’re wearing a corset, you have several extra layers of fabric around your core, holding heat in — so it’s all the more important to stay cool and hydrated.
I will make another video in the future on tips for wearing corsets as part of your cosplay, but for now, let’s jump into my 3 tips for keeping cool in general, whether you’re wearing your corset over or under your clothes:
1: Invest in a mesh or ventilated corset
Choose a corset that’s thinner or more breathable. Mesh corsets are the first and obvious choice that comes to mind, but they have their pros and cons. I have a whole other post dedicated to comparing mesh corsets here. Mesh corsets are more thin and breezy, which allows heat and sweat to escape — but they usually don’t have the longevity of an all-cotton corset.
Victorian corsets were often made from a single layer of strong cotton, which you can do as well. Upon the resurgence of the corset’s popularity in the last ~10 years, single-layer corsets used to relatively unpopular because they seemed a bit flimsy compared to the “4-5 layer super-duper heavy-duty training corsets” that certain OTR corsets were touting as higher quality — and subsequently, this formed the misconception that fewer layers meant less strength — but it makes more sense that a single layer of good quality coutil is more breathable, and also stronger/ less resistant to stretching out compared to 3 layers of cheap elastic satin, for instance. and as the community of waist trainers has grown in recent years, including many who train throughout the year and some who live in hotter climates year-round, I think the demand for thinner and more lightweight corsets has grown.
Victorians also had mesh and ventilated corsets to help keep themselves cooler (despite the several layers overtop). Lace Embrace Atelier makes recreations of mesh and skeleton corsets, as well as corsets made from cute cotton eyelet fabric.
Narrowed Visions also has recreated 1895 ventilated corset below which looks gorgeous. (I had experimented with making my own skeleton corset, which came out hideous but it was a good learning experience that later led to my sports mesh corset.)
2: Stay hydrated.
It’s probably obvious, but it’s too important to leave out. Even if you don’t think you’re sweating under your corset — believe me, you are. Even if you’re in an air-conditioned building (and air conditioned spaces tend to have dry air), still take in water. But especially if you’re out and about, bring a water bottle and sip it every half hour at minimum, and do not down it all at once. Because if you feel dehydrated and nauseated, and then you chug a pint of water all at once, you’re probably going to feel even more sick. If you’re sweating profusely, you’re also losing salt, so put a pinch of salt or an electrolyte mix in your water bottle and sip frequently.
If you have a tendency to overheat, one amazing thing that was recommended to me was a bodice cooler or bodice chiller. It’s essentially a metal vial that you put in the freezer in advance and stick it in your cleavage or down the front of your corset to keep you cool. This works better with overbust corsets than underbust, because most overbusts leave you a bit of space between the breasts and at the sternum, whereas underbusts tend to fit more flush around the ribs.
Now, these are surprisingly difficult to find. Sometimes they are sold at Renfaires, they can be made from metal or glass — I’d personally be afraid of putting glass that close to my solar plexus (but if it’s designed to go from hot to cold frequently, then most likely it will be tempered glass that’s resistant to shattering). I’ve found one on Etsy here made from stainless steel — it’s available in several different colors and designs, and best of all it’s $20 USD which is much less than you’ll find at most Renaissance Faires.
If you can’t find a bodice chiller nearby, you could also get one of those long stainless steel chillers designed for beer or wine. I have actually not bought a bodice chiller yet, but what I have done is take small freezies or ice pops, wrap it in a paper towel so the plastic doesn’t risk cutting me (and the paper towel also catches condensation and prevents frostnip), and the best part is that they’re easy to find and only cost ~20 cents each. Since they’re sealed, you can pop them back in the freezer when you’re done — but let’s be honest, I usually end up eating them.
What did the Victorians do to keep cool?
While Victorians didn’t have air conditioning (currently my best friend), they did have ventilated, mesh, or skeleton corsets as mentioned above — other ways that Victorians kept cool was by using fans and carrying parasols to shade themselves from the sun. There are patents dating back to the 1800s showing that they even had ceiling fans in some areas, although they worked using a spring and crank, and were usually operated by slaves / servants (another reason why we can feel better about modern air conditioning). Lastly, Victorian women also had summer dresses made from lightweight cotton and linen, which despite wearing multiple layers can sometimes still be cooler than modern synthetic fabrics.
Ready to buy a mesh or a lightweight summer corset? Hey, I’ve got them corsets in my shop! Support this blog and stay cool this summer at the same time.
This entry is a summary of the review for the “Axfords Peach Vintage Overbust (C140) Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Full bust: 31 inches (79 cm) (bust spring of 9 inches)
Closed waist: 22 inches (56 cm)
Low hip: 35 inches (89 cm) (hip spring of 13 inches)
Length: 14.5 inches in front and side. 8 inches are from the waist up, 6.5 from the waist down.
Silhouette is conical through the bust/ribs, rounded through the hips due to the hip gores.
Cut relatively straight across at the top, and “scalloped” on the bottom between the attached garters.
Two main layers: the fashion fabric is peach satin (rayon viscose / cotton blend), the lining is 100% cotton in a lightweight but dense canvas weave – the grain looks to be quite straight.
8-panel pattern (16 panels total): On each side, 6 of the panels are full length (and the 1st and 2nd taper slightly towards the lower tummy), while two large hip gores on each side contribute to the fullness and roundness of the hip.
Construction: fashion fabric and coutil were flatlined, Panels assembled with a topstitch, seam allowances facing inward. Herringbone twill tape was laid down on the inside to cover seam allowances, provide channels for the boning, and reinforce the seams.
Skinny peach grosgrain ribbon which matches the peach fashion fabric very well; neatly applied (no fold-under as the edges are already finished).
13 inches long, wide heavy-duty stainless steel busk (1 inch wide on each side). 6 loops and pins; the last two are a bit closer together.
14 bones (not including busk). Single-boned on the seams with 1/4″ spirals (attracts magnet well); and contains 1/4″ flat steels along the back by the eyelets.
42 two-part tiny eyelets, probable size #X00 (smaller than standard; reminiscent of antique corsets), with very small flange. All have rolled nicely, no splits; washers present on the underside. They are placed 3/4″ apart (relatively close together) which allows for good control while lacing up.
1/8″ wide (made of 44% cotton and 56% polyester) white flat lacing – “workhorse laces” with no stretch and plenty of strength. Just wide enough to fit through the eyelets easily.
£160 GBP (around $217 USD) for a made-to-order corset in your choice of fabric.
Other Thoughts and Observations:
Axfords is a corset brand from Brighton, UK. They are one of the oldest corset companies in the world, having been in business since 1880.
Many of their overbust patterns are the same patterns from antique corsets in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and some of their methods (lack of waist tape, lack of modesty panel, copious tiny eyelets, very lightweight construction) are also reminiscent of the way many corsets were constructed during the late Victorian / early Edwardian periods.
Axfords offered me a new sample for review, and because I have a long torso, I had asked Axfords to send the longest overbust style they currently make. At 14.5 inches, it is definitely a better fit lengthwise for me compared to my previous review, but much of that length ended up being from the waist down: this corset is designed to extend a bit beyond the lap level; the bones are deliberately shorter and pushed towards the top, to allow the fabric at the bottom to bend at the hip and allow you to sit comfortably.
The circumferential measurements unfortunately weren’t a perfect fit for my body, but this corset wasn’t made-to-measure so it would be unfair to expect this corset to fit like a custom-fit or bespoke piece. I can see this corset working fantastically with someone who has a more ‘pear-shaped’ figure: someone who has broader hips than mine, but a smaller bust or more narrow back.
Michael from Axfords mentions that all their in-stock satin is made and processed to their specifications (dyed to the perfect shade and reinforced for extra strength). I remember when I reviewed some of their other corsets over 6 years ago, I was very surprised to see that they chose to use a lightweight cotton canvas as a strength / lining fabric. However, since then I’ve come to realize that a few other brands (namely Dark Garden in the US) also use a dense-weave canvas, and this seems to work fine as long as it is carefully cut on grain (which this is).
There are other details about this corset: 2-inch wide frilly white floral lace covers the top and bottom edges of the corset, and along the bottom there are 6 wide, white elastic suspenders (garter straps) directly attached to the corset. These have a good amount of spring and contain high quality metal hardware.
There are also a few tiny, delicate-looking white satin bows along the top and bottom lace.
This corset might be the frilliest, most feminine corset I’ve reviewed to date – it reminds me of a frothy sherbet punch! But as each of their corsets are made to order, you can choose the color and even order the corset without lace, if you prefer.
This week is part “story time”, part “Physical Effects of Corseting”, and hopefully an opportunity for others to learn from my early mistakes.
In early 2010 I purchased my first custom corset, which also happened to be a front-lacing corset – but these days, I would not recommend a front-lacing corset for higher reductions (tightlacing more than 6 inches) or daily waist training, and this post will explain why.
Why I chose a front-lacing corset for waist training in the first place:
In 2010 I was still in school which required copious time sitting in class, and I figured that if a corset has no laces in the back, then there wouldn’t be an annoying lump in the back when I’m resting against a hard plastic flat-backed chair.
I also figured thatif I were to wear a corset in my sleep, a front-lacing corset might be more comfortable to sleep in since there wouldn’t be a knot at my back. I could fall asleep comfortably on my back, and if I ever needed to tighten or loosen the laces throughout the night, I could continue lying down on my back and easily reach in front of me to loosen the laces a bit – this (I figured) would disrupt my sleep less, as I wouldn’t have to sit up or get out of bed to adjust laces behind me.
Even though I was able to lace a back-lacing corset pretty well (since I had ‘normal’ back-lacing OTR corsets and homemade corsets for several years already), I had to admit that it was a pretty attractive idea at the time to not have to twist my neck to see what I’m doing in the mirror, and not have to twist my arms behind my back to lace up my corset every morning: a front lacing corset felt very intuitive; I didn’t even have to open my eyes to just tighten my corset in the morning and start my day.
I was also dealing with anxiety back in 2010 for several reasons (performing well in school, living so far away from family, dealing with a difficult relationship, etc.) and I figured if I ever had a sudden panic attack or began to feel claustrophobic, it would be easier and faster to cut myself out of a front-lacing corset. I also worked in a microbiology lab at the time so I was constantly around open flames and caustic reagents – and even though many lab coats have a fire-resistant coating, I figured that if there were ever a fire or if I ever spilled something on myself and needed to disrobe quickly, then – again – cutting the laces from the front would be faster and easier.
Admittedly, I was also attracted to the novelty / rarity of a front-lacing corset: I had seldom seen anyone else commissioning one – and I wondered why, because it seemed like the greatest idea at the time.
As it turned out, I was just reinventing the wheel – if front-lacing corsets were so functional and comfortable for everyone, they would have caught on long ago and survived through the centuries. It was after around 6 months of consistently training with this corset that I realized that a front-lacing corset is not as practical as I had hoped.
At first I blamed myself and my body… “Why had my waist training progress halted? Why am I experiencing discomfort when I feel that I was going about my training in a responsible way, and I had a made-to-measure corset? What was I doing wrong? Is my body just not made for corseting?”
It was only when I decided to stop training for a short time, let my body rest, and then start my training anew with a new custom fit corset with back lacing, that I realized that the issue was with the tool I was using, rather than my waist training technique per se.
Why I Don’t Recommend Front-Lacing Corsets for Tightlacing or Waist Training:
This post is not to bash the maker of my first custom corset – they were an engineer who made corsets in their spare time, and they discontinued shortly after my commission. My inexperience in ordering custom corsets combined with their inexperience with waist training at high reductions. The corset construction was strong and durable, and it gave a beautiful silhouette – however, although it matched my measurements, it did not fit my body for several reasons which could not be predicted by the numbers alone. This is one distinction between a made-to-measure corset and a truly custom corset that includes a mockup fitting.
If I remember correctly, my front-lacing corset was spiral boned all the way around the corset (with exception to the center front by the laces). This means it also included fine spirals in the center back – which I thought I would love for the flexibility, but the corset ended up being slightly too curved in the back for me. It was trying to create curve where my spine normally is, so I felt a band of pressure on the vertebra that was directly under the waistline of the corset – this led to a bit of lumbar pain when I laced down too much, and (where many corsets have the opposite problem of being too straight in the back) the front-lacing corset created an unnatural swayback in my posture while I was wearing it. The profile view in the corset was lovely, but it was not comfortable or healthy for me.
Also, this corset was conical in silhouette as I was interested in training my floating ribs at the time. instead of placing pressure in the front “tips” of my floating ribs, my front-lacing corset placed more pressure on the back of my ribs – imagine trying to close a door by pushing on it close to the hinge instead of near the doorknob. The torque just didn’t feel right. It felt like too much force with little efficacy,resulting in “hot spots”. (Now, if your body is a little larger and your corset affects mostly the adipose over your abdomen and doesn’t affect the placement of you ribs, you might not notice the difference in how the pressure is placed, but at the time I personally felt the pressure on my ribs).
The curve in the back and the pressure on my ribs could possibly have been eliminated if the pattern were improved and the construction slightly changed – perhaps taking out some of the curve at the back seam, installing flat steels instead of spirals, and making the ribs more rounded – but at the moment, this is not something I’m keen to experiment with – because there are other issues with front-lacing corsets, which I’ll continue below.
I also felt that more pressure was placed on my retroperitoneal cavity and kind of pushed my flesh forward, which is not a great idea. One big reason why traditional back lacing corsets work (and this is explained in further detail in my Corsets and Organs article) is because the majority of the pressure is on the peritoneal cavity which primarily consists of hollow organs, like the stomach and intestines. These are not solid organs (although they contain food, waste and air) and they are designed to move. They can also compress and flatten out of the way, like during yoga or pregnancy. As long as you have soft stools and good peristalsis, and as long as you take your time lacing down slowly, digestion and elimination should not normally be adversely affected.
One thing that would have made my front-lacing corset better would be if it included a modesty panel to support my abdomen where the lacing gap left no support. Alas, my corset didn’t come with one. Back in 2010, at the time I thought I would be okay because the bones sandwiching the grommets were flat steel – but I quickly learned that I needed more support, especially I was dealing with large waist reductions (my natural waist was around 28 inches and my corset was a size 20, worn with about a 1.5 inch gap in the front). I ended up having to make a separate boned modesty panel myself to help support my abdomen, avoid bulging and keep it flat.
Another reason why a front-lacing corset is not the best for me: as it turns out, I prefer to sleep on my stomach! I always start out falling asleep on my back, but more often than not I wake up on my front. However, having a big knot / bow in the front is uncomfortable to lie on (rather than “princess and the pea”, it was more like a mess of laces which felt more like the size of a tennis ball on my abdomen when I laid flat on it).
Under What Circumstances Would I Recommend a Front-Lacing Corset?
If it’s a waist training corset that you’ll be wearing for long periods of time, I think a back lacing corset would be more appropriate – it provides the proper support and compression from the front of the body and not the back. I would not recommend a front-lacing corset here.
Same if you’re tightlacing, or lacing down 6, 7, 8 or more inches – it will likely be more comfortable if you have a back lacing corset, not a front-lacing one.
If you’re using a light reduction corset, say not more than 2-4 inches of waist reduction, for medical purposes or posture support, a front-lacing corset might be okay.
If you have an abdominal hernia, especially an umbilical hernia, I would never recommend having a front-lacing corset.
If you have mobility issues in your shoulders or strength issues and you are unable to lace up a corset in the back, then front-lacing is a reasonable option for light reductions (as mentioned before) but also, a fan-lacing corset might be an option for you.
A corset that is laced in both front AND back is better because you’re able pull in the front by two inches, then pull in the back by two inches, and keep alternating so that you’re bringing in both sides of the corset laterally (placing pressure pretty evenly on either side of the body), without creating any weird torque at the back of the body. Just remember that if the front of your corset has a lacing gap, it’s best to have a stiffened or boned modesty panel to support the abdomen.
Later on, I plan to make a video on fan-laced corsets, what they’re good for (and what they’re not good for), and pehraps a tutorial on how to convert a regular laced OTR corset into a fan lacing corset, if I have the time.
I’m also talking with a friend on making a collab video with helpful info on how to put on and take off a corset, whether you use a wheelchair or have issues with strength or mobility. This is still in the early planning stages, but I hope to share more with you later.
Again – hopefully my loss is your gain, and you can learn from my mistakes so you have a more comfortable corseting experience. Let me know in a comment whether you’d like to see those upcoming videos, and leave a question below if I’ve forgotten anything or if you’d like to know more about any other details of my front-lacing corset.
The ads below contain affiliate links. If you click through the pictures and you happen to like and purchase anything, you are helping to keep LucyCorsetry online. :)
Lucy’s Amazon Picks