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How to Talk to your Doctor about Corsets

Lucy, I have discovered that corsets help greatly with my medical condition – but I’m hesitant to tell my doctor. How should I approach my physician with this information, and how can I convince my insurance provider to cover the cost of a therapeutic corset?

I’ve been receiving this question more frequently ever since my book Solaced was published, since the book covers many people’s true first-hand experiences of how they use their corsets not for vanity, but rather for medical purposes – like back support, pain relief, and anxiety reduction.

I’m not a doctor – I don’t have a medical license so I can’t give out medical advice. The book doesn’t violate this point, but of course, in the book and here on my site as well, I provide disclaimers that if you intend to wear corsets, it’s best to check with your doctor. Up until today however, I haven’t covered in detail how exactly I went about telling my own doctor (and chiropractor).

I understand that many people are shy or apprehensive about bringing it up with their doctor, but I must stress that it’s best for you to be open with your doctor about it, for better or for worse. Asking me for my opinion on whether you should or should not wear corsets is not that useful, because I have never met you – but if you have a family physician, they’re familiar with your long-term medical history. And just like your pharmacist would be able to tell you not to combine two different medications, your doctor might notice something in your medical history that might be incompatible with corseting (e.g. high blood pressure, inguinal hernia, gall stones).

 

Medical Professionals are People Too


Coming from a science background, I have several friends who have gone on to become doctors and nurses. Subsequently, I get to hear a lot of stories about their more interesting shifts, and believe me when I say that they’ve seen some pretty disgusting things. I honestly don’t think you mentioning that you wear corsets is going to particularly shock or faze them. In fact, there’s a surprising number of nurses who use corsets at work, to help support their backs while lifting patients. See the news segment below which features a nurse that wears a custom Starkers corset under her scrubs.

(All this said, if you work in an environment where there are potentially emergency situations where you need to spring into action, you will need to weigh the pros and cons yourself as to whether the corset would help with your strength vs hinder your mobility).

Remember that a (good) doctor’s office is a judgement-free zone. No matter what you show them, they’ve probably seen much worse. Smoking tobacco is almost universally seen as bad for your health, but you wouldn’t hide your smoking habit from your doctor. If you caught an STI, you would show your doctor. I don’t believe that corsets are as detrimental as cigarettes or STIs, even if they are considered by society as more controversial (that’s a post for another day) – but the point is that you should never be ashamed or afraid of bringing up anything with your doctor.

Also remember that all doctors are different, and different doctors may be more or less familiar with corsets depending on their location, their age, and what kinds of ‘side stories’ they learned from their professors in med school. A doctor from California has likely encountered patients wearing corsets more often than a doctor from Ohio. An elderly doctor who has childhood memories of their mother wearing corsets may have a different opinion about corsets than a younger doctor might, whose only exposure to corsets has been the sensationalistic social media posts on tightlacing.

 

How did I bring up the fact that I wear corsets with my doctor?


When I brought it up with my family doctor, and also my chiropractor, I did it as clearly and directly as possible. The first time I mentioned corsets to my family doctor, she seemed bored and was wondering why I was bringing it up in the first place. When you mention a corset to someone who’s unfamiliar, they might be thinking of flimsy lace bustiers, or perhaps latex or neoprene cinchers. (One person thought I was talking about floral corsages!) So the next time I had an appointment with my doctor, I brought one of my corsets in.

I showed them “THIS is exactly what I’m talking about, THIS is how it works. It has breathable material, it can be adjusted with laces, it has flexible steels, it’s rigid in these places, it presses on these areas of my body, it gives me this posture, etc.” That way, there was no miscommunication.

This isn’t my xray, but it looked very similar to this. Normally my neck is slightly lordotic (normal) but in this particular corset, my posture completely changed. Photo: e-Health Hall.

My chiropractor saw me lace into my corset, and took X-rays of my posture with and without my corsets. From that experience I learned that although I love the look of Edwardian inspired, flat-front longline corsets, they’re not the best for my posture and can lead to neck and shoulder strain over time. Longline, flat front corsets overcorrect my posture and give me an anterior (forward) tilting pelvis. This gives an exaggerated lumbar lordosis – not quite as dramatic as that associated with S-bend corsets, but it changed my posture all the same. This posture encouraged me to throw my shoulders back to counterbalance, and my head ended up popping forward too much, giving my neck a kyphotic curve. The hip bone’s connected to the… neck bone! (Abbreviated version of the song.) So, we learned that if I want to avoid neck and shoulder strain, I would need a corset that doesn’t tilt my pelvis and supports a more neutral posture.

 

In Sum:


If you have a G.P., a chiropractor, or some other health practitioner that you know and trust, I think it is in your best interest to tell them about your corseting for any reason – but especially if you are using it for therapeutic applications. Doctors need as much detail as possible to fully understand the situation help you the best they can, so the best way to approach your doctor is a directly and clearly as possible. They might be able to make suggestions about the way you’re wearing your corset to maximize comfort and minimize risks. For instance the tightness, or the duration, etc. (Or in my case, the type of corset to help improve but not overcorrect my posture).

Regarding convincing your insurance provider to cover the costs of a corset, unfortunately that is not my area of expertise. You will likely need a written note from your doctor in order to move forward, even a prescription for a custom corset (preferably one made by a corsetiere with some experience in orthopedics or medical devices). Your doctor may be able to give you more instruction on what to do next, and if the corsetiere is experienced in working with insurance companies already, they may be able to provide advice as well.

 

Have you told your doctor about your corsets? How did you tell them, and how did they respond? Leave a comment below!

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Reflecting on 2016, Looking to 2017

Every year I write a personal post about the accomplishments and challenges of the year, and what I look forward to next year. You’re welcome to read the reflections from 20152014, 2013, and 2012.

This year I felt much less productive than usual; nevertheless, I did manage to accomplish more than half of my goals:

February 2016


The old Lucy’s Corsetry site (courtesy of The Wayback Machine)

My redesigned website was launched in late February, creating a cleaner, less cluttered and more streamlined experience. Additionally, my Corset shop has become easier to navigate and more products added, including the Gemini corsets (see below!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2016


Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)

Solaced: 101 Uplifting Narratives About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope  – my first kindle book was published on Amazon. This was a labor of love; I personally invested over $6000 into this project and poured over nearly 2000 contributor’s stories, narrowing them down to the main 100 stories (plus my own). This has been a huge joint effort and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make this book a reality! In the future, there may be a sister compilation focused exclusively on how corset makers stumbled upon this industry, and why they decided to dedicate their livelihoods to the craft.

Also in May, I joyfully witnessed my high school best friend get married! Unexpectedly, I also stumbled upon love that day. After 10 years of hearing zany stories about the bride’s crew from undergrad, one of them eventually gathered the courage to ask me out. (The bride was pleased!) (And so was I!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2016


NEW: GEMINI Corsets!

Through late September and well into October, I unfortunately suffered a bad flare-up in my neck (likely related to my car accident two years prior) which left me in excruciating pain. I spent much of this time lying flat on my back on the floor with no pillow, as it was the only way I could relieve the pain. This put a damper on my productivity as I was hoping to catch up on old blog posts and Youtube videos during this time.

Despite the setback, October saw the release of the Timeless Trends Gemini corsets! This was my exclusive line that I’ve been slowly working on since June 2015 on my Thailand trip. For the first run we decided on two neutral colors and natural fibers: the black cashmere and the creme cotton. In 2017, we plan to introduce the Gemini in more colorways and fabrics.

Also in late October, I did away with my office chair and invested in a treadmill desk (I will be making a video about this very soon!). Despite my doubts, I have seen a huge change in my body in a short amount of time thanks to walking slowly 4-6 hours a day. I lost 25 lbs in two months (combining my walking with a sensible nutrition plan – treating myself as my own nutrition client), my sciatica and the crepitus in my knees are almost completely resolved, I’m more awake and alert throughout the day, my back has strengthened and my shoulders are less tense, and my Winter Blues has been much, much better than it has been in previous years. Although it was a huge investment, it’s been one of the wisest things I’ve done for my health and well-being – ever.

 

November 2016


Selfie on my graduation day. Dress is the Monica by PUG.

After handing in my final project and completing my board exams at the end of August, a very exhausted/burnt-out/happy Lucy finally walked the stage, graduating as a registered nutritionist at the top of my class with an average of 94%. I’m currently working to relaunch my vlog channel for those who are looking to supplement their waist training regime with a personalized nutrition plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plans for 2017


Solaced in Paperback – While I was hoping that this would have been done before Christmas, unfortunately plans fell through with both the person I was working with for the internal layout, and also with the photographers I was consulting with. The perfectionist in me may never be satisfied with the final version of the paperback, but I know that so many people are waiting – so this will be a priority over the next coming months.

New Ebook Coming – Consultations have been on indefinite hiatus through 2016, as I’m currently working on an Ebook that answers 90% of questions covered in my previous consultations. This buyer’s guide and beginner’s manual means to empower the reader to navigate through the industry and find the corsetiere that perfectly matches their aesthetic, their physiological needs and their training goals. I’m updating and adding information that I’ve never included in videos or blog posts before, such as identifying higher quality corsets from the knockoffs, as well as scoring awesome designer corsets second-hand. When this Ebook is completed (I’m looking to launch in late spring/ early summer again), consultations may resume, but in a different format.

More Corset Designs – After the success of the Gemini line, Timeless Trends has invited me to create more designs with them over 2017. This is very exciting! I already have ideas for at least 5 more corsets that cater to “neglected body types”. My hope is to have at least 2-3 of these cuts released in 2017. Previously, the hourglass and Gemini corsets were developed and graded all by hand. This year I’m starting off on the right foot by upgrading my skills and taking some CAD courses so I can easily draft and grade corset patterns digitally.

More Videos – in 2015 and 2016, I had the goal to create at least 60 Youtube videos. I achieved that in 2015, but unfortunately with finishing school, publishing a book, and creating a new corset line, my videos fell by the wayside and I only made 26 videos on my corset channel, plus 2 on my vlog channel. However, this coming year my goal is to consistently upload 1 video per week (52 videos) across my two channels. If I happen to make more than this, I’ll consider it a bonus! I have more Physical Effects of Corseting videos planned, as well as reviews of couture corsets made from independent corsetieres, as well as some sewing and repair videos planned for this year. Making Youtube videos was my passion, and I’m excited to get back into filming!

Nutrition Business – I’m keeping this a secret for now, but just know that it’s coming. ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, everyone!
Do you have any resolutions, dreams, or business goals for the coming year? Let me know in a comment below!

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Corsets-UK ‘Instant Shape’ Classic Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video for the “Instant Shape Classic Underbust” with subtle piping detail, by Corsets-UK. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 10 inches long, princess seam is 9 inches, and the center back is 10 inches long. (Fits a bit short on my long torso and low waist.)
Rib spring is 2.5″, hip spring is 8″. Modern slim silhouette (see Final Thoughts below).
Material The fashion fabric is navy blue satin which is a blend of polyester, cotton and elastane. I found the elastane part interesting – was it just a fabric on hand, or was it chosen to reduce wrinkling? The corset does not stretch on my body because it has a lining of 100% black cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (14 panels total). The layers were flatlined and panels were assembled with subtle matching piping at each seam. Boning channels cover the seam allowances on the lining side.
Waist tape None. (Not recommended for high reductions or waist training – see Final Thoughts below.)
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching blue satin. Machine stitched on both sides on a single pass (likely using a specialized binding attachment on the sewing machine). 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers (blue satin on the outside and black twill on the inside). 7″ wide and unstiffened. It’s sewn into the corset (covered by a boning channel) so it cannot be easily removed unless you take scissors and cut it.
There’s also a narrow blue satin modesty placket extending from underneath knob side of the busk.
Busk 9.75” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side), normal stiffness.
Boning 14 bones total in this corset, 7 on each side. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. There are also two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets on each side.
Grommets There are 20, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. Most of the grommets are finished in silver, but (oddly) the grommets at the waistline are gunmetal grey (probably done deliberately). Some of the grommets have shifted laterally, but none pulling out of the fabric.
Laces The laces are 3/8” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style, finished in black. I find them to be long enough, and they hold bows and knots well. A little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness goes away over time.
Price Corsets-UK decided not to size these corsets with traditional corset sizes (waist size in inches) but rather, recommends you choose your street clothes size (like US 6 or UK 10). This corset is available in UK sizes 6 up to 24.
£49 GBP on Corsets UK, or $75 on Corset Story.

 

Final Thoughts:

‘Instant Shape’ Classic underbust, by Corset Story (Corsets-UK) ($75 USD or £49 GBP)

It’s been several years since I reviewed any piece from Corsets-UK, because I had purchased about 10 of them in the past (between the years of 2010 and 2012) and I was not the most thrilled with their quality. The company approached me in the summer of 2016, letting me know that they have been working hard on creating new curvier designs, with better quality materials, and asked if I would be willing to try a couple of their pieces in exchange for personal feedback. I agreed, and I was surprised to see how much their products had changed over the years. While it was not in the original agreement to review this corset (and the other two coming up soon) publicly, I did ask them if it was alright to share the review with my viewers / readers, bearing in mind that it will be a balanced review where I mention the good points and the room for improvement. They agreed, so here we are.

Corsets-UK’s ‘Instant Shape’ corsets are designed to be a bit less curvaceous than their ‘Waist Taming’ line that I reviewed last week. Their website states that it is designed for more gentle waist reductions (perhaps 2 inches or so in the waist), and it’s not designed for waist training. Because it has gentle sloping hips and a modern slim silhouette, I would recommend that if you are naturally curvy, opt for a curvier style corset.

The grommets of this corset were not pulling out the same way that they were in the ‘Waist Taming’ Corsets-UK review, but this may have to do with the fact that this corset is less curvy and is not designed for high reductions. One subtle feature that I found interesting though, is that this corset (and also the ivory overbust I reviewed from the ‘Instant Shape’ line) is that most of the grommets are silver, while just the four at the waistline (where the bunny ears come through) were deliberately a darker silver, closer to pewter or gunmetal grey. I would have thought this was a mistake, if it hadn’t been consistent in both of my ‘Instant Shape’ corsets. Whether it was done by the factory so the person lacing the corset would lace it properly, or whether it was done for the consumer in case they wanted to change the laces, I’m not sure – but it was interesting to notice, and the difference in color isn’t too conspicuous from far away.

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Corsets-UK ‘Instant Shape’ Ivory Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video for the “Instant Shape Ivory Overbust” with floral trim and quilted hip detail by Corsets-UK. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 14 inches long, princess seam is 15.5 inches, the side seam 13 inches and the center back is 14 inches long. (Fits a bit short on my long torso and low waist.)
Bust spring is 8″, rib spring is 2″, hip spring is 8″. Modern slim silhouette (see Final Thoughts below).
Material The fashion fabric is polyester based ivory satin which was interfaced, and the lining is a dusty pink cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (14 panels total). The layers were flatlined and panels assembled, and then on the hips, there is “quilting” over the hips (made to look like cording, but they used thin cotton batting). Boning channels cover the seam allowances on the lining side.
Waist tape None. (Not recommended for high reductions or waist training – see Final Thoughts below.)
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching ivory satin. Machine stitched on both sides on a single pass (likely using a specialized binding attachment on the sewing machine). 6 garter tabs (3 on each side) and additionally there are 2 small tabs per side on the top edge if you want to add your own bra straps.
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers (ivory satin on the outside and pinky twill on the inside). 7″ wide and unstiffened. It’s sewn into the corset (covered by a boning channel) so it cannot be easily removed unless you take scissors and cut it.
There’s also a narrow ivory satin modesty placket extending from underneath knob side of the busk.
Busk 13” long, with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. It’s similar to a spoon busk: 1/2″ wide on each side at the top, and at the widest part of the “spoon” it is 1.25″ wide on each side. But it is not curved inward like a spoon busk (it acts more like a “wide busk” at the bottom.
Boning 14 bones total in this corset. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. There are also two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets on each side.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. Most of the grommets are finished in silver, but (oddly) the grommets at the waistline are gunmetal grey (probably done deliberately). Some of the grommets have shifted laterally, but none pulling out of the fabric completely.
Laces The laces are 3/8” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style (finished in green!). I find them to be long enough, and they hold bows and knots well. A little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness goes away over time.
Price Corsets-UK decided not to size these corsets with traditional corset sizes (waist size in inches) but rather, recommends you choose your street clothes size (like US 6 or UK 10). This corset is available in UK sizes 6 up to 24.
£59 GBP on Corsets UK, or $89 on Corset Story.

 

Final Thoughts:

It’s been several years since I reviewed any piece from Corsets-UK, because I had purchased about 10 of them in the past (between the years of 2010 and 2012) and I was not the most thrilled with their quality. The company approached me in the summer of 2016, letting me know that they have been working hard on creating new curvier designs, with better quality materials, and asked if I would be willing to try a couple of their pieces in exchange for personal feedback. I agreed, and I was surprised to see how much their products had changed over the years. While it was not in the original agreement to review this corset (and the other two coming up soon) publicly, I did ask them if it was alright to share the review with my viewers / readers, bearing in mind that it will be a balanced review where I mention the good points and the room for improvement. They agreed, so here we are.

Corsets-UK’s ‘Instant Shape’ corsets are designed to be a bit less curvaceous than their ‘Waist Taming’ line that I reviewed last week. Their website states that it is designed for more gentle waist reductions (perhaps 2 inches or so in the waist), and it’s not designed for waist training. Because it has gentle sloping hips and a modern slim silhouette, I would recommend that if you are naturally curvy, opt for a curvier style corset.

I chose this corset for several reasons – the first is that it was a different range from their ‘Waist Taming’ line, at a drastically lower price point, so I wanted to see what was different in terms of the quality. When I compared the two corsets, I could see that the fashion fabric was thinner and had a less dense weave compared to the ‘Waist Taming’ satin fashion fabric, and it had thinner, lighter weight spiral bones (closer to 4mm instead of 6mm wide, but still thankfully galvanized with no rust). If you’d like to see the bones in this corset (where I opened up the binding and took a look inside), see the video above.

The other reasons why I chose this corset is because it had 3 decorative features that caught my eye: the quilted hips (made to look almost like cording), the ‘aesthetic’ spoon busk (which is wider at the bottom just like traditional spoon busks, but doesn’t curve inward like traditional spoon busks), and the ribbon floral trim on the top edge (which Corsets-UK provided a small ziplock baggy of extra flowers).

The grommets of this corset were not pulling out the same way that they were in the ‘Waist Taming’ Corsets-UK review, but this may have to do with the fact that this corset is less curvy and is not designed for high reductions. One subtle feature that I found interesting though, is that this corset (and the underbust I also reviewed from the ‘Instant Shape’ line) is that most of the grommets are silver, while just the four at the waistline (where the bunny ears come through) were deliberately a darker silver, closer to pewter or gunmetal grey. I would have thought this was a mistake, if it hadn’t been consistent in both of my ‘Instant Shape’ corsets. Whether it was done by the factory so the person lacing the corset would lace it properly, or whether it was done for the consumer in case they wanted to change the laces, I’m not sure – but it was interesting to notice, and the difference in color isn’t too conspicuous from far away.

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Corsets-UK ‘Waist Taming’ Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video for the “Waist Taming overbust with Hip Panels and Curved Hem” by Corsets-UK. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 14 inches long, princess seam is 16 inches, the side seam 12.5 inches and the center back is 14 inches long. (Fits a bit short on my long torso and low waist.)
Bust spring is 9″, rib spring is 4″, hip spring is 9″. Has rounded hips and a relatively conical ribcage.
Material The fashion fabric is polyester based satin, and the lining is cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (14 panels total). 6 panels are “full length”, while the 7th panel is the semi-circular hip panel. The layers were flatlined and panels assembled, and boning channels cover the seam allowances on the lining side.
Waist tape Partial waist tape, exposed on the lining side. Starts at panel 2 and stops at panel 5. One inch wide, made from black cotton twill tape. The tape is positioned a bit too high on my body (about 2 inches above my natural waist) so it sits on my lower ribs.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching black satin. Machine stitched on both sides on a single pass (likely using a specialized binding attachment on the sewing machine). 6 garter tabs (3 on each side) and additionally there are 2 small tabs per side on the top edge if you want to add your own bra straps.
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers (satin on the outside and twill on the inside). 7.5” wide and unstiffened. It’s sewn into the corset (covered by a boning channel) so it cannot be easily removed unless you take scissors and cut it.
There’s also a black satin modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk ( 1/2″ wide).
Busk 13” long, with 5 loops and pins (last two are a bit closer together). It’s just under an inch wide on each side (so slightly wider than a standard busk, and also very slightly stiffer).
Boning 14 bones total in this corset. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. There are also two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets on each side.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. However the grommets are pulling out of the fabric at the waistline.
Laces The laces are 3/8” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, and they hold bows and knots well. A little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness goes away over time.
Price Available in waist sizes 20″ to 38″ in black satin.
£95 GBP on Corsets UK, or $145 on Corset Story.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Close-up angle of the corset, with the waist tape outline and the hip panel visible.

It’s been several years since I reviewed any piece from Corsets-UK, because I had purchased about 10 of them in the past (between the years of 2010 and 2012) and I was not the most thrilled with their quality. The company approached me in the summer of 2016, letting me know that they had been working hard on creating new curvier designs, with better quality materials, and asked if I would be willing to try a couple of their pieces in exchange for personal feedback. I agreed, and I was surprised to see how much their products have changed over the years. I even took a peek at their steel bones, and noted that their spirals were a thicker gauge and had a shiny galvanized finish (no rust) and although there were small holes in the flat steels, they were properly dipped, had no rust or sharp points, and had a decent amount of flex to them.

The two issues I had with the corset were the oddly high placement of the waist tape, which seemed to not coincide with the smallest waist measurement of the corset (the place of highest tension), and the grommets that had started to pull away from the fabric at the waistline. I alerted them to this by email, and their representative said that they are happy with their products and saw no reason to change these. While it was not in the original agreement to review this corset (and the other two coming up soon) publicly, I did ask them if it was alright to share the review with my viewers / readers, bearing in mind that it will be a balanced review where I mention the good points and the room for improvement. They agreed, so here we are.

I’m wearing the corset laced closed here, but the website states that their corsets should be worn with a 2-inch gap in the back. I would not recommend this style of corset for training down – not only because it’s an overbust, which is already tricky to train in – but also because the fit of this corset is crucial for the hip panels to be properly situated at each side of the body. If the corset is too small for you, the hip panels will be positioned too far forward and may not fit over your own hips, which would look odd and feel uncomfortable. Using this corset for fashion purposes and ensuring that it fits with small gap in the back (laced closed, up to perhaps a maximum of 3 inches in the back), will make sure the corset fits the way it should. So if you are between sizes, I would recommend going up a size – especially if you are fuller in the bust.

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Rebel Madness Gothic Sweetheart Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Rebel Madness Overbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 17 inches long, princess seam is 18.5 inches (12 inches from the waist up to the top of the bust), the side seam is 13.5 inches and the center back is 16 inches long.
Full bust spring is 10″, hip spring is 10″ as well. Gives a lovely hourglass silhouette.
Material The fashion fabric and lining are both made from 100% black cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 give space for the bustline, and panels 3-4 creates the curve over the hips. Assembled using the welt-seam method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, “invisibly” installed, sandwiched between the layers. Starts between seams 1-2, and extends to the center back.
Binding Commercially-sourced black cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides (probably on a single pass, possibly by using a special sewing machine attachment).
Modesty panel Unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill, 6 inches wide. Not attached to the corset – it’s suspended on the laces using grommets.
There’s also a 1-inch-wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, extending from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 16” long, with 7 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side), and although it is stiffer than a standard busk, due to its length it may seem to flex relatively more.
Boning 14 bones total in this corset, 7 on each side. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. There are also two flat steel bones, both ¼ inch wide sandwiching the grommets on each side.
Grommets There are 36, two-part size #00 grommets (18 on each side), because the corset has such a long back. They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly a bit less than 1” apart. Most of the grommets are finished in silver. All are holding in fine, some of the grommets have splits in the back which catch the laces (please note that this is an old stock corset; they have switched to new grommets in 2017 which are much better quality).
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide nylon cord / shoelace. They are a bit springy / spongey, but they hold bows and knots well and they are definitely long enough, even with the very high back.
Price Available in black cotton (reviewed here) and black satin. Sizes 18″ up to 30″ closed waist.
As of 2017, their prices have raised to $90 USD. Find it here on Etsy.

 

Final Thoughts:

La Esmeralda modeling the Sweetheart overbust by Rebel Madness. $90 USD, Etsy.

I’d recommend this corset for someone with a longer torso, and a low waist. As I have both, I’m extremely happy with the fact that it covers my bust fully and I feel very secure that I’m not going to “booble” out of this, even if I were upside down. (Why would I ever be upside down?)

I like the sweeping curve of the top edge, where it comes down on the sides to allow me to lower my shoulders and arms without the corset cutting into my armpit. Many corset makers keep the line of the corset high around the side of the corset, to control “side-boob” or to try to deal with armpit squidge. But this often doesn’t allow the wearer to naturally lower their shoulders – and in my case, with my already developed trapezius muscles, I end up looking like a linebacker and my neck disappears! But in this corset, the low side allows my shoulders to drop naturally, creating a more elegant posture and reducing shoulder strain – while also accentuating the sweetheart effect in the front. The top edge of the corset sweeps back up in the back to control “muffin top” as well.

That said, if you have a shorter torso, you might be more comfortable in a shorter style corset, because it is 18.5 inches in the princess seam, and may still hit your lap when you sit down if you have a shorter waist.

The prices of Rebel Madness corsets are also extremely reasonable for an entry-level corset (I’ve noticed that corsets made in Poland tend to be lower in price in general). While this overbust was $80 a couple of years ago, as of 2017 prices have raised to $90 in their Etsy shop (but I also know that they’ve been working to improve quality as well, such as more sturdy grommets) which is still inexpensive as far as overbusts go.

If there is only one thing I had to complain about, it’s that I wish these corsets were made available in sizes larger than 30″! The length and cut of this overbust corset is so flattering, I know of a few plus size women who would love to have this available in their size.

Do you have this corset, or another corset from Rebel Madness? What do you think of it? Leave a comment down below!

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CS-426 STANDARD length underbust (with hip ties), Orchard Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: CS-426 SHORT with hip ties (Orchard Corset)”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 10.25 inches long, princess seam is 8.25 inches long.
Rib spring is 6″, and lower hip spring is 12″, but the hip ties allow the hips to expand to 20+” if needed.
Material 3 main layers – I have the black satin version, so the outer (fashion fabric) layer is satin, flatlined to a light cotton canvas interlining, and lined in cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Hip curve is patterned into panels 3-4. Constructed with the sandwich method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide full waist tape running through the corset (center front to center back), “invisibly” secured between the layers.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching black satin. Machine stitched on both sides, stitched in the ditch (between the corset and the binding) in front, and a necessary top stitch on the underside. 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers of black twill. 5” wide and unstiffened, attached to one side with a line of stitching, and reinforced with “hemming tape” (a type of temporary fabric glue).
There’s also an unstiffened black twill modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk (1/2″ wide).
Busk Standard width busk, half an inch wide and 9” long, and 4 pins (last two are a bit closer together). However it’s more rigid (less bendy) than other busks of the same width.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset, (mostly) double boned on the seams. On each side, 9 of them are spirals (~3/8 inch wide) and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. They have splits on the back, but the laces do not catch.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness dissipates over time. Orchard also sells double-face satin ribbon if you prefer.
Price Available in waist sizes 16″ to 46″, in black cotton and black satin.
Sizes 16-32 are $71 USD, and sizes 34-46 are $75 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

 

Final Thoughts:

Full disclosure, this corset contains my “Lucia Corsetti” label – back in August of 2013, I released a tutorial where I took one of Orchard’s original 426 longline corsets and simply added hip ties to them, so people with a naturally fuller hip spring could cinch down in their corset without compressing their hips. Orchard liked the idea so much that they put it into production, and they gave me credit for the idea by adding my label to the new design. (I have no patent on the hip ties design, but it was courteous of them to give me a nod!)

With the introduction of the new “CS-411 Longline” corset in 2017, Orchard sought to standardize their corset names, so now all “short” corsets are called “Standard” (including the CS-426 Short now being called CS-426 Standard, and their original CS-426 corsets now being called their CS-426 Longline).

The CS-426 Short (now “Standard Length”) is said to be taken from the same pattern as the 426 Longline, but has about 1.5 inches cut off from the top, and another inch or so cut off from the bottom. So although it may look slightly less curvaceous than their longline corset (and on paper, the rib and hip springs are reported to be smaller), the standard and longline corsets should fit the same person in the same size.

However (and this might be due to construction), I feel that this corset has a slightly more conical ribcage, and slightly more flared hips than the longline pattern. I think the longline CS-426 corset flatters my figure better (and I have a longer torso anyway) so I personally prefer the longline version.

Find the CS-426 Standard corset with hip-ties on Orchard Corset’s website here.

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CS-426 Mesh Longline Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: Orchard Corset CS-426 Mesh Longline”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 13.5 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches long, center back is 13.5 inches long. (A bit longer than their non-mesh longline CS-426 corsets.)
Rib spring is 7″, and lower hip spring is 14″.
The silhouette is hourglass, but the flexible mesh allows for more contouring around curves = giving more of a rounded ribcage, and hips of the corset can contour around your own hips, whether your hips are slanted or shelf-like.
Material Single layer of fishnet style black mesh, and the boning channels / are made with 2 layers of black cotton twill.
Construction Likely still a 6-panel pattern (12 panels total), but because of the boning channels in the middle of the panels, it means that the corset “appears” to have closer to 20 panels.
Waist tape One-inch-wide full waist tape running through the corset from center front to center back, made from grosgrain ribbon, sandwiched between the boning channels.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching black cotton twill. Machine stitched on both sides, stitched in the ditch (between the corset and the binding) in front, and a necessary top stitch on the underside. 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers of black twill. 5” wide and unstiffened, attached to one side with a line of stitching. (You can also remove the tags in the back by removing that seam with the modesty panel, in case you find that the tags show through the mesh)
There’s no front modesty placket in this corset.
Busk Standard width busk (half an inch wide on each side) and 11.5” long, with 5 pins (last two are a bit closer together). Orchard’s busks are more rigid (less bendy) than other busks of the same width.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset. On each side, 9 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide, in single channels, equidistantly spaced. Then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide, sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness dissipates over time. Orchard also sells double-face satin ribbon if you prefer.
Price Available in waist sizes 18″ to 40″, in black and in beige mesh.
Sizes 18-32 are $72 USD, and sizes 34-40 are $75 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

 

Final Thoughts:

Screencap from one of my past videos “Waist Training Results: How Long Should it Take?” Click through to read that article. Here I’m wearing the CS-426 mesh longline test sample.

Several years ago, when I went to visit Orchard Corset in Wenatchee, Washington, I was invited to test the first sample of the CS-426 mesh longline, before it was released to the public. But over the years I didn’t hear anything about the mesh longline being released for almost 3 years, so I ended up selling off my mesh corset in a sample sale. Then in summer of 2016, I noticed that Orchard had finally released the mesh longline! Without my old sample to review, I had to purchase another one (which ended up being mislabeled by the factory – a size 28″ corset with a size 26″ label) so unfortunately I don’t have the curves to properly fill out the corset in this review – but please refer to the way the old (size 22″) sample fit me back in 2013 in this article / video, if you’d like a better example of how the corset is supposed to look when it properly fits.

One of the things I like about the mesh corsets is that they’re not simply double-boned on the seams, but rather the bones are evenly distributed around the waist – and the bigger the corset size, the more bones are included. While this does affect the price (the bigger corsets contain more bones and require more work in construction sewing on the boning channels, so they cost more), it means that you’re getting more equitable support and quality across all sizes.

One consistent bug I notice is that Orchard Corsets have “bunny ears” that are set 1-2 grommets higher than the true waistline of the corset – this is easy to fix when you get the corset though, by simply re-lacing the corset. I also like to use inverted bunny ears for better control and reduced bowing at the waistline.

Shop for the CS-426 mesh longline corset from Orchard Corset here.

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Retrofolie “Botticelli’s Birth of Venus” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Review: “Botticelli’s Venus” Corset by Retrofolie” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length My corset was made-to-measure, so it fits my longer torso but it’s also slightly less curvy than the standard size version of this corset as I have slim hips. Standard size 22″ would have a ribcage of 30″ and hips of 34″.
Material Three main layers (not including interfacing): The fashion fabric is a cotton print (interfaced for strength), strength interlining of coutil, and brown lightweight cotton lining.
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total), the fashion fabric and coutil were flatlined, panels assembled using a topstitch. ouble boned on the seams with a floating lining inside.
Binding Made from commercially purchased cotton bias tape, in seafoam green to match the fashion fabric. Machine finished on both sides.
Waist tape 1 inch wide, stitched invisibly between the layers. Extends from panel 2 to the back seam.
Modesty panel 6.5 inches wide, stiffened, finished with another Venus in the back that can show through the laces. The panel is suspended on the laces using grommets. There is also a 1-inch wide unboned modesty placket in front under the busk.
Busk 12 inches long. 6 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. My corset was modified to be longer though, so a standard size corset will have a 10 inch busk instead. Standard flexible busk, with 1/4″ flat bones adjacent for reinforcement.
Boning 28 bones total, not including busk. Double boned on the seams, using 1/4″ wide spiral bones. Flat steel bones are used beside the busk and by the grommets.
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size #00 with a medium flange (the very popular grommet brand among corsetieres in North America). Finished in silver, and equidistantly spaced about 1″ apart. Big washers in the back; splits in the back but they don’t catch the laces too much.
Laces Standard white nylon shoelace style laces.
Price This particular style is $315 USD for standard size (18″ up to 26″). For custom fit, the price is $350.
Example of the impeccable print matching on the historical art corsets, this time on a Mucha piece. Photo courtesy of Etsy Affiliates.

 

Because this corset was made back in 2014, a few changes have been made to this corset – the first change is that this pointed longline style is no longer called the “Azalea” longline cut, it’s now just style “Retro 04” on Retrofolie’s website. Also, the standard size measurements are now curvier than they were in 2014!

This is part of Julianne’s “Retro History” corset line, where she is able to use any historical painting in the public domain (the artist must be deceased for at least 70 years to use their work). The painting is printed with a repeat pattern on fabric, and the panels are cut from this fabric and painstakingly matched at the seams. Julianne started her corset career making these pieces, and has since expanded her corset ranges to include “Retro Basic” (simple corsets covered in cotton or silk) and “Retro Galaxy” (corsets featuring beautiful galaxy and nebula motifs).

Although her corsets are strong enough for waist training, Julianne recommends that you don’t wear a Retro History corset as your daily-wear corset, as the fashion fabric will ease and the painting will distort over time. If you wish to preserve the historical art corsets but waist train in one of her Retrofolie pieces, she recommends the Retro Basic line.

Check out Retrofolie’s Birth of Venus corset here, or check out her full range of corsets here.

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Orchard Corset CS-426 Longline (Hip Ties) Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Review: Orchard Corset CS-426 (with hip ties)”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 13 inches long, princess seam is 10.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, upper hip spring is 10″, and lower hip spring is 13″, but the hip ties allow the hips to expand to 20+” if needed.
The silhouette is hourglass, with a semi-conical ribcage, and hips of the corset can contour around your own hips, whether your hips are slanted or shelf-like.
Material 3 main layers – I have the black cotton version, so the outer (fashion fabric) layer is black twill, flatlined to a light cotton canvas interlining, and lined again in cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Hip flare is patterned into panels 3-4. Constructed with the sandwich method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching black cotton twill. Machine stitched on both sides, stitched in the ditch (between the corset and the binding) in front, and a necessary top stitch on the underside. 8 garter tabs (4 on each side).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of two layers of black twill. 6” wide and unstiffened, attached to one side with a line of stitching, reinforced with “hemming tape”.
There’s also an unstiffened black twill modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk ( ¼” wide).
Busk Standard width busk, half an inch wide and 11.5” long, and 5 pins (last two are a bit closer together). However it’s more rigid (less bendy) than other busks of the same width.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset. On each side, 9 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness dissipates over time. Orchard also sells double-face satin ribbon if you prefer.
Price Available in waist sizes 16″ to 46″.
Sizes 16-32 are $82 USD, and sizes 34-46 are $87 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

 

Final Thoughts:

Orchard Corset CS-426 Hip Ties, $82, modeled by Caylyn

Full disclosure, this corset contains my “Lucia Corsetti” label – back in August of 2013, I released a tutorial where I took one of Orchard’s original 426 longline corsets and simply added hip ties to them, so people with a naturally fuller hip spring could cinch down in their corset without compressing their hips. Orchard liked the idea so much that they put it into production, and they gave me credit for the idea by adding my label to the new design. (I have no patent on the hip ties design, but it was courteous of them to give me a nod!)

This is the second time I’ve reviewed a CS-426 corset, after my first time in 2012, and there are marked improvements in the construction – particularly the grommets. These grommets don’t tarnish and have fewer splits compared to the older corsets). If I’m not mistaken, Orchard Corset had switched manufacturers a couple of years ago, which may account for the change.

Other changes include the modesty panel in the back being a touch wider, the addition of a modesty placket in the front, and a slightly longer busk.

Find the CS-426 Longline corset with hip-ties on Orchard Corset’s website here.

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6 Different Types of Corset Front Closures

See the video above for an explanation of several different front closures for corsets – or read away below!

HOOK & EYE

The Goddess Longline bra can be partially folded under to accommodate for an even lower back.
Hook and eye closures are usually found on bras and bustiers, not corsets. (This is the Goddess bra, click through for more information.)

You will pretty much never see this in a genuine, off the rack corset (or a couture one, for that matter). If you see a garment marketed as a waist training corset and it contains hooks and eyes, I personally wouldn’t trust it.

If you are making your own corsets, this form of closure is easy to source and fairly inexpensive. I’ve seen it done (recently) in a viewer’s homemade gentle reduction corset, but it was supported by steels on both sides, and still had a lacing system in the back – this allowed the wearer to fasten up the hooks and eyes with zero pressure on them until they were ALL fastened, and then they tightened the corset using the laces in the back. This can take a long time to fasten and unfasten!

One concern is that the little metal hooks can bend, warp and break if they have uneven pressure on them. If one breaks, you have a few others surrounding it that might be able to support it temporarily, but once the garment has uneven tension, more hooks will be at greater risk for also warping and breaking. The entire row of hooks and eyes would be inexpensive to replace as you can purchase them in a tape – but for me personally, I overwhelmingly prefer a busk.

 

BUSK

Busks come in a multitude of colors, like these by Narrowed Visions (click through to the Etsy shop)
Busks come in a multitude of colors, like these by Narrowed Visions (click through to the Etsy shop).

This is like your bread and butter closure for corsets. Loops on one side, and knobs (aka pins, aka pegs) on the other side, each side supported by a bone. Busks can come in a multitude of lengths, widths and colors.  My friend Nikki (Narrowed Visions on Etsy) sells several lengths of heavy-duty busks in a rainbow of colors, as you see above!

The bones are strong and help support the abdomen, and the busk can fasten and unfasten in seconds once you get used to it. But when a knob breaks, you either have to replace it with a screw or a rivet, but more likely will need to replace the knob side of the busk with a new one.

I also have a video on how to completely remove an old broken busk and replace it with grommets to make it a front lacing corset.

 

FRONT LACING

Electra Designs made this cincher which is laced both in the back and in the front. They can be individually adjusted to your comfort.
Electra Designs made this cincher which is laced both in the back and in the front. They can be individually adjusted to your comfort.

In a previous Fast Foundation article, I discussed why wearing your corset backwards is usually not a good idea because of the way panels are individually drafted to contour over a different part of your back or abdomen.

But a corset that is deliberately front-lacing can be good for people with arm weakness, inflexible shoulders or just aren’t very coordinated when fiddling with laces behind their back.

A corset that has only a front lacing system and back closure will need to be loosened a lot and you’ll need to shimmy into it: either pull it down over your head, or step into it and pull it up from your feet.

I would personally not recommend a high-reduction corset that is closed in the back and laced in the front, as it personally caused some discomfort around my floating ribs after a while and I had to purchase a new waist training corset with back lacing.

 

ZIPPER

Wearing my Contour Corset under my sweater tunic and toddler belt.
My Contour Corset (metal zip closure) is strong enough for a dramatic silhouette, but incredibly smooth under my clothing.

Some of my favorite corsets have zippers, like my Contour Corset. A front zip should have metal teeth, it should be made to military specification, and it should be flanked by steel bones. The stitching around the zipper should fail before the teeth do!

The right zipper can be just as strong as a busk, and can also be zipped up and unzipped in seconds once you’re accustomed to it. Another nice thing about zippers is that they can be more discreet under clothing compared to busks.

However, those bustiers sold in Halloween shops that have a nylon coiled zipper and no supportive stays supporting them, so the fabric wrinkles around the zipper from stress? Expect them to fail if you lace them too tight.

But even if you use the best quality zippers – like with any other garment, if you break the zipper or lose a tooth in the zip, just replace the whole thing.

 

SWING HOOKS

black cashmere swinghooks long hourglass corset
Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset with Swing Hooks, available through my shop (click through).

Swing hooks are neat, and they’re very very decorative, but very high profile and will not hide well under clothing. I first saw swing hooks used by Lucy of Waisted Creations, many moons ago. She even made a tutorial on Foundations Revealed on how to insert them yourself! After that, it spread like wildfire and you saw corset supply shops selling the swing hooks, and different OTR companies started selling corsets with swing hooks.

If you plan to use swing hooks in your own corset, it’s best to put a swing hook at the waistline where there is the most tension. If you don’t, the fabric in the center front will gape, and even the bones in the center front might bow a bit if they’re not high quality.

 

CLOSED FRONT

Angela Stringer Corsetry mesh and floral longline overbust model Victoria Dagger
Closed front corsets allow for a beautiful unbroken line, but they’re less convenient. Corset: Angela Stringer. Model: Victoria Dagger. Photo: Chris Murray.

Closed front corsets have no opening, but rather are stitched completely closed. Similar to the front-laced corset, it will require you to shimmy into it! This takes some extra time, and if you have anxiety or claustrophobia I might not recommend this style – because it also takes time to get out of it. But this is the smoothest option under clothing if you want to “stealth” your corset under your clothes.

Which corset closure is your favorite? Do you know of any other closures not mentioned here? Leave me a comment below!

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Dark Garden Aziza Overbust Corset (with Shoulder Straps) Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Dark Garden Aziza Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length The measurements were highly customized to fit my body, including accommodating for several asymmetries (like my left hip protruding very slightly more, one breast being fuller than the other, one shoulder sitting a bit higher than the other, etc). See discussion below for more detail about the fit.
Material Possibly 2 main layers: Fashion fabric is a gorgeous gold floral brocade, likely fused for strength. The lining (strength fabric) is an American milled cotton canvas.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Most of the bust curve is drafted between panels 1-2, and most of the hip curve is drafted between panels 3-4, and much of the room for the upper back was obviously drafted into panels 5-6. The corset was topstitched between panels (seam allowance on the outside), and the seam allowances were covered and straddled by double boning channels.
Binding Bias strips of matching gold brocade, machine stitched on inside and outside. Tidy topstitch on the outside, no topstitch on the inside. No garter tabs (I didn’t request any).
Waist tape 3/4 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. It starts between seams 1-2, and extends to the center back.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 4.75″ wide, finished in the same gold brocade. Stiffened with 4 steel bones and left separate to slip under the laces when worn (or you can choose to not wear the modesty panel). There is a teensy seam in the center front which is not a modesty placket per se, but it does help prevent a visible gap between the busk.
Busk 14 inches long, standard flexible busk, with 7 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced.
There are half inch wide flat steel bones adjacent to the busk for further reinforcement, but they deliberately stop about 4 inches from the top of the corset so they won’t interfere with the curve of the bust.
Boning 26 bones total, 13 on each side. Double boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels on the seams, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets. The additional bone on each side is adjacent to the busk.
Grommets 42 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in gold and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely.
Laces Gold double faced satin ribbon – no spring, very strong and flat. Laced using the “chevron method” with “inverted bunny ears”.
Price $1475 USD without shoulder straps, or $1625 USD with shoulder straps. It is only available as a custom option, not standard.

 

Final Thoughts:

This is the final product for the Dark Garden bespoke process I went through over the course of 2015. If you’re interested in learning more about the bespoke process and the mockup fittings, click here.

Dark Garden always spends the extra time to match brocades, prints and lace motifs as shown in this gorgeous Aziza overbust modelled by Vienna La Rouge. Photo: Joel Aron.
Dark Garden Aziza overbust version without shoulder straps, and made for a very different body type. Model: Vienna La Rouge. Photo: Joel Aron.

Because I’m long-waisted, this corset is much, much longer from the waist up compared to most OTR overbust corsets. Using the mockup fittings I was able to choose not only the height of the neckline, but also the height of the side of the corset into my underarm area (Autumn recommended bringing it up a bit higher to account for a bit of my underarm squidge) and also in the back. I asked the back to be higher and have more room, so it would contain my muffin top (back spillover) and also it would allow my scapulae to snuggle down into the corset as opposed to hitting the edge of the corset and forcing my shoulders up.

The length of the shoulder straps were also adjusted custom to my body, and they secure in the front with matching gold ribbon. There are several grommets so I can wear the straps looser (for mobility or to wear them slightly off the shoulder) or tighter over my shoulders if I need more upper back support.

The bust was drafted beautifully; it cups over and supports my bust without squishing it flat. I also requested for the neckline of this corset to be slightly higher so that I can wear this to public functions and not fear that my bust will pop out or be exposed.

With this corset, it’s extremely apparent that my body is the type to “squish upwards”. While some people get a small lower tummy pooch from wearing corsets. By contrast, my hip measurement essentially stays the same, but my ribcage and bust can increase by up to two inches in a corset (compared to its natural measurement) depending on the reduction of the waist. Displaced flesh has to go somewhere!

Along the bottom edge, although aesthetically I love a longline corset, I requested this corset to be cut at the mid-hip (just about my iliac crest) so that I’ll be able to move and sit comfortably, even in low seats.

The Aziza corset is a custom option, so you may not see it available as a standard sized corset in their Classic Line on their website. Dark Garden has a catalogue of many more corset styles, and their skilled team of corsetieres can create almost any style you can think of. If you’re interested in learning more about Dark Garden and their 30 years of work, head over to their website here.

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Lucy’s Personal Corset Journey – A Reading

When better-known authors release a book and go on tour, they sometimes read the first chapter to a live audience at a book store or library. As my new book Solaced is only released on Kindle at the moment, I thought I would read my personal corset journey to you via Youtube. I know that it’s not quite the same, but hopefully many of you will appreciate it nonetheless. Fair warning, I do end up crying a little bit. :p

The story starts 1:37 into the video. If you like, you can click over to the Amazon listing and click “look inside”. My story is right at the beginning (in the introduction), and you can use Amazon’s free Kindle preview to read along with me on any platform.

Enjoy the reading… and thank you for being a part of this journey. ♡

 

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Why Anthologies Are Important (Solaced Ebook Rant)

This is a summary/ transcript of last Friday’s rant. You can watch the video, or read the abridged version below.

Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you…

This is a term in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Sorrows, and while it may not be in the OED (yet), it’s important nonetheless. Sonder is an important part of empathy, and it’s what I hope to share through my book.

It is so easy to take a person, their experiences, and their whole lived existence, and condense them down into a hard statistic: cause and effect. Before and after.

Don’t get me wrong: as a biochemist who dabbled in research and academia (before my creative side pulled me away) I still think quantitative studies are awesome because they can definitively show a correlation between two events (causation, however, is a different monster).

Coincidentally, Derek of Veritasium uploaded a vlog last week called Why Anecdotes Trump Data and showed that while (scientifically speaking) a longitudinal quantitative study with a large cohort is always more credible — sometimes personal experiences and strong, relatable narratives are more memorable, and carry more weight (emotionally speaking), even when the scientific evidence is not so strong.

While I would LOVE to do a longitudinal study on the long term physiological effects of corset wear (I’ve been saying this for a good 3-4 years now), I do not yet have the resources to do so. But every study starts with a proposal. And Solaced (the Corset Benefits book), while full of “anecdata” that may very well be pooh-pooh’d by some, will inevitably start a conversation.

The Importance of Empathy and Stories of Adversity

Through this anthology, over 100 writers have poured out their hearts and opened themselves up. Some have recounted past horrors and made themselves vulnerable to let you to step inside their heads and live vicariously through them for a few minutes.

Now, I know that normally “vicarious” is associated with something positive. A lot of the stories in this book are about adversity, and I would even warn that some stories may be considered triggering to some readers. But in many ways, stories of overcoming adversity is important too.

Not all of the testimonials in this book will necessarily have “happy endings” because:

  1. In a true first-person narrative, the end of the story is the writer’s true lived experience up to that moment. Therefore it’s not really an ending.
  2. “Happy Endings” imply perfection, and no life is perfect. The stories you will read in this anthology are far from a perfect outcome — but you will see where the writers have come from and where they are now. For some people, it’s not about perfection. It’s about a journey towards recovery, improved health, a highER quality of life than they once had. It’s inspiration and motivation to use the tools you’ve got (even if that tool is a simple corset) to get yourself to a better place.

The real question: why didn’t I write this entire book myself?

Well, gosh. That question sounds like I didn’t even do any work for this book. Even though there are over 100 writers who contributed to this book, I still put in a considerable amount of time and effort as the organizer, compiler, main editor, interviewer, and transcriber (for people who were too ill to write and sent in their stories through phone or Skype). I also consulted lawyers, made sure the writers were compensated (out of my own pocket), followed up on contracts, etc. — so it’s not like I had NO role in this book.

(On another note, I did write material and introductions to nearly every chapter, and soon realized that this book might be 2000 pages long — so, much of it was scrapped or stored for later for several future mini ebooks… One project at a time.)

Who cares about a book filled with the testimonials of strangers?

Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)
Update: Solaced is now available exclusively on Amazon! Click here to learn more.

Please refer to the above statements on empathy. Also, there’s nothing quite like a true, first-person testimonial straight from the source — even though a quantitative study is strongest form of research, the sworn testimonies in this anthology will always be stronger than me referring to a “friend-of-a-friend-who-claimed-blah-blah-blah.” It is more credible and more “clean” than a game of broken telephone.

I’m flattered that some people care so much about the content I write that they prefer to exclusively read my work, and are less excited about reading the experiences of others. But I feel it’s important to remind you that I do not pull knowledge out of the ether! I have useful research skills and have done my own footwork, yes — but a lot of what I know is because of people in the community just like these writers — because of YOU.

I am indebted to others for freely sharing what they know, because that is how we collectively grow. Knowledge is power, and it is meant to be shared — and everyone deserves a voice, not just myself.

So for those who object to this anthology, I think we’re focusing on the wrong question. Instead of asking “who cares about the stories of strangers,” the question should be: “Given that these ‘strangers’ granted me this platform in the first place, what good is my platform if not to give leverage to those voices that would not otherwise heard?”

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Corset Benefits Book (Chapter Preview!) + Your Thoughts Wanted!

Photo [Right]: Juno Lucina is one of the writers for Solaced – you’ll read her story of her personal transformation, The Art of Aging, in the Mature Corseting chapter.

As we take the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on the Solaced Corset Anthology, I’d like to make sure that we’re on the right track. Since the corset community has made this book possible in the first place (first by helping to build the list of corset benefits on this page, and then by submitting more in-depth experience for the book), it’s only fair that you, the community, also have a say in what stories end up in the final book.

I was initially worried about not having enough stories for the book, but after over 150 prospective writers (about 120 of whom submitted stories) as it turns out, I have too many stories now, and my editor has told me to cull. I’m very bad at this and need your help.

This book will have more of a focus on the therapeutic (physical and emotional) benefits of corsets, and there may be an opportunity to make another volume focused around the corset community and industry in general, as well as other “softer” stories (so whatever stories will be cut from this book, will likely make it into the next one!). Below you’ll find the list of topics/ chapters: you get a say in which topics interest you most, and which ones you would probably skip.

You can also let me know in your comment whether you prefer Kindle, Paperback, Audio, or another book format! Kindle will be the first to be released, but I will almost definitely bring the book to print a bit later on. Other formats I will consider if the demand is high enough.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Solaced: 99 Uplifting Narratives about Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope

Chapter list (NOTE: This has been edited to reflect the final version of the book)

Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)
UPDATE: The book is now available! Click here to see it on Amazon!
  1. Back Injuries – structural support after physical trauma
  2. Spinal Curve – support or correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, or lordosis
  3. Breast support – including treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome
  4. Weight Loss & Lifestyle – using the corset as a kickstarter or external lap-band
  5. Hypermobility & EDS – preventing subluxation
  6. Disability – seven stories of how corsets help with various physiological disorders
  7. Fibromyalgia – promoting muscle relaxation and drug-free pain relief
  8. Gastrointestinal Disorders – helping with the symptoms of IBS, chronic constipation, and ulcerative colitis
  9. Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis – using compression to reduce period cramping
  10. Post-Surgical Abdominal Weakness – support of the abdominal muscles following surgery
  11. Armor – the corset’s protective role during car accidents or against violent aggressors
  12. Body Positive – recovery from eating disorders and body dysmorphia
  13. Post Partum – treatment of diastasis recti, symphysis pubic dysfunction, and post partum depression
  14. Gender Identity – overcoming gender/body dysphoria, assisting in expression
  15. Anxiety & Depression – using deep pressure therapy to improve mental well-being
  16. Autism Spectrum – using deep pressure therapy for those with ASD
  17. PTSD & Coping with Adversity – pressure therapy following traumatic or difficult events
  18. Mature Corseting – wearing corsets from middle age and onward, commentary on aging
  19. Corsets & Metaphysics – essays on Reiki and the chakras
  20. Newspaper Clippings – a small collection of Victorian newspaper articles on corsets saving the lives of wearers
  21. Potpourri – stories that don’t quite fit in with the others

Which topics do you look forward to reading the most? Leave a comment below!

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What News Australia’s Tightlacing Article Failed to Mention

Miranda Rights, waist training advocate and journalism major, lost 10 inches off her waist over several years through a plant-based diet, exercise and waist training. She was told by Barcroft Media in late 2015 that her story and results were not "extreme" enough for media. Click through the picture to read her full response to Barcroft.
Miranda Rights, waist training advocate and journalism major, lost between 12-14 inches off her waist over several years through a combination of exercise, a plant-based diet, and waist training. She was told by Barcroft Media in late 2015 that her story and results were not “extreme” enough for media. Click through the picture to read her full response to Barcroft.

Ah, media. Through the years we’ve seen over and over (and over and over) that our words can’t be trusted to be conveyed clearly, fully or accurately in the news. For half a decade I’ve avoided speaking with reporters for fear of them putting a negative spin to my words and reflecting badly on corset wearers at large. What often ended up happening is that after I declined to be interviewed, these reporters sometimes found another innocent starry-eyed corseter who ended up saying something on the extreme side, and that one unfortunate sound bite was misconstrued and given a negative tone.

This is why this year I decided to start speaking up and answering questions about waist training, tightlacing and corset wear – because I’ve been in this industry long enough to know a bit about corsets, I choose my words wisely, and I always keep a record of what I say and write.

A few days ago Emma Reynolds, writer for News. Com. Au, contacted me wanting to know more about the difference between waist training and tightlacing (which was still confused in their final piece). Of course, at the time I was contacted, I was never given any hint that the article would have a negative spin, or that my answers would be spliced and creatively paraphrased, or that the photos of some of my friends would be used without consent to be treated as side show attractions.

Since I didn’t sign any NDA, I presume that it’s fair to post the questions presented to me by Reynolds, and my unabridged responses to the Australian news source, which were deliberately made extremely detailed, with an emphasis on listening to one’s body, being monitored by a doctor, and the community being body positive as a whole.

Also, before we get started: CORSETS ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

 


 

How did you get into tightlacing?

This is a long and winding story, but my initial goal was not to tightlace. I simply enjoyed making corsets for cosplay and re-enactment purposes, and later for back support when I was working up to 16 hours at a time. When I discovered that I was very comfortable wearing a corset for several hours at a time/ several days a week, I became interested in waist training and learned about the process through Ann Grogan of Romantasy. I think of it as a form of sport or slow, long-term body modification that can be varied, changed or reversed as one desires. Many people train in order to achieve a certain waist circumference or silhouette when not wearing the corset. However, my end goal was simply being able to close a size 20″ corset, I had no expectations for how I wanted my bare waist to look.

 

Why is it different/better than waist training?

Waist training is wearing a genuine corset for long durations (months or years) with some kind of end goal in mind, like closing a specific size corset or reducing the size of your natural waist. It’s worth noting that within the corset community, the use of latex or neoprene fajas is not waist training in the traditional sense.

Tightlacing is simply wearing a corset that is notably smaller than your natural waist. For some people, a tightlacing corset is at least 4 inches smaller than your natural waist regardless of your starting size – while for other people, they only consider it tightlacing if you reduce at least 20% off your natural waist (which would be 6 inches reduction if you have a size 30″ natural waist, 8 inches if you have a size 40″ waist, and so on). Yet others will say “if the corset feels snug to the point that it’s challenging but not painful, whether that’s with 1 inch reduction or 10 inches, that is tightlacing to the individual.” To this effect, an actress or model that never wears corsets except on set may be considered tightlacing. But what all of them have in common is that with tightlacing you don’t have to set a goal, and you don’t necessarily wear your corset for long durations.

Put more simply, waist training is a goal-oriented process, while tightlacing is simply an action. You can theoretically waist train without tightlacing (if you are wearing your corset at gentle reductions, but consistently enough to see results), and you can tightlace without waist training (wearing your corset with a dramatic reduction, but only on an occasional basis so your natural waist expands back to normal within a few minutes of removing your corset). Some people enjoy tightlacing on a regular basis with no initial goal in mind, but over time they will notice that their waist will be inadvertently trained smaller.

I wouldn’t say that tightlacing is better than waist training. Not everyone can tightlace as easily as others; it tends to be easier for those who have a higher body fat percentage, and according to some, it can be easier for women who have already given birth. It can be a little more challenging for athletes with more muscle tone than average. Of course, I would recommend that one be in good health before they wear a corset, whether it’s for tightlacing, waist training, or otherwise – and that they never lace to the point of pain.

 

How much does your waist size change and does it last?

This photo of me has been stolen and spun out of context by hundreds of people. Contour Corset is engineered to be an illusion. It's actually slightly larger in the waist than my Puimond corset shown below, but the silhouette and hip spring makes it look more extreme than really is. Even though this corset is more comfortable than some of my larger corsets, once I waist trained to reach this goal, I found I preferred a gentler silhouette.
My Contour Corset (21 inches) is my most “extreme” looking corset. It’s specifically engineered to be an illusion. In reality it’s slightly larger in the waist than my Puimond corset shown below, but the silhouette makes it look smaller than it really is. My waist is thicker in profile. Even though this corset is one of the most comfortable I own, once I waist trained to reach this goal, I found I preferred a gentler silhouette and less reduction.

When tightlacing, I am able to reduce my natural waist by 6-7 inches in a corset – but be aware that I have been wearing corsets off and on for many years. When I started, I was only able to reduce my waist by 2-3 inches. When I take off the corset, my waist expands back to normal within the hour.

When I was waist training several years ago, in the interest of staying comfortable in my corset for longer durations, I wore my corset on average 4-5 inches smaller than my natural waist, around 5 days a week, and up to 8-12 hours a day. The body responds best with consistency, so over several months even with this (relatively) lighter reduction, my natural waist went from 29 inches to around 26.5 inches out of the corset (even if I hadn’t worn my corset in days), and I was comfortably wearing my corset at 22″ while waist training. If I then chose to tightlace, I was able to wear my corset at 20″ for shorter durations (a couple of hours at a time) once my body was warmed up. Once I achieved this goal, I realized that it was more extreme in silhouette than I preferred, which is why I chose to back off and now I wear my corset closer to 22-24 inches, which I feel is more proportional to the rest of my frame while still lending a retro silhouette.

 

What do you like about it?

When the corset is laced snug I can use it as a form of deep pressure therapy – essentially, it’s like wearing a big bear hug that you can keep on all day and even conceal under clothing, if desired. At the time I started wearing corsets regularly, I was working in a STEM field and living away from home, working long and odd hours in a lab, with not much free time to socialize. I initially started wearing my homemade corset for posture support during those long hours, but I also noticed that it helped me feel more calm and relaxed. I was less anxious before and during presentations because I felt protected and held by a suit of armor. This calm, quiet confidence began to spill over into other areas of my life, and I became more sure about myself and carried myself more proudly even when I wasn’t wearing the corset. At that point, it wasn’t even about the appearance anymore.

 

What is the community like as a whole?

The international corset community is extremely varied, and that’s part of why I like it. We come from all walks of life and have many different interests – with some people, the *only* thing I have in common with them is a mutual interest in corsets. Some people love history and the Victorian era, while some people take more to the 1950s New Look style and pin-up era. Some people wear corsets simply because they’re beautiful and luxurious, some people wear them for medical or therapeutic purposes, and some people wear them as a challenging sport. Some are as blasé about putting on their corset in the morning as they are about putting on their socks, while some are excited about corsetry and consider it a fetish.

There are many online forums and Facebook groups to choose from, whether you’re a beginner or veteran, whether you want to tightlace, waist train, or just wear them for fun, whether you want to buy and sell corset from collectors, or even if you want to learn to sew your own corsets. In the forums I frequent, the community emphasizes body positivity. While we support individuals for the waist training goals they have already chosen for themselves, it is extremely frowned upon to push someone else into wearing a corset if they’re not interested – it’s equally offensive to try and push another person to lace past their comfort level, or shame them for their natural body type.

 

What are your limits? Do some people take it too far?

My Puimond corset is actually smaller than my Contour Corset above. Proportion matters, and so does context.
My Puimond corset (20 inches) is actually smaller than my Contour Corset above. No one batted an eye at this. Proportion matters, and so does context.

My personal limit was closing a size 20″ corset. I found it a challenging goal that took 3 years to achieve, and once I reached it, I was over it. Of course there were the few trolls online who egged me to train further and called me all sorts of names when I didn’t – but they aren’t representative of the community. I always listen to my body and I’m always 100% in control of my laces. There are other people who can lace down less than 20″ but some of them are 6 inches shorter and weigh 20kg less than me – so while it may look extreme on my body, for a petite woman with a natural 23 inch waist, she might not consider a size 20″ corset to be tightlacing at all.

It’s not my mission to put everyone in a corset, but for those who are interested in wearing them, whether for waist training or tightlacing (or both), I’ve spent the last 5 years creating hundreds of free educational videos and articles so that people can learn to choose a corset that’s right for their body, and know how to use them properly and safely. I say over and over that pain is not normal. When a tightlacer hasn’t put proper research into their practice, when they aren’t open with their doctor, when they ignore the advice of more experienced lacers and ignore their body’s signals, and they wind up hurting themselves, I know that it could have been prevented and it will end up reflecting badly on the tens of thousands of others who do wear corsets responsibly.

There will always be those who lace down faster than what I would normally condone, or smaller than my personal preference – but beyond offering free educational resources and ensuring that they are listening to their own bodies, that they are not in pain, that they are prioritizing their well-being, and that they have open communication with their doctor and have regular checkups, no one has the right to tell another what to do with their body. Their body, their choice.


 

This was the end of my correspondence with Reynolds, but if you would like to read some balanced perspectives on corsetry, both historical and modern, there are a few articles linked below.

Collector’s Weekly: Everything You Know About Corsets is False

io9: No, Corsets Did Not Destroy the Health of Victorian Women

New York Academy of Medicine: Did Corsets Harm Women’s Health?

Several articles on The Lingerie Addict:
Tightlacing 101: Myths About Waist Training in a Corset
“20 Bones”, Broken Ribs, and Other Myths about Waist Training.
What Makes a Corset Comfortable?

Three corset articles on Kitsch-Slapped:
Part 1, historical medical “evidence“.
Part 2, corsets viewed as “sexy”.
Part 3, suffrage movement.

Yesterday’s Thimble has two articles on corset myths. Part 1. Part 2.

Historical Sewing: Dispelling the Myth of the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Tiny Waist

A Damsel in This Dress: Corsetted Victorians and others – myths and reality

The Pragmatic Costumer: With and Without: How Wearing a Corset Affects You and Your Clothes

A Most Beguiling Accomplishment – A Difficult History: Corsetry and Feminism, Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Appendix.