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Exceptions to Corset Rules

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

 

Corset Sizes

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

Number of layers

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

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

 

Waist tapes

Rule: 

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

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

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

 

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

Zippers

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

 

Number of panels

Rule:

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

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

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

Bones

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

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

 

Grommets

Rule:

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

Exceptions:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Glamorous Corset “Bella” Mesh Cincher Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Bella” cincher in black mesh, made by Glamorous 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 just short of 8 inches long, the side seam is 6.5 inches and the center back is 8.25 inches long.
Rib spring is 4″, upper hip spring is 5″. The waist does tend to run a bit large / expand in mesh corsets. Offers a gentle (modern slim) silhouette.
Material The mesh parts are single layer hexagonal-hole “fishnet” style netting (seemingly industry standard for OTR). The front and back panels, boning channels and binding are all black cotton bull denim (a coarse weave twill).
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). Mesh panels were assembled together, and seams were sandwiched by boning channels on the outside and inside. The channels straddle the seams and reinforce the seams.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from single-faced satin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset and secured at boning channels. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. The front was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. No garter tabs.
Modesty panel 5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, also finished in black cotton.
Busk 6.5” long, with 3 loops and pins. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side) with an additional ¼” spiral steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones adjacent to the busk are also spiral steel. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 16, two-part size #00 grommets (8 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Only a few splits on the underside of the grommets, and due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch too much.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Comes in black mesh, white mesh, 5 colors of satin, and 5 colors of leather.
Sizes 18″ – 30″ are $79 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here.

 

Final Thoughts:

Bella Mesh cincher, model unknown. $79-$84 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

The Bella is quite possibly the shortest mesh cincher I’ve ever tried – so if you have a very short torso and you’re looking for something you can easily sit down in, which can offer lumbar support through your work day without making you overheated, the Bella may be a viable option for you. However, if you have a longer torso, you might experience a bit of “rib squidge” above the corset and below your bra band like I experienced. For people like us, there are longer mesh corsets available (like the gentle silhouette “Emma” underbust, or the curvy longline “Jolie” corset).

The mesh is the OTR standard “fishnet” type cotton netting, which offers breathability and quite a lot of flexibility, while the sturdy double boning adds body and rigidity to the corset for posture support and vertical tension. Do keep in mind that because the mesh can expand, this mesh corsets (like other mesh corsets) can expand 1-2 inches when worn (I find this is true of nearly all OTR corsets with this kind of fishnet material, regardless of the brand), so if you’re looking for a specific waist reduction, you may need to go one size down from your usual size – but ensure that your ribs and hips will fit that smaller size as well.

Find the Glamorous Corset Bella and other mesh corsets in their shop here.

Do you have the Bella corset, or another corset from Glamorous Corset? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below.

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What to Look for in the Perfect “Stealthing” Corset (Hiding corsets under clothing)

“Lucy, what’s the best corset that hides perfectly under clothing?”

Unfortunately, there is no corset in existence, past or present, that looks and feels completely like skin and flesh – however there are a few features to look for that can get you as close as possible. Keep in mind that all corsets are rigid though – at present, all corsets must contain strong fabric, bones for maintaining vertical tension, and laces in the back to adjust the measurements. But apart from that, the options are almost endless. Let’s look at what you should look for in a great stealthing corset. (Some links below support Lucy’s Corsetry so she can continue providing awesome info for free.)

COLOR:

Go for “nude” or skintone fabrics. Bright fabrics can draw attention under thin or light colored tops. Ivory, loomstate, peach, beige, tan, brown, etc – whatever you can find that is closest to your natural complexion.

(Some shameless self-promotion here) The skintone range by Timeless Trends is available in my shop – it suits 7 different skin tones: creme, vanilla, butterscotch, latte, caramel, cinnamon and chocolate. Most good OTR shops also have at least one “nude” option, which may range from peach to ivory to tan colored. Other examples include Orchard Corset, Isabella Corsetry, and Morgana Femme Couture.

Click here to see the full skintone collection in my shop ($74 – $99).

 

FABRIC CONTENT & WEAVE:

Satin is smooth and slippery and allows your clothing to glide overtop. But if you do go for satin, be sure that it’s fused to a stronger backing or roll-pinned – because unsupported satin has a tendency to wrinkle from stress, and these wrinkles can be noticeable. One example of a nude satin in OTR corsets is from Isabella Corsetry. You have the option of going with a peach, nude, or ballet pink cotton-backed satin (satin coutil) if you order custom from almost any reputable maker, which is the best of both worlds (strong, hardy, smooth and glides well under clothing).

For the purpose of training or daily wear corsets, when purchasing OTR / RTW, I usually recommend cotton twill or similar as an outer fabric – yes, it catches slightly more than slippery satin, but it generally doesn’t conduct static, it’s more durable and abrasion resistant, and it’s more breathable than synthetic polyester and better for the skin. Morgana Femme Couture uses nude cotton coutil, and Timeless Trends’ creme corset is 100% cotton as well.

Morgana Femme Couture Nude Coutil Waist Training / Tightlacing Corset ($230, Etsy)

BONING CHANNELS:

There are three different types of channels: external, sandwiched, and internal. I’d recommend either sandwiched or internal, as they create the smoothest finish on the outside of the corset.

Internal boning channels have the potential to be the most smooth on the outside but they are the least comfortable in my opinion (one rare exception is my Mimosa corset by Versatile, which has sandwiched bones on the inside and a floating fashion layer).
External channels are sewn to the outside of the corset, often in contrasting colors which is quite pretty – and truthfully, they have the potential to be the most comfortable with training corsets too, because you don’t have to deal with any bumps or pressure points with bones against your body – but external channels are not good for stealthing.
Sandwiched boning channels is what you see in many American OTR corsets like Orchard Corset (the double-boned styles only, like the 411 or 426) or Timeless Trends – they are a good compromise between smoothness, comfort and fashion, and they’re also often seen in training corsets.

Orchard Corset CS-411 in tan cotton ($69, use code CORSETLUCY for 10% off)

 

TOP AND BOTTOM EDGE:

Something that’s cut straight across is best, but gently rounded on top and bottom are pretty good too. Avoid points because they can bow and poke out under clothing, or they could dig into your sternum or pubic bone.

One example of a corset that’s cut fairly straight across the top and bottom edge is the CS-411 from Orchard Corset, the Classic Cincher from Isabella Corsetry, and the Mae and Gina corsets by What Katie Did (these can also be special ordered in a peach, ivory, cream, etc).

What Katie Did Mae Corset in cream raw silk (starts at $230 USD)

FRONT CLOSURE:

Good OTR training corsets are typically going to have a busk in front so you can quickly and easily get into and out of it, but it does cause a line of bumps down the front, especially if you’re wearing a fitted shirt.

Some training corsets come with the option of a closed front. You have to open the back laces a lot and slip the corset over your head (or slip it up from your feet, depending on whether your hips or your shoulders are larger) – so getting into and out of the corset isn’t going to be very quick. Busks are much quicker but more noticeable under clothing. One example of a closed front corset is the Meschantes trainer that I had reviewed a few years back.

If you are able to go custom with a maker that offers a good quality zipper in the front, but you will typically have to go custom for that.

Meschantes Nude Waist Training Corset with closed front ($119, Etsy)

 

BACK CLOSURE:

Unfortunately there’s no such thing as a corset with no laces! However, there are ways to hide your corset laces effectively – see the video below:

What are your requirements for the features in the perfect stealthing corset? What was the best stealthing corset you’ve ever tried? Leave a comment below!

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C&S Constructions Double Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Rainbow Holow Corset! Two C&S Constructions Corsets (Review / Study)” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Rainbow Holo Corset

Fit, length Center front is 10.5 inches long, princess seam is 9,5 inches, side seam is 9.5 inches and center back is 11.5 inches.
Underbust 29″, waist 21″, high hip 34″.
Rounded ribcage and rounded hips. The busk is flexible and allows inward bowing.
Material 2 main layers: fashion layer is holographic silver foil (almost like interwoven tinsel). Lined in herringbone coutil.
Construction 4 panel pattern! (Surprising as it’s so curvy.) Layers were flatlined, panels were assembled and reinforced with sturdy topstitch (seam allowances facing outside). External boning channels laid down over the seams.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape “invisibly” installed between the layers, full width.
Binding Bias strips of matching holographic foil material, machine stitched on both inside and outside (zigzag stitch; the foil material likes to shred/fray).
Modesty panel None (this is a sample). However on the C&S website, they say that all corset commissions come with a back modesty panel.
This corset sample does have a wide boned underbusk, covered in black herringbone coutil.
Busk 9″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side). The boned underbusk gives a bit more stiffness, but the corset still “dishes” on my body (this may be deliberate – common of C&S corsets, and this also seems to help me achieve a higher comfortable waist reduction in this corset).
Boning 11 steel bones, not including busk. 5 on each side, plus boned underbusk in front. On each side, 3 spirals single boned on the seams, and 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 30 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; spaced a little closer together at the waistline for easier lacing up. Underneath the grommets there are wider washers that act as a wider flange – they may help protect them from pulling out, they give more thickness for the grommet to “bite down” on (preventing wiggling or looseness, and they also hide any fraying or splitting of the outer holographic material. There are no splits in these. No wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces 3mm wide satin rattail cord. They have zero stretch, they glide well through the grommets (slippery), and they are long enough.

 

Purple with Lace Longline Corset

Fit, length Center front is 12.4 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches, side seam is 11.5 inches and center back is 13 inches.
Circumferential measurements: Underbust 28″, waist 20″, high hip 35″.
Conical ribcage. Slight hip shelf, and longline corset. Also bows at the front (likely a deliberate effect to get more of a waist reduction).
Material 3 main layers: fashion fabric is Cadbury purple satin (may be a satin coutil, or fused to a strength fabric), overlaid with black lace. Lined in black cotton drill.
Construction 4 panel pattern! (Surprising as it’s so curvy.) Layers were flatlined, panels were assembled and reinforced with sturdy topstitch (seam allowances facing outside). Black external boning channels laid down over the seams, plus extra bones in the middle of the panels (sandwiched between the layers).
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape “invisibly” installed between the layers, full width.
Binding Black satin ribbon (the same ribbon used for external boning channels), matchine stitched on both sides using a zigzag stitch.
Modesty panel None (this is a sample). However on the C&S website, they say that all corset commissions come with a back modesty panel.
This corset sample does have a wide boned underbusk, covered in black satin coutil.
Busk 11″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side). The boned underbusk gives a bit more stiffness, but the corset still “dishes” on my body (this may be deliberate – common of C&S corsets, and this also seems to help me achieve a higher comfortable waist reduction in this corset).
Boning 17 steel bones, not including busk. 8 on each side, plus boned underbusk in front. On each side, 3 spirals single boned on the seams, and an additional 3 bones in the middle of the panels. Also on each side there are 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 34 grommets total, size #x00 two-part eyelets with tiny flange; set closer at the waistline to make lacing up easier. On the underside, the eyelets were perforated (petals splayed out) but they don’t catch on the laces. There are still very large washers on the underside to prevent the eyelets from pulling out.
Laces 1/8″ wide flat black cotton shoelace. They have zero stretch or springiness, they glide well through the grommets, they hold knots and bows securely, and they are long enough.

 

C&S Model Karen models the same holographic corset – see this and other pictures on C&S Constructions website, in Gallery 1!

Final Thoughts:

Both of these corsets were made for one of C&S Constructions’ previous models, who had a slightly smaller ribcage and slightly fuller hips than me – so these weren’t made to measure for my body, but we’re “close enough” to be able to fit the same corsets similarly.

I adore the holo corset especially, and it’s a very thin and lightweight corset. Even though both corsets are a smaller waist than I’m accustomed to wearing these days (I prefer to stay at 22 inches, but the holo corset is 21″ and the purple corset is 20″), I’m able to achieve slightly more of a waist reduction in both of these because of the comfortable patterning, and also likely because of the slight “dishing” or bowing in the center front busk.

In both corsets, the construction is a bit more “rugged” than I’m accustomed to seeing these days. The overlocking / zigzag stitching is visible (especially on the inside of the corset). I thought this might have just been because these were sample corsets for photoshoots, but from other C&S customers I’ve spoken with, it seems that this was just the way many corsets were constructed in the 90s and early 2000s. While they’re just not as “tidy” in their finish compared to most corsets on the market today, these corsets have held up well over the years and give a beautiful silhouette, and are a reflection of C&S’s good reputation. Visit C&S Constructions website here.

Do you own this corset or another piece from C&S Constructions? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

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Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

We’ve talked about the shape of your lacing gap before (multiple times) and said that a parallel gap is what most people strive for in a well-fitting corset. But even in a corset with a parallel gap, how wide should that gap be? (And is it okay to wear it completely closed?) That’s what we’re going to discuss today!

 

Long story short: whether you wear a corset with a gap in the back or laced closed is 99% preference, unless a gap in the back is enforced by the specific corset maker you’re commissioning from.

With most OTR corsets, the size you see is the size you get.

In other words: if you order a corset that says it’s size 30″, then when it’s laced closed, your internal corseted waist will also be 30 inches (barring any stretch or ease).

Tomto Taifun corset
Taifun men’s corset by TO.mTO: An example of a corset that’s pretty much laced closed in the back. If you were to lace it any tighter, the edges would begin to overlap. (This lacing gap is okay!)

By the way, the definition of a “closed” corset is when the two edges of the lacing panels are touching. A closed corset does not mean one that is “simply laced enough for the modesty panel to reach across the back”. (There is way too much variation between the width of modesty panels of different brands – some panels are 4 inches wide, others are like 7 inches wide, and some don’t have modesty panels at all!)

So closed means that it’s laced shut and you can’t get it any smaller without actually altering the corset (see photo to the right).

Why would someone want or need a lacing gap in their corset?

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to wear a corset with a small lacing gap:

  • it can add some flexibility to the back of the corset. I’ve heard it described as the open laces acting like a hinge – so as you swing your hips when you’re walking or bending or doing activities, the corset can shift and swing with you.
  • If you have a sensitive spine (say you have very low body fat and your vertebrae visibly protrude from your back), you might find it more comfortable to wear the corset with a gap so the steels of the corset don’t rub against your back.
  • Having a gap in the back also accounts for weight fluctuations. If you happen to lose 5-10 pounds, your corset will still fit without feeling too loose.

But then again… if you want to wear your corset closed, that’s okay too.

  • Almost everyone I’ve seen in a corset, regardless of their body fat, experience the “Venus fold” – this is where the skin and erector muscles of your back get pushed together to create a cleavage in the back. (That’s not necessarily fat, people of every size can get that to some degree – and same with “muffin top” in corsets with a too-tight ribcage.) So if you are prone to the Venus fold, which more than likely you are, you might not have to worry about the corset rubbing against your spine, and you might be able to wear the corset completely closed with comfort if that’s your desire.
  • Also, if you are like myself and many others, and your weight fluctuations tend towards increasing as opposed to decreasing (especially as you age), you may find it more economical to order your corsets in such as size that they lace closed when at one’s lower end of your comfortable weight range. I do this as well (I’m happy to lace closed my size 22″, and if /when I eventually gain some inches, the gap in the back of my corset will not be too large).

I don’t wear my corsets closed all the time.

A relatively tubular corset laced in a )( shape, to make the corset seem curvier than it really is. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

Because I prefer the cycle method of wearing my corset (even though I don’t train per se anymore), throughout the day I may fluctuate the tightness based on my personal comfort level. For the purpose of my corset reviews though, I like the tidy look of a closed corset – and a corset that is closed from top to bottom is giving no illusions about the size I am wearing, or the silhouette the corset gives. I can’t “lie” about a tubular corset being curvier than it actually is by wearing the corset with a wonky )( shape in the back. In my reviews, I’m all about transparency – if the gap in the back is closed, you know that what you see is what you get.

I’m also transparent about the size I’m wearing, so you aren’t getting any illusion about the amount of curve you receive in a corset relative to the size. A 10-inch hip spring on a size 20″ corset is a 50% difference from waist to hips, which makes that small corset seem incredibly curvy. But a 10-inch hip spring on a size 40″ corset will only look half as curvy, because the waist is twice as big. Over the years I’ve worn corsets as small as size 20″ and as large as size 26″, and I mention this in my videos because the size does affect the apparent curve of the corset.

(There have been some corset makers who tried to make a range of corsets where the rib- and hip-springs increased proportionally with the size, but the complications involved in producing and fitting customers is with those types of corsets is a story for another time.)

Many OTR brands recommend a 2-3 inch wide lacing gap.

black-steel-boned-long-hourglass-back
OTR corset with a standard 2-inch lacing gap in the back, to account for fluctuations. Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset, available from my shop. (This lacing gap is okay too!)

Like I said before: most OTR corsets are designed and made such that, if you wear the corset closed, then your internal waist will measure what it says on the label. However, it’s worth noting that many OTR brands train their employees to give sizing advice such that the customer will wear it with a 2-3 inch gap in the back. So if Sally-Joe from Blorset Corsets looks at your measurements and says your measurements almost perfectly match a size 30″ corset laced closed, she may recommend you buy the size 28″ instead, so that it’s deliberately worn with a gap. This may be for several reasons:

  • If you as a customer are extra compressible and lace the corset closed on the first wear, it would be considered too big (even if the ribs and hips of your corset fit flush with your body)
  • If your OTR corset is known to stretch or ease over time, the size 28″ might expand to fit you similarly to the (unstretched) size 30″. This is often the reason for going down a size in mesh corsets, for instance.

When prospective clients are coming through my personalized sizing service for the corsets in my shop, I will often recommend two sizes – the size that will lace closed in the back, and the size that will fit them with a small gap in the back.

If the client is in the process of losing weight, I will recommend the smaller size as it may fit them for a longer time (they may not drop in size proportionally, but at least the larger corset will not be too big in a short amount of time). If the client’s weight fluctuates towards increasing, I might recommend the larger corset, for the reasons I mentioned above in this article. If the person aesthetically likes the corset laced closed, they can choose the larger corset – or if they like the corset with a gap, they can choose the smaller corset.

How wide of a gap is too wide?

A too-small corset: the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

I’ve spoken about this in my addendum to corset gaps article. If you’ve got a 10-inch gap in the back of your corset –> the side seams of the corset are offset too much from the side of your body –> you don’t have appropriate torque to tighten the corset –> this runs the risk of putting uneven stress on the corset and warping it, and putting too much pressure on the back of your body and not enough tension at the front of the body. (See picture to the right.)

What is a good guideline for a gap that is just the right size?

A 1-3 inch gap is generally fine for many people and it won’t offset the seams of an OTR corset or the intended fit too much, even if your weight fluctuates by an estimated 5-10 pounds.

One guideline for the maximum gap in the back of the corset is the distance between your Venus Dimples.

For other brands (e.g. Dark Garden), they say that a gap that is about 10% of your size of your corset is fine. So if you wear a 60 inch corset (which do exist, just not in OTR), your gap in the back can be 6 inches wide and it won’t affect the fit by too much. But a 6-inch wide gap on someone wearing a size 20” is definitely not going to look/ feel/ fit the same way, and its best to aim for a 2-inch gap for that size.

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What Katie Did Vamp Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “What Katie Did (WKD) Vamp Corset 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 11 inches long, the princess seam is 9 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10 inches, and the center back is 11.75 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, low hip spring is 13″. The rib is conical, and the hip spring is rounded / shelf-like and dramatic.
Material 3 main layers – the fashion fabric aubergine silk and contrasting pewter brocade (see Final Thoughts below), it has a cotton twill strength fabric, and it’s lined in black cotton twill as well.
Construction 7-panel pattern (14 panels total) including hip gores. Fashion fabric was flatlined to strength fabric, panels were assembled, and external boning channels laid down overtop. The lining is floating.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape, usually installed “invisibly” between the layers. This corset has an external waist belt which is aesthetic and also functional.
Binding Made from strips of pewter brocade, machine stitched on outside and inside (topstitch on both sides, may have a special attachment that stitches on the binding in one pass). Also has 6 garter tabs, 3 on each side.
Modesty panel Nearly 8″ wide, unstiffened, finished in aubergine silk (fashion fabric) and lined in cotton. Attached to the corset (sewn into the lining of the corset, so can’t easily be removed).
In the front, there is a 3/8″ wide placket under the knob side of the busk, slightly stiffened (buckram?) and finished in matching raw silk.
Busk 10 inches long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. 3/4″ wide on each side (slightly wider than a standard flexible busk), with an adjacent flat steel on either side of the busk for extra stiffness.
Boning 18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Some seams are single boned and some seams are double boned, depending on how much space there is (perhaps the larger sizes have more bones?). The bones on the seams are all ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are ¼ inch wide flat steel, as well as the bones by the busk.
Grommets There are 22, two-part size #0 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver.
Laces The laces are black, 3/8 inch flat nylon shoelace. They have a little spring, they’re difficult to snap, they hold bows and knots well, and they are long enough.
Price Available in size 18″ up to 34″.
Price starts at £169.50 GBP ($275 USD) for the classic Vamp in solid satin colors, and price may go up from there depending on what you choose in their “Designer” section.

 

Final Thoughts:

WKD Vamp corset in black satin.

Of all the underbust corsets from What Katie Did, this might just be my favorite. It’s just as curvy as the Morticia underbust, but made to be a more “squat” version so you get all the curve in less of the length. It provides the look and support of a longline corset while still allowing those with a shorter waist (or shorter of stature) to sit down comfortably.

True to WKD aesthetic, it’s quite conical over the ribs, dramatic over the hips, and gives a very flat tummy, making it ideal to wear under retro clothing.

 

I chose the color and overall design of this Vamp corset by submitting my choices in their Corset Designer – for the fashion fabric, I chose a rich, deep aubergine raw dupioni silk, and I requested external boning channels, binding and an external diamond waist tape all made from a pewter / gunmetal (dark silver) floral brocade. You can choose different colors or fabrics for all of these components, or you can choose to not have any contrasting channels or any belt at all (you do need binding, but you can have it match the rest of the corset). Ordering a special design corset automatically makes the corset a WKD Gold Label corset.

Do keep in mind that their “Design your own Corset” section is mainly for colors, fabrics, embellishments and trims for a selection of their standard sized corsets, and it does not give a made-to-measure option. They can make corsets 1 inch longer or 1 inch shorter at the top / bottom edge compared to the base pattern, but this is the extent of the pattern changes they’re able to do.

What Katie Did’s Vamp corset can be found on their website here.

EDIT 2018: What Katie Did has discontinued the Vamp corset and has created an entirely new line of corsets! The probable equivalent of their old Vamp is their new Extreme Morticia Nouveau corset.

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No, Wraps Don’t Cause Fat Loss or Detox Your Body

This Fast Foundation Friday topic is thanks to a fan request – thanks to “KT” for suggesting a video on plastic wrap under corsets. (If any readers have requests for future FF videos, leave a comment below.)

Wearing plastic wrap under your corset is not the best of ideas. Wearing plastic wrap at all isn’t a good idea, actually.

Back in 2011 I made a couple of videos explaining potential skin issues that can arise from wearing corsets improperly or in an unhygienic way – some of these issues can include bacterial and fungal skin infections, broken skin, etc. There are ways to prevent these issues, like wearing a washable, breathable and moisture-wicking corset liner between yourself and the corset, trying mesh corsets for better air flow to your skin, etc. But in this post I’ll address the two main reasons why people claim to wear plastic wrap, other types of wraps, or unbreathable garments next to their skin: for weight loss, and for detoxification purposes.

Myth #1:

Wraps heat up the body through “thermogenesis”, and helps “burn more fat” around the waist and lead to spot reduction.


“Sweating out the fat” is unfortunately bad science.
When I was a kid I remember an adult saying “if you’re not sweating while you’re exercising, you’re not working out hard enough, you’re not burning enough calories”.

 

Why this is incorrect (the scientific explanation)

If you’re exercising, you’re taking organic molecules of fat and sugar and combining it with oxygen you breathe to transfer the energy in those bonds to ATP, and then converting ATP to ADP and free phosphorus and energy to move your actin and myosin, which makes your muscles move. This is an exothermic reaction (moving from higher energy bonds to lower energy bonds) and also a fairly inefficient reaction, so part of the energy is lost as thermal energy (aka heat). This causes your body to heat up during exertion and then your body produces sweat, which absorbs your body heat and then evaporates in an effort to cool you down.

Sidenote: If your body heats up too much without a cooling system like sweating, then by the time your body reaches ~42°C (107°F), many of the proteins in your body’s cells actually lose their shape (denature) and stop working, and this can be fatal. This is why they say if you ever have a fever of over 106°F you should immediately go to the hospital.

(The layperson’s explanation)

That is to say, the heat is a byproduct of exercise, but heat in and of itself does not mean that you’re burning more calories. You may might burn a tiny amount of energy just through the mechanism of vasodilation and sweating, however shivering from the cold activates your muscles and also burns calories. A sizable number of the calories you consume in a day is allotted to maintaining your body heat at 37°C (98.6°F) instead of having it cool to room temperature. What are you doing if you’re helping your body increase its core temperature more efficiently?

Put another way: an engine gets hot because it’s working. Simply heating up an inactive engine will not necessarily make it work.

 

Myth #2:

Wraps increase the amount you sweat and “help you to detox” your body more effectively.


There are people who say that you can sweat out heavy metals and other toxins. This is to a small extent true, but your skin is only responsible for about 1% of the total detoxification of your body (according to toxicologist David Cruz). Your liver, kidneys, lungs, and even your gut helps with most of the detoxification of your body.

The body’s natural detoxification processes (the abridged scientific explanation)

Let’s say you eat something toxic. Your microbiome, partially comprised of your beneficial gut bacteria, can help to deactivate some toxins and prevent them from being absorbed into your gut in the first place, so it passes through your body instead of absorbing it into your blood stream.

If it does get absorbed from your intestines, your liver should filter out the majority of toxins. Anything you absorb from your guts goes through the portal vein to the liver to be cleaned and processed before it gets into the rest of the body. Your liver has well over 500 functions in the body, so it gets “first dibs” in many of the nutrients, and it also cleans and filters the blood before it’s sent out to the rest of your body.

And if the toxins still get through to the rest of the body, then the liver or kidneys are constantly filtering them to catch them again and dump them into the poop or urine. Some water soluble toxins can also be expelled through the lungs. By the time toxins are circulating through your body long enough to get pushed out of the blood stream into the interstitial fluid, percolate into your dermis and be sweated out, this might mean that the other detoxification systems in your body didn’t catch them in time, meaning they are not as effective as they should be, or may be overwhelmed.

 

(The layperson’s explanation)

Of course, sweating is good (even if it is a relatively inefficient form of detoxification). But your skin would not be a form of detoxification, however small, if it weren’t necessary. However, trapping the sweat in next to your skin for hours may be defeating the purpose.

In a normal situation, you sweat, then it beads up and rolls off your body, or gets wicked into your absorbable fabric, or it evaporates with the wind. But putting plastic wrap or unbreathable fabrics over your skin traps the sweat in, and that clamminess you feel when you take it off means that whatever you sweated out before, just turned around and got absorbed by your skin again.

Think of transdermal patches (like the birth control patch), cortisone creams, and other topical medications which get absorbed into your skin and circulate throughout the body. Whatever you detox out through your sweat, if it stays next to your skin for hours every day, can also have the opportunity to be absorbed right back into your system. (Same as toxins that get dumped by your liver into the intestines – if you have a lazy bowel, these toxins can be reabsorbed again, but I’ll address this another day). So unfortunately, forcing your body to sweat but not getting rid of the sweat doesn’t work to detoxify the body the way that many people hope it does.

 

“But why do I lose weight and why do I look more muscular when I wear wraps?”

Let’s say that you do sweat profusely and this sweat was wicked away. You’ve lost both water and electrolytes, and you’ve effectively dehydrated yourself. This temporarily relieves edema in your skin, and this is a well-known trick amongst body builders and fitness models to bring out the definition of the muscles and vascularity. But drink some water, rehydrate your body, and take in a balanced amount of electrolytes, and you will see plumpness return to your skin and that water weight come back.

If you are personally an advocate for sweating for detoxification, I would say that a more effective way of sweating is taking a warm bath and letting your sweat be washed away by clean water. But plastic wrap is never required for waist training, weight loss, or detoxification – and for certain people, this may be doing more harm than good.

 

What do you think about the “wraps” trend? Leave a comment below or under the Youtube video.

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Morgana Femme Couture MF1303 Gold Satin with Black Lace Longline Underbust Review (MFC)

This entry is a summary of the review video “Morgana Femme Couture Lace Overlay Longline Underbust Corset (MF1303) Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 14 inches long, princess seam is 12 inches (5.5″ above the waist, 6.5″ below the waist), side seam is 13 inches and center back is 14 inches.
Underbust 27″, waist 22″, low hip 36″.
Traditional hourglass silhouette with conical ribcage. Longline corset, recommended for tall or long-waisted people. Will hold in lower tummy pooch, recommended for pear-shaped people.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is gold satin, with black lace overlay. The interlining (strength fabric) is 100% English cotton coutil, lining of cotton twill. Boning channels are satin coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. The strength fabric, satin and lace were all flatlined and panels assembled, and external boning channels strengthen seams. Floating lining.
Waist tape 1″ wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers, secured down at boning channels. Full width (center front to center back).
Binding Black satin coutil bias tape neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside with a small topstitch (may have been stitched in one pass, using a special attachment). No garter tabs.
Modesty panel By default, MFC corsets don’t come with a modesty panel in back. In the front there’s an unboned placket, about ¼ inch wide, finished in black satin coutil, extending out from under knob side of the busk.
Busk 12.5″ long, with 6 loops and pins (the last two a bit closer together). Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) of average stiffness, and reinforced with backed with a ¼” wide flat bone on each side. See Final Thoughts for how it was covered.
Boning 24 steel bones not including busk. On each side, 9 spirals (1/4″ wide) are single boned on the seam (and also in the middle of the panels) in external channels, 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets and an additional flat steel by the busk.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set a bit closer together at the waistline, the occasional split, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong 1/8″ wide cotton flat shoe-lace style laces; they have zero stretch, they hold the bows and knots well, and they are long enough.
Price Available in waist sizes 18″ up to 26″. Currently $300 USD on their Etsy store (standard size, ready-to-wear) or $290-$350 USD on the MFC website (made-to-measure and custom colours, price depends on the size).

 

Additional Thoughts:

Morgana Femme Couture MC1303 longline corset, with satin and lace overlay. Photo courtesy of Awin / Etsy.

I purchased this corset from a friend (Jasmine Ines of Sin & Satin) and I believe I’m the third owner – so this corset has held up extremely well considering how old it is and how much it’s been worn. However, it was not made for my body – it was made-to-measure for the first customer, who has a much smaller ribcage and much fuller hips than I have, as well as someone with a much longer torso from the waist down compared to me.

As per usual, I’m quite impressed by the quality of the materials in this corset. The gold satin and black lace overlay feels lush (and if you dislike the gold, you can have the corset made in nearly any other color of satin you like), English herringbone coutil strength layer, satin coutil boning channels and cotton lining. Once you go quality, you won’t want to go back.

Another rare feature of MFC corsets is their “skinny panel” over the busk – on the loop side, it’s often one continuous piece of fabric that wraps around the busk, with buttonholes for the loops to peek through. This prevents any possibility of the center front seam ripping open. I’m on the fence as to whether I like the look of buttonholes, as it can make the busk look a bit “hairy” compared to a clean seam, but I can’t deny that it is strong construction.

The only thing I would improve upon in this corset is I wish they were available in a wider range of sizes! There are so many full figured women who would love to own an MFC corset, it would be great if MFC could eventually expand their most popular corsets up into the 30+ waist range – at least for made-to-order corsets.

See Morgana Femme Couture’s MF1303 corset here, or visit their Etsy shop here.

Do you own this corset or another piece from Morgana Femme Couture? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

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JL (Sultry Confinement) Mesh Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the mesh underbust corset made by JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Circumferential measurements: Underbust 28″, waist 22″, high hip 32″.
Length: Center front is 12.5 inches, princess seam is 9.5 inches, side seam is 9 inches, and center back is 12 inches. Slightly rounded in the ribcage, and a hip shelf.
Material Single layer of mesh made from quality “sports jersey” or athletic shoe type of material. The boning channels and binding are made from fashion fabric of teal silk (sourced by Christine), black herringbone coutil strength fabric, and a cheery bright green lining.
Construction 5-panel pattern (10 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge over the lower tummy, panels 3-4 give space over the hip. Mesh panels were assembled and boning channels sandwich the mesh fabric, straddling the seams and reinforcing the seams.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape, installed on the inside of the corset and secured at the boning channels. Full width, extending from center front to center back.
Binding Made from strips of matching teal silk, machine stitched on outside and inside (tidy topstitch on both sides).
Modesty panel No back modesty panel.
The front modesty placket is 3/4 inch wide, extending from the knob side of the busk, made from matching teal silk (probably fused to coutil).
Busk 11 inches long, with 5 loops and pins, the last two a bit closer together. 1″ wide on each side (heavy duty busk), fairly stiff.
Boning 20 bones total in this corset, 10 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are ¼ inch wide flat steel.
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (14 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced a bit closer together at the waistline, and finished in black. Most likely Prym brand eyelets.
Laces The laces are black, 1/8 inch flat cotton shoelace. They have no spring, they hold bows and knots well, and they are long enough.

 

Final Thoughts:

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

JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement is a one-woman business based in Wales.

This corset has a sentimental connection to our mutual friend, Christine Wickham (AGirlFromDownUnder / Ariadne’s Thread). Around 2013, Christine commissioned a couple of corsets from Jacinta of JL Corsets, sending her some lovely teal silk all the way from Australia to Wales to be used as the fashion fabric. Christine adored her mesh corset from Jacinta especially.

Shortly after Christine’s passing, Jacinta had some leftover teal silk from Christine’s previous commission, and she made a second corset in a standard size – a “twin” to one of Christine’s corsets, and auctioned it off on Ebay with 100% of proceeds going to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), an organization that Christine passionately supported and hoped to one day join, once she became a physician.

The measurements of this auctioned corset were similar enough to my own, Christine was a dear friend of mine, I knew that she adored her own corsets from JL Corsets, and the proceeds were going to an excellent cause, so I felt that I had to win this auction.

Although I’m not certain whether Jacinta is still in the business of making corsets, I’m so grateful to her for her charitable work and lovely keepsake that I will cherish for many years to come.

Do you have a corset from JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below! See more corsets from JL Corsets on Facebook and on Etsy.

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PaperCats “Porcelain” Sweetheart Overbust Corset Review

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

Fit, length Center front is 14 inches, princess seam is 16.5 inches (10″ from the waist up, 6.5″ from the waist down), side seam is 14.5 inches, and center back is 14 inches long. The size Small is equivalent to 23″ in the waist.
The bust spring is 10 inches and the lower hip spring is 12 inches (slightly curvier than their size chart).
Material Two main layers: The fashion fabric is a poly-cotton toile de jouy, and the lining is white twill (also poly-cotton blend).
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 give room for the bust, and panels 3-4 give space for the hip. Constructed using the welt-seam method with one bone on each seam.
Binding Made from navy blue cotton bias tape. Machine stitched on the outside and inside (topstitch on the outside, stitched in the ditch on the inside). No garter tabs.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel 6 inches wide, unstiffened, finished in matching toile de jouy on the outside and twill inside, and sewn to one side of the corset. There is also a ¾ inch wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, also finished in toile de jouy.
Busk 13 inches long. 6 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a heavier busk (1 inch wide on each side), with a bit of flexibility.
Boning 14 bones total, not including busk. Single boned on the seams, using ¼” wide spiral bones. Beside the grommets, the outer bone is flat while the inner bone is spiral, giving some flexibility to the back.
Grommets 30 two-part grommets, size #00 (very tiny), with a small flange. Finished in silver, and equidistantly spaced about 1″ apart. Small washers in the back; splits in the back but they don’t catch the laces too much.
Laces Navy blue round nylon cord – a little springy, but difficult to snap or break. It’s long enough and holds knots and bows well.
Price This particular style is $90 USD in their Etsy shop (now sold out on their main website).
Shipping to North America was ~ $17 USD extra.

 

Final Thoughts:

PaperCats Porcelain overbust modeled by Absentia. Sold out on their main site; click the photo to go to Etsy.

Papercats is part of the “Polish OTR Corset Trifecta” (along with Restyle and Rebel Madness). Lately Poland has been dominating the niche of curvy budget corsets with pieces that start from less than $50 for certain underbust styles.

I love the gently curved ribcage, and how the bust of the corset curves over the top of the breast to ‘cup’ the tissue and keep me secure within the corset. The only thing I would change of the pattern is to make it a bit longer from the waist up, and shorter from the waist down so it covers more of my bust but doesn’t hit my lap when I sit. However, someone with a higher waistline would fit this corset nicely.

The super lovely toile de juoy fashion fabric has Japanese inspired imagery (temples, cherry trees, birds and flowers) and the color scheme indeed makes it resemble blue and white porcelain.

I would use this corset for special events and occasional tightlacing; its lightweight construction and flexibility may make it a good “starter corset” for someone who is unsure if they want to dabble in wearing corsets and they don’t want to break the bank – but I wouldn’t train in it regularly (besides, its more difficult to train in overbusts in general).

This design is currently sold out on PaperCats Corsets, their newer website reserved just for their limited corset collections. However it is currently available in their Etsy shop along with other new styles as well.

Do you have this corset or another PaperCats corset? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below.

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Introducing Corset Database + Giveaway!!

For many years I have been categorizing and organizing all my corset research in many different locations on this blog (location in the Corsetiere Map, price on the Brands by Budget page, corset dimensions and measurements in the Lace Base, etc.)

Finally after months of work, I have finally consolidated this information in the new Corset Database!

Click to see the new database!

See the video below on how to use the database to its fullest potential, define your perfect corset, and add your input! At the end of the video I show you how to enter the launch contest, where you have the opportunity to win ANY corset, of ANY brand in the database, valued at $150 USD or less!

 

 

Contest closes on March 15, 2017 at 23:59 EST. The winner will be chosen on March 16th.

Good luck, and thanks to my many readers and subscribers for making the Corset Database a reality!

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Glamorous Corset “Lara” Waist Trainer Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Lara” waist training underbust corset in black mesh, made by Glamorous 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 just short of 12.5 inches long, princess seam is 9.5 inches (5 inches from the waist up, 4.5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 10.5 inches and the center back is 12.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, lower hip spring is 10″. Ribs are on the conical side. This is a “mid-hip” corset, which covers the iliac crest slightly, but this corset can still be worn by those with an average length torso.
Material Feels like 2 layers of black cotton bull denim (center front panels were more heavily interfaced than the other panels).
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge and taper towards the lower tummy. Panels 3-4 provide space over the hips.
Panels were assembled using the welt-seam method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, stitched “invisibly” between the two layers. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching bias strips of black bull denim, machine stitched on both sides. The topside was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. Also 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel 6.5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton bull denim. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, also finished in black cotton.
Busk 11” long, with 5 loops and pins, the lower two a bit closer together. Standard flexible busk (no adjacent bones by the busk).
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (stainless steel, so they attract the magnet slightly less).
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. The washers are larger than the top-hat side (which is a perk). Many splits on the underside of the grommets, but due to the choice of laces, they don’t catch too much.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy / spongey, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Sizes 18″ – 30″ are $79 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here (this ref link will give you 15% off your first purchase).

 

Final Thoughts:

Lara training underbust corset, model unknown. $79-$84 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

This is a heavy duty piece, so if you’re looking for a “little black corset” or entry-level trainer that’s more on the rigid or thicker side, you may like this one. Its conical silhouette and gently rounded hip offer a lovely silhouette, but if you have inflexible or sensitive ribs that can’t tolerate a conical rib corset, you might want to start with a different style instead.

If you like the silhouette and length or this corset but prefer a more lightweight and flexible version, it comes in mesh as well. While I haven’t reviewed the mesh Lara per se, take a look at my Jolie mesh review so you know what to expect from the Glamorous mesh pieces.

This corset also came in a lovely velvet drawstring storage / dustbag, which I always like.

Find the Glamorous Corset Lara and other training corsets in their shop here (using this referral link will get you 15% off your first purchase).

 

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Glamorous Corset “Jolie” Mesh Longline Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Jolie” longline corset in black mesh, made by Glamorous 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 just short of 14 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 12.5 inches and the center back is 14 inches long.
Rib spring is 8″, lower hip spring is 12″. Ribs are gently rounded due to the flexibility and expansion of the mesh. Longline corset, coming low over the abdomen and hips.
Material The mesh parts are single layer hexagonal-hole “fishnet” style netting (seemingly industry standard for OTR). The front and back panels, boning channels and binding are all black cotton bull denim (a coarse weave twill).
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge and taper towards the lower tummy. Panels 3-4 provide space over the hips. Panels were assembled together, and seams were sandwiched by boning channels on the outside and inside.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from single-faced satin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset and secured at boning channels. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching black bull denim, machine stitched on both sides. The front was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. Also 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel 5.5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton bull denim. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, also finished in black cotton.
Busk 11.5” long, with 5 loops and pins, the lower two a bit closer together. Standard flexible busk, with an additional ¼” spiral steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 26 bones total in this corset, 13 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones adjacent to the busk are also spiral steel. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 28, two-part size #00 grommets (14 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. The washers are larger than the top-hat side (which is a perk). Many splits on the underside of the grommets, but due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch too much.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy / spongey, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Sizes 18″ – 30″ are $79 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here (this ref link will give you 15% off your first purchase).

 

Final Thoughts:

Jolie Mesh longline underbust corset, model unknown. $79-$84 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

The Jolie corset is my first review of seven different mesh corset reviews I did in 2017, showing that mesh corsets are now a huge part of the OTR corset market and they’re definitely here to stay!

The Jolie is quite possibly the longest mesh underbust I’ve ever tried – many of the Orchard Corset mesh pieces are shorter from the waist down and stop slightly higher on my hip, while many of Mystic City’s corsets are shorter from the waist up and stop short of my underbust. If you have a very long torso and need more coverage and support both above and below the waist, the Jolie may be a viable option for you. However, if you have a seated torso length of less than 10 inches, you might feel more comfortable in a shorter mesh corset instead.

The mesh is the OTR standard “fishnet” type cotton netting, which offers breathability and quite a lot of flexibility, while the sturdy double boning adds body and rigidity to the corset for posture support and vertical tension. Do keep in mind that because the mesh can expand, this mesh corsets (like other mesh corsets) can expand 1-2 inches when worn (I find this is true of nearly all OTR corsets with this kind of fishnet material, regardless of the brand), so if you’re looking for a specific waist reduction, you may need to go one size down from your usual size.

Find the Glamorous Corset Jolie and other mesh corsets in their shop here (using this referral link will get you 15% off your first purchase).

 

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Why do we call it “Seasoning” your corset?

A few weeks ago someone asked where the word “seasoning” came from (in the context of corset seasoning).

I had looked up the etymology of the word “season” for kicks and giggles 2 years ago, but I hadn’t made a video about it at the time because, well, after my video/ article on intuitive seasoning I just got tired of talking about seasoning. People continued to argue about how to properly execute it, and it became like beating a dead horse. Some people prefer to follow a schedule, others don’t, that’s fine.

Where I disagree with some people is when they claim that seasoning is 100% for the person, and that the corset doesn’t change when worn over time (I’m of the opinion that it prepares a beginner’s body and the corset simultaneously). While I’m bored of this subject, I will probably make a video on it to explain why a person can pick up two corsets and they can still tell which one has been worn and which one hasn’t, even though both of their horizontal dimensions may still measure true.

But today, I’m focusing only on the etymology of the word “season”. It’s actually a bit romantic (just in time for Valentine’s Day, heh).

(And it has only a little to do with cinnamon and turmeric.)

Season: “a process of priming an object for a specific use”


This definition isn’t the first, but it is the most applicable – its use was first documented in the 1500s (close to the time that what we consider payres of bodies, the ancestor of corsets, was also first documented, coincidentally). However, the term “seasoning” was used more for timber: treating wood to be used for building, carpentry, etc. (Around the same time, “season” became slang “to make love to” a person or thing). Today, we still use “season” in this context for cookware: for example sealing and preparing a cast iron pan for a lifetime of use (baking oil into the pores of the iron, not sprinkling herbs into the pan).

So for over 500 years, to “season an object” has meant to prepare, prime, or ready that object for its intended use, and for 500 years has had sensual and gentle connotations.

If you don’t care about the other definitions of seasoning, you can stop watching the video here, but for those history buffs we can also discuss the other applications of the word “season”, starting with the Latin root from almost 1000 years ago.

Serere: “to sow” (and later Saison: “a period of time” e.g. seasons of the year)


The first definition of season came from the Latin word “to sow (a field)”. A specific period of time in which you perform a certain task. Sowing your field is also specific to a certain amount of labor or investment you put in and you expect to receive a return on your investment later on. In this context, seasoning your corset could mean that specific period of time where your body and the corset are getting familiar with one another, or putting in work in preparation for “harvest”, (in this case, priming your body to be able to tolerate waist training or larger corset reductions later on).

Assaisoner: “to ripen” and become ready for use


The most common modern definition of the word “season” is in context of flavors and spices. This came from the French word “assaisoner” which actually originated from the word “to ripen”. Unripe fruit starts out green and crispy, but over time as the fiber breaks down into digestible sugars, it becomes softer – more tender – and it’s quite tasty when it’s ripe. Adding herbs and spices to a meat or dish is a way of making it more palatable (and also softer/ more digestible after cooking it) and tastier.

When you get a new corset, particularly an off the rack corset, it tends to be pretty crispy – part of this is due to the thickness of the fabrics, the fact that the sizing (starches, pesticides and other chemicals in the fabric) wasn’t washed out before constructing the corset, and the number of layers – especially when it comes to OTR corsets, which can be 3-4 layers thick. But a “seasoned” corset makes it softer and less crispy (essentially “riper”) and it’s more comfortable for long term wear.

Also, wearing a corset gently also seasons you. I have gained flexibility in my oblique muscles, because the corset stretches these muscles. (Remember a curve is always longer than a straight line, so the more waist reduction my corset gives on the side, the more it curves inward, the more the oblique is being stretched. My body has been trained to tolerate this stretch over long durations and remain comfortable, so my body has become seasoned as well.)

Just as a mango is (ideally) plucked from the tree once ripe and it’s ready for consumption, so our bodies (and our corsets) when they’re seasoned and prepped, you’re ready to start training, if desired. Which leads nicely into the other context of seasoning, that being experience.

Seasoned by Experience (e.g. “a seasoned professional”)


A person who has a considerable amount knowledge, skill, or experience in a particular topic/ activity can be said to be “seasoned” – for instance a “seasoned pilot”. A well-loved and frequently-worn corset has, in a sense, gained the “experience” of fitting its its wearer – even after removing the corset, it retains the “memory” of the shape of its owner, all the curves, hills and valleys of their body. And of course, a person that wears corsets frequently or for many years can be called a seasoned corseter or seasoned lacer.

Any way you turn it, the word “season” works for corsets.

By contrast, consider the etymology of the word “break”


Of course, it’s considered more common to use the term “break in” with clothing, specifically shoes.

How ballet dancers break in their pointe shoes is interesting: they forcefully bend the instep, they hit the toe box against a hard surface like the floor (or they might just take a hammer to it), they tend to take a knife and score the sole, they may rip the shank to make it more flexible, etc. It makes your dance shoes much more comfortable, almost immediately, but dancers I’ve spoken with have told me that their shoes might last a few months at best, but many people go through several shoes for every performance – their shoes may not last a whole show.

Synonyms of break include: shatter, fracture, burst; injure, violate, destroy, disintegrate, disconnect, crush, pound, etc. Breaking in dance shoes is a relatively violent process, compared to breaking in a corset (which is basically just wearing it… just not quite as tightly as you plan to in the future).

Understandably, this is not what we associate with of the word “break in” today, and I don’t mind when anyone says that they “break in” their corset instead of season, because really in this context, the two are interchangeable. Even I use the terms interchangeably depending on the audience I’m speaking to, as some are more familiar with one term or the other.

I personally prefer to say season because it has soft, gentle, sensual, time-associated connotations throughout history. To me, the term “seasoning” seems more harmonious with my idea of corsets and what they represent.

But those who exclusively use the term “season” shouldn’t get hung up on the destructive connotations of the word “break”, and those who exclusively use the term “break in” shouldn’t get hung up on the culinary associations with the word “season”. This is how language flows and develops over time, and one term is not more correct than the other.


Do you prefer the term “season” or “break-in”, and why? Leave a comment below!

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Gemini Corset Review (Timeless Trends / Lucy Corsetry collaboration)

Disclosure: I designed the Gemini underbust in both silhouettes, and it’s manufactured by Timeless Trends. If you’re considering purchasing a Gemini corset and you’d like to support my business and designs, please consider purchasing the Gemini here through my online shop.

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (fairly evenly distribued above and below), the side seam is 11 inches and the center back is 13.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 8″, high hip spring is 12″, and low hip spring is 16″.
Comes in 2 silhouettes (low rib spring of conical rib version is 2.5″, and low rib spring of round rib version is 5″).
Material All designs are 3 layers: The fashion fabric is a choice of creme cotton or black cashmere, and the lining and interlining are always cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 2-3-4 give space for the roundness of the ribs in the cupped rib verion, and panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip. Constructed using the sandwich method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of fashion fabric (creme cotton or black cashmere), machine stitched on both sides. Stitched in the ditch on the outside, and small topstitch on the inside. Also has 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel No back modesty panel, but stiffened floating modesty panels are available for separate purchase (the Gemini would fit the long panels). In the front, there is a 1/2 inch wide modesty placket, finished in the same fashion fabric.
Busk 10” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk, 1/2″ wide on each side (with adjacent flat steels on each side).
Boning For sizes 22″ and above, there are 32 bones total in this corset, 16 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals, and single spirals in the middle of the wider panels, panels 3-4-5 (sizes 18″ and 20″ don’t have these extra bones in the middle of the panels due to the panels being so narrow). The bones sandwiching the grommets are 3/8″ wide flat steel, and one flat steel adjacent to the busk.
Grommets There are 28, two-part size #0 grommets (14 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in pewter / gunmetal grey.
Laces The black cashmere version comes with black, 3/8” wide flat nylon “workhorse” shoelace. The creme cotton comes with creme, 1/2″ wide single-faced satin ribbon which matches the cotton better.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 36″ closed waist. If there is enough demand, this range may increase up to 42″ closed waist.
All Gemini corsets in all silhouettes are $99 USD.
Available in my corset shop here.

 

Gemini Corsets (conical rib on the left and round rib on the right), Model is Eva, who wears a size 18″.

Final Thoughts:

The Gemini is made to fit people with a similar torso length to fit TT’s standard length hourglass corsets, but give a bit more of a longline appearance while not affecting one’s ability to sit down comfortably.

There are pros and cons to each silhouette.

Try the round rib silhouette if any or several of the following apply to you:

  • you have a broad ribcage or barrel chest
  • you are a swimmer / athlete and have a muscular back and torso
  • you are a singer or you play a brass instrument
  • you require your full lung capacity
  • you feel claustrophobic or short-of-breath when you wear a conical rib corset
  • you don’t want to train your ribs
  • your costal joints (where your ribs “hinge” in the back) are rigid and your ribs can’t compress
  • your ribs themselves are sensitive, you might have have broken / injured your ribs from an accident in the past, and your ribs don’t take well to pressure
  • you just love the look of a round rib corset!

Try the conical rib silhouette if any or several of the following apply to you:

  • you have a naturally tapered or narrow ribcage, and you don’t “fill out” round rib corsets
  • you want to train your ribs over time
  • you are interested in waist training to achieve a naturally smaller waist over time (even when the corset comes off – a smaller ribcage gives more semipermanent results, as opposed to very temporary results)
  • you have very flexible floating ribs and flexible costal joints that “hinge” easily
  • you want to fit into vintage clothing that might have a more conical rib than you have naturally
  • you love the look of a conical rib corset, and otherwise you have no health issues that prevent you from wearing one.

For those who have hypermobility disorders and you experience subluxation of your ribs, I would recommend speaking to your doctor, chiropractor, osteopath etc. regarding which silhouette or style of corset (if any) would work best with your condition. Some patients do better if their ribs are tightly bound (such as with a conical rib corset) so the rib doesn’t “pop out”, but some patients cannot tolerate compression on their ribs (as it might push their ribs inward too much) and this may necessitate a more round rib design. So discuss this with your trusted health professional who has a decent knowledge of your personal medical history and personal situation.

For total disclosure: I designed the Gemini underbust in both silhouettes, and it’s manufactured by Timeless Trends. If you’re considering purchasing a Gemini corset and you’d like to support my business and designs, please consider purchasing the Gemini here through my online shop!

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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!