I recently received an email from a client who had purchased a corset and garter straps (suspenders) from my shop. They had assumed that when they’re purchased together, they would come attached, but in reality the garter straps are detachable and interchangeable (which means you can use them in many of your corsets!) but it does mean that there is “some assembly required.”
Most brands of corsets come with garter tabs, which are small loops at the bottom edge of the corset – they’re usually sewn upwards so that when they’re not in use, they are out of the way and not visible from the outside. They are also pressed very flat so as not to irritate your skin in any way.
When you do want to attach your garter straps to the corset, you take the “hook” side (it looks just like the hooks that come with interchangeable bra straps) and slide it through the garter loops.
Make sure that you’re not attaching your garter strap inside out! There’s an inside and an outside. The outside has the metal slider which allows you to adjust the length of the strap. You will also see that the “button” part of the garter clip faces outwards, for ease of use and to prevent your skin from touching the metal wire loop.
Check out the video below to see how to attach your garter straps to your corset. It’s much easier to do this before you put on the corset as opposed to when you’re wearing the corset.
You can also adjust the length of the garter strap (if it’s your first time attaching your stockings and you’re not sure how taut you need the straps to be, it might be easier to lengthen the garter straps as far as they will go when you attach to your stockings, and then tighten to your preferred amount once everything is attached.
To adjust the length of your garter straps:
Flip up the metal slider to unlock it – this helps it glide easier.
To lengthen the strap, grab the upper portion (with the single layer of elastic) while pulling down gently on the slider, allowing the lower portion (the double-layer loop of elastic) to glide freely. This makes a smaller loop, lengthening the strap.
To shorten the strap, pull up on the metal slider with one hand and you may also need to pull gently on the loop of elastic below the slider as well, if there is tension on the strap from your corset being attached to your stockings. The aim is to make that loop bigger, which shortens the strap.
Once you’re happy with the length, remember to flip down the metal slider – this makes the “teeth” of the slider bite into the elastic, keeping it in place!
My corset has 6 garter loops, but I only have 4 garter straps!
This can happen if you ordered your corset from a different shop as your garters, or if you lost a couple of garter straps – but not to worry! You can still use your straps.
There are 3 garter tabs on each side of your corset – I would recommend attaching your straps to the first one (closest to the front busk) and the last one (closest to the back laces), leaving the side seam without a strap.
Or – if you have a bigger bum, or if your garters just don’t like to stay attached at the back of your stockings when you sit down or stoop, you can attach your straps to loop 1 (by the busk) and 2 (on the side seam) and leave the back unsupported. This does mean that your stockings might sag a little at the back, but if your skirt / slacks are long enough, this won’t be visually noticeable.
My corset has only 4 garter loops, but I have 6 garter straps!
Keep those extra two garter straps for backup in case you lose a couple. ;)
It just occurred to me that I never made a blog post specifically about my Genie Bra review, although I have made posts about my Enell bras and Knixwear Evolution bra, as well as the Underworks binder. Today I’m rectifying that. Below you’ll see a summary of the video (and some updated opinions about these bras, since it’s been nearly 6 years since this video came out).
There are many similar bras to the Genie bra, like the “Air Bra” and the “Ahh Bra”, and although I haven’t tried them, I imagine they work similarly. If any readers have tried these substitutes, let me know how you liked them (or if you didn’t like them) in a comment below.
While the silhouette is not perfect, the Genie bra helps prevent exaggerated back rolls below my bra band and above a cincher that stops short on my ribs – and because it doesn’t have any underwire, I don’t have to worry about the underwire being shoved into my ribcage from a taller corset, or any underwire slipping overtop of the corset and making my bust look oddly asymmetric. The Genie bra gives less support than an underwire bra (this is to be expected) but gives about the same amount of support as a low-impact sports bra. I can wear it under my fitted tees and it gives a slightly minimizing effect, but I would not do contact sports in this type of bra.
There are also no seams and the bra leaves no marks on my body, and there’s a 2-inch-wide band around the ribs that is also comfortable and long enough to overlap with the top line of my corsets (which helps with smoothing). Since there are no bones in this bra, it means that the band does have a tendency to roll or fold a bit though, so it has its pros and cons.
The bra also comes with bust pads which create marginally more fullness over the bust, as well as nipple coverage – but they’re also removable if you don’t care for these features. My favorite part of the bra is that it can be thrown in the washer and dryer (remove the bust pads first, as they can disintegrate in the wash). Washing the bra helps restore some of its tightness, but do keep in mind that this type of bra will definitely stretch out over time. (By the way, I own these bras in size Small, but they continued to fit me through a 40-lb weight gain and 4-cup size difference, because my underbust / back measurement didn’t change all that much. However, after the weight loss, the bras were too stretched out to wear and I will probably replace them.)
The coverage is moderate; I can wear it with most of my scoop-neck and V-neck shirts, just not with my plunge shirts (although the black one especially just looks like a camisole under your shirt if exposed). The wide arm straps are comfortable on my shoulders, but it means the straps are highly visible under tank tops.
If you’re the type to sleep with a bra, I have also forgotten to take this bra off a few times and found it very comfortable to sleep in, even as an active sleeper that moves around a lot.
Today I’m doing an OOTD of my Morticia dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. This is the older version with the side zip (I have never tried their updated version which is just closed on the side and you have to shimmy into the dress). I purchased this dress back in early 2014, so this dress is almost 4 years old and is still in good condition.
This has become my go-to “little black dress”. I’ve worn this to business dinners, friends’ weddings, my graduation last year, etc and I’ve been able to dress it up to look more formal, or dress it so it’s more appropriate for business settings, so it’s fairly versatile. This is the size small, and it has fit me at every weight from 125 to 150 because it’s quite stretchy. It’s got some powermesh from the underbust to mid-thigh, so at the higher weight my dress was a bit squeezy (but I’m accustomed to corseting so snug clothing is nothing new).
There are upsides to having a zipper: it makes getting into and out of the dress easier of course, but the downsides include the zip possibly getting caught on all the ruching and breaking the teeth. Also the side with the zipper can look a little lumpy and create an asymmetric silhouette – and I find this to especially be the case if I’m not wearing a corset. If you are corseted, it seems to be a little less noticeable, but the asymmetry is still there.
The neckline is somewhat adjustable, it is not “Elvira” levels of plunge, but it has a fairly defined sweetheart. But if you are more modest, you can pull up the ruched jersey to fully cover your bust, and it tends to stay nicely in place – I’m not typically worried that the fabric is going to fall or shift or move. But if you want to be sure, you can always add brooch in the center front to pin it in place and create a somewhat square neckline.
This dress also has enough support in the bust that I’m able to go braless in this dress. It has a non-stretch satin lining in the bust, and I actually find it’s more comfortable to go braless. The dress kept me very supported – no movement of my bust, even on the dance floor – but some people don’t like the way it flattens their bust, so if you’re in that group, you can feel free to wear a structured bra underneath and it will contribute to more roundness and projection of your bust.
Under this dress I’m wearing one of my Gemini corsets, which has a gently rounded top and bottom to prevent any points showing from under the dress. And like I mentioned when I reviewed the convertible dress from Victoria’s Secret – the plush ruched material, as well as the fact that it’s a matte fabric and a dark color, help to camouflage any edges. But if you want even more of a smoothing effect, you can wear high-waisted control top underwear or tights, which nicely smooths over the edges even under dresses that are thinner than this one. I’m wearing these ones over my corset and under my dress.
This dress is one of the pricier ones I’ve ever purchased, it was $168 USD when I purchased it new nearly 4 years ago. I have to admit, in the past year or so I’ve been buying retro fashion almost exclusively from second-hand buy and sell groups on Facebook. I’m part of PUG Swap & Sell, as well as the Canada Only PUG and Rockabilly Swap & Sell. You have to be ON TOP of it if you want to catch a Monica (especially size small or medium), because those things get snatched up within 5 minutes. But you know me, I love a deal and I especially love second hand clothing because it gives them a new life and prolongs their use before ending up in a landfill.
If you have this dress, what do you think of it? If you’ve tried one with a zipper and without, tell me which you prefer? Let us know in the comments!
it has no underwire (so there is no metal for the corset to shove into my chest, as well as no wire to pop forward over the top edge of my corset)
the band is wide enough that it doesn’t cause a thin roll of flesh pinched under the band and the top of the corset
it doesn’t cause “muffin” or flesh spillover in the back
it’s comfortable enough to wear all day, and doesn’t leave marks or scars on my skin
it still gives moderate support and a relatively flattering shape in the cup (which my Genie bra didn’t really do)
Bonus points if the bra is also low-cut enough to wear with my scoop-neck shirt (which is the one thing my Enell Lite didn’t do).
Knixwear is a Canadian company that started by making menstrual underwear, and they launched a Kickstarter for the Evolution bra in September 2015 to revolutionize the modern bra. They well surpassed their original goal; in fact I was one of 13,642 backers to help crowdfund over a million dollars on their project. I received my bra this summer and tried it out for a couple of weeks.
The Knix says it’s 8-in-1 because it’s reversible so you can have two different colors (I chose the black and beige), and comes with black and beige convertible straps which can be worn traditionally, criss-cross (racer) back, or even halter if you wish (although I wouldn’t recommend strapless).
My true bra size is 30F, but I normally sister-size to 32DD because it’s easier to find in my local shops. The way that Knix sizes their bras is by the “+2 inch” system, which puts me at an approximate 32C (size 2 in the Evolution bra). As my underbust (bra band) measurement is naturally 29 inches, I anticipated the band to feel loose on me while giving a bit of “quad boob” in the front, and I was right. So if you have a full bust and small band like I have, you will likely have to heavily sister size as well.
However, when I wear a corset, my body tends to “squish up” and my natural 29″ ribcage becomes closer to 30-31 inches in a corset – so the loose band of the bra fits me better in a corset than without.
Support-wise, it’s equivalent to a light support sports bra (for low-impact activities – I would not do contact sports in this bra). It gives slightly more support than the Genie bra I reviewed previously, and it’s comfortable and moisture-wicking in the heat of the summer.
One feature I like about it is the bonded seams instead of sewn, so it lies flat against my body and doesn’t cause welts or marks on my body. (Because I have a darker complexion, I also get hyperpigmentation scarring on my skin – this bra doesn’t leave marks on my body, even after wearing it for hours.
Knixwear says that their bra band doesn’t roll up, and I’ve found this to be mostly true. The one thing I would love is for the band to be a little longer, even by an inch or so.
I got the padded version, not because I want extra fullness in my cup but rather for coverage and smoothness, and it does its job. Regarding the shape of the cup – it’s not a shape I personally find the most aesthetically pleasing, but I may be biased towards my underwire, molded-up balconette bras that I wear almost daily. But I like how the Evolution bra looks under fitted t-shirts, especially graphic tees where I don’t want to stretch out the design in front.
The scoop neck design also prevents the bra from peeking out under my scoop-neck shirts. I’d be interested in trying one of their V-neck bra designs to see if it gives less “boobling over” in the front.
“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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of you may find this outfit familiar, as I wore it in my “Washington Adventures” video in 2014 when I was visiting with Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman in Portsmouth, WA. (What can I say? It’s a comfy outfit!)
Obviously this is not “period accurate”, but rather a blend of modern and 1950s inspired pieces. I wear a lot of jersey knit shirts because they drape beautifully on the body, they can be machine washed and tumble dried, and they are almost impossible to wrinkle – so I especially pack these items when I’m traveling so I know they won’t crinkle in my luggage. This black tunic shirt is one of my favorites as it’s warm in the winter and it has long enough sleeves and waist to not allow cold winds to touch the small of my back or my wrists. The draped neckline can be worn off-the-shoulder (slightly boatneck) or it can relax closer to my neckline and look more like a cowlneck. I prefer wearing it off-the-shoulder as the broadness helps make my waist look even smaller.
Underneath I’m stealthing my conical rib Gemini corset (I was keeping it a secret at the time I made this video, as it wasn’t released yet!).
The skirt is the main attraction though; it’s a tea-length circle wrap skirt made in a heavy wool which is perfect for autumn and winter. Where “poodle skirts” tend to have a little poodle (or other) embroidery patch featured on the skirt, this one has an adorable inuksuk! The skirt was made by Ivalu, a company in Canada that employs the Inuit community in Nunavut. I’ve never been to Rankin Inlet, but I do hope to visit Nunavut some day (perhaps during summer solstice to see the sun that doesn’t set).
This entire outfit (with exception of the Gemini corset) was found second hand from Value Village. The skirt was about $14 and the shirt was I believe $5, during a 50% off special.
Are you stealthing your corset this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!
This past spring I went shopping at Value Village (and my mom found a few cute things at Ross during her last visit to the US) and I was able to throw together a cute work-appropriate outfit that allows you to show off your cinched waist without exposing your corset.
The best part is the outfit cost a total of $25 CAD (less than $19 USD), including the shoes (which were new, but still donated to Value Village).
The ruffled, key-hole neckline blouse ($12) will look familiar to many of you, because it’s HeartSoul brand which Ross always stocks. I love this blouse and have it in half a dozen colors! If the neckline is not appropriate for your workplace, you can switch it out with a shirt with a higher neckline.
The charcoal grey high waisted pencil skirt ($4 during VV’s 50% sale) extended from underbust to just below the knee, and has a kick-pleat in the back. If it were a little longer and fuller, it would be very reminiscent of the skirts that were so popular in the Edwardian period (c. 1916). A few corsetieres today even make corset dresses or corset skirts, where the corset is built into the garment itself.
But for my outfit today, the skirt itself is slightly elastic and fits nicely with or without a corset underneath. If I wanted to wear a corset with a more dramatic waist reduction, I could probably use a cinch clip in the back to make the skirt fit more closely over the corset, and then hide the clip in the back with my hair or a blazer.
The great thing about the high waisted skirt is that it’s high enough to completely cover my corset (the CS-411 mesh in this case) and I can use my blouse as my corset liner. This allows me to skip having an additional layer of clothing under my shirt – which was particularly fantastic the day I recorded this video, because we had an unusual heat wave that week!
I paired my outfit with a pair of black faux suede shoes with a genuine 4-inch stiletto heel ($9 during VV’s 50% sale), which brought my whole outfit to $25 CAD (not including the corset). Of course, if I wanted to go full Edwardian, I’d probably invest in some practical booties, probably from American Duchess.
Some critics say that this was a popular look in the 1980s, to which I respond that history repeats itself – the 80s took inspiration from the 1910s and the 1950s, so we’re just about due for the next cycle!
What do you think of the high-waisted look? Leave a comment below!
Back in 2011 I made an introductory video on corset liners, what they are used for and what you can use as a substitute (tank top, tube top, etc). But at the time I had only experienced one brand of corset liner, and in the past few years I’ve tried a few more from different companies so I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each today.
What is a corset liner?
A liner is a thin, stretchy, breathable garment that you wear underneath your corset which provides a barrier or buffer between your skin and the corset.
Liners do two things: they protect your skin against chafing, and they help keep the corset clean. I’ll go into more detail below.
Liners are typically made from a very stretchy fabric and designed to be smaller than your natural waist. A well-fitting corset liner, when unstretched, should be about the same waist measurement as your corset’s closed internal waist measurement, so when you’re lacing down, the liner will shrink back with the corset and remain smooth around your body.
Preventing wrinkles or folds under the corset will help keep you more comfortable and prevent pressure sores that might have otherwise occurred if you wore a bulky shirt under your corset instead.
You can purchase specific corset liners, which look like hourglass-shaped tube tops. Most corset liners are for underbust corsets – they cover only from the underbust to the upper hips.
Corset liners help protect your body
If you are lacing without a liner, the rigid corset may drag against your skin and pull it in uncomfortable ways, resulting in chafing and bruising. Laces can also cause rope/friction burn if the corset doesn’t have a modesty panel. Corset liners are sometimes made with a relatively slick fabric which allows the corset (and laces) to glide over the liner, reducing the risk of chafing.
A good liner can also prevent your skin from being scratched by a split or rough grommet. All proper liners will also be breathable and moisture-wicking so will help keep your skin comfortable and feeling cool and dry throughout the day.
Corset liners help protect your corset
If you’re wearing a corset on a regular basis, especially in warm weather, you’re going to sweat quite a lot. Your body also produces sebum, and trillions of bacteria and yeast cells grow all over your skin and feed of the oil and cholesterol in your sebum, kept in a careful balance to protect you from external pathogenic germs. You are also constantly sloughing off dead skin cells and losing downy little hairs from all over your body. Also, if you use skin products like lotions and perfumes, these can also transfer onto your clothing! This is why some people are understandably disgusted to learn that corsets are rarely (if ever) washed.
Corsets should not be washed regularly, for several reasons which I discuss this article. It’s imperative that the corset be kept as clean as possible and washing be kept to a minimum.The catch 22 is that corsets can be damaged by being washed, but they can also be damaged by not being washed! The salt in our sweat and the acidic pH of the mantle of our skin can break down fibers in delicate fabrics like silk. Also, an unwashed, dark, damp corset can create a breeding ground for microbes, and affect that delicate balance of critters on our skin – making us more prone to skin infections – yuck!
But wearing a liner between your body and the corset means that the liner will take this abuse instead, and the liner can be washed regularly, saving your corset and keeping it clean and fresh.
Are you absolutely required to wear a liner under your corset? Of course not; a garment is yours to do with as you wish – but if you want your corset to last as long as possible, then it’s a great reason to start!
Thin stretchy shirts can be a corset liner substitute
If you don’t have access or can’t afford real corset liners, there are many products that will do as makeshift liners. Some of my favorites include thin cotton babydoll t-shirts (as they are thin, close-fitting, stretchy and breathable), seamless microfiber camisoles and tank tops in the summer, and microfiber turtlenecks in the winter. I have even heard of people wearing body stockings or leotards – just make sure you have some way of going to the bathroom in these, as you don’t want to be in a rush and discover that you have to remove your corset to do your business!
However, most shirts have their limitations: they are usually cut to suit a natural waist, and they’re unlikely to shrink down enough with a corset – the result is a few wrinkles in your shirt under the corset. This is usually not the end of the world, and many people are fine with this especially if their corset is only a moderate reduction and they’re not training 23 hours a day. In shirts that tend to wrinkle on me, I will slide my hands under the corset before tightening and try to bring the fullness of the fabric away from the sides of my waist (where there’s the most pressure) to the back, where it’s less likely to irritate.
Corset liner =/= Faja
Both liners and fajas are stretchy and designed to fit smooth around the body. However, they have some important differences:
A corset liner is breathable and moisture-wicking. It’s not shapewear, it’s not so strong that it’s going to pull your waist in by more than an inch or so.
A “rubber cincher” or faja is still stretchy, but it has more resistance so it may bring in the waist by a couple of inches. But the main difference is that it’s not designed to be breathable. The rubber or neoprene coating keeps you warm and encourages you to sweat. The rubber cincher makes you hot and sweaty, whereas a corset liner keeps you cool and dry – literally opposite effects!
Let’s compare the stats of all the corset liners:
The table is pretty wide, be sure to use the slider at the bottom to see all the brands.
Synthetic spandex fabric (feels like swimsuit fabric).
Cotton and lycra (thinner than Madame Sher).
# of seams
2 seams (I wear the corset with the seams to the front and back, and the tag on the outside).
Zero seams (woven tube).
2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).
2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).
2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).
1 seam which is designed to be worn toward the back of the body, where the laces are.
1 seam, and the seam is kind of lapped so it's flatter than a typical seam allowance.
Custom or Standard
Custom to my measurements
Standard (sizes S, M, L)
Standard (I wear size small). Available in size XS - XXL (18 inches to 42 inches)
Made to match my corset size
Made to order? (I received samples)
Custom to my measurements
Standard (size medium)
Nude / beige
Black, white, ivory, nude
11” (size medium), 10" (size small)
Circumferential measurements (Unstretched)
Waist is 20", underbust is 26", hips are 32”.
Size small is 20” along the entire length, size Medium is 24” along entire length.
Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 34”. (corresponds to size 24" hourglass corset measurements)
22" waist, same as my corsets - but the underbust/ hips were not to my measurements.
Waist is 24", underbust is 26", hips are 30".
Waist is 21", underbust is 28”, hips are 29”.
Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 27”.
Elastic ribbon on the top and bottom helps keep it in place. You can fold your liner over the top and bottom edges of your corset, which helps protect the binding from wear, abrasion, or underboob sweat. Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin and stretchy.
Smooth, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, no seams. Mostly natural fibers (good for those who are sensitive too all synthetic liners).
Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics.
Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics.
The fabric is infused with a skin toning / conditioning moisturizer (lasts up to 15 washes)
Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin.
Pretty stretch lace on the top and bottom edges, which is flatter/ lower profile than a thick folded sewn hem.
Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Most expensive option (worth it, in my opinion).
Fabric is more plush and less slick. The woven hem may leave temporary marks on the skin.
Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey). If you can cinch down more than 6" in the waist, you may want to go up a size.
When on my body, it tends to shorten a bit so it doesn't cover the full length of my corset. Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey).
Needs to be hand washed to maximize the moisturizer. Stretches out the more you wear it.
Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Also it's a weird shape, and the seam creates a point at the top and the bottom that tends to extend beyond the edges of my corset.
The lace has a habit of rolling over on itself - if this annoys you, go with one of the other corsets with a more sturdy hem. Also, cotton wrinkles a little more than the synthetic liners.
Most stretchy, most smooth under corsets. Lucy’s personal favorite.
Affordable, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, 2nd-most stretchy. Lucy’s 2nd favorite.
Comes in the biggest size range. Breathable, moisture-wicking.
2nd least expensive, most moisture-wicking.
Least expensive, unique skin moisturizing properties.
If you don’t want to permanently tailor your clothing to contour over your corseted waist, but you still want to show off your hourglass figure, what can you do?
In a previous video I discussed belted fashions (that belt was originally made for a toddler, by the way – waist size 20 inches up to 25 inches), but if you are concerned that a belt would cause too much friction and damage a delicate fashion fabric of your corset, you can try cinch clips as an alternative (also called dress clips or jacket clips). Check Etsy, they come in a myriad of colors, and you can get them ruched or flat, with silver clips or gold.
The cinch clips can be hidden by a cardigan or jacket (or in my case, my long hair!) if you don’t like the look of it. Alternatively, with a little bit of fiddling to make the creases look tidy, you can theoretically cinch your shirt from the underside so the clip doesn’t show! But you can try a more decorative cinch clip like the one below from Amazon if you want to show it off.
Watch the video above to see how the cinch clips transform my look in several different outfits!
H/T to Gabrielle for her great cinch clip solution!
In Summer of 2014, I purchased this lovely dress from Zumel & Co in Toronto. Although I love the dress, it has a bit of a low back (enough that my bra band shows in the back). One question I receive quite often, especially from brides, is whether it’s possible to have a low back overbust corset for precisely this reason, and it got me thinking.
If you commission a custom-made overbust, creating a somewhat-low back is theoretically possible (to a point). However, a problem arises especially if you are heavy busted: you’re not going to get the same breast support if you have a very low back. You’ll notice that most overbust corsets don’t have a back that stop close to nipple-height, and not usually lower than under the shoulder blades. This prevents the front of the corset from flopping forward, away from your body. You may be able to adjust that support with halter straps for instance, or even (cringe) heavy duty double sided tape. In any sense, it’s going to be mighty difficult if not impossible to achieve a corseted silhouette with a backless dress.
If there were a cupped overbust corset that allowed you to wear backless, strapless dresses (think Jessica Rabbit) with perfect support, I believe that thousands of people would be all over that! However, in my journey though corsetry, I have never actually found a corset that’s been able to achieve this.
If you want full support along the fullest part of your breasts, you must rely on the fabric wrapping around the entire torso at that same line.
The same premise holds with long line corsets – if you want a lot of control of the lower tummy, you could put many stiff, rigid steel bones in the front, but if you have a protruding lower tummy that resists these bones, the whole bottom front of the corset could end up bowing outwards (especially if the front of the corset extends down into a point and is cut high over the hips). With a longline corset, it helps pull in a lower tummy easily because it has extra fabric that starts at the pubic bone and wraps around the hip area along a similar height, and around to the back. The tension of the fabric wrapping around the body acts as leverage to help pull that protruding tummy inward.
So, what can be done if you want to wear a low back wedding dress, especially if you’re quite heavy-busted? What I did in the above video was a trick that Ashley (Lisa Freemont Street) taught me a few years back:
Find yourself a well-fitting strapless, longline bra. The Goddess brand strapless low-back bra works great for my purposes, and I love that the lightly boned cups provide support while retaining the roundness of the breast and it gives a slightly vintage shape to my bustline (it doesn’t flatten my bustline like most modern cut strapless bras seem to do). There is a silicone band around the top to help keep it in place on my skin as well.
As it’s a longline bra, it also has a few bones coming down and stopping at around navel height – this helps keep the garment smooth and prevent it from rolling up. If you plan to wear this bra underneath corsets, you can absolutely remove some of the bones in the bra so as not to irritate your skin by having the stays smushed up against your ribs under the corset. I like to wear this bra with an underbust corset (usually a cincher or waspie, which stops lower on the ribcage) worn over the bra – the corset also helps anchor the bra in place so it’s less likely to slide down over the course of the day. Even if I don’t utilize all the hooks and eyes of the bra (you can fold some of the top ones down if you need to accommodate for a lower back), the bra still stays in place due to the silicone strip and the anchoring of my corset.
One thing to look out for, however, is having a bit of “muffin top” with this combination. When you wear very short cinchers or waspies, the more of your ribcage it leaves exposed/ unsupported, the bigger the risk of it giving you “muffin top” (a roll of skin that folds over the top of the corset when worn). The fact that it’s combined with a longline bra in this case does help to somewhat combat this, but how much “muffin” occurs will depend on the person as well (how long your torso is, how low the back of your dress is, and whether your body tends to ‘displace upward’ or ‘displace downward’ in a corset).
There is rhyme and reason to the corset I chose to wear over my longline corset as well! In this video, I’m wearing the True Corset mesh cincher because it’s cut quite straight across at the ribcage and hips – there are no “points” to bow outwards and protrude underneath clothing. As a mesh corset, although it may not last quite as long as other corsets, it makes for more breathable, lightweight undergarments, and therefore a more comfortable experience – especially if you’re planning to wear a warm outfit in a warm venue!
Other inexpensive mesh corsets that hide well under clothing is Orchard Corset’s mesh CS-411 and mesh CS-426 (for those who prefer longline), as well as Madame Sher’s mesh cincher. As much as I adore custom fit corsets, I understand that weddings can be exorbitant. Even the cost of an OTR mesh corset combined with the Goddess bra comes up as cheaper (and quicker to ship) than commissioning a custom overbust corset with a lower back (and, of course, they can be combined with other outfits after the wedding!). Even though a mesh corset may not last a lifetime, it should at least last through your wedding day!
If you have ideas for other corset and bra combinations that work well underneath your low-back outfits, leave a comment down below and help out some other potential brides on a budget!
Not long ago I received some questions regarding whether you can wear one corset on top of another, for greater control or more “effective” thermal conductivity. I’m presuming this question was actually inspired by Jessica Alba’s mysterious “double corset” from 2011 (which is now presumed to be two elastic garments, not two genuine corsets).
It is technically possible to layer one real corset on top of the other, but I don’t see the functional benefit because:
corsets come in all levels of thickness and rigidity (the soft mesh corsets from Orchard Corset being the most flexible I’ve experienced, and the waist training corsets from Contour Corsets being the most rigid I’ve experienced – both with their advantages and disadvantages).
putting one corset on top of another is likely to increase bulk around the waistline, not decrease it.
layering corsets is not likely to improve the fit or comfort – on the contrary, it may worsen the fit of the corset by putting too much pressure on the ribs and hips.
if the corset underneath has a more delicate fashion fabric, there’s a risk of that fabric being damaged by the friction of the corset overtop.
Some corsetieres and designers may layer a cincher or a yoke on top of a corset as an accent piece, but this is more an aesthetic motive rather than a functional one – and these are typically custom made to fit perfectly overtop of one another.
But if you feel that your corset is not “strong” enough and you want more control, then you don’t need to layer your corsets – it’s just that the corset you have is not doing its job properly and it would be time to invest in a corset that has the rigidity and gives you the waist reduction you’re looking for.
Empress Sissi (Elisabeth of Austria) wearing a Swiss waist belt.
Electra Designs overbust vegan leather corset with a custom contrasting yoke designed to lace overtop.
Neon Duchess silk overbust with custom designed mesh demi-bust accent piece, and bronze-tone cincher overtop. Model: Victoria Dagger. Photo: Chris Murray
In some fashion plates, you may see Victorian women wearing something similar to a waspie or underbust corset over their dresses – these were not real corsets per se; their real corsets were still underneath their clothing. The Swiss waist was simply an accessory to accentuate the waistline, usually in a darker color. Swiss waists may still have been lightly boned just to maintain some structure through the garment and keep it smooth over the bodice, but they weren’t as heavy-duty as a corset and not functional in the same sense.
Can you use a real corset as foundation under fashion corsets/ bustiers?
Absolutely – I’ve seen this a lot at conventions. Almost every costume shop stocks cheap, plastic boned fashion corsets that may be cute and interesting (especially the superheroine themed corsets around Halloween) but in my opinion, those are not the most comfortable garments. Once the plastic boning begins to warm to the body and soften, they may begin to warp and kink, poking into the body and collapsing in places which (at least on me) can create what looks like rolls on my body where rolls never existed before! By wearing a more structured, higher quality corset underneath, this provides support for the bustier and as well as protection for you against any rogue plastic bones threatening to poke you in the side. Note that the bustier is not as strong as a genuine corset, and don’t be surprised if the lacing in the back is a mess (see my video below).
A real corset almost always looks better (in my opinion) but using a cheaper garment over a higher quality corset may be a more cost-effective solution for those with smaller budgets – and corsets can transforms costumes instantaneously.
Back in May 2104, I wrote about compatibility between corsets and conventional bras, and how to avoid possible issues like underwire entrapment (when the underwire of your bra gets pushed uncomfortably against your ribcage) or the double lift effect (when the top edge of your corset pushes up on your bra, which then pushes up your breasts unnaturally high).
However, a number of followers have asked me if it’s possible to wear a bust binder in conjunction with a corset (whether to prevent accentuating a larger bust when seen in contrast to a smaller waist, or to present a more androgynous figure, or attain a particular silhouette for a costume). This may also apply if you have a very high-compression sports bra (I notice that I have a similar, but not identical, effect in my Enell Sport bra).
I’ve always been fascinated with fashion and how the line of clothing could change the apparent figure of the wearer – when I was in high school, even before discovering corsets, I used to play around with fashion and had no problem wearing a frilly dress one day and my brother’s button-down shirt the next day. I might have worn a padded bra with one outfit and a minimizer or binder with the other outfit, based on how I felt that day. So fortunately when a few people asked what it was like to wear a corset and chest binder together, I already had this experience.
Since I’m full-busted, my Underworks Tri-top binder doesn’t completely flatten my chest, but it still does an impressive job at taking down my apparent bust by at least 2 cup sizes. However, this flesh has to be displaced somewhere, and on me, some of my tissue is pushed upwards toward my collarbone, giving me a “pigeon-chest” effect (which means I only wear my binder with higher-cut necklines), and I get a bit of squishing out of the sides around my armpits. (I have squidgy armpits to begin with, as anyone who’s seen one of my overbust reviews can attest. I simply hide this by wearing a looser shirt.)
One other thing that’s important to note when combining a corset with a binder is to be aware of which way your binder is pushing your mammary tissue. Some have told me that when they normally put on a binder, they pull it straight down so their breast tissue is pushed down – however if your underbust corset extends quite high on your ribcage, you may run the risk of trapping some of your bust under the corset. When I wear my binder with a corset, I first pull the binder on downwards, but then reach inside and redistribute my flesh upwards a bit so as not to trap any of that tissue uncomfortably under the top edge of my corset.
There are some advantages to wearing a binder with a corset, however, including some elimination of muffin-top in the back – and since my Tri-top binder extends down to almost the navel, I find that it also acts as a semi-liner underneath my corset as well. Another corseter also told me that for people with a smaller cup size, the corset can control any bumps on your chest left over by the binder and create a more smooth effect overall – so the corset can compensate for the binder in the front, and the binder can compensate for any muffin top caused by the corset in the back.
In my experience, wearing a binder with a corset is a bit more restrictive on my breathing (compared to wearing one or the other separately) and I admit that I prefer to just wear a well-fitting underwire bra with my corset as I don’t tolerate much pressure on my upper chest – but on occasion, I do appreciate the minimizing effect a binder provides. Click the following links if you’d like to see my reviews of the Genie Bra, the Enell Sport and Lite bras, and the Goddess longline bra in conjunction with corsets.
Do you prefer to minimize your bust when wearing a corset? If so, what products do you use?
I will preface this by saying that it took me many years to jump on the legging/ jegging bandwagon. When I first saw leggings coming back into fashion around 2005 (along with the skinny jeans), I thought it wouldn’t last more than a season or two before they went the way of the neon spandex pants of the 80s. However, nearly 10 years later, leggings are just as popular as ever – and about five years ago, I finally tried a pair and was immediately sold on their comfort (and more importantly, their compatibility with my corsets).
I’m often asked what kinds of jeans or trousers to wear with corsets, because those with a thick, inelastic waistband don’t work well with corsets:
If you try to wear them underneath your corset (especially a longline corset), you may have issues when going to the restroom and may find that you have to loosen the corset to access your fly.
If you wear your jeans overtop of your corset, the waistband will likely be much larger than your corseted waist, and you may experience gaping or jeans that want to fall down on you. You might be able to belt it, but the bunching of that excess waistband may not be the most comfortable or the most flattering look. (Of course, if you like how it looks, go for it!)
The beauty of leggings is that they are thin enough that you can wear them comfortably under your corset without causing a lot of bulk, and they are elastic enough to wear them over a corset without any of that annoying gaping at the waistline.
If you plan to wear your leggings more often underneath your corset, you may want to opt for those that have a thin, low-profile waistband where the elasticity is woven right into the band (as opposed to having a separate elastic sewn into a channel in the waistband. The former is thinner and will be more comfortable and less bulky if you have the pressure of a corset overtop of it. You may also want to look for leggings that are more medium-to-low-rise instead of high-rise in the waist (especially if you plan to wear the leggings under a longline corset) so after you go to the restroom, you can more easily tuck the waistband up under the corset again. If, however, you plan to wear your corset underneath your leggings, then you don’t have to worry about either of these.
Remember that long tunic style shirts and dresses are great for hiding even longline corsets – watch the video below to see six example outfits featuring leggings, jeggings and tights, so you can see how incredibly easy it is to hide your corset under your clothes and not have to struggle every time you go to the restroom!
I’m usually one to eschew the color-blocking in favor of some good old-fashioned monochrome, but I had never denied that some sneaky dark side-panel ensembles helped create a slimming figure. (I still remember back in 1999 when Victoria Beckham wore a slimming outfit onstage to camouflage her baby-bump.) More recently, the fashion piqued my interest when I saw Kate Winslet wearing this Stella McCartney dress – and I was curious as to how this style would work with a corset underneath.
Sourcing out abudget-version of the dress that was willing to ship to Canada, I decided to grab one in my “natural” size instead of my cinched size, in case I wanted to wear this dress sans-corset. When I received the dress, I realized that it was a stretchy cotton knit and I could have taken a size down. In the video you can see me play around with the dress, wearing it as intended, with a belt, and also quickly taken in at the waist to fit closer to my corset.
As it turns out, a fitted, contoured dress over a corset makes for pretty insane eye-trickery (especially when I wear my hair down and you can’t quite distinguish my dark hair from the dark side panels of the dress. Suffice it to say, this dress is staying in my wardrobe – and I may even reconsider my stance on color-blocking, and source out more fun “dark-side” shirts and dresses for my wardrobe. I will be making another video in the near future about how to avoid the pesky “corset crotch point” underneath fitted dresses, though!
What do you think about the “dark side” dress? Would you wear it with your corset?
One question I get semi-frequently is whether you have to wear a bra with your underbust corset. With an overbust corset, it’s easy to go without a bra as the corset itself provides support, lift, and shaping – but what about underbust corsets?
As a wearer of corsets and a keeper of long hair, I’m no stranger to confrontation. On a regular basis I have people telling me that I’m not fashionable; that I’m gross or disturbing or an eyesore. I often stealth my corsets and wear my hair up, because what makes me happy and is not hurting others doesn’t necessarily have to be flaunted. And this experience has made me hyper-aware of what I say to others in terms of fashion and dress.
So what does this have to do with wearing a bra with your underbust corset?
I am in no position whatsoever to make you wear a bra or not wear a bra with your corset. End of story.
But if you are expecting your underbust corset to lift, support, and shape your breasts the way that a conventional bra will, you may be disappointed to know that this isn’t the case. An underbust corset doesn’t cover the breasts and cannot support what it doesn’t touch. So if you want the support /shaping of a bra, you can wear a bra in conjunction with your underbust corset.
I understand that there can be some incompatibility between underbust corsets and certain bras. I’ve been through the frustration of trying to wear mainstream underwired, push-up bras with your underbust corsets. If your corset is just a little too long in the torso, then the top edge of the corset can push up on your underwire and cause a “double-lift” effect – and this is often made worse when sitting down! Many fuller-busted women have complained to me that this looks and feels unnatural, and they don’t like the end result that has become colloquially known as a “chin-rest”. Also, if your corset is too tight around the ribcage and your underwire becomes trapped between your body and the corset, the wire can dig quite uncomfortably into your ribs (I call this “underwire entrapment”).
This is the reason why I always ask for a person’s torso length along the princess line, from the underwire to the lap when sitting down. This is the maximum length that an underbust corset can be before the top edge starts pushing up on the bust, or the bottom edge starts digging into the lap.
So, what can you do if you’d like to avoid the modern bra/underbust corset compatibility issues, but you’d still prefer to wear bras and corsets at the same time?
Opt for shorter corsets or cinchers, which stop lower on the ribcage and steer clear of the underwire of your bra. If you are savvy with a sewing machine, you can shorten some of your own corsets along the top edge.
Wear a well-fitting wire-free bra with your corsets. I don’t have a huge collection of these, but I like my Enell Lite as it’s wire-free and has a non-rolling band. I like the bust-shaping and support it gives, and it works well under my graphic tees and high-neckline shirts.
If you can’t afford or don’t have access to wire-free bras /shorter corsets, as another resort you can simply lift up your bra and position the underwires overtop of your corset instead of underneath. This works best if you wear your corsets under your clothing instead of overtop, and it really only works with a bra that’s slightly big in the band. Does it mean slightly less support from your bra? Yes. Does this look a little unusual if you’re wearing the corset on the outside of your clothing? Perhaps a little. Are the passionate bra-fitters pulling their hair out at my even suggesting this? Maybe. But I used this technique regularly before I got new well-fitting bras, and I found it resulted in a more natural-looking bust (compared to wearing the bra under the corset and getting the “double-lift”) and it was more comfortable too.
In conclusion: are you required to wear a bra with your underbust corset? Not necessarily, but know that an underbust won’t give you the same lift, support and shaping that your conventional bra will. If you have bra/corset compatibility issues, try out one of the three solutions I listed above and see if any work for you.
Do you have any alternate solutions to avoid “double-lift” or “underwire entrapment” caused by bra/corset incompatibility? Let me know in a comment below!
Back in November 2013, I was consulting with a lovely lady who confided in me that she loved to wear Enell bras with her corsets. I have seen Enell here and there online, but this is the first time the name really caught my attention. I looked into it; the bra was supposed to be “The Terminator” of all sports bras; the one that leaves no room for movement. I nearly only got the Enell Sport because its use in my high-impact workouts (kickboxing) looked very appealing; but I’m glad I had consulted with Mara from Enell beforehand, who suggested that I try both the Sport and Lite versions.
It is not hyperbole to say that these bras have changed me. Although the Enell Sport gave me a flat profile and tended to accentuate my underarm pudge. It didn’t look quite as natural under clothing, and the way that it paired with the corset was *okay*. It was definitely comfortable, being a well-supportive, wire-free bra designed for large busts, but it wasn’t the look I was going for everyday wear. But when I wore this bra during my workouts, I found that they instantly became more intense as I wasn’t afraid of boobling out all over the place. My jumps were higher, my sprints were faster, I was moving with more confidence and motivated to work out more because I was finally being supported the way I was supposed to.
However, the Enell Lite really shone when paired with a corset. The Enell Lite was designed to be a daily-wear or low-impact sports bra, which can be used during yoga, Pilates, or anytime. The cups lift and separate, and create a lovely shape without smooshing you. I also found that since the band at the underbust was not as OMG constricting on this piece, that it created a beautiful smooth transition between the top edge of the corset to the bra, with very little muffin top. The 4″ back came up high enough although not too high, so it wasn’t creating back rolls above the band, and the lack of underwire meant that an underbust corset could come up as high as you want on your torso and you don’t have to be afraid of pinching.
Both types of Enell bras have a different sizing system compared to other bras – you simply measure your underbust circumference and your full bust circumference, in cm or inches, and get the size whose range you fall into. Some people don’t like this sizing system, but in the confusing world of different cup sizes and band calculations depending on what country is manufacturing a bra, I find Enell’s system extremely simple to use, and rather fool-proof. If you don’t fall into the regular size range, you can also check out Ebay where factory seconds are sold at discount, which often have different ratios of band to cup compared to their standards.
The only thing I wish is that this bra were not so high-cut on the chest, as it does show under even simple V-neck shirts. If this bra were somehow available in a more balconette or plunge version and still provided the same wire-free support, I would buy two in every colour and wear them everyday.
If you’d like to see both the Enell Sport and the Enell Lite bras in detail, as well as how they pair with an underbust corset, you’re welcome to check out my video review below: