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Corset Troubleshooting: “My knots and bows keep slipping!”

I openly admit that I have never been a Girl Scout and I only know how to tie a handful of knots. But one thing I do know is that if your bows and knots are slipping out (of your shoes, your corsets, your boats) when you don’t want it to, then something is wrong.

Knowing how to tie a proper square knot is useful in corsetry in two different places:

  1. When securing the permanent knot at the end of the laces (near the bottom set of grommets), and
  2. When tying your bow at the waistline (if you’re using the bunny-ears method to lace your corset).

I know of several people who simply tie their “bunny ears” in a full knot because they’re so frustrated with their bows coming out – however, if you ever panic or feel claustrophobic and need to change out of your corset quickly, you’re going to have some issues trying to pick out that knot behind your back. It’s worth your while to take the few minutes to learn how to tie a proper bow, and then you’ll never have that issue again. Your bow will stay secure, and as an added bonus if you’re using pretty ribbon, your bow will be balanced and will look like one of those lovely bows that people always draw.

There are a million sites and tutorials showing how to tie a proper square knot and its related balanced bow. Here I’ve made a tutorial in the context of corsets (since it’s a bit trickier when you’re trying to do this behind your back where you can’t really see what you’re doing):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUOousXmVUQ]

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Responding to Media Sensationalism… Again.

One of my friends linked me to Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home yesterday evening, in which one reporter uncovers the dangers of living in the Victorian era. Not surprisingly, corsets were featured (the corset segment starts around the 17:50 mark).

I would like to address some of the concerns mentioned in the video. Now, I’m not going to make sweeping generalizations and say that corsets are everyone’s friend. I don’t believe that everybody should wear corsets and I don’t deny that injuries from corsets have occurred on occasion. But I’m willing to believe that corset-related injuries were more the exception than the norm – just like injuries from everyday beauty products today, like:

  • high heels (bunions, broken toes, hammer toes, corns, modification of posture/weight distribution, broken and sprained ankles)
  • hairstyling products (thermal burns, chemical burns and severe allergies to certain products)
  • pierced ears (infections, keloid scarring, tissue necrosis)

I could go on.

Anyways – onto addressing some of the concerns in the video:

 

  • Liver being pushed upwards, and grooves forming in the liver – yes, I don’t doubt that the liver moves. All organs in your peritoneal cavity are designed to move. If they weren’t designed to move, then pregnancy, exercise, stretching, or even digesting your food (peristalsis) would kill you. Once again, look up nauli kriya on Youtube – the intestines (and presumably everything above it, like the liver, pancreas and stomach) are pushed up into the ribcage using one’s own muscles. Maybe I’m insensitive, but indentations of organs don’t irk me, because I’ve seen from dissecting various organisms in biology lab that organs have indentations from other organs as it is. If you have a large amount of visceral fat, or if you a fetus inside you, you will also experience considerable organ compression.
  • The stomach moving downwards – Ann Grogan (Romantasy) and Fran Blanche (Contour Corsets) both vouch that the stomach actually moves upwards instead of down. Also, the stomach (and intestines) are not solid: they’re hollow membranous organs, often full of food/waste and air, which get pushed out when a corset is properly worn and slowly cinched down. ***Note, as of October 2014, we now have MRI evidence of the stomach and liver moving upwards.
  • Uterine prolapse – I did agree with the woman in the video as she said that the corset may exacerbate pre-existing problems; that is, the corset may not have caused uterine or vaginal prolapse per se, but if the pelvic floor had already been weakened, the extra intra-abdominal pressure may exacerbate this condition. My article on corsets and the reproductive system.
Screencap from the documentary: Lipscomb's tidal volume, uncorseted (red line) and corseted (blue line). Y axis depicts volume from 0.2L to 2L. X axis shows time: blue area = at rest, green area = during exercise, pink area = recovery
Screencap from the documentary: Lipscomb’s tidal volume, uncorseted (red line) and corseted (blue line). Y axis depicts volume from 0.2L to 2L. X axis shows time: blue area = at rest, green area = during exercise, pink area = recovery
  • The reporter’s experiment on respiration/ cardiac output during exercise – it is undeniable that the corset (especially Victorian overbust corset that is restrictive enough to fully support the breasts) is capable of reducing the lung capacity. Due to reduced capacity, the body compensates by taking higher and more frequent breaths to maintain the same amount of oxygen exchange. The conclusion of the experiment was that the reporter took in an average of 200-300 mL more air with each breath. But they’re still not telling the whole story:
    Photo from Hole’s Human Anatomy and Physiology, 8th edition (1999). This graph is actually of the average male – a female has a slightly smaller total capacity at about 4L. Click through to read more.

     

  • The total lung capacity in an average woman is about 4L (4000 mL). The vital capacity (which does not take into account residual volume) is about 3L (3000 mL).
  • The average tidal volume (uncorseted) is about 500 mL. So the tidal volume while corseted is an average of 750 mL.
  • This means that the corset has caused about a 10% increase in breathing, compared to vital capacity (not even the total capacity).
  • Also consider that it was the first day she tried lacing up (so she wasn’t adapted to wearing a corset), she was wearing the corset over a sweater (so her internal measurement was even smaller than 24 inches), and it was an overbust corset (which restricted more of her ribcage than an underbust would), and then did she did cardio exercise (which isn’t recommended while wearing corsets to begin with). Most women today wear underbust corsets which stop lower on the ribcage, they wear the corset over a very thin liner, and a well-made corset today is properly fitted to the body, rather than Victorian corsets which were sometimes made to force the body into an ideal shape to fit clothing of the day.
  • Note the spoon busk that curves around the tummy, hip gores, and expandable side ties to accommodate a growing belly. Some of these corsets also had flaps at the bust to allow for nursing post-partum.

    Women of higher class were tightlaced to reflect that they didn’t have to run around the house. The working/ industrial class and servants did wear corsets, but laced loosely to accommodate for the high amount of activity. One would also consider it insulting to “show up” the  woman of the house by having a more fashionable silhouette than she had.

  • Pregnancy corsets – I don’t doubt that women who were trying to hide their baby bump by tightlacing during pregnancy could have resulted in (possibly/probably deliberate) terminations. But pregnancy corsets were designed to accommodate a growing belly by having adjustable ties around the tummy, while providing back support for the gestating mother.
  • Pneumonia/ tuberculosis – if a corseted woman contracted a respiratory infection, then the corset may have contributed to exacerbating the condition since the woman would not be able to cough up the sputum and clear her lungs. But whether the corset actually caused women to contract the infection in the first place is unclear. Both pneumonia and TB are bacterial infections, commonly spread in a time where germ theory was non-existent or just being discovered. Whether corsets were the cause of respiratory infections is somewhat disputed. Some sources say that the corset may have prevented contraction of pulmonary TB (consumption). (Nevertheless, I do not condone wearing corsets if you have any kind of respiratory infection.) I have an article on the respiratory system here.

    Susan B Anthony ca. 1900, wearing a corset around age 80.
  • The dress reform and the women’s suffrage movement were not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they were still two distinct movements. Many female suffragists (sometimes distinct from the boorish “suffragettes”) still wore corsets, including Susan B. Anthony (often called the mother of the women’s rights movement).
  • Broken and deformed bones – I agree that corseted individuals with bone issues such as rickets may result in a higher risk of distorted ribs, but this is not a common case today. In fact, a 2015 anthropological study on the skeletons of impoverished women in the Victorian era showed that although there was some rib distortion, age markers of these women showed that they all reached and in some cases exceeded the life expectancy of the time.
  • The comment around timepoint 29:45 “There are stories of ribs breaking and piercing the lung underneath.” disappointed me – it’s difficult to tell sometimes what is a factual report or simply an urban legend. Whether or not these stories are true, Sarah Chrisman explains in her book that “ribs” also referred to the whalebone or reed that was used as boning in the corset, which can become dry and brittle over time – so broken “ribs” are said to often describe the ribs of the corset, not of the human body. If you’ve ever had a bra bone that pokes into you, you can imagine the discomfort. If a whalebone were to snap, a sharp shard could perhaps puncture the skin of the wearer – but as flexible steel is now used in corsets, this problem is almost unheard of in higher quality corsets unless the garment has been abused for years.

Well, this was a long post. Hopefully it cleared up some popular misconceptions about corsets in the Victorian era.

What were your thoughts and reactions on the segment?

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The 5 most important factors of an OTR corset

I very much admire Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique/ Dark Garden for her most recent article on The Lingerie Addict, defending ready-to-wear corsets. I’ve already discussed my stance on OTR/RTW corsets last year – they are a good jumping board into the world of corsetry. In light of Marianne’s article, and also piqued by a recent forum discussion on whether or not cheaper OTR companies should even be promoted, I would like to outline what I consider the 5 most important factors when it comes to OTR corsets (and the companies that make/ distribute them). If you’re interested in watching the video instead of reading the article, you’re welcome to do so here:

Although this list is in no real particular order, most clients will agree that the first three factors are most important to them – but all 5 should be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, I think that there is no OTR company that gets a full 5 stars – but then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find any maker or company that will receive all 5 stars, all the time. If you want the best quality, you have to pay for it.

Without further ado:

1. Strength

Is the corset going to hold up to regular use/ the rigors of tight lacing? You should familiarize yourself with the company or brand, and consider their main clientele. Do they usually use the corset for costumes or burlesque shows, in which the corset gives a strong cinch, but only worn for about an hour at a time? If so, they may not necessarily hold up to giving a strong cinch 24/7. There’s a difference between simply tightlacing occasionally, and training on a daily basis!

2. Silhouette/ fit

Will it be comfortable and give you the shape you desire? When it comes to an OTR piece, some compromise will almost always be made. I consider myself very lucky to have fairly “standard” measurements, so many OTRs are comfortable and more-or-less flattering on me. But not everyone will have the same experience. This is why my shape/fit sections of corset reviews are really subjective. I’ve provided my natural measurements on this page so people can compare their proportions with mine before purchasing a corset.

3. Price

Does it fit your budget, or are you willing to save up for a more expensive piece? Remember where you save on price, you may have to sacrifice strength of construction, quality of materials, or comfort/ silhouette. I very much like Marianne’s quote “When you are corset shopping, that is not the time to bargain hunt.”

4. Customer service

Do they help you find your correct size before you order? Are they even familiar with their own corsets in the first place? Do they respond to emails within a week? (The very good ones respond within 1-2 days.) Does your corset come with a refund or exchange policy, or guarantee? I have ordered from a few corsetieres who make absolutely beautiful and strong pieces, but their customer service was lacking. (They would rarely answer emails or they would be short/curt with their responses.) Whether this is important really depends on the person, and also how demanding the client is. When it comes to an OTR company, some exchange/return policies may be available – but when it comes to custom-made corsets, unless there is something structurally wrong with your corset right out of the box, don’t expect independent corsetieres to bend over backwards at your requests. (I will make a video about this at a later date.)

5. Global impact

Is the company resourceful with materials? Do they make use of sweatshops? Some clients consider it very important to have no glue (including fusibles) and no synthetic materials in their corsets. Some companies accommodate this, while others don’t. Other clients would like to have the convenience of an OTR corset while still being able to purchase locally. A couple of corset companies, while they do source their corsets overseas, find it important to visit the manufacturer and make sure working conditions and pay are fair. If this is important to you, then don’t be afraid to ask customer service (see #4) about your concerns.

*

What are your most important factors when it comes to choosing a corset? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Campaign is Over – Now What?

After my last call to action a bit more than a week ago, I was so happy to see many viewers and readers donate to the fundraising campaign for Sidney Eileen. Together we raised the goal amount of $18,000 with about 60 hours to spare, and had raised nearly $21,000 for her (before fees) by the time the campaign had ended.

Slowly, things are getting back to normal (on my end) from a social media standpoint – I’m no longer updating 50 times a day on Facebook, and most of my campaign update videos on Youtube are now set as “Unlisted” (I can provide links for them if anyone wants them, and they’re visible if you have any of these videos saved in a playlist but they’re not searchable on Youtube). If you would like to know what’s going on from Sidney Eileen and Diana’s end, I encourage you to keep an eye on the “Updates” tab of the Indiegogo page, as well as Sidney’s blog/website and her Facebook page.

My schedule is not completely normal yet – I’m going to ask you to still be a little patient around here, as I’m creating the ‘perks’ promised in the campaign.

As it stands, I have 32 individual “thank you” videos to create (film, edit, render and send), 6 customized corset patterns to draft, as well as construct a fully custom underbust corset to make for some wonderful contributors! Additionally I am trying to finish off my last few corset commissions trailing from this past winter. There’s no saying how long this will actually take but I will try to work through all of these tasks in good time while still doing the best job I possibly can. I’m estimating it may take around 2-3 months (working around my other job).

Throughout this process, I’m hoping to still upload videos/ update my blog once a week. After the perks and commissions are finished I hope to go back to “regular programming” here and on Youtube,  barraging you all with more hair videos, sewing tutorials, outfit ideas, corseting health and lifestyle vids and more. :) I will also resume the consultation service and selling corsets at that time.

Thank you, friends, for your infinite patience and support!

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Measuring your Internal (true) Corseted Waist

This article is a transcript of the video “How to Determine Your Internal Waist Measurement” on Youtube. You are free to watch that video (which shows a demonstration of the process):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Kq-8n-5Lg]

Have you ever had a situation where you purchased an OTR corset of a specific size, say 24″ waist – but when you closed the corset completely in the back, you realized that your waist measures more like 25-26″ on the outside? Why do you suppose this is? Shouldn’t a size 24″ corset give you a final external circumference of 24 inches around the waist?

There are several reasons why the corset may be larger than its stated size: the corset materials may have stretched slightly over time (all fibers have a certain amount of stretch), the corset may have been mislabeled, but more than likely the corset itself is true to size on the inside, and it’s the bulk of the bones and fabric itself which is causing the larger external measurement.

How are Corset Sizes Determined?

The waist of a corset starts with the pattern drafted. A pattern is a 2 dimensional representation of the corset panels on paper, which you cut out and use to trace the fabric. If you were to measure the width of each pattern piece at the waistline of the corset pattern of this Morgana Femme Couture corset, you’ll see it has a total circumference of 22″ (11 inches on each side).
This means that the corset when laid out flat (and not taut around the body) determines the size at the waist.

If you purchase a new corset, lay it out flat and measure it at the level of the waist tape – it should reflect the size of the corset. If you have a well-used corset that measures larger than the tag size even when laid flat; this means the corset has stretched over time.

So why would a corset on the body be bigger than 22 inches on the outside?

The corset itself takes up bulk and volume. All matter will take up space. Even in a corset with both the fashion side and the lining side being 22 inches, the outside of the corset will have to stretch a little to account for the bulk on the inside. Some corsetieres will roll-pin, use turn-of-cloth, to make the outside of the corset a little larger so that it doesn’t stretch or cause wrinkles. I have a separate video explaining the science behind that.

How to find your internal waist measurement while corseted

To determine how to find the internal waist measurement or the true restriction on your waist, first wrap a flexible tape measure around your waist at the smallest point. (It helps to wear a slippery shirt for this as you will be adjusting it as we go along.) Hold the tape in place as you wrap the corset around your body and slip the measuring tape through the slit between the busk, then start tying up your corset.

*Please note that this method only works if you have a busk or front lacing in the front of your corset. If your corset has a closed front, a zipper, a stiffened modesty placket under the busk etc, then you will have to position the ends of the tape toward the back and have a friend read it for you (or take a picture).

As you’re tightening your corset, stop periodically to make sure that the tape measure is still positioned in the proper place at the smallest part of your waist, and that it’s not twisting or bunching up under the corset. Keep tightening little by little and pull the tape measure so it remains smooth. (This is where the slippery shirt or liner comes in handy.)

Once you have your corset closed  (or tightened to comfort), adjust the measuring tape so you can read it – don’t pull too hard otherwise you may change the reading, but move the tape to the side so the difference can be taken. You’ll see in the video that my 22″ corset has an internal reading of 22.25 inches, with a tiny gap at the back. When I measure the outside of my corset, it reads 23.5 inches which means the bulk of the corset itself adds about 1.25 inches to the circumference of my waist.

A way to calculate the bulk of a corset

There is a way to estimate the external vs internal circumferences of one’s waist  (thanks to Lexa, to Albert of Staylace, and to 1sdburns for pointing this out) – if you imagine that a corset is 5mm thick on average, this means that when the corset is wrapped around you, it adds about 5mm to the radius of your waist (from the center out to the edge), or 10mm to the diameter (from the outside of the corset on one side of your waist, to the outside of the corset on the other side). If you use the equation for relating radius to circumference:

5mm* 2(pi) = 31.4mm (which converts to about 1.24 inches)!

This method of calculating the thickness of a corset will be more accurate if you have a corset with sandwiched boning channels and a very regular thickness all around – if you have a corset with lots of external boning channels with areas of “thinner” corset in other places, this method may not be perfect.

What if you need a specific external waist measurement?

Experienced corsetieres will have an idea of how thick their corsets typically are, and so if you have a situation where you need a specific external corseted measurement (say you need to fit into a vintage dress that is no larger than 24″ in the waist) then the corsetiere may be able to create a corset that gives you that external measurement, drafting the internal measurement slightly smaller.

If you plan on buying an OTR corset to fit into that dress, then I would advise buying one size smaller than you think you need – so purchase a corset with a 22″ waist to go under that 24″ dress – but be sure that the ribcage and hips of the corset will be large enough to accommodate your natural measurements in those areas so you don’t experience pinching or discomfort.

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“Corset Hacks!” 5 Non-Obvious Corset Tools I Can’t Do Without

When I bought my very first corset, I thought I was pretty much set. Some accessories like liners are obvious, but there are certain accessories that have made my lacing MUCH easier. This is a list of objects that I never knew I needed until I had them.


1. Mount mirror

Before I had access to one of these, I managed tying up my corset by looking behind my shoulder in the bathroom mirror, or just going by feel. It works pretty well, but every so often I might end up with one bunny ear longer than the other (a pet peeve of mine) or worse, if the gap in the back of my corset were accidentally twisted or not parallel because I could only see behind me on an angle! And what if your neck isn’t that flexible enough to look behind you?

This flexible mount mirror is designed so you can see the back of your hairdo, but it also makes your life MUCH easier when you need to tighten your corset, as you can see exactly what you’re doing with no neck strain, and you can use both hands to work with the laces.


 2. Spare laces. Lots of them.

Alright, laces aren’t exactly “non-obvious”, but many people think you only buy new laces when you want to switch up the color, or when you don’t like the ones that came with the corset. Don’t wait until you need new laces. I have snapped them before. It’s not impossible. It’s also not fun, especially on the day of a special event.

And corsets aren’t exactly the type of garment where you can simply tie the two broken ends together and be on your way, because it’s difficult to tighten a corset with a giant knot in the laces (not to mention these laces have an incredible amount of tension on them and if you don’t tie the knot properly, it can loosen on itself at a very inopportune time!). I highly suggest having a pair of backup laces to avoid Murphy’s Law.

If you don’t live near a fabric/ notions store like FabricLand or JoAnn’s, try a place online that sells laces. I like the polyester flat braided laces from Timeless Trends (I can also get you an extra pair of laces when ordering a longline or Gemini corset through me); or the double-face satin laces through Strait-Laced Dame on Etsy.


3. Sponges or memory foam

Whether natural sea sponges or thick makeup sponges, these have come in so handy that I can’t even.

Sometimes I have a corset with a busk that is just at that length that the top edge of it digs into my solar plexus. Sticking a sponge under the busk or a bone can help take the edge off steels digging into your skin. Or sometimes I feel a sore spot coming on, so I’ll pad slightly around the sore area (but directly not on top of it, so that the corset is “pushed away” from the injured area). Or sometimes (rarely) I’ll have a corset that’s wider than usual in the hips for me, and I don’t want that loose area to wrinkle and collapse on itself, or (less rarely) I will need some way of evening out the girls in an overbust corset. Do like a cross-dresser and pad out those curves! The sponges are also cheap enough that you won’t feel bad about cutting them to size.


 4. Fingerless leather gloves (or equivalent vegan options)

You know that you can cinch down more, but the laces are cutting into your hands too much! For all the help that the doorknob may be in getting that extra half-inch of reduction, if you can’t hold that cinch while you’re tying it off, it might be for naught. Maybe it’s just because I spend so much time around corsets, but my hands can get pretty sore when lacing down.

But one day I saw an old pair of fingerless leather driving gloves lying around and was amazed at how much they helped to prevent sore and  chafed hands. (They’re also a cute fashion accessory!)

You can still feel what you’re doing so you can properly pluck the X’s in back, but when you pull on the bunny ears, they don’t cut into your palms. These would be great for those who work in a boutique that sells corsets, if you lace up customers all day and haven’t yet developed those callouses.


5. Cocktail / wine glass charms

For those who are new at lacing up or might have spacial awareness difficulties, and you might not be able to grab onto the “X” in the laces but tend to only pull one side, these charms will keep the “X”s tidy and give you a tactile guide to tell your hands which laces to pull at the same time. Get the charms that hook or clip on, so you don’t have to unthread and rethread the entire corset, and use charms that are big enough to allow the laces to glide freely through them (so the “hole” should be about the same size as your grommets, or bigger if you like. If you don’t like these dangly charms, you can also use large beads that easily clip onto yarn or hair.

The color and type is really up to you, but if you’re going by tactile lacing up (if you haven’t picked up one of those mirrors yet), then try to find a set of charms that are different shapes and sizes so you can tell them apart just by feel.

These charms or beads can also be pretty when showing off your corset, although they might make “stealthing” a little more difficult as they can add little bumps along the back under thin tops.


(Bonus) A wire-free bra

I admit it: with my long torso, the vast majority of my underbust corsets don’t come up to my bra so I don’t often have a problem with my corset making my underwire dig into my ribs. But on those corsets that DO cause this – OUCH! If you wear corsets underneath your clothing, try wearing your bra overtop of your corset – this way, the corset won’t make the wires dig into your skin. (It will also prevent that “double lift” that the bra and the corset provide together, so you don’t end up with a chin rest.)

But many people wear corsets over their clothing – in this situation, wire-free bras are definitely useful. I’m not putting a photo of any specific bra style here because all women are different and have different needs. If you’d like to know which wireless bras I’ve tried with my corsets, you can see my reviews on the Genie Bra, Underworks chest binder, Enell Sports and Enell Lite bras, and the Knixwear Evolution bra.

What are your non-obvious “can’t-live-without” items when it comes to making your corseting easier? Tell me in the comments below!

“Tiddly” links and Amazon links are affiliate links. They do not change the price for you, and your use of these links help support Lucy Corsetry and keep this site going!

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Why would I hide my corsets??

Last week, by request I released another “Dressing with your corset” video in which I showed how to hide your corset under clothes such as bubble shirts and tunic sweaters. I had done a similar video in the past, in which I showed how empire waisted shirts work well in concealing corsets. Both times, in the days following these videos, I got a confused backlash in the community about the reasons that one would want to hide their corsets. After all, don’t people wear corsets for the purpose of showing off their tiny waists?

Not everyone. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten so many requests to do these videos in the first place.

One viewer made a very good point that in an office setting where open-toed shoes are frowned upon and denim skirts (even ankle length) have the employee sent home, corsets would definitely not be appropriate attire. If you would like to wear your corset at your desk, you will have to hide it under your shirt.

But even more than that, some people still consider the corset to be strictly an undergarment, and would feel weird about showing it off. Even today, I constantly get comments on my videos from people saying, “Aren’t you supposed to wear that thing underneath your shirt instead of overtop?”
I find this question irritating only because it’s so common. But if some people believe that the corset is designed to be worn under clothing, they shouldn’t be berated for it.

Some wear corsets to relieve back pain, or to help with their posture. Some use the corset to boost their confidence and control their appetite. Some wear corsets because they enjoy the deep pressure, but the figure-altering aspect is secondary. This is why I made a point of making those videos first, before resuming my “dressing with corsets” videos; to help people understand that there are corseters who wear them for reasons apart from the visual aspect; who are not ashamed by their practice, but they simply don’t want / feel the need to broadcast their corset. Despite a common interest in corseting, different people still have different tastes in dress.

What’s my excuse?

One fan on Facebook asked me why I specifically would want to hide my corset, when I’m a public figure in corseting, and it’s so well known among my friends and family?

I do like to wear my corsets out in evenings and at special events, but when I’m working (I do have a job outside of corsetry), I don’t consider corsets to be appropriate work attire. Also, although it’s well known in my personal circle that I wear corsets, the corset community is pretty much nil in the little town where I live. When I’m running errands and need to get a lot done, I simply don’t have the time to be stopped and asked about my corseting – for this same reason, although I have long hair and I show it off when I want to, there are also days that I can’t be bothered to be gawked at or confronted so I put it up in a bun.

I guess it all comes down to the fact that although my personal tastes are alternative, and although I’m not ashamed of the way I dress or look, I don’t consider it anyone else’s business. I wear corsets (and also keep my hair long) for my happiness, but don’t necessarily need others’ attention in order to feel validated.

I’m sure that many people can relate to this in a different vein – it’s kind of like having a tattoo or body piercing that nobody knows about but you, or even wearing matching underwear on a good day; this little secret can make you happy and put a bounce in your step without the need to show it off at all times. As long as it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

But if I don’t need validation, why do I show off corsets all the time in my videos?

My Youtube/ Facebook/ website feel sort of like my ‘domain’ where I feel okay about making my corsets visible. As my public pages and channel are clearly a place where people seek out more information about corsetry, it would be confusing if I didn’t show off my corsets in that respect, actually. It’s not only so that I can promote the fantastic creations of various corsetieres and show the incredible diversity in cut, silhouette, fabric, color etc. But imagine how weird it would be to have a cooking channel, but there’s no food in sight. Imagine a documentary about mountain lions, but there were no mountain lions shown. If I didn’t show corsets in a corset-related channel, it might be considered just as unusual.

Bottom line.

I don’t know how to put this any other way, and the fact that people from within the corset community are pointing fingers for something as petty as wearing your corset over or under your shirt is a bit ridiculous. If you want to show off your corsets, show them off. You’ve worked hard for your waist. But if you want to hide your corset under clothing, go ahead and hide it. I don’t consider you vainglorious or an exhibitionist to make your corseting public, and I don’t consider you ashamed or apologetic to keep it secret. And neither should anyone else. What you do with your body (and how you portray it) is your business alone.

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4 Reasons Why Corsets and Soft Drinks Don’t Mix

The last two weeks have been full of family, friends, fun, laughter, and a lot of eating/drinking. Christmas, New Years, and my birthday have all paid a toll on my waistline – especially because my bronchitis prevented me from corseting much of the time over the holiday season.

But probably more than the food I ate (which aren’t all that bad, as I tend to stick to lighter and easily digestible options), the carbonated drinks I had including colas, sparkling water, and champagne were probably my worst choice when I was corseted, both from an immediate standpoint and in the long term. Here’s why:

The bubbles! Why, bubbles, why??

The most obvious reason is that a corset reduces the volume in your stomach and intestines and encourages

From my 25 questions tag video - I'm also guilty of drinking fizzy drinks and corseting, and pay for it every time.
From my 25 questions tag video – I’m also guilty of drinking fizzy drinks and corseting, and pay for it every time.

these mostly-hollow organs to flatten down. When you inject gas into your digestive system with fizzy drinks, it increases the volume – and when more space in your body is taken up by the bubbles, there’s less space for everything else. Simple physics. This means you can immediately feel bloated, uncomfortable, or even in pain if you try to chug a can of club soda while corseted.

Possible solution? If you must have a carbonated drink, have a smaller glass and sip it slowly. Let the drink bubble on your tongue and fizz out completely. By the time you swallow it, it should be flat. Or, preferably just go for water.

The sugar content

Alright, we all know that the 35- 43 grams of sugar in various flavors of soft drinks aren’t good for you. Too many processed sugary beverages will make a person gain weight. But this has both immediate and long-term effects on your body. Too many to count really, but directly related to wearing corsets – even before the sugar is converted to fat, it’s contributing to bloating. Due to their hydroxyl groups, glucose and fructose molecules are hydrophilic, pulling water molecules around themselves. Translation: the more sugar that is in your body, the more water it may cause you to retain, which may result in your corsets fitting a bit more snugly than they had before.

Possible solution? If you must have a carbonated drink, choose those with a lower sugar content, or preferably no sugar at all, in the case of sparkling water. Do NOT go for artificially sweetened drinks! Or, preferably, just go for water.

Water retention also doesn’t happen inside your cells, which carefully control their intake of water and nutrients, but rather in the interstitial fluid in your tissues – this can sometimes draw water out of your cells and mess with your hydration level. But even when you choose less sugary options, soft drinks can still cause dehydration in other ways, which brings us to the next point…

Dehydration

When you’re corseted, it’s imperative that you maintain good hydration. This means that the cells in your body are well-hydrated, so all your tissues and organs can work properly. Adequate hydration aids in all processes of the body, not least of all maintaining good digestion and proper blood pressure. More often than not, carbonated drinks are high in sugar – but even when they’re not, other ingredients like caffeine and alcohol can wreak havoc on your hydration.

Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics. Without giving you the entire pathways (I could ramble for days), these drugs can work in different ways to indirectly suppress the hormone ADH (Vasopressin) and cause your kidneys to work in overdrive, pulling more water out of your blood. If your blood doesn’t have enough water, it may cause your blood pressure to drop, causing you to feel faint (whether you’re wearing a corset or not). You may also experience stomach and intestinal cramping, in addition to a host of other possible symptoms. Is it likely you’ll have this problem if you just have one caffeinated or alcoholic drink, once in a blue moon? Perhaps not. But keep in mind that while you’re corseted, you are more aware of your body and symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated. Be especially careful if you wear your corset out to clubs and concerts. Hot environments and hard dancing, combined with diuretics and corsets, can quickly leave you feeling nauseated and woozy.

Possible solution? If you must drink alcoholic or caffeinated soft beverages while wearing a corset, limit how many and how fast you drink it, and alternate with lots of water. But preferably, go for non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic options like sparkling water. Or just flat water.

Them bones, them rattling bones

This point has been heavily disputed, but it’s still worth mentioning – various types of carbonated drinks, especially colas, have been allegedly linked with loss of bone density. Some studies link the risk of osteopenia to the caffeine in these drinks (caffeine affects vitamin D levels in the body, which are also in balance with calcium levels), other studies link bone loss to the phosphoric acid in cola, as phosphorus and calcium are in a delicate optimal balance. Still other articles credit bone loss to acidification of the body. Whatever the reason, osteoporosis and corsets are not a combination I would ever condone. While healthy human ribs have typically been shown to be strong enough to withstand the compression of a corset, this may not be true for those with loss of bone density.

Summary

Online articles listing the health risks of various carbonated drinks are a dime a dozen, so I’m sure that little to none of this information is new to you. Moreover, I know that it’s nigh on impossible to convince anyone to stop drinking carbonated drinks completely – for those who cannot live without their fizzy drinks, the possible solutions are for you. Your own body will tell you whether you can handle carbonation while wearing a corset. But in my mind, the case against soft drinks far outweigh the benefits, and I can safely say that my body feels best (and I see faster progress in my corseting) when I drink only water.

*Please note that this article is strictly my opinion and provided for information purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of a medical physician. Please talk to your doctor if you’d like to start wearing a corset for any reason.*

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What to Look for when Purchasing a Corset ONLINE

This post deals primarily with differentiating a real corset from a cheap bustier – not necessarily all the different levels of quality when it comes to a corset. When you get into differentiating a hand-designed piece from a factory piece, it can sometimes get tricky, especially when there are cases of photo theft. Learning to recognize photo theft and who wholesells to whom, will come with experience and familiarizing yourself with the work of various designers.

Do see this video if you would like to see two specific examples of a company that doesn’t market their corsets effectively, and a website that does have effective marketing. I would have liked to include many other corset companies (and even individual designers’ websites) in this video, but Orchard was the only company who had agreed to show their site on video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGNcR6fR_fg]

Analyzing the photo

The model should preferably be alive

The corset should preferably be modeled on a real person, not just a “floating” corset or on a mannequin that already has a wasp waist. It’s nice to see a back view to be sure the gap in the back is nice and even. When the corset is shown at multiple angles, it will prove that it wasn’t laced in a biased way.

If you can see all angles…

When you look at the corset from all angles, try to count the number of panels – there should be no less than four on each side, but preferably 5 or 6 panels.

 The grommets should be reasonably spaced apart – not too far apart; 2 inches between each grommet is too much space to give a decent and controlled cinch in my opinion. Eyelets or grommets should also be sandwiched between two bones (unless use of a lacing bone is mentioned), and in the pictures, the laces should not be crumpling up on itself.

When looking at the boning channels, you should not be able to see the whirls of the spiral steel boning underneath the satin. If you do, this means that the satin may not be reinforced and the bones may wear a hole through the satin eventually.

Panels should be somewhat smooth, not too wrinkly, not asymmetric and not gaping away from the model or mannequin. Sometimes, I will see a more or less reputable company that has a picture of a very wrinkly satin corset, and it looks rather sloppy. In these situations, I’m actually confused as to why that reputable company would make an uncharacteristically wrinkly piece, and/or why they would use such poor photographs. Regardless of the reputation of the seller, if I see a corset that is quite wrinkly and wobbly, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not laced onto the mannequin tightly, and it may not be designed to be laced tightly – as a result, I wouldn’t purchase it.

Reading the description

Make sure you check the whole page for full description – and read ALL the small print. If it says plastic or acrylic bones, don’t buy it. The description should say all steel bones, or fully steel boned, or will list the number of steel bones. There should be no less than 12 bones, but preferably over 20 if you plan to wear this on a regular basis.

A decent corset will also usually have a waist tape – either see the outline of this in the photos, or look for it mentioned in the description.

The website should mention that the corset has at least 1 layer of sturdy cotton (a strength layer) so it doesn’t stretch. Most companies use twill, but a few do use coutil. Often they don’t specify, but they should at least make mention of a strength layer being included.

If they can trick you with wording, they will.

Make sure they don’t use tricky wording such as “Steel busk and bones” because they want you to read that as “steel busk and steel bones” but in reality it can read as “steel busk, and-also-there-are-bones-but-we’re-not-telling-you-what-kind.”

Front fastenings

When buying off-the-rack corsets, then a busk is your safest bet. Zippers may or may not be strong enough, depending on the brand. You generally don’t need to worry about closed-front corsets since no front fastening means no weak areas here – the only caveat is if you don’t have the patience to unlace it completely and slip it over your head when putting it on or taking it off. If a corset laces up in front and back, this is fine as long as both the center front and center back panels look to be the same quality grommets or two-part eyelets, and both sets are sandwiched between a pair of bones.

Optional features

Other things like a modesty panel and garter tabs and the like – these may or may not be mentioned. It’s up to you whether these are a “requirement” or a “nice-to-have”.

Be wary of freebies

Some companies will offer free sets of garter tabs with every corset – I actually tend to avoid these unless I can see the quality of them. Some sellers will always offer something free like that to sweeten the deal but if you ask me, if they have to entice someone by throwing in freebies ALL the time, it means that the corset is not worth the price they listed it at.

Do you have any other ways of picking the “real” corsets out from the plastic-boned “corset tops” and bustiers, which aren’t so obvious to a beginner? Let me know in the comments below!

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My First Video Interview – by Radical Redefinition

2012 has been an exciting year for me (so far!), having accomplished so much toward building my site, my Youtube channel, and my corset collection.

As most of you know, I tend to shy away from interviews (especially on national television) as it’s difficult to know if my words might be twisted around or if my passion may be made to look like something from a side show.

But the moment I spoke with Celina Wilde (owner of Radical Redefinition of Having It All), I knew that she would do neither. Her own site revolves around what success and contentment really means to each individual working woman, as opposed to what definition of success has been fed to us.

It was such a pleasure and an honour to speak with Celina, and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. For anyone curious about following your own passions and dreams, do check out Celina’s site here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwLOMU0OaYc]

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De-bunking some myths about OTR corsets

As a bit of an addendum to my last post, this article intends to show that not all OTR corsets are equal, but rather come in a spectrum in quality of materials, construction and price. Also, while some of these myths are partially true, I explain why some of these terms aren’t really “all that bad” as nothing in corsetry is totally black and white. Lastly, I give examples of “exceptions” to each myth. So let’s jump right in:

Continue reading De-bunking some myths about OTR corsets

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OTR and Bespoke industries support one another

I might be playing devil’s advocate here. While I will try my best not to say anything inflammatory, this “Kumbaya” article may still cause me to lose favor with some corsetieres. No doubt some are already confused by the fact that I work so hard to purchase from small corset businesses and individual designers, yet still review and promote OTR corsets. (Admittedly, at this point in my corset journey, I don’t purchase OTR corsets for my own benefit, but for my viewers’. I have too many corsets in my personal collection as it is.) But looking at the big picture, both of these industries support one another. Just as The Lingerie Addict had suggested that VS is a gateway to higher-end lingerie, OTR corsets are the gateway to bespoke corsetry.

OTR is an abbreviation of “off-the-rack”, or sometimes called “off-the-peg” or “off-the-shelf”. An OTR corset is a corset that is standard sized and often mass-produced, much like the non-custom-fit clothing that you can find in any fashion or department store. I explain more about different levels of customization for corsets in this video.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a basic list of requirements of what a decent (real) corset should include, plus a softer list of what the best quality corsets include. There are certain corsets out there that I view as not-corsets, and I have owned both mass-produced OTR corsets and custom corsets from individual makers that have seemed to be total garbage. Neither industry is totally perfect, and just one bad experience in either one can permanently sour a customer’s opinion toward corsets in general.

When prompted, I will always tell others that if they can afford to start with a custom corset, then do so. But that’s not to say that OTR serves no purpose. They were my jumping board into bespoke corsetry. If I hadn’t started my corset journey by purchasing an OTR piece, I would have never considered supporting individual makers.

  • When I saw OTR websites which showed young models wearing corsets paired with their street clothes, it helped desensitize me to the idea that a corset could be used in as an “outerwear” fashion accessory.
  • The hassle-free exchange/return policies that came with these standard-sized corsets (which does not exist for custom corsets) gave me the courage to purchase my first corset, since I’m a commitment-phobe when it comes to spending large sums of money.
  • It was by purchasing several brands of corsets that I came understand that not all corsets are constructed the same, and that there existed a relevant price-quality connection.

If OTR corsets had never existed, I would have never been able to justify commissioning a top-quality, truly fitted, non-returnable bespoke piece. I found it just made more sense to “learn to drive on a cheaper car, before springing for the Ferarri.” And I’m not alone in this mode of thinking.

A surprising perspective from invidivual designers

So OTR companies aren’t totally evil, but I don’t worship them either. I do have my limits. I do not condone some OTR companies directly ripping-off the designs of an individual maker. I become extremely upset when the odd viewer comes to me, having purchased one of these replicas, under the impression that the original designer actually had a ridiculous price markup for the same cheap piece, and proceeds to complain about that designer.

But I was even more shocked to discover that some bespoke corsetieres are not all that upset about this, because the vast majority of the people that were fooled into buying the replica didn’t have that same reaction outlined above. Most of their clients had walked the same walk I did – they purchased an OTR replica, experienced for themselves the price-quality connection, and made the decision  in the end to invest in the original piece. These corsetieres explained to me that – while replicas are annoying – OTR companies were to thank for increasing their clientele, not decreasing clientele through competition.

Not all clientele are the same

Through my consultations, I’ve come across clients with all sorts of opinions. Those who turn their noses up at OTR corsets (for what its worth, I supply consultations for custom corsets as well, not just OTR companies), and other people who have had terrible experiences with custom corsetieres, and had decided to stick only to OTR corsets! There are also people from all walks of life, with different body types, different budgets, and wanting to try corsets for different reasons, whether it’s for one weekend during a convention and then never worn again, or as a daily companion for years. It takes all types in this world, and I assure you that there is no shortage of clients for either industry.

My aim is not to convince the anti-OTR people to start supporting these companies, nor to guilt or pressure the anti-bespoke people to reprioritize their purchases. I don’t mean to call anyone a “corset bigot” or force them to change their mind. My aim is to help clientele and makers within the two industries alike, to see both sides of the situation and try to tolerate one another. Because while either industry can certainly survive without the other, they sometimes do better together.

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De-Sensationalizing the Corset

I received a very refreshing and pleasant message from a subscriber the other day, which included this passage (published with permission):

I just wanted to tell you how much I really love your channel, and how pleasing it is to see someone who makes corsetting something that’s empowering, fun and sort of a hobby. I found that before you, there seemed to be two camps of social stigma: Sexy Corseting for the bedroom and nights out, or Grandma Corseting that’s seen as uncomfortable, demeaning and anti-feminist (not to mention a bit utilitarian and unflattering!). What I mean to say here is, thanks for giving it the air of girls chatting together, rather than guys saying “They’re only doing that to look thinner/sexier!”. I think corsets are fun and beautiful, and so do you!

The part of her letter which made me smile the most was what she said about my channel giving the air of girls chatting together. I had never really thought about it that manner, but in a way that’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for – educational and demystifying, but also colloquial and relaxed, instead of the focus being on strictly the fetish community or strictly historical re-enactors/ Grandma’s attic. But let’s expand on this topic a bit…

Continue reading De-Sensationalizing the Corset

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Age limits to corseting?

How old is too old to start corseting? How young is too young to start corseting?

This is a tricky subject. Since corseting is not an incredibly mainstream activity, no laws in any country (to my knowledge) has put down laws concerning a ‘safe’ age for someone to wear a corset. Further, there are so many levels to “corseting” – are we talking about waist training every day? Only a few hours every day, or 23/7? Are we dealing with light reductions or extreme tightlacing with much higher reductions? Are you compressing the ribcage, or just the waistline? There are as many ways to wear a corset as there are to consume alcohol. Does this mean that a ‘blanket law’ should apply to all corsets of all sizes for all people, the way that such laws exist for alcohol consumption?

For simplicity’s sake, I’m talking specifically about waist training and tight lacing in this article – that being waist reductions of 3-4 inches or more, and corsets being worn on a regular basis, a few times a week or everyday, with moderate pressure on the floating ribs. Furthermore, these are my opinions and my opinions only. I know some corsetieres and other ‘corset authorities’ who have similar views to mine, and some that have differing views. Just know that this is my side of things, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has the same answer – nor does it replace the medical advice of a doctor.

If you’d prefer to watch my video on the subject instead of read about it, you may do so here:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DpWefRa77U]

How young is too young to start waist training/ tight lacing?

I’ve had viewers as young as 12 ask me if it’s alright to start corseting. They promise me that they’ll go slowly and they’ll be very patient about it, etc. Every time, I will tell them the same thing:

Waist training is a form of body modification. Therefore it should more or less follow the same rules and guidelines as other forms of body modification. In North America, most legal tattoo and piercing parlors require you to be at least 18 years old – that is the age at which you’re considered an adult and you’re responsible for your own actions and what you do with your body. Before that age, you’re not considered 100% responsible for your own body. Furthermore, depending on the country you live in, you have to be older than 18 to engage in risky activity like smoking or drinking – for instance, 21 years old in America, or 25 years reportedly in India. It’s my belief that corseting should be treated the same way.

Whenever somebody asks me permission to waist train, I feel a bit awkward. Firstly, I’m essentially “just a woman on the internet”. You and I are total strangers and I can’t give you “permission” to do or not do anything. If you’re under the age of 18, you’d have to go to your legal guardians for permission. On a general level, I tell these youth the same thing most tattoo parlors will say: You should be at least 18 years of age – OR 16 years of age if you have your parent or guardian’s consent. This is to protect all parties involved:

  • It’s to protect your body from anything going awry during corseting, whether through the poor choice of going too far/too fast with your reduction, OR from accidental injury that was not the cause of poor choices.
  • It’s to protect your parents from being blamed for neglecting your well-being, should anything happen to you.
  • And it’s to protect my ass from being called a “bad role model to children”, because I have never claimed to be a role model to children. I’m as much as a role model as Joe having a cigarette outside on his lunch break, or Linda having a glass of wine with dinner. I’m an adult engaging in an adult activity, trying to mind her own business.

A lot of teens might want to say at this point, “Well I think it’s B.S. that I should have to wait until I’m 18, because I’m so mature for my age and I’ve stopped growing in height and I went through puberty really young, etc. etc. etc.” It doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with maturity level. It has nothing to do with how old you were when you started your period. It has to do with your skeleton, and how ALL people’s skeletons as children are comprised largely of cartilage – this much softer and weaker than bone, and your bones don’t fully mature until about age 25.

Is it true that two hundred years ago, girls wore bodices? Yes – actually both girls and boys wore bodices. At the time, it was thought that this promoted good posture and reduced the risk of skeletal deformity as the child grows.

Is it true that you can see 12 year olds wearing back braces as a mode of therapy for scoliosis or other congenital skeletal issues, even today? Yes, and these braces can reduce the waist several inches, and also put pressure on the ribcage much like a corset does – and this is all done under medical supervision! But it doesn’t mean that any old off-the-rack corset is designed to be as safe and as effective (if you’d like a medical corset, you’d have to go to a corsetiere who specializes in such). It’s true that the younger you start reducing and training your waist, the more malleable your ribs are, and the easier it is for them to move out of the way. But cartilage is much easier to bend and/or break compared to bone – and if there’s even the tiniest risk of that happening, I don’t want you to take that risk.

If you’ve been tightlacing since you were 13 years old and you’re fine today, I’m happy for you. I hope that would be the norm and not the exception, if other young teens/tweens decide to go against what I say and begin corseting at a young age. But I don’t condone wearing corsets under the age of 18 years, and I’m highly unlikely to change my mind on this. Foot down.

Now, if you’re younger than 18 and you just like the look of corsets, then there are cheaper options (cheaper both in quality and in price). These won’t pull you in more than 1-2 inches, which is about the same reduction that one might expect from their belt or their skinny jeans. There are decorative ‘corset-like’ bustiers and tops available so you can get the look without getting the reduction. (The Pragmatic Costumier showed the difference a corset can make on a person’s silhouette even with zero waist reduction.)

Am I too old to start waist training / tight lacing?

I’m hesitant to set an upper limit in this scenario, because whether or not a person can corset train depends on the individual’s health, lifestyle and family history. Cathie Jung started tightlacing ’round the clock when she was about 45 years old and she is close to 75 now, still wearing her corsets tight as ever. However, this took 3 decades of persistent work, and 3 decades of her body acclimatizing to this pressure. For someone who is just starting to wear corsets at 75 years old, the amount of reduction plausible and the health concerns would be much different.

For mature women just starting waist training, I would say that the biggest health concerns would be osteoporosis or any osteolytic auto-immune conditions, because having brittle bones means your ribs are more likely to give under pressure. Also if you have any vaginal or uterine prolapse, the increased intra-abdominal pressure from a corset may exacerbate the condition. You also have to watch out for hypertension, circulation problems and – depending on certain medications – your activity level and whether or not you smoke cigarettes, you need to watch out for thrombosis.

Now, this may sound scary, and a lot of people might be reading this and say, “Oh, a corset can cause all that?!”
Not necessarily cause these. But exacerbate, quite possibly. In many cases, the body can already have had a pre-existing condition and the corset can merely amplify its symptoms. But it would be unfair to blame a corset for bringing out whatever problems you had in the first place. Wearing a corset has actually brought attention to certain aspects of my own body (such as dairy and gluten sensitivities, and my asymmetric hips) and drove me to seek assistance to correct these issues. Had I not noticed these through the use of corsets, these may have remained underlying issues that could have taken years to detect and correct.

But you see, there are so many different factors that go into the health of a person it really goes much farther beyond age. A person can be healthier at 65 years than they were at 20 years. But whatever your age is, make sure that your body is healthy and prepared for a corset.
Healthy and prepared.
Healthy and prepared.
Prepared being mature enough and fully grown, and healthy meaning preferably no underlying health conditions conditions (unless your condition is one that your doctor thinks can be improved with a corset, like an abdominal hernia or pain from a slipped disc).

If you have a clean bill of health and your doc gives you the thumbs up, then go for it.

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Storing your Corset

Chances are if you don’t wear your corset 24/7, or if you have more than one corset, you will need to find a place for your corset during the times you’re not wearing it. In this article I explain some different ways to store your corset away safely protected from dust and light.

Do note that after you take off your corset and before storing it away, it’s a good idea to leave it laid flat or draped over a chair with the lining side up for a few hours (or overnight) to air out, so moisture and odor can escape and so the fibers in the fabric can settle after the strain of tightlacing.

What not to do: DON’T just roll, crumple or stuff your corset into a random small space, or simply throw it on the floor. While your corset is probably not “fragile”, it is still a special and expensive garment. If you wouldn’t carelessly stuff your good suit or your prom dress into a drawer, then why would you treat your corset that way?

Hang it

I have about 40 corsets, and the easiest way to store the the majority of them is just to hang them up in a designated spot in my closet. I use skirt or trouser hangers (the one with little hinged clips) and I hang the corset upside-down and inside-out. If the corset has specific hanging loops , you can hang it from those as well. If you don’t have skirt hangers, then simply hang the corset by the laces over the bar of the hanger, so that each half is balanced on each side. After hanging them up, you may cover them with a bag if you wish to prevent dust. To see a demonstration of this, click on the video below.

Bag it

Corset bags are great because they can keep the corset nicely folded and untangled from the laces, they can protect the corset from light (which can fade some fabrics over time) and dirt, and they can be either stacked in a drawer or can be hung in a closet. Some places that sell corset bags are What Katie Did (drawstring bag; £5-£7), Axfords corsets (bag with an overhanging lip, free with every purchased corset), Corset Heaven (drawstring bag, £17.50) and Timeless Trends (zippered bag; $19-$21 USD). To see each of these bags, click on the video below.

Display it

Although not the most space-saving option (or the best option for protecting it against light and dust), many people like to keep their corsets on display when they’re not wearing them by lacing the corsets around a pillow, a mannequin, or a chicken-wire form. The wire form is particularly interesting because it still allows exposure of the lining.

Please see the corresponding video to see examples of using hangers and bags to store your corsets:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUI2G7JORUU]

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The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

This entry is a summary of the review video “Shape of your Corset Gap – What does it mean?” which you can watch on YouTube here: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10GdIi1VwMw]

 Shape/ meaning

Brands to avoid for your body type

Brands to consider for your body type

A shape

The A Shape
The A shape

This means that your hips are too wide for this corset pattern. This type of gap is common for women who are naturally a pear shape. Do NOT try to force the hips smaller because then you may get an odd bump at the lower edge of the corset, and it can also make your hips go numb.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, or the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. For those who have a larger hipspring, look for corsets for vintage figures: What Katie Did or Isabella Corsetry are good choices. They have a hipspring of more than 12-14 inches.

V shape

The V shape
The V shape

This means that your ribcage or shoulders are too broad or fleshy for the corset. While it is possible to train down your ribcage, it’s unlikely that you can train it right from the very top edge.  This often occurs in swimmers or in men who wear women’s corsets.

Corsets that have a relatively narrow ribcage, which include some WKD underbusts. For standard corsets with a larger ribcage, try Timeless Trends and the CS-426 from Orchard Corset.

() shape

The () shape
The () shape

This is when you have gaping at the waist – the bones in the back are either too flexible, or the waist is too small than you’re ready for. This CAN ruin the corset because it’s forcing the bones to twist in their channels. It can even make the bones kink outward or inward into your back, which is quite uncomfortable.

Avoid corset patterns that are curvier than you are ready for. If you have a very “unyielding” figure, you may have to train down before buying corsets like WKD or Isabella.  I’d recommend you start with a larger corset size, or go for a corset that makes more gentle/ natural hourglass or slim silhouettes like Timeless Trends.

)( shape

The )( shape
The )( shape

This is when your body is more of an hourglass shape than the corset itself! The corset doesn’t have enough curve in it. BEWARE of this common trick on websites! They will use models who are naturally quite curvy and this will make their corsets curvier. A corset that is modelled with a gap like this in the back will likely look more tubular when it’s laced straight.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. Try What Katie Did Morticia corset, the Curvy Girl corset from Azrael’s Accomplice, or several options available from Isabella Corsetry or Ms Martha’s corset shop.

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The // shape

A diagonal but fairly parallel gap means that the corset fits your ribcage, waist and hips reasonably well but it is twisting on the body. There are several reasons why this may be happening: 1. If the corset is made with twill and all of the panels have the twill running in the same direction. Twill, while strong, has an asymmetric weave so stretches more on one bias than another. To test if your corset has stretched differently on either side, measure the ½ circumference on each side of your corset at ribcage, waist and hips. See if both sides are equal. 2. It may just have been how you put the corset on that day! Always lace in front of a mirror to avoid tying it skewed. If you notice your corset is twisted, take it off immediately and put it on again straight. It is possible for a corset to season into a permanent twisted shape! 3. It may not be the corset, but rather your body that is asymmetric. If you have any of the following then this can make a symmetric corset look asymmetric:

  • scoliosis
  • a previously broken rib
  • one leg longer than the other
  • some other skeletal or muscular asymmetry
In the first situation, I recommend not buying corsets made with twill – or if they are made with twill, make sure the corsetiere is experienced enough to sew it perfectly on grain, and to flip every other panel so that the bias of all panels don’t run in the same direction.Also, as bad as it sounds, avoid “risky investments.” Ensure that your corsetiere is scrutinous about making each half of the corset the same way, and to specification (whether symmetric or asymmetric). In the last situation (physical asymmetry), I strongly suggest finding an experienced corsetiere who can fit you with an asymmetric corset, which will then end up looking symmetric on you!

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This is the coveted vertical parallel gap! Some people prefer to have no space in the back, while others like about 2 inches of space so the back edges don’t touch the spine. Either way, your corset fits you well. Congratulations!

 Make sure that your corset is not too big for you; when the corset is closed there shouldn’t be any significant gaping between your ribcage and the top edge of the corset, or your hips and the bottom edge of your corset.  You’re very lucky, my friend! If  You’ve found an off-the-rack corset that fits you nearly as well as a custom corset. If it makes you look good and feel good, then take it and run!

Final Thoughts: Many people have no problem with the shape of their corset gap (after all, the wearer doesn’t have to see it!). If this is you, then continue rocking your corset just the way you like it. However if you, like me, are a little more conscientious about achieving the vertical parallel lines of a well-fit corset, I hope these suggestions can help you choose a better off-the-rack corset for next time – and if all else fails, go custom! If you enjoyed this article, or even if you need clarification, you may also like my “Addendum to Corset Gaps: Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues