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Outfit of the Night: Monica Dress (with Gemini Corset)

 

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!

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Review: Veco Corset Gown by Vollers Corsets

This entry is a summary of the video “Vollers Veco Corset Dress Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length There is not much I can say in the way of measurements, as this dress must be custom made to each client’s measurements. It is so form-fitting. When Vollers was making this dress for me, I provided them my bust, underbust, waistline, high hip, low hip, and length of my body from waistline to floor (as well as what height of heel I planned to wear with this dress!).
Silhouette is a mild hourglass, as most of Vollers corsets tend to be. I like the coverage of the dress and the height that it reaches under my arms and around the back – my bustline is supported and secure, and I don’t have much spillover around the back.
Material Fashion fabric is magenta satin with a fused overlay of black lace. Interior lining (strength fabric) is black cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern – the first three panels swoop down in a V shape over the front hip in a slightly Edwardian style fashion, and then at the iliac level, the panels sweep out again to provide fullness over the hips. The 6 panels go down to the floor, but the skirt portion has 4 gussets (on each side) below the knee to add flare and create a trumpet silhouette.
Binding Commercial black satin ribbon at the top, and a simple overlock stitch along the bottom of the skirt (this makes it easier to modify the length if you wanted it hemmed, and Vollers mentioned that adding binding to the bottom affected the drape of the skirt too much).
Waist tape 1 inch wide ribbon waist tape, exposed on the inside of the corset. Partial waist tape, starting at seam 2 and ending at seam 5.
Modesty panel Matching, unstiffened panel attached to one side of the corset. Slightly over 6″ wide (will cover about 4.5″ gap in the back). It extends nearly the entire length of the dress. I would NOT advise removing the modesty panel as it would expose your bum beneath the laces of the dress. The modesty placket in the front also extends down to around the knee area, and contains some hooks and eyes to help the dress stay closed below the busk.
Busk 13 inches long. 6 loops + pins, bottom two are a bit closer together. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side). Below the busk, heavy-duty hooks and eyes continue down the rest of the dress.
Boning 14 bones total, 7 on each side. Single boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are an incredible 112 single part eyelets in the back of the dress! size #00, with medium flange. Finished in silver, and there are no washers in the back. Vollers ensures that the eyelets are industrial strength (used in boots) and they have a lifetime guarantee on their corsets.
Laces Black flat shoelace style lacing – no spring, very strong, long enough. There are three separate sets of laces (top to hip, hip to knee, and knee to bottom). See the discussion below for how I laced into this dress!
Price £950, made to measure – however, Vollers has a 25% off coupon for first-time customers when you sign up with their mailing list.

 

Lucy Corsetry posing in the Veco corset dress by Vollers.
Lucy Corsetry posing in the Veco corset dress by Vollers.

Vollers is the oldest corset manufacturer in the UK (I believe their family has been in the corset business since 1899), and are based in Portsmouth, England. In August 2015, had the pleasure of meeting the current owners, Ian and Corina Voller and visiting their factory. I will post more on my interview with them later, but for now let’s focus on the Veco dress, which is by far my favourite creation of theirs.

The Veco dress is available in two colors: “American Beauty” which is gold with black lace, and “Fuchsia Brocade” which I reviewed here. Vollers does invite customers to provide custom fabrics, but they do ask that you send them a sample of the fabric beforehand so they can determine if it is suitable to be made into a corset.

The bones of the corset do not extend down the entire length of the dress; the most structured part of the dress resembles a normal hourglass overbust – the bones start at the top edge around the bustline, and stops at the iliac crest to allow the wearer to sit or crouch comfortably. The boning channels themselves do continue down the rest of the length, and the channels themselves add some structure to the dress despite not containing any boning below the hip.

I adore the shape of the skirt; how it’s form-fitting over the hips and thighs and then flares out in a trumpet style below the knee. Extra skirt gussets create more fullness below the knee, and it moves beautifully when I walk.

For those curious as to how I got into this dress: it is possible to put it on by myself, but it is much easier with a second person! First I loosened the top two sets of laces (from the top of the corset to the hip, and from the hip to the knee) until it was loose enough in the back, and I opened the busk and the hooks and eyes (only down to the knee) so that I could step into the dress. I tried to keep the hooks and eyes from the knees-down closed, to save time.

I then fastened the busk, and then did up the smaller black hooks and eyes on the modesty placket (from hips down to the knees), before doing up the heavier duty hooks and eyes overtop of those smaller hooks. These two sets of hooks and eyes fasten in opposite directions so it doesn’t matter which way you twist or turn, you should not become exposed. Once all the hooks and eyes were finished, I tightened the top set of laces so the corset sat securely at my waistline, and then tightened the middle set of laces over the hips and thighs. Try to find a happy compromise between having a reduction in your waistline, and having it loose enough so that you’re able to move and sit down comfortably. For this last lacing part, this is where extra help from another person comes in handy! They can also tuck the bow of the laces underneath the X’s so as to create a smoother line in the back of the corset.

Learn more about the Veco corset dress by Vollers here.

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OOTD: Combining Dark-Side Panel Dress with Corsetry

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.

Kate Winslet for Stella McCartney. Photo: Getty

Sourcing out a budget-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?

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Whirling Turban Wing Bust, Sarong Skirt Dress!

This is a very special OOTD episode, where I feature a lovely vintage reproduction dress made by Whirling Turban. I was introduced to Whirling Turban’s products via Ashley of “Lisa Freemont Street”, fellow vlogger on Youtube and blogger. (Ashley is also a full-time mom and an integral part of the Whirling Turban team, in addition to a few other jobs – and manages to look fabulous doing it all! She’s a modern Superwoman.)

If you would rather watch and listen than read, feel free to watch the video below (lots of eyecandy!).

Many people know me for my detailed corset reviews, but it wasn’t until I got my vintage dresses last year that I really started paying attention to the quality of the rest of my wardrobe. When a garment (corset or otherwise) is made with care, attention, time and skill, it really shows. And it may cost a tad more (for instance, the standard size wingbust dress on WT starts at $235), but I consider this a very fair investment considering it makes me feel like a million bucks.

This dress is adjustable in several ways – its flexible wing bust allows the wearer to flip the ‘wings’ up into cheeky points to conceal the contrast fabric, or to curve the wings down for a softer look and to expose more of the contrast. The dress also comes with a halter strap which matches the contrast, a halter strap which matches the main fabric of the dress (whichever color you like, since there are 9 colors of sharkskin to choose from), and these straps can be interchanged/ adjusted in length using two pairs of small buttons on the inside of the bust.

You can also wear it strapless, and the lightly boned bodice will keep the dress from falling down on you. The light boning and the shirring both keep the bodice wonderfully smooth instead of shifting or bunching. However, this bodice is not designed to nip you in at the waist, so WT recommends wearing a corset underneath to give you a period-accurate silhouette. In my video ab0ve, you can see me model the dress first with my What Katie Did Morticia underbust, and then with my Versatile Corsets Mimosa overbust, so you can see the difference that your foundation wear makes in silhouette.

The sarong skirt is attached to the bodice, and flares out dramatically from the waistline to accentuate full, feminine hips. There are several neat pleats in the front which would nicely conceal any lower tummy pudge; and otherwise add to the very 50’s-accurate profile. I chose my skirt to end about one inch lower than the fullest part of my calf, which gives a slight leg-lengthening illusion. The sarong is a kind of wiggle skirt, and hugs my legs in a flattering yet non-restrictive manner, as the slit between the two overlapping panels of fabric in the front accommodate any extra room you may need to climb a steep set of stairs, or to quickly sidestep your manic puppy. (Both happen frequently, in my case.) A lovely casual tie on the side of the hip, like an understated bow, finishes off the look and provides very minor adjustment in the hips.

The more I look at the dress, the more details pop out at me. Not one aspect of this dress was constructed without some sort of consideration for the wearer. The material is 100% cotton, which drapes beautifully and is a dream to wear, as it doesn’t cause sweating, itching, static cling, etc. The wings on the bustline are meticulously pressed and sewn into crisp edges; the shirring is symmetric on both sides of the bodice; the clothestag is concealed and prevented from poking into my back; the matching colored zipper is cleanly inserted and doesn’t catch; and even the interfacing is sew-in instead of fusible. One of the most important features is the pinked edges, which provide a non-bulky way to prevent fraying and unraveling of seams.

If this post sounds like I’m waxing poetic about the work of Whirling Turban… it’s because I might be! Looking at the craftsmanship of this dress, I’m tempted to get rid of many of my worn-too-quickly $15 eco t-shirts and start to take more pride in the way I dress on a regular basis.

If you would like to see Whirling Turban’s selections, feel free to visit their site here.

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Using Corsets for a 1950’s “New Look” Accurate Silhouette

Earlier today I posted an “OOTD” video, showing that the right undergarments can make all the difference when trying to dress in a period-accurate manner.

If I could show you the difference of the fit of these dresses with and without a corset, I would – alas, I couldn’t get either of them zipped up without a corset. The little black wiggle dress has a 24″ waist, the blue dress has just under a 25″ waist. I have a natural 27″ waist – close, but no cigar.

After reading Sarah Chrisman’s bookWaisted Curves…” and remembering what she said about the subtle lessons we can learn from studying and wearing vintage clothing, I decided to pay more attention to my own posture and behavior while wearing these dresses.

The Little Black (Wiggle) Dress (LBWD?)

This is a sophisticated little number. By modern standards, it’s very conservative (covers much more skin than most cocktail dresses available today) but there’s something alluring about it. The dramatic dip in the waist is unexpected to most people today, and the bodice of the dress will not be having any self-deprecating pose from me. The width of the back panels are more narrow than that of the front panels, forcing my shoulders down and back, making me look confident and proud even in situations where I’m feeling painfully shy.
The only feature I find less-than-absolutely-perfect about this dress is the little lower-belly pouch that sticks out from the skirt, making my profile look a little dumpier than I actually am. Whether this is just a result from the the skirt’s darts and pleats, or if this was designed in due to the shape of many women during this time, I’m not entirely sure – but I am told that this is normal of wiggle dresses of the period.

The Blue-Grey Shelf-Bust Twirly (Swing) Dress

I have no words for how much I love this dress. The teensy pleating over the bust area; the way the silhouette is created by elongated hourglass-shaped panels (much like the panels in a corset) dipping in at the waist and swooping back out again in the skirt; the sweet little bow detail on the shoulder; the heavenly silky blue fabric with pink lining which go perfectly with my new lemon-meringue-colored petticoat – wearing this dress makes me want to play hooky from work and just twirl in this all day.
Whereas the LBWD makes me feel mature and sophisticated like a siren or femme-fatale, this soft blue dress makes me feel distinctly youthful, sweet and girly. I feel like a flower; something to be nurtured and cherished.

The psychological effect of clothing is incredible. When I hung up the femme-fatale dress and the delicate-flower dress and donned my comfy, frumpy, fleece pajamas this evening, I felt a little silly – how could I let my clothing affect me so much? Is there any merit to that age-old saying “The clothes makes the man” (or woman)? It makes me wonder if wearing a corset has shaped my behavior over the past couple of years, and if so, how (and how much) has it changed me?
Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely fun!