Tag Archive: fashion

OOTD with Corset: Edwardian-Inspired High-Waisted Skirt

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).

Edwardian high waisted skirt and ruffled blouse, circa 1916.

Edwardian high waisted skirt and ruffled blouse, circa 1916.

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!

Dat Booty. (American Duchess Edwardian Manhattan Boots)

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!

OOTD: Cinch Clips to Accentuate your Corseted Figure

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?

Wearing my Contour Corset under my sweater tunic and toddler belt.

Wearing my Contour Corset under my sweater tunic and toddler belt.

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.

My friend Zessinna crochets adorable roses and bows to conceal cinch clips – check out her Etsy shop here if you have the time!

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!

amazon-filigree-cinch-clip

Cardigan Clip: Silver Antiqued Swirls with Crystals. Photo courtesy of Amazon affiliate.

 

Pairing your Corset with Leggings

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!

Dressing with your Corset: Playing with Necklines

Fashion magazines are always telling us to “dress for our body type”. They know that different cuts, styles, colours and shapes of clothing can give the illusion of a different silhouette. Today I investigate this phenomenon by experimenting with different necklines while wearing the exact same corset (thus, having the exact same silhouette with each shirt). A certain neckline can make your neck look longer or shorter, make your shoulders look broader or more narrow, make your bust look larger or smaller, and almost create completely different silhouettes, even if the corset itself doesn’t change. Ultimately, I wear what I want – whether it’s flattering or not to conventional fashion – because I like these shirts. If you’re looking to create a certain illusion of silhouette, this comparative guide may help. Feel free to watch the video where I explain in more detail, or refer to the quick guide below the video.

Neckline ScoopScoop neckline: accentuates the décolletage but doesn’t show too much cleavage. The scoop neckline makes the shoulders and bust look slightly more broad but may also make the torso look shorter in the process.
Neckline HalterHalter neckline: the eye follows the “swell” of the fabric which may emphasizes a slender neck, large bust, small waist and large hips. I’d recommend the halter for those who have a long neck and pronounced clavicle. The halter emphasizes the breadth of the shoulders by leaving them bare.
Neckline PlungeV-neck or plunge necklines can emphasize cleavage but also make the top look a bit slimmer and the shoulders look more feminine. The “downward arrow” of this neckline echoes the V shape created by the ribs tapering down to the waist, and the V cut of the bottom edge of the corset. The cap sleeves on this shirt also somewhat echo this effect, almost making my torso look longer.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.57.05 PMSweetheart and Queen Anne necklines I consider to be universally flattering and feminine. The sweetheart cut emphasizes the roundness of the bust and draws the eye in and down like an “attention funnel”. The almost diamond-shape of the Queen Anne also draws the eye up to the neck and clavicle region and looks nice on people with both broad and narrow shoulders.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.58.34 PMOff-the-shoulder necklines (what I consider to be a portrait neckline) typically show off the neck and clavicle area, and depending on how low it sits off your shoulders, may also draw attention to the décolletage. The wide band on this shirt, combined with the light colour make my shoulders appear very broad and creates contrast with the small waist (emphasized by being in a dark colour).
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.59.12 PMBoat necklines also go straight across horizontally, except they are typically cut across right at the clavicle line. This particular sweater dress further emphasizes the hourglass shape, as epaulettes on this piece create the illusion of broader shoulders (and can give definition to sloping shoulders), and the horizontal zipper at the widest part of the hip helps with the illusion of a fuller hip. The dress is belted at the waist with the corset underneath, which completes the hourglass effect.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.59.56 PMSquare necklines are almost like scoop necklines but with more personality. I find that it shows off the décolletage while showing less cleavage than the scoop neckline; the horizontal line cutting across the bust makes the bust look full, while the vertical lines going up to the neck helps prevent a “squat” looking torso. I enjoy playing with geometry in my outfits and feel that the square neckline nicely contrasts the triangular or conical shape formed by the corset.
Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 1.00.39 PMLet me preface this by saying I’m not a huge fan of turtlenecks in general; I have an issue with things wrapped too tightly around my neck. However, these thin microfibre pieces are generally fine as the neck is typically short and not too tight. I find that the turtleneck looks best on people who have broad shoulder and/or long necks. I find that it tends to minimize my bust (which is not necessarily a bad thing) yet accentuate my shoulders, and gives a nice “plain canvas” for my corset to be the center of attention.

What is your favourite neckline or type of shirt to wear, either over or under your clothing? Let me know in the comments below!

OOTD/ Dressing with your Corset – Belted fashions

Fashion is kind of interesting. When I pair my corsets with modern clothing (especially wearing my corset overtop of modern clothes), many people think it looks out of place, and that my waist looks unusual or too dramatic. However, when I wear my corset under New Look style dresses, people think my outfit is amazing – my small waist doesn’t look out of place at all.

I have asked some people why they thought women of the 50’s are a different shape that they are today, a few of them told me that they simply thought the silhouette was due to an illusion in the dress, or that women simply were  naturally shaped differently back then.

While people did have a different standard of living 60 years ago, I assure you that this is not enough time for the human body to evolve with a completely different body shape.

In any sense, if you would like to accentuate your corseted silhouette without showing off the corset itself, and you don’t have access to vintage outfits (or simply don’t like them), consider accessorizing your sweaters, tunics and dresses with belts and sashes.

In the video below, I show how a simple toddler’s belt can dramatically change the shape of one of my old sweaters, and also show what kind of belted and sashed dresses I look for when I’m going 2nd-hand shopping.

If you like making your own clothing, consider some dresses with built-in sashes, such as Simplicity 9891 (which is actually a Halloween costume, but you get the idea. It can be easily modified to make an acceptable ‘everyday’ dress).

Enjoy!

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!

“Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself” by Sarah A. Chrisman — an Overview

I admit it. I’m terrible at book reviews. So many years of working in biology labs have conditioned me to treat every publication the same way: study, jot notes, report results relevant to my own research. Opinions are frowned upon by the Board. (At least I got to sneak in some alliteration.)

My video review, despite being 13 minutes long, feels painfully short and superficial. In reality, the raw footage of the review was over an hour long, wherein I combined Chrisman’s research and experiences with my own and discussed possible (soft) conclusions to certain questions regarding physical, psychological and societal impacts of wearing a corset. Alas, most people these days don’t have 13 minutes to spare, nevermind an hour.

This book used to be called “Waisted Curves: My Transformation into a Victorian Lady” and was self-published and hand-made – Chrisman carefully hand-folds each page, sews them together, and binds the cover in your choice of cloth, silk or leather — the way that books were made in the Victorian era. Due to the print or weave on the cover fabric, no two books are exactly the same. You kind of feel the love and the labour emanating from this. The price of this book, $40 for cloth-bound and $49 for either silk or leatherbound, is well-justified just by how much work must have gone into assembling the book itself — but the contents inside are worth much more.

Now the book has been picked up by a publisher, it has changed its name to “Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself” and is available on Amazon.

The book is essentially a memoir of Chrisman’s first year (and a few months extra) of corset training – in this time, her waist is reduced from 32” uncorseted to 22” corseted – she changes the way she carries herself, and her style of dress so that essentially she is transformed into a “Victorian lady” by the end of the book. If this book were made into a movie trailer, I have a feeling that it would look like a typical “transformation” or “make0ver” movie (e.g. Clueless, She’s All That, Teen Witch, Princess Diaries, etc). Let me tell you now that those movies are garbage compared to this book. “Waisted Curves…” is a non-fiction, first-hand account of what it’s really like to make such a transformation (not only in appearance but also in health, grace and building one’s knowledge) – it’s not an overnight change, and it’s not without its challenges.

A not-so-brief summary of events (SPOILER ALERT)

Outfits with a Corset: Hiding your Corset with Empire Waists

I know what some of you are thinking: “You spend hundreds of dollars for a high-end training corset, and countless hours of effort and discipline whittling down your waist, and you want to hide it?”

Hiding or concealing your corset isn’t about shame. Sometimes it’s necessary to conceal the corset during work or school hours (especially if one’s waist is obviously unnatural, such as a wasp-waist or pipe-stem). The same way that employees and employers alike cover their tattoos with make up or take out their gauge earrings (plugs), so corsets may be a form of body modification that’s frowned upon in the workplace. Even outside of corporate life, some people wear corsets for personal reasons but don’t feel it necessary to make it anyone else’s business.

That being said, there are several ways to fairly easily hide your corset under clothing. One of these ways involves empire-waist shirts and dresses.

Empire-waist tops are “cinched” in at the underbust level, and fall freely below that point (very much the popular silhouette during the Regency period). As such, the waist of your shirt will fall at, or just above, the point where your underbust corset will start. Since corsets tend to not constrict your upper ribcage, the high waistline of your shirt in this area will look natural, and then the surplus of fabric beneath that point will easily conceal the sharp inward curve created by your corset.

In the video below, I show a couple of different examples of empire waist shirts. They may have an elasticated bottom (in order to create a “bubble” effect) or they may be free and loose on the bottom, like an A-line skirt that starts just under the bust area. Both of these work well to hide corsets.

Generally speaking, heavier fabrics are better at hiding your corset than more lightweight fabrics. While lighter fabrics can still conceal a corset, any breeze or draft that pushes your shirt aside will show your silhouette beneath. (This can be used to your advantage sometimes!) The lighter the fabric is, the looser the cut of the shirt must be in order to conceal the corseted figure.

Even if this style of shirt or dress isn’t “in season”, there are two places that you’re likely to find them. The first is 2nd-hand stores, also known as fripperies, consignment shops, “vintage boutiques”, Goodwill/ Salvation Army/ Value Village etc. The second place where you will always find empire waists in fashion is a maternity clothing store, as most of their clothing is designed to conceal (or have enough folds of fabric to accommodate) a growing belly. In fact, most clothing which is designed to hide so-called “problem areas” (protruding bellies, apple-shapes etc) are also quite good at concealing other “odd” shaped torsos, such as a corseted figure.

In the next few weeks I’ll be making more of these “Dressing with your corset” videos and posts, to show you the different ways that you can either accentuate or hide a corseted figure.

To see my outfits in detail, watch this video:

Best wishes,

Lucy

Outfits with a Corset: Victoria’s Secret Ruched “Multi-way” Dress

Let me start by saying that I’m a huge fan of convertible/ infinity dresses. Usually made out of a soft, flattering jersey (I like cotton and bamboo jerseys), they can be worn a multitude of ways. I’ve made 6 of them in the past for myself and purchased another two. I’ve also made several for other people – as birthday gifts for friends and family, for dancers, and even brides! These dresses are great for dressing up or down – they easily go from work to a picnic with kids to a night out dancing, depending on how you wrap it.

In this particular video I’m wearing one of my purchased ones – this is the ruched “Multi-way dress” from Victoria’s Secret (I think in the colour “sassy berry”).

I find that the fitted, ruched skirt serves well to fit over the curves of the corset nicely while still hiding the boning channels and other hardware of the corset. The long straps, which are most conveniently wrapped around the waist several times, also serves to “hide” and soften any harsh waspwaist made by the corset, resulting in a flattering but non-obvious corseted figure. In this video I show how to wear a convertible dress two different ways, although the possibilities are nearly endless – you just have to experiment for yourself and see which styles in this dress hide the corset best.

Also in this video I show how to easily and quickly put on strappy sandals while wearing a corset (either slip-on sandals, one with an elasticated heel or this even works with shoes that have a buckle at the ankle). Bonus: you can even get a quick quad stretch with this method.

To see my outfit in detail, watch this video:

Cheers,

Lucy

Outfits with a Corset: Featuring “Corset Jacket”

A quick post on one of my favourite items in my wardrobe these days: the “Corset Jacket”. It looks like a two-button blazer in the front but has two rows of grommets in the back with ribbon, to tighten the jacket slightly. In my opinion this jacket looks stunning when worn over a corset and tightened to show off the silhouette. I often have problems finding jackets that have broad shoulders, long sleeves and are large in the -ahem- chest area, without leaving me swimming in the waist and hips. A jacket that was adjustable in the waist seemed like a suitable solution. After looking at the sizing for shoulder breadth/ sleeve length of these jackets, I took a chance and ordered a size medium.

I’m not good at officially reviewing leather garments as I don’t own many leather items, but I can say that all the seams are stitched (not just “taped”), the lining in it fits well, it seems symmetric and the quality of the different pieces of leather is good and uniform throughout. Although it’s not advertised as a raincoat, I use it as such and I feel like the coolest person in the world walking around in my leather jacket while everyone else is in plastic ponchos and fluorescent windbreakers.

Also in this outfit I’m wearing:

  • a pink/white cincher (which will be reviewed in the future)
  • “jeggings” (jean leggings) which fit nicely under a corset because it doesn’t have a bulky waistband
  • a fitted white zippered blouse. I personally find that zippered shirts are more comfortable under corsets compared to button-down shirts, because buttons are lumpy against my skin and zips are more uniform.
  • I completed this outfit with simple black flats and a black small purse, and wore this out to sushi with friends. 🙂

To see my outfit in detail, watch this video:

Stay tuned for other outfits in the future! 😀

~Lucy

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