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Orchard Corset CS-411 LONGLINE Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “CS-411 LONGLINE underbust (Orchard Corset) Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 12 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches (5.5″ above the waist, 5.5″ below the waist), side seam is 10 inches and center back is 12.5 inches.
Underbust 28″ (6 inch rib spring), waist 22″, low hip 32″ (10 inch hip spring).
Material 3 main layers – the fashion fabric is black cotton twill (also available in satin), flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in black twill again. Very stiff interlining in center front panel.
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). Constructed using the sandwich method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers.
Binding Made from matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. Stitched in the ditch on the outside, and topstitch on the inside. There are no garter tabs.
Modesty panel Slightly under 6 inches wide, made of a layer of black satin and a layer of twill. Unstiffened, and attached to one side with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired).
The modesty placket in the front is also black twill and ¼” wide, extending from the knob side of the busk and not stiffened.
Busk 11″ long, with 5 loops and pins (last two are a bit closer together). Slightly heavier busk, slightly under an inch wide and fairly stiff.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset. On each side, 6 of them are spirals about ¼” wide (double boned on the seams) and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24 two-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side), with a small flange, spaced equidistantly. On the underside there are many splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces due to the choice in laces.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy.
Price Available in black cotton, black and white satin, and black brocade (I recommend the cotton finish for longevity and smoothness). Sizes go from 18″ up to 46″ closed waist.
Sizes 18″ to 32″ costs $72 USD  |  Sizes 34″ to 46″ costs $75 USD

 

Final Thoughts:

This was another one of those OTR corsets that I felt really indifferent towards as I took it out of the package, but it ended up giving a surprisingly really lovely silhouette once I wore it in for a time.

The silhouette of this longline CS-411 corset is reminiscent of the original CS-411 with sweeping lines and somewhat conical ribs. The hips are slightly more “cupped” below the iliac crest, however, compared to the original. I also feel that this version is slightly more curvaceous than their standard CS-411, and that could be why it fits my body better – I do have a longer torso though, and I tend to believe that longline corsets are generally more flattering on my body so this could be influencing my opinion.

While this corset is available in a cotton fashion fabric and satin fashion fabric, I would personally recommend the cotton as it’s is sturdier, doesn’t wrinkle as easily, is harder-wearing (doesn’t pull or fray as easily), abrasion-resistant and is generally better at hiding wear and tear.

If you’re not a fan of the springy synthetic “workhorse” style shoelace that comes with this corset, Orchard also carries has some higher quality laces (double-faced satin ribbon and paracord) in an assortment of colors. I personally much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces, but paracord is said to be the strongest type of cord.

One thing to look out for is that the “bunny ears” are also consistently set high on the waist on Orchard Corsets (sometimes higher than the waist tape and always higher than my natural waist), but this is an easy fix – you just need to relace the corset, and I have a tutorial on that here.

See Orchard’s CS-411 longline corset on their website here, and remember that my ref code CORSETLUCY takes an additional 10% off your order (I don’t get any kickback from this coupon code, so use and share it freely).

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Vanyanis “Ruby” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the Vanyanis “Ruby” Corset Review video. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 12 inches long, the princess seam is 8.5 inches (4 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 11 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 28″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 22″, and hip is 34″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribcage is very conical, and the hips are gently cupped.
Material 3 main layers: the fashion is red satin with black lace overlay. The strength fabric is herringbone coutil, and the floating lining is a soft black cotton.
Construction 7-panel pattern (14 panels total). Panel 4 is designed to curve over the hip so there is no true “side seam”. Construction: satin was flatlined to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement; each seam was stitched at least 4 times for extra strength). Internal bone casings laid down, and covered by a floating lining.
Waist tape 2 cm wide (slightly less than an inch) cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric.
Binding Made from strips of black duchess silk, machine stitched on outside and inside. Stitched in the ditch on the outside and tiny topstitch on the inside.
Modesty panel Awesome modesty panel in back – 4.75″ wide, finished in matching red satin / black lace overlay on outside, and cotton inside. Quilted and boned with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical bones, and comes with snaps to easily suspend the panel on the laces, or remove the panel when desired.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from the knob side of the busk, covered matching red satin with black lace.
Busk 11” long, with 5 loops and pins, the bottom two a little closer together. Wissner brand, standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side) and a bit flexible, but there are added flat steels adjacent to the busk to add stiffness. The busk is also covered in a matte black powder coating.
Boning 30 bones total in this corset, 15 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel, and more flexible than usual, so it could curve to the lumbar spine. There are 4 flat steels by the busk (2 on each side).
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-to-medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in gunmetal grey or pewter. No splits on the underside.
Laces Black 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough). Finished with nice metal aglets.
Price Available in sizes 20″ up to 30″.
Price is $795 AUD (converts to about $635 USD).
VIP mailing list members get $100 AUD coupon, which brings the price down to $695 AUD (about $550 USD).


Final Thoughts:

Vanyanis is a couture brand based in Australia, run by Lowana O’Shea.

This corset is the best quality OTR piece I’ve ever seen. Made with herringbone coutil, expertly-matched fine lace, black hardware, evenly distributed steels, and an insanely comfortable pattern, Vanyanis has set a new bar for factory-produced corsetry.

For the pattern of this corset, I believe Lowana mentioned that this started out as the same dimensions and silhouette as her “Alecto” corset (a standard size, made-to-order Vanyanis product made by Lowana herself, introduced back in 2014) – however, the “Ruby” Corset was cut to have points on the top and bottom edges and to ride a bit higher over the hip. The “Lilian” corset is a grey / silver satin, and cut more straight across the top and bottom edges, but still the same general pattern.

And of course, the “Ruby” and “Lilian” corsets were made in a factory under Lowana’s supervision, which is why she describes these as an “off the rack” collection as opposed to the usual “ready to wear”.

One of the best features about this corset is the painstakingly pattern-matched lace in this corset. Because the lace had to be cut to each panel and flatlined (as opposed to pieces overlaid when the whole corset was finished being assembled), Lowana says that there was quite a lot of time and care (and stress) put into this step at the factory, and quite a lot of fabric wastage as well as they had to think about having sufficient seam allowance on each piece. This drove up the price of the corset – but it has a truly stunning final effect.

Lowana says that this corset is definitely strong enough for waist training, but due to the delicate nature of the lace overlay, it might become “roughed up” over time, so do keep in mind that the more you wear this piece, the more worn it will look.

This is Lowana’s first OTR line and as such it’s a small run to start (only 25 of the Ruby and 25 of the Lilian corsets in all sizes). If these sell well, Lowana is interested in making more colors, styles, and perhaps extended sizes as well.

If you’d like to see my interview with Lowana of Vanyanis, click here. And if you’d like to visit her Vanyanis shop, click here.

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

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

 

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

 

Additional Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Papercats Longline Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “REVIEW: PaperCats “Longline Cherries” Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 12.5 inches, and princess seam is 9.5 inches, side seam is 10 inches, and center back is 12.5 inches long. The size Small is equivalent to 22″ in the waist. The sizing chart on their website says that the ribcage would be 29″ and low hip 34″ for this corset, but when I measured mine, it was 27.5″ in the ribcage and 33″ in the hips. Conical through the ribs.
Material Two main layers: The fashion fabric is a poly-cotton blend with cherry print, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 7 panel pattern (14 panels total), constructed using the welt-seam method with one bone on each seam.
Binding Made from bias strips of black cotton twill. Machine stitched on the outside and inside. No garter tabs.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel 6.5 inches wide, unstiffened, finished in matching cherry print fabric and sewn to one side of the corset. There is also a 1-inch wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, also finished in cherry print.
Busk 11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a heavier busk (1 inch wide on each side), with a bit of flexibility.
Boning 16 bones total, not including busk. Single boned on the seams, using 1/4″ wide spiral bones. Beside the grommets, the outer bone is flat while the inner bone is spiral, giving some flexibility to the back.
Grommets 34 two-part grommets, size #X00 (very tiny), with a small flange. Finished in silver, and equidistantly spaced about 0.75″ apart. Small washers in the back; splits in the back but they don’t catch the laces too much.
Laces Standard black nylon shoelace style laces.
Price This particular style is 155 zł (about $52 USD)
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.

 

Other Thoughts:

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

While I wouldn’t personally waist train in this corset (there is no waist tape, and the tiny flange around the grommets make me nervous that they might eventually pull out) I think this corset is adorable and much curvier and more comfortable than some other corsets of equal price that you might find on Ebay. Its lightweight construction and flexibility may make it a good “starter corset” for someone who is unsure if they want to dabble in wearing corsets and they don’t want to break the bank.

As of 2017, it seems that Papercats has brought back this particular design! They are always releasing beautiful designs on their main website, and also their newer website reserved just for their limited corset collections as well as their Etsy store.

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Using Measurements to Predict the Fit of OTR Corsets Online

Way back on January 7th, I posted Part 1 of this 3 part mini series on fitting OTR corsets, wherein I discussed the different ways that some corset companies use to describe the curviness or the proportions of the corsets they sell. To summarize this first part, there are 3 main ways: the use of size charts; recommending that clients’ natural measurements be within a certain range; or discussing the rib-spring and hip-spring of these corsets. If this does not make sense to you, I recommend going back and refreshing yourself on these points.

This is important because corsets don’t have ease the way that other clothes do – for the most, part they’re not supposed to stretch. In fact, corsets can be said to have what’s called “negative ease” (instead of your body manipulating the clothing around you, the clothing instead manipulates your body).

My favorite way for corsetiers and businesses to display their information is through the use of a size chart, because I can see everything at a glance. But why is it so important to know the precise underbust, waist and hip measurements of a corset before you buy it? Why not just go strictly by the waist size? By making the most of the size charts you may be able to fairly accurately predict whether a corset is going to fit you or not, before you ever buy it or try it on. Let’s look at some case studies. If you’d rather watch the video instead of reading through these case studies, I won’t blame you:

Let’s take a look at my natural measurements:

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 8.07.14 PM

I take my measurements to the closest cm (or in this specific case, the closest half-inch). Bodies are squishy though, so there is an acceptable range for the corsets I wear – especially if the corset is designed to have a small gap in the back instead of being worn completely closed (many corset makers draft their pieces to have a 2″ gap in the back, so I accommodate for this in my regular range). For the upper range, this is the maximum measurement I can wear before the corset starts to look visibly baggy on me (despite wearing jeans, poofy clothing underneath etc. that fill out the space).

Now let’s go hypothetical corset-shopping!

Case Study A:

 Corset_A

The waist of Corset A is 22″. As an experienced corset wearer, I already know that I can wear a size 22” corset – it’s a 6” reduction, which is fine for me. A corset is supposed to compress the waist, but not the ribs and hips.

But the underbust measurement of Corset A is far too small for me! On a good day, I can perhaps tighten the top edge of a corset to 28” but it’s not comfortable for me. This corset has an underbust of 26”. No matter how much I try, it’s not likely that the top edge of the corset will ever close on me, and I can’t expect it to stretch out because corsets aren’t supposed to stretch. It will likely cause muffin top/ flesh spillover, and if I pull it too tight then it may hinder my breathing. This is NOT supposed to happen with a well-fitting corset, so this corset is not right for me.

The hips are a little small as well, but as it’s only 1 inch smaller than my natural hips, I will be able to wear it with a small gap in the back and it would still look fine. If I could go up one size in Corset A, then the circumference measurements would be (underbust 28″, waist 24″, hips 34″) and would fit my body much better, albeit not perfectly.

But it’s also important to look at the length as well! Corset A is 2 inches longer than my own torso. I would probably be able to wear it fine when I’m standing up, but if I sit down, then the top of the corset may push up on my bust uncomfortably, or the bottom of the corset will dig into my lap – it’s probably best to just pass on this corset altogether.

Case Study B:

Corset_B

This corset would fit reasonably well in the underbust and waist. If I try to close it all the way, it may create a tiny bit of muffin top, but it won’t be that uncomfortable on me. However the hips of the corset (being 30”) is too small for my own iliac measurement of 33”. Knowing my own body, trying to wear this corset closed will likely result in my hips feeling very pinched and they may begin to hurt or go numb.

I can tell from looking at the length of this corset (7″ tall) that it’s more of a cincher. It’s 4” shorter than my own torso. I don’t have a protruding tummy so wearing a short corset is not a huge issue for me, but if you have any lower-tummy pooch or a pendulous abdomen, then you may want to bypass this corset and try a longer one that you know will hold in your tummy better. I explain why you may want a longline corset for low tummies in this video.

Case Study C:

Example corset C

I can immediately tell from the measurements that this is a super curvy corset! I know this because by the numbers, the ribcage is 8″ larger than the waist, and the hips are 12″ larger than the waist. The waist and the length measurements are fine for me, but both the underbust and the hips will be too large (larger than my wearable range). I would likely be able to close this corset right away from the first wear, and will still have room to spare in the ribs and hips – they’ll be gaping away from my body. In this situation, I don’t necessarily have to go with a different style, but I might want to try going a size down:

Corset C_size_smaller

Here is Corset C except a size 22″ instead of size 24″, and it looks like we hit the jackpot! Here is a standard sized corset that fits my natural measurements reasonably well in all four areas. If, however, I have no desire to go down a size and make my waist smaller, then I will need to find a different corset that is less curvy, and my search will continue.

When you’re shopping for an OTR corset, read everything you can on the website. Look for a size chart or fitting notes; and if you don’t see it, then email and ASK customer service if they have the proportions of the corset you’re looking to buy! Be sure to check out my Corset Dimensions Directory, where I have measured almost all of the standard sized corsets I’ve tried and logged their measurements so you can do this same fitting practice: use your own natural measurements, and compare them to the corset’s measurements. Try to find a brand and size that fits your ribs and hips within one inch!

I hope these case studies showed you how important it is to know the underbust, waist, and hip circumference measurements, as well as the length of the corset. In part 3 of this mini series, I will show you my own method of fairly precisely measuring my corsets – you can use this method to  corsets that you own as well, and we can share sizing information with one another in the Lace-Base.

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Determining Fit & Proportion in Standard Sized Corsets (3 methods)

This article contains the same information as my video, “3 ways to Predict Fit & Proportion in OTR Corsets”. You may watch the video here if you prefer not to read – or you can continue reading below the video.

Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations
Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations

Before reading this article, you may want to catch up with some of my other corset fitting articles like “Shape of the Corset Gap” and “Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues“. Those videos and articles had focused on how a corset will look and feel on your body, and how to determine whether it’s a proper fit. However, there are ways to predict how a corset will fit your body even before you purchase it online! Making the most of size charts and fitting information can mean the difference between “fits almost like a custom” and “not what you expected”. It’s of absolute importance to remember that corsets don’t stretch the way most modern clothes do, and your bodies bones largely don’t compress.

The biggest issue I have with OTR corsets these days is that many companies still recommend that you choose your corset size based only on a 1-point measuring system (i.e. “subtract 4 inches from your natural waist”). But this is oversimplified. Different corsets will fit differently on different bodies, even if they’re the same size!

There is no reason why a corset company would NOT provide at least 3-4 measuring points (underbust circumference, waist circumference, high hip/iliac circumference, and then the vertical length of the torso) so you can determine the proportions and the length that will fit your body best even before you buy a corset. These proportions can be determined immediately by looking at the original draft of the corset pattern, or you can do some quick and simple measuring of the final corset to determine these proportions.

When I sell standard-sized corsets (either new OTR corsets or my own pre-made samples) I almost always ask the customer for their natural underbust/waist/iliac measurements and their torso length. I personally check their measurements against the measurements of the corset, and verify that the size they would like is going to fit them well. Doing this has greatly decreased the number of exchanges/ returns requested.

Some businesses already use the 3-4 point measuring system, and they may provide this information in 3 different ways:

1: Using size charts/ tablesScreen Shot 2014-01-07 at 3.52.24 PM

To the right, you see an example of a size chart for a corset. You want the waist of the corset to be between 3-6 inches smaller than your natural waist (depending on your squish level), but you want the rib and hip measurements to be as close as possible to your own natural measurements. This will ensure that the corset cinches the waist and NOT the upper ribs or hips (which are far less compressible), and thereby result in a more flattering silhouette and comfortable fit. Size charts are my favourite way of logging proportions of a corset, because I can check its measurements against my own natural measurements at a glance. Corset businesses that utilize size charts include (but are not limited to): Meschantes, Electra Designs, and Mystic City corsets.

2: Recommending that the customer’s measurements fall within a certain range

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.02.58 PMSome corset makers prefer not to use a size chart, but will instead recommend that your natural measurements be within a certain set of measurements. If you are on the upper end of this range, then you can expect the corset to have a larger gap in the back compared to if you were at the smaller end. Although this situation is better than a 1-point system, you may still end up with slightly uneven gaps in the back depending on where your own measurements fall and how large the given range of measurements is. Corset businesses that utilize this system include (but aren’t limited to) Isabella Corsetry, Starkers Corsets ready-to-wear samples, and Morgana Femme Couture.

3: Discussing the proportion (rib spring and hip spring) of the corset, rather than absolute numbers

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.08.11 PM
Sizing information provided by Orchard Corset on one of their Level 3 listings

Orchard Corset is an example of a company that simplifies the measurements into a simple set of proportions – for instance, for a Level 3 silhouette corset you may find that the underbust (upper ribcage) circumference is 5-6 inches larger than the closed waist measurement, and the low hip circumference is 10-12 inches larger than the closed waist measurement. (Typically OTR corsets are made quickly so the measurements aren’t likely to be as precise as a custom corset, that’s why you have a general range.) Doing some simple math, this means that for a size 30” corset, the underbust will measure (30 + 5 = 35 inches), and the low hips will measure (30 + 10 = 40 inches).

In the next video/ article of the series (part 2), I will show you how to use size charts properly, to predict whether a corset will fit you or not *before* you purchase it. And in part 3, I will show you how to fairly accurately measure your own corsets. This will help you verify that the corset you just received in the mail has the correct measurements (they match the size chart/ ranges mentioned on the website) and that the corset will be likely to fit comfortably once closed.

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Another Day, Another Dollar – is that corset worth it?

 

This is what my dollar looks like.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Another day, another dollar” which originally meant a humdrum work day (if I understand it correctly). However, as of late I’ve put another spin on this saying.

To me, it means that however many dollars I spend on an object, it had better last me at least that many days.

Take this in the context of corsets: If I buy a corset for $60, it had better last me two months’ worth of wear. I once had a corset that cost me close to $45, but it only lasted me perhaps 20 or 30 wears before falling apart. I consider this to be a bad investment, no matter how cheap it is. However, a $400 corset that lasts me 600 wears over a two year span is a much wiser investment, because if I follow through with my intention of wearing a corset on a nearly daily basis  and I’m on a budget, I don’t want to be continually buying a new corset every couple of months. Even if the price tag hurts now, you will find that it’s more economic in the long run.

It works for more than just corsets, too.

Electronics: My $1000 at-the-time laptop lasted me 5 years before crashing. I spent approximately 55 cents a day owning this computer.

Junk Food/restaurants: If you buy a chocolate bar for $2, break it in half and enjoy each half on a different day. This method has greatly helped me deal with my binge issues. I also rarely go to restaurants. If I dine out once a month, I have no problem spending $30 on a meal.

Other clothes: apart from corsets, I almost never buy “designer” clothing. If I buy a decently nice shirt for $40, I’ll likely wear that shirt once every two weeks, over two years (a total of 52 wears). In the past, I’ve purchased a cheap bra for only $15. I’m not sure if it even lasted me 15 wears, because it was so uncomfortable.

Other examples:

  • I purchased an elliptical machine off Craigslist for $50. Since gym membership is between $1-2 a day in my area, I told myself that if I could use the elliptical 5-6 times a week for a month, I would consider the machine “paid off”. I’ve had the machine for 2-3 years now and used it well over 50 times.
  • I purchased a CD for $20 and put the album into my playlist to listen to while I sew. I’ve listened to the playlist almost 80 times over the course of the last year, which means I paid about 25 cents for each playthrough of that album.
  • My parents purchased a $2000 piano when we moved into this house. I played it nearly every day between the age of 13 and 19, and I still play it occasionally today, so I would estimate that it cost about 75 cents per day that it’s used.

An example of something I don’t buy/ don’t consider “worth it”: I don’t go to the movies or buy DVDs unless they are in the bargain bin for $2. It’s unlikely that I’ll watch any movie more than a couple of times. I tend not to buy books (unless they’re classics/ collectors’ edition) when I can simply go to the library instead.

Examples where this sentiment doesn’t work:

  • Housing and transportation – an $18,000 car won’t last you 50 years being driven every day, even with the best upkeep. Likewise, you will probably not live 250 years in a $100,000
    Can luxury purchases be justified?
    Can luxury purchases be justified? Corset: Sparklewren, MUA: Stella Amore, Photo: Trillance

    house (or any house, really).

  • Good food/meals – at one point I was able to live on $5/ week for food. It was a lot of beans, carrots and apples. However it’s not the most nutritious, and it’s not long before insanity from meal boredom sets in.
  • Luxuries – I don’t know how else to put this: luxury means that you don’t worry about the cost. That’s why it’s a luxury. There is a certain threshold (with any item, not just corsets) where the hardiness and utility of an object sort of levels off compared with price. The corset that’s worth over $1000 sitting wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in an engraved box in my room isn’t going to be worn 1000 times. Probably not even 100 times. But just owning it and admiring it as a piece of art brings me joy, and I hope that it will stay in the family for 100 years or more.

Is that corset worth it?

I’ve mentioned before that an affordable “starter” corset off a place like Ebay may cost $50, but it may only last you 500 hours or even less, and come with no warranty. If you purchase a corset for $500 but it lasts you 10,000 hours of wear, that’s double the return on your investment, because you spent 10x more, but you gained 20x more use out of it.

I’m not saying to never buy cheaper corsets, because they have their place too – for instance, if you buy a $100 corset but only wear it for 3 months before losing interest, or only wearing it once in awhile, it’s a lot better to have only spent $100 instead of $500. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy more than one corset either. I’m certainly guilty of owning many corsets – I consider them luxuries. What I am saying is that when it comes to medium-to-large investments, consider the realistic long-term benefits and consequences of your purchase.

Above all else, never expect a $50 corset to perform like a $300 corset. Swindlers and crooks aside, you get what you pay for. After having wasted thousands of dollars on cheap corsets, I’ve never found a loophole in the quality/price relationship. I’ve created an enormous playlist of reviews, available for free, so that you can make an informed purchase and save your money. My loss is your gain. Please use it to your advantage.

If you liked this article, you may also like “The 5 Most Important Factors of an OTR corset“.

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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.