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The X-Rays were ‘Doctored’ – Gibson’s Newest study exposes O’Followell’s Le Corset as a hoax

Summary (TL;DR)

  • Anthropologist Dr. Rebecca Gibson published an article on June 20, 2023 critiquing Ludovic O’Followell’s famous 1908 study Le Corset and exposing it as faulty.
  • The data was messy, the x-rays were heavily manipulated, and the subjects might not have been alive.
  • Even physicians and researchers are not immune to bias, but O’Followell’s ‘doctored’ research should be viewed as what it is: deceit.
  • Since it was the first (and for a long time, only) study on the physical effects of corseting that used x-ray imaging (radiography), many of his incorrect conclusions were blindly accepted as fact and went without debate or correction for over a century. Other studies on corseting provided exaggerated illustrations, but no radiographs, and were even worse (Gibson even referring to them as hoaxes).
  • The one thing O’Followell and Gibson agreed on is the conclusion that responsible wearing of corsets shows “no correlation with other diseases or death.”

Gibson states that the Le Corset (1908) does not stand the test of time.

Not only because medical knowledge has advanced so much in the past century, but also because O’Followell’s study is a lens into a culture and time where misogyny was even more rampant in the medical community and society at large (women were often diagnosed with hysteria; women were not considered legal persons with equal access to education or voting rights; women were often reduced to mindless “victims of fashion” with no agency or bodily autonomy, thought to have suffered to appease the male gaze).

“Throughout his book, O’Followell argues that the medical “harms” done to women who corseted were self-inflicted, either by abuse of the corset, or by wearing a bad corset (badly made, ill-fitted, unsupportive, laced “too” tight).”

Gibson 2023

O’Followell also believed that tightlacing for vanity’s sake by young women ought to be “punished.” O’Followell conceded several times in his work that only tightlacing would be a risk for certain health issues and that a well-constructed, properly-worn corset that’s not tightlaced would pose no danger to the heart and circulatory system.

Despite this begrudging admission, the main argument O’Followell put forth was that corsets compressed the ribs (and therefore it’s reasonable to assume that any organs lying within the ribs would also be compressed) and he tried to “prove” this with radiographs.

Evidence shows that the x-rays were likely manipulated.

X-ray projection of a straight-front (“line”) corset, from “Le Corset” (1908) via Wikipedia Commons. Gibson spends considerable time breaking down the flaws of this particular radiograph.
Slack laces shown in blue (Gibson 2023)

The laces are too slack (blue)

Gibson’s observations: The metal wire lacing (used to show the lacing in the x-ray) was slack on the top half of the corset – indicating that O’Followell was not consistent in the way he laced his subjects for the study. He also mentioned that his subjects didn’t participate in lacing up their own corsets (more on why later) so the way the corsets are worn in these images may not be indicative of how women normally wore their corsets. How could his results possibly be reproducible if the corsets aren’t properly and consistently laced and tightened to fit?

Lucy’s thoughts – what if O’Followell deliberately overtightened the corsets at the floating ribs in a way that caused the subjects discomfort? How is it possible to get an accurate “snapshot” of how the corset affects the body over time if that snapshot is not consistent with how these subjects wore them on a daily basis? (You’ll soon learn why that wasn’t an issue after all.)

Binding overhang shown in red (Gibson 2023)

That is not how binding works (red)

Gibson’s observations: In radiographs, soft tissues of the body (fat and muscle) are seen as transparent, hazy shading, while denser materials like bones and metal are more opaque. The metal ‘suture’ was said to be inserted into the top and bottom binding of the corset to visualize the borders, but it doesn’t wrap around to the front of the body – rather it flies off to the side in a way that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t accurately follow the true edge of the corset. In fact, Gibson says that the orientation of this wire seems more indicative of the metal laid on top of a body that might be lying down.

Lucy’s thoughts: I initially thought the dark haze above the black line was “muffin top” or flesh which might indicate that the top was overtightened, but I think I’m wrong here as the original shown above from Wikicommons doesn’t show the same darkness – and it’s hard to overtighten an area where the laces are so slack as previously outlined in blue. At first I wasn’t going to bother mentioning this, but my readers may have drawn a similar conclusion.

Boning protruding through the binding in purple (Gibson 2023)

The bones are too long

Gibson’s observations: The steel bones are protruding through the top of the binding, which is inconsistent with the way any corset at the time would have been constructed. They’re clearly too long for the corset. (While this might not seem relevant to the conclusions drawn in O’Followell’s study, it’s another example of sloppy, unreproducible work and perhaps the use of a corset that is atypical of the era.)

Lucy’s thoughts – if the bones were removable and not secured in, this may affect the fit of the corset – it’s not providing proper vertical tension, and may lead to the fabric collapsing and wrinkling uncomfortably in places. If, on the other hand, the steels were not in the corset at all, and instead laid down overtop of the subject… well, nothing would surprise me at this point.

No organ outlines, but also no front of the ribs. (Gibson 2023)

Where are the organs?

Gibson’s observations: often in radiographs, different organs can be partially visualized and distinguished from each other – the lungs are full of air and they look different next to the heart or solid liver, for example. Gibson took the images to radiology technologist Rory Langton to see if they could see the outlines of any organs. It was inconclusive. X-ray technology was still a bit crude (it had only been around for 10 years at the time of publishing).

But, weirdly, the front of the rib cage and sternum can’t be viewed here either, and usually the far-side of the ribs are not obscured by soft organs in x-rays. Gibson says, “Such complete opacity is more consistent with the rib cage having been stuffed with something to maintain its shape.”

Vertebrae outlined in green – this orientation would cause instant paralysis, shock and death (Gibson 2023)

(MOST CRITICAL) The spine is not compatible with life

Gibson’s observations: The lumbar vertebrae make no sense on a living person. (In normal x-rays, the spine looks like a literal column with the vertebral bodies stacked like thick layers on a cake, similar to this image, pulled from this study on AI learning in radiology – Lucy)

Compare with O’Followell’s image: you’re looking more at a top-down view of each vertebra, through the canals where the spinal cord should be – the spine is not stacked at all, but rather each vertebra is rotated upwards 90° and then twisted clockwise another 45°. This is probably not compatible with life and there’s no corset that could do something this drastic. Langton says that this is an x-ray of either a dead body or artificial body parts.

Lucy’s thoughts: having studied anatomy and physiology, I’m frankly embarrassed that I didn’t see this earlier. (Then again, a century of health science experts didn’t notice either.) But this is also why I had no need to worry about the corset being uncomfortably wrinkled or overtightened on the body, and why the subjects didn’t “participate” in their own lacing of their corsets. Because they weren’t alive, and maybe never were.

If you’d like to play around with the orientation of a 3D model of a vertebra for yourself, you can do so here (from Sketchfab.com)

Normally, the vertebral bodies (2) are stacked on top of one another like thick layers on a cake, the spinous processes (6) face backwards like little dorsal fins, and the spinal cord runs vertically through the canal.

But wait, there’s more (trickery)

Gibson goes on to analyze other x-rays from the Le Corset, including an x-ray showing the back of the ribs, with the busk showing in front of the pelvis, meaning that the corset was possibly worn backwards. But upon closer inspection…

Yikes

According to the Langton, the pelvis is imaged from the front – but the orientation of the ribs look like they’re imaged from the back. So Gibson says this was likely a composite image of “at least two” radiographs with the back of someone’s thorax pasted onto the front of the pelvis.

Also, there were no corsets in 1908 that had this specific contouring on the edges. The metal lines again appear to be laid on top of a body that was lying down. And again, whether this subject had all of their internal organs is “inconclusive.”

Understandably, some bodies of literature that relied on O’Followell’s findings and took them to be fact may now be (at least partially) called into question. 

In Gibson’s previous publications (her doctorate thesis in 2015 which I covered on my channel, and her followup book The Corseted Skeleton in 2020), Gibson borrowed skeletons from 19th century European gravesites and studied their ribs and spines – noting distinctions between different cultures (corset wearer or non-wearer), sexes, ages, etc. She noted that corset wearers during this time period did show the influence of the corset’s pressure on their skeletal structure. But importantly, she also noted that in nearly 4000 death records, zero of them mentioned corsets or tightlacing being related to the cause of death. (And she said some of those “causes” on the written records were creative, like “died from evil”, so you’d think corsets would’ve come up at least once. It never did.)

Gibson goes on to say it’s important not to confound the causes of certain skeletal deformations and erroneously blame the corset for certain findings, as some other anthropologists are guilty of doing.

Can be caused by rickets alone, but NOT corsets aloneChanges to the sternum (pigeon-chest), “waviness” of ribs.
Can be caused by corsets alone, but NOT rickets aloneDownward angling of the spinous processes (Gibson 2015).
Can be caused by rickets OR corsets (or both, but not necessarily)Flattening and/or narrowing of the rib cage.
Allegedly requires BOTH rickets AND the wearing of corsets from pre-pubertyRachitic Flat Pelvis, or the “flattening” of the pelvic girdle from back to front (which can only happen with extremely soft and malleable bone from malnutrition and starting from a young age, and the unique downward pressure on pelvic tendons caused by specific corsets) (Ortner & Putschar 1985, p 279).
Lucy’s thoughts: I personally need more evidence re: rachitic flat pelvis. Different types of rachitic pelvis can be seen in male and female skeletons, young and old, but I haven’t been able to find any publication that proves that rachitic FLAT pelvis is unique to corset-wearing European women.

Notable quotes and conclusions

Were corseted women all victims of violent, patriarchally-enforced dress codes?

Gibson hints that this is certainly the narrative that some researchers seem to benefit from propagating. But just as humans today are not a monolith, so women in 18th and 19th century France possessed – and expressed, in writing to magazines and newspapers – differing opinions, preferences, and experiences. Some men penned essays on the silliness or dangers of women’s fashion, while others called a woman’s natural silhouette “uncivilized”. There is also plenty of evidence of women responding to these opinion columns rejecting both of these claims.

“The corset became, if not villain, then antihero for which some could root, against what most of society and most of the medical community believed and advised.”

Gibson 2023

Humans are not immune from bias – including physicians, researchers, and society in general.

Gibson states that we cannot take outdated medical publications as 100% fact, or continue seeing the researchers as an unerring authority, especially when there is clear evidence of cherry-picking their subjects and patients, using small sample sizes, manipulating their data, doctoring their evidence, and relying on anecdotes – and particularly when the author of the work is clearly biased or otherwise had a conflict of interest, as O’Followell did.

Society / culture (and the individual people who make up that society) can definitely hold biases and this can definitely skew their conclusions. But it’s particularly egregious to manipulate the raw data to fit one’s agenda.

“In many cases, inaccuracies were passed to researchers, or from researchers to the reader, for various reasons—the culture may have had their own agenda.”

Gibson 2023

Conclusion: are corsets dangerous or not?

According to O’Followell: in Le Corset (1908) he admitted, perhaps begrudgingly, that only tightlacing would be considered a risk for certain health issues – and that a well-constructed, properly-worn corset that’s not tightlaced “cannot have any dangerous influence on the heart in particular and on the circulatory system in general.”

According to Gibson: in The Corseted Skeleton (2020) she shares how nearly 4000 death records failed to blame the corset as the cause of death, and she goes on to say that although there are clear permanent effects of tightlaced corsets on the skeletons she studied, her “examination showed no correlation with other diseases or death.”

What do you think of Rebecca Gibson’s latest study?

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Corsets and Rib Removal

This week is an update on corsets and rib removal (rib resection being the proper term for it), because this surgical procedure has been circulating in the news again recently. Back in 2012, I believe I said that there was no medical documentation of anyone in the no one past or present had ever surgically broken or removed their floating ribs for purely aesthetic purposes, and I turned out to be mistaken! Pixee Fox (The Living Cartoon) had three pairs of ribs removed in 2015, and more recently Rodrigo Alves had two pairs removed in late 2017. Since both of them habitually wear corsets, many people have emailed and messaged me to ask my take on this, so this gives me the opportunity to correct what I stated 5-6 years ago.

 

Why Did I Doubt Cosmetic Rib Resection Before?

“The Corset: A Cultural History” by Valerie Steele (2001). Click through to view on Amazon (referral link).

I originally got this information from Chapter 10 of Victorian Secrets by Sarah A Chrisman (it’s still an excellent memoir on corsets and waist training otherwise), and also from Valerie Steele’s book The Corset: A Cultural History which was published in 2001. At the time, Steele couldn’t find any official publication from the 19th or 20th centuries regarding elective cosmetic surgery to remove the ribs:

“Historians sometimes claim that rib removal occurred, but without providing evidence, or they hedge their bets by mentioning the ‘rumor’ that certain women had this operation … It would have been very difficult for a woman to find a trained surgeon willing to undertake such a hazardous operation for cosmetic purposes. Histories of plastic surgery to not mention rib removal.

“Rumors of movie stars having their lower ribs removed still circulate. It would now theoretically be possible to perform such an operation, and someone somewhere may have done it. ‘But there’s never been anything published about it; no one has owned up to performing such a procedure, much less to having had one,’ says Dr. John E. Sherman of Cornell University’s medical school.” (Steele, 2001, p 73-74)

This was obviously in specific context to rib resection as a purely cosmetic surgery, however. Nobody doubts that rib resection has been used for various medical purposes.

 

Medically Necessary Reasons for Removing the Ribs Today

Two pairs of floating ribs (11th and 12th ribs) highlighted in red; note how they don’t wrap around and join in the front. Courtesy of Wikipedia (creative commons).

  • If someone breaks a rib by injury, or has a congenital condition that led to severely deformed and rotated ribs, and there’s a chance it might never be corrected (in the case of broken ribs, they might never heal properly), sometimes the surgeon believes it’s better for the patient to remove it.
  • If there is any cancer that spreads to the bone and it cannot be effectively treated by other measures like chemotherapy or radiation, the bone is amputated.
  • The ribs can also be removed to use in reconstructive surgery in smaller parts of the body. A common place to use these bones is in the face and jaw (after a bad injury or oral cancer, etc.) because using your own tissue is said to have a lower chance of rejection or reaction, compared to titanium plates and the like.
  • Sometimes the upper ribs are removed for medical purposes: the first rib (close to the clavicle (aka collarbone) can be removed in hopes of correcting Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, blood clots in the neck and shoulder, Reynaud’s Syndrome, or other medical complications that might arise from nerves or blood vessels growing around the bones of this area above the collarbone. Some people even have little vestigial cervical ribs that grow out of the neck (this is rare – like being born with a tail).
  • There are also many open surgeries where the ribs are temporarily broken or removed to get at the heart, lungs or kidneys, and then the surgeons usually put the ribs back again.

You can read more about the more common reasons for rib resection on this site.

 

However, Victorians Did Not Remove Their Ribs

The idea that millions of women in the 1800s removed their floating ribs for the sake of vanity is absurd. This was a time before anesthetic was able to be calibrated based on a person’s size and weight – at the time, ether or chloroform was used as anesthetic, and depending on how much was administered to the patient, there was a risk of them either waking up in the middle of surgery, or never waking up again.

Puncturing a lung and causing it to collapse was also very real risk (and is still a risk today) because you’re working so closely to the area, trying to separate bone from the intercostal muscles that lie overtop of the lungs.

Also, people didn’t know about blood types until around the year 1900 – if a patient lost too much blood and needed a transfusion, it was a game of roulette to find a donor that would match their blood type (if one could find a donor fast enough at all).

Germ theory was only really starting to be accepted around the 1880s, so before this time, many surgeons would not sterilize their tools or even wash their hands. Even if a physician were an early adopter of germ theory and did learn the importance of hand washing, it would still be about 50 years before penicillin would be discovered in 1928 (and even then, it wasn’t officially medically distributed until closer to 1940). So infections, complications, and fatalities associated with any surgical procedure (medically necessary or not) were still extremely high.

Remember that surgical procedures were so feared that as recently as WWI, among those who needed life-saving surgery, many opted for death instead – so the idea of many women to voluntarily opt for cosmetic surgery around this time is simply ridiculous and not based in fact.

In fact, a lot of rumors about Victorian period (rib removal surgeries, tightlacers’ spines breaking in half when not supported by a corset, forced tightlacing to 12″ waist circumference by strict school headmistresses, etc.) were actually stories from 19th century fiction pieces and fetish magazines. People forget that fanfiction was still a thing a few centuries ago; not every surviving publication from the era was documented fact. (A great documentary to learn more about the gruesome history of surgery is one called Blood and Guts, a History of Surgery).

Also worth mentioning: a sizeable number of surviving photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been edited (essentially an early form of “Photoshop”) by painting over parts of the negatives to make women’s waists look smaller, more tapered, and more extreme than they really were. Karolina Żebrowska did a great video explaining this (and giving a very easy modern example), which you can watch here.

An old capture of part of an article “Victorian Tightlacing Myths” by Contour Corsets; showing a doctored photo of Polaire and what her waist probably looked like in reality. Fran explained it better than I ever could.

When Did Cosmetic Rib Removal Start Getting More Popular?

According to Steele’s book (as of 2001), rib resection as a purely elective cosmetic surgery was not something that had been medically documented before. While there are countless rumors of various celebrities having their ribs surgically removed (Cher, Marilyn Manson, Cindy Crawford, etc.) they have never been medically verified… but from my research, around 2006-2007-2008, rib removal has been discussed as a procedure for trans women to create a more narrow torso and waistline.

Here is a video from 2011 by Dr. Aaron Stone performing a tummy tuck, liposuction and rib removal on one patient to create a smaller waist (content warning: very graphic – blood, muscle and bone tissue clearly visible, as well as some genitals).

However, the procedure is invasive that most doctors will not consider performing it. Some patients claimed to fly down to South America to have it performed, as they were hard-pressed to find doctors in Europe or North America willing to do it. And it goes without saying that the surgery carries all the same risks as other major surgeries: risk of reaction to anesthesia, infection, sepsis, problems healing, etc. (And there’s still a risk of collapsing a lung during the surgery and then you’d have to re-inflate it.)

 

Notable (and Documented) Cases of Cosmetic Rib Removal

Pixee Fox (“The Living Cartoon”) sporting a conical rib corset, laced to 16 inches. Click through to go to her website and learn more about her procedures.

We can’t have a comprehensive article on modern rib removal without talking about arguably the most famous case of cosmetic rib resection, which was performed on Pixee Fox, who is another corset enthusiast!  For her “living cartoon” project, she had 3 pairs of ribs removed in 2015 (the four floating ribs and a pair of false ribs above them), which allowed her to cinch her waist down further in her conical-rib corsets. More accurately, according to Fox’s surgeon, her ribs were not fully removed but rather shortened, as he explained in this interview in 2016.

The two lowest ribs (11th and 12th ribs) are “floating” and don’t wrap fully around the ribcage to begin with. If you look at a skeleton, the bottom two sets of ribs are only connected at the back, and can swing like hinges in and out with your breath. According to Fox’s surgeon, he shortened her ribs by removing the cartilage tips on the sides but left part of ribs in the back, around the kidney area.

Another documented case of voluntary rib removal was performed on Rodrigo Alves who had two pairs of ribs (the floating ribs) removed. To prove that it was real, the consultation and surgery streamed on Alves’ Instagram, and Alves was allowed to take home and keep his removed ribs in a jar. Click here for an interview with Alves on This Morning (content warning: his removed ribs are shown around 30 seconds into the interview).

 

My Opinions on Cosmetic Rib Removal

If you’ve followed me for long enough, you know that I prefer to report objectively on corset-related news; especially when it comes to health and medical cases relating to corsetry. However, there was an overwhelming number of requests for my my personal opinion on Pixee Fox and Rodrigo Alves after reading their recent stories in the media. Let me be clear: asking me to gossip and share my personal opinions of people I’ve never met is not very classy.

Regarding my opinion of cosmetic rib removal of the procedure itself: It is not something I would ever consider, and I don’t find it necessary because corsets are able to shift the ribs very dramatically over years or decades (as in the case of Cathie Jung).

Of course having your ribs surgically removed is not an average procedure, and both Pixee and Rodrigo have said that they were never going for average – both of them have said in interviews, in their own way, that they prefer to stand out: they are not aiming to look like anyone else, and they’re each setting records and pushing the limit as to what plastic surgery is able to do. While I wouldn’t recommend removing ribs for purely aesthetic reasons, it’s really not my place to say to other people “Hey, you’re not allowed to do that with your body!” because their body is not mine to begin with.

Considering how difficult it is to spread the message that corsets are capable of promoting self-esteem and body-image, they can be empowering and are a strong expression of bodily autonomy, it would be especially hypocritical of me to drag anyone for having a procedure that they researched thoroughly, responsibly consulted with professionals, and really, really wanted for themselves. I am less familiar with Alves’ experience (partially because it’s so recent), but it is obvious that Pixee Fox had done plenty of research and was aware of the risks; she sought many professional opinions on rib removal before going through with it, as was evident by the fact that so many doctors refused to perform the procedure before she found one that was willing.

Moreover, I have never heard Fox pressure her followers to do the same; she’s never said, “Hey everyone, you all NEED to do this!” Rather, she always says in her interviews, “I’m doing right by me, and you should do right by you.”

Regardless, the procedure is finished and what’s done is done. I’m happy that the operations seemed to have gone well for all three medically documented cases (the trans woman in 2011, Pixee Fox in 2015, and Rodrigo Alves in 2017).

My final word regarding my opinion on all of this: it’s not something I would ever consider, but my opinion is irrelevant. For people who have already gone through with this surgery, whether they’ve “gone public” with it or not – from what I can see they’re not committing any harm to others, and so they deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else.

 

Creating a Smaller Waist and Ribcage Using Corsets

X-ray of Cathie Jung in a corset, demonstrating that she still has all ribs – they have just tapered though years of corset training with conical rib corsets. Click through to see her other scans.

It is entirely possible to achieve a small corseted waist without surgery – Cathie Jung has been wearing corsets for some 40 years, and has a 15 inch waist underneath her corsets – if you look at her X-rays, you’ll see that she has all 12 sets of ribs; they’ve just been contoured and formed over decades of training.

You can also see the same in the skeletons of women who waist trained in the 1800s, and even Rebecca Gibson’s studies of impoverished French women in the 19th century showed that they experienced some tapering of the ribs as well.

So it is possible to achieve an extreme shape with corsets and creating a tapered ribcage with a conical rib corset, while still keeping all your ribs. It does take many many years (possibly decades for some), and it does require that one has a relatively flexible ribcage (flexible costal joints, where the ribs connect to the spine) to begin with. Some people have extremely rigid ribs and don’t tolerate compression on their ribs at all (their ribs would rather bruise than move). With this in mind, I suppose that the motivations of some people for going forward with surgery are:

  1. they don’t want to wait years / decades for results, and
  2. they may have a very rigid ribcage and are physically unable to compress their ribs using corsets.

 

In conclusion, I wanted to come round and confirm that:

  • Rib removal / rib resection is a real surgery.
  • It is used more commonly for correcting pre-existing medical problems or for reconstructive surgery in other parts of the body.
  • It can be performed as a cosmetic procedure on its own, but it is still relatively rare (and secretive) and most surgeons do not recommend it.
  • It’s not a procedure I would consider for myself / widely condone.
  • It was certainly not successfully done in the Victorian era; there were too many risks and medicine was not that refined enough.

 

I hope this cleared up some common misconceptions about rib removal. What do you think of the myths and truths surrounding the procedure? Have you experienced tapering of your ribs from corsets? Leave a comment below!

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Asymmetric Corsets for Scoliosis (or other skeletal asymmetries)

Note that this post is a copy of the same one under the “Research Corset Brands –> Guided Galleries” menu. It is part of a collection of articles to help corset enthusiasts shop more wisely.

Realistically speaking, no human being is perfectly symmetric. We all have some variance in our frame or how we distribute our tissues, and more often than not, one side of our bodies is stronger (and has more muscle tone) than the other side. This all has an effect on how we are able to cinch down and what silhouette of corsets fit our bodies best, but our bodies are incredibly accommodating and most of us can get away with symmetric corsets. However, those who have scoliosis or other congenital skeletal conditions, and those who have suffered injuries (for instance, a broken bone from childhood that results in an uneven pelvis or protruding rib) may have such great asymmetry that wearing a cheap OTR corset may look crooked or twist on the body, ruining the corset. More worrying, a symmetric corset can be painful or may cause other issues from not fitting correctly.

The right kind of asymmetric corset can work with the client’s body to make it look more symmetric, and will feel more comfortable. A well-fitted asymmetric corset may relieve back pain from scoliosis or past injury, or possibly even partially correct asymmetry over time. Here are the few corsetieres I know who have created corsets for asymmetric clients in the past:

Contour Corsets asymmetric corset brace for client with scoliosis

Contour Corsets is arguably the most well-known corsetiere for asymmetric corsets. Having an asymmetric figure herself, Fran learned from early on how to draft a corset for various issues like scoliosis, protruding ribs or hips, legs of different lengths, a rotated pelvis and more. Depending on the condition, she can draft a corset to simply fit well over asymmetry and make it look like a symmetric corset, or she can design the corset to apply pressure to certain parts of the body to partially correct the asymmetry. The silver corset above is designed to straighten spinal curvature over time in a patient with severe scoliosis. Fran has a page dedicated to her medical corsets here.

Totally Waisted! Corsets asymmetric overbust
Totally Waisted! Corsets asymmetric overbust

Katrina of Totally Waisted! Corsets is experienced in creating asymmetric corsets for clients with scoliosis or other issues. She takes separate measurements for each quadrant of the client, and requires an in-person mockup fitting to ensure everything fits properly and feels comfortable. She then artfully uses strategically-placed external boning channels to hide the asymmetry and create a beautifully smooth corset.

Electra Designs asymmetric high-backed underbust with posture-correcting shoulder straps

Electra Designs also has much experience creating asymmetric corsets, and she expertly hides the asymmetry in the corset shown above via artistic placement of the decorative black piping. Alexis also uses unique lacing bones in the back of all her corsets, which ensures that her 2-part eyelets never rip out. The lacing bones are not fusion-coated so they flex and hug the natural lumbar curve and don’t force an unnatural or unhealthy posture, and the bones don’t dig into the tailbone or top of the bum. Lastly, this corset has shoulder straps for correcting hunched shoulders.

Sparklewren asymmetric underbust (Model: KathTea Katastrophy)

Sparklewren has also experimented with asymmetric corsets, such as this custom underbust made for petite alternative model KathTea Katastrophy. In addition to each half  having different measurements, the deliberate diagonal embellishment draws the eye away from physical asymmetry. KathTea is very public about her scoliosis and subsequent physical asymmetry. You can read more about her adventures in tightlacing with scoliosis here.

Morua Designs bridal overbust, starts at £425
Morua Designs bridal overbust, starts at £425

Morua Designs has made asymmetric corsets in the past, like this beautiful bridal ensemble. The bride had one breast larger than the other, but through clever pattern drafting the asymmetry was expertly concealed, made even more impressive that the use of a very symmetric lace motif in the front did not draw attention to any asymmetry in the body. Gerry also travels from the US to the UK, so if you have asymmetry issues, it would be best to contact her for the possibility of an in-person fitting. Overbust corsets start at £425.

Delicate Facade Corsetry is also said to make asymmetric corsets; one client mentions that the owner of DFC herself has scoliosis and she has over 13 years experience in drafting corsets.

Although I haven’t personally seen a photo of this particular corset, Harman Hay (the owner of Foundations Revealed) has also created an asymmetric corset for a client in the past; she describes that she started with a symmetric toile and adjusted each side separately during the fitting. Some lines were curved off the body where they would normally be straight when worn, and the final piece was said to be beautiful and perfectly fitted.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company in these guided galleries. This is for informational purposes only, and not meant to replace the advice of a medical practitioner. If you have scoliosis or other health concerns that cause your asymmetry, please talk to your doctor, orthopedic technician or chiropractor before using a corset to correct your posture (or for any other reason).