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Pearls & Arsenic Red Swarovski Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “REVIEW: Pearls & Arsenic Red Swarovski Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11.25 inches long, princess seam is 9 inches (3.5″ above the waist, 5.5″ below the waist), side seam is 8 inches and center back is 12 inches.
Underbust 26″, waist 22″, low hip 33″.
Conical ribcage. Comes down low over the tummy, and sweeps up high on the back. This type of corset would fit someone with a high waist.
Material 2 main layers; fashion layer is red satin, with many “garnet” (dark red) and “ruby” (light red) colored tiny Swarovski crystals. The strength fabric (lining) is black cotton coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 3 gives space over the hip, and panels 5-6 give plenty of space in the back. For construction: both layers were flatlined and treated as one. Panels were assembled and topstitched (seam allowances on the inside), and internal boning channels (cotton twill) were laid down to cover the seam allowance.
Waist tape 1.25″ wide waist tape, made from single-faced satin ribbon, exposed on the inside of the corset and secured down at boning channels. Partial width (from seam between panels 1-2 to seam between panels 5-6).
Binding Bias tape made from matching red satin, neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside with a small topstitch (may have been stitched in one pass, using a special attachment). There are also 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
Modesty panel 7.5 inches wide and finished in red satin fashion fabric / black cotton lining. Unstiffened, but quilted with many lines of stitching. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired), and finished with binding on top and bottom. In the front there’s a slightly stiffened placket, 1 inch wide, finished in red satin, extending out from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 10″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly wider (3/4″ on each side) and slightly stiffer than a standard flexible busk.
Boning 14 steel bones not including busk. On each side, 5 spirals (1/4″ wide) are single boned on the seams, and 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 24 grommets total (12 on each side), size #00 two-part grommets with small-to-moderate flange; set a bit closer together at the waistline, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets. I see no splits in the back, and the back panel is very good at not bowing or warping (see Final Thoughts).
Laces Strong 1/4″ black nylon flat shoe-lace style laces; they have a bit of string, they hold bows and knots well, they glide well through the grommets, and they are long enough. (I would love to switch out the laces for some lush double-face satin ribbon to match the rest of the corset!)
Price Although the corset in this review is a sample, Pearls & Arsenic corsets start at $193 USD.

 

Designer Raven Tao (center, in white) poses with her Pearls & Arsenic team Vera Lui (left) and Natasha Noir (right).

Final Thoughts:

Pearls & Arsenic is described as Hong Kong’s first luxury brand, owned by Raven Tao (who has her own Youtube channel, as well as a channel specifically about corsets!).

There are hundreds of small Swarovski crystals encrusting this corset, arranged in a gradient of deep “garnet” red crystals at the top and tapering down to lighter “ruby” red crystals towards the bottom. These were all hand-applied by Raven herself, and you can tell it was done with care – just the right amount of adhesive was used and each crystal was cleanly applied so there were no strings or residue oozing out from under the crystals. There was also care to keep the design symmetric on both sides, and to not have any crystals under the loops of the busk so it could be fastened properly. The crystals are also holding on securely and none of them are falling off.

On the center front and center back of this corset, there is a heavy-duty interfacing / canvas / buckram, or some other stiffener that helps keep the center front smooth (wrinkle-free) and flat, and prevents the back steels or grommets from warping or bowing along the horizontal plane. I seldom see corsets stabilized in this way and I found it interesting.

See more designs by Raven Tao on her Pearls & Arsenic site here, and see the official Pearls & Arsenic Youtube channel here!

Do you own a corset by Pearls & Arsenic? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

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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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Meschantes RTW Waist Training Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Meschantes RTW Waist Training Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Meschantes

Fit, length Front is about 11″ inches long, back also 11″ long. From underbust to lap at shortest point is 10″. Moderate hourglass silhouette. Mid-hip corset (not short on the hips but not longline) – good for average-to-long torsos. Will hold in a bit of lower tummy pooch. Looking at the size chart for the RTW corsets, the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips about 8″ bigger than the waist. Always take this into consideration before buying a certain size.
Material 2 main layers; fashion layer is cotton twill and the lining is bull denim. Some interfacing on the back panels.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Sandwiched boning, double-boned on each seam. Top-stitched between panels. The liner doesn’t float, and there are no garter tabs.
Binding Black satin bias tape machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the two layers.
Modesty panel Attached 7.5″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back, can be removed if desired.
Busk No busk; closed front. Instead there are four flat steel bones in the center front, all 10″ long. Two center bones are 1/2″ wide, and adjacent to those are two flats about 1/4″ wide. Keeps the center front quite flat.
Boning 24 bones, including the center front bones (where the busk would normally be). On each side of the corset you’ll find 8 spirals steels (1/4″ wide) double boned on the seams; then 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets; and as mentioned in the “busk” section above, another two reinforcing the center front **Please note that some people have found plastic bones in the center front instead of steels in their Meschantes corsets. I had picked the binding of my Meschantes corset and found spirals in the channels I checked, but I didn’t check every channel so I can’t say whether my corset had plastic or steel in the center front.
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with large flange; colored black on the outside (washers are silver). Grommets are set closer together at the waist for more control when cinching. No splits, no catching on the laces.
Laces Strong flat shoe-lace style laces; they grip well and they are long enough that I can pull the corset over my head when putting it on and taking it off (because there’s no busk). No springiness to the laces, and difficult to break.
Price Ranges from $140 – $185 depending on the size and where you purchase it. They have a regular website, but I recommend purchasing from their Etsy store instead (see Final Thoughts below).

Final Thoughts (and discussion on conflicting reviews):

Even though I’ve received requests for a couple of years now to do a review of Meschantes, I was hesitant to do so because of so many other conflicting reviews out there. Meschantes has a very enthusiastic and loyal customer/ fanbase, and then another significant group of people who’ve had very disappointing experiences with the company. My own contact with them was also limited as they didn’t respond to my own emails. Although I had wanted to try their custom/ made-to-measure service, in the end I decided to try one of their RTW corsets.  I usually don’t like to depend much on heresay, but I’ve heard enough stories from people getting their corsets months late (or not receiving their custom orders at all) that I didn’t want to risk dropping my money on something that I knew couldn’t be shipped out immediately.

That said, I found fit and the quality of the RTW corset to be decent for the price (especially if you go by the price on Ebay). Meschantes is different to some other companies in that all the layers used are cotton (instead of polyester), allowing the skin to breathe. The shape/ silhouette it gives is quite lovely, and the reduction is decent on my figure (although due to the rib-waist-hip ratio, I would have fit the size 24″ better than the size 22″). For those who are conscious about the economy and fair trade, all of Meschantes corsets are constructed in the U.S. 

Meschantes theoretically has a lot going for them; they have the ability to make beautiful and high quality pieces. I want to like them – my only wish is that their service were a bit more consistent. Very rarely do I see a company in which their customer base has such a “black or white” opinion; it seems that many people either love them or hate them. Granted, it’s usually the people who receive exceptional service and products (whether exceptionally good or exceptionally bad) who are the loudest. Although corset makers are human and we all make mistakes, after hearing from customers “for” and “against”, it sounds like purchasing from here is rather a game of roulette.

If you want to try Meschantes but you are nervous about the service, I would definitely recommend purchasing through Etsy – the positive/negative feedback system on these sites can add incentive for sellers (in general) to deliver what they promise.

If you have any real, 1st hand experience with Meschantes or their products, whether good/bad/meh, I encourage you to comment below this post – maybe then we can see a proper reflection.