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Thin or Thick Corset Profiles: Comparing Silhouettes and Cross Section

How many of you have stood in front of the mirror while wearing a corset, admiring the narrowness of your waist – and then you turn to the side and find that your profile leaves something to be desired?

“With and Without a Corset” by Liz (The Pragmatic Costumer). Click through to read her post!

Everyone knows that wearing a corset nips in the side of the waist (at the obliques), giving you the illusion of a more narrow waist. And the interesting thing is that a corset can also do this without really reducing the waist at all: where a cross section of your torso is usually oval or ellipse shaped (wider from side-to-side than it is front-to-back), a corset makes it more into a circle – simply by placing pressure on the body bilaterally (on either side of the body), and allowing that volume to distribute more front-to-back. Liz from the Pragmatic Costumer wrote about this in more detail a few years ago on her blog.

The downside that some corset wearer’s see, especially if they naturally have a more flat abdomen, is that a corset often makes you look wider in the profile than you did without the corset – this is due to the redistribution of your flesh, combined with the thickness of the corset as well (you’re a couple of inches smaller underneath your corset).

Your Corset Profile can have Two Shapes:

For simplicity’s sake, there are two main ways the front of the corset can look – it can be totally flat, or it can be “dished” or curved to create a more concave front. The Victorians were known for their dished-front corsets and sometimes exaggerated lower tummy pooch (likely more exaggerated in medical illustrations and fashion plates than in real life) but the lower pooch was actually considered attractive and womanly at the time.

But with the popularity of the straight-fronted S-bend corsets at the turn of the century, you can see that it resulted in the illusion of even more dramatically nipped waists, as the majority of the volume was coming off of the sides and little to none in the front. Arguably, if you were to take an Edwardian corset and a Victorian corset with the same waist size, the Edwardian might look more nipped in in the front view but thicker in the profile view.


Early 1900s illustration showing the difference between the Victorian “dished front” corset on the left, and the Edwardian “straight front” corset on the right (causing a forward-leaning posture).
Late 1800s artist’s guess as to what is happening inside of the body when wearing a Victorian style corset, likely as part of Edwardian propaganda to promote the S-bend “Health” corset.
We now know from modern imaging that this hypothesis was incorrect (the liver is not pushed down by the corset).

I should give a disclaimer here: whichever corset you personally find “prettier”, there is no universal right or wrong way that a corset should be (despite the Edwardian propaganda above). Some people like the concave dished front, while others like an extremely flat and rigid front. It often comes down to the corset maker’s aesthetic, combined with the natural body type you have, the effect you’re striving for in a corset (including how much waist reduction), and what you personally find comfortable.

So the “dished vs straight” debate is not only subjective, but it’s also conditional.

This isn’t my xray, but it looked very similar to this. Normally my neck is slightly lordotic (normal) but in this particular corset, my posture completely changed. Photo: e-Health Hall.

It also depends on the posture you want to achieve. The straight-fronted, S-bend corsets had a habit of thrusting the body into an overcorrected posture – they weren’t slumping, but they were also flexing their lower back in an unnatural way. When I had X-rays done of myself while wearing various corsets, my chiropractor found that rigid-fronted, Edwardian-inspired corsets encouraged a very unnatural, kyphotic neck curve in my body. The corset pushed my chest forward, and my shoulders and hips back, which forced my head to come forward as a counter-balance. In some people, this might eventually lead to neck strain, pain, cervicogenic headaches, etc.

Meanwhile, when I wore a more Victorian style corset, it allowed me to maintain a more neutral posture and my spine was in a more natural alignment. So, just because a corset gives you a flat front does not mean you have necessarily have a healthy posture.


A couple notes on terminology before we start comparing corsets – I’ll be using layman’s terms here as much as possible:
so when I say “cross section” that means the transverse plane,
when I say “profile” that means the sagittal plane,
and when I say “front view” that means the coronal plane.

My Uncorseted Waist

This is a screenshot of me from 2012, around a time where I was not consistently waist training. My natural waist is around 27 inches.

Natural uncorseted waist, 27 inches. I believe I was not consistently waist training around this time, but I was wearing several different corsets for a few hours per week.

It’s well and good to compare different corsets, but keep in mind that I am naturally very wide from the front, but when I turn to the side I practically disappear, so my cross section is very oblong. My oblique muscles might “resist” compression more compared other people, and my lower abdomen is not prone to “pooching” – if I and another woman were to wear the same corset in the same size and stand side-by-side, it might look very slightly different on each of us.

Contour Corset “Summer Mesh” Mid-Hip Underbust

My Contour corset is almost totally flat in the front. This one is 20.5 inches in the waist, laced closed.

Contour Corset, closed waist 20.5 inches (underneath the corset). The cross section of my waist is very close to a circle (and perhaps even a touch wider in the side than the front).
  • In the profile, it makes my body look slightly thicker than it is naturally (while not wearing a corset)
  • In the front view, it looks shockingly nipped in on the sides (this isn’t even my smallest corset!)
  • In the cross section, I might actually be a bit thicker from front to back than I am side to side.

Puimond PY09 “Curvy” Underbust Corset

My Puimond corset is actually half an inch smaller than my Contour corset (it’s 20 inches laced closed), but despite being smaller, it looks less dramatic.

Puimond underbust corset, closed at 20 inches. The cross section of my waist is a bit wider in the front view compared to the profile (very slight ellipse).
  • In the profile, you can see that the front is slightly dished, but in an attractive way, at least for me. It’s nipped in slightly at the front but it doesn’t create a dramatic ski slope at the pelvis. Also notice that I don’t look that thick in the profile.
  • In the front view, the sides are obviously nipped in, but it doesn’t look as dramatic as the first corset.
  • So in this corset, if you looked at the cross section, the distribution of my waist is still slightly ellipse shaped with more of that length being side-to-side rather than front-to-back.
  • This shape is nearly a circle though – probably the closest to a circle compared to any of the other corsets here.

C & S Constructions

Let’s look corset with a more dramatically dished front like the one below from C&S Constructions. This corset is also 20 inches, but I’m wearing it at 21 inches because it wasn’t custom made for my body (the ribs of the corset were a bit too narrow for my own ribcage).

C and S Constructions longline corset worn at 21 inches (under the corset). This has a very dished front – so it is wider in the front view than it is in the profile.
  • In the profile view, the waist is pulled inward, and actually I have a slight forward leaning posture which is interesting. It is a deliberately curved front to make sure that the profile looks slender. (But it also gives a forward leaning posture.)
  • In the front view, the waist is still nipped on the sides, but it’s still wider in this view than it is in the profile view.
  • So the cross section of my waist is still an ellipse, that is wider from side-to-side, just a smaller one.

Sparklewren Cranberry Butterfly Overbust

Let’s look at my Sparklewren overbust, which is closed at 23 inches (so we can see how less of a reduction / a bigger waist may affect the cross section and silhouette).

Sparklewren overbust with a very flat front (laced closed at 23 inches).
  • In the profile view, her corset gives me a very flat front here, in fact possibly slimmer than some of my smaller corsets that are patterned differently.
    I vaguely remember having a conversation with Jenni (Sparklewren) about this probably 5 years ago. She told me that she likes to preserve the flatness in the profile as much as possible, but once the waist is reduced by a certain amount (i.e. under 18 inches in circumference), some dishing in the front may become necessary to achieve further reduction.
  • In the side view, there’s nipping in at the waist but it appears to be very clearly wider than the profile, but it’s still a lovely silhouette.
  • So the cross section is more clearly an ellipse.

Versatile Corsets “Mimosa” Cupped Overbust

The “Mimosa” overbust by Versatile is another corset that gives me a slender profile and flat abdomen. This is a size 22″, but I’m probably wearing at 23.5 or 24 inches here. (It wasn’t a full custom, just the waist measurement and bra size were taken into account).

“Mimosa” cupped overbust made by Versatile Corsets – flat profile and gentle nip in the waistline on the sides (size 22″, with a 1-2 inch lacing gap).
  • The profile view is relatively flat, similar to how my abdomen looks naturally.
  • The front view is a bit more gentle and sweeping – not a super dramatic silhouette, not nipped in sharply at the sides.
  • Obviously the cross section of my waist is more of an ellipse.

All this being said, it’s worth reiterating that this might be subjective for my own body. I naturally have a pretty wide waist, but if I turn to the side my abdomen is very flat. It is more likely that a corset would make me a bit thicker in the profile compared to a different person who has more of a protruding abdomen.

Profile Silhouette in Someone with a Protruding / Hanging Tummy

My aunt, without her corset and with, front view (she wanted a relatively natural silhouette from the front).
My aunt, with her corset and without, profile view (she wanted back support and a flattened tummy).

(Thanks to my aunt for modeling this early custom corset I made for her back in 2012). You may remember my aunt from this tutorial on pulling a hanging tummy up into your corset. She’s had a few children and she’s a more mature woman and has developed a bit of hanging tummy. She asked for a corset to provide back support and to flatten her tummy under her work uniform, but not give a shockingly dramatic waist from the front, which is why it’s not that much of an hourglass. This corset is a size 34″ if I remember correctly; drafted to give her a 6 inch reduction which is about 15% reduction.

  • I specifically used a spoon busk for her, and you can see that this corset makes her slimmer in the profile. Arguably, most of the reduction came off the front instead of the sides of her body.
  • In the front view, it gives a relatively natural looking hourglass from the sides.

If you want to see whether your corset makes you thinner or thicker in the profile view or front view, you can measure this using calipers.

 

If you want a very rigid front (as rigid as possible), you might be interested in adding carbon fibre bones adjacent to the busk – they’re about 24x more stiff than a flat steel bone, and you’ll find these exclusively at Vena Cava Design.

Conversely, if you want your corset to have more of a dished shape, I will make a video next week on how to curve your corset busk to your preference. The process is very similar to curving the back steels.

I hope you found this helpful! Just a note that there is no right or wrong way, some people like the concave dished front, some people like an extremely flat and rigid front. it all depends on your body type, your subjective preferences, your natural posture, and the aesthetic of the corset maker and how they pattern your corset as well.

Leave a comment below telling me whether you prefer the flat front or the dished front better for your own corsets. If you have any question regarding the “flatness” or “dishiness” of any other corset in my collection, as well as the rigidity of the busk, the posture it gives, etc., feel free to ask.

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Timeless Trends Hourglass Corset Review and Comparison

black-leather-hourglass-corset

Full disclosure: The hourglass corset featured in this review is one of the four new designs I helped create for Timeless Trends in 2015, along with the hourglass cinchers, hourglass longline corsets, and the newest Gemini corset.

This entry is a summary of the two videos “Timeless Trends Hourglass Corset (Comparison/ Overview)” which you can watch on YouTube here (silhouette and fit summary above, and construction and components comparison below):

 

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 11.5 inches high, the ‘princess seam’ is 9 inches, side seam is is about 9 inches as well, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30.5″ (6.5 inch rib spring), upper hip is 34″ (10 inch high hip spring). This corset is designed to stop well at the iliac crest, and fit someone with a very short torso.
The center front had all “points” removed so the top and bottom edges are gently rounded, to prevent the fabric from flopping or showing under your clothing.
Material Three layers of fabric. The fashion fabric is blue floral brocade laminated to cotton twill (alternating with plain black satin panels, also fused to twill interlining) and it’s lined in black cotton twill as well.
Construction 6 panel pattern, constructed using the sandwich method. Panels 2-3 give room in the ribcage from ‘champagne glass’ shaped panels. Panels 3-4 give more ease in the hip, and in panels 5-6 there is more curve to fit snug over the lumbar area.
Binding Matching black satin bias binding, machine-stitched on both sides. Also has 6 garter tabs (the slim silhouette corsets only have 4 garter tabs).
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tap, sandwiched between the panels. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Modesty panels are not included in with the corsets, because unstiffened panels are somewhat unpopular amongst many customers. However, stiffened, boned modesty panels are now available for separate purchase, and can be suspended on the laces.
All hourglass corsets have front modesty plackets in matching fashion fabric.
Busk 10 inches long. 10 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, and it is reinforced with flat steels on either side of the busk.
Boning 26 bones total, not including busk. On each side, there are ten 1/4″ wide spirals, two flat steels by the grommets, and one flat steel by the busk.
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #0, with a small to medium flange. Finished in dark silver and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, most grommets rolled nicely. There are some splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces.
Laces Single face satin ribbon in black, 1/2″ wide. It’s relatively long and has no stretch, but single face satin is not quite as strong as double-face satin. Some different styles of cincher are laced with more sturdy shoelace instead of ribbon.
Price This particular style ranges from $79-89 USD depending on the fashion fabric – you can see more styles here.

 

black-leather-hourglass-corset
Hourglass black leather corset by Timeless Trends. Model and designer: Lucia Corsetti (that’s me!)

Redesigning Timeless Trends’ standard length corset was the first mission for Sarah and myself when we visited Thailand in summer of 2015. Because we wanted a corset that was not only completely unique in this industry but also “anatomically accurate”, we decided to combine several drafting techniques, including a combination of “slash and spread” and draping. Our hope was to create a corset that curved over the ribcage comfortably, hugged and supported the lumbar area of the back, kicked out dramatically at the hip, and flattened the lower tummy. I think we more or less succeeded!

To learn more about the drafting process, see our Thailand trip here.

If you’d like to see more fabrics and colorways for the hourglass corset and you’re interested in purchasing, I’m incredibly proud to say that they are available here in my shop!

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WAIST TRAINING RESULTS: How long should it take?

 

Here’s a question I receive nearly every day:

“My natural waist is 30 inches, and I just started waist training. How long will it take to see real results, and obtain a natural 24 inch waist?”

 Of course, the exact wording, the numbers, and the goals all vary slightly from person to person. But I will tell you what I tell all of them – and you will not be happy:

I DON’T KNOW. And unfortunately, neither can anyone else. If someone claims that they CAN give you a specific duration of time that you will achieve your waist training goal, they are flat out lying.

If you look at these Before / After Waist Training examples, you will see that people have achieved all kinds of results, in all different durations. Some saw a marked difference in three months, while others achieved less dramatic results over two years. It’s different for everyone.

WHY is this?

The (semi)permanent results of waist training is dependent on a number of factors, including your body’s current state and your genetic pre-disposition, the quality of your corset and its compatibility with your body, and the way you train in your corset. Let’s break those down in further detail:

 

Factor #1: Your body type and current body stats

Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral - and they affect your corset training differently.
Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral – and they affect your corset training differently.

Your Body Fat

  • Adipose tissue can immediately compress down a lot more than muscle in a corset, but it also bounces back when you remove the corset. Some with a high body fat % are able to cinch down 10 inches in the waist, while someone with very low body fat may only be able to cinch down 2-3 inches.
  • Weight distribution also plays a role. Do you tend to carry more weight in your belly, or do you carry more weight on your hips and thighs? If you do carry weight in your belly, do you have a lot of visceral fat or subcutaneous fat? Subcutaneous fat sits under the skin but above the muscle, and makes your skin soft and malleable. Visceral fat is the more ‘dangerous’ fat that sits under your abdominal muscle, between your organs. Someone with more subcutaneous fat (even over their tummy) will probably have an easier time lacing down than someone with visceral body fat.

Your Muscle Tone

  • Very toned, dense muscles may be more difficult to cinch down compared to less toned muscles, BUT if you time your workouts well, you can actually use your resistance exercise regimen to your advantage in waist training to change the morphology of your oblique muscles and have them almost “grow” into the hourglass shape encouraged by the corset. Also, once you get to higher reductions, you have to “stretch” those side muscles, and also the tendons and ligaments. Some people’s bodies seem to more readily accommodate to this than other people’s bodies.

 Your Skeletal Frame

  • Do you have wider ribcage or smaller ribcage? Are your ribs flexible and are you able to accommodate corsets with a conical ribcage easily, or is your ribcage very inflexible and difficult to move? Those who are easily able to train their ribs are likely to see faster waist training results than those whose ribs are very rigid. My article on the corset’s effect on the skeleton goes into more detail about this.

Your Age

  • More mature waist trainers have bones that are not only less dense, but less malleable compared to younger trainers. For more information on how age can affect your corseting, see my article on waist training and age restrictions.

 Your Organs

  • When you look at human anatomy in a textbook, you’re seeing a general “average” of the size and orientation of organs. But not everyone’s organs look like that! Some people have larger organs, some have smaller organs. Even the position and orientation of organs can very slightly differ between individuals, and that small variation might make a huge difference in how well your body can accommodate the restriction of a corset. For further information, see my article on corsets and organs.

Your Water Retention

  • What’s your water content like? If you are often bloated or have water retention, either due to your lifestyle or because of a medical condition, you not only won’t be able to lace down as much or as readily, but you have more of that “temporary squish” to you as opposed to contributing to that “long term training”.

Whether You’ve Been Pregnant Before

  • Have you had a baby before or not? While this point is a bit more anecdotal, it seems that mothers are (on average) able to lace down more readily/ more comfortably/ to higher reductions compared to nulliparous women. Maybe this has to do with the fact that the baby had moved around a woman’s organs (especially in the final trimester), or the relaxin in your system during pregnancy had stretched out some tendons and ligaments already, or the woman was already accustomed to the feeling of restriction or breathing higher up in the chest, so she may be psychologically more comfortable with the feeling of being corseted. Read more about corsets after childbirth.

 

Factor #2: Your Corset

This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage.
This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage compared to a rounded ribcage.

Proper Fit

  • Is your corset comfortable? Does your corset fit you properly: when you lace down, does it reduce only the waist, and is it lying flat and gently supporting your upper ribcage and your hip area? Is your corset gap straight or uneven? Or is the corset overall not curvy enough: and is it giving you muffin top, pinching your hips or causing any lower tummy pooch to spill out underneath? A well-fitting corset is not only more effective at shaping, but it’s also much more comfortable, so you’ll be encouraged to wear it longer and more often.

 Strength

  • Is the corset strong? Does it hold up to the tension without buckling? Are the seams securely stitched? Are the bones creating a proper scaffold and not digging into your body? Are the grommets holding in? Having to put your training on hold – not because you want to, but because your corset breaks every 2 months and you have to replace it – is not cost effective and it’s not time-effective. If you’re in this for the long haul, invest in something strong and custom. See my article on Waist Training vs Tight Lacing, which also covers different requirements of a suitable corset for each.

Silhouette

  • Is the corset the right silhouette to do the right job? If you want to train your ribcage, you might need a conical ribcage corset, which gradually tapers down and increases the pressure on the lower ribcage. A corset with a mild silhouette or with a corset with a rounded ribcage will give you a different effect. Be sure that the corset you are using is designed to do for you what you want. You can’t force a round peg through a square hole and expect a triangle to come out.

 

Factor #3: Your Lifestyle Habits and Training Methods

I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.
I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.

 Supplementary Exercise

  • Are you exercising alongside your waist training? Adding or increasing core resistance training can help you see results faster by encouraging your muscles to “heal” in a certain way. Even if you have no intention of losing weight (you only use a corset to see a change in your silhouette), exercise is still important! If you don’t add some core resistance training, your torso may see some shaping from the corset, but it may be squishy and complacent, and not hold that hourglass shape as well as if you were combining it with resistance training.

 Eating

  • Are you eating clean? Are you getting enough fiber so that you stay regular when corseting? Are you avoiding foods that you know can cause bloating or discomfort in your corset? Are you having regular small balanced meals, or are you the type to fast and then feast? Corseting over a large meal can be uncomfortable and difficult, and the quality of that meal also counts. You don’t necessarily need a specific diet for waist training, but eating sensibly goes a long way.

Drinking

  • Are you staying hydrated? Are you getting a lot of clean water or tea? Are you keeping your electrolytes balanced (this ties in with water retention). Are you watching your blood pressure (which relates to your blood volume)? Do you take in a lot of caffeine or other diuretics, and are you making sure that your water intake balances that out?

Duration of your corset wear (and reduction)

  • To get the best results in a corset, you have to use it. What method of waist training are you using? There is Romantasy’s “Roller Coaster” method, and there is the Contour Corsets “Cycle” Method (see the differences between the two waist training methods). Some people use a combination of both, or they may try a different method altogether. Some people consider waist training as wearing their corset only 8 hours a day while they’re out working. Others waist train by only wearing a corset to bed at night. Some people wear their corsets 12 or 16 hours a day, and a few very dedicated ones wear their corset 23 hours a day.
  • The body responds best to consistency – for reasons I’ll explain in an upcoming article, you’ll probably see more results (and more comfortably!) if you wear a corset at a light or moderate reduction for long hours, as opposed to tightlacing or overlacing your corset for an hour and then not wearing it again for a few days.

Let’s use an infomercial exercise program as a metaphor for waist training expectations. Many exercise programs say that you CAN lose UP TO 20 lbs per month (as an example), but read the small print and you find that these results are not typical. Many of these programs are also backed up with a guarantee that with proper compliance to the program, you will see some kind of result (often within 60 or 90 days) or your money back.

But you will notice that they do not guarantee a certain number of inches lost, because people have different bodies, different fitness levels, different levels of compliance. It’s the same with a waist training program.

Ann Grogan (of Romantasy) offers the only corset training program I currently know of – in her some 25 years of working with waist trainers and 14 years officially coaching, she is able to confidently say that with her 3-month waist training program, you’re likely to see some noticable results in your natural waist with proper compliance to the program (the program covers a lot of factors: the type of corset you’re using, the reduction, the hours, the foods you eat, the exercises you do, etc). But since each program is personalized based on goals, each person’s compliance is different and each person’s body accommodates their corset differently, it’s still very difficult to precisely predict how many inches you’ll lose, or how fast.

What I have found is the highest indicator of success is whether you actually enjoy wearing your corset and find it completely comfortable. If you practice patience, and wear your corset consistently (and ironically, not be overly attached to your end goal), you are likely to see more results over time than someone who is less patient and is only corseting for the end result. But I will cover that in another article soon.

Do you currently waist train, or did you train in the past? How long did it take you to see results? Let me know in a comment below!

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Where to buy Extreme Hourglass and Pipestem Corsets

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.

According to the older generation of corset enthusiasts, the modern hourglass has a rounded ribcage and rounded hips.
According to the older generation of corset enthusiasts, the modern hourglass has a rounded ribcage and rounded hips.

The extreme hourglass silhouette can be effectively described as the “belted pillow” look. I should note that different schools of corsetry have different interpretations of silhouettes; for instance Romantasy calls this style the “wasp” while I had initially been taught that the wasp waist featured a more conical torso (a guide for conical corsets will be created later on). The extreme hourglass silhouette is less popular than it used to be, but I still personally find it to be very comfortable. The waist nips in very suddenly and dramatically, while the ribcage remains relatively rounded and free to expand with each breath. I can achieve quite extreme reductions using this silhouette, even if the wasp is aesthetically my favourite. If this is your desired silhouette, the following makers and purveyors will be able to assist you – and some even offer the extremely rare pipestem silhouette!

Corset makers: If you have made any extreme hourglass or pipestem corsets and you would like to be added to the gallery, you’re welcome to email me with your pictures here. Safe for Work photos are preferred! Thank you!

Orchid Corsetry Sloth training underbust

Bethan, skilled corsetiere and owner of Orchid Corsetry, offers the Sloth training underbust which gently cups the ribcage and then dramatically dips inward at the waist. This corset is strong enough to be used in 23/7 waist training, and can be purchased on its own or in a waist training kit.

Pop Antique Vamp overbust corset, starts at $249
Pop Antique Vamp overbust corset, starts at $249 (Model: Victoria Dagger)

Marianne, the proprietor of Pop Antique, has many years experience as both a corsetiere and a professional model. After learning that her own ribcage is very unmovable and that conical ribcages bruise her, she drafted all her own corsets to cup the ribs, which has become a bit of a trademark. By default, all Pop Antique designs feature a distinctive rounded ribcage and abruptly nipped waist.

Myself in a custom Sugarkitty Abigail II underbust, starts at $377

Sugarkitty Corsets is able to accommodate silhouettes and styles of all kinds, including this dramatic almost-pipestem rendition of the Abigail II underbust corset (starts at $377). Speaking from experience, it is very easy to take large breaths in this corset. Please note that Sugarkitty will only be accepting corset commissions up till the end of 2013.

The Bad Button waist training corset with a well rounded, contoured ribcage

The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets makes hardy waist training corsets as well as couture designer pieces; Alisha the corsetiere will create the corset with as much or as little rib contouring as you need or desire. The above example shows a very rounded ribcage and dramatically nipped in waistline.

Salonkiompelimo HiroNIA curvy underbust (model: LouLou D’Vil)

Salonkiompelimo HiroNIA is a corset maker from Finland who is capable of creating a magical fit, no matter what your preference in silhouette. Some of their clients can achieve a 17″ waist in this silhouette  – here is one of their creations is modelled by burlesque artist LouLou D’Vil, who easily wears this style corset while modelling/ performing.

Neon Duchess silk dupioni overbust. Model: Victoria Dagger

Neon Duchess (bespoke corsetry by Hannah Light) had created this incredible corset for the Oxford Conference of Corsetry in summer of 2013. This particular overbust is just one layer of a 3-corset ensemble. Each corset could be worn on its own, or mixed and matched, layered on top of one another. Hannah describes this corset has having “shell pink silk dupion with bronzed leather and bronze leaf detail to the bust and hips. The dramatic shape is achieved by cupping the ribs and hip with reduction at the waist only.”

Delicate Facade Corsetry custom tightlacing underbust, starts at $460

Delicate Facade Corsetry is an Australia-based business with 13 years experience. In the above photo, you can see an extremely curvy underbust tightlacing corset, which is designed to give an amazing 12-inch reduction from the client’s natural corseted waist.

This corset has coutil strength layer, a smooth floating liner, waist tape, and carefully dispersed bones.
Myself in a Puimond PY09 Curvy Underbust, $410

Puimond Progressive Corset Design believes in maintaining an anatomical shape around the ribcage, and for extreme reductions he is able to easily nip in the waist an extra couple of inches while leaving a beautiful softly rounded ribcage. The effect is not quite as dramatic as others, but you can see the soft convex curves around the ribcage here. He offers several styles of corsets starting at $330, which can be made suitable for daily waist training. My review of this corset can be seen here.

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KookyC/ Creative Corsets hourglass corset

Helen (the owner of KookyC / Creative Corsets) couldn’t have said it any better – along with this photo, she described the extreme hourglass shape as being a more comfortable especially for those with rigid, unmovable ribs (see the note under Pop Antique’s photo as well). “I’ve always liked this look,” she said, “and it achieves such extreme curves with far less reduction.”

Sparklewren continuously-boned overbust (Model: Immodesty Blaize)

Another maker of corsets with anatomically-shaped ribcages is Sparklewren. The corset above is modelled by Immodesty Blaize. I have owned 4 corsets from Sparklewren, and from personal experience I can say that my own overbust very easily and gently cups around my ribs, only compressing the last two or so for a subtle dip in the waist. The continuous steel boning adds to the structure.

Romantasy wasp waist underbust made by Sheri Jurnecka

Romantasy offers a beautifully shaped underbust with a nipped-in waist (this is their definition of the wasp waist) placing most of the reduction at the waist and very little on the ribcage. All of their wasp corsets are made by the talented Sheri Jurnecka.

Mr. Pearl in one of his own spot broche corsets

Mr. Pearl seems to be the Grandaddy of the modern extreme waist, having trained himself down to 18″ while keeping his ribcage relatively anatomical. Although it’s said that he does take corset commissions, legend has it that Mr. Pearl eschews the internet and communicates by written letter, and only takes in-person fittings.

Gabriel Moginot modelling his own corset

Mr. Pearl’s only well-known protégé, Gabriel Moginot, has launched his line Maison Moginot and offers the ready-to-wear Fierce corset for €580, with an option to upgrade to made-to-measure. His design puts little stress the ribcage, and offers a pipestem-like silhouette.

C&S Constructions pipestem underbust corset
C&S Constructions pipestem underbust corset, modelled by Sabine

C&S Constructions is the master of the extreme hourglass and the pipestem corset, keeping a long list of loyal customers over the decades. The photo above is not even the most extreme pipestem they have made for a client. C&S has made nearly all the corsets worn by the legendary Spook, who is said to have had a 14″ waist in diameter with a 2″ pipestem.

Corsets and More pipestem underbust, starts at €275

Corsets and More from Germany is a hugely under-appreciated gem among corsetieres, who is capable of creating corsets with extreme reductions and fascinating pipestems, like the above piece in acid green dupioni.

My own handmade curvy underbust for B.P.

Finally, although I’m not currently taking commissions, here is an extreme hourglass creation of my own, made in March 2012 for a friend and client across the continent. Drafting for a rounded ribcage was more easy than I originally thought; but getting the roundness in the right panels so as not to create pressure points or gaping in the ribs was an interesting venture. I still use this corset pattern today, as B.P.’s measurements are already close to my own. You can see the sports mesh corset I made from this pattern here.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.

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Dressing with your Corset: Playing with Necklines

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

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

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

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Puimond PY09 Curvy Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Puimond PY09 Curvy Underbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 13 inches long, back is 13″ long. The shortest part from underbust to lap is about 11″. Unique silhouette in which the ribcage follows the natural contours but nips in dramatically at the waist for an extreme hourglass shape. Hips are mid to longline; holds in any lower pooch. High back prevents muffin top, very flattering. Recommended for extreme hourglass ladies.
Material Fashion layer is silk cherryblossom brocade; backed onto cotton; lining is cotton coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Top-stitching between panels, boning channels on the edge of each panel plus extra ones in the middle of the wider panels – these channels are in special boning casing to protect the brocade. Floating liner (very comfortable). No garter tabs (wasn’t requested).
Binding Complementary pink ribbon, machine stitched inside and outside; not folded under on the inside because the edges are already finished.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel None. (Wasn’t requested.)
Busk Standard-width busk (0.5″ wide on each side) about 12″ long (6 pins).
Boning 18 steel bones not including busk. On each side, there are 7 spirals (always one on the edge of a panel, and a few more in the middle of some panels) and another two steel flats sandwiching the grommets at the back.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – very few splits but don’t catch on laces, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong braided cord-like shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up, holds the tension well and bows don’t slip out. Zero spring.
Price The PY09 is advertised as $410 for regular fabric (brocades, satins, silks etc) and $550 for leather/vinyl. You can see the options on his website here.

Final Thoughts:

I just had to make Puimond my featured corsetier for April, as the cherry blossom brocade reflected the blooming cherry trees this month. This is my first underbust corset from Puimond, and also my first custom-fit corset from him. I had no doubt that Puimond is extremely well-respected in his field before, but it’s this corset that most definitely secures his place as one of my top 5 favourite individual corset designers, ever.

Puimond’s soft skills are also right up there with his corsetry skills – he was always very friendly, approachable, and patient as I explained my usual “problem areas” when it comes to corsets, namely a longer/ lower torso, very compressible waist, and needing enough room in the hips. He worked fast, gave me occasional updates, and the finished corset went from his studio and into my hands (across the US/Canadian border) within 48 hours. You can see the result here – a strong yet lightweight that gives firm reduction (this is so far the smallest corset I own), while still lending to an overall soft, feminine effect.

Puimond is a master of textiles; he works just as easily with temperamental brocades as he does with coutil, satin, leather and PVC to give a very smooth, no-wrinkle, no-fray piece. His construction techniques adapt depending on the corset pattern and materials which is a reflection of his extensive experience. Excuse me while I fan-girl about this corset all over again.

To see Puimond’s other styles, please do visit his website here.

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Whirling Turban Wing Bust, Sarong Skirt Dress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

This entry is a summary of the review video “Shape of your Corset Gap – What does it mean?” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 Shape/ meaning

Brands to avoid for your body type

Brands to consider for your body type

A shape

The A Shape
The A shape

This means that your hips are too wide for this corset pattern. This type of gap is common for women who are naturally a pear shape. Do NOT try to force the hips smaller because then you may get an odd bump at the lower edge of the corset, and it can also make your hips go numb.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, or the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. For those who have a larger hipspring, look for corsets for vintage figures: What Katie Did or Isabella Corsetry are good choices. They have a hipspring of more than 12-14 inches.

V shape

The V shape
The V shape

This means that your ribcage or shoulders are too broad or fleshy for the corset. While it is possible to train down your ribcage, it’s unlikely that you can train it right from the very top edge.  This often occurs in swimmers or in men who wear women’s corsets.

Corsets that have a relatively narrow ribcage, which include some WKD underbusts. For standard corsets with a larger ribcage, try Timeless Trends and the CS-426 from Orchard Corset.

() shape

The () shape
The () shape

This is when you have gaping at the waist – the bones in the back are either too flexible, or the waist is too small than you’re ready for. This CAN ruin the corset because it’s forcing the bones to twist in their channels. It can even make the bones kink outward or inward into your back, which is quite uncomfortable.

Avoid corset patterns that are curvier than you are ready for. If you have a very “unyielding” figure, you may have to train down before buying corsets like WKD or Isabella.  I’d recommend you start with a larger corset size, or go for a corset that makes more gentle/ natural hourglass or slim silhouettes like Timeless Trends.

)( shape

The )( shape
The )( shape

This is when your body is more of an hourglass shape than the corset itself! The corset doesn’t have enough curve in it. BEWARE of this common trick on websites! They will use models who are naturally quite curvy and this will make their corsets curvier. A corset that is modelled with a gap like this in the back will likely look more tubular when it’s laced straight.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. Try What Katie Did Morticia corset, the Curvy Girl corset from Azrael’s Accomplice, or several options available from Isabella Corsetry or Ms Martha’s corset shop.

//

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 2.33.47 AM
The // shape

A diagonal but fairly parallel gap means that the corset fits your ribcage, waist and hips reasonably well but it is twisting on the body. There are several reasons why this may be happening: 1. If the corset is made with twill and all of the panels have the twill running in the same direction. Twill, while strong, has an asymmetric weave so stretches more on one bias than another. To test if your corset has stretched differently on either side, measure the ½ circumference on each side of your corset at ribcage, waist and hips. See if both sides are equal. 2. It may just have been how you put the corset on that day! Always lace in front of a mirror to avoid tying it skewed. If you notice your corset is twisted, take it off immediately and put it on again straight. It is possible for a corset to season into a permanent twisted shape! 3. It may not be the corset, but rather your body that is asymmetric. If you have any of the following then this can make a symmetric corset look asymmetric:

  • scoliosis
  • a previously broken rib
  • one leg longer than the other
  • some other skeletal or muscular asymmetry
In the first situation, I recommend not buying corsets made with twill – or if they are made with twill, make sure the corsetiere is experienced enough to sew it perfectly on grain, and to flip every other panel so that the bias of all panels don’t run in the same direction.Also, as bad as it sounds, avoid “risky investments.” Ensure that your corsetiere is scrutinous about making each half of the corset the same way, and to specification (whether symmetric or asymmetric). In the last situation (physical asymmetry), I strongly suggest finding an experienced corsetiere who can fit you with an asymmetric corset, which will then end up looking symmetric on you!

 ||

This is the coveted vertical parallel gap! Some people prefer to have no space in the back, while others like about 2 inches of space so the back edges don’t touch the spine. Either way, your corset fits you well. Congratulations!

 Make sure that your corset is not too big for you; when the corset is closed there shouldn’t be any significant gaping between your ribcage and the top edge of the corset, or your hips and the bottom edge of your corset.  You’re very lucky, my friend! If  You’ve found an off-the-rack corset that fits you nearly as well as a custom corset. If it makes you look good and feel good, then take it and run!

Final Thoughts: Many people have no problem with the shape of their corset gap (after all, the wearer doesn’t have to see it!). If this is you, then continue rocking your corset just the way you like it. However if you, like me, are a little more conscientious about achieving the vertical parallel lines of a well-fit corset, I hope these suggestions can help you choose a better off-the-rack corset for next time – and if all else fails, go custom! If you enjoyed this article, or even if you need clarification, you may also like my “Addendum to Corset Gaps: Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues

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Comparison/ Double review! Leatherotics 1811 vs Chinese-made Ebay Corset

This entry is a summary of the review video “Comparison: Leatherotics 1811 vs Budget Ebay Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Leatherotics Corset

Chinese Ebay Corset

Fit, length About 12 inches high; very straight busk that does not bow outwards. Gives a very gentle silhouette. Appropriate for average to long torso length. Center front is about 13 inches high; busk bows outwards a bit, giving the appearance of pooch. Gentle silhouette. Slightly longline compared to Leatherotics. Appropriate for average to long torso length.
Material 2 layers; fashion layer is black polyester satin, and the lining is black cotton twill. Only one layer; a red satin that has a kind of sturdy non-stretch backing.
Construction 6 panel pattern, assembled with a lock-stitch. Internal boning channels. Also has 4 garter tabs.  6 panel pattern, assembled with a top-stitch. Internal boning channels. Also has 4 garter tabs.
Binding Matching black satin (made from bias strips of the same fashion material), machine stitched on both sides, finished cleanly.  A close colour match (but not exact) red satin commercially made bias tape, machine stitched on both sides in one go, finishing is not clean.
Waist tape 1″ wide visible waist tape made of satin ribbon, seen on inside, stretching across all panels and secured down at boning channels.  1/2″ wide waist tape made of grosgrain ribbon, seen on inside, stretching across ONLY panels 3-4-5, leaving the other panels unprotected. Secured down at boning channels. One side has the waist tape wrinkled in a seam.
Modesty panel Attached lacing protector on the back made of two layers (black satin and twill); also includes a placket overtop of the busk to hide it.  Attached lacing protector on the back made of one layer (red satin) and lace around it, also includes a placket under the busk.
Busk Standard 1/2″ wide busk on each side, about 10.5″ long (5 pins). Very sturdy. Wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 11.5″ long (5 pins), however it’s more flimsy than the Leatherotics busk.
Boning 12 steel bones not including busk. 8 spirals (1/4″ wide)  4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.  14 steel bones, all spiral steel bones even on the back by the grommets. Bows and collapses when trying to tighten up.
Grommets 28 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly from eachother and between the two bones; no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets  20 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly, except offset towards the last bone at the back edge. Starting to pull out around the waist after only 2 wears.
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces  Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces
Price Plain satin version of this is currently £40 in the UK, or $60 USD – and they offer custom sizing, more bones, different fabric/ colours.  Plain satin version of this is currently $35 USD on Ebay, no other options for custom sizing, fabric etc.

 

Final Thoughts:
You get what you pay for! If you just want a simple cheap fashion corset without any waist reduction, OR if you’re looking for a cheap corset just take apart in order to learn how to recreate a corset pattern, then the cheaper corset may suit your purposes. However the Leatherotics brand offers custom sizing – this will give you as much or as little curve as you like. But remember the limits of each brand – if you want to be sure you get a corset made exactly to all of your measurements and specifications, you will have to go with an independent corsetier(e).