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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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Sparklewren Golden Bird’s Wing Review

This post is a summary of the “Sparklewren Bird’s Wing Underbust Corset Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Sparklewren Bird’s Wing Quick Stats

Fit, length Even though this corset is a sample, I’ve added the measurements below for the sake of completion.) The center front is 11.5 inches long. Princess seam is 11 inches. The center back is 9 inches (it has a beautiful sweetheart shape in the back). Circumferential measurements: waist is 20 inches (see discussion below for notes), the underbust is 28 inches, and the low hip is about 37 inches.
Material Two main layers: fashion fabric is a gold moiré silk, and the lining is a fine-weave black herringbone coutil.
Construction 14 panel pattern (28 panels total). Each panel is very long and very narrow (each one is less than an inch wide at the waistline!)
The panels were assembled using a lap-seam, and the topstitch on each seam doubles as a narrow boning channel.
Binding Bias strips of gold moiré fabric. Neatly machine stitched on front, hand-finished on the underside.
Waist tape None detected. (See discussion below)
Modesty panel None came with this sample (but for bespoke commissions, a modesty panel is available for a possible markup).
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side), 11 inches long with 5 loops and pins (bottom two are closer together). There are so many bones adjacent to the busk that it helps keep the center front flat.
Boning 34 total bones (17 on each side). The bones in the front and back feel like 6mm wide flat steels, while the bones wrapping around the sides are likely 4mm or 5mm spirals. It is single boned on the seams, but because it has so many panels, the corset feels like it is continuously boned!
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #00 with a medium flange and finished in silver (it would have been beautiful if they were finished in gold to match the fabric!). Grommets are set a bit closer together at the waistline, and they’re in excellent condition (not falling out).
Laces Black flat shoelace style lacing.
Price £400 GBP for the Phoenix Bird’s Wing style.

 

Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird's wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.
Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird’s wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.

Although this was a test sample, this lovely bird’s wing underbust resembles Sparklewren’s limited edition “Phoenix” line. The precision and care required to make such a corset is remarkable – if Jenni’s seams were off by even 0.5 mm in each panel in this corset, the entire corset would end up being 1.4 cm (more than half an inch) bigger or smaller in the waist!

This corset was made to fit someone with a smaller ribcage, larger hips, and higher waistline than myself (I am long waist from the waist up, and short from the waist down) so it was eventually re-homed to another corset collector who happened to fit the corset perfectly.

This is a remarkably comfortable little corset despite not being made for my measurements. It was deliberately made slightly small (19 0r 19.5 inches) to accommodate for a small amount of stretch and end up as a 20-inch waist, as its construction (traditional lapped seams) did not allow for the addition of a concealed waist tape.

Because there are so many panels to the bird’s wing corset, it’s said to mold extremely well to the wearer – even molding to a person’s asymmetries, say if they have scoliosis – and still be very smooth and comfortable.

See more of Sparklewren’s work here on her website.

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Where to Buy Corset Dresses

This gorgeous plunge corset dress embellished with lace and crystals was designed by Viola Lahger (Sweden). Model: Insanitea Photo: Josephine Jonsson.

This post is a duplicate of the permanent page Guided Galleries –> Corset Dresses. The guided galleries are part of the corset brand research tools, which are designed to help prospective corset customers shop more wisely. This post may be out of date in the future, please refer to the permanent page linked above to get the most up to date information.

Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress
Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress

Corset dresses are highly specialized garments, which can be used for foundation under other dresses (such as those that Puimond provides for other designers to “build upon”), for weddings, or for clubbing / other fun events. They can act like combination shapewear, supporting the bustline and allowing the use of strapless dresses overtop (rather than using a strapless bra), cinching in the waist (instead of using a cincher), and smoothing over the hips (in lieu of a girdle).

Searching “corset dresses” on Google tends to yield poor results because many clothing lines simply offer dresses with boned bodices. True corset dresses (a structured garment where the back of the dress laces up the entire length) are sometimes not that easy to find, but they come in several variations which I’ll try to cover in this gallery.

*Corset makers, if you have made a corset dress and would like your work showcased in this gallery, please email me a photo of your best work and include a 1-sentence description and website or shop URL. Safe-for-work photos are preferred! Thank you!

A bride in Morùa Designs (who works in both the US and UK) shows off the back of her stunning corset wedding dress.
This floor length dress is boned down and laced to the knee, and expertly sculpted in true Bizarre Design fashion (Netherlands). Model: Dena Massque. Photo: Me-Chiel.
This gorgeous plunge corset dress embellished with lace and crystals was designed by Viola Lahger (Sweden). Model: Insanitea Photo: Josephine Jonsson.
Sparklewren (UK) is experienced in making incredibly smooth and ethereal custom corset dresses, here shown with detachable stole. What an enviable hip spring.
This floor-length corset gown by Royal Black (Austria) laces to the knee and is cut for serious curves. Model/styling: Červená Fox, Photo: Julian M Kilsby (ShadowFlux)
Bibian Blue (Spain) always has a selection of corset dresses in her various collections, like this Lys Ensemble with printed angels and handmade flowers, €695. Model: SINderella Rockafella. Photo/styling: Iberian Black Arts
KMKDesigns Located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles, this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.
KMKDesigns, located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles; this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.
Puimond (USA) makes awe-inspiring corset dresses, ranging from simple and sleek to highly customized like this ensemble estimated at $10,000.
This stunning corset dress with sheer fluted skirt by Persephone Corsetry (UK) won the Young Designer Award in 2014. Photo: Stuart McClay. MUA: SC Makeup. Model: Michaela Crompton
This stunning corset dress with sheer fluted skirt by Persephone Corsetry (UK) won the Young Designer Award in 2014. Photo: Stuart McClay. MUA: SC Makeup. Model: Michaela Crompton
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The Swallowtail Corset Dress by The Bad Button (USA) features a fully corseted form from shoulders to hips, while freefloating layers of silk gauze create the illusion of a wings when walking. Model: Samantha Jean Moore. Photo: Aesthetic Aperture
This sweet and lovely Lolita underbust corset dress features a full skirt to accommodate a blouse and petticoat underneath. By Skeletons in the Closet Corsetry (Netherlands).
This sweet and lovely Lolita underbust corset dress features a full skirt to accommodate a blouse and petticoat underneath. By Skeletons in the Closet Corsetry (Netherlands).
“The Love Warrior”, designed by Maison Moginot (France) with help from Mr. Pearl, is dripping with jewels. Model: Amanda Lepore
This audio-sensitive fiber optic dress lights up when the music gets loud! Designed by Rachael Reichert in NY, USA.
Contessa Gothique Design recently shared this radiant plunge, full-skirted corset dress – those curious to make their own can also read her 2-part tutorial on Foundations Revealed.
Stunning lattice-embellished corset dress made by Lace Embrace (Canada)
Designer Maya Hansen (Spain) always includes at least one corset dress in her collections. This one is modelled by Porcylin.
Red sweetheart corset dress with black lace appliqué, a custom design by Sweet Carousel Corsetry (Canada).
Scoundrelle’s Keep has four different styles of corset dresses, including overbust or underbust, long skirt or short. Currently shown is the Evangeline corset dress for $500.
While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece by Ziad Ghanem (modelled by Immodesty Blaize, Fall 2010)
While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece co-designed by Ziad Ghanem, made by Ian Frazer Wallace and modelled by Immodesty Blaize (Fall 2010)
This Jessica Rabbit inspired mini corset dress was designed by Orchid Corsetry (UK). Model: Miss Anne Thropy. Photo: Damona Art.
Atelier Sylphe (France) made this lovely zippered and ruffled creative corset dress, modelled by her client (Virginie).
Marvelous Mayhem (USA) makes both full-skirt and fitted custom corset dresses
Vollers Corsets has a few different corset dress styles, but my current favorite is this Veco floor-length custom dress for £950

*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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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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Where to buy Conical Corsets for Training the Ribs

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.

Christian Dior’s “New Look” (1947) required a tight wasp waist with a preferably conical ribcage.

Rather than an hourglass silhouette, some people prefer their corsets to give them a more conical, tapered ribcage like what was so popular around the 1950’s New Look era. A human’s floating ribs (the 11th and 12th ribs) often have flexible joints, and they’re designed to swing in and out like a hinge with each breath you take. It is also possible for some individuals to train their ribs to be pushed inward, so they have a slightly tapered ribcage with or without the corset on.  There are arguably over 100 different makers who can cater to the conical ribcage to give that 50’s “wasp waist” look, but I will just show some of my personal favourites, and some particularly impressive corsets that I’ve found to give this shape.

As mentioned before, different ‘schools’ of corsetry have different definitions for silhouettes. I was first introduced to this style as the “wasp waist” silhouette, as rib shaping is often more demanding to wear compared to more rounded hourglass silhouettes. Others may call this the conical silhouette, or the ice-cream cone silhouette – so when purchasing a corset, do clarify what kind of silhouette you’re looking for.

Continue reading Where to buy Conical Corsets for Training the Ribs

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Asymmetric Corsets for Scoliosis (or other skeletal issues)

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 corrective 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).

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Where to Buy Overbust Corsets with Cups

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.

Cupped overbust corsets are often confused with bustiers or Merry Widows, but in the words of Julia Bremble, “a corset with cups is as corsetty as any other corset if it does a corsetty job.” I personally adore my cupped overbusts because they give a more natural silhouette under clothing compared to conventional overbusts (which may flatten the bust or lift the bust too high). Wearing a well-made cupped overbust under clothing looks like you’re wearing a bra, combined with a cinched waist. They work very well under strapless dresses, and in particular vintage shelf-bust dresses.

Those who are particularly heavy-busted may find that a cupped overbust takes considerable pressure off the neck, shoulders and upper back by supporting the bust properly from below and eliminating the need for shoulder straps. If you don’t like the cupped corset aesthetic, I have another gallery featuring corsetieres that make conventional overbusts (without cups) designed specifically to fit top-heavy women.

*Corsetieres, if you have made cupped overbust corsets and you have a photo to submit to the gallery, please feel free to email me here. Safe-for-work photos are preferred. Thank you!

Madame Sher Overbust with Cups, $600 (cupped styles start at $490)
Versatile Corsets Mimosa overbust, $398
Black Cat Corsets “Chocolate 20” corduroy cupped overbust, R$ 600
Morgana Femme Couture MF1305 cupped overbust, starts at £350
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Corsets & More cupped overbust as part of a wedding gown
Cupped and corded overbust by Lost in Wonderland Lingerie & Corsetry
Bizarre Design overbust with cups in leather, starts at €660 (about $900)
Royal Black "Queen of the Night" outfit, starts at €1799
Royal Black “Queen of the Night” outfit, starts at €1799 (about $2450)
Ferrer Corsets “Crimson Passion” overbust with cups, R$ 2790 (Ferrer’s cupped overbusts start at R$ 570)
JC Creations Amsterdam (Click through to see more cupped overbusts, NSFW)
JC Creations Amsterdam (Website is NSFW)
Sinner Couture “Hellbilly Chic” cupped overbust, $450
Anachronism in Action bra-cup-style overbust, custom starts at $435
Anachronism in Action bra-cup-style overbust, custom starts at $435
Cherries Pin-Up Picnic overbust corset with cups by The Bad Button
Ivy Rose Custom Designs hand-dyed cupped overbust (click the photo to see the construction process!)
Totally Waisted! corsets cupped overbust, $900
Totally Waisted! Corsets cupped overbust, $900
Period Corsets c.1950 Stevie Corset, $362
Period Corsets c.1950 Stevie Corset, $362
Orchid Corsetry
Orchid Corsetry “Belle Dame” cupped overbust, Gilded Cages collection
“Alexis” wedding corset, by The Ardent Collection
Luxtenbrae “Aria” overbust with padded, moulded cups
Sparklewren cupped sheer overbust (only available for in-person fittings). Photo: InaGlo, Model: Ivory Flame

*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; please email any of the above makers to learn more about their corsets.

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Where to buy Sheer/Mesh Summer 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.

Tulle corset, 1875. From Thierry de Maigret

The first time I saw a mesh corset, it triggered a long-term obsession. What a wonderful idea! Conventional corsets can be hot and sweaty during summertime or in warmer climates. The oldest tulle corset I’ve seen is estimated to be from 1875 (featured left) and throughout the 1890’s it seems that linen mesh became more popular for corsetry, so the idea is not new! Fast forward to today; there has been a huge resurgence of summer corsetry, and they’re as strong as ever with the creation of new fibers and creative engineering. Mesh and net corsets are made with all different types of materials: cross-stitch canvas, linen mesh, Aida cloth, nylon mesh, polyester tulle, horsehair, and lace itself. In this article I’ll highlight some corsetieres and brands that offer modern mesh corsets.

*Please note that MANY corsetieres now create summer mesh corsets, and if I were to add them all, this post would be maddeningly long. Corsetieres, if your mesh corset does not appear in this list and you have one to submit, please send me an email here.
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Daily-Wear Summer Corsets

Madame Sher nude mesh underbust, $300

Brazil-based Madame Sher has a collection of simple and beautiful mesh corsets in her Tight Comfort section, ranging from $220 – $300 for a custom-fit design. They’re made with cotton mesh and cotton twill in various neutral shades. See my review of the Madame Sher black mesh cincher here.

Ferrer Corsets summer mesh tightlacing underbust, starts at R$ 300

Ferrer Corsets is also a Brazilian corset maker – and it seems that tropical Brazil is taking the summer corset industry by storm as they understand the need to feel cool while training in any climate. Ferrer offers a variety of mesh and net corsets in his tight-lacing section, including the corset above which costs only R$ 385 with an included busk and modesty panel.

Delicate Facade Corsetry heavy-duty summer mesh corset, starts at $510

Delicate Facade Corsetry has made this summer corset made with “heavy duty, industrial grade, tightlacing quality mesh”, for a special client who requires a surgery support corset 24/7 after a horrendous accident. DF Corsetry has prettied up this breezy piece with highly decorative latticework. You can learn more about Delicate Facade, and read more about Sasha’s story here.

Contour Corsets gold summer mesh corset, starts at $595

Contour Corsets makes arguably the strongest modern mesh corsets in the world. Fran incorporates space-age materials into her corsets, and the photo above features my personal primary waist training corset, capable of withstanding 23/7 use and cinching my waist over 25%. The synthetic mesh and the construction of the corset are both so strong that the addition of a waist tape would be superfluous. My review of the summer Contour Corset can be found here.

Sophisticated Tulle Corsets:

Contessa Gothique Design Semi-Mesh underbust, starts at $280

Contessa Gothique Design makes semi-mesh corsets with alternating panels of poly netting and cotton coutil – the one shown above is the one I own. The net is soft like tulle, but the double-layer makes for a strong piece. Embellished with lace appliqué and Swarovski crystals, this pretty piece holds up very well to tightlacing and accentuates any summer outfit while still keeping me cool – but if you prefer, the corset can be made more plain as well. See my review of this Contessa Gothique corset here.

V-Couture Nyx tulle and lace overbust, $550

V-couture makes a single-layer tulle overbust called “Nyx”, heavily decorated with beautiful corded lace, beads and sequins. Although it has no waist tape, V-couture ensures that Nyx is capable of giving up to 4 inches reduction.

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Entre-Nous embroidered tulle overbust; Textile design by Jakob Schlaepfer

Entre-Nous introduced embroidered tulle corsets in early 2014, such as this astonishingly gorgeous white piece with delicate pastel floral embroidery. 

Lace Corsets:

Wyte Phantom black lace sheer underbust. Model: October DiVine. Photo: My Boudoir

What happens when you forgo the lace appliqué and just use the uncut lace itself as the panels in a corset? You get a breathtaking sheer effect, as seen in the piece above made by Wyte Phantom.

Totally Waisted sheer waist cincher with Chantilly lace overlay, starts at $199
Totally Waisted sheer waist cincher with Chantilly lace overlay, starts at $199

Totally Waisted! Corsets also featured some limited edition sheer cinchers this year, priced to sell. The strong mesh panels with full Chantilly lace overlay combine with super-strong spot broche to make an enchanting statement piece that can be worn over any outfit, or next to the skin.

Coloured Mesh Corsets:

JL Corsets “Kingfisher” mesh corset, using 3 colours of sport mesh

JL Corsets offers some fun-yet-tough sports mesh corset in any combination of colours – you can order a corset in just one shade, but why not have ALL the colours?!

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Do Balakobako pink mesh and floral print underbust

Do Balakobako Corsets from Brazil makes some of the most beautiful coloured mesh pieces starting from only R$ 250, and her prolific work is very quickly gaining admirers on Facebook! See her photo album of summer corsets here.

Sheer/ Organza Corsetry:

Clessidra Couture sheer plunge overbust

Clessidra Couture is the designer label of Julia Bremble, owner of Sew Curvy Corset Making supplies. Corsetieres around the world trust her for the highest quality corsetry materials, so before selling any new type of fabric, she really puts it to the test! Above is an example made from the (highly coveted) strong yet sleek net fabric sold in limited amounts at Sew Curvy – the first batch was so popular, it sold out in less than an hour!

Angela Stringer Corsetry floral sheer overbust

Angela Stringer Corsetry has a continual theme on floral prints. In the above corset, she combines the sophistication of sheer panels with floral femininity to create a unique piece that’s both playful and smoldering. This is available in both overbust and underbust versions.

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The “Snowy Owl” corset by The Bad Button. Model: Zsu Zsu Starr. Photo: Aesthetic Aperture

The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets, based out of Kentucky, USA, has been hard at work through early 2014 creating her “Birds of Paradise” couture line. One such piece from her collection is the “Snowy Owl” shown above, made of alternating silk covered coutil and sheer crinoline.

Sheer corset girdle by Snowblack Corsets, approximately $200 USD
Sheer corset girdle by Snowblack Corsets, starts at $200
SnowBlack Corsets offers this lovely corset/girdle, made with a single layer of nylon bobbinet, and finished in black raw silk shell and coutil lining. While this corset has a waist tape and sturdy two part grommets, SnowBlack says that it is meant to serve as more of a slimming, supportive girdle and doesn’t recommend a reduction of more than 4″ in this. However, it would be the perfect tool to smooth your figure under a retro dress! This corset also features four garter clips, and two additional hidden garter tabs for additional hold of stockings if desired.
Dark Garden Risqué Sweetheart overbust, starts at $505

The Dark Garden Risqué corset is aptly named. Made from nylon mesh and silk, the Risqué is available as both a cincher and as a sweetheart overbust (above). The website provides fantastic ideas for wear, mentioning that sheer corsetry serves as a great foundation under formal gowns, or can be worn to show off tattoos.

Pop Antique Flirt overbust, starts at $399

Marianne is a well-known corsetiere for Dark Garden, but she also owns her own corsetry line and is a respected designer in her own right: Pop Antique‘s corsets are fun and contemporary, and the Flirt overbust is as coquettish as it gets with its peekaboo panels and little panniers (or “hip fins” as I like to call them).

Sparklewren sheer bridal overbust with cups

Sparklewren also offers some sheer corsetry, from cinchers to full cupped overbust corsets. Natural sheer mesh sees layers upon layers of French lace appliqué in true Sparklewren fashion to create an ethereal one-of-a-kind design.

Velda Lauder mesh and satin underbust corset

Although this corset is no longer available for purchase, I wouldn’t feel right without mentioning Velda Lauder’s sheer underbust, as she designed this years ago before any of the other corsetieres in this section had discovered corset-suitable sheer fabric. Ms Lauder forged a path all her own, and will be fondly remembered for her beautiful designs.

Horsehair corsets:

Bizarre Design sheer halter overbust and matching skirt

Bizarre Design proves that horsehair can shape the torso with extreme efficacy given the correct engineering. This sheer overbust with halter straps is capable of giving extreme reductions even without a waist tape.

Atelier Sylphe polyester horsehair pointed overbust

Atelier Sylphe has created a beautiful sheer pointed overbust from poly horsehair and twill, also giving an impressive silhouette without a waist tape.

Anachronism In Action sheer lattice pointed overbust

Anachronism in Action‘s sheer overbust features horsehair that had been dyed a diaphanous ice-blue hue. The beautiful lattice corset also features hundreds of Swarovski crystals over the bust.

OTR/ RTW Corsets:

What Katie Did sheer Cabaret two-tone Laurie overbust, £209

What Katie Did offers a few mesh styles in the Demi-Couture section of their website. The Cabaret Sophia, Cabaret Laurie and Cabaret Morticia corsets feature panels of a double layer of organza in either soft peach or sultry black, and maintain as curvy a silhouette as ever. See my review of the Cabaret two-tone Laurie here.

True Corset white mesh cincher, $83

For those who want to try a mesh piece immediately, True Corset keeps an affordable standard-sized white mesh cincher in stock for only £55 (or $83). Due to the nature of the mesh and the lack of waist tape, True Corset recommends that buyers order a size smaller than usual as the corset may stretch over time.

Fairy GothMother Short Mesh Underbust, £215

Fairy GothMother also offers a standard-sized mesh cincher for £215, available in black or a relatively rare red mesh. They recommend this for light wear (2-4 inches reduction).

Other corsetieres who have made mesh or sheer corsets:

*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.

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Sparklewren Couture Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Sparklewren Couture Overbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 10.5″ inches long, unique silhouette in which the ribcage follows the natural contours but nips in dramatically at the waist for a wasp-like effect. Hips likewise follow the body’s natural contours; very comfortable. Longline corset. Will hold in lower tummy pooch, recommended for extreme hourglass ladies. Exaggerated plunge neckline; I recommend using double-sided/ toupee tape if your breasts tend to migrate.
Material Fashion layer is 100% silk charmeuse; interlining is 100% cotton coutil, lining is cotton.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Top-stitching between panels, sandwiched bones, and a floating liner (very comfortable). No garter tabs.
Binding Matching silk charmeuse bias tape, hand-finished.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Floating 4″ wide stiffened lacing protector on the back; placket by knob-side of busk.
Busk Heavy-duty wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 10″ long (5 pins), with several bones on each side.
Boning Continuously boned. 64 steel bones not including busk. I’m guessing 58 spirals (ranging from 5mm to 7mm wide) and 6 flats (6mm to 8mm wide) – two on either side of the busk and four sandwiching the grommets at the back.
Grommets 32 grommets total, size 5mm two-part Prym eyelets with moderate flange; set closer together at the waistline; no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Zero spring.
Price Sparklewren has every client sign a confidentiality agreement; please contact Jenni if you would like to commission a similar piece.

Final Thoughts:

This is my second corset purchased from Sparklewren, and my first true experience ordering bespoke from a professional corsetiere. This overbust was commissioned back in January/February of 2012, and completed in May. I was given the option of different colors of silk charmeuse, different types of antique lace and layout of said lace, different flossing motifs, etc. It was an incredibly exciting process and it fits like a dream, too. Jenni is a true artist in her field.
See more of Sparklewren’s creations at her website, here.

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Sparklewren Flossed Swiss Cincher Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Sparklewren Cincher Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 9.5″ inches long, dramatic hourglass or wasp-waist silhouette. Side is 8.5″, good for average or even short-waisted ladies. I would not recommend this cincher for someone who has a problem with lower-belly pooch, though. Very comfortable due to high cut on the hips and external, continuous boning.
Material 2 or 3 layers; fashion layer is satin coutil and the lining is a plush satin (not coutil). May have strong interlining as well (guessing from thickness) but not sure.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Panels are assembled and external boning channels laid down and flossed before a floating liner was added. All the finishing is done by hand.
Binding Black satin coutil bias tape neatly machine stitched outside and hand-finished on inside. Very thin binding (I like it!).
Waist tape ~0.75″ wide invisible waist tape under the lining.
Modesty panel No lacing protector on the back; unstiffened placket attached to the knob side of the busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 9″ long (5 pins) and has an additional 1/4″ wide flat steel bone on either side of the busk (this bone is extremely stiff).
Boning 34 steel bones not including busk. 28 spirals (1/4″ wide) all in external channels, 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets, an additional 2 flats (1/4″ by the busk).
Grommets 28 grommets total, size #X00 two-part grommets with small flange; set closer together at the waist, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip better than nylon laces, and they are long enough with absolutely zero springiness.
Price Currently £350 for a made-to-order cincher (in your size, with your suggested flossing color/ motif). Contact Sparklewren on her website.

Final Thoughts:

Oh my God.  Despite the fact that this corset wasn’t originally made for me, it fits like a dream. If fate exists, then this cincher was fated to be mine. This corset is super comfortable – as I mentioned in the video, the high cut at the hips bypasses the issue I usually have at the iliac crest, and the continuous boning prevents any pressure points. The external channels mean the inside is completely smooth. Due to the army of bones, this corset is rather heavy and thick – the external measurement is around 24″ but the inside measurement gives a waist measurement of closer to 22.5″, and with barely any rib compression as well!

This was the first corset I purchased that contained flossing, and first with continuous boning. It’s amazing how the smallest details “make” the whole corset – what seems like just a sweet, simple cincher actually has a startling amount of work and detail. This pretty piece of armour has ruined all other cinchers for me!

In addition to her skill, Jenni (the lady behind Sparklewren) is one of the kindest, most communicative and helpful corsetieres I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I will speak more of this when I review my custom overbust from her, but I will say now that her customer service is as good as her corsets.

To see the Sparklewren’s other work, do check out her website.