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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The art of corsetry

Heh... I just looked myself up on BlogLovin.com... where I have a grand total of one follower (hi there, lonely BlogLovin follower...)! But apparently I have an average of 13 posts a week, which I think is quite impressive (I could be biased...). Also, today my beautiful Posiez parasol arrived from Etsy, and I am pleased to note that it not only is it exquisitely charming (much like its owner - stop laughing, you at the back) but it survived its trip across the high seas from America in one piece.

Now... on to the main event.

Corsets are a mainstay of Goth fashion, and look gorgeous on every woman (and man - yes, men wear corsets too), offering anything from a light cinch to the grip of an iron vice to give the perfect hourglass silhouette or a dramatic, wasp-waisted look. Unfortunately, there are a few traps and pitfalls for those new to wearing a corset, so here's a little advice to save you some time (and backache).

Whilst modern corset tops often look like traditional corsets, they usually have plastic boning and as such have little to no effect on the shape of the wearer's body. 'Genuine' corsets are nowadays usually steel-boned, which makes them very heavy.

Source: Lip Service Webzine
Corsets should be bought absolutely no more than six inches smaller than your natural waist, otherwise you will be unable to close it. For example, I have a 26" waist and can just about lace a 24" corset. On average, a woman wearing a corset will reduce her visible waist size by two inches; however it is worth bearing in mind that larger ladies can easily manage the appearance of a reduction of up to six inches.

There are several common styles of corset available. An overbust corset extends from just under the arms to the hips; an underbust corset also reaches to the hips but begins, obviously, just under the breasts. Some corsets may extend over the hips, although this is rarely seen. You can also buy waist cinchers or 'waspies' which cover the waist area; from the lower ribs to just above the hips.

Tightlacing is a practise wherein men or women wear a tightly-laced corset for long periods of time. They learn to tolerate extreme waist constriction and can gradually reduce their natural waist size, with the ideal being anything from 14-20 inches. Tightlacing, also called corset training or waist training, is sometimes considered a form of body modification as it may even alter the shape of the ribcage over time. Tightlacing is also often associated with fetishistic interest; some tightlacers wear their corsets for up to 23 hours a day.

Of course, of the hundreds if not thousands of Goths who own corsets only a few are tightlacers; although I did see a woman with a 17"-waist at DV8 Fest - it certainly lends a surreal appearance.

When it comes to wearing corsets, the most vital tip I can give you is, unfortunately, the one I always forget - put your damn shoes on FIRST. Reaching your feet is about to become a gymnastic feat, and not one I recommend you attempt.

Don't try to lace your corset too tightly to begin with; even if you don't intend to become a tightlacer, patience and practise is required as the restriction of a steel-boned corset feels highly unnatural at first. Ease yourself into wearing it - and for heaven's sakes, practise dancing in a corset before you head out to the club!

Once your corset is laced (I have not yet mastered the art of lacing my own whilst wearing one and still require someone to stick a knee in my lower back and strap me in), you're going to have a lot of string dangling from somewhere around the middle of your back. Tuck this in somewhere if you can to avoid it catching on door handles, boot buckles and goodness only knows what else. Don't, however, tie them around your waist as this will rub against the material of your corset and cause damage. If you have to leave your laces dangling, just be aware that they may present a hazard and be careful.

It's best not to wear a corset over bare skin as this can leave unsightly marks and welts from the boning. You can buy corset-liners to wear underneath; or you can of course wear it over a dress or top. Wearing something underneath the corset helps prevent 'corset itch'.

Some corsets come with a modesty panel which sits beneath the lacings to hide the crease in the skin of your back. If your corset does not have a modesty panel, once you are all laced in you may need someone to push the skin apart and smooth it out so that it will be distributed more easily under the corset.
Source: Photobucket
Do not drink fizzy drinks whilst wearing your corset. Remember, that pretty velvet and lace contraption is actually a steel cage pressing on your stomach, and loud bodily functions are bound to occur at that single moment when everyone else in the room goes quiet. I can't imagine how Goths manage to attend sit-down dinners at balls and parties whilst corset-clad...

15 comments:

Stephanie said...

Lovely post. I'm in the market of buying a corset, so this information was very helpful. I love the appearance of really small waists, but I don't know if I'd do the corset training. That's pretty intense.

Laurel said...

I've priced steel-boned corsets, as opposed to plastic-boned ones--wow! I'm going to guess that it's better in the long run to splurge on the genuine steel boning? I'm really going to have to save some major cash...

Serifina said...

The most helpful guide to corsets out there. Love the style of the writing: all the info with a personal touch.
I need to save up...those steel-boned corsets cost so much...
Great advice for when I finally do get one though!

MissGracie said...

I have one follower on bloglovin as well, lol. Your posts are always so informative! I am jealous...

OpiateVampire said...

For anyone lamenting the cost of real corsets, corsets.uk and Timeless Trends have them $100 and under.

As for the refraining from eating whilst corseting, I actually find that I'm fine for the hours I have it on (maybe less of an appetite than usual), but as soon as I take it off I am famished and have to pee very badly xD

Corin said...

I find that most plastic boned corsets tend to bend out of shape after a while. Since I'm wearing steel-boned corsets I never have to worry about that anymore. And you're right; the shaping is so much better.
Another good source for buying good quality corsets for a fair price:
http://www.victorianflowers.nl

Boots said...

Ah Miss Amy! I just did a post about Corsets! Curse you:) Great minds think alike I guess. Really helpful info,as usual. Love your blog always anyways:)

The Green Fairy said...

Oh my plastic boned corsets are so irratating. I bought them years ago before I was educated and now they're all warped, so although they still give me waist reduction, they also STAB ME IN THE RIBS! They're so uncomfortable.

I would also suggest for newbies that an underbust would be the better type to get first off. I never wear my overbusts, because I generally only wear corsets out when I go drinking or partying and it's just way too hard to dance in them.

I LOVE corsets!

I also think it's really quite hilarious that feminists or suffragettes back in the day would refrain from wearing corsets to assert their own individuality and femininity or some such, and nowadays we goths have re-donned them to regain our individuality and femininity :P teehee

ultimategothguide said...

Re: all the cheap corsets comments, I got a red velvet steel-boned corset with a collar on it for £30 from Corsets Boulevard on eBay... they sell quality corsets at knockdown prices. I can cheerfully recommend them as I'm very happy with mine: http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/corsets-boulevard-ltd/

Thanks everyone for the kind comments and great feedback!

Laurel said...

I have fibreglass and it works pretty well- I wanted steel but the person I brought it from told me that the memory was slightly better on fibreglass. I don't own any steel so I cannot compare, but I was pretty pleased with the result.

Also I think the medical/bones corset is by an etsy seller called louiseblack. I am in love with her designs.

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

I own three corsets (one of which I never wear because it is slightly too small and a bugger to put on, and not too comfortable for me). The one I never wear is a Timeless Trends, and the other two are Gallery Serpentine. Gallery Serpentine are, yes, on the expensive side - but they are so beautiful, and mine was ordered on the Monday, paid on the Wednesday, and mailed out on the Friday. Order on off-peak times, of course, for this kind of delivery. I love their designs, corsets and otherwise, and there is nothing more comfortable than a brand-new, custom-made overbust!

My ribs have more-or-less been altered permanently from wearing corsets nearly every day for a year. My ribs drop away from the skin towards the bottom. Creepy, i know! Some days I would have to pry my ribs apart with my hands. My sister is very unnerved by my corsets ("that's just not right, shmook", she tells me. "People aren't shaped that way."), and this pleases me.

Anonymous said...

CORSET HELP PLEASE
Hi I'm a young babybat, I just got interested in Goth less than a year ago. I have a bit of a problem. My mom is agaist me wearing fishnets and/ or corsets because she thinks they're... (whisper) sexual. She is very protective and stubborn, but I want a corset REALLY bad. What do you think I should do? So far all I can think of is saving money up for it myself then offering to pay for my own corsets on Christmas. Sadly Christmas is really far away. If you have any ideas/ suggestions they would be SO greatly apprieciated. Please send them to gorgeouswithahalo@yahoo.ca

Joanna said...

Nearly fell out of the chair when I read "put your damn shoes on first". That is so true. Dress from the bottom up when wearing a corset. I.m American and we have some different terms for things. Tight lacing = waist training.
For some fabulous (and fabulously expensive) corsets check out San Francisco's Dark Garden, http://www.darkgarden.com/index.php .

Anonymous said...

I am also a babybat in need of corset help. My mom would definetly not let me wear a corset. I haven't actually tried asking her yet, but I think she would find it very unnatural. She's also warned me about fishnet several times (but I do have a pair of fishnet gloves). I think maybe someday she might let me wear a corset, but not a tight one.

Crysta said...

I actually have a steel boned corset and cincher being delivered to my house today. I've recently started losing a decent amount of weight and now I just have a few unsightly rolls and "fat wings", as my mother and myself call them. I'm hoping these will help for nights out. I'm also considering attempting some waist training, though not to the extremes that you described.

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