Category Archives: Custom Corsets Suitable for Waist Training

“Custom” vs. “Readymade” corsets suitable for waist training

It’s important prior to ordering a corset for any serious student of waist training, to recognize  the difference between a “custom” and a “readymade” corset (which is sometimes also called a “standard-sized”) corset. The two are entirely different critters.

Why is it important to know the difference, and ask in advance of ordering a training corset, what the corsetiere means by either term?

Because we’ve found corsetieres on the web offering “custom” corsets, that are truly not that by any reasonable definition we know. The client merely sends in a snug natural waist measurement. Sometimes a person tell us the corset was marketed as “custom”, and the client is sorely disappointed at the upper or lower perimiter fit which was not made to their individual measurements. Or the so-called “custom” corset is too short or too tall for their height.

“Custom” to us, means fully custom, that is, that the pattern is drafted one-up for you according to your individual torso measurements and most likely, about 8 to 10 of those or more will be requested and used for your corset.

“Readymade” or “standard-sizing” means that the corset has certain pre-set measurements that go with different set waistlines, and normally the corset maker will ask for only a snug waist measurement. The upper and lower perimeters, and the vertical height of your corset will normally be set and not variable by you. Thus,  measurements may or may not accurately reflect your individual torso shape and  may or may not be comfy to wear for the long continuous hours you will need to eventually put in for effective waist training.

ROMANTASY offers only two standard-sized corsets viewed in our “Simple Pleasures” cincher and “Simple Pleasures” Victorian, found on this webpage:

http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=csp

The cinch was recently reviewed on December 6 by our corset enthusiast friend Lucy (bishonrancher) of lucycorsets.com. We highly recommend her YouTube videos which are generally spot on in terms of educational, fact-based corset information regarding product, service, and theory. However, we had not made our cincher facts clear in terms of information provided to her, and she thought they came from our fully-custom corset line, The Basic Line of corsets. They do not. They are presented on our navigation button as this line of corsets: “Corsets-Standard Patterns”. But both lines are about equivalently priced as Lucy correctly notes.

Because we chose to organize our business to offer real options and choices to clients (we never force a client to order a corset made by one maker or in one style/fabric only), it’s somewhat easy for a newcomer to the ROMANTASY website to get confused. Still, we prefer to offer corsets in that fashion, and work personally with our clients and email inquirants to focus in on what it is they precisely need so no mistakes are made in terms of definitions, options, and ultimate goals/budget needs. It’s our duty and pleasure to help you understand the options before you order.

In summary, below is a guide to how ROMANTASY organizes our corset options and offerings.

We offer three major categories of corsets on our website. First, we have three lines of fully custom (8-10 or more measurements) corsets, motivated by our desire  to offer a variety of well-fitting fully custom styles and price points. They include:
The Basic Line  (an alternate to the standard patterned  Simple Pleasures cincher or Vic, and about the same price in a similar two-layer corset, also single boned like the Simple Pleasures, but fully custom using 8 measurements)
The Fundamental Line and
The Elegant Line.

Cincher in floral print webSecond, we offer two standard-sized corsets in eight sizes, the “Simple Pleasures” cinch which is pictured here, and the Victorian, under our Corsets-Standard Pattern button. They are made when ordered from a copyright pattern, and take the normal production time  as for a custom corset:   http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=csp

Third, we offer ready-to ship instock consignment/models’ samples corsets on our page, Corsets-In Stock. On this page we list  a few, brand new (not worn at all) Simple Pleasures cinchers  that are immediately ready to ship, but our supply is limited.

Thus, for the most part, in order to receive a Simple Pleasures standard-sized corset or cinch, they are technically not a “readymade” corset.

Can all three categories of ROMANTASY corsets serve for waist training? Most likely not. We recommend corsets from the Fundamental and Elegant Lines for training purposes because of the strength in boning, fabric and other components of construction and finish. If you have more questions, please let us know, as we want you to get the right corset for your primary wearing purposes, as well as one that fits into your budget.

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Filed under Custom Corsets Suitable for Waist Training, General Waist Training Information

“The Corset Diet” — and other troubling approaches to figure reshaping

I was amused on October 9 to catch a “pop news” segment on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ regarding Dr. Alexander Sinclair, a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles, who introduced his “corset diet” to the world.  GMA says it’s a “new fad” and their station doctor dissed the process as dangerous. “Seems like torture” said one tv commentator, and the reporter, Abby Boudreau,  appeared extremely happy to take off a heavy, pretty clearly non-custom-made neopreme or rubber, stretchy “corset” that the doctor uses.

When I first published my book in 2000, it was titled “The Corset Diet.” Soon thereafter I thought about that title, and decided to change it, because truly, figure reshaping on a reasonable, permanent basis, is not a “diet” at all. It’s a health-conscious lifestyle choice to improve posture, to reshape your body and figure, and also to lose weight if you want to (no, you don’t have to lose weight yet you can drop waistline inches with the process), and it doesn’t happen in one day or even one week.

However, it DOES happen in months, if you work the process and go about it in a common sense way, respecting and paying attention to your body’s messages and adjusting your program as indicated as you move forward.

I did find some similarities of my approach and process with Dr. Sinclair’s approach, namely that it’s best to start by wearing a corset 2 to 3 hrs. per day and take one day off per week. Apparently his program includes two days off and 3 to 5 hrs of daily wear. The tv program did not say how long a client needs to “corset diet”, or how tightly the corset needs to be on how many days and how to move up or down in restriction.

Even more curious and somewhat troubling was to learn via a phone call to his office by a client, that the doctor apparently charges only $150 for the corset, and my client was told that his advice is ‘free’. While I have not verified this report, I wonder how  a medical doctor of repute can afford to give away his advice and guidance for free, unless the “corset diet” is some kind of loss leader for his plastic surgery practice, or there is not much advice or guidance offered while the patient diets? More facts are surely needed before one can seriously evaluate his program. Of course, the popular media never has or takes time to elaborate or give sufficient facts about any “pop news” item upon which can rely with confidence to evaluate it.

On a side note, it’s curious too, how ABC can come up with this report and again stress the dangerousness of the process, while at the same time exactly one year ago on October 12, ABC’s “20/20″ reporter Deborah Roberts did not find the process dangerous at all. In fact, she reported favorably on her two-week experiment wearing one of Jill Hoverman for ROMANTASY’s training corsets! See: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/10/10/my-life-in-a-corset-squeezing-into-a-new-dieting-strategy/ Could it be the right hand does not knoweth what the left hand doeth?

This made me reflect upon what makes corset waist training work vs. fad dieting, and I thought I would share a new “Introduction” section I added early this year to my book which addresses the question. I also include inspirational pictures of Heather, my 2012 waist-training student, below right, and client Heidi who trained by herself using our general advice, below left. Both trained in corsets produced by Jill on our team, but we recommend both Sheri and Sharon for your consideration, since each corsetiere has her own specializations that can benefit your waist-training efforts, which differences we explain more fully on our Elegant Line webpage where we personally introduce each talented lady:  http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=ccel

“CORSET MAGIC: a Fun Guide to Trim Your Waist and Figure” Heather uncorseted back view after training (end Dec. 2012)
© Ann Grogan 2013 (7.1.13)

http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=book01&Category_Code=moc

INTRODUCTION (new section)

I think a lot about what makes corset waist training work for my students in the three-month coaching program I sponsor, and for others who try the process on their own. Lately I’ve concluded that it’s not food choices, it’s not portions we eat, it’s not even how many steps we walk each day or how many hours we spend at the gym. It doesn’t even really have to do with wearing our corsets. It’s about correcting our thinking process and thoughts which are normally misguided when it comes to corset waist training.
I noted one misguided way of thinking and stopped it early on with a former student, Gigi, who told me she was going to indulge in fatty foods the week before commencing training so that she didn’t feel deprived during the three months she would pursue the process.
Corset waist training is not deprivation!  It is fun. It is effective. It is fashionable and it is unique. Not many folks in the world will accept the challenge and take the chance to try a new adventure in life with certain rewards coming to those exercising a modicum of dedication and common sense. How wonderful to be unique in life and do something different rather than follow the beaten path.
But corset waist training is certainly not justification to pig out the week before it begins!
Heather is the most recent student who graduated from my coaching program at the end of 2012. She is a graphic artist who was initially challenged by “free” food offered daily at the workplace by her employer. The food certainly wasn’t healthy but was quite abundant, and Heather always indulged.
Early in her program I assigned Heather the task of designing and posting in an obvious place at her desk, a sign you’ll see here, one that said: “Free food is NOT free!”Clearly, “free” food was packing on the pounds, and Heather’s continuing practice of mindless food indulgence ran contrary to her waist-training goals. To reach her goals she had to change the way she thought about that “free” food from pleasurable and good to not good and contrary to what she truly valued and wanted to accomplish.
Six other mental or strategical approaches that don’t involve corset-wearing, exercise, or food–-ones that can assist you successfully waist train—include:

Corsets by Jill model Heidi  flyer1. Setting aside corset waist training as the top priority in one’s life for three months. It just can’t take second seat to anything except perhaps family or work obligations—and most of the time those kinds of obligations become excuses to quit rather than re-arrange one’s schedule to serve those needs yet keep on target.

2. Grasping the idea that three months is an incredibly short period of time to bear down in order to survive the days that surely will arrive when you want out of the corset or off the exercise program.

3. Re-arranging your thinking to value more a svelte figure, than that second helping or weekly pizza.

4. Choosing high quality over quantity—and doing it every time when it comes to eating.

5. Understanding that it is the first bite of food that tastes the very best; the second and third bites go way down in terms of giving pleasure. Why fill up on a huge bowl of ice cream, instead of savor the first two or three bites of very high-quality ice cream and put just that much in your bowl to begin with?

6. Deciding not to find excuses to quit, and by not letting falling off “the wagon” provide one such excuse.

On this auspicious occasion of the New Year of 2013, I wish you right thinking–-and success in your waist-training adventure. I expect that you will realize the figure of your dreams!

— Ann Grogan, January 2, 2013

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Filed under Custom Corsets Suitable for Waist Training, General Waist Training Information, Hot Topics on Health, Quality Corsetry

Evaluating the Fit of a New (or any) Corset – Part III; Enhancing Comfort (unrelated to technical/construction/measurement issues)

INTRODUCTION
Part of evaluating the fit and quality of a new, or any, corset, concerns comfort. In a prior blog we have  discussed the fit issue of adjusting the corset properly on your torso . In the future we will address other elements of fit in order to evaluate a new corset. These will include visual aesthetics, functionality, and durability of the over time with extended wear. Here I’ll discuss comfort not related to technical, construction, or measurement issues, and what can enhance comfort or detract from it to make corset wearing more demanding than it need be. In another blog I’ll address comfort as related to technical, construction, and measurement issues. As ever, we appreciate hearing from you readers on this or any other matter as it relates to fit and quality in corsetry.

HOW NEW IS THE CORSET?
Let’s take the corset that has just been delivered to you. No matter the corset style or silhouette the corset creates on your body when you wear it, no matter whether it is readymade (“off the rack” or OTR corsets) or custom, a new corset will likely feel stiff, even very stiff. Even if you are experienced in corset wearing, there may be some initially unexpected feelings if you are trying on a new corset style, or corset made by a new corset maker with whom you have not previously worked.

I am sorely disappointed whenever I get the chance to re-connect with a former client and learn that he put his corset on the shelf because it took too much time or effort to learn to lace up by himself, or he felt the corset was too stiff, or perhaps it caused a temporary bit of rib soreness the first few days he wore it (maybe he even wore it longer than the 2 to 3 hours we recommend for the first few wearings, building up in hours before lacing tighter by about a half inch), and he gave up. Bottom line is he didn’t give the corset a chance to work its magic, and more’s the pity.

HOW NEW ARE YOU TO CORSETING?
At least some discomfort will surely be experienced during the seasoning process, especially if you are unused to structured and boned garments. They feel quite different than do unstructured, flowing sports clothing made of t-shirt or stretch material.

When “corset newbies” don a corset for the first time during our in-person Corset Salon fitting, many look quite surprised at how they feel once laced down the initial 2 or 3 actual inches. (N.B. that most corsets add about one inch or more to your waistline measurement, so lacing down two inches measured over the corset means in fact that you are actually reduced 3″ under your corset, quite sufficient for moderately-sized individuals and perhaps a bit much for more slender corset newbie clients.) I use the initial lacing to test and evaluate a fit sample for possible shapes and measurements, and see how the person “takes” to corseting.

Sometimes clients exhibit the very same reaction to trying on their custom corset the first time. Almost to a person a newbie expects to feel in distress or even pain, and  expects to be gasping for air. However, their initial  reaction of amazing comfort, even of great back support and enhanced visual posture, is normally quite rewarding to behold. Usually by the time I’m finished lacing them down to the initially-desired level, clients are grinning from ear to ear!

A few others appear impatient while I lace them down and adjust the fit sample, or when they adjust their own new corset. They expect not only comfort, but a perfect fit within minutes. However, adjusting the corset properly takes time. It takes more than just minutes no matter if you lace by yourself or if others are lacing you. The rule is: be mivalacingcartoonFINALpatient.  (Sometimes I think that should be the entire slogan of my business, and it surely should be the mantra of anyone who knows about corset wear and fit).

And no, if you are assisting someone lace down, do not put your foot into their backside!

The corset needs to opened up widely in back then after inserting any free-standing (as opposed to attached) back protector (a.k.a. “modesty panel”), be clipped in front (most likely starting with the second stud down from top or bottom). You should continue to clip each busk clip in a  method that works your way from the top or the bottom, until all are clipped. Do not try to insert your fingers into the vertical busk and force things, just clip the top and try again at the waist or bottom, and “see saw” the clips until they are all closed. The typical spring steel busk (vs. the stainless steel wide busk) is designed to provide some flexibility and “spring” back into place, thus you can slightly bend forward the top of the top or bottom of the busk as you seek to close up the opposite half clips. mivatechsuefrontlace_2

What if you have a front-lacing or side-lacing, closed back corset? Well then, the process might take longer to lace up as you have to open up the lacing really wide in order to step into the corset or put it on over your head. I always chuckle to see this picture, right, of our corsetiere Sue Nice attempting to lace up her front-laced corset!

For back-laced corsets, after it is clipped in front, then adjust the laces in back by pulling out about 3 or 4″ for each criss-cross “X”, starting from the bottom up to the waist-pulls, then pulling out about 3 or 4″ from the top down to waist-pulls, then repeat the process again and again and again – until you achieve the desired day’s lacing measurement. As a general rule try to keep the back gap more or less parallel (see prior blog for pictures and comments on this matter).

What if you get some rib or skin pinching at the top during the process? Well then, simply open up the laces a bit more than the waist and bottom. You don’t have to keep the gap absolutely parallel in back. You are in charge of your lacing technique and level, and the gap is there precisely for you to adjust the fit according to your needs and desires for the day.

When done,  tie a bow in the ribbons at your waistline, but never knot the laces as you may need to get out of your corset quickly to avoid distress.  Tuck your ribbon laces under the bottom edge of the corset in order for them not to drop into mivatechtootightthe loo, or look unkempt and uneven when you wear the corset as a fashion accessory outside of your clothing.

You might experience initial discomfort if your back protector bunches up under the lacing mivatechtwistingbonesclosecords, or you can’t get the waistline pulled tightly enough to force the bones at the waistline to lie flat against your torso, and they may be digging in as pictured right. Ouch! Been there done that. Barring sending the corset back to the maker to add more fabric at the back of your corset to extend the girth, or barring asking for another more heavily boned panel, you may just have to bear up during the seasoning process and go about it more gently and slowly until you can get the back gap of the corset more or less parallel than you can at first.

Wearing two back protectors at once might also work to stiffen and smooth out a lighter-weight one. I do recommend wearing a stiffened protector however, not avoiding it, and wearing your corset over a very tight (one size down from normal) microfiber (not 100% cotton) tube top or cami. The tight cami helps to minimize skin wrinkling under the corset and helps minimize moisture. Excess moisture under your corset can lead to uncomfortable skin itching, especially when you take the corset off (never scratch your skin, just gently massage or rub it with the palm of your hand or a child’s soft hairbrush). The protector tends to push outward the waistline boning to prevent bones from twisting in the bone casings, pads the back, and protects your skin, all of which enhance your comfort over wear time.

HOW NEW ARE YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR CORSET STYLE OR MAKER ?
Some readily find their preferred corset maker and stick to ordering his or her corsets; others like to experiment.  I encourage experimentation, with a view toward finding the right style and maker for the right purpose. Trust me, corsets differ and corset makers differ in terms of what they deliver. How tightly you want to lace or what kind of a figure/silhouette you may want to cut, may differ from occasion to occasion.

A particular corset maker in a small solo workshop might not tell you that, and it might take many years for you to discover the variety of fits, silhouettes, and comfort levels in corsetry in the marketplace, if you stick to your first corset maker for a second or third corset, and don’t venture out to try another style, or another maker. The choice is really yours to make.

The above point signifies that it takes a bit of time, research, asking questions, and certain patience to set priorities for your corset before you place an initial, or another order, and for you to know what kind of corset will be delivered. One corset can never, ever meet all your needs or desires, nor will each one fit or feel the same, perhaps even the same style made by the same maker, even if each maker does tend over time to develop individual preferences as to patterning, fabrics, construction techniques, and ultimate looks and fits on the body. Plan on adding several more corsets to your wardrobe over the years if you develop into a full-fledged corset enthusiast.

WHAT IS YOUR BODY OR SPIRIT GOING THRU ON THE DAY OR AT THE TIME YOU CORSET?
Sometimes discomfort comes more on this or that day, as when you are experiencing lower back tweaking or strain,  bloating, pre-menstrual tension, mild constipation, headaches, allergies, or a sinus drip and slight cough. However, don’t expect that pre-menstrual tension or mild back aches will prohibit you from corseting. That is a highly individual matter. I know several clients who find that corseting during their period actually relieves cramps! Please try it and you might be pleasantly surprised, although you might want to lace looser on those days.

Emotional stress can affect the comfort you feel in your corset. But again, don’t assume that a high stress level, or even if you live with continual low-level stress or anxiety, will mean that your corseting experience will be troubling. One of the early-on students in my waist training coaching program, was served with divorce papers yet she persisted to meet her original goals. She believed that the discipline of regular six-day-per-week corseting was helpful in relieving stress and giving her more of a feeling of stability and continuity after her hubby turned her world upside down. Another student lost his job during the coaching period, persisted and met his goals, and experienced the exact thing as did the first student I mentioned.

However, don’t put added pressure on yourself if you have a choice, such as if you have a cold or flu: take a few days off from corseting to recover and return your breathing to normal, or loosen up for that day of wear. Remember, you and not I, are in charge of how tightly you lace down, or even if you wear your corset on any given day.

DID YOU PLACE THE CORSET PROPERLY ON YOUR TORSO?
Please read our prior blog on this topic. The question involves not just a matter of artistic import, it also involves your comfort level. For example, if you put the corset on upside down, then you will or may surely experience unnecessary rib pressure, pressure on the anterior femoral nerve running over your pelvic bone or iliac crest, and other.

Lean Pull process to seat waistline properlyDID YOU USE VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE COMFORT DURING THE LACING DOWN PROCESS? The Romantasy salute
If you are being assisted with your corset, during the process raise your arms to make your midriff area more accessible to the narrowest part of the corset, as pictured right. One of my friends labelled this “the ROMANTASY salute.” Cute!

Even if you are lacing by yourself you can enhance comfort by taking time out twice or three times during the process to lean to each side and stretch your body, as pictured above left. Grasp the opposite bottom edge of the corset and lean to the other side gently re-positioning the corset waist at your waistline as pictured left. Think more about breathing into the exposed ribs rather than tugging downward on the bottom edge.

During lacing down you might take time out to wiggle a bit, bend forward and backward a bit, or jump lightly around in your corset.  Once you are laced down, repeat these movements. Reading about Polaire, the famous tight-lacing young French actress in the early part of the 1900s, taught me this technique: Moving your body around periodically while being laced down will help seat the corset properly at your waistline and at the squishiest part of your midriff, minimizing pressure on the lower part of your tummy and lowest ribs.

Did you get in a rush to get dressed for a special event, and lace down precipitously to a maximum level, and not take the two or so hours to lace down gradually before you leave the house in a time-compressed process similar to seasoning your corset?  Did you put your corset on over a full tummy rather than corset first, then eat moderately and slowly, chewing each bite thoroughly before swallowing, or did you gulp down your food? Did you lace tightly before clipping stockings to your garter belt or buckling on your new strap stilettos, and now you can’t lean over without hurtful pressure at your waistline? None of those experiences will lead to comfort but will likely lead to heartburn, a nauseated feeling, bloating, reflux, gas, and might even weaken your corset structure and shorten its life.

The point is, when you try on your new corset you might adopt minimal expectations about fit or comfort until you take time to adjust your corset properly. Even then the corset will not fit you well nor feel the best because it will be stiff and unyielding until you actually wear it a bit and “season” it, then make minor adjustments to your lifestyle and habits that work with, rather than against, a restricted tummy and less flexible torso.

That term “seasoning” is bandied about on the web. As a retired attorney I become rather frustrated when I don’t know what an ambiguous or vague term means, or what facts underlie the term. But in corseting as in other disciplines, there may not be a pat answer.

How much is a “bit” or how long does the “seasoning” process actually take in order to adequately and fairly judge fit or comfort? As a calligraphy teacher of mine used to say: “it takes as long as it takes.”  I doubt anyone can answer that question for you since the answer depends on multiple factors including:  how thick the corset is, how many bones it has, thickness or width of boning, boned or unboned underflap, or what silhouette the corset creates on your body, how sturdy is the bonding or lining, how tall is the corset on your body, how new you are to corseting, how much does your body take to restriction and pressure–and more! Mirrorgraphic

I advise a rule of thumb of at least 20 to 30 separate wearings before a corset is properly “seasoned” and you are set to go out and carry out your activities of daily living in relative comfort. I also advise donning a corset at least two hours before an important event when you want to look your best and most tight-laced, yet remain in comfort.

DID YOU USE VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE COMFORT DURING THE DAY’S WEARING PERIOD?

The first piece of advice I give to corset newbies is to relax into their corsets, not hold their breath, and not try to suck their tummy to assist the lacing process. Just relax and let the corset hold you, not the reverse. It’s sort of like zen: just let go. I’m also certain to advise new clients when they retrieve their corset in person and in our written wearing instructions provided with the corset, that every two hours they stand up and walk around, especially if they lead a sedentary life or sit many hours at work.

In addition, a new, non-tightly-laced corset will tend to rise on the torso as it is worn, especially an underbust style corset. Thus, if you feel any lower rib pressure or incipient waistline or rib soreness during the day’s wear, simply employ the “lean-pull” process pictured and described above.  This will re-seat the narrowest part of the corset at the narrowest, waistline part of your body and remove possible pressure under your bosom from underbust styles that have risen northward during the day.

It only took me about nine years of lacing down to learn another simple technique to enhance comfort. Once when I began complaining of waistline fatigue and impending discomfort, a good friend said: “Ann, why don’t you go loosen your corset a half inch for a half hour, then lace it down again?”

Well, duh! Why hadn’t I thought of that? Even if your corset is worn as foundation wear, go to the bathroom or place of privacy, reach up under your dress or shirt and loosen your corset, or employ the “lean-pull” process! You might be amazed at how quickly you return to comfort once you do that.

If you are in the middle of a serious waist training program, you can and most likely should, always extend your corset wear that day by a full hour to make up for the half hour you loosen up.

DID YOU TAKE YOUR CORSET OFF JUST SHY OF PAIN, OR PERHAPS WHEN YOU REACHED A 6 TO 7 ON A PAIN SCALE OF 1 TO 10?  
I hesitate to advise anyone to push their limits when corseting, but I’m one who really enjoys periodically doing just that! Others of my clients agree, and men in particular seem to love the physical challenge of maximum effort and endurance experienced when wearing their corsets very tightly laced for long hours.

If you are new to corseting, how far should you go in terms of tolerating “discomfort” versus experiencing actual “pain”? Again, that’s an individual matter. We all know different folks have different levels of tolerance and different definitions of what they experience as “pain.”
U Shape vs. Hourglass
Personally, I pretty much dislike continuing pressure on my rib cage, so I generally prefer the hourglass or wasp silhouette for my corsets. I know another corset enthusiast who adores not only the look or silhouette, but the feel, of ice-cream cone corsets (a.k.a. “straight-ribbed” corsets).

But what if I am someone who also mivatechtwosilhouettesjpgvisually prefers the ice-cream cone silhouette in a corset, then the question becomes: how much discomfort am I willing to tolerate in service to my ego and aesthetic preference?

You can see pictured left above, the U shape vs. hourglass, and pictured right, the hourglass vs. the ice-cream cone shape.  I am always amazed by this below picture of my torso when wearing four corsets making exceedingly different torso silhouettes:

four silhouettesYou may read more about the variety of silhouettes  on our Basic Silhouette webpage: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=Basic+Figure+Silhouettes&Category_Code=cgi

For certain occasions or for a certain physical challenge, I may choose the ice-cream cone-silhouetted corset that I personally experience as more demanding. However, with this corset I will adjust my wearing time downward, or lace looser rather than to my normal level.

For waist-training students in my coaching program, I ask them to remain each day at a level of 6 or 7 on the pain scale of 1 (“piece of cake”) to 10 (excruciating pain). I think they should be challenged and the day should not be easy for them. However, for a social occasion or if not into waist training for permanent figure shaping and weight loss, then you might want to go easier on yourself and lace on most occasions to a level of 3, 4, or 5. Yes, I’m asking them and you to employ a totally subjective scale, but I want you to be in charge of your own comfort first and foremost since you know most about your body, not me, and not one other person in the world.Corset worn under clothing Marcia

mivasheriscarlettepink2Note that in Victorian times we know during the day that ladies changed into several corsets. During the day they wore a lighter weight or more-loosely laced corset. For evening affairs and to show off, they donned a more demanding style or size and laced much tighter, of course most likely, for shorter periods of time.

Just changing corsets during an extended time of corset wear, can give relief to the body. In addition, carrying a small fan in your purse or pocket can allow you to cool off if you experience any discomfort from an uncomfortable elevated body temperature caused by the corset, the climate, or smoky or close quarters . You can do the same to enhance your comfort.

TO GET THE BEST FIT AND COMFORT, DO I HAVE TO ORDER SEVERAL CORSETS?
Do you have to order more corset than one, especially if you have a limited budget ? That depends. We’ll address that particular  matter of quality in a future blog. Please remember this fact: corset makers in small and/or home businesses, don’t make a rich living, although they certainly can have a rewarding career. Corsets, especially custom corsets, are truly moderately priced, even “cheap” for the value delivered–if you wear it! If you don’t wear your corset, even one corset can be considered “expensive”. But if you wear it, then it can be an excellent investment over time, considering the detailed patterning, fabrication, construction time and attention, and artistic skill level for the price required to deliver quality and comfort.

CONCLUSION
In summary, I learned early on in my corset business and wear that how the corset is felt and experienced can differ from subtle to dramatic ways based on many factors, some not involving factors under my personal control such as  who makes the corset and their individual predilections for construction techniques, patterning, and other.  When I want and need comfort, I have a preferred maker, when I want a physical challenge, I have another maker in mind, when I want to create a not-in-your-face figure silhouette, I’ll go to another, and if I want artistic perfection in construction details or want to contribute detailed input into a more nuanced corset style or fit, I’ll seek out yet another.

I’ll approach the corset with a “zen” mind and positive anticipation, letting it do all the work in shaping my figure.  On any given day I’ll lace tighter or looser, or adjust the fit by opening up the top or bottom in back wider than the opposite edge of my corset. I’ll wiggle around when lacing down and often during the day employ the “lean-pull” process. I’ll adjust my lacing level according to messages my body sends me.

For most new corsets, there will not be many curves visible at your waistline when you place the corset on the table in order to open up the back laces and get ready to put it on, and it will feel stiff on the body once you put it on. If you give up, it will never become more comfortable. The corset boning will never mold to your body’s own curves as it will over time with wear. The fabric will never “ease” up a bit, although it should never truly stretch. And you will surely, and sadly, miss learning more about “corset magic!”

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Evaluating the Fit of a New Corset – Part II; Proper Torso Positioning of the Corset

As promised here are a few comments and illustrative photos answering questions regarding fit that clients sometimes send after receiving their new corset.  The focus of this blog is on positioning the corset properly on your torso in order to come to a fair and accurate conclusion. Some of these issues may seem obvious, but even to experienced corset-wearers, they sometimes are not.

FIRST, BE SURE YOU PUT YOUR CORSET ON RIGHT SIDE UP

Upside down overbust muslin; note bust cups at bottom edgeI can’t help but chuckle when I hear from a  corset client who insists that their fully-custom brand new corset doesn’t fit (and some get quite agitated over this alleged issue), only to find they had the corset on wrong side up!

If a client has a question regarding fit but cannot come to visit me in San Francisco, I always request jpg images of the corset from the front, side and back, so that I can have visual confirmation of any perceived problem. Over the years I have had five clients allege this problem (including one person well experienced in corset wear, pictured below right in the blue BR Creations corset; you can see the garter loops peeking out of the “upper” edge of the corset. That’s a dead giveaway that the corset is on upside down, right? But this client did not notice!). They  send images of their corset worn upside down, including one muslin fitting image pictured above left of an overbust corset! Look carefully and you can see the sweetheart or valentine shape of the bosom, at the bottom front edge of the corset!

I also remember encountering a rather smug young lady in the ladies room of a convention I was attending, wearing her overbust red leather corset upside down. Yes, it covered her bosom, but just barely, and the corset squished them quite flat. That was the first clue to me that she had it on upside down.

Then I noted the bottom edge of the front of the corset clearly evidencing bust cups with fabric model with upside down leather corsetwrinkly from the excess and jutting a bit away from her hips. I wanted in the worst way to get a picture of that strange site, but resisted. Instead I complimented her on the lovely leather in her corset, but gently suggested that she might want to turn the corset upside down on her torso to see if she could get a slightly better, more comfy fit….Another time at a corset fashion show I was sponsoring, one of my pretty models pictured right, came on stage wearing her Civil War pushup corset upside down. I had not been able to preview all models before they came out, and was rather horrified at the sight! I like to think no one in the audience noticed…

How else can you tell if a corset is “rightside” up? If your corset has a label, that is usually placed at the upper edge in the back. If you have a busk, the clip will be on the right side with the stud on the left side. Look at the blue corset to the right below, and you will see that the clip is on the left and the stud is on the right.

Blue BR upside downBut the busk might not tell the entire story, so be careful. I have had three different corset makers deliver a corset (two of the corsets, mine) with the busk installed opposite the norm, that is, with the clip on the left and stud on the right. That makes no technical or functional difference at all, and thus you should not be concerned, other matters being equal.

mivaflossingbrownYou will see pictured left,  my adorable longline Edwardian in brown linen, provided as an initial sample about four years ago by Jill on our ROMANTASY team. She’s an awesome young corset maker with superlative artistry and fit after some 8 or 9 years of experience making corsets.  To the right below is the second of my sample corsets by a student who had recently graduated from a fashion academy, but who never came onto our team. The third situation the  involved the very same thing by a corset maker having 22 years experience in the couture sewing business with about a quarter of that in making corsets.

Furthermore, I’ve seen a corset by Jean Paul Gaultier shown in Vogue magazine, showing exactly the same issue!!!! Did he make a mistake, or was this intentional? We’ll never know.

Will this kind of error be justification for you to ask for your money back? Most likely not andFront Anns it would be a waste of time to pursue litigation and a judge’s opinion, because the corset will function just fine, as said, and the issue would not really amount to a critical element of artistry, either.

It’s clearly no shame for a corset maker to install a busk in this fashion because of the above  points.

SECOND, POSITION THE CORSET CORRECTLY ON YOUR BODY/TORSO

What is “correct”? Neither too high nor too low from the waistline which is normally the narrowest part of your body -but not always!

mivatechwaisttoohighLook at images pictured of clients wearing their corsets too high on their torso. You can see that the bosom is being artificially elevated by the upper edge of the corset, and the tummy is much in evidence below the bottom edge. When they were advised to simply pull the corset down a wee bit, the tummy was properly covered andmivatechworntoohigh the fit became more comfy with less pressure on the lower ribs.

If you note this issue, take the corset off and put it on again but lower on your torso, or lean to one side and gently tug down (rather, breath air into your ribs) to lower the corset on your body. Be sure to keep the busk vertical in front.

Another friendly, wonderful, full-figured client from New Zealand, wrote that her new corset lower edge was touching her leg bend when she sat down, and thus, irritating her. She was sure that the corset was made too long vertically. However, I advised her to wait a bit and keep seasoning the corset, sit in a straighter-backed chair rather than slouch or lean on a couch, and also elevate the corset by a scant 1/2″ on her torso. Those steps solved the problem and she wrote back that the corset was indeed a perfect fit!

THIRD, LACE THE CORSET CORRECTLY ON YOUR TORSO

More times than not, what is “correct” for an initial lacing to test fit, will have the upper and lower edges of the corsetmivatechbeginninglacing in back a bit closer than you will be able draw in the waistline pictured right. Of course you may not be able to get the upper and lower edges closed as did the client pictured. A gap of 2-3″ at the top and bottom and a gap of 4-5″ at the waistline is not a problem but is to be expected in most cases.

mivatechtwistingbonescloseThus, the proverbially-advised “parallel gap” in back will not be immediately achievable until after a period of seasoning.  Just be sure you pull the waistline close enough to force the waistline boning flat against your back and not permit the bones to twist in the casings and dig in; ouch! See image pictured left.

I like to say that the back gap exists for you to “jigger” your lacing to provide the best fit over time, and best fit over time will likely vary by eighth and quarter inches. Even the most meticulously measured custom corset may result in a wee bit of upper edge “toothpaste,” but just opening up the upper edge by 1/4″ to 1/2″ might entirely make the issue disappear!. This is a much more advisable and reasonable solution to perceived “toothpaste”, rather than insist that your corset maker add more material to the upper edge, something they may not be willing to do since it constitutes a major, labor-intensive task. If you provided the measurements, then they may well and reasonably refuse to make such a change.

Furthermore, once you season the corset after 10-20 or more wearings, you might note some slimming of your torso and molding of the boning to your torso shape, and then if your upper edge of the corset has been expanded with more fabric added, the corset will become loose, also not a good problem to have.

May you really cinch down the corset to test the initial fit, closing down the upper and lower edges entirely? You may, and it might be easy to do, but then you will likely encounter that dread “toothpaste” problem. Recently I had a client send images of a corset she was convinced was made too big around the top and bottom edges. When I advised her to loosen up the top and bottom edges to allow a 2-3″ gap with a 4-5″ gap at the waistline during the seasoning process,  she did so and lo! The toothpaste issue disappeared as I had anticipated.

FOURTH, POSITION YOUR BOSOM CORRECTLY INSIDE THE CUP OF AN OVERBUST CORSET

Some time ago I had a Bay Area client who had ordered an 18th century corset, call me to say her corset we had mailed her, did not fit. The perceived problem was that her bosoms had disappeared.

She was close enough to come back for an in-person evaluation and  arrived with the corset on. I immediately saw the problem. She had not reached inside the cup to lift her bosoms heavenward, and I advised her to do so. Lo! There were the lovely ‘girls’ now properly positioned and looking fine.

Brides are appropriately concerned about presenting a perfect image on their wedding day. Not long ago a bride called me after her wedding to tell me that her corset had been a tiny bit loose at the top edge on her wedding day, but Proper and improper bosom positioning inside cup that had not constituted any real problem. However, I had taught her when she picked up the wedding corset, to practice and keep the gap parallel in back as she laced down. When she sent a back view photo, I saw that she had not pulled the upper edge of her corset tight enough to provide the firm bosom support she desired. Yet another bride was testing her corset before the wedding, and sent me the pictures to the right. Take a look at the far right image showing a poor bosom fit (very loose top). After I advised her to lace up, lean over, and pull up ‘the girls,’ she sent me the lovely image of a perfectly fit corset on the left.

In sum, if you think you have a fit or construction issue regarding a new corset, it’s far better to check the positioning of the corset on your torso, then ask questions of your corset maker first, not assume that the problem was due to a mistake on their part, and then be embarrassed by finding out that the mistake was yours in the first place. The point is, ask questions and work with your corset maker or business to first gather the facts and allow a reasonable amount of time for the corset to be analyzed and a response to be formulated by them. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you will be much more satisfied by this approach, than by rushing to judgment.

 

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Evaluating the Fit of a New Corset – Part I; Patience, Initial Lacing, and How to Approach Your Corset Maker

I’ve been working on updating Part II of my Corset Magic waist-training manual, and wanted to repeat some newly added information for you. Recently many folks have been asking about the topic, so here you go:

Post-Sale Evaluation of Fit and Quality

While you should expect quality in your custom corsets, beware of expecting more than any human can deliver. This is an issue I have confronted from time to time, one that requires delicate discussion so that customers have reasonable expectations. After all, your corset is made by a human being and not by a robot on a production line. Small variations are to be valued, not eschewed, because they demonstrate that your corset is hand- and machine-made custom for you. For example, you may expect neat, evenly spaced stitching, but taking a microscope to the stitch line to identify five that exceed the length of all others is clearly beyond the bounds of reason. Trust me, it’s been done.

In addition, you should note and remember a critical point: corsets never fit perfectly the first time you try them on. Never! While you can lace them tightly to test the initial fit for gross or notable irregularities or discomfort to discuss immediately with your corset maker, some of those might simply disappear after a few wearings or a few weeks of wearing your new corset, as fabric eases, boning takes on your torso shape, and your body become more accustomed to relaxing into the rigid garment rather than fighting it. A perceived discomfort may disappear, so don’t be too fast to judge.

Michie, my enthusiastic, full-figured client from New Zealand found that after two weeks of steadily  seasoning her corset six days a week, the initial discomfort she felt when she sat down (the side front bottom edge seemed initially to dig into her leg crease area), completely disappeared. We decided that the fabric had eased and the boning had molded better to her torso, plus she began choosing straighter-backed chairs and elevating the corset just 1/4″ higher on her torso upon our advice, rather than choosing  squishy couches in which to sit. Had she rushed off after the initial few days of wearing her corset to have the lower edge of her corset elevated by her corsetiere, that would have been an unnecessary expense for her, and likely would have  increased the risk that the side front of her tummy flesh might squish out the bottom edge.

As said, the best way to know what to expect regarding quality and consistency in production techniques is to see up-close-and-personal other examples of corsets made by your chosen corset maker before you order from him or her. The best way to judge how your individual body will adjust to a rigid corset and feel when wearing it for a few minutes or few days (but not weeks later), is to try one on, even a readymade size. What you see and what you try on, is, in most cases, what you should expect to get and how you should expect to initially feel when wearing your new corset.

But even then, you can’t be one hundred percent sure because that too, will change over time. Sorry, but it just cannot be specified with precision if the fit is perfect during the first week you receive your corset.  Every single individual “takes” to corseting individually! Some people will feel more breathless than others, some more bothered, some immediately more comfortable with the corset on than off. Some will sweat more and huff and puff more than others. Experience with corsetry makes a difference. Seasons of weather make the difference. The “monthlies” make the difference.

The point is, don’t give up on your new corset, and don’t jump to a complete conclusion the first few wearings of your corset. However, at the same time do not delay getting back to the corset maker to discuss your concerns or perceived problems with the corset quality of it, in order to find out if you really do have a basis for concern and possible amendment of your new corset, at the maker’s cost. Wait too long and the expense may be yours. ROMANTASY gives clients two weeks to test the fit and after that, we make repairs and adjustments at cost plus a bit that the client pays.

When questioning potential corset makers about their experience, or when discussing what you perceive to be problems, do give the maker the courtesy of reasonable time to sort out the facts, analyze the alleged problem, perhaps examine the actual corset on your body in jpg pictures or in real time, and respond appropriately in a reasonable time.  “Reasonable” might be a few weeks or even a month, depending.

I know it’s frustrating to think you have waited what might seem like an inordinate amount of  time for your corset, and have paid more than enough for it. However, you want your issue resolved and the corset maker to do the right thing by you, right? Thus, there is seldom, if ever, justifiable cause for you to discuss your concerns in haste with anger and distrust. That is likely to get you nowhere, especially when dealing with a very small businessperson who might have less to lose by ignoring your temper tantrums than you have to gain by engaging in them.

Sure you can sue, but is the cost of your money and time truly worth it, versus having a reasonable discussion with the maker to see what can be done? Sure you can easily “trash” the reputation of a maker on Yelp reviews or other — but do you really want to risk getting a reputation as an unreasonable client to be avoided by other makers if you move on to order from another business? The corset community is very small and word gets around quickly not only about unprofessional corsetieres, but also about high-maintenance clients who should be avoided.

Remember too, How to test fit of corset bottom edgeyou will never know the full facts on the other side of your complaint, especially regarding a craftsperson working alone in a home workshop, tending to all the vicissitudes of life just as you are. Try to have a bit of compassion and patience as you sort out the fit of a new corset, and I guarantee you that you will be well rewarded  99 percent of the time. The goal after all is to get what you need, right? and not just to ruin someone Example how corset will fit initiallyelse’s day and also not get what you need.

While these aren’t the only issues to check regarding proper fit of a new corset, they are the initial two issues to consider. Pictured above left is the technique to test the fit of the bottom edge. You should always be able to get eight fingers under the bottom (and top) edge of your corset in order to avoid flesh squishing out the bottom or side under your corset. The back gap should be more or less parallel, perhaps closer at the top and bottom of the corset wider at the waistline in a new corset as you season it. Pictured right is how the initial lacing of a new corset might look from the back view.

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How much is enough, when it comes to lacing down?

Just how much waistline restriction to order in a new corset presents a challenge to be sure! What I’m talking about is, how many inches or half-inches below your snug natural waist size, should the corset close down to once you get it entirely laced closed top to bottom?

Without doubt parts of that answer have to do with your experience in corseting, how much discomfort you can bear, your waist measurement, the style of the corset and more. However, based on 23 years in this speciality business fitting custom corsetry on most likely over 8000 clients more or less, some wonder why it is that there is no precise answer as to how tightly they can ultimately lace in a corset they have ordered?

There’s simply no easy answer and the ubiqutous “four inches” you read about on many websites is not even a good “rule of thumb”–not even for corset newbies. It’s far better to discuss your needs with a knowledgeable corsetiere or educator who will take your individual situation, measurements, and goals into consideration in coming up with advice.

If I advise too much restriction when the corset closes down in back after a period of seasoning and getting used to wearing it, then the problem seen below will or may likely result: bowing out at the waistline of the boning in the center back. Ouch! I’ve even made that mistake in one of my personal corsets, a favored pink broche corset by Ruth Johnson, still one of my treasures! Sadly I chose to wear that one when brand new, to a Bridal Faire where ROMANTASY had a display. Since I had to staff  the booth all day and could not leave to change corsets or clothes, I had to bear up as those pesky bones torqued and began a day of digging in. I had not practiced enough, I had chosen a corset with too much of a back gap, I had eaten too much breakfast, I had plumped up in the recent past — whatever reason it was and even tho I was an experienced corset wearer, I had a huge problem! It was a sad lesson learned.

mivatechtwistingbonescloseRecently a client who is a tight lacer and received a sterling, well-made new corset, wrote about the same problem, pictured here. When I told her about my own experience and suggested this might be the cause of the problem, she replied:

Here are the pictures of the back of the corset. Based on what you said below I think I figured out the issue. First, my corset is an 18″ isn’t it? I had it closed to about 21.5″ and there’s still 2-2.5″ gap in the back. I vaguely recall a debate between getting the 20″ or 18″…the 18’s I have at home were from a period when I was over-thin, a good 10-15 lbs lighter. That’s probably why I was able to wear them without this issue cropping up. I hadn’t actually trained down to 20″ then on to 18″, which I’m guessing is the better way to do it in this case to preserve the boning and fabric. As you should be able to see, the boning lies flat at top and bottom, only bowing in the middle. I’ll see if I can find a comfortable middle ground that leaves the top and bottom edges more open until I get the waist whittled down a bit. Is my assessment about right, or completely off?”
As an aside, I’m not quite sure why my client wasn’t wearing the smooth, boned back protector in this picture, because that pads the back and makes corset-wearing more comfortable, and I see that perhaps to show off the problem, she pulled the lacing cords around front. However, we advise not to tie a corset in front as the cording will eventually wear away the surface fabric.
mivatechtwistingwaistlinebonesOf course she was right. I had had a similar client, absolutely sure that he could tolerate five inches when laced closed in back of his new corset, who once he put on and wore his corset for a few times, called me in evident and great distress. He was convinced that I had mis-advised him and he excoriated me roundly. Perhaps I should have put my foot down when he ordered, but I didn’t in face of his protests. At least  he couldn’t say I hadn’t warned him, since at that time of order,  I had advised a maximum close of four inches.
The best advice I can give is trust your experienced corsetmaker to use his or her best judgment on your behalf, and if you must err, err on the side of caution and perhaps 1/2″ to 1″ less tight than you might think. It’s a matter of not wanting your eyes to be bigger than your tummy — so to speak! I’ll always attempt to give you my best opinion based on my 23 years in business, neither exaggerating the possibilities but also not promising perfection. Corset and corset-wearing is a living, breathing (so to speak) work-in-process and results are always highly individual.

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ABC-TV’s Program “20/20″ – tentatively to air Friday, Oct. 12 on corset waist training–don’t miss it!

We were happy recently to be invited to participate in research and filming for a segment on the “20/20″ show,  possibly with a general theme of body modification.  Check your local ABC-TV station schedules for time, if you are a corset enthusiast and care to see how the national media portrays this fascinating and effective process.

We were pleased that reporter Deborah Roberts who interviewed owner Ann, accepted a lovely training corset seen here. The corset was made for her by team member Jill Hoverman.  Roberts is now testing the waist-training process personally as she goes about her active professional life style in New York City, and is making a video diary of her observations and reactions.

One lesson she learned early on when following the gradual daily lacing program we developed for her, was about the importance of paying attention to the body and adjusting her program to remain in the comfort zone.  We asked her to report back to us on reactions,  and early on, she notified us that she developed skin tingling, and was puzzled about the cause as well as asked if this was “normal.”

As we said to her, this reaction is or may be a natural consequence for some folks when they first change from stretchy modern clothing to structured garments that remain basically immobile. If you sit for long periods of time when snugly laced, this allows a structured, stiff garment to press down on tender skin and even on the underlying bone structure, namely, the ribs.  You are then restricting the flow of blood to the skin, and over time, usually during the initial days, some tingling and rib soreness when you take the corset off, may result.  Skin itching is another common reaction, especially if you wear your corset in hot climates.

Rib soreness is exactly what our present training student Heather seen to the right  (also featured on the “20/20″ show), experienced when she first began training. After a day of only 4 hr.-corseting at a 2″ waist reduction, she noted some tenderness over her lower ribs in both front and back. By the fourth or fifth day, the soreness was more notable, but not painful. We suggested she take two ibuprofen no more than four times a day for a week, but persist in her program. By today the end of her second week of training, Heather reports that the soreness has substantially abated and is almost gone.

For some students who report tingling or soreness, we might recommend backing off lacing by 1/2″, or even reducing the day’s wearing time by one hour. We made that recommendation to Roberts.  However, we kept Heather’s original wearing program in place because– in contrast to some of our past students–  she is a highly motivated student who is also pleasantly curvy. Thus, she is a bid “padded” over the bony ribs, suggesting that the issue would soon disappear.

What reporter Robert’s and Heather’s reactions confirm is the wisdom of both Victorian and knowledgeable modern-day corseters who know that corset waist training does not take five minutes! It takes a wee bit of patience, willingness to listen to your body’s reactions and respect them, and adjust your program downward, yet persist in building up to long hours of wear before lacing tighter by a small amount, and then dropping back the hours of wear. We call that the ‘roller coaster’ method of training.

We’ve just updated our training manual, “Corset Magic: A Fun Guide to Trim Your Waist and Figure”, by re-designing the new cover page (courtesy of Heather’s graphic artist skills, which are prodigious, cover soon to be released),  added a new section on pre-training (developed with former student, Bret), and updated recent research on obesity, nutrition, and corseting results. Clients who have already purchased a book, may email us for a gratis copy of the updated version:

http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=book01&Category_Code=moc

We’re always happy to receive comments on your experience when waist training, or help you with a new training corset order by one of the experienced corsetieres on our team:

http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=ccel

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