Alien Invasion of “Wannabe” Corsets – A Rant

I just submitted this article to McPete Sez, an online newsletter for the wholesale lingerie trade. I thought I would share it with my blog visitors as a word to the wise if you are shopping for a suitable waist-training corset. As said at the end, “caveat emptor!” 

Alien Invasion of “Wannabe” Corsets Follows Market Explosion of Inferior Costumes
by Ann Grogan, Proprietress, ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry (

As a designer, producer, educator, and corset enthusiast dedicated for 18 years to bringing top quality tight-lacing custom corsetry to market, I write to join my lamentations to those of your reader who complained in your last McPete Sez issue about the inferior quality of costumes flooding the market. I congratulate her for including details. This will certainly alert store lingerie buyers (I used to be one when ROMANTASY had a retail lingerie boutique rather than online custom corset business with personal fittings in San Francisco) about specific defects to keep an eye on and discuss openly with sales reps when attending lingerie shows.

I only add my caution to buyers at such shows who may also see samples of what I call “wannabe” corsets of dubious quality, also now flooding the wholesale marketplace, especially during the past two years. I’m not speaking about corsets by Vollers or Axfords, both English manufacturers with long and superior reputations regarding quality of their wholesale corsets. For readymade corsets, theirs seem to have the best possible fit using good-quality English fabrics, and selling at the most reasonable prices.

Of course, I think ROMANTASY’s single wholesale corset-cincher, the Simple Pleasures, is an even better buy, so please inquire about whosesale purchase:

I’m complaining about almost illiterate email solicitations I receive about two or three times per month and growing, obviously emanating from certain non-English speaking countries, touting readymade wholesale corsets. I’m always surprised at the obvious lack of research in this shotgun approach: it’s entirely wasted effort on their part because aside from our Simple Pleasures cincher and one other by corsetiere Sue Nice,

our team of multiple and multiply-talented corsetieres:

 have always specialized in made-to-measure corsetry and corsetry ensembles.

I am however, more than surprised when I examine images nearly always appended to these new e-solicitations or marketing pieces, or visit the websites mentioned. In all cases garments are produced in Thailand, Pakistan, and less frequently, in China. I’m certain about my conclusions when I see the actual garments ordered by clueless lingerie buyers for sale in lingerie or specialty stores by equally clueless salespeople, or sold by sister vendors at exhibits I attend.

Not to leave out department stores in my rant. For example, several years ago I saw pictured a lovely corset by designer Stella McCartney, for sale at Nordstroms, perhaps my favorite department store. I called for details, but the salesperson to whom I spoke was completely flummoxed and had no idea if the boning was steel or rigiline, or what I meant when I used the term “busk”. On another occasion upon arrival at my Christmas relief job in the lingerie department of Neiman Marcus, I closely examined a new designer-label “corset” displayed proudly on a manikin, with bones poking out of split seams, edges rolling over, fabric bunching at the waistline, and elastic side gussets obliterating any possible figure-shaping ability of this–gulp– $1300 “corset”!

To be specific about these ubiquitous so-called “corsets” and so your readers know what else to keep an eye on, I am routinely shocked by: (1) inferior, loosely-woven and stretchy fabrics that will soon fray or shred, (2) poor quality lining, if any, (3)  uneven stitch length and wobbly stitch lines creating uneven tension leading to stitches popping, (4) wide bone casings permitting bones to turn and dig in during wear (ouch!), and (5) inartistic, non-matching vertical lengths of pattern pieces in front or back, also leading to torquing.

Even worse, these “wannabes” nearly always create the ubiquitous “U-shape” at the waistline when worn. Thus, as the generally uneducated and unwitting wearer laces down, the bottom edge presses down on her anterior femoral nerve and sooner rather than later will lead to dangerous numbness in her hips and legs, not to mention the inevitable squishing out and lumping of flesh in the tummy and derriere below the garment’s bottom edge.

I might not be so livid about this alien invasion if I didn’t know about the conclusive, fact-based, and medically-affirmed advisability of the hourglass corset shape to place even pressure around the entire torso for comfort, safety, and hygiene (less skin wrinkling and trapping of moisture).

And I’m saddened because I know the consumer is the only one to lose in the end–errrr, or, “in the waistline”–since these inferior corsets technically can tolerate no or very little waistline reduction, yet will certainly raise unrealistic expectations of substantial figure shaping, good fit, comfort, and durability that the product will surely not deliver. Because sales are not accompanied by adequate or accurate verbal or written consumer information and full disclosure about the limits of the garment, how it may compare to a real custom corset, or how to properly wear, fit, and care for the garment, sales of “wannabe” corsets perpetuate non-factual, incorrect, and antiquated prejudices against real, custom-fit corsets.

More’s the pity because custom corsets, or even high quality, well patterned readymade corsets chosen wisely for fit, will not pinch, dig in, roll over, bunch up, torque, twist, rip, reveal bones, and shred with only a few wearings. Caveat emptor!



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

3 responses to “Alien Invasion of “Wannabe” Corsets – A Rant

  1. Sarah

    I have been a client of Romantasy for over 7 years. The corset makers that work for Romantasy are superb. When I researched and tried on various corsets over 7 years ago, I wanted a corset, now over 4 in my collection, that would last me more than a few months. I found excellent, sturdy, long-lasting corsets with Romantasy. Ann has been superb in helping me make the right choice with the particular style and fabric.

  2. Cristina

    Great Ann, i love your words!!!
    Finally someone speak about, all costumers have to read this post!!!
    I think Stella Mc Cartney use 6 mm steel bones, they make a lot of wedding gowns too! And no busk; here in Italy, for example, all the people doesn’t know what is busk (and I don’t mean the historical busk, but the modern with hooks) when you want to buy one, we have only one seller that produces it, the same where Cavalli buys; for the rest, nothing.
    Great, great Ann, fabulous post! And compliments to Sue 😉
    Lot of hugs

  3. My dearest Ann– You may recall that while I was waiting for Sharon’s corset, I bought one off Ebay. I was glad that I did because within a week of wearing, it was stretched out and in bad shape. Why was I glad? Because I would appreciate Sharon’s fine work when it arrived! It was stiff, but I knew that it was meant to last while I got used to it.

    Corsets are like figure skates. When I was competitive, I had to wear custom made skates and I still need them because they offer me support where I need it. Off the shelf skates just don’t support where they need to and they are constructed to not last more than a few wearings which is fine if you are not landing double axles and executing flying camels. Off the peg corsets are meant to be worn a few times for your honey, then cast aside, not for living in.

    I think that there will always be a market for the wear’em and rip’em off off-the-peg-corsets, just like there will be one for not-so-great figure skates. Remember that the bad ones will leave people frustrated and Googling Romantasy!

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