READYMADE CORSETS VS. CUSTOM ONES: I’m sometimes torn when asked or told that a potential client of our custom work, is going to purchase a readymade corset first, in order to “test the waters.” At least one blogger who is generally spot on when it comes to corsets and how to properly wear them, discussed this topic on a recent blog (www.lucycorsetry.com):
“If I hadn’t started my corset journey by purchasing an OTR piece, I would have never considered supporting individual makers.
- When I saw OTR websites which showed young models wearing corsets paired with their street clothes, it helped desensitize me to the idea that a corset could be used in as an “outerwear” fashion accessory.
- The hassle-free exchange/return policies that came with these standard-sized corsets (which does not exist for custom corsets) gave me the courage to purchase my first corset, since I’m a committment-phobe when it comes to spending large sums of money.
- It was by purchasing several brands of corsets that I came understand that not all corsets are constructed the same, and that there existed a relevant price-quality connection.
If OTR corsets had never existed, I would have never been able to justify commissioning a top-quality, truly fitted, non-returnable bespoke piece. I found it just made more sense to “learn to drive on a cheaper car, before springing for the Ferarri.” And I’m not alone in this mode of thinking.”
I’m one of those whom Lucy mentions earlier in the post, who doesn’t necessarily agree with her. That’s in part because I don’t think that corsets need ever be worn outside of clothing as a fashion garment to convince others to try them, and in any case, custom web businesses today show most corsets worn that way, simply in order to display their work, quality, and fit. In addition, ROMANTASY has a special web page with moving gifs to show corsets worn as foundation wear and how they improve posture and the shape of the body: http://romantasy.com/index.html?BodyURL=ZXQ/second-level-pages/before-and-after-photos.html
Why not accustom one’s eyes to the best in and the variety of fit and figure silhouettes with custom corsetry worn as outer or inner wear? Most common in readymade corsets is that U-shaped silhouette seen here in an imported, extremely cheap but lovely eye candy, readymade corset (sent to me to procure wholesale orders). This silhouette pressing down on the hip bone in these longer, overbust styles can result in pinching and possible nerve numbness, however, it’s replicated in many readymade corsets, but is only one of about five main silhouettes possible to achieve in a custom corset. http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=Basic+Figure+Silhouettes&Category_Code=cgi
What constitutes a “large” sum of money depends upon the budget of the individual and how you judge the product. If you purchase a $69 readymade corset and it doesn’t fit, pinches the hipbone, or fabric shreds and bones poke out of binding sooner rather than later, how good of an investment is that? Of course, if you purchase a $500 custom corset and don’t wear it — admittedly that suggests the same question. But if you do purchase a $500 corset even if you have to delay purchase in order to save up for the deposit (usually equal to just half of the purchase price at most corset businesses), if it fits well, is comfy, and lasts for the typical 10 to 20 years depending on the rate at which you ear it and how you wear and care for it — well, that is certainly a wise investment over time.
But the point that convinces me that trying readymade corsets first before trying custom is not the best choice for most, is the huge number of clients who do that, then return to me expressing dissatisfaction with their purchase for the reasons stated above. They feel they have truly wasted their money. Another thing that convinces me are the repetitive comments I hear about how truly wonderful a custom made well-fitting corset is.
I say it’s like comparing applies to oranges — it can’t be done. Some may want to dip their toe in the water of corseting first with readymade corsets, but I claim that is not at all the same thing as purchasing custom. Thus the experience with a readymade corset be it good, bad, or indifferent, is not at all relevant to the goal of learning about custom corsetry and the differences they provide from readymade corsetry.
As for return policies, were small, custom corset businesses and artisans well-financed and their coffers running over from multiple sales of products quickly made or mass produced — well, then those businesses could and should support a liberal return policy as do many large corporate department stores. The fact is, most can’t afford that, and do require some responsibility on the parts of their custom clients to ask questions and do a bit of homework to fully understand what they are ordering and why, and get the measurements correct to begin with.
Many who contact us are surprised that such small hand-on personalized corset design/purveying businesses such as ROMANTASY and its three active corsetieres, make in the neighborhood of $10 per hour for their labors and it’s been that way for eons for most similar businesses. Not to mention the huge amount of time that such corset businesses spend on pre-sale education of potential customers and post-sale instructions, first dissuading the caller from ancient prejudices against the corset and convincing him or her that to invest in quality is actually “pound wise” if it at first it seems only “penny foolish.”
We love the saying we post on our blog by the English writer John Ruskin:
“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”
So should you or should you not purchase a readymade corset? Some of our clients do so before and/or after they purchase a custom corset at ROMANTASY or elsewhere. But to my mind, the wisest of them purchase the readymade corset for different purposes and occasions (usually play or for costume wear) — not to find out if they will like a custom corset, not to be able to pursue serious waist training with it (such usually won’t work for that purpose as the fit is not that great), and not expecting it to be fully representative of a custom garment.