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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8 Comments

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

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

  1. Another excellent article, Ann! I can’t say how many people have written me to say that their corsets (either made by me or another completely different maker I’ve never dealt with before) don’t fit properly. I always tell them to give it time and wear it in. One of two things usually happen – they do season the corset properly and they are usually happy with the fit, or they immediately give up and shove the corset into the back of their closet without even attempting to properly season it. In my humble opinion, those looking for instant gratification are probably not suited to corseting in the first place.

    • Hi Lucy,

      There are so many things that can be said about evaluating fit of a new corset, that choosing where to start was difficult for me. A basic principle that corsetiere Sue Nice taught me many years ago, is that a new corset never, ever fits properly, and that with wearing and proper seasoning, almost any corset will become more and more comfortable and fit better and better. It’s part of that elusive, difficult-to-describe “corset magic” that we both love to talk about.

      I am always so sad to encounter former clients years later and inquire if they are still enjoying their corset, only to be told that “it was so stiff and tough to wear or put on by myself that I just put it on the shelf.” To which I always say, “it will always be stiff and tough to wear and difficult to don unless you practice; please take it out and give it a fair try once more!”

      I’ve learned not to rush to repair and amend corsets from clients who feel that initially their corset don’t seem to fit right. I require the client to email me torso photos front, side and back views, and continue seasoning it, so that I can help them evaluate a pesky fit. More times than I can tell you, the corset was on upside down, or placed too high on the torso so that the lower belly hung out. Merely explaining how to lean to one side, gently tug down on the other and reverse, pulls the corset down and places the waistline in the narrowest part of the torso, improving overall fit.

      It’s as if some corset clients are a bit too enthusiastic and expect perfection from the git-go, part of the “instant gratification” approach as you say. Corseting doesn’t work that way. I can see the issue coming down the pike during in-person fittings when I put a sample corset on the client and immediately he or she starts criticizing the fit and how they look in the mirror — before I even begin to lace them down. It always amuses me, but I use it as a ‘teachable moment” one might say…doing my best to ultimately add another educated corset enthusiast to our ranks. Carry on Lucy with your similar, great pursuits!

  2. Susan Harter

    I think I have been lucky in that the few corsets I have which are off the rack have helped me with what I wanted them to do, which was posture and support. I was surprised when my leg pain went away, that had not been expected. I am also aware that there is only so much a bit of fabric and metal can do. One day I will get a custom corset.

  3. Pingback: Break in (season) my corset with me! | Lucy's Corsetry

  4. Claire

    Reblogged this on adventuresincorsetry and commented:
    an excellent guide here from Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry regarding the fit of a new corset, and why you shouldn’t be too hasty to have it altered when it doesn’t seem to fit upon first wear.

  5. Totally Waisted!

    Wonderfully written article. It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago: upon receiving her garment, a client sent me an email professing her love for it, so imagine *my* surprise when I logged into an online corsetry community to find my reputation being called into question over a perceived fit issue. It was both horrifying yet oddly rewarding experience to see such honest, critical feedback (the vast majority of the feedback was positive about my quality, and the overarching response was for her to “break it in”), and while it was detrimental to my business for a couple of years, in the end–while I never received a formal apology from the client–I did come across an article she wrote proclaiming my corset to be one of the best in fit that she owned (after she *gasp* broke it in!)

    Corsets absolutely need to be properly seasoned and moulded to fit the client. I’ve been wearing my product daily for nearly 10 years, and my favourite pieces are the ones I’ve had for about 5+ years!

  6. This is very educational, fantastic!
    I will be warning future clients about the seasoning aspect, and i also like the idea of giving them some time to season and then adjusting the corset for a more personal fit.
    Even better – one of the client examples is from New Zealand where I am,
    so it should make the ladies feel a bit more empathetic when i send them to this article.
    I also appreciate the mention of the corsetmaker working from home and having all the other normal life chores> we definately arent magic money making machines!

  7. since this is my 1st visit to your website, i simply wished to say greetings! wonderful website incidentally. lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email

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