Category Archives: Custom Corsets Suitable for Waist Training

More on Corset Durability

HOW LONG DOES A CUSTOM CORSET LAST?  The answer has a lot to do with care.

Corset by Sue for ROMANTASYWe like to say that a custom corset is strong yes, but it is not a Mac Truck! To get the best value for your investment of some hundreds of dollars, you best treat the garment with respect as a start.

Here’s a gorgeous corset by our former team member Sue Nice, delivered to our client Megan in early December, 2006. Owner Megan is an entertainer who wears the corset regularly to perform. The corset is almost nine years old and she returned it to us but not for repair; the corset is in great shape and obviously, has been well treated. She wanted us to add some pizzazz (see the silver braid trims and bow added). Here is what she told us about her perspective on corsets and care:

“A corset is a key piece of apparel. Not only is it highly functional, but its appearance matters to your overall aesthetic as well. It can create a sophistication of appearance that no other garment I know of can. You look complete. That’s why I see it as a key feature of my vampire look. You look composed and controlled.

“Now, vampires, in the old folklore, were blood maddened beasts with a hunger for the vitality of the living via blood, so what better contrast could there be between such a creature – a beast, really – and the refinement/ poise of a corseted figure? Vampire fiction sprang during the Victorian period, noted for corsetry, when everyone and everything was to be controlled in some way. Just as the vampire is a metaphor for losing control simply to survive, the corset is a symbol of that controlled nature.

“Not only does it look good, and have plenty of health benefits (my bad back loves my corset), but corsets can symbolize so much. With so many benefits, why abuse it? If it does so much for you, why can’t you do even a little for it?”


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Musing about “Custom” and Dementia

I would like to introduce a discussion about dementia and corseting. How can such a connection exist between those two? Easy.

My trusty New York Times Style Magazine from this past Sunday had an article  “Remembrance of Things Lost” by Walter Kirn. Mr. Kirn opined about the changes that have come to methods of remembering, to his family and to his friends with the advent of social media,  joy sticks,  iPhones, and Instagrams. He mentioned a University College London study on the alleged “contribution of technology to early dementia.” Those hooked into the new technologies fail to exercise their memories and brains, letting devices do all the recording, communicating, and connecting for them.

Not all that surprising.

I also loved another NYT Magazine  article, “The Enigma of Haute Couture.” Just this weekend I was cleaning out and organizing files, and found an article I had written in 1998 for publication in a small local San Francisco newspaper, on how clients did not understand the concept of “custom.” In those days in my boutique when they came to order a custom corset, but tried on a sample corset in a standard size, they often commented: “but this doesn’t fit me,” or “the hips stick out”. They failed to understand that this was only a fit sample, that their corset would be personally measured and made  to fit their body as nearly perfectly as our corset maker could humanly produce.

Or, they inquired on email:  “I want it to be as long as X corset pictured on your website”. They clearly did not understand that we couldn’t do that. Nor can we today. What we can do is make their corset as long as the specific measurement they send me to make it for their body.

It’s the same today, some  17 years later.

I still receive the same comments. Clients don’t understand that a pictured corset on someone else (a client or a model) might not look the same and likely won’t look the same, when the client wears his or her own custom corset. It will look like the client’s body but made a bit more svelte and shapely than before corseting. Still it will look like the client’s body and not my model’s body — and a corset certainly won’t “disappear” flesh or fat as some seem to expect.

The Times raised the issue of, is this kind of couture made-to-measure fashion “a treasure, or a relic”? He opts for treasure, and so do I.

But it’s a relevant question because as the writer opined, “ready-to-wear has superficially co-opted couture’s dazzling techniques and it’s sumptuous materials.”

Similarly, ready-to-wear corsets popularly called “OTC” corsets, have done the same to the custom-made corset business. A new custom corset client recently sent me a picture of her first OTC corset made in Pakistan. It was very curvy and well-proportioned in a lovely hourglass silhouette for her full figure. I’m hoping for her permission soon to post the picture.

But the curvy silhouette she showed me in her OTC corset was news to me. A few years ago OTC corsets were produced mainly with the U-silhouette or a tubular silhouette,  more or less shaped like the red corset shown to the right. That silhouette and the shorter vertical front are not good or healthy choices for waist training corsets suitable for fuller figures.  The problem is evident in the picture!OTC too short

The same problem appeared for my client, that is,  the corset was too short on the bottom half and did not cover or push inward her lower belly. The problem  resulted in pooching her belly outward under the bottom hem. Not good. Not custom. Not like her custom corset will look or fit on my client’s torso when it is delivered in a few more weeks.

You can see another example below left, appearing even in a fully custom corset, and resulting from the client sending in too short of a vertical measurement from the waist down. This otherwise lovely blue silk dragon BR Creations corset was just a bit too short to adequately control this client’s tummy. So the problem does not inhere solely in OTC corsets. It takes thinking, it takes research, and it takes careful measurements to come up with a good fit in a custom corset, certainly more than a ‘point-and-click’ kind of purchase. That it might take a few shekels more than OTC make sense especially when you consider the wisdom in the old saying of a “being penny wise and pound foolish.”

Sidefront too shortThe NYT writer said that couture exits “because it represents true luxury”.  That’s part of its charm and the “very reason for its existence” he says.

Maybe, if he is thinking of  haute couture from Paris, or luxe silk evening gowns in flowing fabrics and designs.  But a custom corset is not really high priced nor a luxury for anyone into serious waist training, or into moving downward to an ever-tighter restriction and long hours required for more advanced waist training.

A social media commentator blog recently solicited corset companies online who offer fully custom corsetry for under $400, and she came up with a nice list of multiple businesses, including ROMANTASY.  For quality, for durability, for many pounds of pressure to be put on fabric and stitching in tight-lacing, $400 is cheap for almost any budget and not a luxury at all, but a necessity in our opinion.

What the writer concluded was that couture thrives in part because it “represents the value of having the time to stop and smell the roses, or sew them onto a Chanel wedding gown, as 15 women did this past December. That took a month.”

And so does quality custom corset construction take a month or more — usually more, when it is made at least at ROMANTASY by one and not 15 people. That one corset maker is a superbly skilled craftsperson and artisan of corsetry who is juggling a micro business based at home to produce a non-fungible garment. It takes patience.

More’s the pity that so many still come to us wanting quick fixes for figures out of control (and how long did it take them to get out of control?), quick production times, desiring to “hurry up and start waist training tomorrow” —  and wanting me to tell them what to order.

We fervently hope that our massively-reorganized website in March just past, at,

(1) points visitors quickly and easily to what corset styles and fabrics are best for waist training,

(2) specifies how to evaluate design options and find the measurement form, and

(3) explains the differences between our corsetmaking team of three. Please visit us to see our changes.

But change at ROMANTASY still does not mean instant gratification of those who wish to waist train or do business with us and take advantage of our twenty-five years in the corset design, education and purveying business.

It does mean and still require time for them to stop and smell the custom corset roses, appreciate the luxury of being individually served in a very old-fashioned, personal manner, and enjoy the entire process of becoming a true corset enthusiast. As one person quoted in the NYT article said, those creating your garment “become emotionally invested” in what they do for you, and I might add, our corset makers take great pride in their craft and want to remain at the top of their skill level and profession.

The process itself and the time it takes might not be dazzling and it certainly is not fast — but you’ll be treated with respect at many micro-custom corset businesses today, and you  might even grow to adore how special you begin to feel, and what a treasure will result–one that will likely last you for years and years of pleasurable wear.

And at least, our corset makers won’t be contributing to dementia!







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Basic LIne Corset -The Bella- by Jill Hoverman for ROMANTASYC O R S E T   R A F F L E   I N

J A N U A R Y !!

To celebrate an amazing 25 years in the corset purveying, waist-training, and education business, we want to support an excellent battered women’s shelter in San Francisco, Case de las Madres. This program  shelters battered women and children of all ages and races in 36 beds in our Mission District. The shelter is 38 years old and receives half funding from the City, but also has to raise half funding.Basic LIne Corset -The Bella- by Sharon Mccoy Morgan for ROMANTASY

Please consider sending us a check to 2912 Diamond St., San Francisco 94131 made out to “ROMANTASY” or call 415 587-3863 and give us a credit card for a $25 entry fee to our raffle of a lined Basic Line underbust Victorian or Edwardian in your choice of fabric with any reasonable decoration at no extra cost (a value of from $200 to $250). ALL RAFFLE ENTRANCE FEES WILL BE DONATED TO THE CASA; NONE WILL BE HELD BACK!

Enter by 5 pm PST on January 30 with our drawing on that day at or about 6 pm and notification a day later as to our winner.25th anniversary of ROMANTASY.4

The Basic Line provides an excellent maintenance corset or sleep corset if you have already trained down in a heavier duty one from our Fundamental or Elegant Lines of Corsetry. It’s suitable to remind you to maintain good posture, to wear in hot weather (it’s a bit lighter but still fully custom!), and for more comfy fashion fit. Check it ou here:

If you win you may select Jill or Sharon as your preferred corsetiere, and send us email with details of the decorations you desire.

Yes, maintaining your waistline will likely require “maintenance corseting”, either in periodic shorter periods of serious waist training, or in wearing a lighter weight corset 2 to 3 times per week, perhaps only sleeping in it. yes, maintaining your waistline also requires common sense and moderation in eating and exercise life styles. Nearly all of my former training coaching students have gained some weight back but only a very very few have rebounded entirely, usually from undue pressure and stress that happened after training was successfully completed.

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Rushing – Not a Good Idea!

My blog topic today is, hurry.

I hate hurry. Always have. I drove my mom crazy when I was in grammar school. I would sit on the edge of my bed when I should have been dressing myself after breakfast, pick up a good book, and get lost in it until mom rushed in, invariably yelling at me in words to the effect: “Get ON with it Ann, get yourself dressed or we’ll be late to school!”

Bottom line? Hurry doesn’t work when it comes to corseting. Or waist training. Period.

Recently I had a very curvy client write back with some sad news. She had damaged her brand new corset. But how?

We shipped out her new corset on Oct. 4, received by her about Oct. 6 when she started the seasoning process. Her snug natural waist was 39″ and we made her corset to close down in back 8″ to 31″. Our written instructions and our verbal ones to her at a personal consultation, were extremely specific as to how tightly to properly season a new corset. We told her how to  measure, how to lace down to start, and how long each wearing occasion or day to wear the corset in order to properly season it, so as not to damage the fabric and cause harm to a new corset. We specifically told her that no matter if she felt comfy and felt she could lace it completely closed early on, she must not, in order to protect her investment.

When she told us she intended to wear her new corset at a conference shortly after receipt of it, we told her it was suitable to lace it tightly for the conference days, but only for a “few hours,” then release the laces and return to the noted seasoning schedule. Apparently she did not take our advice seriously.

We heard back that no less than 12 days later at a conference she attended, she had completely closed down the corset in back top to bottom and wore it both days, about 14 hrs per day — and a stud popped off the busk and a waistline seam stitching split about one inch in length.

Not surprising, and it has nothing to do with poor quality construction or materials.

She had the new corset for 12 days. Assuming that she put in say, two wearing sessions a day, that is, one in the morning, then removed the corset and put in one wearing session in the evening, of two to max, three hours each session, she would have worn the corset just 24 times before her conference. Our specified program would at that time have her wearing the corset for 2-3 hrs a day at an over corset measurement of 35.5″ (under corset 34.3) . Yet she closed down completely for 14 hrs two days in a row to 32″ (under corset 31″).

That’s a 3.5″ hurry-up that resulted in a mini-disaster.

Our client is convinced that she “followed instructions and properly seasoned the corset.” The facts show that she did not. Therefore she will foot the bill for the corset to be opened up and the stitch line repaired and reinforced and reshipped to her, to start again. This time we hope she will follow instructions.

Rushing the seasoning process for a new corset on almost every occasion, will be a highly risky venture. So too, will rushing waist training be highly risky in terms of potential success.

Every time (note: EVERY) that a client contacts me wanting to “rush” an order beyond the typical 1-3 month production time in order to “hurry up and let me start waist training”, that person has not followed thru on the order, or on the three-month program of coaching we sponsor. Too much enthusiasm, too much optimism, and the client is doomed to fail. That experience led me a year or so ago to omit the option of ordering a corset “rush” for an additional fee.

Today ROMANTASY will not entertain such requests, even for bridal corsets. A rush order results in too high of a risk and too many disappointments. Like fine wine, fine custom corsetry simply cannot be rushed — nor can waist-training results.

We at ROMANTASY are more disappointed in ourselves when we disappoint a client, than the reverse. We want to enjoy our work, which at heart is about enhancing a sense of well being and delight in our art-for-wear garment, for our clients.

There is yet a third time and place that hurry-up does not work, and that is in putting on a corset, especially a new one. If you don’t add about 30 min. to your dressing time, perhaps even an hour or two, you are doomed for discomfort and frustration. A newbie to learning to lace up finds her or his arms aching, shoulders straining, and sweat popping out on the browline. Far better to lace a bit, let arms rest and do something else then a few minutes later come back and lace a bit more and continue the gradual process.

Just try dressing before ad event and running out the door in 5 minutes of donning even a well-seasoned corset, and you will rue the day and occasion:  Heartburn if you eat, tweaks and hot spots even if you don’t, and sooner rather than later “get me outta here” will result and you’ll have to loosen up or take your corset off. I add about 2 hrs. pre-event dressing time when I lace down, even with 25 years of corseting “under my belt.”

And that practice, I don’t intend to change.



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“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:

The cinch was recently reviewed on December 6 by our corset enthusiast friend Lucy (bishonrancher) of 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:

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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“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: 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:

“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)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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:

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.

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.

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!”



Filed under Custom Corsets Suitable for Waist Training, Quality Corsetry