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!
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.”
The 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 romantasy.com,
(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!