Category Archives: Quality Corsetry

How to sum up corset waist training: the key principles to keep in mind

I’m sometimes asked what are the key points that lead to success in waist training. From my fall Primer on  ‘how to’ reduce your waistlineCorset by Sheri for ROMANTASY book in progress, here they are:

FIVE CONCLUDING POINTS:

1. Be conscious of, and respect, your body. Listen to its messages and heed them. Your body will tell you when you have reached your limit.

2. Be moderate and do nothing to excess. Always stop training or take off your corset just short of serious distress, leaving yourself looking forward to the next opportunity you have to corset. (A pretty but simple corset like the one pictured here by Sheri, will make you look forward to corseting each day!)

3. Persevere. Change comes through ordinary, slow progress. There are no Corset Body Shaping Goddesses, and no miracles. Do not let naysayers stop you in your path.

4. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat others. No one will do it for you. Eat right, exercise, drink water, move, and never give up on these positive practices.

5.  Learn as much as you can about corseting. This will help you fully understand what is happening to you as you progress. Then you will be able to adjust your eating plan and lifestyle to stay healthy and still corset over time.

It takes common sense–not all that common these days to quote someone famous!

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I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore: “I don’t have TIME to shop, eat well, cook, waist train (you name it!)”

“The Lies Busy People Tell Themselves” said it all to me: we waste a lot of time worrying that we “don” have time” to do what we know we must: primarily take care of ourselves, and then take care of our families and loved ones–or corset waist train! I’ll never say that again after readying Laura Vanderkams’s article in the NYT Style section this Sunday! I recommend it to you.

The writer did a lot of time-keeping on herself and checked with others. She found she, and they, had a lot of time to do things she valued, despite being a very busy mother and professional. So …

Why do we lie to ourselves about not having enough time to do the things we find important in life and value?

           o    She says it’s because negative experiences (of being stressed out, late for an important project, working 90 hrs per week occasionally) stick in our minds. The good times are easily forgotten .

          o    We all like to see ourselves as hard working, not laggards. Thus, we tend to believe and repeat to others, that we are “over worked” and out of time.

         o   Professionals tend to overestimate the hours spent on work.

          o   We choose a high number of hours to say we’ve worked (and think we have) to justify our periodic stressed-out state and feeling, which is not all the time no matter what we imagine.

It’s not an unchangeable foible of us human beings. We can acknowledge this tendency now we know about it — and choose not to feel guilty that we “may” be neglecting our families, our health, and things that make life worth living! Most likely we are not and most likely we can find a little time. There’s no more excuse that you “don’t have time to corset waist train” and don’t have time on Sunday to shop for veggies and fruits and healthy light meats and “don’t have time to cook and prepare big pot of soup or lean roast and grilled veggies” which will last a few days during your busy work week.

You clearly DO HAVE TIME. If you value and have set corset waist training as a major priority in your life — and if you are focused on  improving your health first, your figure second, and your waistline size third (forget about dieting and the BMI or weight!), you have no supporter in me.

But you have a great supporter for moving forward in common sense ways toward health. I’ll encourage you to the max to try this fun and fascinating step toward health first: corset waist training.  Nearly everyone can do it!Snatch's corset

Chablis with plaqueCorsets are not just for Hollywood starlets who have just had a baby and want their figures back, and not just for social media stars who have impossibly curvy in-shape bodies already. Corsets and waist training are for us local, normal folks of any age and stage of life, any waistline size even up to 60″ waistlines and above, men, women, transwomen, lesbians, portly businessmen, classy socialites, club kids (as they say in England), Goth and steampunk devotees, tattoo artists, entertainers, drag queens, cross dressers and more–those of us who want to live long and prosper!

Here on the right is our drag queen corset client Snatch, from a few years back. Lovely white satin Victorian corset! She be styling on stage for sure! Left is our long-time lovely female impersonater/model and corseted client Chablis, looking fine. Check out Cheryl Shepard (crossdresser) modeling her BR Creations brown brocade classic hourglass corset for ROMANTASY, making a lovely hourgalss shape. Note Ms. Ana, our superb body builder tatooed corset lover from Arizona, in a dripping-lace black 1901 corset by True Grace (a treasure and non-duplicatable now since Mr. Garrod has passed)–she’s our adviser on all things physical and exercise in her realm.FCM - Men  Cheryl in BR05100

Burlesque cincherHere’s our Goth girl in a corset by Sheri, and young fetish model Somi Vichi in a leather corset by Sharon for ROMANTASY.  And below is Brian, one of our favorite men models in his amazingly tight-laced hot pink silk  corset by Sheri, one that has lasted him since 2005 for routine almost daily tight-lacing altho it’s about on its last leg now, some 11 years later. Talk about quality!Chinese silk Underbust by SheriCorsets and waist training are for anyone who has patience, and respect for the talents required by competent corsetmakers to create durable, comfortable, structured garments that will hold up to 60 to 90 pounds of waistline pressure and not rip, bend over, squench up, push up, dig in, wrinkle, and otherwise self-destruct in a few months of wear.

At ROMANTASY Somi BOB.3we welcome everyone! We’ll give you great advice on how to choose between real options we offer in terms of figure silhouettes created, corset styles, corsetmakers on our team of three, fabric and design options and more. It’s simple to order.

And we operate in old fashioned, personalized way. Give me a call: 415 587-3863 from 9 am to 6 pm PST and leave a message if I don’t pick up the phone. Consider ROMANTASY’s awesome 26 years plus experience comparing and contrasting various corsets, field testing each one, and educating about the differences. Opt for education first if you aren’t quite sure, and send me email: inquiry@romantasy.com for my personal attention!

 

 

 

 

 

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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: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/10/10/my-life-in-a-corset-squeezing-into-a-new-dieting-strategy/ 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:  http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=ccel

“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)

http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=book01&Category_Code=moc

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)

INTRODUCTION
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.

HOW NEW IS THE CORSET?
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.

HOW NEW ARE YOU TO CORSETING?
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.

HOW NEW ARE YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR CORSET STYLE OR MAKER ?
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.

WHAT IS YOUR BODY OR SPIRIT GOING THRU ON THE DAY OR AT THE TIME YOU CORSET?
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.

DID YOU PLACE THE CORSET PROPERLY ON YOUR TORSO?
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.

DID YOU USE VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE COMFORT DURING THE DAY’S WEARING PERIOD?

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.

DID YOU TAKE YOUR CORSET OFF JUST SHY OF PAIN, OR PERHAPS WHEN YOU REACHED A 6 TO 7 ON A PAIN SCALE OF 1 TO 10?  
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: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=Basic+Figure+Silhouettes&Category_Code=cgi

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.

TO GET THE BEST FIT AND COMFORT, DO I HAVE TO ORDER SEVERAL CORSETS?
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.

CONCLUSION
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!”

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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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Want-it-now Hasty Approach Disregarding Facts, Doesn’t Go Well with Corsets

I was amused to be scanning my pending “spam” folder inside my WordPress blog, to note two pending comments for my approval and posting. Since I own and operate my corset business by myself, I don’t have a secretary to do this for me, thus I get to it when I get to it. I  consider that processing orders for my clients and answering serious corset questions take priority. Today I found a pending comment from a female writer for my approval, and no less that two or three days later, yet another comment from the same person that basically called me a chicken for failing to post her original negative comment against corsetry.  She also  called me ignorant and uneducated for promoting something so unfeminist and unhealthy.

I found these comments not only amusing but  a trifle sad because they reflect a somewhat common superficial, knee-jerk- style response to many aspects of life, or to services  and products, certainly a response that doesn’t augur well for our culture or society, much less for corsets or corset businesses.

It’s rather easy for me to understand and respond to hostility to corsets. Nine times out of 10 that attitude grows out of unthinking acceptance of ancient stereotypes about corsetry, from lack of facts about corsets and those who wear them, or even if the writer is educated, from a mind already made up. I rarely take on the challenge to convince those whose minds are closed.

What interested me most was to note the writer’s hostility, certainly beyond what should accompany ordinary discourse on the topic.  After all, corseting does not cause wars, famine, repossessions, depressions, recessions,  a higher deficit,  job termination, break bones, or in fact, cause any damage at all to the body from evidence in the record.  I could only conclude that the writer is a person experiencing great stress and unhappiness in her life and this causes her general impatience, curtness, and hostility toward others whom she does not know, or apparently does not care to get to know.

As for alleged damage from corset wearing, the writer cites no facts. I rely on about 8000 clients, consultations with about 10 physicians most of whom personally corset, and interviews with about 400 other folks who waist train and tight-lace. I wonder if my writer can base her conclusion on those facts? My conclusion is and remains that for a generally healthy person,  a well-fitting corset (usually custom) worn moderately, seasoned properly, and not overdone, will cause no ill effects whatsoever. Certainly the epidemic of obesity causes far more ill effects than a corset worn in a reasonable way. And most certainly the ‘want your answer now to my comment’ kind of attitude of the writer does not go well with the patience required in learning how to gradually wear and enjoy a form-fitting garment such as a boned corset.

True, there is no modern (this century) academic double-blind authoritative study of corseting and  effects on bodies–and the writer cites none in support of her proposition that corsets damage the wearer. One could hardly expect that Harvard or Stanford could come up with a professor or grant to study such an esoteric topic today. Research that doctors have conducted that I’ve read in historical literature from the 1800s, is extremely sparse and not all that critical of corsets. All remaining inveigling against corset wearing from Victorian doctors seems to be condensed into one or two sentence diatribes, and all the doctors happen to be men.

I continue to believe that the heart and soul of feminism is self-determination. So long as I and my clients choose to wear corsets out of personal interest and we are not forced to do so, then I and they can dress the way we wish. So can my writer, but I am sad that she will miss learning about the magic of corsets.

Soon I’m off to answer her specific points, after I attend to my daily orders and client needs.

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“This Season’s Fashions”, and Corset Damage

I was making my morning steel cut oats and cafe presse coffee (yummie! Try it if you have never used a glass coffee press) and listening to my normal morning news show GMA, when my attention was caught by the above phrase in  a commercial for the retail store, TJ Maax.  Now isn’t that a classic example of the “gotta have it, gotta spend money NOW, gotta move on to the next season’s fashions” mentality?

The commentator was encouraging us to go out and buy the “latest.” Which reminded me that the purpose of fashion is to sell clothing and thus, “they” change styles every season to make us want something new, and feel like we will look out of date if we don’t.

Appreciating corsets requires a mentality and approach that is 180 degrees opposite the above viewpoint.

Obtaining the proper corset requires patience and advance education, in order for you to select the proper corset business, corsetiere, style, fit, and feeling on your body, plus know what silhouette the corset will create. Yes, various styles and even individual differences between corsetieres and the fabrics and finding they choose will result in a different silhouette! That’s why we post images of the basic silhouettes you can see to the upper left (all worn by me), and ask clients what they prefer (or what feels best if they come to us for a personal try-on and fitting). Check it out on this page:

http://www.romantasyweb.com/Styles/FigureSilhouettes.html

While seasons for clothing seem to change every four months with new lines coming out of Paris and Milan, or visible at your local Target store, a good custom corset from ROMANTASY will typically take about two months to produce, and easily can take  up to four or more months to produce.  That’s because we don’t job out any part of corsetmaking and the corsetiere you choose is the same person who will lovingly hand-craft your order  in a small home workshop. Some of our team members work only part-time on corsetmaking, and all of them have their own private clientele as well as our clientele. A good corsetiere is very much in demand for the discerning client, and others have placed orders before you, so there is always a production line in effect during most times of the year. Sometimes family or personal health emergencies call them away even from part-time work, and that’s why we ask for our clients understanding and patience which we promise to reward with top quality and satisfaction for many years to come.

Many corsetieres working today also work alone, don’t employ assistants, and don’t have secretaries to source and order materials. But no matter how long it takes, your corset will surely NOT be out of date when you receive it.

How long will a good corset last? I’m often asked that question. The answer — like answers to most questions involving corsetry — is:  “it depends.”

Infuriating answer, right? Especially so for those seeking easy, quick answers (which are not compatible with corseting and good quality).

The rule of thumb we like to use is that if you wear a tight-lacing corset 23.5/7 and lace down about 4″, then it will most likely wear out in about a year more or less. What do I mean by “wear out”? Based on information we have gathered over our 22 years in business, most likely bones will begin to push downward and cut through threads securing a binding over the raw bottom edge and this might happen at the top as well. If you sneeze precipitously especially in a well-worn tightly laced corset, you may split a seam, and/or pop off a stud on the busk. Been there–done that!

Don’t panic. If you are a ROMANTASY client, we refurbish well worn corsets at cost plus a bit and you can likely get yet another year of wear or more out of it, even 23.5/7! If you wear your corset on a more moderate basis, then a corset should likely last without need for refurbishment for 2 to 10 years or more!

We do find that:

–men are harder on their corsets than women,

–those with active life styles who have to bend over, tend to wear their corset down faster and pop studs off more easily (try not to bend forward at the waistline but bend or go downward to the floor by using your thighs and holding the torso straight)

–lighter weight fabrics tend to rub and wear and fray more rapidly than proper fabrics. You may read what famous corsetier Mr. Garrod has to say about that matter:   http://www.romantasyweb.com/cyboutique/corset/construction.shtml#How_to_Shop_for_Your_Own_Fabric

–lighter weight corsets (perhaps with two layers rather than three or four layers of fabric; perhaps with single boning rather than double) tend to wear faster than heavier weight corsets

— stainless steel and spoon busks last longer without damage than does the standard spring-steel busk

–re-inforcing features such as 1/2″ wide boning in place of 3/8″ boning, or the heavier weight 3/8″ boning last longer without damage

If you have some ideas about how to extend the life of a good custom corset, please pass them on and we’ll publish them here, or just send us a blog comment to add.

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