Posts from June, 2011

Corset Shopping: 51 Places to Buy your Next Corset

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently, especially during an event like Corset Week is, “Where can I buy a nice corset?”

It’s a question I totally understand. Even the most inexpensive (but still quality) steel boned corset will cost you at least $100…and as you get into custom measurements and quality fabrics and special add-ons (like fan-lacing or lace overlay), the price can skyrocket to triple that–at least.

So to make things just a little easier, here’s the official Lingerie Addict list of 50 places to buy your next corset. The first 10 are good sources for off the rack, ready to ship pieces. The next 41 are expert corsetieres who can build a corset from scratch to your specifications. An asterisk by a name means I’ve made a satisfactory purchase from that corset retailer or corset maker before.

I really want this post to be a resource that people can use for a long time, so please feel free to not only share this post with your friends but to also leave reviews of the corset businesses you’ve bought from in the comments. After all, there’s no lingerie addict like an informed lingerie addict.

Off the Rack
Absolute Corsets*
Agent Provocateur
Artifice Clothing
Eurotique
Fairy Gothmother
Hips and Curves 
Meschantes
Scarlett’s Corset*
Timeless Trends*
What Katie Did*

Custom Made
Antiseptic Fashion
Atsuko Kudo
Bibian Blue
Boom Boom Baby Boutique*
Crikey Aphrodite
Dark Garden
Daze of Laur
Dragontown Corsets
Electra Designs*
Enchanted Corsets
Espalore*
Exquisite Restraint
Isabella Corsetry
The Jane Victoria
Jill’s Corsets*
LaBelle Fairy
Lace Embrace
Lady Lucie
Lara Corsets
Lovesick Corrective Apparel
Madame Sher
Marvelous Mayhem
Maya Hansen
MetamorphDK
Miss Katie
Morgana Femme Couture
Nicole Gill
Period Corsets*
Pop Antique
Puimond*
Scoundrelle’s Keep
Sian Hoffman
Sparklewren*
Starkers
Stormy Leather
SugarKitty Corsets*
Sweet Carousel
Totally Waisted*
Velda Lauder
Waisted Couture 
Westward Bound
Wilde Hunt Corsetry

How to Choose the Right Corset for Your Body Type

Now that we know how to choose the perfect corset for any occasion, it’s time to learn which corset shape is the best fit for your body type. Whether you have a full bust, small bust, long torso, short torso, wide hips, or no hips…there’s a style out there to suit you. The second piece in an excellent 2-part series by Marianne Faulkner, this is a timeless article with tons of useful information. For more about Marianne, please visit her website popantique.com.

So you want to wear a corset, but you want to know what corset style will work best on your body. To really be certain, you should try them on, of course, but the following tips can serve as a guideline.

First up, three common bust issues. Both the gamine and the extra-curvy frequently express concerns that corsets aren’t for their figure type, and then are amazed at the transformation or support provided by a well-made corset.

For the large of bust, you may find that an overbust corset is more comfortable than a bra. Overbusts supports your breasts from the waist up, distributing the weight and easing the pain of bra straps cutting into your shoulders, or a band around your rib cage. Alterations or a custom corset may be necessary, as the bust apex (fullest point) on a ready to wear corset will probably be too low and create the dreaded “quad boob” effect. A style with gussets (triangular insets) at the bust can provide shaping and support to the buxom better than a silhouette shaped solely by regular seams. Any corset will also provide you with extra back support.

Conversely, if you are small busted (B cup or smaller), try a flat front style. Depending on the shape of your breasts, this can actually add the illusion of multiple cup sizes, as anyone who’s ever worn a ren faire bodice can tell you. If you are in love with a corset but the bust is too loose, you can order one with alterations or pad the bust of an off-the-rack.

If your bust is asymmetric, the popular sweetheart silhouette is likely to exaggerate the fact, unfortunately. Go with a straighter neckline and/or flatter bust, and buy cutlets or bust pads to fluff up the smaller side. Take some time in front of a mirror to determine the best placement of the cutlets to create the illusion of symmetry.

If you’re small hipped, I’ve got good news: pretty much any corset will improve your hourglass. A sharp hip spring will make the biggest difference, but it also runs the risk of being too large in the hips. A corset that nips in under the ribs, rather than compressing them along with your waist, will add to the wasp-waist effect.

On the other hand, those starting with a natural hourglass will absolutely need a sharp hip spring. Low-end corsets are often less curvacious than a curvy girl’s natural figure.

Corseting lends itself well to full-figured types, but if you’re starting with a rounded belly, the displaced flesh still has to go somewhere. A longline style, preferably adjusted to your torso length, will minimize this effect. Wear your corset with a panty or pantyhose that slightly underlaps the bottom of your corset to encourage a smooth line.

For a long torso, stick with a short-hip rather than longline corset. An underbust will break up the span of your torso more. Pair your corset with full-length skirts or those cut to mid-thigh to add length to your legs. If you go for an overbust, make sure your nips are covered! Also check that the the bust is high enough to provide you with flattering support and lift.

Those extremely short of torso are also liable to require alterations. If buying off-the-rack, make sure you can sit down – the boning should not poke into your thighs. An underbust should not prod the bottom of your breasts. Overbusts may have the bust placed too high, and it may poke too high into your underarm as well. A waspie is a safe bet. For a longer underbust, you’ll have more wiggle room with a pointed silhouette, which is long at the center front and back but shorter at the sides.


A corset with wide straps, such as a halter or cross-back style, will minimize wide shoulders. Underbusts and overbusts both are available with straps. If going strapless, a sweetheart neckline will flatter more than a boxy flat-front.

My final bit of advice is to check with your corsetmaker about the sort of posture encouraged by their corsets. If you have a swayback or a shelf butt, a corset designed for flat-backed upright posture (pilates posture, as I think of it) may buckle at the back waist. If, on the other hand, you are flat-backed and your corset is not, you may find yourself tipping your pelvis backwards to accommodate, or feeling a slight pinch at the small of your back.

Photo Credits: All illustrations property of Marianne Faulkner.

How to Choose the Right Corset for any Occasion

Today’s amazing Corset Week feature is from Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique. An independent corsetiere and corset model, Marianne’s article is all about how to choose the right corset for your needs…whether that’s tightlacing, everyday wear, or a fancy evening out. You can find Marianne on Pop Antique and on Facebook. Come back tomorrow for Part II, which focuses on buying the right corset for your figure.

So you want to wear a corset, and you’re wondering where to start. At first glance, they all seem kind of the same – curvy pretty things with laces up the back. Well, your body type and corseting intentions should guide your choice of corset, just like they would for any other garment. A corset worn for a specific costume or event is probably not the same corset you wear to get the appropriate silhouette in your vintage day dress. Feel free to skip ahead until you see a paragraph relevant to you.

Let’s begin with the corset’s origin: a foundation garment, molding your body to a fashionable silhouette. For 20th century vintage or even under contemporary garments, a cotton underbust will be your friend, coupled with a good bra. Opt for internal, rather than external, bone channels. See if you can upgrade to a “busk cover” as well. Detachable garters are a valuable, and generally inexpensive, add-on; I recommend three pairs. If you are actually dressing for a particular historic period, don’t assume that all corsets are created equal. As the centuries turned, the silhouettes did, and your outerwear will neither fit nor look right if you are mixing and matching your foundations.

One popular misconception – and I do mean popular, the uneducated love to tout this “fact” – is that corsets are uncomfortable and terrible for your body. To the contrary, a well fitted corset is actually excellent back support, may even work out your core muscles as you wear it, and encourages good posture. If you struggle with back aches and poor posture, a corset may help combat them. The higher the back, the more supportive the corset. Add straps and it can pull back those rounded shoulders, too.

This being the Lingerie Addict, perhaps what you have in mind is more decadent than utilitarian. For a bedroom corset, it goes without saying that you should feel comfortable and confident in whatever style you select. That will depend on your own personal taste and body. When it comes to taking it off, though, you may hit a bit of a stumbling block – a real corset doesn’t have a quick-release button, unless it’s one of those steampunky affairs with swing-hook closures. Make the process part of your seduction. Whether you’re unlacing yourself or having your partner assist, use the action to heighten the anticipation. Definitely do avoid closed-front corsets. Order a style with built-in or detachable garters for additional sexy functionality. This is the place for sumptuous silk duchess and lace overlays.

If you’re thinking of starting waist training, there’s no better place to start than a basic underbust corset. Several ready to wear corsetieres have curvy and comfortable styles to get you started until you’re ready to upgrade to a custom corset. More panels will mean a better and more comfortable distribution of the shaping (and boning). Cotton will stand up better than silk to the rigors of frequent wear.

For the corseting equivalent of daytime casual, an underbust style can be worn as outerwear. If you are flat-stomached, a short underbust (often called a waspie or waist cincher) can be worn much as you might wear a wide belt. Select a bold print or contrasting color that will complement the rest of your wardrobe, or perhaps even a wool suiting. You can also pair the contemporary “sweetheart” silhouette with your favorite fitted jeans.

Now, if you’re dressing up for a special event, this is the time to go all out. Order your corset with that extra trim or that plunging neckline. Leave your black underbust at home. Look at your favorite corsetiere’s menu and consider their more unusual silhouettes, such as ribbon corsets or corset bodies. Peruse the decadent laces or the fancy brocades. If you have the moxie to pull it off, get a special occasion corset and not just a bread-and-butter style. You’ll find other excuses to wear it, trust me.

If you’ve made it through this post and are still unsure about where to start, it’s hard to go wrong with a black cotton underbust corset with detachable garters. This style will be the most flexible for a variety of outfits and uses.

Photo Credits: 
Model in all images: Victoria Dagger  
Bedroom corset: Dark Garden, photo: Ryan Chua
Daywear waist cincher: Pop Antique
Daywear overbust with jeans: Blooddrop, photo: IGP Photo
High-back with straps: Dark Garden, photo: Ryan Chua
Special event corset: Dark Garden
Underbust with garters: Dark Garden, photo: Max Johnson
Waist training underbust: Pop Antique, photo: AVA Photo

Real Corsets vs. Fake Corsets: How to Spot the Difference

Corset Week 2011 kicks off with this wonderfully informative guest post from Catherine of Kiss Me Deadly and Sam of Lulu & Lush. In this article, Catherine dissects the differences between authentic corsets and their cheap imitators. There’s also an amazing video version of this blog post, which you can view on the FairyGothMother YouTube

Lulu and Lush (a.k.a Fairygothmother) has been a corset shop for over 12 years now, selling its own designs and other brands exclusive to them. The shop has the largest supply of corsets in London, and possibly in the whole of the UK. As it happens, they are also the shop that sells the most Kiss Me Deadly, so we have a deal…Sam (who owns Lulu and Lush/FairyGothMother) provides the knowledge, photography and a steady video hand.  I provide the sarcasm and a willingness to make silly faces on film.  So that’s why I am writing this and not her–she is both too sensible and too nice. 

Lulu and Lush is a high end label. Their corsets might involve some saving up if you’re not in a well paid job, though there are some other, more economical shaping garments. So if you see a Lulu and Lush product at another retailer (and sometimes they do sell them to other people) at £20 rather than at £200 . . . well,  you’d jump at it, wouldn’t you?

And Sam sympathizes. If what you want is something that looks vaguely similar to a corset, then that’s ok…go ahead and buy that £20 piece of tatt. If you want a corset though, if you want a beautiful piece of art that will completely change the shape of your body and the way you feel about it, and if you want to wear it lovingly to death on every important occasion . . . well then here’s why you will come back to Lulu and Lush.

Here are two of pictures that you’ll see all over the net – often entitled “Princess Corset”.

On the left is a Lulu and Lush overbust corset in black satin – very classic, very chic, and generally people get between 2-4 inches of waist reduction wearing it…often more. It’s also doing a great job cleavage wise. This shape is used for some of  limited editions, too. It’s available in patterned silks and brocades, or Lulu and Lush staff can create elaborately Swarovskied and beribboned versions on an individual basis.

On the right you can see the Lulu and Lush image of a corset by Miss Katie, an individual corsetiere who works from her studio in London.  It’s made using two tone taffeta in a burgundy red (which shines very dark, almost black) and is trimmed in cream and burgundy. Miss Katie’s workshop isn’t always open (its just her and she’s a mum. there are limits, people!) so people usually come to the shop to try her styles and put in orders if  their size isn’t in stock.

Both of them are shot by and on Morgana, and clearly this is a problem!  She seems to be the premier corset model/photographer and that means people just cannot resist the temptation to steal her exquisite pictures of immensely detailed corsets and use them to sell  any old rubbish.

If you see a picture of Morgana and the corset only costs £20 (~ $30) or so . . . . what you will get sent is almost certainly not what is shown in the picture. In fact, because of the way this sort of retailer operates, they may not even have it in stock and probably won’t have the option to have it made for you the way we do. When we tried to order these in the UK, everyone said they had to go and get them from overseas! Therefore these knockoffs were bought in the USA instead and had customs paid on them when they were shipped by courier.  Obviously,  the retailer who sold them must forever remain nameless!!!

So, what do you get for your money?

It’s hard to show you some of the differences in a photograph so I’ll do my best to describe. For my ease, I’m going to call the original “Real Corsets” and the ones sold using stolen Lulu and Lush photographs “Fake Corsets”.

The 1st obvious difference, picking them up, is weight.  Real corsets are fairly solid, and they have a heft to them!  That’s because they are made with steel boning – flat steels for shape and stability on the busk and round the grommet, and spiral steel to give you that curvy yet flexible waist nipping in effect and so on.  The fabric on a Real Corset also feels good – especially if you’re a fabric snob which many of us independent brands are, and proud of it!

Fake Corsets have approximately the same shape in terms of the pieces of fabric, but they feel completely different.  The closest thing I can think of is those modern tents you get now. You know, the ones with the plastic hoops and the shiny plastic fabric?   Sadly though, when you start moving these corsets, they don’t suddenly turn into a surprisingly large tent. Instead, you just realise that you could easily break them. That’s because the steel they’ve used for the front and back is so thin, even I can twist it up. And have you seen the lack of muscle on my arms? I nearly broke these corsets getting them onto Annette.

And as you all know, cheap plastic bones will not do the same job that spiral steel does. They will bend out of shape easily and then stay that way. That’s why Fake Corsets get those dints in at the bottom of your rib cage after one wear…when you bent over or sat down, the bones bent out of shape, and won’t go back ever again. If you buy a Real Corset, over time it moulds to your shape instead, so you get ever more waist reduction off them. The Lulu and Lush overbust is particularly sturdily boned, with an unusually wide busk that really helps with shape.

All that said, the good news is that the Fake Corset should keep you waterproof, which might be handy if you do events that involves quaffing (editor’s note: I think this is British for drinking).  I’m not sure this material would pass any fire safety tests, though. It would definitely melt and stick to your skin (synthetic fabrics melt, natural fabrics burn). I would like to try the burgundy shiny plastic fabric in a serious light, because I think it might be the same stuff they use for high visibility safety clothing!

Let’s take a quick look at what we call the styling on the more elaborate corset.  Miss Katie contrast stitches her corsets for aesthetic reasons, but it’s handy for showing how flat the fabric is and how straight the stitching is, both of which are great indicators of a high quality corset. That’s absent on the Fake Corset. Miss Katie also uses a lovely quality ribbon done in pleats, whereas on the Fake Corset the ribbon quality and width is downgraded to meet the target price. It’s simply slightly ruffled…this uses far less ribbon overall and is easier to do, both of which again are about making it cheaper to produce.

Words really cannot express how much I loathe those fabrics by the way. They are worse on the inside. Real Corsets usually come with a lining, often cotton coutil, which performs a variety of functions. It stops you from sweating through onto your beautiful outer fabric (they hire me to handle all the super glamorous writing, by the way) making it more comfortable to wear, increasing its durability, and supporting the shaping properties. 

Fake Corsets don’t bother with a lining.  If you wear them to a hot, humid event, you will sweat like a great big drippy thing. It will be grim and because of the plastic fabric, it will stick to you like a fake leather sofa. And nobody wants to be a fake leather sofa. It’s just not sexy.

So here you can see the inside–lined corset at the top, unlined Fake Corset at the bottom. You can also see that the shape, laid flat, is very similar, but I’m guessing you are clever enough to also spot that line of tape around where your waist is. This stops your seams from straining when you put pressure on them by squishing yourself several inches smaller in the waist, and that means your corset will last for years and years and years.

You’ll also have noticed that they are laced differently. Real Corsets are laced with good quality wide ribbon or strong cord for more serious cinching. The corset is laced so that you can pull on the loops that are at your natural waist to tighten the corset, especially round the waist.  The Fake Corsets have a narrow bit of low quality ribbon, which will not stand up to strain, and is laced up to the top.  Good luck with getting that on yourself, if you didn’t already twist the busk up.

Here is a close up of that backlacing.  On your left, the Fake Corset has a plastic bone followed by some standard quality eyelets. On your right, the Real Corset has steel bones on either side of the eyelets, which are reinforced to allow for the pressure you’ll be putting on them when you wear it.

Now seems like a good time to look at how they look when worn. We had a bit of a brainfreeze on the holiday Monday we planned this, and forgot to do some shots, so here are stills from the video.  On the left is a Real Corset. This is the first time it was ever worn by Annette, and it wasn’t tight-laced. Even so, you can see that it’s got a much better curve to it than the Fake Corset on the right.  You’ll notice that the Fake Corset also doesn’t do a lot, bosom wise.

 

You can see the same issues with shape and cleavage with the Miss Katie corset. On top of that, the burgundy fabric shows what a difference good quality fabrics, boning, lining and stitching make. The Fake Corset has almost got a scrunched effect when its on. Annette looks positively pained by this stage!



Let’s taker a closer look at the issues with the bust line, because otherwise all my friends will be insufficiently jealous of my job and might start believing me when I say it’s mostly admin and sums rather than looking at pretty things on beautiful women.  Plus, you can see even more clearly that Annette is supported and shaped in the Real Corset, whereas the Fake Corset is more of a wrinkly covering.

Now, we don’t have a picture of the absolute best bit of the Fake Corsets, which is the quite astonishingly hideous alleged thongs (g-strings, dear Australians) that came with them. You’ll have to watch the video for that.  But I think we can summarise this without them.

You can see that despite superficial similarities in the pattern and styling, the fact is that Fake Corsets are constructed entirely differently to Real Corsets. Fundamentally, they DO NOT SHAPE. You can see that they basically flatten things out rather than making you extra curvy. They also do not last!

So, if you want something that looks vaguely like the ghost of a tormented corset, for an event where you are likely to encounter liquids but no fire, and you don’t mind only getting to wear it once, the Fake Corset is a highly cost effective option.

If you actually want a hope in hell of changing your shape, and a garment you can love and wear repeatedly, and still be getting complimented on  in several decades time…well, hello.  Welcome to corset snobbery; it’s an addiction, but we love it!

Photo Credits: All images by FairyGothMother

Welcome to Corset Week 2011!

We’re kicking off the fresh content tomorrow with a feature article from Kiss Me Deadly & FairyGothMother about the difference between authentic and knock-off corsets, but I know I have a lot of new readers here this year (yay!), and I just want to make sure that we all have the same background and context.

I started Corset Week in 2008 because 1) I love corsets and 2) there isn’t very much information on corsets written from a customer’s point of view. I remember what it was like to try to figure out how to buy my very first corset. What shape did I want? How much should it cost? Where in the world should I buy one? Corset Week is just a way of sharing some of the corsetry information I’ve picked up over the last several years with you.

If you’re brand new to Corset Week, I recommend getting started with a few of these articles from the very first Corset Week. And, as always, feel free to share your advice in the comments section. See you tomorrow!

10 Boudoir Accessories to Complete Your Lingerie Look

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my carefully planned lingerie ensemble needs just a little something extra. Not another piece of lingerie, necessarily,  just an item that can evoke that sexy, sultry, seductive boudoir feel. If you get what I mean, then this list of 10 boudoir accessories is for you. Though none of them are lingerie, they can all help your lingerie look better than ever.

Do you have a favorite? Did we leave something off the list? Share it in the comments!

 Black Lace Mask by kvodesign
$20.00
 Black Lace Bolero by maryandangelika
$77.00
Vintage Style Hat w/ Veil by janinebasil
$125.00
Hearts Leather Mask by Tom Banwell
$39.00
Black Jet Leather Collar & Shoulder Piece by Mascherina
$455.00
 Black Satin Gloves by What Katie Did
$28.00
Pink Satin Slippers by Dollhouse Bettie
$40.00
Glamorous Black Cartwheel Hat by Dollhouse Bettie
$37.50
Black Ostrich Feather Fan by Dollhouse Bettie
$87.50
Faire Frou Frou Powder Puff
$110.00