Enter Your Email For Your FREE Lingerie Guide!

Tla modal form img test

Ready to shop for lingerie but not sure where to start? We've done the research for you! Get your free mini-guide to all the lingerie brands you should know, featuring options for small busts, full busts, plus sizes, mastectomy, maternity, and more!

We promise to never send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Introducing In Intimate Detail, The Only Lingerie Guide You'll Ever Need!

In Intimate Detail shares everything I wish I'd known when I started blogging 10 years ago! It's a comprehensive, illustrated guide to all things lingerie - from history and terminology to fit guides and shopping advice for all genders, sizes, and ages.

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie is now available for pre-order! Click here!

Corsets for Claustrophobics


Photo © Morgan Marcani – Model: Victoria Dagger – Corset: Pop Antique

While for some women, corsets can help relieve anxiety, for others, it may exacerbate it. Those who suffer from claustrophobia may love the idea of corsets, but balk at the thought or attempt of actually putting one on. Never fear, though, it is possible to overcome claustrophobic concerns in the name of pretty, pretty corsets.

My girlfriend is, or at least, used to be, one of those women. When I first took her to Dark Garden for a fitting, she was barely in the corset for a minute before I had to hurriedly unlace her. Two years later, she owns two corsets, can lace herself in, and has been asking me to make her a waist training corset. How she manages her claustrophobia is the result of both the corsets she owns (their fit and construction) and how she wears them.

Fit model Kathryn Richardson is expertly laced into an early Pop Antique sample by me during my five days of study with Alexis Black, who took this photo in 2010.

Fit model Kathryn Richardson is expertly laced into an early Pop Antique sample by me during my five days of study with Alexis Black, who took this photo in 2010.

First, make sure you are working with a really good corsetiere, preferably someone with whom you can meet in person. The way you are laced in — even into a sample corset — has a huge impact on how you feel, so any old shop that carries corsets isn’t guaranteed to have well-trained staff who will lace you in properly. (In this case, I am referring to how they settle the corset on your body, how they balance the tension in the laces, the angles of movement they use to lace you in, how the corset itself is laced, etc. — not just how tightly you are cinched.) The first time you are laced into a corset, make sure it’s slow and easy, and know that you can be released within a matter of seconds. Communicate with your corsetiere so they know not to lace you in too quickly or too tightly. If you have to take it off immediately, that’s okay. Take a breather, walk around, drink some water, whatever will calm you down, then try again.

Photo © Joel Aron - Model: Dwoira Galilea - Corset: Dark Garden

Photo © Joel Aron – Model: Dwoira Galilea – Corset: Dark Garden

Size-wise, as you adapt yourself to the idea of wearing the corset, and particularly for the first try-on, you may want to start with a corset that is a size too big or has a milder reduction. Make sure it still has a comfortable and human shape, of course — a milder reduction, in this case, doesn’t mean one of those rib-smashing tube-shaped monstrosities. Hourglass rib shaping will likely be more comfortable than conical.

Photo © Joel Aron - Model: Allie Diane - Corset: Dark Garden

Photo © Joel Aron – Model: Allie Diane – Corset: Dark Garden

Underbust corsets and waspies will be more comfortable: they are less constricting and faster to (un)lace than overbust styles. Spiral steel boning will also give you more mobility. Anything that can streamline the construction and weight of the corset will minimize the feeling of constriction; single layer or mesh corsets will feel lighter and more mobile on the body than (for example) a triple-layer, heavy coutil, double boned corset with external casings.

Photo © Joel Aron - Model: Victoria Dagger - Corset: Dark Garden

Photo © Joel Aron – Model: Victoria Dagger – Corset: Dark Garden

Lastly, once you have your corset and you are ready to wear it out for the day or evening, make sure your outfit is one that will work with or without the corset if you feel compelled to take it off after a bit. Reinforcing that you can take off your corset as-needed will help you minimize your anxiety, whereas being forced to keep it on will increase it.

Marianne Faulkner

Marianne Faulkner is the designer of Pop Antique, a clothing and corsetry line specializing in sustainable materials and comfortable curves. She is based in San Francisco where she earned her MFA in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, and has been a columnist at The Lingerie Addict since 2011.

4 Comments on this post

  1. Kelly says:

    I searched specifically for this topic online and this was very helpful. I find the taking off the worst part, since I live alone and sometimes just need to get it off, immediately! I sometimes have a little panic attack that I won’t be able to wiggle out. It’s true though, small steps and wearing it loosely for the first little while helps. I love how it makes me look and feel, so it’s worth taking the time to get over it, or at least manage claustrophobia. Thanks!

  2. Adriana says:

    I recently wanted to get into waist trainers, & upon trying it on for the first time ever, I got terrible anxiety. Reading this has helped out a LOT!
    It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one! Lol :)

  3. Alexis Black says:

    Marianne, I love the red and black corset in the first beautiful image. Are the hip gussets removable? I love the way they appear as armor. That last image is quite stunning as well. Thank you for mentioning me in your photo credit. That was really sweet of you. ))corset hugs((

    • Marianne Marianne says:

      Hi Alexis,
      Yes! The “mini panniers” as I like to call them are detachable. And of course I mentioned you, studying with you was a delightful and somewhat pivotal five days for me. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *