Posts by Marianne

Corset Talk: Bridal Corsetry

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© Chris Gaede | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Dollymop for Dark Garden

Corsets and brides go so very well together.  For brides, corsets can serve as a foundation to their dress (aiding in the fit and accentuating the silhouette), be an exposed element in their ensemble, or have a special place in their trousseau and possible boudoir photos.  Even the most budget minded individuals often consider their wedding the perfect time to splurge a little and invest in a high-quality corset that, unlike the cake, flowers, and gown itself, will last and continue to be wearable long after the ceremony itself has concluded.

© Araya Diaz | Model: Elisa Berlin | Corset: Pop Antique

© Araya Diaz | Model: Elisa Berlin | Corset: Pop Antique

Foundation corsets can be tricky – remember that a corset is not a magic fix that will make a dress two sizes too small suddenly fit. If you just need your waist nipped in a little bit, maybe some strapless bust support, then absolutely, a corset is the way to go. If the ribs and/or bust of your dress are too small, however, a corset is more likely to add bulk (because of the layers of fabric and steel) than reduce it. Talk to your corsetiere about options for sleeking down construction, such as mesh or other single-layer construction, and internal bone channels, but if the zipper won’t slide without the corset, it’s time to consider alterations or a different gown.  Low-back gowns, full busts, and corsets are also a tricky combination; it might work out while the dress is on, but if the back is lower than bra band level, it’s nigh upon impossible for the front of the corset to offer adequate support on its own, particularly since the back will need to be on the loose side to avoid creating a muffin effect.

© Araya Diaz | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

© Araya Diaz | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

Regarding the color of a foundation corset, something close to your skin tone will pretty much always be the most unobtrusive, but if you don’t want to be stuck with a brown or beige corset after the wedding, you can actually get away with a darker or bolder color if your gown has several layers of lining and/or if you make sure to match the rest of your undergarments to your corset to avoid a striped effect.  Be sure to test this theory out in a variety of lights and in photos to avoid any surprises on the big day or when you get your pictures back.

© Joel Aron | Model: Victoria Dagger | Ensemble: Dark Garden

© Joel Aron | Model: Victoria Dagger | Ensemble: Dark Garden

Now, if you want to show off your corset (and resulting hourglass figure) a little bit more, you might want to consider having it incorporated into your ensemble.  Generally this will mean the skirt is a separate piece from the corset.  Most expert corsetieres also have the skills to create other garments and so you could have both pieces custom-designed together together with accessories such as a bolero, custom garter, or your veil. Surprisingly, the cost for one-of-a-kind, custom-fit wedding ensembles from a corsetmaker is not so different from what you’d pay for a factory-made, off-the-rack dress from a pricier bridal store: roughly in the $5-$10k range.  Sparklewren (Birmingham, UK) and Dark Garden (San Francisco, CA) are particularly experienced with bridal couture.

Crikey Aphrodite for BellaBrilla.com ©ClareCoulterPhotography — with Make-up: Lynsey Findlay, Model: Tara Nowy, Hair: Laura Scarff

Crikey Aphrodite for BellaBrilla.com ©ClareCoulterPhotography — with Make-up: Lynsey Findlay, Model: Tara Nowy, Hair: Laura Scarff

For a classic bridal boudoir look, most high-end corsetieres creating handmade pieces should be able to accommodate both your wedding and personal aesthetic, but I’m particularly fond of Glasgow-based Crikey Aphrodite‘s delicate white-on-white lace and sheer corsetry. If you’re planning to wear your corset on your honeymoon, make sure you have an exit strategy!  I do not recommend closed front styles for bedroom corsets.  This is a perfect opportunity, however, to train your partner in proper lacing and unlacing techniques, if treated as an intimate moment rather than a necessary inconvenience.

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Corset: Dark Garden

When I do consultations with brides, I frequently hear that the bride is being slightly bullied into wearing a white dress (at the behest of her mother, mother in law, or even fiancee).  I’d like to take this moment to remind you that, not only is it possible for your foundation corset’s color to match your taste and personality, but the “tradition” of white weddings is pretty new-fangled.  Depending on the time and place, even black could have been an appropriate color for a wedding gown.  So if you’re showing off a corseted ensemble, wave that fact around and order it in whatever color(s) you like!

© InaGlo Photography | Ensembles: Sparklewren

© InaGlo Photography | Ensembles: Sparklewren

Lastly, I know a lot of brides either a) intend to lose weight before the wedding, or b) don’t intend to, but have it happen anyway.  If you’re ordering a custom corset, don’t order it too far in advance.  Your measurements may or may not change.  Ask your corsetiere what turnaround they would recommend; generally 2-6 months for custom, 1-3 months for ready-to-wear.  You can do a consultation and lay down a deposit with the corsetiere as early as their queue allows, you just don’t necessarily want any sizing to happen until a little closer to your date.  Make sure you’ll also have time to get your gown or skirt tailored to fit both your body and the corset.  Regardless of your size, a good fit is key to the look, support, and comfort of a corset.

© Araya Diaz | Models: Elisa Berlin & Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

© Araya Diaz | Models: Elisa Berlin & Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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Corset Snark Is Also Body Snark

© Joel Aron | Model: Allie Major | Corset: Dark Garden

© Joel Aron | Model: Allie Major | Corset: Dark Garden

Over the past couple years, The Lingerie Addict has made it increasingly clear that we are a body-positive, body snark free zone.  Actually, I’d like to think the internet in general has made some strides towards acknowledging that to accept or appreciate one sort of body doesn’t inherently involve trying to dismiss another.  But just as it’s unfair, irrelevant, and downright rude to criticize someone else’s body, it’s also inappropriate to judge them based on their clothing preferences, and that also applies to corsets. Corsets are increasing in popularity and visibility and the issue of corset snark needs to be addressed from within the community as well as from an outsider perspective. The view that wearing corsets is somehow undermining the past decades of women’s lib persists among opponents, a knee-jerk reaction to a sexualizing and binding garment… but that’s for another post.

body_snark_free_zone

If you’re still in the dark, what I’m talking about it is not judging or calling someone out for: whether they wear corsets at all, their corset size, their natural waist measurement, the number of inches they compress, the shaping of their corset, how long they’ve been wearing corsets, what kind of corset they buy, how many inches they’ve shaved off their natural waist measurement, the reason (including a person) why they wear a corset, how long or how often they wear their corset, etc.

No one gets to be the arbiter as to whether someone else is a “real” waist trainer/tightlacer, or a “real” feminist, or anything in between.

© Max Johnson | Model: Nicole Simone | Corset: Pop Antique

© Max Johnson | Model: Nicole Simone | Corset: Pop Antique

Just because a corset can be a highly visible type of body mod doesn’t actually mean the wearer is inviting your opinion.  Even if the wearer in question is in the spotlight for their corseting (such as Cathy Jung or Michèle Köbke), or a close personal friend of yours, it’s poor form to criticize the way they go about it, unasked. Often this takes place in the form of “concern trolling.” Unless someone has personally told you that their corset is creating more health problems than it solves (yes, corsets can help with mental and physical health concerns!), don’t assume that they need some sort of corset intervention before they hourglass to death.

Photograph of famous tightlacing icon Polaire.  (Look a little closer to see how this photo was retouched to make her waist look more extreme.)

Photograph of famous tightlacing icon Polaire. (Look a little closer to see how this photo was retouched to make her waist look more extreme.)

Another common mistake I see is assuming that tightlacers in particular are doing it to “be sexy,” but it “backfires” and instead they look “disgusting” and obviously “have an eating disorder.” Everyone I know who wears a corset regularly does it because they like it for themselves; if their partner(s) like it as well, that’s just a bonus. Actually, in my experience, your typical male (outside the fetish community) is more likely to find an extremely corseted figure macabre more than attractive. And, as Cora mentioned in, “Body Image: It Doesn’t Matter What Size You Are… Stop the Body Snark,” if the person actually does have an eating disorder, mocking or criticizing them for it will do absolutely nothing to help the situation. Don’t trivialize the struggles of those who do suffer from eating disorders by wantonly describing anyone whom you think is “too thin” as having one.

© Jon Bean Hastings | Model: Elisa Berlin | Corset: Pop Antique

© Jon Bean Hastings | Model: Elisa Berlin | Corset: Pop Antique

Talking to someone about how to improve the fit of their corset, lacing techniques, and quality brands can be executed in the form of friendly advice (delivered in a non-patronizing tone). Always remember with your approach that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, do unto others, etc.  If the person is sincerely enthused about corsetry, they’ll open a dialogue.  If you feel overwhelmed or out of your depth with the questions, there are plenty of online resources for corset education, including not only my previous and ongoing corsetry articles here on The Lingerie Addict but also Lucy’s Corsetry, the Long Island Staylace Association, and so forth.

I hope this hasn’t come across as too bossy! I firmly believe that by focusing on positive elements of others’ corseting, phrasing differences of opinion as such rather than judgments, and offering sincere and factual advice when appropriate, the ties of the community and the breadth of the design possibilities can only grow positively.

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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Review: BeMe NYC

Disclosure: I received these products free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

BeMe NYC

BeMe NYC: Rough & Tumble Lace Demi Bra and Lace French Knicker

BeMeNYC is a fairly new brand (out of New York, of course) featuring pretty and simple renditions of classic styles.  They’re also moderately priced, with bras in the $30-$40 range and panties averaging $13.  The fabrics are pretty and comfortable, the construction quality is good – all told, I may have just found my new go-to brand for basics!  I was offered a credit sufficient to buy one set from each collection and actually ended up buying a couple extra pieces.  Of course, I do have a couple minor concerns/nitpicks…

BeMe NYC

BeMe NYC

As far as fit and sizing goes, at present they are stocking only limited sizes, 32B-38D for most bras, although select styles may also include 32A, 38DD and 40D.  Overall, I would say the bras run true to size, bordering on small (or perhaps merely closer to European/British sizing than American).  The panties also run a bit small – if you are between sizes on their chart, I would definitely recommend going with the larger one.  Although they do have a really great amount of elasticity when on the body, the panties seem really small when off of it, which can be a little disconcerting.  I found myself swapping my S for a M because I feel it creates a smoother line under clothes.  I also find it somewhat irksome that their beige fabrication is titled “Really Nude,” even though it shows up as stark ivory on even their caucasian models’ skin. And, lastly, it’s slightly concerning that my items had CA Prop 65 warnings on them, but since even Starbucks coffee features this warning, I think some research and a future post are more in order than serious consternation.

BeMe NYC

BeMe NYC

Some good stuff about brand policies and values: BeMe offers free shipping within the contiguous United States as well as free returns within 15 days.  It’s not the fastest shipping, as they use FedEx ground, but returns are super easy, with a return label included in your box.  So even if you do end up with the wrong size, it’s easily fixed.  I actually lost my return label and they emailed me another one. They are partnered with the “Free the Girls” charity (which “provides job opportunities to women rescued from sex trafficking”), and they give this “Begiving” philosophy billing equal to their product categories at the top of their site as well as offering a 20% discount in exchange for a contribution of gently worn bras. Lastly, though they don’t beat you over the head with it (in fact, it’s not even mentioned on their site, only in the press pack I received), their models are minimally styled with hair and makeup, and their photos are unretouched. (For further thoughts on the efficacy of these sorts of campaigns, I highly recommend Cora’s “Why I’m Not Very Excited by the ‘Aerie Real’ Campaign.“)

The Invisibles Collection

I haven’t had a new sports bra in, oh, five years, so I picked up the Invisibles Relax Bra ($28) in a size small to fulfill that purpose.  This isn’t a dedicated sports bra, which would explain why it has (removable) padding.  I know some people are miffed by padding in sports bra; personally, I am entirely unfazed by it.  Despite not having any closures, it’s so stretchy that I don’t feel like I’m doing a workout just to put it on (hooray!), and it offers good support and shaping while worn.  I haven’t put it very heavily through its paces (…there’s a reason it took me five years to bother replacing my last sports bra) but I found it totally adequate for my Wii Fit routines, and next I’ll be trying it layered as if it were a tank for casual wear (perhaps at swing dancing class), as recommended by a reviewer on BeMe’s site.

BeMe NYC Invisibles Relax Bra

BeMe NYC Invisibles Relax Bra

Originally I’d ordered the Invisibles Boyshort ($13) in an XS (why did I think my hips would ever be XS?), which looked laughably tiny in my hands and a little too boxy (though okay in size) when I tried it on.  All BeMe panties ship with a liner to facilitate home try-on and simple returns, so I switched it out for the Invisibles Hipster ($13), size small.  I wish I’d gone straight for the medium, because I prefer underwear that skims my body without dimpling my hipline at all.  On their size chart, my waist is squarely a S, but my hips tiptoed across the line into M territory.  Since all their panties are low-rise, I would recommend going by hip rather than waist for sizing.  Other than that, everything about this panty is pretty self-explanatory.  The cut is slightly cheeky (which I like), the rise is nice and low, the fabric is super soft and very stretchy, and of course, there’s no side seam.  Even the gusset seaming is practically, well, invisible.  Though this style also comes in navy blue, orange, and beige, I stuck with classic black, because you can pretty much never have enough plain black panties, especially those that are free of seaming and textured detail.

BeMe NYC Invisibles Hipster

BeMe NYC Invisibles Hipster

 

The Essensuals Collection

By now I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m obsessed with bralettes, so of course I had to try the Essensuals Bralette ($26), size S for my 30D bust.  Featuring double layered mesh with standard adjustable straps, a hook back, and darted shaping in the front, it’s a pretty cute style.  Unfortunately, the fit didn’t quite work out for me, as it lacked sufficient depth and cut into my overbust with a little bit of quad-boob dimpling that was visible even through my clothes.  I passed it onto a friend.  I wouldn’t recommend this style for more than a B or perhaps C cup with a less rounded bust shape.  If memory serves, the band was also on the loose size for me, so I also wouldn’t recommend it if you typically wear smaller than a 32 band.

BeMe NYC Essensuals Bralette

BeMe NYC Essensuals Bralette

The Essensuals Wire-Free Light Push Up Bra ($32) in a 32C seemed surprisingly small in the cup when first I ordered it, and I nearly exchanged it for a 32D.  I felt I was spilling out on both sides.  The next time I put it on, though, it seemed fine, so it may have just been a fluke of hormones that day.  I have noticed that the cups are a bit wide set; as a push-up bra, I can’t deny that my cleavage looks fantastic, but I do feel as if my naturally close-set breasts are falling away from the outer depth of the cup and sort of pooling together in the plunge opening.  On the bright side, it does well in the washing machine, which is great if you are lazy about such things.  (I am.)  Do note that while this style is wire free, there’s a short piece of plastic boning where the wing attaches, which I find mildly irritating as it is prone to collapsing into a curve and chafing at its end.  But then, my bras and my underbust corsets often seem to disagree in this way where they meet.

BeMe NYC Essensuals Wire-Free Light Push Up Bra

BeMe NYC Essensuals Wire-Free Light Push Up Bra

The Essensuals Hipster ($14) is not so different from the Invisibles Hipster.  Originally I’d ordered a small, but then switched it to a medium.  Instead of a nylon-elastane blend, the Essensuals Hipster is 90% modal, and it’s also super soft and stretchy.  (Downside: it’s only available in black, beige, and “Autumn” orange.)  The gusset has one exposed edge on the interior, finished with an overlock stitch.  Unlike the Invisibles Hipster, it has a slight gathering elastic down the center back.  Either panty makes a great daywear basic, but I think Invisibles has the overall advantage in color, seamlessness, gusset construction, and a $1 price difference.

BeMe NYC Essensuals Hipster

BeMe NYC Essensuals Hipster

BeMe NYC Essensuals Hipster

BeMe NYC Essensuals Hipster

The Rough and Tumble Collection

Rough and Tumble was by far my favorite group, still offering classic styles but with more feminine styling in the form of lots of lace and the addition of a magenta color choice for certain styles.  I picked up two bras, the Lace Demi Bra ($38) in 32C and the Lace Bralette ($32) in small.  The former is… well, exactly what you’d expect.  It runs pretty true to size, creates a modern bust shape that seems as if it would be accommodating for a variety of natural breast shapes, the construction is good, and it is both pretty and comfortable.  It’s available in black, orange, or magenta.  For $38, I think it would make a really great everyday bra if you fall within its limited size range (32B-38D).

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Demi Bra

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Demi Bra

The Lace Bralette was an instant favorite with me.  The styling is cute and flirty, from the lace/mesh combination to the double straps and wide back.  But more than that, it stands out amongst the increasing number of bralettes in my collection, providing just about as much lift as Dita’s Madame X and Anita’s Lace Rose Soft Bra, which is all the more impressive when you consider how light the construction is and the fact that the band isn’t at all adjustable (it’s a front clasping style).  More so than any other bralette I’ve tried, I feel like it really has two distinct cups and it holds the breasts apart from each other.  If you find most bralettes don’t have enough cup depth for you, this bralette just may be the solution.

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Bralette

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Bralette

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Bralette

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace Bralette

The Rough & Tumble Lace French Knicker ($20) was another favorite.  First of all, it’s just plain pretty – I love the cut, with a low rise, low legline in front, and cheeky rear, and the all-lace construction feels mentally decadent while being physically totally comfortable.  I found the small to be a really comfortable fit, skimming my curves, and it wasn’t too textural even for a clingy jersey dress.  It’s a style that’s unobtrusive (visually and physically) enough to wear everyday, but pretty (dare I say, sexy?) enough that it feels like a special occasion panty.

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace French Knicker

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace French Knicker

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace French Knicker

BeMe NYC Rough & Tumble Lace French Knicker

All told, I think BeMe NYC is off to a great start.  Going forward, I’d love to see them expand their sizing if possible, but I think everything in the current lineup is really well-designed.  They’re selling fairly simple styles, but everything is all very well executed, classic and highly wearable.  None of the styles feel overly “young” or trendy, nor do they touch upon matronly.  With the exception of size range, I think the styles are really accessible across demographics.

What did you think of the styles above?  Have you tried BeMe NYC?  Share your opinion and experience in the comments below!

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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Corset Talk: The Value of a Modesty Panel

© Joel Aron | Model: Khadijah | Corset: Dark Garden

Photo © Joel Aron | Model: Khadijah | Corset: Dark Garden

Modesty panels play a small, but important role in the world of corsets.  These humble little rectangles of fabric accomplish several tasks in one go as they sit behind your corset laces.  There are also reasons why some may choose to forgo wearing a modesty panel.  Not all corsetieres include modesty panels as standard, so be sure to confirm this detail when placing an order.

Model: Winter Kelly Photo: Winter Wolf Studios Corset: Electra Designs Corsetry

A floating modesty panel, suspended by corset laces. | Photo © Winter Wolf Studios | Model: Winter Kelly | Corset: Electra Designs Corsetry

From a construction standpoint, modesty panels can be made in about as many different ways as the corsets themselves.  Generally speaking, they have at least two layers of fabric and some amount of boning or other stiffening.  They can be stitched in or left loose.  A “floating” modesty panel refers to one that is suspended by being somehow threaded through the lacing.

Look closely for the "Venus Fold", less flatteringly known as "back cleavage."  | Photo © Mariah Carle | Model: Tressa FM | Corset: Pop Antique

Look closely for the “Venus Fold”, less flatteringly known as “back cleavage.” | Photo © Mariah Carle | Model: Tressa FM | Corset & Skirt: Pop Antique

I generally describe a modesty panel as having three different functions.  One of the biggest reasons corset wearers like them is because they hide the crease in their skin down their spine that is a natural result of tightening the laces, aka “back cleavage,” or a “venus fold.”  (Isn’t that a lovely romantic name for it?)  Conversely, some corset enthusiasts, notably in the fetish community, may respond favorably to the sight of the venus fold, as a small, externally visible token of the forces and control of the corset itself.  Corsets worn over clothing don’t need a modesty panel (though they may still be worn with one), since the garment beneath covers the area of concern.

Corsets worn over clothing may not need to be worn with a modesty panel. | Photo © Jesse Alford | Model: Sara Cecil | Corset & Dress: Pop Antique

Corsets worn over clothing may not need to be worn with a modesty panel. | Photo © Jesse Alford | Model: Sara Cecil | Corset & Dress: Pop Antique

Tied in with the camouflage effect is the way the modesty panel unifies the look of the corset around the body.  Made of a matching fabric and often even including design details such as lace overlays or trims, the modesty panel creates an unbroken circumference.

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A modesty panel creates continuity around the circumference of the body, particularly when design details are continued across it. | Photo © Joel Aron | Model: Dallas Coulter | Ensemble: Dark Garden

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, a modesty panel shields your back from “lacing burn,” the friction that arises as you tighten your corset.  Though lacing burn doesn’t (in my experience) leave any physical burn marks, it is definitely not a comfortable sensation!

© Karolina Marek | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

Photo © Karolina Marek | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

Speaking of comfort, the other reason not to wear a modesty panel is because some people just don’t find them to be so.  I am actually one of those people.  I find the additional bulk and boning creates more pressure along my back than is my preference.  If you want a modesty panel for aesthetic purposes, talk to your corsetiere about minimalizing the boning and thickness of your modesty panel.

Do you wear a modesty panel with your corsets?  If not, why not?  What’s your favorite aspect of modesty panels?

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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How to Travel with Corsets

© Edson Carlos | Model: Lauren Luck | Corset: Pop Antique

© Edson Carlos | Model: Lauren Luck | Corset: Pop Antique

As I write this, I am far from home, on the opposite coastline and nearly as far as south as one can get in this country.  Along with my selection of drapey sundresses, I packed a handful of corsets, most of them recently completed orders that need to be shipped off to their new homes.  Flying with corsets can be a bit nerve-wracking, since even a small collection is quite valuable.  Traveling with corsets by any method also involves taking a bit more care with packing than some of us are usually inclined.

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© Max Johnson | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset Dress: Pop Antique

Step one of travel is, of course, packing.  “Packing light” when corsets are involved takes on new meaning; though each corset takes up relatively little space in a bag, all the steel components add up quickly to a heavy load.  If you’re flying, I highly recommend packing all of your corsets together in a weekender style bag and bringing it with you as a carry-on item.  If at all avoidable, do not check the bag with your corsets.  (Personally, I try to avoid having to check luggage at all.)  Though the wheels of a structured suitcase will help ease the ache of your shoulders, if your flight is full, you may be required to check your carry-on at the gate. If you’re not flying, perhaps traveling by train, then by all means go for the wheels and/or split your corsets up across your bags so that no one bag bears the brunt of the weight, as long as the luggage area of your train is secure.  Roll up your corsets and pack them in corset bags (pillowcases will do the trick) inside your main baggage and make sure nothing potentially damaging (like your toiletries, or clothes or shoes with sharp textural detailing) is nestled too close to your corsets.

My carry on bag as I flew to OCOC last year, about 75% filled with corsets.

My carry on bag as I flew to OCOC last year, about 75% filled with corsets.

If you’re waist training or otherwise thinking about wearing a corset for your trip, think carefully before deciding which corset to wear, or if you’re going to go without.  Sitting down, especially in a bucket seat, really drastically changes the proportions of your body.  Your hips expand, the arch of your back reverses, your entire torso compresses vertically, and so on.  Chances are you don’t have a special corset for traveling (though I would recommend it if you travel frequently and have the budget for bespoke).  Having to call it quits on the corseted part of an outfit in the middle of the day can be rather dispiriting so think carefully through the decision.

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Sitting down changes your posture and throws off the fit of even the most comfortable corset. | Photo © Jesse Alford | Model: Sara Cecil

If you’re flying, you’ll have to deal with security, but this may not be as big of a hassle as you’d expect.  Wearing your corset on the outside and being willing to take it off to go through the security checkpoint is the easiest, but a pat down and the other corsets in your bag can also help explain the profusion of metal on your person, particularly if you are otherwise well-presented and polite to the security agents.  Underbusts will be easier to sit in for prolonged periods of time and easier to take on and off quickly, and having the back support as you lug your corset-filled carry-on to your gate can be a small blessing.

© Douglas De Rossi | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

© Douglas De Rossi | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

Lastly, as you are disboarding from your flight or train, try to wait until most of the other passengers have already gotten off the flight.  There’s nothing fun about standing in the middle of the aisle holding a bag of steel as other passengers fiddle with the overhead bins, then trying not to hit any other passengers who may still be seated in the head with said bag of steel as you walk towards the door.  Boarding is a little trickier, since you’re probably going to be stuck holding a heavy bag and hitting people in the head regardless, but you can still minimize the time in line by waiting till the end if you have preassigned seating anyway.

What tricks and tips do you employ when traveling with corsets?

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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Corset Talk: All About Lacing, Part 1

© Bill Clearlake | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

© Bill Clearlake | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Pop Antique

I had originally hoped to write a single article about corset lacing, but as my draft waxed on, I quickly realized that there are too many facets of the topic to do justice in a single piece.  Lacing is widely recognized as the signature, defining feature of a corset.  Though that’s a vast oversimplification of a garment that is truly a feat of engineering, it is true that much of a corset’s structure, fit, and wearability is dependent upon its lacing, much more so than most corset wearers realize.  There are many factors that come into play in the relationship between ribbon and grommet.  Today I’ll be focusing on those materials themselves and their place in corset construction, hopefully demystifying some of the terminology and information that comes up as you research corsetry and corsetmakers.

© Joel Aron | Model: Allie Major | Corset: Dark Garden

© Joel Aron | Model: Allie Major | Corset: Dark Garden

Supporting Structure
The grommets and lacing of a corset require additional support to keep them firmly anchored and laying smoothly. The weight of the fabric may be supplemented with additional layers.  The grommet strip is flanked by narrow flat steel bones (though I recently spoke with a corseting colleague who sometimes replaces the bone at center back with a spiral steel as it is more comfortable for her lordosis, proving once again that there is an exception to every rule.) “Lacing bones” are also available, which are wide flat steel bones with holes for grommet placement punched through them.  Lacing bones tend to be fairly stiff, so if you have a particularly curved back or are sensitive to pressure, I would not recommend them.

© Marianne Faulkner | @popantique via Instagram

© Marianne Faulkner | @popantique via Instagram

Hardware
“Grommets” and “eyelets” can mean different things or be used interchangeably depending on the country, and like all materials, come in varying levels of quality.  Do not be taken aback if a corsetiere says they use “eyelets” instead of grommets.  Either way, what you want is two-part hardware: grommet (or eyelet) and washer.  Chances are, beyond that, a corsetiere’s reputation and portfolio will represent the quality of their work’s shaping and longevity. Historical reproduction corsets may feature meticulously hand-stitched eyelets with no metal hardware at all.  The hole through which the grommet is set can be created using either an awl (which pushes the thread apart) or a punch (which creates a small hole in the fabric).  Much like the debate between spiral and steel boning enthusiasts, there is no one right answer, only that which works for each corsetiere when combined with all the other specific elements of their process.  Particularly thick fabrics (such as heavy leathers) may call for long-shank grommets as the grommets are prone to popping off otherwise.

© Angela Stringer | @angelastringercorsetry on Instagram

© Angela Stringer | @angelastringercorsetry on Instagram

Grommet Spacing
As a general rule, grommets on a corset should be set no farther than about 1″ apart from each other. High-end and antique corsets often, though not always, have the grommets spaced closer at and next to the waist, the better to accommodate and distribute the additional pressure in this region.  This extra detail is a nice touch, but don’t use its absence as an earmark of inferior quality.  If the grommets are set close enough to begin with, using a reverse bunny lacing style will pick up the slack.  (Never fear, there will be more about lacing styles in another installment.)  If you are tightlacing and feel you need the additional support, most corsetieres working on a made-to-order or custom basis can likely accommodate you.  However, if your corsetiere is using lacing bones, the grommet spacing is predetermined and unalterable.

© Marianne Faulkner | @popantique on Instagram

© Marianne Faulkner | @popantique on Instagram

Lacing
As for the lacing, there are many options.  Some folks prefer sturdy cotton “official” corset lacing.  I’ve heard parachute cord is good.  Most modern corsetieres have taken to using polyester satin ribbon, which comes in a variety of widths and colors.  Though there’s an instinctive distrust of ribbon (doesn’t it slip?  Won’t it break?), it actually holds quite well and is incredibly easy to replace when it does eventually wear out.  I personally prefer satin ribbon over cotton lacing because it tends to glide more easily through grommets (also, it’s pretty), but each corsetiere and corset wearer will have their own preference.  The single most important feature is that the lacing should be entirely non-stretch.

© Samantha Guss | Model: Pop Antique | Corset: Dark Garden

© Samantha Guss | Model: Victoria Dagger | Corset: Dark Garden

Stay tuned for future installments in this All About Lacing series, which will cover topics such as lacing methods and information about the all-important lacing gap, both of which are tied to fit, comfort, and wearability.

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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Review: Madam X from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

The current collection from Dita Von Teese’s Von Follies has a lot of really winning pieces, but I have to say that this set from Madam X is certainly my favorite. I had the opportunity to special order several pieces via Dark Garden, including the much-vaunted (and much-wanted) Her Sexcellency Dress, but I kind of wish I could wear Madam X everyday. I got the wire-free bra and full brief, to satisfy my ongoing obsession with both bralettes and high waisted panties.

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Fit and Sizing

I have to admit, my one major frustration with the Von Follies line is that the sizing seems to be really inconsistent, at least in the bras. I got four bra styles in my special order (including the Her Sexcellency dress), and the trend seemed to be that the smaller the cup design, the smaller the cup fit. Not knowing what to expect at the time of the order, I had ordered everything in a 32B, though I was either a smidge smaller then or hadn’t yet realized I had actually graduated from a 30C to a 30D. The quarter cup styles were laughably (or cry-ably, if you will) small – I had to go up to a 32D in the one I was able to exchange. A friend and I ordered two very similar bras from the same group, in the same size.  Hers was the demi-cup and mine the quarter cup, and though her demi fit her pretty well, my quarter cup was very small on her as well, so it’s definitely not just me.  Thankfully, one of the charms of bralette styles (there are so many!) is that they are more forgiving with cup sizes, and I am quite happy in the 32B for the Madam X soft cup bra. With no underwire, framing the breast tissue isn’t a concern, and the cup depth is quite comfortable.

The panties I received were a size 12 UK, and a fairly good fit. (I have a 26″ waist and 38″ hips, which makes me about a 2/4 American.) At first I thought they were a little loose, but I actually prefer a bit of wearing ease in my panties because I hate the look and feel of elastic cutting in. Still, given the opportunity to try them on before purchasing, I maybe would have gone with the 10. If you’re used to American sizing, I would definitely recommend going up at least three sizes.

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Madam X Wire-Free Bra

This bra is called the wire-free, wireless, non-underwire, or soft cup bra (and so on) depending on the retailer. It does have a light piece of boning on the side of the cup but it is very unobtrusive. The wide strap detail anchors the center front a bit as well as looking amazing peeking out from a scoop neckline. The lace part of the cup is an elastic lace with subtle purple detailing, and a very narrow elastic discreetly tacked just inside the scalloped edge to help hold it flush against the top of the breast. The princess line of the cup has a faggoting detail (a peek-a-boo ladder-like stitch joining the two sides), which reveals – at me on least – that the princess line really is right on the apex.

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

The lower part of the cup looks like a wide satin elastic because of its tidy parallel stitching, but is actually a satin-faced lightweight bra pad. This is presumably largely responsible for the amazing support and shape provided by this bra. I am really impressed with its profile under shirts and the feeling of security provided. I will say that the band does seem to be rather stretchy – I wear it on the tightest hook (since it’s technically too large a band for me already) and it still has plenty of give, sufficient for me to hold it several inches away from my back. Aesthetically, though, I love the square-back shape designed by the intersection of strap, band, and wing. The wing (constructed from double layer mesh) is also a really great height, and sits flush against the body.

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Madam X Full Brief

As I mentioned, I felt I could’ve gone either way (10 or 12) with the sizing on this piece. The strap detailing at the waist is highly adjustable, which lends a certain flexibility – I had to tighten the straps considerably to fit my waist. The lace panels have the same narrow elastic reinforcement below the scallops featured on the bra, so this is where I would have been concerned about the smaller size dimpling my hip line. The gusset is cotton, with the seaming bagged and hidden. The back of the panty is stretch mesh, with a gathering seam down the center back. The legline elastic is pretty perfect – I particularly loathe a constricting legline.

"Madam X" set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

At the end of the day, I love these panties.  They have a lot of visual interest and detailing, but the overall design feels harmonious, not conflicted. The topstitched satin insets nod nicely to the bra, but both pieces are classic and versatile enough to be able to pair with other styles you may already own.  If you’re a bit shy of high-waisted styles, the low-rise version is pretty cute too (and retailers seem to be less intimidated by it – it’s easier to find).

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“Madam X” set from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

What do you think about Madam X from Von Follies by Dita Von Teese?

Marianne

Marianne

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.

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