Posts by Marianne

Corsets Are Not Self-Hatred

Dollymop for Dark Garden corset gown | Model: Tuesday Blues | Photo © Aaron Fagerstrom

Dollymop for Dark Garden corset gown | Model: Tuesday Blues | Photo © Aaron Fagerstrom

There seems to be a common misconception that women who wear corsets must “hate themselves” or “hate their bodies.” This is patently untrue and leads to endless concern trolling from those who think they know from vague hearsay more than those who have actually researched, invested in, and chosen to wear these unusual garments. Never mind that if someone really does hate their body, shaming them about it is probably the least effective thing you could do.

Pop Antique "Bombshell" waspie corset with peplum and ribbon detail | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Pop Antique

Pop Antique “Bombshell” waspie corset with peplum and ribbon detail | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Pop Antique

There are three main varieties on this theme that I hear most often…

No, women who wear corsets don’t inherently hate their (uncorseted) body or themselves. Whether an occasional wearer, serious tightlacer, or devoted waist trainer, I haven’t found corset fans to be any more insecure than those who don’t wear corsets. Actually, the corset community tends to be very body-positive and some find that wearing their corsets increases their awareness and appreciation of their own body, even uncorseted. Why are corsets so stigmatized? (Mostly because they are so uncommon, I suspect. The adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” definitely does not apply to corsets.) Do we think that women wear high heels because they hate their body? Push up bras? Makeup? Fake eyelashes? What about tweezing our eyebrows, dyeing and curling or straightening our hair? Of course not.  To make the same assumption about diet or exercise would be laughable, though of course cosmetic surgery often faces similar criticism and assumptions as corsetry. This concern can come from any direction, but it’s particularly ironic when coming from a self-proclaimed feminist, because modern day feminism is ostensibly about having choices.

Pop Antique waist training "Ingenue" corset | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Jon Bean Hastings

Pop Antique waist training “Ingenue” corset | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Jon Bean Hastings

No, women don’t wear corsets in a misguided attempt to make themselves more attractive to men. Those who wear corsets tend to do so primarily for themselves. They may have varying degrees of support and encouragement from their partners, but it’s my experience that most men either don’t care or are a little weirded out by serious corsets. An occasional corset may be intriguing in the bedroom or at a fancy occasion, but dramatic tightlacing or daily waist training is liable to be met with some amount of suspicion. Bonus irony points (see above) because there is a modern association between corsets and the patriarchy, when historically men have a long history of being suspicious of corsets.

Pop Antique "Minx" ribbon corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Pop Antique “Minx” ribbon corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

No, women who wear corsets aren’t “torturing” themselves because of the above specious allegations. Because corsets aren’t torture. When a corset fits well, it should feel supportive, if not jammies-and-a-t-shirt level comfy. The vast majority of corset wearers aren’t doing any damage to their bodies. There’s a small percentage of people who find any level of compression physically uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing, of course, but I have found them to be outnumbered by the percentage of people who derive physical or emotional benefit from corsets.

Dark Garden "Risqué Cincher" | Model: Khadijah | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden “Risqué Cincher” | Model: Khadijah | Photo © Joel Aron

If you’re already involved in the corset community, chances are such assumptions and body snark are anathema to your personal experiences and beliefs. Even if you’re new to corsets, or haven’t yet dipped your toes in the water, I encourage you to speak out when you hear these myths propagated. No, corsets are not self-hatred. Check out #realcorsetsrealpeople and of course feel free to make your own contributions to the tag.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

How to Order Handmade Lingerie & Corsets

Buying handmade is awesome. As an independent, one-woman business, I not only create a handmade product but I try to support other indie handmade designers as well.  Sometimes, when trying to order from other designers, I even find myself falling into the same pitfalls that can cause me frustration when coming from my own clients! Today I’m going to talk about the process of communicating with a designer who creates a handmade/made-to-order product.

Pop Antique "Valentine" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique “Valentine” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Have an Idea of What You Want

Let’s say you know what you want, but not from whom you’re ordering it. Figure out your unique needs then find the designer who serves them. For example, if you’re looking for a conical rib corset, you probably wouldn’t jump straight to Pop Antique, because I specialize in my signature “cupped rib” shape. (By the way, if you are looking for specialty corsets, definitely check out last week’s post of 10 Specialty Corsetieres.)

Do Your Research on the Specific Maker

So you’ve settled on The Thing you want. What Thing that already exists in the designer’s made-to-order line or custom portfolio is most like The Thing you want? It’s okay if it’s a hybrid of multiple styles! Have a clear concept of which parts of each style you are drawn to and which don’t work for you. Don’t muddy the waters by saying you want seven conflicting concepts. Real example: a latex designer getting a request for a “diaper romper thong and ruffled shirt that can be worn discreetly under the clothes.” It’s OK to not have the whole concept figured out, of course – the consultation is a back and forth process, and you have to trust a designer’s aesthetic expertise at a certain point. A designer is not just an assembly line for your vision.

Neon Duchess silver mesh cincher | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Matthew Kadi

Neon Duchess silver mesh cincher | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Matthew Kadi

Also do your research on that maker’s website. Read their FAQ and shipping policies. Don’t expect them to repeat basic information that is readily available on their site during the course of your consultation. They probably will, or at least link you to the relevant pages, but time spent on the consultation repeating readily available information is probably added into the price at some point. If you don’t see certain information on the site, mention that in your correspondence: “I couldn’t find this info on the site, [insert question here]?” That way, we’ll know if we need to change the way the information is found or displayed.

Dark Garden "Risqué Sweetheart" | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden “Risqué Sweetheart” | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Joel Aron

Communicating During Consultation Emails

Know what you want. Be clear and succinct. Double check the size chart and if you have any questions, ask the maker – exchanges are rarely possible on made-to-order goods. For me to get started on a corset order, I need the following information: Style, size, and fabric. I will also need a shipping address and a deposit. Sometimes I get emails that aren’t for immediate orders, which is OK, too. But if you know you’re not ready to order right away, let the designer know that you’re just doing your research and putting out feelers. If you are ready to put down a deposit or pay in full immediately, make that clear as well.

Don’t haggle over the price or tell the designer they are “too expensive” or “overpriced.” It is okay to ask if the designer ever does sales, if you ask politely and don’t demand/feel entitled to a discount. Also, for corsets in particular (other high-ticket and/or long turnaround may also fall into this category), most designers will do installment plans. Don’t worry about coming up with the whole sum right away, a deposit of 1/2 or 1/3 will get you officially in the queue, and the balance just needs to be paid off by the time your order is picked up or shipped. If you’re working with an international designer, you will be the one responsible for customs fees, as decided by your local government. If you’re working with a local designer, you’ll have to pay sales tax. (In the USA, you’ll have to pay state tax if you’re in the same state, city tax if picking up locally. Out-of-state clients don’t pay sales tax.)

Pop Antique "Vixen" Ribbon Corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Max Johnson

Pop Antique “Vixen” Ribbon Corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Max Johnson

If a designer has a process outlined on the site or asks certain things of your communication, try to follow those policies. It minimizes confusion and wasted time on the designer’s end. (Remember, time spent not making stuff still has to be accounted for in the price of a product!)

Try not to change your mind seven times, but if you do change your mind about something, let us know ASAP before work has started and it’s too late. Changes may be possible but are likely to incur an additional fee. Fit adjustments for bespoke work should not fall into this category, unless you have changed size/shape – for example, lost a lot of weight, taken up waist training, or gotten pregnant.

Dark Garden "Cincher" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Dark Garden “Cincher” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Get a feel for how often the designer responds to email. If you haven’t heard back for a few days or a week, especially from an initial contact, it’s okay to give a little nudge. If you’ve been corresponding already, keep it in the same thread to bump it to the top of their inbox. If it’s a first contact, you might’ve gotten stuck in a spam folder or buried by mistake – try again. Trying to stay on top of emails and also actually make the products you’re emailing about can be one of the biggest struggles a designer faces!

Turnaround

Every designer has a different turnaround, and it may vary based on the product. Certainly full bespoke will take longer than a standard-fit made to order. If you have a particular due date (say, for a special occasion or a trip), be straightforward about that immediately. Rush turnarounds may cost extra. If your order is supposed to be completed in four weeks, don’t email at two weeks to ask how it’s going. Chances are, it’s not that it takes four weeks to make your order – it’s that it takes three and a half weeks to work through the orders that came in before yours.

Sparklewren "Jesus" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren “Jesus” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Indie Designers Are People, Not Machines

There’s a little discrepancy in each product. A certain level of QC, or quality control, is absolutely to be expected, but there are a lot of variables that go into place. And the level of QC you should expect is directly proportionate to price point. Just because a product is “expensive” for your wallet doesn’t mean it’s overpriced for the level of work that goes into it. You can’t have a butter smooth custom corset with a 7″ waist reduction for $200. Sometimes the overzealous standards of the community can be really offputting to designers – a good corsetiere is inherently detail oriented and a perfectionist. Jenni of Sparklewren once quipped the following to me, regarding corsetmaking and client expectations:

“It needs to fit, it needs to not fall apart, and it needs to be pretty.”

-Jenni Hampshire, Sparklewren

In other words, manage your expectations. We want to make you happy, but don’t expect the sky on a plate.

Dark Garden "Victorian" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden “Victorian” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Joel Aron

If there is a real problem with your order, let us know! But please keep it polite and professional. I once got an email with the most jarring subject line: “Am I being ripped off??” The problem with this client’s order was primarily that she was skeptical of the spiral steels in her corset – she thought I had cheated her and used plastic boning instead.

If there’s an issue, you can start by responding in the same thread where you’ve been communicating, rather than starting a fresh one. Try to take out subjective terms and instead use objective, quantifiable phrasing so we can really get to the root of the issue and process how to fix it. For example, use specific, directional vocabulary and measurements/reference points on the garment. If you are rude and aggressive, it takes up that much more of our mental energy just to respond, let alone do anything about it. Most of the indie designers making handmade lingerie and corsets are one woman businesses or little more. We are our brands, and we take them seriously and personally. We get that you’re unhappy and we want to fix it, but we’re only human and sometimes a harsh email can feel like a blow to the face that just makes us want to hang up our fabric shears and cry under our blankets. Despite what you may have heard about squeaky wheels, a polite and friendly tone is actually more likely to expedite your service.

Pop Antique "Bombshell" waspie corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Marianne Faulkner

Pop Antique “Bombshell” waspie corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Marianne Faulkner

So go forth and shop small this holiday season! Just remember that the “hand” in “handmade” is attached to a real person… one you’ve probably chosen to work with for their unique talents and point of view. Your designer, in turn, is grateful that you’re enabling them to do this unconventional thing that they love and be an independent designer.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

10 Specialty Corsetieres

While it goes without saying that many of us are gift shopping for our friends, family, and general loved ones, it’s also a fun time of year to get yourself a little treat. As you accumulate corset-y dreams to take with you into the new year, here’s a list of ten specialty corsetieres whom I think exemplify a particular niche. Some of these talented designers (all of them crafting a handmade product) are extremely versatile, but I’ve selected the categories in which I think they really shine amongst the competition.

Sparklewren Oyster corset gown InaGlo Samio

Sparklewren “Oyster” corset gown | Model: Samio | Photo © InaGlo Photography

Decadently Feminine Couture: Sparklewren
Sparklewren’s exquisitely layered embellishments have been an inspiration to contemporary corsetieres since she came onto the scene five years ago. If you’re looking for a impeccably impractical one-of-a-kind couture corset, let Sparklewren’s imagination run wild and you are sure to delight in the ensuing confection.

Dark Garden "Valentine" corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden “Valentine” corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Joel Aron

Plus Size / Full Figure: Dark Garden
Dark Garden has been an industry leader in the corset niche for 25 years. Originally only making bespoke corsets, their RTW line is based on an average of thousands of custom measurements taken over the years. If your “hourglass runeth over,” look no farther than the Valentine. If your budget extends to bespoke, trust Dark Garden to support and enhance your curves with panache.  Attention is lavished on the angle of each and every seam so it best fits your body with both grace and comfort.

Crikey Aphrodite "Queenie" corset | Model: Evie Wolfe | Photo © Scott Chalmers

Crikey Aphrodite “Queenie” corset | Model: Evie Wolfe | Photo © Scott Chalmers

Full Bust: Crikey Aphrodite
Alison Campbell of Crikey Aphrodite works as an expert bra fitter by day, so it’s no wonder she is exceptionally conscious of good bust fit and support in her corsets.  She particularly wowed me at this year’s Oxford Conference of Corsetry when she created a sample corset for the extremely buxom Evie Wolfe… without a mockup fitting. The support and shaping of the bust fit was truly remarkable! (Especially under the circumstances.)

Blue and silver corset trio by Laurie Tavan

Blue and silver corset trio by Laurie Tavan

Historical Fusion: Laurie Tavan (formerly Daze of Laur)
Laurie Tavan has an incredibly unique and fun spin on classic historic silhouettes. Using color blocking and graphic bias stripes, Laurie breathes fresh life into antique-inspired styles, reminding us that not all historic corsets need be simple, undyed, underwear corsets. Like any good corsetmaker, Laurie also has a keen eye for detail and fit.

Feminizing Men's Corset by Contour Corsets

Feminizing Men’s Corset by Contour Corsets

Transgender: Contour Corsets
Fran Blanche’s Contour Corsets have received attention as medical and waist training corsets, but where she really shines is in serving the transgender community. As a transgendered woman, Fran is very conscious of both the personal and the fit concerns trans* individuals have regarding corsetry.

Wilde Hunt "Zafirah" leather corset dress

Wilde Hunt “Zafirah” leather corset dress

Leather: Wilde Hunt
For about as long as I’ve been making corsets, I’ve been aware of the exquisite leather work of Wilde Hunte. Though her shaping tends to run to the more mild, it serves as a beautiful foundation to the complex scenes appliqued onto her work.

Custom embellished corset by Flo Foxworthy

Custom embellished corset by Flo Foxworthy

Burlesque: Flo Foxworthy
While many performers may choose to buy a plain corset from any number of makers and embellish it themselves, why not go to an expert and have a perfect costume created just for you? As a showgirl herself, Flo Foxworthy knows just what you need to maximize your va-va-voom potential under those stage lights.

Pop Antique "Valentine" corset in contrasting organic cotton sateens | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique “Valentine” corset in contrasting organic cotton sateens | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Eco-Conscious / Organic: Pop Antique
Pop Antique is my line, and though I have a selection of traditional silks and coutil available, I do my best to source organic cotton and hemp and use it wherever possible. My standard strength layer fabric is a strong, smooth, and supple organic cotton canvas, and I have a lovely selection of organic cotton sateen fashion fabrics which are both strong and beautiful in their subtle luminosity.

Royal Black couture corset "Mystique Lillies"

Royal Black couture corset “Mystique Lillies”

Opulently Gothic: Royal Black
Royal Black is another continual crowd-pleaser, with their beautiful laser-cut designs, distinctive point of view, and unique detailing. Collection pieces may feature bright colors, metallics, and even pastels, but the result aesthetic is always touched with the essence of a fairy tale evil queen, in the most awesome way possible.

Bizarre Design tightlacing corset

Bizarre Design tightlacing corset

Tightlacing: Bizarre Design
This was arguably the hardest category to choose for, but I simply couldn’t create this list without showcasing the amazing work of Bizarre Design by Jeroen van der Klis. Bizarre Design has been making exemplary corsets since the late ’80s. The lines of his work showcase a classic fetish aesthetic that’s so refined as to continually appeal to the modern-day corset audience.

Who’s your favorite specialty corsetiere?

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

What Is a “Real” Corset, Anyway?

Disclosure: This blog post contains an affiliate link.

In online corset communities, there’s a lot of talk about “real” corsets. The current latex shaper craze has definitely exacerbated this. (Spoiler: Those aren’t corsets.) But what is a “real”/”authentic”/”true” corset anyway? I find this sort of denomination to be muddying rather than clarifying, personally. Partially because, while I may not like them, even bad corsets are still corsets. There are also some really good corsets that break the Rules. But there are definitely some garments thought of or even sold as corsets that are plainly something different.  So where’s the line?

Pop Antique "Gibson Girl" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique “Gibson Girl” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

(Oh, and don’t get me wrong.  While I say “bad corsets” and “good corsets,” I don’t actually think these descriptions are much better than “real” and “fake” corsets. First of all, they are far too subjective, but also I’d love to find categorizations that sound less judgey!)

What a Corset Is and Does

So let’s start with what a corset actually is.  This is my personal definition, which I feel encompasses the key commonalities between both historic and modern corsets. A corset is a strongly structured (under)garment used to create a desired silhouette, fitted by means of lacing which controls compression and re-shaping of the torso.

Morua corset in bobbinet | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Morua corset in bobbinet | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Let’s break that down. I say “strongly structured” where others might say “steel boned” and “has no stretch.” I think stretch is going to be the next frontier of corset rule breaking in this contemporary corsetry renaissance we’re experiencing. (Well, it seems like a renaissance from here! More on that another day.) Sian Hoffman already blurs the line between “corset” and “girdle” with her powermesh longline, and some of the mesh being used for sheer/summer corsets has give even if it doesn’t have any lycra content. Sparklewren has also been making (to great success) single layer corsets without a waist tape.

Sparklewren "Rose Gold" single layer silk/cotton sateen corset, sans waist tape | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren “Rose Gold” single layer silk/cotton sateen corset, sans waist tape | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

As for boning, while steel is the standard, there’s at least one corsetiere out there using a high quality plastic with wonderful results (the types of plastic bones that are widely available are still mostly crap which will warp instantly, though). Cane/reed is still used for historic recreations. Home corsetieres often use cable ties for their personal corsets. Cording can even replace boning. On the flip side, there are plenty of cheap, shapeless, corset-like garments with steel bones slapped inside.  Steel bones alone are not enough to define a corset.

Dollymop for Dark Garden underbust corset | Model: Khadijah | Photo © Joel Aron

Dollymop for Dark Garden underbust corset | Model: Khadijah | Photo © Joel Aron

I say “desired silhouette” because stays, which are included in the corset family, had more to do with shaping upper torso, including bust and shoulders, than just the waistline. Hip shaping for a lot of periods was more determined by skirts and underskirts than the corset itself. Modern corsets focus on the lower ribs, waistline, and hips, but their antecedents are still relevant.

Lacing. I have written so. many. articles. on. lacing, and you know what, I bet I am still going to write more.  Functional lacing is so important for creating controlled and variable compression. I cannot think of a single exception to this part of my definition, though I am open to the possibility.

Pop Antique corset featuring upcycled tshirt, styled with a vintage fur wrap and tulle skirt | Model: Victoria Dagger  |Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique corset featuring upcycled tshirt, styled with a vintage fur wrap and tulle skirt | Model: Victoria Dagger
|Photo © John Carey

Lastly, compression/reshaping of the form. Throughout history there have been plenty of foundation pieces and garment add-ons that structure and build up the form, from bum rolls to shoulder pads. A corset sculpts the body by carefully compressing and redistributing the existing flesh.

The Grey Area

So, my definition does, unfortunately, include bad corsets, at least a little. Poorly made corsets with little shape, cheap boning, cheap polyester fabric cut off grain, grommets spaced 2″ apart… They may do a poor job of  it, but in a way that requires more finesse to spot.  These are the sorts of corset a teenager might wear to a Rocky Horror midnight showing, which is probably the best use for them. They’re sometimes called “fashion corsets”, but as modern corsetry is moving in an increasingly fashionable direction (a trend which I personally am committed to furthering), I find this moniker inadequate. Those godawful eBay knockoffs are in this category.

Pop Antique Valentine corset with fashion-conscious details and styling | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique Valentine corset with fashion-conscious details and styling | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

For a starting point in identifying quality in corsetry, check out What (You Didn’t Know) to Look for in a Corset. Some will try to say that a good corset or a corset fit for waist training must have a certain number of bones or layers of coutil. My definition is much more fluid. The materials and reinforcement appropriate to a corset will depend on the goals for wear, and even waist trainers will have varying needs and desires for their training corsets. As ever, I strongly advocate for handmade corsetry – I find the fit and finishing to be superior, and the designers of handmade corsetry are usually those leading the way in innovative techniques  and design. There’s also a flexibility of design in made-to-order and bespoke corsets that is currently literally impossible in a mass-produced, factory-made piece. Yes, handmade corsets are more expensive, but justifiably so.

That still leaves us with a couple things commonly called “corsets” which are, in fact, a different type of garment.

Not corsets:

-Latex waist shapers/fajas. These are more like girdles than corsets as they have only a hook closure and seem to be entirely stretchy with very little stability and structure. Personally I find the fine-tuned fit of a corset to be much more comfortable than the squeeze of a stretch shapewear.

Latex waist shaper (girdle) by Leonisa. Not a corset.

Latex waist shaper (girdle) by Leonisa. Not a corset.

-Fashion corset tops, which are essentially boned bodices with no waist shaping and a zip closure. They may have a decorative lacing detail but no functional lacing.

What do you think of as a real corset? Have you found your stance on real corsets changing as time goes on? What terminology do you use to distinguish between good and bad corsets, or corsets and other shapewear?

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

How to Lace a Corset: V Method + Bunny Ears

Dollymop for Dark Garden pinstripe corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Joel Aron

Dollymop for Dark Garden pinstripe corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Joel Aron

Knowing how to relace your corsets is a valuable skill. You may find the lacing too short, or want to replace it with a different type or color. Heaven forbid, you may one day end up being cut out of your corset! You can probably take it back to the maker to be relaced, but you could also learn how to do it yourself. Though this is a step-by-step how to, I’ve previously written several other pieces on corset lacing (part 1, the back gap, modesty panels, lacing mistakes, adjusting uneven laces).

As a general guideline, you’ll want about 5-8 yards of lacing for underbust corsets, and 7-10 yards for overbusts. How much will depend on how long the back of the corset is, how closely set the grommets are, how much reduction you achieve, and the overall size of the corset.  As discussed in those prior articles, I tend to use ribbon for lacing. I cut the ends at a 45º angle and singe them to keep them from fraying, which can be really frustrating as you try to lace up. I also like to go down with one length of ribbon and then come back up for the other side – I find it faster, and in a weird way, less confusing than constantly switching back and forth.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

corset lacing by pop antique 0b

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Hook the front of the corset, putting one busk loop towards the middle behind. This will maintain the tension and keep it securely fastened. You may find it helpful to mark the waistline with a straight pin or safety pin (don’t do this if you’re lacing a leather corset). Just feel for the waist tape, if there is one.  You’ll need to know where the waist is to make the “bunny ears.”

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Pull one end of the lacing through each of the top grommets (coming up from below, on the interior of the corset), then pull the length from both sides through together (use one hand to brace the corset and one to pull) so that they are the same length and you have a bit of a space between the edges of center back – just an inch or two.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Take one side of ribbon. I like to start with the left, right where it comes out of the grommet, then pull it through my finger and thumb, flat, until I reach the end. This minimizes the amount of twisting in the ribbon.
Coming up from the bottom of the grommet, go to the next hole on the right side.
Go back to the left, skip one, come up from the bottom.
Go back to the right, skip one, come up from the bottom.
I find it fastest to pull just the end of the ribbon through about three grommets, then catch up and pull the length through those three, and then move onto the next.  So I’ll lace: right, left, right, pull. Left, right, left, pull.  This is a technique I developed in a production environment, you can go one grommet at a time instead, but I find it takes a lot longer and makes my arms more tired.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Keep going in this pattern until you are at the waist level. If the waist level is even with a grommet, that grommet and the one below it will be the pair for the bunny ears. If there are grommets framing the waist tape, then that’s your pair.
When you get to your grommets of choice, you will skip twogrommets as you go across, going from directly above the waist on one side to the lower of the pair on the other side. Come up from the bottom. Pull all the slack through.
Go straight up, do not skip a grommet, do not switch sides (also do not pass go or collect $200). From above, insert the lacing into that grommet. Pull out a bit of slack, but not much – this will see you to the bottom of the corset. Most of the slack lives in the waist loop. You’ll only need a couple feet for most corset styles.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Going back across, skip two grommets (the waist loop for the other side), lace from above. Go across, skip one, lace from above. Below the waist, I find it’s sometimes easier to go in pairs rather than threes before pulling through.  Continue all the way down to the last grommet.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Go back to the top of the corset now. On the way, scope out your waist loop. As it angles down, which side of the lacing is on top? In this example, it’s the right-to-left which features the overhand lacing. The lacing looks a lot tidier if you make this a consistent pattern. I make this my mantra as I go back down with the other side of lacing.
Again, I pull the length of the lacing through my finger and thumb to eliminate twisting.
Coming up from the bottom of the grommet, go to the empty grommet (skip none) on the left side. I’m going over the bit of lacing that I cross.
Coming up from the bottom of the grommet, I go under the existing piece of ribbon to the next grommet.
Again, I work in threes. I repeat to myself, “Over, under, over.” (Pull.) “Under, over, under.” (Pull.)
You can do one or two grommets at a time if you find it easier.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Once you get to waist level, there will be your two open grommets. Go through the lower one from beneath (maintain your over-under pattern here), then into the higher one from above. Pull out a couple feet – this is your home stretch! Don’t forget your over-under pattern. You should create a parallel line from the original cross over.
At this point in particular I will switch to paired grommets to better keep track of the over-under pattern. If I’m going to mess up anywhere, it’s often around here. Remember that you’re now inserting the ribbon from above.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

When you get to the last grommet, pull through. Take the two ribbon ends together and treat them as one. Make a loop and pull a tiny tail through. Make sure it’s snug by separating above the knot and giving a good tug.

At this point in particular I will switch to paired grommets to better keep track of the over-under pattern. If I'm going to mess up anywhere, it's often around here. Remember that you're now inserting the ribbon from above.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

At this point in particular I will switch to paired grommets to better keep track of the over-under pattern. If I'm going to mess up anywhere, it's often around here. Remember that you're now inserting the ribbon from above.

Corset lacing tutorial. Corset by Pop Antique.

Then, to make it extra tidy, just distribute all the slack up to the waist loops from the bottom, then down to the waist loops from the top. You can skip about every other pair of grommets as you’re doing this. Tie the loops in a giant bow. Ta-da!

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

Medical & Support Corsetry

This article is intended as a starting point. I am not a doctor and TLA is not a medical blog. This post is not intended in any way to replace a trained healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor if you think medical corsetry may be right for you.

The relentless stream of anti-corset propaganda, which often takes place in the form of concern trolling, can be especially frustrating to me because over the years I have seen far more cases of corsets providing medical support than causing any damage to the body.  Even one of the comments on one of my last articles was from a woman who wears her corset for largely medical reasons, spanning a variety of issues from scoliosis to asthma (!!).  (Scroll to Deanna’s comment at the bottom.) But the myths persist, based on improbable risks that have more to do with ill-fitting corsetry and the miniscule percentage of extreme corset enthusiasts than 99% of modern and historic corset wearers.  The following is a short list of just some of the medical benefits of corsetry which I’ve witnessed in my years making and fitting corsets.

Pop Antique jersey corset dress | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Pop Antique jersey corset dress | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

If you are intrigued by the prospect of medical corsetry, please consult with your doctor and don’t forget that you get what you pay for. Medical corsets in particular should be purchased from an expert corsetiere and custom fitting is often integral to their functionality.  The angle and placement of seamlines is vital to a perfect fit, and the level of boning (both number of bones, flat vs spiral, and rigidity of the boning) should be tailored to your needs and preferences.

Back Support
It’s especially ironic that one of the most pervasive myths about corsets is that they are inherently “bad for your back,” or, “horrible for your skeleton.” Often, when I lace someone in for the first time (especially men), they let out a sigh of relief and comment on the amazing back support. I’ve even repeatedly heard that the corsets are far more comfortable and effective than a typical back support belt, not to mention significantly more attractive!  The associated risk is that IF you wear a corset ALL the time (save for bathing) and do not do any core exercises, you may experience a slight weakening in your abdominal muscles. In all but the most extremist corset wearers, it’s unlikely that this weakening would be pronounced enough to affect day to day activities.

Clessidra corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Clessidra corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Posture Improvement
Putting on a corset will immediately improve posture through the lower back (though, unless the corset has straps, shoulders are usually still free to slump).  Consistently wearing a corset will help the body retain good posture even when uncorseted, an affect I’ve definitely appreciated since I started waist training at the beginning of the year.  The taller the corset, the more of your spine it can support in an upright position. Maintaining upright posture can reduce aches and digestive problems (more info available from Lucy, naturally)… Proper posture can not only improve the hang of your clothing, it can also improve confidence, both real and perceived, as Sarah Chrisman discovered for herself. Make sure the fit of your corset suits the natural curvature of your spine; if you suffer from lordosis it may take some experimenting with boning types and bending to get the right shape. As ever, be communicative and clear when consulting with your corsetiere.

I am fortunate that my scoliosis is fairly mild, but Dark Garden still made asymmetric pattern adjustments to this made-to-order Alexandra accommodate it. Dark Garden "Alexandra" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Scott Taylor

I am fortunate that my scoliosis is fairly mild, but Dark Garden still made asymmetric pattern adjustments to this made-to-order Alexandra accommodate it.
Dark Garden “Alexandra” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Scott Taylor

Scoliosis
Many of the clients I’ve worked with at Dark Garden are seeking corsetry to replace the back brace that gave them much-needed support in earlier years. Corsets can even be made that can aid in correcting scoliosis over time.  (Lucy has a short article on this subject.) A master corsetiere should be commissioned for a scoliosis support corset, as the degree of asymmetry can be very pronounced. Those with scoliosis often like their corsets to be particularly tight throughout, with less ease through the ribs and hips.

Hypermobile Joints
Some people have naturally loose joints, and some – notably circus performers such as contortionists – loosen and stretch their joints over time. A corset can serve as an exo-skeleton, holding the body together, provide (once again) support, and bracing it from being jarred. Dark Garden even made a pregnancy corset for a long-time custom client with hypermobile joints, who was concerned about the further impact the pregnancy could have on her joint issues. As with scoliosis, if hypermobility is a concern, you may find yourself wanting a tighter and more rigid bind to lock in your rib cage and hip joints.  A longline, high back corset would be my recommendation.

Dark Garden custom High Back Pointed Victorian corset with straps | Photo © Perry Galagher

Dark Garden custom High Back Pointed Victorian corset with straps | Photo © Perry Galagher

Osteoporosis
This is something I don’t see as often, but I worked a few times with a lovely client who turned to corsetry after being diagnosed with osteoporosis. (Joyce, we miss you, come back and visit us!)  It’s been a while since I worked with her, but basically I believe the corset served to stabilize and support her spine, and assisted with pain management. After just a few weeks in a ready-to-wear, she noticed improvement and upgraded to a fully custom piece with a high back and straps.

Diastasis Recti
Though diastasis recti is commonly associated with postpartum women, it can happen to men as well, as was the case with the gent whom I helped at this past weekend’s Dickens Fair workshops.  He was under medical advisement to wear a binder to help rejoin his separated abdominal muscles, but found that it had too much give; the stretch wasn’t providing enough resistance.  9 months ago he started wearing a corset day and night and he’s now noticed improvement in his condition, lost weight (also medically advised), and dropped two corset sizes from a 39 to 35. For women wearing corsets after pregnancy, the corset will help ease down the expanded rib cage as well as holding together the abdominal muscles.

Pop Antique "Minx" ribbon corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Pop Antique “Minx” ribbon corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Compression Therapy
Compression therapy can be used to treat anxiety. Corset fans have long described the feeling of being laced in (to a well-made, well-fitted corset, of course) as being like that of an all day hug.  As it turns out, you also get some of the therapeutic benefits of being hugged by your corset as well! Compression therapy can help manage anxiety levels throughout the day. The primary challenge is that those with anxiety issues may also have difficulty with feelings of confinement, so knowing how to get out of your corset quickly in a pinch is important. Though there has yet to be particular study on the effects of corsets and autism, deep pressure therapy is sometimes used to calm and help focus individuals with autism-spectrum disorders.

Dark Garden Cincher in black leather | Model: Anuka Mendbayar | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden Cincher in black leather | Model: Anuka Mendbayar | Photo © Joel Aron

Menstrual Cramps
Your mileage may vary, of course – personally I can’t stand being corseted at the beginning of my cycle. However, if you are the sort who likes to curl into the fetal position to ease your cramps, a snug corset can exert the same sort of pressure on your lower abdomen and thus enable you to go about your day, far more functional than you would have been otherwise. I had a coworker who tended to tightlace during her period for this very reason.

So the next time someone tries to tell you corsets are bad for you, just try spouting off a few of these wonderful medical advantages to wearing a corset!  Do you wear a corset for your health? What style of corset have you found best for your particular health needs?

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

Review + DIY: Velvet Heart Lace Socks

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

"Lithe Is But a Dream" lace socks from Velvet Heart via ModCloth

“Lithe Is But a Dream” lace socks from Velvet Heart via ModCloth

I’m not much of a fancy sock person – San Francisco is a leggings and tights kind of city. But it’s definitely been getting warmer, summer’s been getting longer, and I’ve been trying to mix up my wardrobe in general, so I fell in love with the idea of these lace socks.  Unfortunately, the reality fell far short. The issue is definitely one of quality rather than design – I still think the socks are adorable and am hoping to at least squeeze a photoshoot out of them before they fall apart.

"Lithe Is But a Dream" lace socks from Velvet Heart via ModCloth

“Lithe Is But a Dream” lace socks from Velvet Heart via ModCloth

I bought the socks from ModCloth, knowing full well they were a final sale/no returns item. When they arrived, I admired the cute cardstock packaging, wrapped with a grosgrain ribbon, detailing care instructions (machine wash cold, tumble dry low), and of course, the original brand name: Velvet Heart. Luckily I saved the label otherwise I completely would’ve forgotten that information for this review, as ModCloth always conceals original brand names.  Velvet Heart still has the socks available in a handful of colors.  (Don’t be confused by their product image: it’s a technical drawing, not an actual photograph of the sock or even the same lace.)

I slipped them on to pop down the block to run an errand at work. Even just trying them on they seemed awfully snug. I have small feet, size 6, standard width, so that was a bit surprising.  Baring my knees, I wore them with a simple dress and black pumps.  My work is literally a block down the street from me, so I walked a total of two short blocks. By the time I got back, my toes had already popped through!  I was shocked… I had just paid $10 for socks that I wasn’t even able to wear for a full hour before they developed holes!

The problem lies in the construction. The sock is seamed together from a lace fabric, which on its own might be fine. It’s held together with a narrow overlock and matching wooly nylon thread. I wear the seam along the outside edge of my foot, twisting it to a back seam at the heel.  My toes popped through the fabric at the seam, which leads me to believe that A) the seam allowance is too narrow, and/or B) it was stitched with a “sharp” needle rather than “ballpoint.” A sharp literally punctures the fabric for each stitch and is used for woven fabrics, whereas a ballpoint rolls the individual threads aside and is used for knits. Upon closer inspection, it seems the fabric was cut on the wrong grainline, with the stretch running vertically rather than around the foot.  No wonder they felt so snug when I tried them on!

DIY pattern for lace socks. Print to fill a standard letter size sheet of paper.

DIY pattern for lace socks. Print to fill a standard letter size sheet of paper.

As I said, I think they can be salvaged for a photoshoot, but I certainly won’t be able to wear them out, especially with heels.  Still, I think the simple construction would make for a fun and easy DIY project.  Attached is a pattern I’ve drafted for this style of sock.  To put it together, remember to pay attention to the direction of stretch and use a ballpoint needle. Even if you don’t have an overlock machine, you could try using a faux-verlock stitch on a home sewing machine, or combining a straight stitch with a zig zag to finish the edge. Remember to test your tension settings on scraps of your fabric.  I would use a double pass zig zag to add an elastic trim like the one on the Velvet Heart socks, but you could fold under 1/2″ and do a simple zig zag if you’re using stretch lace fabric yardage. (These are DIY/home-sewing options, not production standards, FYI.) Alternatively, you could buy a a fixed width stretch lace, which is often used for making lace mitts and bralettes, and tailor the sock height to match its width, using the scalloped edge to avoid finishing the top of the sock altogether.  You’ll need a lace that’s a minimum of 9″ wide – I think ideal would be about 12″. If you want a taller sock, you’ll have to add width to the top to create a calf shape.

What do you think of lace socks? Is there a particular brand that makes a style you like? Are you going to try to DIY your own lace socks now?

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

Corsets Are Not Consent

Corset: Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Lauren Luck

Corset: Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Lauren Luck

Corsets are inherently an attention-getting garment. First, there’s their rarity: you just don’t see a woman (or man) in a corset very often, especially not “real” corsets. They’re unusual, uncommon. Not only are they uncommon, but they create an instant and noticeable change to the wearer’s body, unlike many outlandish or eye-catching styles which may build upon or exaggerate the form but don’t change it. A corseted woman has dramatized proportions and fits into her clothes differently. Her stance, posture, and gait can all be changed by lacing into a corset. Perhaps most importantly, we have a lot of societal expectations, judgments, and questions pressed into ourselves about corsets above and beyond other shapewear garments. So it’s natural that we do a double take or strike up a conversation with a corseted person. However, just because something is “different” doesn’t mean the rules of polite society cease to exist, and that is where the problem lies. A person in a corset is often objectified – not exclusively in a sexual way, but literally treated as an object.

This hasn’t been a huge problem for me, personally. Living in San Francisco as I do, it takes a lot to catch the attention of passers-by, and the questions I face are more often curious than rude. Or maybe it’s my resting bitch face, because I tend to suffer very little street harassment in general (or if it occurs, I don’t seem to notice it).

Ensemble: Dollymop for Dark Garden | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Lydia Chen

Ensemble: Dollymop for Dark Garden | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Lydia Chen

I wish the same were the case for the rest of the corseted community. The fact of the matter is that many find themselves subject to not only rude lines of conversation but uninvited touching when they wear their corsets. You’d think we would have all learned to keep our hands to ourselves in kindergarten – I well remember the day I got in trouble for “boing-ing” a classmate’s curly tendril during a game of Duck, Duck, Goose! The problem with touching isn’t specific to corseted women, of course. Women with unusual hair are often faced with it. Exceptionally long, short, or brightly colored hair is often a target for space bubble invasion. It is a symptom of our society’s confusion over ownership of women’s bodies. Women of color with natural hair are particularly vulnerable to this failure of common courtesy, and the societal entitlement issues around their bodies run even deeper. (There’s a lot more that can be said about entitlement and microaggressions and race, which is discussed elsewhere by others far more qualified to speak on it. The dialogue is thought provoking and worth the time should you decide to research it further.) Even if the intent behind touching isn’t intended as sexual, it still constitutes a violation of personal space.

Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Even when strangers aren’t grabbing corseted waistlines left and right, a corseted woman might be more prone to flirtation/harassment, even, or perhaps especially, in the workplace. An hourglass waistline (and, in an overbust corset, uplifted breasts) is appealing on a subconscious level, but as sentient beings we do have a choice about how we choose to engage with other people. The same rules about polite behavior apply in public spaces, the workplace, and events/parties/cons. Though corsets are enticing, a corseted person is not necessarily actively trying to entice, particularly if they are wearing their corset in public on a day-to-day basis. You can pretty much take it as a given that an article of clothing is never a substitute for clear and direct verbal communication, whether at a club, on the street, or at work. Of course models who post portfolio images featuring lingerie and corsets on Facebook and the like are expecting attention – but they aren’t asking for lewd remarks. For models, their social media presence is their workplace. This sort of behavior isn’t just a problem from men; women may also automatically sexualize corsets on other women, even if it’s not situationally appropriate.

Ensemble: Dark Garden | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Joel Aron

Ensemble: Dark Garden | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Joel Aron

Corsets are not consent. A woman who wears a corset is not automatically consenting to be ogled, flirted with, touched without permission, or otherwise sexualized. Remember that even if your intent isn’t sexual, it can still feel objectifying or unwanted. If you are curious about another person’s corset, please be polite with your line of inquiry. A person who does not wish to engage with you isn’t automatically a “snob.” If you ask politely, most corsetwearers would be happy to extoll the virtues and benefits of corsetry to you until your eyes glaze over (but do remember that you are essentially asking personal questions about their underwear, and that you are never “owed” an answer regardless). If you care to express your admiration, a compliment respectfully delivered is more likely to be responded to in kind.

Have you ever been harassed or received unwelcome forms of attention from wearing a corset? How did you handle the situation? How do you think you would handle it if it came up (again)?

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

A Corset Family Tree, Abridged

Sparklewren "Rose Gold" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren “Rose Gold” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Corsets have an amazing breadth of variety, though I often simplify it for neophytes to the two basic types, overbust and underbust, at least as a starting point. When corset shopping, the range of options and, importantly, the nomenclature around them can be quite daunting.  The following is a simplified and streamlined guide to corset styles for modern corset wearers.  Those interested in learning about historical corsetry in greater detail are encouraged to check out some of the wonderful books about corsetry (I particularly recommend Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines), as I am not personally a fashion historian.

A Corset Family Tree, Abridged. Illustrations © Pop Antique.

A Corset Family Tree, Abridged. Illustrations © Pop Antique.

Overbusts

Dark Garden "Baroque" corset | Model: Anneka | Photo © Betsy Kershner

Dark Garden “Baroque” corset | Model: Anneka | Photo © Betsy Kershner

Stays/Bodice – stops around the natural waist, has straps, may have tabs, as shown above..

Dark Garden "Victorian" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Thomas Landon

Dark Garden “Victorian” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Thomas Landon

Midbust/Flat Front – the modern simplification of a “Victorian” corset, this is a very cleavage-friendly style with a straight-across neckline.

Sparklewren "Soft Dove" corset | Model: Tingyn | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren “Soft Dove” corset | Model: Tingyn | Photo © Sparklewren

Edwardian/S-Curve – characterized by swooping seam lines, a flat front and outtrust derriere (the “S-Curve”), and a longline hip.

Pop Antique "Valentine" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Pop Antique “Valentine” corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Sweetheart/Contoured bust – the modern standard, the bust is supported and rounded with a defined underbust and, of course, sweetheart neckline.

Dark Garden "Adelaide" corset | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden “Adelaide” corset | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Joel Aron

Cupped Corset – Similar to a sweetheart, but the cups are actually seamed in at the underbust and more fitted, and may have any level of coverage available in a bra (demi, full, etc). Cupped corsets, ideally, should be custom-fit with a mockup.

Underbusts

Classic Underbust – covers from the underbust (bra band level) to the lap

Pop Antique "Ingenue" corset | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Jon Bean Hastings

Pop Antique “Ingenue” corset | Model: Elisa Berlin | Photo © Jon Bean Hastings

Longline/Edwardian – hip shaping that is low at front and side hip but scoops up over the lap. Edwardian corsets were often underbusts or low midbusts, though modern longline styles are popular with waist trainers and plus-sizes bfor their hip shaping.

Sparklewren "Swiss Cincher" | Model: Samio Olowu | Photo © Vincent Abbey

Sparklewren “Swiss Cincher” | Model: Samio Olowu | Photo © Vincent Abbey

Pointed – similar to a classic underbust but shorter at the side hip, with points at the top and bottom.  The top line roughly echoes the line of an underwire, coming up between the breasts about an inch or so.

Pop Antique "Vixen" corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Max Johnson

Pop Antique “Vixen” corset | Model: Nicole Simone | Photo © Max Johnson

Ribbon Corset – a pointed underbust whose shaping is achieved by the careful laying of ribbons horizontally around the body, seamed into two to four vertical panels.

Exquisitely Waisted Designs corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Exquisitely Waisted Designs

Exquisitely Waisted Designs corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Exquisitely Waisted Designs

Cincher – a shorter underbust, covering the lower rib cage with a short hip.

Pop Antique "Bombshell" corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Pop Antique

Pop Antique “Bombshell” corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Pop Antique

Waspie – even shorter than a cincher, if only by a couple inches, the corseting equivalent of a wide belt. Great for styling with outerwear but more prone to creating a fold of skin at the back.  Cinchers and waspies can often be worn by full-busted women as standard underbusts.

As you can see, even with just the basic styles there are many corset options available. Each designer is going to have their own interpretations and completely new styles, so you can be sure to find a corset that suits both your silhouette and intended purpose.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube

Corset Quick Tips: How to Adjust Uneven Laces

Custom corset by Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Custom corset by Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Uneven corset laces are a problem many corset wearers encounter. Though it’s not a huge issue, it can be a minor annoyance, making laces harder to tuck in and generally creating a messier appearance. Often, the laces will end up uneven because the wearer tends to pull on one side more firmly during the lacing and/or unlacing process. Or, the corset may simply have been laced up unevenly by the maker. Luckily it’s something that can be easily and quickly fixed in just a minute or two. If you lace yourself into your corsets, start by putting your corset on a pillow. If you have the assistance of a partner or lady’s maid, they can make the adjustment at the beginning of lacing you in, just after the busk is fastened but before tightening at all.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 1

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

First, identify which side is longer… if the difference is slight, just loop a hand or finger through both “bunny ears”/waist loops and slowly move back until one side is taut and the other is slack.  I’ve made it pretty exaggerated for purposes of this demonstration.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 2

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

From the longer side, start moving the slack upwards. A properly laced corset should have an inverted waist loop, so the bottom of the loop leads into the top portion of the lacing.  Take all the slack up to the next cross over until your waist loops are the same length.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 2b

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

Follow the path of the lacing on that side all the way up to the top.  You’ll notice that the lacing is tied off at the bottom; the knot there keeps the bottom half of the lacing fairly stable, which is why we are only messing with the top lacing.  You can generally skip about every other grommet, which makes it easy to keep an eye on which piece of ribbon to pull. For example, with this lacing pattern, I am always grabbing the ribbon on the outside of the corset that angles up to the left.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 3

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

Eventually, all the slack is collected at the top of the corset. You can distribute all the waist loop slack from both sides up if you find it easier to track the symmetry that way.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 4

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

Then start distributing the excess lacing back down towards the waist on both sides.  You’ve taken all the extra up to the top, and are now splitting the difference.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 5

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

If you notice that you’ve acquired an asymmetry as you work your way down, pause a moment…

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 6

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

Distribute the extra from the one side back up to the top…

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 7

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

…then distribute it back down on both sides.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 8

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

Continue until all the extra lacing is back in the waist loops, which should now be even in length.

how to adjust corset laces pop antique 9

Adjusting uneven corset laces. Corset by Pop Antique.

And voila! You’re now ready to lace up as tightly as you like.

Custom corset by Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Custom corset by Pop Antique | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestYouTube