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Beginning a Waist Training Journey

Photo © Paul Mockford | Victoria Dagger in a corset by Caroline Woollin

Victoria Dagger in a corset by Caroline Woollin at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry | © Chris Murray

I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions. Actually, I've been hearing that a lot lately, which makes me wonder: who out there is one for New Year's Resolutions? But I digress. I do like the idea of using the new year as an excuse to enact a change with oneself, but I don't usually set specific goals. Last year, I nested cozily (though that wasn't specifically the goal); this year, I would like to, perhaps, eat a little less cheese and a few more vegetables... wear more hats and nice lingerie (like my new pieces from Dita's Von Follies line)... revamp my branding for Pop Antique... and pick up waist training again. Oh yes, and I'm now writing once a week here on The Lingerie Addict!

Victoria Dagger for Neon Duchess at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry | © Chris Murray

Victoria Dagger for Neon Duchess at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry | © Chris Murray

As of the first of the year, I've been trying to wear a corset every day, if only for a little bit. The last time I trained was last summer, in preparation for The Oxford Conference of Corsetry, at which I was both a speaker and a model. Naturally, as soon as the conference ended and I returned to California, I got all lazy and stopped training. This year, though, I have an ongoing project that will provide continual motivation beyond the satisfaction of the training itself.

Nicole Simone for Pop Antique | © Chris Gaede

Nicole Simone for Pop Antique | © Chris Gaede

Having done this before, it's been a bit easier to prepare myself for and coast over the speedbumps (more on those another day). As a writer for The Lingerie Addict, I probably don't have to tell you that I don't condone body snark --- and that includes snarking yourself and your progress! Not being hard on myself actually makes it much easier to stick with it and make progress --- I lace down as tight or loose as I feel like, and take the corset off when I want to. (I even take the occasional day off.) Even so, about two weeks in, I noticed my stomach was flatter and my waistline subtly more defined, though not yet any smaller. Now at three weeks, I am starting to miss the feeling of the corset on the occasional day when I run out of the house and forget to wear it. It's amazing how malleable the body can be. Be sure to remember that each body is different, though, and your progress will never be identical to anyone else's. Just like a change in eating or exercise regimen, the more gradual the change, the more lasting it tends to be. A reduction that is quickly made will be quickly lost without maintenance.

Pop Antique "Sherbet Doll" corset | Styling by Pop Antique | Model: Neon Lolita | Photo © Lauren Luck

Pop Antique "Sherbet Doll" corset | Styling by Pop Antique | Model: Neon Lolita | Photo © Lauren Luck

Of course, I know I'm at an advantage in that I have an impressive collection of corsets to start with and the ability to make as many more as I may need. If you're looking to start training, what do you need to have and own? You need at least one well-fitted, high-quality corset. It doesn't (necessarily) have to be custom, and you are not obligated to wear it day and night. I find it ideal having two corsets of different sizes and cuts to suit my mood and outfits.

Are you wondering how far should you lace down? You should lace down exactly as far as is comfortable, or even a hair looser. If, halfway through the day, you find yourself thinking, "This feels great, but I bet I could go a little tighter!"? Don't do it! I've found that attempts at minute tweaks more often than not backfire. Remember to take it easy and let your progress build up; you can always go tighter the next day, but if your attempts to tightlace in the middle of the day don't work out, you're more likely to take your corset off completely than to loosen it back up. Don't forget to take care of your corset, unlace first, and clean it properly.


Corseted daywear style, in my Dark Garden waspie.

You will find your eating and style habits change somewhat to accommodate a corseted lifestyle, but perhaps not as much as you may think, or in the same ways. I am definitely motivated to eat smaller and healthier meals when wearing a corset, because otherwise my options are either to feel bloated as it sits in my stomach and fights sturdy steel, or to take off my corset. Style-wise, I think the main change for me has been to be more "put together" on a daily basis; I haven't done a great wardrobe purge as many tend to do. I don't feel the need to showcase my corset every day, so sometimes it hides discreetly under a baby doll dress or even a t-shirt. The astute will notice the subtle difference in the way your clothes hang, and the posture benefits remain even when the mechanism is invisible. I find myself far more compelled to change (or at least, irritated by) the seating in my apartment --- low, squishy chairs and couches are the bane of any corset wearer!

Victoria Dagger in Dark Garden | © Max Johnson

Victoria Dagger in Dark Garden | © Max Johnson

I know we have a few waist trainers amongst our readers --- what advice would you give to someone beginning a waist training journey? What do you wish you'd known when you first started training? If you're a reader who's been thinking of training but hasn't yet, why not?

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Marianne Faulkner

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

21 Comments on this post

  1. Brianna says:

    Hello ^///^
    I was just wanting to ask something about this waist training journey… you see I am a Trans – MtF- and I want to get into corsetry and waist training, but most of the designs out there are for people with a much shorter, not so masculine, torso. So what might be your advice for a Trans MtF getting into corsets and waist training while still on a pretty tight budget? Any advice would be gratefully accepted.

  2. Ariana says:

    Would you suggest using an underbust corset from Hearts Delight for waist training?

  3. Ryver says:

    I am 295lbs. I have a waist of 52 and I periodically tightlace down to a 34″ for events and such; so usually about 12 hours at a time. I feal no discomfort or pain while doing this. I am looking into waist training but as a tightlacer I want to know if the “Lace loosely and wear for long periods” will work for me or if I should be doing something different

  4. SC says:

    Is there any difference to consider depending upon whether you are long-waisted vs. short-waisted? I am so very short-waisted that the space between my lower rib and hip bone is barely one fingerbreadth in length.

  5. breeann says:

    I have never waist trained and I would like to start I exercise on a daily basis and work 8 hours in a doctors office during the week. I figure I can wear a corset under my scrubs so im looking for one that is in the $200 range good quality. I haven’t found one that is reasonably priced for good quality and is also reasonably discreet for wearing under clothing all day. I read in earlier posts that working out in the corset is not recommended, but in other blogs I read it is recommended to leave the corset on when eating and exercising? Should I buy a waist shaper that has some stretch to wear while working out? Using another of your blogs the corset im leaning towards is!retrobasics/cvyz but im afraid it will show under clothing. Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated! thank you! Bree

  6. Elaine Day says:

    I found a shop here in my city that will custom fit and make them. My torso is short and the one size fit most is too long for me. I would suggest finding a store near you that will get the proper fit for you. It will be a big waste of your time and money for one. The most important reason to have the proper fit is to prevent injury and it’s down right uncomfortable.

  7. Auna says:

    I have been waist training on and off for almost a year now. Before I started I read all of the articles on corseting and waist training I could find (most of them were here) and most of Lucy’s videos. I still didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to waist train in a leather corset. I found that out the hard way with my leather CS-305, which I don’t feel comfortable wearing anymore. I wish I had known not to get that corset. If I had, I would probably still purchase from Orchard Corset. As it is, the way they handled it left a bad taste in my mouth.

  8. Jessie says:

    I’ve lost a little weight and have kept it off for over a year. I’m just starting to research waist training and need all the direction I can get…

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I recently went and got my first corset for waist training, I went to a local leather/fetish shop (everything is hand made) and found it. I tried it on with the help of of one of the guys who worked there, and it felt great, I wore it out of the store and then slept in it (I was excited). Since then, I have been better, only wearing it a few hours at a time, trying to break it in properly. Today, the third day, I noticed that it was crooked. So I loosened it some, straightened it out and tightened it back up just until it was snug. Bit it kept doing it. I know my spine is crooked and my hips are a not perfectly level, but I’m.also just starting this process, so I’m unsure and was just wondering if this is normal, and what your thoughts on it are. Thanks!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Sorry for the late response, I don’t usually see new comments on my older articles! That’s totally normal, asymmetries in the body may exhibit themselves with a slanted busk and/or lacing. What would be best is to have a corset made that is balanced for your asymmetry – Dark Garden in particular has a lot of experience with asymmetric corsets; most bespoke makers should be up to the task. I would recommend having an in person fitting with a really good maker, as taking photos can add a degree of distortion and is generally less precise.

  10. louisa says:

    Hi yall..Are you able to workout in a corset..Im really looking into buying one but just wondering if I can workout in one Thanks

    • Marianne says:

      I would not recommend working out in a corset. It may be possible with a summer mesh underbust with spiral bones, but I would recommend taking off your corset during your workouts. Your mobility will always be reduced by a corset and the constriction could cause you to overheat and prevent you from taking the correct type of breaths. Meanwhile, the corset will degrade much more quickly if it is routinely exposed to sweat.

  11. Rachel says:

    I’ve always loved the idea of wearing a corset, or even waist training, but it just seems impractical with where I’m at in my life. I’m 19 (almost 20) in 1st year University, majoring in Classical Voice Performance. This creates a lot of challenges, as 1. I don’t exactly have a budget for it, 2. I don’t exactly have the wardrobe for it, and 3. Classical singing requires a lot of diaphragmatic breathing techniques, and I’m required to practice for at least an hour every day. I just feel like having a corset on would hinder my ability to practice/breathe/perform properly :(

    • Mimzy says:

      The thing about corsets is that a properly fitted one isn’t going to put all that much pressure on your upper ribs. It’ll be firm around your ribs, yes, but most of the pressure goes underneath your floating ribs to your abdomen so there’s not that much impact on breathing.

      Also, I would like to point out that women in the theater wore corsets for a very, very long time and that definitely included opera singers! While wearing a corset and singing professionally may take a little extra time getting used to, I don’t think it’s going to be impossible by any means.

  12. Kristen says:

    I’ve never worn a corset before. Mainly because I cant afford to buy a really good onenon a budgetfof $400 every two weeks. But if I could find one for a really good price within my budget id surely purchase one asap.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kristen,
      That is tricky, since corsets definitely have a strong relationship between cost and quality. If you find a corsetiere you particularly like, you might consider buying yourself small gift certificates whenever you have a bit of extra disposable income, then asking friends to contribute the same for gift-giving occasions such as your birthday. Eventually they’ll stack up enough for a basic black underbust or cincher, which is the most versatile corset you could ever own anyway. Or you can keep an eye on ebay and corset communities for gently worn secondhand corsets, and Etsy/Facebook for corset sample sales by their makers. Lucy’s Corsetry also has a lot of great reviews and shopping guides that could help figure out which brands may best suit your needs and budget.

  13. Heather says:

    I have never worn a corset before, nor do I know how to even begin shopping around for one. I am currently at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life. This is due to a lot of binge eating from the stress I’ve been under the past few months. Should I wait until my body settles back down to my average weight or should I go out and get a corset now and wear it while working on slimming back down?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Heather,
      Are you fairly stable in your current size or are you still gaining/losing? If you’re in a fairly settled place and only beginning to lose, I would at least consider buying one now for a couple reasons. First off, wearing a corset regularly can help you get in the habit of eating smaller meals since doing otherwise tends to cause physical discomfort. Having a training goal to focus on may even deflect some of your impulse to binge eat. Then, once you’ve outshrunk your current corset, it’s great to have a looser corset to fall back on for lazy days when you just want to maintain your progress, or if you’re feeling bloated because of your cycle, etc. Outgrown corsets can also be used as sleeping corsets, since our abdomens tend to expand while we sleep.
      Do note that if you were looking for a corset for occasional wear only, I would not recommend investing in one until your weight has fully settled. For now, I hope your stress factors at least have stabilized!

  14. KathTea says:

    My advice for corset newbies are as follows:

    1. Do your research! NOT optional!
    A good list of important links for you to begin your research
    -Lucy’s Corsetry (Bishonenrancher) FAQ
    -Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry’s FAQ
    -The Corset Authority
    -Fran’s Writings on Corsetry
    -“Corseting the Human Body”
    -Staylace Medical Advice

    2. Decide on a goal
    How much of a reduction should you go for?

    3. Set a budget
    Do realize that a quality made-to-measure corset is usually over $100, don’t bother aiming anything lower.
    But if you really want something on a budget, pick a good quality off-the-rack.

    4. When in doubt, ASK QUESTIONS!
    There are many communities dedicated to waist training, don’t be shy!

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