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Corsets, Cocktails, & Carousing: The Effects of Drinking While Corseted

Disclaimer: The following is a compilation of anecdotal evidence and is not intended to replace the opinion of a licensed medical professional.

If you're planning to indulge in both A) the excuse to don a corset (hurrah) and B) a bottle of wine or some cocktails this Valentine's Day, you might find yourself in for a surprise.

Though drinking while corseted isn't guaranteed trouble, it's highly likely that your body will process and respond to alcohol and cocktails differently when compressed by the corset. There are several different scenarios of how this might play out, so I highly encourage you to engage in a not-so-dry run before the big night.

Dark Garden bespoke Sweetheart corset | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Perry Gallgher

Dark Garden bespoke Sweetheart corset | Model: Autumn Adamme | Photo © Perry Gallgher

One of the most common reactions to drinking while corseted is that you'll feel fine while laced in... but as soon as the corset comes off, you are either instantly hungover or wasted.

If you are already prone to hangovers or have particularly vicious or long-lasting ones, this is probably more likely. If you end up in the "instantly wasted" camp, try to remember not to overcompensate for how mildly you are being affected. Remember it will all catch up with you at the end of the night! If you tend to suffer from muscle soreness from dehydration after drinking, that effect may well be worsened.

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

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

Other common side effects are nausea or acid reflux. There's potential for a bit of a vicious cycle here: Too much food and/or drink while corseted can cause bloating. So, while corseted, one tends to eat smaller meals. Smaller meals leave more room for beverages. Alcoholic beverages generally require a bit of food to ground them. So you need to remember to keep your food and alcohol intake balanced, but consume less of both than you would otherwise.

Dark Garden couture corset ensemble | Model: Dwoira Galilea | Photo © Joel Aron

Dark Garden couture corset ensemble | Model: Dwoira Galilea | Photo © Joel Aron

On that note, be wary of champagne/sparkling wine, bubbly cider or beer, or mixed drinks with carbonated content. Lucy has an in-depth piece about why corsets and soft drinks don't mix. Basically, in a compressed stomach, there is less room for those bubbles. Feeling bloated or needing to burp in a corset is a pretty unpleasant experience. Drinking neat liquor or flat cocktails is a less risky prospect.

So what can you do about it? Well, half the battle is wearing the right corset. A corset with a milder reduction (or worn looser) will give you fewer problems. (I consider 2" or less a mild reduction; 3-5" is moderate, and 6" is dramatic... but it all depends on your size, because 4" is a lot more on a 24" waist than on a 36" waist).

If you waist train or generally wear your corsets frequently, your body is also more adapted to the compression so you have less to worry about. Corsets that are custom fit and/or well broken in will also be less triggering.

Dark Garden bespoke Alyscia corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Chris Gaede

Dark Garden bespoke Alyscia corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Chris Gaede

Regardless of what corset you end up wearing, be sure to stay hydrated.

The uncorseted guideline is to (ideally) drink as many glasses of water as you do of alcohol. Though it may be inconvenient to do so in a corset (between the space it takes up and the slightly increased difficulty of using the bathroom), you should really strive to drink at least that much water.

You should also switch to just water well before you unlace, giving your body at least an hour if not more to process the last round of drinks. At the end of the night, unlace very slowly, a half inch at a time, to prevent all the residual alcohol from hitting your system all at once. You can also loosen up and relace periodically throughout the night, giving each drink a chance to circulate instead of creating a boozy bottleneck.

What have your experiences of drinking in a corset been like? Do you have any advice to share?




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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.

5 Comments on this post

  1. Iris Sabrina says:

    Well, this explains a lot. I don’t drink much at all, but have noticed that if I go out when wearing a corset I feel fine when I get home, take off the corset, and all of a sudden I’m drunk. It always throws me off and I assume that maybe I just drank more than I thought I did. Now I know better.

    More water, please!

  2. Dezebel says:

    The other night I wore a corset to a concert. I don’t believe I drank anymore than I usually do on a rare night out. However, I became so intoxicated in a very short amount of time. I don’t remember watching the show, how I got home, or anything else from that night. I was so confused the next morning. I thought for sure someone laced my drink. I never considered the correlation between the corset and drinking…

  3. wendybien says:

    This is so fascinating! I usually don’t even click on the corset-related entries as I don’t wear them, but this was super interesting and entertaining. I would love a nerdy follow-up explaining exactly what happens inside the body so that alcohol isn’t processed/absorbed the same way as usual when the person imbibing is tightly corseted. (I am also envisioning a new trend of frat boys doing keg stands in their corsets. Or at least a slapstick movie on the subject.)

  4. Tiah says:

    Oh my gosh I’m SO happy(/amused?) that someone has written a piece on this! As naughty 18 years old my best friend and I used to go out laced super tight into our corsets. We’d be drinking and drinking for the first hour or two and finding that it felt like due to the compression the liquid would sort of…bloat…in the chest above the waistline and we wouldn’t be being affected by the alcohol. Then we’d inevitably go loosen each others corsets in the bathroom after a couple of hours and it was as if all the drinks we’d consumed would ‘drop’ into our stomachs and we would be smashed within 10 minutes. SO glad we weren’t imagining it and as bad as it sounds… ‘The Corset Loosening’ ritual was always our signifier that the night was about to get wild. Ahhh, girlfriends and corsets and juvenile binge drinking… brings a tear of happiness to my eye just thinking about it. Thanks!

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