I’ve come here today to vent my frustrations as a serious corset-wearer. I’m not even talking about the hundreds of times we have to hear “how do you breath?” and “that must hurt,” though, granted, I’m at the point of smacking the next person who says either. Here’s a tip here folks – if you see a girl with more than a 4 inch waist reduction, DO NOT say these things. To you they might seem completely legit, and that’s fine, but to her you sound like an idiot and a broken record. Just don’t.
But anyway, where was I? Oh yes. You see, in the corset-wearing world there seems to be two major groups of people. There are the ones who are VERY serious, I mean 8-10 inch reductions here, who demand nothing but the absolute best quality and nothing else. Then there are those who just want something gorgeous to wear, while of course there is a lot of grey between the sides. I tend to fall not so much in the middle, but in both at once. This means that I need both quality and beauty, and hardest of all, a price I can afford, which is EXTREMELY difficult to find, and after 5 years I’m still struggling.
The search for the perfect corset maker is much more difficult than it would seem. As I said, the hardcore girls want quality and nothing else matters. They wear their corsets 23/7 under their clothes. They own only about 2 at a time. Beauty is of a very distant secondary importance because they never show. Sure, you can design your own. But it’s hard to feel confident when NONE of the customer photos are even remotely to your taste, leaving you with very little confidence in how yours will turn out. And all those pretty fabrics and trims add up very quickly to the already sky-high price. I don’t expect eBay bargain prices, but I can’t afford not to eat for the sake of one either.
Then there’s another thing. I’m extremely fussy, as all tightlacers should be. Not only does the fit have to be absolute perfection to ensure your comfort and smooth lines, but the overall shape is important too. This is where my first fully custom corset fell short. It was affordable, fits like a glove, is one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever owned, and the service was incredible. Even the quality was the best I’ve ever seen. But while I asked for a wasp shape (to me and most others this means a V-shaped torso with gradual rib compression) I got the hourglass shape she was used to making, which traditionally means no rib compression for a more round shape like a U. And it wasn’t even a real hourglass shape, maybe because she attempted the wasp silhouette but just hadn’t really done it before. It’s weirdly geometric, coming in very slightly towards the waist with very straight lines, and then suddenly jutting in right under the ribs. It makes my ribs look HUGE. I’m sure the fact that it goes half way up the bust – which in her defense I did ask for – doesn’t help. The whole thing is very odd, and so it’s completely useless except for sleeping and possibly a 19th century underwear look if you don’t look too close. It’s impossible to pull off under clothes, which is the primary reason I got it in the first place.
My next corset was semi-custom. I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect for what it cost, and based on the pictures I saw. But I thought the worst of my problems would be badly bubbled panels and a big lack of design choice. I decided to go with a curved busk for a side silhouette as impressive as the front and so I could feel compression from all around. And yes, it does achieve this quite well. But it’s at the expense of the bottom edge, which because of the curve juts outward terribly instead of curving back in like a traditional spoon busk. It’s alright on top of clothes; it’s definitely noticeable but not unforgivable. Under clothes however it’s *impossible* to hide without a whole lot of scaffolding which is just so not worth it. Another thing I noticed far too late is that the bone channels are too wide. Bone channels are supposed to be so tight you virtually need a hammer to get the bones in. Now I know why. Any room in them at all causes them to twist as you pull the laces tighter. The middle of the bones at the very back of the corset twist so the edges press painfully into my back. When I wear this corset I have to pull the laces so that they cross over each other to try to minimize this, and try my best not to bend over to aggravate the problem. I tried to sew the channels tighter, and it helped slightly, but it just couldn’t be done enough to really solve the problem.
The ironic thing now is that the only corset I can really wear under my clothes is one that isn’t intended for tightlacing at all, and just so happens to be actually much better for this than advertised. It’s only semi-custom, but the very modest 4 inch reduction I requested – being on the cautious side – is nevertheless impressive looking because of its great shape. It’s also extremely comfortable, and incredibly gorgeous. Why don’t I just stick with this corset maker? Because she is a true designer, and so has very specific ideas of her own in mind. If I bought exclusively from her my corsets would all look, though incredible, very much the same. You don’t really design these yourself except for choosing one out of about five base colors. They’re also ornate enough that I don’t want to risk damaging the details under clothes. For now I have to and so far so good. But I hope I don’t have to continue. It still makes me a bit nervous.
So now let’s take a trip to the other camp, where corsets are beautiful and very rarely all that functional. First of all, the average price for these seems to be about 400$. SEEMS, because any amount of real looking around will turn up many of about 100-200$. I own many beautiful fully steel-boned corsets in this price range, but everyone tends to assume that I must have bought some real garbage and I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. That could easily be an article all by itself. Obviously these are NOT for tightlacing. I’m fully aware of that. But not everybody is into that. If you just want a great corset for formal or club wear and don’t really care about how tiny your waist gets then these are well worth the price. I’ve owned these and corsets worth hundreds. They’re the SAME. In fact, my most expensive corset at $350 on sale is quite painful while my $130 ones and even my 75$ one hardly bother me at all. So back off already!
Of course now I’m past these though. I wear them for looks sometimes but they’re not at all satisfying to me anymore, so I’m through purchasing them. My friends who still wear them get to cash in on fantastic deals, buying these beautiful things dirt cheap on eBay and on clearance, but I can only watch. I know they would disappoint me in the end. It’s very hard to go backwards in the corset world.
Up next for me is a go at Jupiter Moon. I feel like I can trust her because her corsets are worn and modeled by Masuimi Max, accomplished tightlacer and super sexy fetish model. If they’re good enough for her they have to be good enough for me, right? The prices are expensive enough that you know you’re not buying crap, but affordable enough to be worth a shot. Wish me luck. If Jupiter Moon makes me happy, I’ll be hers forever.
So being a corset “pro” has not meant that I have a huge collection of great corsets. But I would definitely be willing to bet that having a huge collection of not-so-great corsets has taught me a lot first hand, and helped to make me a pro in ways I could never have simply researched. This is just one of those things you have to experience, and that’s a thing that will remain ongoing.