Cheap vs. Pricey – foundation and eyeliner

So you remember how what’s probably been a year and a half now I decided to upgrade my makeup to the fancy stuff? I was not disappointed, and these are purchases I have continued to make again and again. The thing is, most people aren’t at the same place financially all the time. You go through your ups and downs. And after the move into our first house, an expensive waste of a trip to Toronto, and two dogs all in the same month, we’re not doing as well as we were a few months ago.

So when I volunteered to do the hair and makeup at my company’s annual gala this year, I took it as an opportunity to try out some cheaper brands and see how they compare to the good stuff I use on a regular basis. The results I found were actually pretty surprising.

Let’s start with eyeliner. The expensive stuff I’ve been using is Kat von D’s Autograph Liner, and it costs about 28$. The formula has huge color payoff and lasts all day, and I love the brush. It’s a fantastic liner. When I was in Walmart I tried to find the cheapest eyeliner that took the same form, which is a brush you dip into a little pot. What I found was Wet n Wild Mega Liner, for only four bucks. Even in the world of drug store makeup a 4$ eyeliner is pretty damn rare. For sure what you get in the expensive brand is awesome packaging. I am a huge sucker for that, and I actually don’t mind paying a bit more for something that looks awesome. The surprising thing is though, when you consider the actual product itself, they’re really not all that different. I’ve tried the Mega Liner both with and without primer underneath, and the results are almost the same. It lasts perfectly all day with primer, and has some flaking by the end of the day without. Fading is nil. The only real difference I can tell is the brush. The brush doesn’t have such a fine point on it, so it picks up a lot more of the product. This can result in big messy globs if you’re not careful, and it’s a tiny bit trickier to get those precise little points on the wings, if you do it in that style. But as long as you make sure to wipe off the brush and try to keep a steady hand, I find that the difference is so minimal that until I have enough money to spend on cool packaging alone, I’ll be sticking with the Mega Liner. This also reaffirms that if you’re willing to pay for a good primer, it doesn’t really matter as much what you’re putting on top of it. It really does do a lot to level the playing field between the cheap and expensive brands.

I bought a cheap foundation at the same time. I chose Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse for about 14$ because years ago I actually googled “what is the best foundation” and pretty much everybody said this one. Once again, the packaging sucks next to the big robust purple case with all the the animals and cool font on it from Urban Decay’s Surreal Skin cream to powder foundation, which is about 40$. That much goes without saying. One negative of the Urban Decay though is how little you get. To be sure, it lasts longer than you would expect, it really does. It gives you a much better payoff so you don’t need as much. But come on, it’s 40$. That’s not as gross as what you would pay for, say, Clinique, but it’s still pretty gross and it hurts when you pay for it. I expect a little more for my pain. I also find the brush a bit awkward. But it really is a very good product, with good coverage, a light feel, and a look that is more skin than makeup. I like it a lot. The Dream Matte Mousse is a little bit crumbly, and messy if you don’t use a foundation brush. But overall I find that the quality is very similar. It feels nice going on, you don’t use very much if you use a brush, and I feel like the coverage is also good. Again, it looks like skin more than makeup. The real difference between the two, where I find you really have to make a decision, is the color. Surreal Skin is the color of a person. It’s the color of my face, and that’s really important. Dream Matte Mousse is the color of…someone’s idea of a person maybe. It’s close, but I’m not quite that neon. It’s odd, like skin infused with just a hint of orange fake tan, even though I got the second lightest color they have. This problem has been consistent with virtually every drug store foundation I’ve ever tried. So if you are the color of Dream Matte Mousse, I would say that this is a great buy. You won’t notice much of a difference. I’m not, but the difference isn’t actually so bad that I think anyone would notice, as long as I remember to use it everywhere and not leave patches behind. So I do believe I will keep buying this, at least as long as I still have my summer tan and I’m a little bit broke. But drug store makeup brands – can you PLEASE start making your foundation people-colored? I’m not orange and I don’t want to be!

In both the eyeliner and the foundation I tried, the cheap ones were of surprisingly good, and close enough to the expensive brand. If packaging isn’t all that important to you I highly recommend you try these as an alternative to that guilty feeling you get after leaving Sephora, at least if you’re temporarily broke. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to try to put the cheap stuff inside the packaging of the fancy stuff. Take that. Cleverness wins.

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Products I Just Like – Mini Reviews 1

There are a lot of products I like, but not all of them are enough to get a full review. I just don’t have that much to say about them. So here are some mini reviews, all mashed together into a reasonable length post.

Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray. This works. That’s rare. And I like that. It’s awesome not to look like I just woke up in my makeup by the end of my shift. $15 isn’t even all that much to spend on a little bottle that will probably last a reasonable amount of time. Definitely will re-purchase.

Annabelle makeup pencils. There are certain things I just don’t feel it’s necessary to spend a ton of money on at Sephora. Lip and eye pencils are a couple of those things. Annabelle pencils go on smooth, precise, and come in great colors. Lately I especially love their eyebrow pencil in Auburn. I was really surprised how well this matched my hair. I mean it matches pretty much exactly, and no other brand seems to carry anything but brown and light brown. It also has a little brow brush on the cap. It looks great, I love it.

Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller. Wow, that’s a mouth full. But I got this years ago, and I’m still loving it. It really does calm down the bags under your eyes, and it feels really nice. It’s part of my daily routine.

Covergirl Outlast. I despise every sad piece of garbage CG makes. Except this. I’ve tried MAC, Makeup Forever, all that stuff, and while I love the deep impact of Makeup Forever matte red, Outlast is an exceptional choice of red for daytime if you don’t like to add a touch of whore to your morning like I do. It really lasts all day (longer than Makeup Forever), even through meals, feels like you’re not wearing anything, and the colors are great. It’s like a lipstick tattoo, it’s crazy. Just make sure you give it plenty of time to dry before putting the balm on. Who told you to put the balm on? Did I tell you to put the balm on? I didn’t tell you to put the balm on!

Garnier Skin Renew The Brusher Gel Cleanser. I think that’s what it’s called, it’s what’s on the bottle. I never thought I would stray from Soap and Glory Scrub Your Nose In It, and I still LOVE that, but what makes this is the rubber brush. At first I was disappointed and thought it wouldn’t be as good as a “real” brush, but now I see that it’s really massaging and is much easier to get clean instead of it being a bacteria trap. From the first time I used this my skin was very noticeably softer and smoother, and I could even tell when Mike tried it out. It also just felt so amazingly clean, this is the reason I now look forward to washing my face. I wish they made a whole body version. I love Garnier anything. It’s like anti-aging for cool younger women. I’m impressed that all their stuff actually does what they say it does. I’d like to think it’s because of Garnier that I’m no longer embarrassed about what I look like without makeup on. In fact for my next thing of foundation I feel comfortable downgrading back to a drug store brand. I’m only using the fancy one I still have on small areas now.

Garnier BB Cream. While we’re on that subject, here’s yet another from Garnier. From the research I’ve done, I think I can safely establish that this is NOT the very best BB cream out there. And I think that would depend on you and your skin needs anyway. But it’s the first one I’ve tried and I like it. The coverage is a definite step up from tinted moisturizer, it has anti-oxidants, and it means I don’t have to worry about putting on sunscreen. It’s a time saver, and it does make my skin look better, more even with a better tone. I don’t know what else it’s contributing to because I’m using a lot of Garnier stuff lately, but my skin has been steadily improving ever since.

‘NRage hair color. I’ve always used Punky Color for my hair dye because Bea told me it lasted the longest, and she’s right. But one beef I’ve always had is that the colors are just so unpredictable. They never look like the label or the swatches. Online searches are pretty useless too. I once used Red Wine expecting to get a nice deep red and my hair turned hot pink. Lucky for me I still loved it. But when you want something specific it’s a bit risky. My drug store also carries ‘NRage, and this is what I use now. The quality, smell, and lasting power is the same if not better than Punky, I can’t tell the difference, except that you know exactly what you’re getting with their colors. The selection is a whole lot smaller, however the colors they have are the best. Their red is the perfect red. Their purple is the perfect purple. Their pink is the perfect pink. The only thing I don’t like is the bottle. It’s impossible to get all the dye out of there. So damn frustrating. I also have to mention that this it the first “funny color” dye brand to make a one-step box version, with developer included. No need to bleach first! Finally!
Tea tree oil. Anything tea tree oil is fantastic for fighting blemishes, the best thing I’ve ever tried. You can get a whole ton of it at The Body Shop, face wipes, toner, night cream, everything you can think of. Their tea tree oil blemish stick has been a life-saver of mine for years. Trust me. Try it.

Cookies.

I’ll just stop here for now and update if I think of any more in the near future. It’s posting night!

Rago

I’ve often said in places where large crowds gather – Especially the Red River Ex, oh god – “this place desperately needs a spanx booth.” And really, it does. Way too many people are going around looking like giant blobs of dough. Ladies, come on. Have a little dignity. Though you have to admit, Spanx aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, despite what Tyra Banks might try to tell you. They’re just not. They’re also a little sissy if you ask me. Women these days are so afraid of being the least bit uncomfortable that they won’t wear anything that isn’t barely more effective than their usual underwear. Ladies, grow a pair. A real girdle is very sexy, and not at all uncomfortable.

I’m so grateful I discovered Rago at the lingerie booth at Viva. I had known for a few years from various internet sites geared towards vintage and pinup culture that it was the best. So I really wanted to try them out. What I found was a special-for-viva-edition red and black girdle and bra set. Normally this model only comes in pink and black. I also found Doris Mayday, who made me look like a 12 year old boy standing next to her. Sigh. She swears by Rago too. And Angela and I were so pleased with what we tried on that we each got matching girdles. I picked up the matching bra too.

I’m going to go ahead and start with the bra. I wanted something that wasn’t a bullet bra, but not round like a grapefruit either. This bra has no padding, but is simply cut to look natural. It’s red satin with black lace, and has a wide band with no underwire. This thing is comfortable as hell. It’s fantastic, by far the most comfortable bra I own. Mike loves it too because there’s no padding in the way of real human boob. He also just likes anything different. I also want to mention that the band is wide enough not to give you back fat. It’s just great.

We tried both zip-up and roll-on girdles, and honestly one was not easier to put on than the other. They both required a bit of effort. So we went for the roll-on version because if they’re going to be the same you might as well not have a zipper to potentially dig into your hip. (For the record, my vintage zip-up girdle does not have this problem. I was just trying to make the best choice of two equal girdles.) This girdle is beautiful, comfortable, effective, and even lifts and firms your butt. And did I mention it’s red and black lace? I mean come on. The only issue I could find is that without stockings to hold it down by the garters, it tends to ride up when you sit. Angela and I were forever trying to tug our girdles down in various airports on the trip back home. In non-traveling real life, this is not that big a deal.

But please, if you do have stockings to wear with this, do. It’s just glamorous as fuck. And isn’t it nice to look sexy without wearing a pushup under-wire and a thong? You don’t actually feel sexy in that. I know you don’t, because I don’t either. This on the other hand is perfect for daily life, which means seduction starts way before the bedroom. And you’ll look hot all day instead of like a big lump of dough. Meow!

The Art of Seduction, done right.

Jupiter Moon 3 Corsets

One fun and scary thing about custom corsets is you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Each one is completely unique, made just for you and a combination of your design specifications and the corset maker’s interpretation of your ideas. I recently had the great pleasure of trying Jupiter Moon 3 for the first time. As far as my own experience goes, I think she’s the best yet.

So I guess I’ll start from the beginning. I’m off standard corsets, but I’m no designer. I have zero talent for it, though ordering custom does require you to be able to pull some sort of idea out of your ass so the corset maker knows what to do. My idea took months to refine, and I’m sure my friends are still making fun of me for how much I agonized over every last detail. But you must understand, my money needs to go a long way, and I am very, very fussy when it comes to my corsets. I can find fault with absolutely anything.

The design I finally settled on was powder blue satin with black lace over the hips and f-hole shaped appliques over the front and back with a matching bra. This underbust + bra arrangement is absolutely genius by the way. For the price of the bra your corset can now be worn as both an underbust and overbust, and you have a sexy fancy new bra too. Once I had finalized my design I came across this, which happened to be just so similar it became my inspiration, even after the fact. This is what I aspired my corset to be.

You’re drooling now, aren’t you? Anyway, the process took a while because Jennifer, the lady behind Jupiter Moon 3, is a very busy lady indeed. I let her know that it was imperative that I have my corset by mid-August so I would have time to break it in before Toronto Fan Expo, and that as long as that happened I was happy. I got exactly what I asked for. I admit I had started to worry, but she shipped express to make sure I had it, and got a tracking number too just in case. I’m extremely grateful.

What I got was not what had been in my head, but it is definitely what I had described, and it is just so completely gorgeous. This is the kind of corset you fantasize about. This is the kind of corset you get married in. I want to wear it every day for the rest of my life. Because it works under clothes, I think I will. I’m sitting around on my couch in it right now with my hair in rollers, just because. The lace at the sides contours over the top of the hips and around the waist, connecting to the appliques in front and back. The appliques most definitely don’t look just like f-holes, but I image that would be pretty damn hard to find, and they resemble the example images I sent so exactly I wonder if those aren’t the ones she got for me. They even have little sequins in them for a bit of sparkle. Because I had decided not to get lace trim at the top, the bra creates a perfect overbust effect when worn with it. It’s exactly what I had hoped for.

Another thing I noticed – even before I opened the package because it was smaller than I expected – was that the corset is VERY light. Typical corsets have a few layers of heavy coutil and spiral steel bones, which have some heft to them. In fact if you never saw this corset on a person you might assume it was plastic just to hold it. It’s really pretty amazing. But the bones are indeed steel, flat, not spiral, and there are 3 layers of fabric in the design. The lining is super soft cotton. This would make a fantastic summer corset. And despite this it absolutely is capable of giving me the exact shape I need with the right amount of reduction.

The busk in front has a very soft curve to it almost reminiscent of a spoon busk, or maybe it’s just the perfect amount of flexible, that my tummy is held in while I still get waist compression from the front, which is rare since most busks are super straight and rigid, so I find this such a bonus. The bones at the back don’t buckle EVEN when I bend over with the laces untied, and the fabric doesn’t bubble either. You read that right, I can bend over – at the waist. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not so flexible it flops around giving you no support. But when I really need to I can bed just enough to get my business done in the bathroom and get out of a car. And what a difference that makes when you wear a corset every day. It’s strong and it fits and it lets me move and holy crap it’s so damn comfortable. I’m super impressed.

Would I recommend Jupiter Moon 3? Yes. Jupiter Moon 3 shows every sign of being everything I’ve been looking for. I will definitely be ordering from her again, as soon as I can afford it, and I’ll be doing it with confidence. I think I may have found The One.

Circus Fantasy Perfume

I fell in love with Fantasy perfume by Britney Spears, to my utter amazement, a few years ago when I got it for christmas. While most other perfumes just smell like flowers in alcohol to me, I loved that this had some very warm sweet notes to it. It was very unique as far as commercial scents go. I mean it has cupcake smell in it, come on. So when I read about the collection in Wikepedia (shut up) I decided I couldn’t wait to try the rest of the collection.

Yesterday I came across Circus Fantasy in the drug store. I really wanted to try Midnight Fantasy the most, but this is what they had, what can you do. I got it in the big bottle. The box is awesome, very classic vintage circus, and the bottle itself is beautiful too. It reminds me of one of those orbs that monarchs hold. I think having the whole collection of these would make for a great display on the vanity.

The scent however confuses me, and that fact alone bothers me almost as much as if it was a bad smell, which it isn’t at all. The top notes of this perfume are supposed to be raspberry and apricot blossom, but all I smell is lemon. The middle notes are supposed to be floral, including violet and orchid, which come out as the perfume dries. And yet still, I smell lemon. I think they’re in there but they seem to be trying to hide. It’s bugging the hell out of me. Mike said he smells no lemon, which is bugging me even more because I feel like my nose is tricking me and I really want to smell what I’m apparently supposed to be smelling. I especially want to smell the bottom notes of vanilla and musk, because those warm sweet smells are always my favorite. I’m told in other reviews that this comes out as the perfume dries. But this brings out a flaw of this perfume in that it really doesn’t last long. I’ve been spraying it again and again (I’m alone indoors, not smothering people with my fumes) waiting in vain for the vanilla to come out. I get barely a hint and then the perfume seems to be gone altogether. Where is it? Can you tell me? This stuff is messing with my head.

Confusion aside, I had been considering getting a sharp clean citrus scent for a while, since I love the grapefruit scent of my Fresh Start products from Tresemme. So this does satisfy that need as well as provide a perfect young fresh summer scent. It’s not my most favorite perfume ever, and it can smell a bit generic and even like a cleaner in the first moments you spray it. But I do like it, probably more than I’m letting on here. So I’m keeping it and I would recommend it. I still can’t wait to try out Midnight Fantasy, being the darker more mysterious member of the group. And of course I could never forget the wonderfully awesome and unique non-alcohol scents of Goth Rosary.

Wait, is that a violet I smell?

Etsy Part 1: My Favorite Purchases

I noticed that in a lot of my articles, especially those about shopping, I mention Etsy as one of my all time favorite online shopping sites. This most definitely hasn’t changed, so I thought it deserved an article all its own. I’ll talk about how it works, the awesome stuff you can find there (in a word, everything), my favorite shops and stuff I’ve bought, and a little extra fun.

I first discovered this site when I became a member of Offbeat Bride, an online community for non-cookie cutter people who want non-cookie cutter weddings. Actually, I discovered a lot of my favorite shops when I was planning my wedding. All the girls raved about Etsy constantly, so I had to check it out. I’ve been hooked ever since. As I’ve said many times, it’s like Ebay in that it’s a site that hosts countless shops held by individuals. The difference it’s all about vintage and handmade items, so everything available is unique, and there’s no bidding. You can find EVERYTHING here, from the stupid, ridiculous, hilarious, amazing, useless, perfect, gorgeous, clever, and everything you never thought you needed SO badly. Best. Site. Ever. Want to see some of the things I’ve bought as an example? If you like what you see, click the pictures for links to the shops.

This is the first thing I bought besides a pendant made of watch parts. It’s an alternative to a ring bearer pillow, made like a treasure chest. I found it so perfect and elegant, and so unique. The seller added red roses at my request. I now keep it on display in my living room.

These earrings are really simple, and really pretty. They go with everything. EIGHT bucks. The shop is one of my favorites for elegant steampunk jewelry.

This is a beautiful gold hair vine with pink accents I wore on my wedding day instead of a veil. It’s made of wire so you can bend it to work any way you want. Around a bun, horizontally across the back, along a french twist; the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately the shop no longer seems to exist, but there are a lot of shops selling similar items still out there.

This soft shrug was bought just in case it rained on our wedding day. This was also custom made for me in a vanilla color. A while later the name of the shop, Pinar Eris, was bugging me, because it was just so familiar. So I plugged it into my trusty Wikipedia and read that this designer has actually made dresses for the Oscars. How amazing is that?

From Poppenkraal, another great shop for gorgeous Victorian and Steampunk style jewelry, fancier than London’s Gate. Now you tell me where else you could ever find earrings like this.

Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful hair clips, and this one is definitely stunning. It even curves, so it conforms to the shape of your head without sticking out like one I bought from another shop. Just make sure you have some good glue. This one is currently sitting disassembled on my coffee table. I really hope I can bring it back to life 😥

This here is a perfect example of what we here on Etsy call “upcycled.” It’s like recycled, but it’s just been revamped to be made better, not something entirely different. This lovely item is a pimped out vintage clutch. It’s too much fun.

This amazing Victorian necklace is another purchase from Poppenkraal, and was only $35. It even came with extra beads in case any fell off. So far, they haven’t.

My first vintage dress. It’s too big, and I knew it would be. Maybe I’ll have it tailored down – in a temporary way, I wouldn’t want to damage it. Even so, I’m in love with this dress. The color, the golden sheen, how light it feels. Even its size. With a belt it looks even older than the early 1960s. It billows almost in the way of something from the late 1910s, or early 1920s. At least that’s the feeling I get. It makes me feel like I should be sitting on a porch on a hot summer night while it rains. Do I sound ridiculous? That’s how you know how much I love this dress.

This is a phone I bought last Christmas for the owner of the Foxy Shoppe. She’s been an incredibly generous sponsor of Drawn and Plastered, and she’s such a great lady. I had to buy her something to thank her. I’m pretty sure this phone is from the 70s, but it was made to look like it’s from the 30s. When Pam opened the box she was speechless. It turns out it’s exactly what she’s been wanting since she first opened the shop. Now it sits out on display.

And finally we come to my most recent purchase, dress from about 1958-1960 (according to the style of zipper) by Mr. Mort. It fits great except for a little room in the shoulders which I stitched up. It seems to me like a poor girl’s version of that stunning tweed Dior dress Dita von Teese loves so much. All I’d need to complete the look is some long leather gloves. I wore it during the long day I spent traveling to Vegas, and felt like a lady Cary Grant or somebody from Mad Men. Traven7 is the very best when it comes to beautiful perfect vintage dresses from the late 40s to the early 60s with full skirts. Her prices are high but everybody knows she’s worth it. I’ve missed out on a few of her dresses before because they sold so quickly, but I’m so glad I finally got this one.

Wow. It seems I got pretty excited there and rambled on a bit. Let’s say I save the rest for another post?

An Assortment of Great Corset Articles by The Lingerie Addict

I could go on forever about corsets. That much is painfully obvious. Recently I’ve been flipping through The Lingerie Addict, and loving every minute of it. I’m very impressed by the quality of information provided there, and instead of just repeating what they’ve said, I’m going to share my favorite articles of theirs with you. That way you can learn some cool things, and I can shut up. For a while.

What Everybody Should Know About the Difference Between Real Corsets & Fake Corsets

First off, this article speaks a lot to me. Years back, I was one of those naive unfortunates who bought that (unknowingly) fake red corset featured in the article. Words can’t do justice to how horrible that thing was. I didn’t wear it even once. To be fair, it was the first time I had attempted to purchase a corset since my first one, which was pretty darn great. Though of course common sense should have tipped me off a bit. And Damnit I am SICK of seeing this plastic CRAP every time I go for a night out! No, I don’t care if you’re insulted. This is how bad you look, and I’m cringing at you when you’re not looking, or when you do so much as mention them in a non-negative way. Do yourselves a favor and read this, or wear a shirt instead. I BEG you.

51 Places to Buy Your Next Corset

You know how often I get asked where to go to buy a corset? I don’t either. But it’s a lot. So this list sums things up really nicely. Omitted from the list however are Desert Orchid, which are beyond fantastic if you like the hourglass shape, and Jupiter Moon, which I haven’t tried yet but you bet your ass I’ll be reviewing them when I get my order in a couple months.

What (You Didn’t Know) to Look for in a Corset: 5 Popular Myths Debunked

This article was the first I read, and I found it extremely well-informed, so you should read it. I even learned a few things myself.

Corseting for Your Needs, Part II: How to Choose the Right Corset for Your Body

A complaint I often hear? “Corsets aren’t right for my body type.” Bullshit. So very much, so very steaming. Everyone can wear a corset, unless they have a medical anomaly like something I can’t really think of because I’m not a doctor. The only body type that can’t wear a corset is pregnant. Even then, pregnancy corsets did exist in the Victorian era, though I tend to think your doctor would have an issue with that, so don’t. Here’s…well it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Corseting for Your Needs, Part I: How to Choose the Right Corset for Any Occasion

I do ask myself occasionally what corset would make the most sense to wear/order, but in general “whatever the fuck I want” tends to override that. Nevertheless, here’s a good and practical starting point.

Solo Corset Fun: How to Lace Yourself Up

I’ve never had an issue with lacing myself; pretty much the only time other people have laced me up was because they asked to, or even wormed their way in and just went for it (By the way, girls in the bathroom, it’s not necessary. I can handle it. If you really want to give it a shot, fine, but at least ask. If you just swing behind me and grab on then that’s pretty obnoxious. I don’t just come forth and hike up your pants). But I know many do have some difficulty. This article will help.

Well, that’s it for now.

UPDATE: I found another one! You could see this as an extension to my Corset FAQ, but written by someone else. And it’s SO nice to see there are other people out there who I can relate to about this. So the biggest thing I have to say here is “ditto” and “thank you.” (Though, to be honest I highly question the notion of young girls sleeping in their corsets with their hands tied to the bed. This is more than likely gathered from fetish and fantasy articles of the time and have little basis in fact. A good comparison is with bras today. They were worn for essentially the same purpose of support and shaping, and while some ladies wear bras to bed in modern times, it’s not overly typical.)

Tightlacing 101: 4 Myths About Waist Training with a Corset