Scarlet Divine’s Tightlacing Journal Part 1

As promised, this is the first installment from one of my best friends Scarlet Divine on her tightlacing journey. I thought it would be valuable to share someone else’s experience, especially for those of you endeavoring to try this yourselves.

Entry the first on beginning to tightlace. ❤

My goal is to work my way back to closing my 28″ corset fully and comfortably at a gradual pace. Now, Do Not misunderstand me! When I say gradually I mean that most people take about 3-6 months to get accustomed to a 4″ reduction, while wearing their corset for a minimum of a couple hours per day. Ava at Skirting The Issue wrote a great in depth article: How To Corset – A Step By Step Guide. My goal is to start wearing the corset I have every day. In the beginning it was easy enough for me to put it on for half an hour and take it off. It’s not uncomfortable to wear though it is a teeny bit inconvenient to bend over. Mostly I found that I’m always doing things- running errands, going out, driving (which is possible while wearing a corset, just tricky) or going to the movies with friends. I haven’t quite gotten comfortable enough to wear it for everyday activities but I’m sure I’ll get there.

For more exact numbers, here’s my January tally:
3rd-  ½ hr
5th- ½ hr
6th- ½ hr
7th- 1 hr
8th- 1 hr
9th- 20 mins
10th- 1 h 40 mins
11th-31st – 0 hours

A couple of things I learned the hard way: I am a huge suck during my period. I bloat so much and my cramps are so bad that I just want to curl into a ball and cry. And then I’m supposed to put a corset on my already aching back? I’m sure as I become more and more used to wearing a corset I won’t think twice about having one on, however as a newbie I was definitely hyper aware of during that week and couldn’t bear to wear it for very long. The week after that I came down with a chest cold and it hurts to cough up your lungs while also compressing them. Hence the lack of corset wearing towards the end of this month.

Yummy Yummy Inspiration ❤

The one thing that really surprised me: SO ITCHY. This comes from having dry skin and it’s super important to moisturize: I’ve read this fact so many times on informational corset websites but as someone who rarely even has to put moisturizer on my hands in the dead of winter it was certainly a wake up call. It was funny too because as soon as the corset came off my skin was fine and to the touch it didn’t feel dry at all. Still, my new mini goal is to start applying lotion after I get out of the shower, which is the best time because you’ve cleaned away any dirt and debris that might get clogged into pores while rubbing the lotion in and because the warm water relaxes skin (think of the way your pores expand) so it locks in moisture better.

On a side note, my other goals of eating healthier and losing some weight are going to help with the waist reduction quite a bit. I am very much aware of the fact I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and while I’m not over what my weight category states is unhealthy I haven’t been playing a sport or taking a dance class. Working out just isn’t as fun for me as doing a group activity. However, I’ve dedicated myself to working out more often by working out with a friend, reporting my work outs to this friend when we can’t get together, and joining a dance class. More on that later.

Genetically my body is predispositioned to store fat in my stomach and thighs. Thank-you Mom and Dad. The down side of this is that any weight gain goes to my stomach first, which means I’m one of those unfortunate gals who looks like they’re pregnant anytime I put on five pounds. Enter the corset! Even if I’m only wearing it tightened at the halfway point, the 2″ reduction smooths out my torso beautifully.

So to sum it all up, January’s Stats look like this:
-Longest time corset was worn: 1 hour 40 mins
-# days in a row corset was worn: 6 days
-total time spent in corset: 5 ½ hours

Not terribly impressive perhaps but definitely something to work at and improve upon. I’m optimistic that February will be twice as good.

Stay Saucy,
Miss Scarlet

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How to Corset – Step by Step in Great Detail

I like to keep things simple. I have a lot of corset Q&A type stuff on here, but if you really want to do this, from start to finish, this is going to make more sense to you as a beginner than going through all those articles. Go pee first, this might take a while to read.

Prepare to corset. Learn everything you can, make sure you have no medical issues that will be aggravated by the corset, and turn at least 18, generally the legal age for body modification and so you know your skeleton is mostly done growing. Yes, mods can be done at an earlier age with parental consent, and this is not something you get done in a studio that requires you to sign a contract so who’s to stop you? My sense of responsibility, that’s what. I started at 20, and for me it was the perfect age. Young enough to be pliable, but old enough to be responsible and no longer really developing. As far as how old you can be? I won’t put a number on that, even Cathie Jung was about 45, but just make sure you’re healthy. As long as your body can handle it I don’t care if you’re old enough to have seen them the first time around. People enjoy things they remember.

Learning everything you can refers to, well, everything. Go nuts with this and have fun. Learn about how corsets are constructed, how they affect your body, how to wear corsets responsibly, all the different types of corsets out there, and just take the opportunity to appreciate some cultural and fashion history. Saving up for a proper corset takes time, and wearing one is something to be taken seriously, so you really shouldn’t jump into it right away, and you’ll need something to do while you save up anyway. For financial reasons I waited years before getting my first one, and read anything I could get my hands on in the meantime. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one right NOW, at least give yourself a good couple weeks of study in the most important parts, such as the physiological aspects, how to care for your body and your corset, and how to know you’re getting a proper one.

Select your corset. If you’re a lady I really recommend buying from a place like this, which is excellent. They’re especially affordable, and if you’re going to be tightlacing you don’t want to spend a ton of money on something you’ll only be wearing for a few months. All you really need is something sturdy that does its job and doesn’t hurt. These corsets have a lot more curve to them than Timeless Trends, too. These will also help you to get used to wearing a corset and prepare your body for the next step, if you decide to take it. I’ve worn many like this, and I give you my seal of approval.

As for design, get a black underbust if you have any intention of wearing it over your clothes. Something like this one to the left over here.

Corset from Aether Angels

If you don’t like black and/or you’ll only be wearing it under your clothes, consider something like this on the right.

Josephine Underbust by Isabella Corsetry

If you are a gentleman or biologically male, don’t wear a corset designed for a biologically female body. For off-the-rack corsets, check out Timeless Trends (link) and Dracula Clothing (link). Both have them for men wanting to maintain a masculine shape. It’s not much yet, but it’s a start!

The other option is to order one custom from a corsetiere who knows how to create corsets suited for male body types, whether you are trying to maintain a masculine or feminine physique. And you may want to let them know which one it is that you’re after, because getting it wrong would be pretty unfortunate. They should be able to do both. In particular I recommend Contour Corsets. They really know what they’re doing and used to have a separate site just for men called The Dandy Corset Company. That site doesn’t seem to be around anymore, but Contour Corsets still is.

Be patient. An off the rack corset can take a few weeks to arrive, custom can be easily over 2 months. Maybe you should study some more.

Make sure it’s properly laced. A corset should not be laced like a shoe. NOT be laced like a shoe, you hear me? Why do I keep seeing corsets laced like shoes! The laces should not cross between the panels but create a series of Xs completely over and completely under the panels. This lessens the friction and allows the panels to meet at the back when that’s finally ready to happen. Most corsets unfortunately will come improperly laced, and you should fix this. The very best way involves a tip where instead of creating your bunny ears from top to bottom, you cross them over and make them go from bottom to top before continuing down the back of the corset. This gives you more laces at the waist instead of a gap, which greatly helps keep the tension in the waist. Here’s a video, because I’m sure that reading that just didn’t make any sense.

It’s also helpful to take the very bottom of each end of the laces and cross it over to the grommet on the other side as the final step, so that they cross over each other. This also helps you to keep the tension.

Prepare your body. Go do your thing in the bathroom, it will get a bit tricky later and you don’t want anything bulking up your insides. Then moisturize well and put on a liner. In the beginning at least, a liner doesn’t have to be much more than a tank top. The best ones I’ve bought feel like a bathing suit. They’re super smooth and stretchy and awesome. Some people also buy bathing suit material and make their own. That’s not really necessary. Just tuck the straps of the tank top in or cut them off. But you need something. I always see girls with skin showing from behind their laces and I know they’re not wearing a liner, and that’s gross. You really can’t put a corset in the washing machine, so this is how you keep it clean. It also makes it slide along your skin much more comfortably. I can’t imagine not wearing a liner. A corset worn without one is pretty uncomfortable.

Prepare the corset. Undo the busk, and loosen the laces enough that it’s very easy to put around your body. Most people find doing up the busk to be very tricky and I get asked to help a lot. But the biggest tip is to start from the second or third prong, work down, and then come back and do the top. This prevents the top from acting like a hinge and swinging the rest of it wide open out of reach. It also tends to keep coming undone if you do it that way.

Lace yourself up. It’s very important to be gentle here. When you hit that wall of resistance, stop, even if you feel you could go smaller. Generally this has to do with breaking it in, described below. But if this is your first corset you also need to train your body. If it hurts you’re doing it wrong. It’s completely normal to only be able to wear it for about 20-30 minutes the first time. Your body isn’t used to it yet. Take it off, take a break, and try again later.

The way to actually lace it up is to pull the bunny ears (those big loops at the waist) until you hit that wall of resistance. You can go  past if it you and your corset are both more experienced. I can’t tell you how much, when you get there you’ll know. Then grab the over-Xs taking out the slack from top to middle and then bottom to middle. Pull the bunny ears again. Repeat if necessary. Tie the bunny ears in a bow. Then you can you can tuck the dangly bits under the bottom of the corset under your Xs to keep them out of the way. A lot of experienced girls will hook their laces around a doorknob in order to keep the tension while they work the laces. It’s funny to watch but it works. In the old days some people even had a hook in the wall for this purpose.

It’s important to make sure that the grommets in the back are as parallel as possible otherwise you’re not only putting uneven pressure on the corset, but you’ll actually condition it to sit crooked. Stop to lift your arms up and wiggle a couple times while you lace to stretch your torso out and keep your body properly positioned inside the corset. Also take a few moments to tug at the bottom of the liner to make sure it stays smooth under there, because any wrinkles can be uncomfortable or painful. Don’t get discouraged if all this is hard at first. It’s like learning to put on a bra. It’s tricky as hell for a few days or a week and then it becomes second nature. And believe me when I say it will take less time to do than to read.

Break it in: Being patient again. I hate this part. I’m really bad at it. But it’s very important not just to give your body time to adjust, but to give your corset time to adjust as well so you don’t put excessive stress on it and weaken or even damage it. If I was not terrible at this I would go by the rule of 2. Two inches of reduction, twice a day, two hours each time, for two weeks. This is just easy for me to remember. Everybody will tell you a different way to break it in, but what it all comes down to is GO SLOW, be kind to the corset, and wait until it feels like it’s really part of you before you go and start trying to see how tight you can go. Even if you can lace like Scarlet O’Hara, the corset needs to get to know you a bit first. Come on, it’s a lady.

Dress to hide it, or dress to show it off. This depends on where you’ll be going, and how brave you are. The office is not the most appropriate place to be donning what your boss might incorrectly assume is fetish wear. That is of course unless you work in a fetish shop or something of the like, in which case you might get yourself a nice promotion. Generally, things that hide tummys are things that hide tiny waists. Empire waist tops and dresses are the best, things like roomier sweaters are great too. If you don’t have a huge reduction you should be fine with something a little more form-fitting and/or adding a wide belt. It will be enough to show off your figure without scaring anybody.

I wore this to work today. The corset is very small, but you can barely tell. Vintage clothes of the New Look era are perfectly suited to corsets.

I wore this to work today. The corset is very small, but you can barely tell. Vintage clothes of the New Look era are perfectly suited to corsets.

If you want to show it off, there aren’t a lot of rules. If you’re keeping it underneath your clothing then a wiggle dress is going to be about the hottest thing you can put on. You can also put it on top of just about anything, it does wonders pulling an outfit together. Just make sure that whatever you’re putting it over doesn’t have a lot of bulk. No excessive fabric, no folds, no beads, no zippers or buttons, you get the idea. You want this area to be smooth. if it’s not smooth you’re gonna have a bad time. I also recommend wearing heels. Not super high ones, but heels in general will correct the change of posture the corset creates, making you stand more naturally and keeping you a bit more comfortable.

Live: Eating, sitting, pooping, getting drunk, and the cycle method. You can still eat plenty, but you may have to make some slight adjustments. Eat less food more often, and avoid carbs and gassy things. They’ll suck.

You can also still sit in a corset, I’m doing that right now, but because you’re not able to bend at the waist you’ll be more comfortable with a higher chair, and you’ll probably find yourself standing and leaning on things a lot more than you used to. Even without a higher chair you’ll actually feel taller as your torso is being propped right up. It’s important to note here that if you have painful shoes you’ll want to sit, but the corset will make you want to stand, and once again it will suck. Dress like a responsible person unless you’re a masochist or otherwise going to be attending a fetish ball.

Now, they say that the rumor that if you drink a lot and then take the corset off that you’ll get suddenly drunk is a myth. It’s not, at least not for everyone. If you want to drink don’t keep it so tight (and try to avoid carbonated drinks or that air will have a tendency to get trapped in your chest). That alcohol will stay higher in your digestive system, not accomplishing much, and then you’ll get hammered when you take it off before bed and it all suddenly goes down. Of course, you may decide this is fine with you.

Pooping is a challenge when you’re in a corset too. Wow, it sounds like I’m describing a whole lot of unpleasantness! Don’t let this scare you, none of it is that bad. It’s just a series of small adjustments. First things first – make sure your laces don’t dangle into the toilet. Tuck them up under the corset or hold them in front of you. Because you can’t bend at the waist, you’ll find yourself wishing you had longer arms when you’re about done. If you just can’t manoever enough, push from the front instead of pulling from the back. You know what I mean. You may also find that your…routine is a touch different than what it used to be, if you lace quite tightly. Just make sure you’re not constipated, because this could indicate a pinched colon. Ease up on that shit, it will all work itself out.

The cycle method is something I’ve been doing from day one, but I didn’t know it was actually a thing. A lot of corset wearers intend to lace it and leave it. I’ve been made fun of for tampering with my laces on a pretty much constant basis. But your body changes throughout the day and throughout the month. It doesn’t actually make a lot of sense to ignore this and keep the same level of tightness all the time. For example when you eat it’s going to feel a lot more tight if you’re eating a regular meal instead of a very small one. So the cycle method allows for this, and all you have to know is that you should be comfortable all the time. If it starts to feel tight, loosen it. If it starts to feel loose, tighten it. Do what you need to do. The time spent in the corset is more important than how tight it is, and this will keep you comfortable allowing you to wear it for longer periods. It’s also just plain nature. As Fran from Contour Corsets described in her article (I think she’s the one who formally invented the cycle method. You can read more about it here.), it’s like the seasons. Some days are colder and some days are warmer, but in the end it will still become summer. It’s physically healthy and mentally zen.

Tightlacing: Even more patience. By following the cycle method, wearing your corset every day or other day, and not forcing anything, you will find that over time the same comfort level will translate to a smaller and smaller corseted waist. You don’t even actually have to do this too consciously. Just be wrapped in that firm hug as often as you can and it will happen. For me it took 3 months to close a 20 inch corset from a natural waist of 26 inches, and it’s been years now trying to get actually comfortable with that all day, due to a huge ton of long-term inconsistency on my part (I blame many things). So I am actually still training. Consistency and loving it are key. Don’t think about the number, just do what feels good and chill. If you don’t want to tightlace, don’t. You don’t have to wear it every day, and you don’t have to wear it any tighter than it takes to get rid of the big gaps on the top and bottom. If you do, keep in mind that the smaller you go the longer things will take, and the more time you’ll have to wear it. Every day or other day for 8-12 hours at a time is fine for about 6 inches. If you want to get to 10+ you may find you have to sleep in it, and so forth.

Start all over again! It’s been a few months and now you can close your corset. Now here’s the fun part. Time for custom, baby! You may be hesitant because of the cost, as I was. But you just don’t move backward in the corset world. Steel people never wear plastic again, and custom people never wear off the rack again, generally speaking. This corset may be a lot more expensive than your last one, but it’s going to feel amazing to wear, you get to design it yourself, and it’s going to take you to body proportions you’ve never imagined you could achieve.

And now you’re addicted. Happy lacing!

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.

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

My Difficulty as a Tightlacer

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.

More Corset Questions and Troubleshooting

Corsets can be a much more complex issue than they first seem, and to prove that I’ve written another article of questions people may have. This time I’m focusing on questions likely to be asked by those who have already made the decision to get into serious corset-wearing.

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1. How can I lace up by myself?
Basically you pull the puller loops until you feel sudden resistance, then work the Xs in the laces from top to middle and bottom to middle. Then pull the puller loops again and tie off into a bow. For some people this is a bit difficult, and really it’s just an issue of dexterity and practice. You just have to keep at it. What many tightlacers do to help however is to hook the laces onto a hook or doorknob and walk forward to keep the tension as they work the laces. Shorter corsets with fewer grommets are more prone to slipping open as soon as you let go, so this helps especially in this case.

2. How can I hide the bottom ridge under clothes?
Besides making sure the corset is custom and so fits you perfectly, the easiest thing you can do here is to wear your underwear over the corset, which also makes it much easier to go to the bathroom. But sometimes this isn’t enough. Spanx are great, as are light girdles and garter belts. I’ve also found that folding a liner over and wearing it around the hips is very comfortable and effective. But while this will improve the situation, it’s very hard to solve it completely. You’ll have to expect that to a certain extent your bottom ridge will often show.

3. How can I keep my lacing guard from bunching up when I put my corset on?
I feel you there, it’s really hard. Boned guards are best, but another thing I did try that worked like a charm was to put the guard (provided it’s separate from the corset and UNboned, for washing) under the liner. This helps to hold it in place, and provides a smooth surface for the back edges to slide over.

4. Is custom really necessary?
This depends on how tight you’re trying to go. For a reduction of 4 inches or less, it’s generally not, unless you are taller or shorter than average, and/or otherwise vary a fair bit from standard proportions. Once you go smaller than the four inches a standard corset offers, your proportions will be too extreme for this and you will need to buy custom, or made to measure at the very least. Buying a smaller standard corset won’t be good enough, as I learned the hard way, because the hip and rib measurements are just as important as the waist. If the top and bottom of your corset are too small to close, the waist won’t close either and you’ll have wasted your money. Also, the smaller you go the more comfort will be an issue, and eventually even a small seam or wrinkle in your clothing underneath can be very painful. Custom is definitely the best way to make sure that you get the comfort you need.

5. How often do I have to wear my corset? Do I really have to sleep in it?
Again, this depends on how small you want to go. The smaller you go, the more you’ll have to wear it. If you just want 2-3 inches to enhance your shape on a night out, then you won’t need to wear it any more than that. To get anything smaller than what you get upon first putting it on, you’ll need to wear it more, though you’ll have to slowly ramp the time up while your body adjusts so you can stay comfortable. In my own experience, 8-12 hours a day is sufficient for anything up to 6 or 7 inches, and 23 hours a day, including sleeping, will be necessary for any reduction smaller than that, keeping in mind that everybody’s different. Although once you get used to your corset you may find that you’re actually more comfortable wearing it than not, so in this case there’s nothing wrong with wearing it all the time, even if you have very modest goals.

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6. What would you recommend for a first corset?
You need to start as basic as possible, because if you only have one, you’ll need to be able to wear it with everything. I tell everyone that the ideal first corset is a plain black underbust. No matter how many corsets you may one day own, this one will always be your most important one, your corset LBD. Underbusts are much more comfortable and give you more ease of movement than overbusts, and they’re more discreet under clothes. Over clothes, the style and color can be worn with everything. The only exception I would say is if you plan on wearing it exclusively under your clothes, then nude or champagne would be a good substitute, particularly if your clothes are light. With your further purchases you can get gradually more fancy.

7. What is a corset liner?
Unfortunately what many people don’t realize is that you always need to wear something under your corset. I can’t stress enough how important it is. Corsets can’t be washed, or the steel will rust and the whole thing could warp. Wearing something underneath keeps it clean. It also protects your skin from chaffing, and reduces friction when lacing. A corset liner comes in when you want to wear your corset under your clothes, and/or when you’re reducing enough that any creases in the fabric underneath would cause pain. For comfort’s sake you need to keep whatever’s against your skin as smooth as possible. Corset liners are made of spandex, so they’re smooth and stretchy, and they’re made to your corseted proportions, so there won’t be any creasing to dig into your skin. I never realized what a difference they could make until I got a few myself, so I strongly recommend them for anyone who wears a corset more than once a week. You can get them many places custom corsets are sold, or if you’re handy with sewing you can fairly easily make your own. Heavenly Corsets even offers a set that includes 4 liners with your corset purchase.

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8. Help, my skin is really itchy!
This happens when you wear your corset tighter and more often, as this can cause your skin to dry out. Make sure to apply lots of lotion before you put it on, and powder your skin with cornstarch (many websites will tell you to use talc, however this is a possible carcinogenic). When you itch, don’t try to scratch through the corset, or you could damage the fabric. Just take it off, scratch if you need to, apply more lotion, and put on a clean liner.

9. Are you supposed to wear it with the back closed, or with a space?
This is a bit of a debate, and I’ve heard both sides of the issue. Most tightlacers say closed is definitely best, as it makes the corset much more solid. Others like the springiness in a corset with a gap, and argue that it leaves your spine free of any pressure from the steels. I can relate to both sides.

10. Can a corset help me lose weight?
A corset in itself will not cause you to lose weight, but yes it can be a helpful tool in conjunction with proper diet and exercise. The most immediate effect is a few inches off your waist and a smoothed torso, and the confidence this brings, which is very motivating. Further it acts like an external lap band, making you feel full faster. And because your digestive tract will be pushed upwards, you’ll have less tolerance for greasy, gassy foods, and foods that are hard to digest.

11. What waist size should I try to achieve as a tightlacer?
There are many different methods of determining what a good waist size is, but the biggest thing to stress here is that proportion is infinitely more important than the number. A 20 inch waist could look freakish and shocking on one girl, and completely forgettable on another. Some people use charts (See below), some decide on a percentage of their hip measurements for a desirable waist-hip ratio, and others try to match up with the measurement of their upper thigh. In the end, only you will know what’s right for you.

This image doesn’t really fit on the page, and there’s always more to it. Click to see more.

12. How should a corset be laced?
One thing I always look for when browsing corset sites is how they are laced. A corset should NOT be laced like a shoe, with the laces passing between the back panels. This prevents the corset from closing completely and causes unnecessary friction. Instead what you should see is a row of Xs, completely under, completely over, so that when the corset is closed you see nothing but the ones on top. And the laces should NEVER, EVER be tied at the bottom or top of a corset. You are trying to draw in the waist, not the hips! I find it hard to take any corset laced this way at all seriously.

One of my own corsets, displaying the reverse bunny ears technique. It's great for keeping tension at the waist.

This is right. One of my own corsets, displaying the reverse bunny ears technique. It’s great for keeping tension at the waist.

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How a properly laced corset looks when closed, showing rows of Xs.

13. What’s the proper way of measuring your corseted waist?
There has been some debate about this as well. The true waist measurement is the one taken under the corset, but figuring this out can be hard to achieve, and is definitely not the measurement on display, so it’s more of a personal goal. The measurement taken over the corset includes a good deal of bulk from the garment itself, but is the one that best represents your appearance. So what is there to do? My preferred method is taking the waist measurement of the corset itself and adding the number of inches you have left in the gap, if any. It’s simple, and a good middle ground. Either way, just make sure you’re telling the truth. We can tell when you’re lying 😉

Did I miss anything? Tell me in the comments!

Telling the Difference Between a Proper Corset and a Fake One

One of the biggest issues I have with corsets is that so many women don’t know what defines a real one that they continue to waste their money on what constitutes little more than tacky lingerie. The worst part is they never know that they’ve been had, and the problem is so common that I’m sure many of these “corset” sellers have no idea that what they’re selling isn’t actually a corset at all. Ebay is riddled with shops selling these ripoff items that actually have positive reviews because the buyers didn’t know any better (or just had really bad taste), and message boards are full of even more of these buyers who just can’t figure out what went wrong.
When it comes right down to it, nobody can really be blamed. I’m infuriated at the sellers who knowingly show pictures of quality corsets and then sell horrible knockoffs, but this is a problem that can be said for a lot of products. Overall, people are simply in the dark about this issue. I believe the root of the problem is simply that the corset as a garment has evolved over time just like any other garment, so that we kept the title even though they’re completely unrecognizable in their current incarnation. Here’s where the words “Victorian Corset” come into play. I’ve heard it asked many times what this means, and I believe it’s referring to authentic corsets as they were and are meant to be, rather than the cheap imitations we see today. So now I have to get to the point. How can you tell the difference? Here’s a list of what I look for, in order of importance.
Sizing. Truly the most important thing to look for is steel boning, but I’m listing this one first because invariably a corset sized S/M/L does not have it, so looking for this will save you a lot of time. A proper off the rack corset (made to measure and custom don’t come in sizes, they’re made individually according to your measurements) will be sized according to how many inches around the waist is. Commonly this will range from 20-40, and you should get one 4 inches smaller than your natural waist size. I’ve also noticed that “corsets” of the plastic type often come with a g-string and feature a model that looks like a porn star. This is a sure sign that what you’re looking at is crap.
Cost. Also not technically the most important, but a price too good to be true usually is, and a sure sign that this isn’t what you’re looking for. I have seen very expensive junk, but I have rarely seen a good corset for less than about 100$, and finding these is a skill best left to more knowledgeable and experienced bargain shoppers.
Steel boning. If it’s not steel, don’t even think about it. This is officially the number one rule for finding a quality piece. Plastic is not only horribly unflattering due to the way they bend and buckle, but this can also be painful, even dangerous. Plastic bones that bend too easily will jab you in the stomach, under the ribs, and in your armpits. In extreme cases they’ve been known to snap and puncture through skin. There’s nothing good I can say about plastic boning, unless it’s sturdy and strictly worn decoratively on top of a proper corset boned with steel. At the very least, I beg you to NOT attempt tightlacing a “corset” boned with plastic. Lace it just enough to be snug, but not tight. Spiral steel has the required flexibility to curve with your body while also being strong enough to properly support you with comfortable even pressure. One way to instantly tell the difference in person is by weight. A plastic bustier will feel extremely light and flimsy compared to the heavy sturdiness of a proper corset.
Multiple layers cotton coutil. No doubt about it, a corset requires strength. And all the steel in the world won’t do any good if the fabric between it tears under the pressure. This is one of the reasons it’s unsuitable to take a bustier and try making it a proper corset by replacing the boning. The thin layer of fabric just won’t hold up. A good corset is made with usually three layers of strong cotton coutil, with the decorative fabric over top.
Waist tape. I’ve heard of corsetieres claiming that their corsets were extra strong because they use waist tape in the construction. I call bullshit. EVERY proper corset should have waist tape. It’s not special, it’s the standard, and it should always be mentioned that this is part of the design. This is important for reinforcing the waist, which undergoes the most pressure. Without this the corset could quickly tear.
They specifically say the corset is for tightlacing. I don’t doubt there are some dishonest sellers out there, but those people won’t be in business for long. A good corset is suitable for tightlacing and will always say so.
Proper lacing. There are indeed some good corsets out there with improper lacing, but this is a sign that the corsetiere has not fully done their homework and so the overall quality might not be as good as it should be. Corsets should NOT be laced like a running shoe. This creates extra friction, and the laces passing in between the panels will prevent the corset from closing all the way. If this is the only problem you see, it’s simple enough to just re-lace it yourself. A worse issue is when the laces tie at the top or the bottom. Sure these can be re-laced too, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who does it this way to know what they’re doing. This is just obvious beginner stuff that any reputable retailer or corsetiere should know. If you’re trying to draw in the waist, why would you tie it anywhere else? It just doesn’t make any sense. Not to mention this makes lacing much more difficult. The seller might claim that this is so the laces can easily be hidden, but come on, that’s much less important than actually doing it properly so the corset is able to do what it’s supposed to, isn’t it?
Wrinkling in the fabric. I’ve worn many good corsets in which the fabric didn’t lie perfectly flat, but if it does, all the better. This is simply a sign of quality work and attention to detail, and makes for a more attractive and solid-looking corset, with a smoother silhouette under clothing. While not 100% necessary, it’s strongly preferred.
Now I just want to mention one last thing, and that’s grommet placement. A couple people have said to me how strange it is that the grommets or front prongs are unevenly placed, while what they’re referring to is the fact that they’re closer together at the waist and belly respectively. This is actually a very good thing, again to compensate for the increased pressure in that area. So don’t worry a thing about that if you see it, just rest assured that this is even more likely to be what you’ve been looking for!
Good luck!