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!

Corset FAQ

I wear corsets a lot, and have been doing so for years. It’s amazing the number of questions and assumptions that I’ve heard since then, so I want to set the record straight and share how great they are.


1. Does it hurt?
No, as long as you wear it properly it actually feels very pleasant. In fact, most cases of pain I’ve heard were actually from people who were wearing plastic boned bustiers that buckle inward and poke your stomach and ribs. A real corset supports you and compresses you evenly all around. I’ve worn them for the comfort alone, and eventually it even feels odd not to wear one, a feeling comparable to not wearing a bra. It should NEVER hurt. Although I will mention that the breaking-in process is often quite uncomfortable and lasts for about several wearings, like a new pair of boots, particularly if it’s your first one. The corset and your body need time to get used to each other. This is why your level of reduction and time wearing it will need to be slowly ramped up instead of attempting it all in one shot. But after a week or so everything should feel just fine.

2. Can you eat in that thing?
I sure can! I’ve eaten a 12 inch sub in it. But as it pushes your entire digestive tract upwards, you’ll be a lot more prone to heartburn and indigestion, as well as trapped air in your chest. It’s best to take it easy, and especially avoid gassy foods and beverages.

3. Is it safe?
Absolutely, as long as it’s done properly. To cover all the medical issues you may be concerned about, from burping to pregnancy and much more, here’s a website with articles written by a doctor who tightlaces. http://www.staylace.com/medicaladvice/medical.htm

4. Where do you get them?
On the internet. I’ll provide a list of the best shops at the bottom of the page. It’s best to get them in person of course, but most cities don’t have a reputable corsetiere. Either way you should always make sure that what you’re buying is meant for waist reduction. It’s easy to be fooled into buying a simple bustier, especially if this is your first one.

5. Are they expensive?
It depends where you get them, but for a quality piece you can expect to spend about 100$ at the very least, and up to 500$+ for something really fancy. I have even seen corsets worth over two thousands dollars!

6. Can you breathe?
If I couldn’t breathe in it I’d be dead! You can’t take quite such deep breaths, but unless we’re doing any heavy exercising, we only actually use about 20% of our available lung capacity. So it really shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, it’s way too tight!

7. How small is your waist?
On a good day I can get it down to 20 inches. But for more comfortable wear it’s about 21-22. My goal is to be completely comfortable at 20 inches and then just leave it at that.

8. How long does it take to reduce that much?
It took me 3 months of wearing it at 8-12 hours a day, at least every other day to achieve a 7 inch reduction. Really it depends on the person, and the further you go the slower the rate of reduction will be. Some people take years to achieve their tiny waists.

9. Surely your waist isn’t that small when you take it off?
Nope. It goes right back to normal after. You would never know.


10. What size should I order?
Start with an off-the-rack corset 4 inches smaller than your natural waist size. I recommend Timeless Trends for their quality and price, since you’ll likely be able to move on to a smaller one pretty quickly. Once you become comfortable wearing it closed for long periods, look for made to measure or custom 2-4 inches smaller than your last one. Of course if you just want to stick with the 4 inch reduction that’s fine too!


11. But doesn’t it deform your ribs and organs? There’s no way that can be healthy.
This is what bothers me the most. People are so disgusted by the thought of moving your organs, and yet what they don’t know is that pregnancy moves your organs MUCH more than a corset does, to the point that your heart will actually turn sideways. Our bodies are designed to do this. It’s natural, not gross or scary. And as for the rib thing, the change is only temporary, and we WANT them to become tapered to achieve a desirable shape. In fact compressing the ribs as well as the waist is important to prevent your colon sliding up and getting pinched. Corsets even support the back, reducing pain, and promote healthy eating habits such as eating smaller meals more often and avoiding fried food. So if anything a properly laced corset is actually good for you. Health problems? Not here!


12. What’s the difference between standard, custom, and made to measure?
A standard a.k.a. off-the-rack corset comes in various waist measurements with a pre-determined hip, underbust, and bust (where applicable) ratio. It sits on a shelf until you order it and then it gets shipped off to you. These are the best corsets for a beginner, as they’re less expensive and a beginner doesn’t need any more than the 4 inch reduction they allow you to achieve. A custom or bespoke corset is one that you design yourself, and an experienced corsetiere makes from scratch according to your specifications and all your measurements. A made to measure corset falls somewhere in the middle. They already have a pattern, but they’ll alter it according to your (under)bust, waist, and hip measurements, not including your vertical measurements. Then you can choose from a given selection of fabric. These definitions aren’t hard and fast but are almost always accurate to what you’re getting. Custom will of course give you the very best fit, thereby making it much more comfortable and allow for a bigger waist reduction, and they’re really fun to design, however I believe that everyone has different tastes and budgets, so the right corset is anything that makes you happy and keeps you comfortable.

13. It’s a sexual thing, isn’t it?

Absolutely NOT. I admit that they present a very heightened image of femininity, and for some people it is sexual, but to automatically assume this of anyone is very rude. I get very annoyed when I see message boards and such about corsets dissolving into places for people to go on about their sexual fantasies. Luckily this is fairly rare.

I heard Victorian women sometimes had ribs removed!

No, they didn’t. Surgery back then was much less safe and advanced than it is now, and risk of infection was huge. Nobody would risk going under the knife if they didn’t have to. Doing this also would have left internal organs vulnerable, also very dangerous. Besides, the lower ribs are very flexible, and it’s much easier to simply train them into shape than go through the trouble of removing them. So the idea just doesn’t make any sense, and there’s no evidence to support it.


For more information look here:
http://www.staylace.com/
http://www.corsetheaven.com/corsets/corset.asp
http://www.corsetheaven.com/corsets/corset_advice/tightlacing2.asp
http://www.waspcreations.com/articles.htm
For the best places to start your shopping look here:
Standard…
http://www.timeless-trends.com/WSWrapper.jsp?mypage=StoreHome.htm
http://stores.shop.ebay.com.sg/Little-missy-choo-choos__W0QQ_armrsZ1
Made to measure…
http://www.snobzcorsets.com/catalog/
http://www.ellecorsets.co.uk/catalog/index.php?cPath=26 (also offer custom)
Custom…
http://www.desertorchidcorsets.co.uk/
http://www.waspcreations.com/
http://www.candsconstructions.com/indexf.htm

If you have any more questions that weren’t answered here please leave me a comment! Enjoy!

(The above is an unedited photo of yours truly)

For more corset information, see https://victoriablack4.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/telling-the-difference-between-a-proper-corset-and-a-fake-one/