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.

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.


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.


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.


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!

Vargas Girdle Review

So at the time of this writing (ok, ages ago) I just got my Vargas Girdle from Kiss Me Deadly in the mail, and as we all know how much I love lingerie, I thought I really should write a review for you all. Especially considering girdles have become so uncommon these days, the information could prove to be extra useful.
It took six weeks to get this, because at the time of my purchase it was out of stock. My initial reaction is to be a little mad at Fairy Goth Mother for not indicating this on their site, however this was quickly rectified with emails explaining the fact, and some very quick replies. And it came in exactly the amount of time they said it would, so that doesn’t leave much to complain about for the service.

The first thing I should mention is how nice it is when a product looks the same in person as it does in the ads. This is one of those products. There are some very minor flaws, so minor that I didn’t notice them in the pictures, but upon further inspection they were there. I’ll get to that a little bit later.
The girdle is indeed lovely. Mike doesn’t care half as much about my clothes as what’s under them, but I think I got a decent reaction. He seemed to like it, and I was very pleased with it too. It’s vintage and modern at the same time, so I get the look I’m going for without going so far in that direction that I feel like an old lady. It’s a very young and sexy look compared to the average person’s impression of what a girdle is. The only minor things I noticed, that can hardly be helped as far as I can tell, are that the back scrunches down a little, and can create a bit of a bumpy look under the back of your clothes. Also the bottom back edge of the girdle slightly cuts into the rear for a bit of an odd silhouette, but only when you look closely. And just as they say, the bows do flatten will under clothes, but if you’re wearing something a little less forgiving, they’re easily removed. As far as the garters showing through your clothes, I think this is more a good thing than bad. A little hint of the sexy secret you’re hiding isn’t something I can see too many people complaining about, unless of course you’re at work.

It’s also WAY more comfortable than girdles seem to have a reputation for. Yes, it is a little bit scratchy at the garters and a bit of the side seams, but barely. It’s hardly worth mentioning when you compare it to your average ill-fitting bra or pair of high heels.
The effectiveness of the Vargas Girdle is where I find it falls the most short, and unfortunately this is the most important part, otherwise what are you buying it for? I suppose I’m satisfied with the waist shaping, though slight, because it’s pretty much impossible to find something that does this at all besides a corset. Waist-high Spanx will nip you in slightly too, in much the same way, but let’s be honest, they’re not sexy. The Vargas girdle is. So I guess I can’t fairly ask for much more. The tummy shaping, well… honestly I didn’t see too much flattening at all. Since I was able to hook it up on the smallest set of hooks, and you’re supposed to wear a new bra on the loosest ones, I’m left wondering if maybe it’s just slightly too big. Vanity sizing maybe? That’s a subject for another article. But as it stands, they don’t have these in XS, so this is the best I’m going to do. In the meantime I sewed in an extra front panel of non-stretch black satin, and did see a slight improvement.
So I am satisfied with the Vargas Girdle, but I wouldn’t say I’m completely over the moon about it. I have heard better reviews from other women so I think it’s fair to say that your results will have quite a bit to do with your individual body shape. It’s true that Kiss Me Deadly makes their lingerie for pear-shaped women because this is the most common shape, while I myself am hourglass. If this is why I’m failing to see results as good as the other women who have used this, it’s certainly through no fault of a company that knows their market. If anything, it leaves me excited to try out more styles.

What Is A Slip?

When I was growing up, a slip was just a typical fundamental part of a girl’s wardrobe when wearing a skirt or dress. If you didn’t have one you ran the risk of your clothes not lying smoothly, or even being see-through in the sun. Princess Diana caused a bit of a shock when she was caught in a picture with a long skirt, back to the sun, that distinctly showed off her legs due to her lack of a slip. So because of this, I always assumed it was just as normal for everyone else. I could buy them cheaply at Walmart. I was, I suppose, blissfully ignorant.

Last summer I wanted a new one, not really for modesty’s sake as my dresses are of fairly opaque fabric, but because they’re hand-wash only, and I wanted to keep them cleaner for longer by having something easily washable between me and the dress. I also wanted something much prettier than what Walmart had to offer.

So I went into La Vie En Rose, asked where the slips were and… was met with blank stares. Not even the woman working there who was older than my mom knew what I was talking about. Even after I explained it, they were still confused. Had I just stepped out of a time machine? They tried instead to sell me nightgowns. Pretty, sure, but all those ruffles would leave my clothes looking pretty lumpy, so no thanks.

A friend told me later that this could be because as far as she knew, slips were being called crinolines now. This left me even more confused because crinolines are underskirts that are intended to give volume to a skirt, like a 50s swing skirt or a Victorian skirt. I have a crinoline. It’s not a slip. Nobody wears puffy underskirts made of tulle under wiggle dresses.
So slips are being called crinolines, merry widows and bustiers are being called corsets, what next? Stockings are pantyhose? Camisoles are bras? What’s going on? You would think that in a society where women still wear lingerie the terms wouldn’t get so horribly confused. In our world of minimalism, is lingerie now slowly beginning on its way out? Maybe one day I’ll write a glossary.

Back to the slips. As I said earlier, a slip is something you wear under a skirt (half slip) or dress (full slip) to smooth it out, keep your modesty, and keep the inside of your dress or skirt clean. They can even help keep you warm in the winter and are great for keeping you comfortable in scratchy fabric. Think of it as a liner. And yes, they can sort of look like nightgowns.
Where do you get them? Walmart still has them, I think. The better solution though, is specialty and vintage shops.
For the real deal at good prices you can search Value Village, Goodwill, and yes, Etsy. The ones I have found on Etsy are gorgeous, and in my current financial situation it’s driving me a bit nuts to see all those beautiful things.

Some people don’t like the idea of used lingerie in any capacity, and besides, sometimes a vintage slip just won’t do under more revealing modern clothes. In this case there are places for new slips, such as Her Room which include slimming styles from brands like Spanx. Their way of explaining what a slip is is romantic and spot-on.

So go have a look, and you might discover that slips are not only functional, but another way for you to feel feminine and fabulous every day.

Online Shopping, Deadlines, and My First Girdle

Don’t you just hate it when you work really hard writing a post only to find when you go to post it that you’re NOT SIGNED IN?? And you have to write it ALL OVER AGAIN even though it won’t be as good as the first time? Eugh. Anyway…

There’s nothing wrong with waiting to save up to buy something. We all have to do it, and it makes you appreciate the thing more when you finally get it. That’s part of luxurious living, being grateful for everything you have. Unfortunately when it comes to this waiting, sometimes there’s a limit on how long you have and you need more time. Just like with buying things in person, online sometimes things go off the market, get sold out, or a sale that you were depending on ends too soon. I dealt with this a lot lately.

A certain dress I had been wanting since January, the Lizbeth Day Of The Dead dress from Pinup Girl Clothing, finally came back in stock this week. Because of the embroidery it always takes a long time, so opportunities to buy it don’t come along very often. Unfortunately I have also just recently lost my job. BAD timing. And I was assured that even though I start at a new, higher paying job next week, I still couldn’t afford to just charge it.

Something else I had been wanting for a very long time, which is much more affordable, is a girdle. I wanted something that would give me that exaggerated hourglass figure without the stiffness, bulkiness, and severity of a corset. Unfortunately most of them are just more old-fashioned versions of spanx, that hold you in without defined shaping, with all the boning and lacing that you just don’t want showing through a tight dress. The one that I DID really love was the Vargas Girdle by Kiss Me Deadly. It was exactly what I was looking for, and very sexy. I went through my bookmarks to find it, only to find out that it had just recently been discontinued! VERY frustrating. So there I was searching the internet for a site that might still carry it, thinking I very well might have missed my chance, and knowing I would probably miss my chance on the Lizbeth dress. Money sure does suck sometimes.

So thankfully there was one place still selling it, Fairy Goth Mother, which I have been admiring for years but never purchased from before, and which also happens to be the first place I ever saw the girdle. And they were already out of mediums. So I just made it, and now I’ll finally have first hand experience on these intriguing articles of lingerie described in Girdle Zone. Hooray!

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.

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:
For the best places to start your shopping look here:
Made to measure… (also offer custom)

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

Girdle Zone

Being heavily into corsets, I’ve never been particularly interested in girdles. I guess I’ve just always thought of them as a lesser kind of corset, a “corset light”, if you will. Nevertheless the thought of getting one has crossed my mind. Not everyone wants to be bound down to 20 inches at all times, but that hourglass shape is incredibly addicting nonetheless. I just don’t feel right without it.
So it was when I was browsing a message board dedicated to vintage lifestyles and clothing that I found mention of this website, Girdle Zone. I had to have a look.
This site is a lot bigger than I would ever have thought a site about girdles could be. But the fact is there is a lot to do with history, romance, politics, and our senses of self as women that’s all tied up in girdles and the way we perceive them among other notable kinds of underwear. I was immediately fascinated by all the psychology that goes into girdles, and I was pleased to see that they really do hold just as much mental power over us as corsets do.
So you may find that a girdle is a powerful and extremely pleasurable and sexy expression of your femininity, a protective exo-skeleton that grants a feeling of power, or you may feel that you associate them with a repressed pre-feminist time. Either way, you can’t look into the subject without having some sort of emotional reaction. I’ll let you decide for yourselves how you feel about these charged garments.

Foundations: From the Ground Up

It’s hard to look your best when your underwear sucks, and your choice in it can affect the entire look of your body and outfit. Most women don’t even realize that they would look 100% better if only they were wearing the right stuff underneath! So here for your reading entertainment is the always-inevitable underwear post.
I know I’m repeating a lot of people when I say this, but please, get yourself fitted properly for a bra, and go often, because our bodies are always changing. 90% of women are wearing the wrong size, and this can make you look much droopier and heavier than you really are. A good bra will not only lift your boobs, but your entire look and carriage. I know I have one issue in this area and that’s that I’m the same size of almost all the girls working in the lingerie store, so that by the time I get there all the bras and underwear in my size have already been snatched up. But one thing that’s always good to live by, in fashion and otherwise, is persistence. Persistence can get you some very good rewards.
One common misconception is that if you’re wearing white clothes you should be wearing white underwear so that it’s not visible. But actually it is. Quite visible actually, so the best color to go with here is nude. It’s not the prettiest color, but when in doubt, this is always your best option.
Now that I’ve quickly covered the painfully obvious I’m going to get to the fun stuff by taking it a step further. Ever wonder how women of the past looked so elegant and sleek, no matter their size, while so many women today look unfit or sloppy? Women of the past were more prone to wear foundation garments, and that doesn’t mean wearing your grandmother’s girdle. Foundation garments today are not only extremely flattering under your clothes, but can be very sexy on their own. Just check out the gorgeous lingerie by Kiss Me Deadly if you don’t believe me. And think of the extra fun there is in undressing for a partner! It’s totally burlesque.

I think I’ll forever maintain that Spanx are a woman’s best friend. If you don’t wear these already I implore you to try them. You won’t be disappointed. It doesn’t matter how thin you may be already; Spanx are more than just shapers that smooth you out and make your ass extra perky. They also have bras that won’t cause bulges or show under your clothes, flattering bathing suits, and even men’s shape wear in the form of t-shirts. Not to mention they show no panty lines, so if you’re not in favor of thongs these are a great option. Don’t worry about being “fake”. Do you not already wear makeup and at least the occasional pushup bra? Turning our bodies into works of art is something we as human beings have the privilege of doing, so why not enjoy it?

In case Spanx aren’t enough for your tastes, I have something else that just may blow the minds of some of the more mainstream women out there: the corset. Let me dispel the myth right now that corsets are Victorian torture devices, or worn only by dominatrixes while doling out their own torture. I’m not talking about the weakly boned bustiers you can get at your typical lingerie store either, which actually do more harm than good. Not only is a quality corset very comfortable, but it can give you an incredible figure you’ve only ever dreamed of. I could of course go on about this, but there’s just so much to say that I will leave you in suspense until another article. Stay tuned!