I wasn’t having the best of days. I won’t bore you with the sordid details, but I had received some bad financial news that had me in the dumps.
(Ok, some details for the morbidly curious: Who knew that blood tests for vitamin levels could rack up to 15 hundo? I’ve never had the best of health, but they should put that stuff on a menu… I may have made different decisions had I known the catastrophic effect on my wallet.)
Anyway, I had stopped by Dark Garden on its closed for business day to take some pictures for my side business — EuPASTIES: Euphrates makes pasties! (They’re totally fabulous. You should definitely get some.)
I heard the whirring of a singular sewing machine in the back and my name squeaked as gently as a kitten:
Euphrates? I’m working on something I think you’d like to see…
To my delight and surprise, I discovered that the Dark Garden leather stitcher was hard at work crafting my snake skin printed cow hide corselette!
She commented that the black leather piping was a nice touch. Fuck yeah, it is!
I’ve seen a lot of corsets, and I wanted one that was really …me — well, the part of me that’s really Laura Dern in Wild at Heart. I had this leather ordered specially from the Hide House and I am so pleased! I can’t wait to slither into it.
Drunks make and break promises left and right, but a well-functioning sot is much more likely to follow through! In my tipsy vlog on leather corset care, I mentioned that I would soon be blogging about my first experience ordering a custom corset. Ta-da: as promised. It’s a very exciting and multi-step process, especially for those who aren’t used to having garments whipped up for them in collaboration with a design house, so I’m happy to share my experience.
The hardest part was deciding what I wanted (first in my long queue of dream corsets, anyway)! A common misstep that clients often want to take is to put too many design elements of every corset they might ever want into a single corset: teal butterfly brocade with silver piping and pockets and straps and and leather panel of contrasting color and D-rings and… too many “and’s” can lead to a costly corset and unfortunate aesthetic disaster. Having seen this unstoppable force of sheer giddiness in motion before, I pulled my excitable instincts back and decided to keep it simple. No fancy fabric choices: just plain, black, glove leather.
But I want SHINY!
Tell your inner fish:
It doesn’t speak.
I chose basic black because not only is it classic, but people looking at you will tend to see your silhouette and your personality, rather than the garment itself. I learned this lesson the hard way from a previous store manager, Holly Bobisuthi — who, for the record, one cannot keep away from electric teal tones or animal prints if one’s life depended on it — when everything inside me wanted a corset of multiple panels of insane Escher wool in black in white.
But why do people compliment my waist line more in my RTW plain black corset, when my wool one is a full inch smaller? My iliac crest is OBVIOUSLY more pronounced in it too!
Because young one. They only see the fabric, not the shape.
In my memory, she speaks to me like a sensei.
Basic black, lessoned learned.
The design I chose, granted, is a lot of corset. Highback, underbust, 18″ waist, accommodation for my ribs and hips, and longline Dollymop designer points framing the rear. I ordered something custom that is clearly custom. No one else has this corset — yet, anyway.
It’s no secret I get my corsets from Dark Garden. Excellent service, high quality materials, in house design and production, I work there… as well as the fact that I hate ordering things online, especially when fit is such a consideration (I won’t even order shoes online). Any corset maker that has a customer service team you can *speak to* regarding fit, style, and manufacture is a step above the rest.
Initial Measuring and Consult
All of the necessary measurements for the style of corset I was ordering were taken. I explained to the Master Designer what I was looking for (a specific shape of waist curve), that I was a tightlacer, and she inquired as to my desired waist measurement. She was open to modifying her standard design for the Highback Pointed Victorian to meet my aesthetic, and for her grace, ease, and flexibility to what I was looking for, I felt very taken care of as a custom client.
With the notes and measurements in mind, her senior pattern master came up with a mock up pattern just for me, and a mock up was created out of muslin for a first fitting, pictured below.
Notice a couple things:
• a custom corset has a lot more panels than a ready to wear corset, allowing for more curvature with less stress on the matrix of threads essential the the makeup of the fabrics (benefit of which: custom corsets last longer).
• I’m totally stoned from satisfying compression made just for my body. Yummmm…..
During the fitting, the master fitter took notes on the mock up for the pattern to be adjusted accordingly. This was time to speak up if any changes were desired. Kalico Delafay happened to be walking by and I blurted, “Hey, can we put a Dollymop bottom on this thing?” After a look between the two designers and then finally a nod, the deal was sealed. Yes! I love the hybrid corsets.
The mockup fit so well, the master fitter was confident that a second fitting was not necessary. My order was moved into production.
As a front-of-house person, I’m not really supposed to disturb the stitchers at work, but I was too excited when I discovered it was MY custom frankenstein corset coming to life!
AHHHHHHH SO EXCITING
And then, after the deciding, the ordering, the measuring, the mockup fitting, the production, it was done! And it was beautiful.
Here’s to many more adventures in my wardrobe’s gem! I can’t wait for my next custom corset. I’m thinking about a sweetheart with a very reduced waist line, but my mind changes too often to tell with certainty. Perhaps something with the Swarovski crystal treatment… Indulge my inner fish!
• “I love the idea of a corset, but have no idea what I’d wear it with!”
• “More pictures on your blog, please!”
Perhaps both of these exclamations are symptomatic of the same desire, gasped by those seeking some inspiration for how to style corsets as authentic, non-costumed, wear (perhaps not, but let’s pretend).
I aim to please. The following are photos of men and women, all wearing corsets by Dark Garden Corsetry, as authentic outfits. Some of the photos are professional, some are selfies, and some are simple iphonography. So prepare yourself for the gamut…
There are some ideas to get you started working corsets into your own personal style and wardrobe. Have fun!
When one corsets every day, it poses an interesting fashion challenge. In the beginning of my waist training, I often found myself staring at my closet with furrowed brow; stumped. With my rapidly changing shape, I found that a whole lot of my clothes started to fit me like potato sacks with awkwardly low waistlines. With the knowledge that I may get knocked up or for some other reason fluctuate in size some day, I put the items worth keeping in storage and gave the rest away.
It was hard to get rid of those trusted garments. On the other hand, I was hardly disappointed to be getting more shapely! I found that my confidence to wear skin tight clothes sky-rocked and with that, a whole world of fashionable possibilities opened up; I suddenly found that I can wear pretty much anything I want to without nagging insecurity holding me back. This breakthrough was pretty big for me and one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping others discover corsetry as daily wear. However you come to the conclusion, it’s a wonderful feeling to walk in the world and know you are bangin’.
Now I see every day as an fashion challenge: ways to make my daily corset new, fresh, and exciting, appropriate for my context, and fitting with my aesthetic. My color palate tends towards greyscale, reds, and burgundies with high/low fashion goth-punk aesthetics.
Here are some examples of my outfits. Sorry that it’s a bunch of selfies, but selfies or not, I’d love to see yours!
What’s the point here?
People often ask: what can I wear my corset with? I suppose what I’m trying to demonstrate is: fuckin’ anything.
Jeans, stretch jersey, knit, under or over gowns, pencil skirts, gaucho pants, jumpsuits, slacks, t-shirts, tank tops, bikinis … play with it!
From the brand new House of Nines Designs hat to the John Fluevog shoes, I received a lot of attention this night for my look. Corsets under clothes and trained waists create luscious silhouettes that no eye can escape!