Tag Archives: corset advice

Do Not Take Waist Training Advice from Buzzfeed

Sure, I’m a participant in the internet’s distractify mindset. I follow various aggregate sites for interesting, amusing, or informative content — or at least that’s what I’m telling myself I’m doing as I’m killing time on Devour, Petapixel, and Buzzfeed. Following current events, such as terrorist massacres, shootings, and SF local tragedies, can severely mess me up. Sometimes a cute dog video or something silly can act as the spoonful of sugar I need to digest all the horror.

However, it’s important to remember that sites like Buzzfeed are *content hungry,* just as are its followers. Buzzfeed, and similar sites, create and share content about literally anything to promote likes, views, shares, and traffic in general. This content, even when presented as expert/experiential, is not always (or even remotely) accurate to all facets of what it is attempting to represent.

A perfect example of misleading “grab ’em” content is the unfortunately titled (and executed):

Girls Pretended To Be Kim Kardashian

And Wore A Waist Trainer For A Week

Ouch, right?

Any person who is actually a waist trainer or otherwise knowledgeable about corsetry and the body modification process will cringe at this pseudo “investigative report” by a handful of unwilling participants operating under ill-advice, served up as if it’s science. And tbh, If you’re trying to sculpt your life to resemble Kim K… you might want to think real hard for a second.

First things first: this is not a corset or appropriate for waist-training lifestyle. 

kimk
Photo from Buzzfeed, original credits not provided. 

“What makes this miserable device *not* a corset?” you may be asking.

This is an elastic compression garment. It bears more similarities to what one might wear after surgeries than a proper corset. A corset that’s appropriate for waist training generally:

  1. Does not include elastic as a material, as elastic is terribly uncomfortable and has extremely poor longevity. Cotton-poly blends are much more quality material, but even a strong silk or leather will do the job better than elastic.
  2. Features an architecture that provides a distinct curvature which allows for ribs, nips in the waist for shaping, and allows for hips. This general compression garment looks like a flared tube, which will inevitably press uncomfortably on the ribs and hips, while leaving the waist untrained.
  3. Does not rely on the flimsy lack-of-strength provided by hooks and eyes. This compression garment needs a hundred hooks and eyes and thick “bullet proof vest” like material to withstand any sort of wear whatsoever. A corset generally laces up the back and may or may not have a steel busk in front. Regardless, steel boning throughout the corset provides strength and architecture which allows the garment the ability to be very light, strong, and if constructed well, comfortable!
  4. Is not ridiculously uncomfortable or inhibiting. As aforementioned: a corset that is appropriate for daily wear and the waist training lifestyle can and should be comfortable, constructed with the proportions of your actual body in mind (in terms of length, waist reduction, ribcage size, etc). A daily wear corset should ideally make you feel *awesome* … it should definitely not make you feel terrible (because: why? There’s no need).

In a previous post, I addressed the show Double Diva’s and the miserable garment they tried to pass for a corset. In terms of construction, it was not dissimilar to the one featured in this Buzzfeed mess: it was largely elastic with a front hook-and eye closure.

Double Diva's "corset"
Double Diva’s “corset”

Now compare that unflattering mess to a corset by Dark Garden, which actually shapes the body comfortably:

A "proper" corset on a similar body type. Photo by Joel Aron
A “proper” corset on a similar body type. Photo by Joel Aron.

Yeah, no contest.

But even so, all corsets are not created equal. Once I tried to waist train with this thick, heavy, ill-shapen and much too long corset that I could only wear for a couple hours before I started to see red.

*EDIT* This corset came to me by way of the distributor Corset Heaven, though as can be seen below in the comments, fellow corset nerd Lucy (of Lucy’s Corsetry) postulates that the maker’s brand is Corset Story — an edit from previously credited Timeless Trends. Thanks, Lucy!

Whomever made it, it was a thumbs down for me for the purpose of waist training!

Corset with poor silhouette architecture: OUCH!
Corset with poor silhouette architecture: OUCH!

Then I learned the delicious joy of what a well made corset feels like. Over the period of a week or two, I found myself wanting to wear it more and more — until I never wanted to take it off!

Amazingly comfortable corset that inspired me to begin my waist training journey, by Dark Garden
Amazingly comfortable corset that inspired me to begin my waist training journey, by Dark Garden

And a new era of my life begun. I went from wearing a size 26″ corset to a size 18″ in about a year. I’ve since chilled out on it a bit, but before I relaxed my practice, I made sure to take some pics first.

Me, far right, in a Dark Garden couture fashion shoot by Joel Aron.
Me, far right, in a Dark Garden couture fashion shoot by Joel Aron.
Vintage cameras and lingerie, some favorite things. By Edward Saenz
Vintage cameras and lingerie, some favorite things. By Edward Saenz
Ahh! I'm disappearing!  ;) Photo by Edward Saenz, custom corset by Dark Garden.
Ahh! I’m disappearing! 😉
Photo by Edward Saenz, custom corset by Dark Garden.

Allow me to emphasize: body transformation does NOT happen overnight! Patience is your best friend when it comes to body mods.

The advice given by the “medical professional” has some merit, which I will address. While I am not a medical professional by any means, I am a seasoned corset wearer, which I doubt this “medical professional” has any experience or expertise in.

Feel free to consult your doctor when beginning waist training, however, it’s likely that inquiries will be met with judgement as many doctors won’t comment on things they know nothing about. For example, a doctor once told me not to drink Kombucha tea, because they didn’t know what Kombucha was. However, hormones and addictive Rx drugs? Sure those are totally safe except for <laundry list of harmful side effects>.  Ummm, yeah. I’m fine with my tea, thanks.

Anecdotal evidence aside, here are a few things the “expert” in the video addressed that I’d like to comment on:

  1. “One should only wear the compression garment for an hour or two a day.” What was left out of this sentence were the words: “In the BEGINNING.” As your body adjusts to the feeling, and it’s comfortable for the wearer, they can increase wear without damage incurred. It’s paramount, however, to be in tune with your body and listen when something doesn’t feel right. Feel free to refer to my posts: 10 Waist Training Tips and the FAQ for advice on how to get started.
  2. “if it’s too tight, it could put pressure on your intestines.” So… women shouldn’t give child birth either? Because a fetus definitely does that. In fact, our bodies have evolved to accommodate a changing waistline and migrating intestines for the very reason of pregnancy. Slowly adapting the body to a corset is not entirely dissimilar.
  3. “It’s definitely not going to alter the look of your waist, nor will it help you shed pounds.” FALSE and FALSE. Body modification through corsetry is no magic bullet, but it does have some magical side effects. Results do vary from person to person.
  4. “Definitely don’t wear your corset while exercising.” This, I agree with. As I’ve written about before, even though waist training can lend a figure that appears as if you’ve been hitting the gym, it is important to actually work out, unrestrained. Your core muscles run the risk of atrophy otherwise, and no one wants that.
  5. “Definitely don’t wear your corset while eating.” Wut?
LOL
LOL

Dude, you gotta eat. I’ve shoved entire meatball subs in there. I’ve made friends with the butchers. And yes, I drank carbonated things everyday. Once I did eat so much ice cream I had to loosen my corset, but seriously people, Smitten makes some some delicious ice cream. It’s almost too good. Like, that’s fucked up, why would you do this to me, Smitten?!?!

A majority of the women in the Buzzfeed experiment complained that putting it on was difficult. I can imagine, with all those hooks and eyes! Believe me, learning to lace up a corset is no big deal. Let me help, with my popular instructional video on the ins and outs of lacing yourself into a corset.

One thing I will give credit to Kim K for is the idea. Wearing a corset or a compression garment after pregnancy is in some cases very helpful for a distended belly to stitch itself back more firmly to core muscles and skin. I can definitely see where she’s going with this. Just, don’t let all this nonsense surrounding it discourage you from actually waist training if that what you’d like to do.

Finally, it takes longer than a week to see meaningful results. (Duh, Buzzfeed.)

Love,

Euphrates X

Photo by Edward Saenz, patent leather arch rival by Dark Garden
Photo by Edward Saenz, patent leather corset by Dark Garden
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Corsets and Argentine Tango

I have a few idiosyncratic interests… Middle Eastern percussion. German dance-theather (or tanztheater). Corsets. But I’ve also been actively courting a particular style of social dance since college: Argentine Tango.

Really, I was a victim of it. I couldn’t help but fall into the trap of the seductive style of kinesthetic communication between (often) strangers. One of the American masters of the art of this movement, well-known in this particular underground, happened to be an alum of my college and graciously taught clumsy undergrads how to communicate with each other in this unusually beautiful way with their bodies — in the form of a PE class, no less. Students were known to become obsessively addicted, and eventually, I fell into the venus fly trap that extended beyond our common areas and into Portland’s greater Argentine tango scene: one of the most extensive and authentically intense in Northern America.

Some lead. Others follow. (It’s not as gender binary as one might initially imagine, and some practice both roles with hunger). There are combative theories on which of the two main roles truly holds the greater control; but as a follow, to have any power at all, it is key to constantly have an engaged core. Core strength will give a follow the ability to maintain proper axis — to have his or her own balance to swivel on their own center (unless intentionally taken off it by the lead for a flourish), walk backwards in stilletos or dance shoes, and otherwise perform all the moves of tango — from basic to fancy — without hanging onto the lead (draining their energy!) The follow must be as quick and responsive to the leader’s guide as a jack rabbit, but as intentional with their movements as cement laying down on the dance floor, as if to be set forever.

That’s where core strength comes into play. The follow is always on one foot or the other, often in high stilletos, rotating about on the ball of their suede leather shoe. The guide of the movement starts in the arms, flows through the chest, down through the core, and the flourish or step ends in the legs and feet. With a flimsy core, there is no dance, there is only mush, stepping around aimlessly.

I have found that when I wear a corset out tango dancing, my dancing form has improved drastically, as a corseted figure mimics one with a tight, engaged core.

Cheating? Maybe. Whatever; all is fair in love and tango.

My boleos are sharp like a viper, able to hold my own on one foot while gently holding an embrace as light as a feather. Colgadas are executed near flawlessly (without terror stricken in my heart). And when the time comes for a dramatic volcada, an off-axis step, I am ready and in delight!

Now, I said my tango form has improved. I’m certainly no master, nor am I as devoted as I once was, or as the majority of the hardcore scenesters one can meet on the dance floor.

At my last milonga, the term for “a dance (event)” in the tango world, some talented leads took pity on me as I had FRESH MEAT written all over me — my first time at this particular venue. I’m not a terrible tango dancer, but I am terribly rusty. My background in dance, as well as the “fake it till you make it” philosophy can be quite convincing however.

One particular lead started in with conversation between songs. In his thick Columbian accent:

My dance calendar is turning out as such: Monday, I go <here>. Tuesday, I like <that club>. This is the best; you should go here. The level is very high. I can tell you dance, not really tango too long, but I can tell you dance a lot other from your legs.

Thanks, brother… He continues:

Wednesday I go Misson. Thursday, rest. Friday is for other things. Saturday is <blah> and Sunday I come here!

Awkward pause.

Yeah… cool! (Devoted).

He says:

What’s your dance calendar?

It wasn’t said then, but later, in the car ride home:

Whenever my persistent friend texts me: “tango tango tango” and I have shit else to do.

I love to tango. But it’s intimidating! I remember days when nobody would ask me to dance all night. I have to get over those memories, as I no longer have weird dreadlocks and have grown into my “dancer legs”.

The corset certainly helps. Make new memories, correct my axis balance, and improve my confidence in those stunnah tango outfits — honey draws the bees, as they say. Overall, for an amalgamation of reasons, I would like to postulate that corsets + tango = a recipe for dance floor success… at least in my experience.

TL;DR TANGO HACK – wear a corset.

LOVE,

Throwback Euphrates X: College tanguera
Throwback Euphrates X: College tanguera, too punk for tango

Euphrates X

Tightlacing Liaison | Expert Fitter

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

My First Custom Corset

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.

THE PROCESS

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.

First Fitting

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.

Image Image

 

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.

Construction

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!

Image

AHHHHHHH SO EXCITING

Finished Corset

And then, after the deciding, the ordering, the measuring, the mockup fitting, the production, it was done! And it was beautiful.

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That’s a three quarter back view. Notice the rib definition! Photo by Edward Saenz
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Back view. I still have quite a bit of training to go, but the waist to booty ratio is not to bad! Photo by Edward Saenz
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A romantic side view. Photo by Edward Saenz

 

I also had fun wearing this corset at the 2014 Edwardian Ball!

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With friends!

 

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Eye candy for hungry crowds (in between Dark Garden salon performances)

 

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Sugar and spice from every angle!

 

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!

Cheers,

Image
Photo by Edward Saenz

Euphrates X

Tightlacing Liaison | Expert Fitter

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

 

 

10 Waist Training Tips

1. Don’t be competitive — with yourself or with others. Nobody likes a self righteous jerk, especially when it comes to body issues, and if you make yourself your worst enemy, then who will be left? Don’t focus too much on always besting previous measurements or you’ll drive yourself insane with angst. Remember that the body has natural cycles!

2. Take it easy — slow and steady integration of the corset into your lifestyle will make it more likely to be a long term fixture, as opposed to a temporary obsession. Easing into tight lacing slowly will be much better for the lifeline of the garment as well.

In the beginning of your training, wear the corset for a couple hours, not very tight, and increase gradually from there. Think to yourself: I have all the time in the world. The body accepts change much more gracefully when it’s relaxed, so stressing overlacing in the beginning will only do more harm than good — to both your body and the garment.

3. Take it off — I understand that there are people out there who love their corsets so much, they never want to part with them, even to sleep, but there are at least two daily occasions in which you absolutely must remove your corset: to shower, and to exercise. Yes, if one wears a corset everyday, think about it: it creates a midsection encased and supported in steel. Conditioning the core muscle group is necessary, lest it begin to atrophy over time. Though her extreme figure is lovely, I wouldn’t want to wind up as frail as this young lady, would you?

4. Be patient. Everybody’s different, and every body is different. Progress of reshaping the body with waist training is highly dependent on: core density of the individual, distance between the top of the pelvic bone and the rib cage, flexibility of the cartilage, quality and shape of the garments used, and consistency of wear. However, one might expect to train for six months before noticing any difference without a corset, in many cases more. Be patient with yourself and realize that non-surgical body modifications are a serious time commitment. Ask yourself: am I in it for the long-haul?

5. Prepare for attention. Whether you wear it loud and proud or layer it under clothes in a manner you think is stealth, it’s likely that at some point, you will be approached and point blank confronted about your corset. Sometimes friendly, sometimes sleazy, sometimes envious, and sometimes indignant — I’m sure I have not yet heard it all. My advice is to put your best foot forward and show ’em what a real lady is like. To me, that is curt, polite, and no nonsense.

A question to prepare for is: “Why do you wear a corset?” Whether you choose to answer the inquirer is your choice, but it’s an answer to a commonly asked question worth articulating in your mind, anyway.

6. Be discerning. The corset creates proportions and curves which awaken certain… instinctual desires in some. If you work in a professional environment, be careful to protect yourself against untoward advances, and be sure to make it clear when they are unwanted. Refresh yourself on harassment policies and collect evidence when you can. Harassment is terrible to bear, but difficult to prove.

7. Vodka water. A great way to freshen up your garments without investing the time and money in dry cleaning is to give them a quick mist with vodka-water (50/50) in a spray bottle! I wouldn’t recommend wetting silk, but cotton, or cotton-poly lining responds wonderfully to this treatment. Great for ridding of body odor, deodorant stains, or sweatiness. Make sure to let air dry completely (hang over a chair or a shower curtain rod, for example) before wearing or storing.

If your corset is leather, Lexol is a good brand of leather conditioner.

8. Invest in quality garments. As I mentioned earlier, one’s progress is in part determined by the quality, fit, and curvature of the corset applied. Corsets shaped like flared tubes:   ) (   will only make one look tubular and not closer to attaining the coveted hourglass figure. Search for a well constructed under bust garment that fits well –in that it applies pressure evenly over the entirety of the torso, as opposed to rubbing or flaring at the ribs or the hips — that nips in at the waist. The goal of waist training is waist reduction, after all.

Here is a great resource: What (you didn’t know) to look for in a corset, written by Marianne, my peer — who is often times more successful with words and things. Highly recommend!

9. Develop a corset wardrobe. As Sparklewren put it on an Etsy listing: all regular-wear items sustain wear-and-tear eventually. In the Victorian era, if a corset lasted a year this was considered a wonderful selling point. Treat your corset well, and understand that as an item of use it will not remain pristine forever. 

True fact. While we wish for our lovely investments to last forever, the simple fact is that a garment is simply a mere network of fibers, and under constant stress, can’t. However, we can extend the lifeline of our corsets by giving those networks of fibers and seams a break by alternating wear.

If you sleep in your corset, its a good practice to have a sleeper corset in a larger, broken in size (your first corset, perhaps). If you are primarily a day-wearer, having a variety of sizes, styles, and waist curves is a great way to extend the life of your garments and always have something you want to wear.

A corset wardrobe is something you can build over time. You don’t have to collect them all at once — though it’s difficult for some of us to restrain ourselves…

10. Enjoy the ride. Corset training truly is about the love of the journey. Remember above all else to listen to your body, have fun, and be good to yourself!

Photo by Edward Saenz, corset by Dark Garden, modeled by Euphrates X
Photo by Edward Saenz, corset by Dark Garden, modeled by Euphrates X

LOVE,

Euphrates X

Expert Fitter | Tightlacing Liaison

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry