Tag Archives: Corsetry

Historic Photographs and Illustrations of Corseted Women

The NY Public Library just released thousands (187,000 to be more precise) of public domain photographs, ranging from the 11th to the 21st century. Not only that, they’ve created an amazing visualization tool which allows users to browse the photographs, prints, maps, and more with ease. Check it out!

I did a bit of scouring and found some images of interest to corset enthusiasts. This small collection of photos, illustrations, paintings, and other materials represent an interesting range of nationalities and varying social classes. I hope you enjoy these corseted ladies from history.

Dinner Menu from the Oceanic 1884.jpg
This is, purportedly, a dinner menu from “The Oceanic”  1884
Toilettes de Mme. Breant-Castel Fashion plate 1870
“Toilettes de Mme. Breant-Castel” Fashion Plate 1870
Woman in hat decorated with flowers, and striped blouse Date UN
“Woman in a Hat Decorated with Flowers” Date Unknown

Prinzesskleid aus Seidenreps Periodical 1878.jpg

Queen Elizabeth 1840.jpg
Queen Elizabeth 1840
In the omnibus. Drypoint 1891 Mary Cassatt.jpg
“In the Omnibus” Illustration by Mary Cassatt 1891 
Studio portrait of woman wearing hat and gloves and dress with bustle 1875.jpg
“Studio Portrait of Woman Wearing Hat and Gloves and Dress with Bustle” 1875

Ein peinliches Missverständnis Charicature 1886

Königl. Grossh. Luxemb. Jäger Corps Watercolor 1870 .jpg

I wants to be a leading lady Sheet Music 1901.jpg
Sheet Music 1901
Habit of a woman of Frascati in 1768 Greuze, Jean-Baptiste
“Habit of a woman of Frascati in 1768” Illustration by Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Habit of a Spanish lady of quality in 1700
“Habit of a Spanish Lady of Quality in 1700” Illustration by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

 

IMG_2356
Photo by John Carey Photographic Imagery, corset by Dark Garden, neck adornment by Chain Maille Mike

Love,

Euphrates X

 

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

Can corsets help you lose weight?

Among the top search terms linking people to lacingliaisons.wordpress.com have been in the category of weight loss. The question that burns in many minds, from the US to the UK, Turkey to Australia is: can corseting help with weight loss?

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 6.11.33 PM
Thanks for reading my blog!

The short answer is yes. But perhaps not in the ways one might expect.

Lucy’s Corsetry mentioned in her post on the physical benefits of corsetting:

Corsets may be used as a weight loss aid – they act as an external gastric band and do not allow much expansion of the stomach, thus helping to control appetite and reduce food portions.

A lap band.... *shiver*
An internal lap band…. *shiver*

In lay men’s terms, corsets can suppress the appetite to some degree whilst worn, by squishing one’s guts into minimal existence… basically.

Ever heard of lap-band surgery? Or gastric band surgery?  From  the official lap-band site:

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 5.42.21 PM
“Life fits” — LOL.

The LAP-BAND® System reduces your stomach’s capacity, restricting the amount of food you are able to eat at one time. You also feel full faster and stay full longer […] to help you gradually lose weight and keep it off.

What Lucy is postulating is that corsets provide the constriction of the surgical band, but as a non-surgical, externally applied, fashion/function item.

That looks a lot more comfy... Photo from darkgarden.com by Joel Aron
That looks a lot more comfy. Photo from darkgarden.com by Joel Aron.

That being said, the butchers around the corner from Dark Garden know me by name, so if it’s portion control you are after, self-restraint is still a necessary ingredient.

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 5.51.44 PM
Roast beef, omfg.

However, the corset definitely does help bring awareness to the area of the body that is being constrained; a reminder much like a string tied around the finger.

Lucy also hypothosizes:

Wearing a corset can also help the wearer to see themselves as a smaller person, ‘planting the seed’ of belief in their minds that weight loss is achievable, and acting as a strong motivation for these wearers to improve their nutrition and fitness regimen.

Sure, wearing a corset can increase confidence, which is no small thing. Walking the world with the confidence that one looks good from every angle is a fantastic boost. Envisioning oneself as the person one wishes to be is so powerful as to inflict the change physically in the body just from being and acting in that mind space alone.

Dark Garden proprietress, Autumn Adamme, shot by John Carey Photographic
Dark Garden’s proprietress and Master Fit Expert, Autumn Adamme, in a signature line red silk sweetheart, available at http://www.darkgarden.com. Photo by John Carey Photographic

Here’s a demonstrative little anecdote from the Dark Garden shop: a corsetted client was posing for a picture in the other day during a fitting. She tried to suck in her belly (as she has trained herself to do whenever in front of the camera) and exclaimed in shock and a kind of relieved joy when she realized she didn’t have to. Yes, corsetted silhouettes are very naturally photogenic! No momentary affectations necessary to please the lens.

More on Lucy’s thought’s on “the corset diet.”

“A corset is not a diet. It is no more of a “diet” than a pair of running shoes is a ‘marathon’.” -Lucy

In my personal experience, I have found that corsets make me a bit braver in the world. I stand up straight and approach the world with my heart beaming open. While my natural inclination is to grumble around, hood up, and try to exist as minimally as possible, while wearing a corset: I talk to people easier, I take chances, I look great and I feel great — and people speak freely to me. I don’t know what it is, but I would wager it’s that I look like a strange creature, so folk feel entitled to my conversation. Sociability and personal bravery makes it easier for me to get over anxiety and depression, so I’ve always thought those aspects of corsetry to  be helpful to maintaining a healthy weight. 

Brave fashion choices, definitely.
Brave fashion choices, definitely.

Another vein in which corsetry helped me grapple with weight in general is when I suddenly lost a lot of it. It was before I started corsetting daily, and I was jarred at how many people came out of the woodwork of life to congratulate me on my successful superficial look — that was a product of a negative emotional and chemical shift. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate noticing how differently I was treated once I passed through a hard journey resulting in unhealthy weight loss.

Photo by Max Johnson (That's me)
Photo by Max Johnson
(That’s me, not Skeletor)

I began corsetting, and the focusing became on shape and curvature rather than thinness. I felt in control of my body again and suddenly people around me had something to comment on that wasn’t triggering of my emotional trauma and resentment over what I perceived to be reaping the benefits of societal size-ism.

I started waist training, and that was the beginning of my intimate relationship with Dark Garden, as well as my positive self control over my body.

IMG_5173
Photo by Edward Saenz, Custom corset by Dark Garden, Modeled by Euphrates X

If you are looking to waist train, I highly recommend that you read my article 10 Waist Training Tips to get started in shaping you mind set about your relationship with your corset. I’m very laid back in my approach to waist training, and if you are a person who needs structure, there are other, very regimented programs. But which ever path you choose, if you choose at all, please do be kind to yourself and patient.

HOORAY (for corsets),

Photo by Cody Molica
Photo by Cody Molica

Euphrates X

Expert Fitter | Tightlacing Liaison

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.

Image
That’s a three quarter back view. Notice the rib definition! Photo by Edward Saenz
Image
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
Image
A romantic side view. Photo by Edward Saenz

 

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

Image
With friends!

 

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

 

Image
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

 

 

Styling Corsets 2: in Pictures

Two laments I hear often:

• “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…

Accessorize your corset!
Accessorize your corset!

 

French new-wave bicycle thief chic!
French new-wave bicycle thief chic!

 

Adorable!
Adorable!

 

Autumn looks gorg with a waspie over a vintage dress!
Autumn looks gorg with a waspie over a vintage dress!

 

Isn't she lovely!
Isn’t she lovely!

 

An innocent Ben Sherman button up is corrupted, er, adorned, FANCIFIED, by the leather overbust and accessories.
An innocent Ben Sherman button up is corrupted, er, adorned, FANCIFIED, by the leather overbust and accessories!

 

Leather, leather, and leather accents!
Leather, leather, and leather accents!

 

Don't I look smug!
Don’t I look smug!

 

Rockabilly inspired with a touch of leather!
Rockabilly inspired with a touch of leather!

 

Slouchy sweaters hold secrets of the waistline within!
Slouchy sweaters hold secrets of the waistline within!

 

Crop tops now show busk buttons, not belly buttons!
Crop tops now show busk buttons, not belly buttons!

 

Dandy up!
Dandy up!

 

Be yourself!
Be yourself!

 

T-shirt and jeans: BAM!
T-shirt and jeans: BAM!

 

With a cute, vintage sweater!
With a cute, vintage sweater!

 

So much goodness...
So much goodness…

 

Over a button up!
Over a button up!

 

Over your Gaultier gown!
Over your Gaultier gown!

 

Over your thrift store gown!
Over your thrift store gown!

 

Kristin casually enjoying coffee swathed gracefully in wools.
Swathed gracefully in wools!

 

Somebody told me this would be sexy :| Anyway -- a simple American Apparel dress is suddenly so much more!
Somebody told me this would be sexy 😐
Anyway — a simple American Apparel dress is suddenly so much more!

 

There are some ideas to get you started working corsets into your own personal style and wardrobe. Have fun!

For additional styling advice, see my previous post: Styling Corsets as Day Wear. 

LOVE,

Photo by John Carey Photographic

Euphrates X

Tightlacing Liaison | Expert Fitter

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

Corset Liners: Resources, Tips, and a Review

I’m a bad, bad girl. A corset rebel. I don’t always follow “the rules.” In fact, I don’t usually follow “the rules.”

But the fact of the matter is, “the rules” of corset training are actually friendly guidelines that have come to the surface from experienced trainers to promote maximum comfort, health, safety, and longevity of the individual’s practice of waist training and of the garments themselves.

Realizing this, I’ve been looking into the corset liner thing.

Yes, for about a year and a half now, I’ve been “bare backing it” (heh) or using whatever cami or t-shirt is around, clean, and available, without having devoted liners. With the corset directly on my skin, I like the intimacy between the garment and I, but I understand that sweat and skin cells working their way into the network of fibers that is the nature of fabric can be problematic and over the course of a 14-16 hour day or more, not the most comfortable. Dry cleaning or vodka cleanings (thats half-and-half water and vodka in a spray bottle, misted on the lining of the corset for odor, deodorant stains, and spot cleaning as needed) are more often required without liners, which in itself wears on the garment, so *SIGH* fine. Learn everything the hard way, as my silk looks a little worse for the wear, I go shopping around for corset liners.

If you roll your cigarettes in $20 bills, you may consider Electra Designs bamboo corset liners. I am a big fan of bamboo as a fabric material, being lightweight, absorbent, water-wicking, and fast-drying, but still. This pricing is out of control: $120 for a set of 3. (Note that this may all be a moot point as Electra Designs has been mysteriously out of production for 2 years or so.)

Image

Fran, single powerhouse force behind Contour Corsets (highly reviewed by Lucy), also makes made-to-measure liners at a slightly more reasonable price point. She skips the buzzwords in favor of pragmatism but in return offers video tutorials on how best to wear and utilize your liner with your corset, detailed written instruction, as well as photo guides. Even if you don’t end up shopping from Fran, I find her site to be a wonderful resource for all waist trainers. Note that she does everything herself, from web design to corset patterning and completion, which I think is charming and impressive for a woman of her consistency, achievement, and notoriety in the corsetry world.

Image

A quick google search of “corset liner” will bring up some initial results, one of which is from Corset Connection. Put bluntly, I wouldn’t wear one of their corsets if you paid me, I’m not going to wear one of their liners. My education in fabrics tells me that a tight lycra tube around my mid section is going to feel fucking awful after hour .5 and I won’t pay $20 for it: no thank you.

Image

None of the options I was finding really did it for me, so I found myself Jerry-rigging — which is fine! Lucy has a great video on corset liners: what to expect from those you purchase from corsetieres and tips on how to effectively fake them yourself with maximum comfort. If you don’t know much about fabric or sewing, worry not, she’ll take care of you.

But I lucked out: I stumbled upon the perfect solution to my lazy wino problem (I don’t have as much energy as Lucy, God bless her). One word: Muji. It’s big in Japan.

So imagine a store that sells, kinda, everything. Kitchen stuff, stationary, high end aromatherapy vaporizer units and accompanying essential oils, some basic clothes, travel accessories… that’s Muji. All the items are really nice, simple, utilitarian, unbranded, unlabeled, and designed for maximum efficiency and peacefulness in use. When applicable, space efficiency comes into play (which makes sense for a Tokyo based company), such as in the long sleeve shirts shrink wrapped into 3″ cubes with a “fashionable permanent wrinkle unique to each shirt”. Matching scarves were pressed down to 1.5″ sq.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this wondrous store with the round ice cube trays (ideal for whiskey) and whatnot, and towards the back, they were having a sale on CORSET LINERS! No, of course not, they were labeled “seamless women’s camisoles” but for the price point and convenience, I was over the moon. So I bought many in various colors with matching panties (which were not on sale, sadly, but still very reasonable).

Image Image

Mother load. Here’s what makes them so valuable as corset liners:

Image

Seamless = maximum comfort. Nothing digging into the skin except cloudy goodness.

I did a little awkward selfie photo shoot for your viewing pleasure, so you could see what the various tank shapes looked like on.

If one desires a tube shaped corset liner, rather than a full tank, simply cut the shirt under the bust line. You can machine stitch around your new edge with a zig-zag to prevent stretch and fray.

All sizes of tops and bottoms are medium, though next time I would go a size down for the tops to reduce bulk under corsets. For reference I’m about 5’7″ 130.

First, a dark grey.

Image

Taupe, with a brief.

ImageImage

A black wide strap tank and boy-short.

ImageImage

And alternatively, thin strap tank:

Image

Feels pretty great under a corset, I must say!

ImageImage

 You can get these Muji tanks online.

I don’t work for them, I swear. I would just rather have a million reasonably priced liners to wash all the time to wear under my gorgeous expensive corset (the thing I want to invest my hard earned money into).

Speaking of, I think my next should be ready soon. More on that later!

LOVE,

Euphrates X

Image

Vlog: Caring for a Leather Corset

Sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, feeding the cat, and conditioning the leather; housekeeping tasks are dependent, of course, on the household! 

I was in the midst of my evening household maintenance (and a glass of Malbec) when it occurred to me that I might share how it’s done.

Because one can really love leather. It’s the best stuff on earth. One wants to instinctively touch it, wear it, lick it… Ok, even if you don’t want to lick it, you must admit: it’s very compelling! It’s fashion forward, and yet, primal.

But how do you care for it? It’s not totally obvious. You can’t wash it: no, no, no. Heaven forbid you go out in the rain, like I did, and expose your second skin to the elements.

Well, there are things you can do to protect your garments, shoes, and CORSETS in the long run from wear: a little tender, loving, conditioning will do the trick.

Products used are Lexol Leather Conditioner and Lexol Ph Leather Cleaner, available at many shoe repair locations, or places that sell fine leather.

Although, I forgot to mention in the video that if you are using an unfamiliar brand of conditioner, especially on a light-colored leather, it’s best to test a hidden area (such as the back panel/modesty panel) before treating the whole corset, just in case!

And… do try to stay out of the rain.

CONTENTS
0:00 – 0:40 Intro
0:41 – 1:44 BE PREPARED – on Boy Scouts and Materials Needed
1:45 – 2:14 About My Custom Leather Corset
2:15 – 3:04 Applying the Conditioner
3:05 – 3:42 Why it’s Good to Condition
3:43 – 4:38 Getting Soaked and Buffing Off
4:39 – 5:36 Seeing the Results of Conditioning and Final Thoughts

CHEERS,

Euphrates X

Corset Training Lifestyle

Though I may seem all Dark Garden, all the time, there are many corsetiers out there whose work I admire and point of view I respect. I hope to expand my corset wardrobe to include all my esteemed fashion-crushes, but for the moment, allow me to pay humble hommage to one of them.

Fran is a one-woman business who makes corsets especially for waist trainers and tight lacers (she uses the terms interchangeably, whereas I find the two to have uniquely specific meanings. A dedicated post on this controversial delicacy will come later). She is highly respected in the corset community, having tastemakers such as Lucy’s Corsetry cheerleading her awesome product. Understanding asymmetry on a personal level, she specializes in anatomical corsets, and in fact seems to eschew ready-to-wear sizing all together: from her corsets to her tank liners!

While putzing about on the blogosphere for corset nerdery, I came across this gem of particularly articulate sincerity in one of her vlogs, the topic of which is how to best communicate in the ordering process. I thought it was well worth a share:

For me, tight lacing is just sort of a part of my life, as it has been for a long time. Nothing really fantastic about it, or fetishistic about it, for me. It’s just part of me. And for tight lacers, that’s really what it is. Even if it does start out as a fascination or a fetish thing, if you do it every day, it becomes something more. Not necessarily just a ritual, but a part of you, like the food you like, and the car you drive, and the clothes you wear. Something that ends up defining you in a lot of ways.

– Fran, proprietress of Contour Corsets (source video)

Image

 Thanks for that morsel, Fran!

Open letter to the reality show “Double Divas”

Fashion corsets are like Vampires: they are among us.

Often concealing their identity, fashion corsets keep their evil secrets of sweat shop origin and very limited functionality in the shadows and yes, they will suck you dry.

After futzing around with poorly made garments, having invested significant cash, a person may begin to think to themself: perhaps corsetry isn’t for me. Perhaps there is no answer to my issue, no holy grail at the end of my epic quest for fashion, support, and relief…

Be not swayed by these charming imposters, for they merely promise to be something they are not — the real deal is out there, and its addition to your wardrobe can be a total game changer.

Last night I was watching popular reality TV show Double Divas. I love that show, because it’s all the fun parts of being at work (you know, lingerie, boobs, interesting people) only I get to drink a bottle of wine while enjoying it. Also, it’s in the South, which is basically a parallel universe to a Californian. All of this, plus the antics of harmlessly insane middle aged boob-experts makes it a fun watch.

But last night they said a thing or two on a subject that I a happen to be an expert. And I have a thing or two to say back: never wear fashion corsets for back support.

In season 2, episode 2, they meet a professional horse racer lady (her official title, I’m sure. Right there on her business cards) who needed bra help. They did their altruistic duty of making a big sale on national television, and further suggested a customized waist cincher for back support while she is riding.

This actually is a great suggestion. In the 19th century, officers in The Cavalry would wear corsets for back support while horseback riding. A well patterned and constructed steel boned corset can be a suitable replacement for a back brace (under advisement from your physician, of course). During a high impact activity such as horseback riding, extra support can be beneficial to the spine and also help prevent immediate and long term back pain.

HOWEVER, what the divas came up with was not a proper cincher that should ever be expected to perform any sort of supportive or shaping duties. It was an elusively imposterous fashion corset.

Even Molly looks displeased with the flimsy hook and eye closure...
Even Molly looks displeased with the flimsy hook and eye closure…

This particular “corset” was made with what looks to be elasticized fabric, plastic boning, with hook and eye closures. For the layman: No strength, no shape, and no support.

Based on this, I speculate that their qualifications for knighting a garment a “corset” is that it sits on a belly and laces up the back. *shivers*

Does this look like back support to you?

Screen shot 2013-08-11 at 12.06.03 PM

Screen shot 2013-08-11 at 12.06.48 PM

Which silhouette would you prefer to rock, for equestrian purposes or otherwise?

Screen shot 2013-08-11 at 12.02.14 PM

Photo by Joel Aron
Photo by Joel Aron

Now you can see the folly of “fashion corsets”!

A  corset  that can be sucessfully applied for shape wear, waist training, back support, or erotic restriction will, by its very nature of functionality, have the following qualities:

Non elastic fabrics (cotton-poly, silk, or leather, for example)

Steel boning (which allows the garment its supportive architecture)

A busk (steel “buttons” in the front: the strongest closure.) *in some cases a corset will have a flat front with no closure*

A well-made pattern, curvaceously shaped to accomodate the bones and organs of a real human body …only dress forms are shaped like this  ) (

That’s not to say that these fine garments can’t be fashionable, the distinction is that fashion is not their only purpose for being.

Anyway, I hope none of you watched Double Divas and then ran out to Victoria’s Secret to get your new super supportive back brace. Have fun with your clothes and be safe: I would hate to hear another horror story of poorly made corsets injuring fine folk due to false promises!

by Edward Saenz
by Edward Saenz

LOVE, Euphrates X

The Edwardian Silhouette

I used to know nothing about anything. I was as green as spring grass (and twice as fresh). I didn’t have a trained eye or focused vision; I just liked what I liked and wanted what I wanted.

At the time, I thought any steel-boned corset was the real deal. I was also broke and so even $150 for a garment sounded exorbitantly expensive. “Anything for love,” I thought, and bit the bullet. What I wished I knew back then is that investing in poor quality, uncomfortable garments isn’t worth the “half price” cost. I couldn’t wear it for more that a couple hours at a time before getting incredibly uncomfortable or cranky. I had sores on my skin from where it dug into my hips and ribs. Youch!

Once I started wearing well-made corsets, everything changed. I found that compared the terribly uncomfortable contraptions I had been trying to force myself into, a well made garment made me look and feel so good I never wanted to take it off again. Now I comfortably wear a corset for about 8-14 hours a day.

Here are some before and after pictures: before and after I knew any better about corsetry, evidenced in the silhouette:

timeless trends

Here I am in my first steel boned corset, which I ordered off the internet from “Corset Heaven” in the UK. I went for it because of the ridiculously cheap price and because the description said it was a waist training corset. Years later, as a corset professional, I can now say with assured authority that not much about this corset makes it appropriate for waist training. You can see that it is actually cutting into my hip, creating an unflattering (and  uncomfortable) line. The point in front comes down so low that one is constantly aware of the corset when one sits. Most  importantly, it does nothing to train the waist. Notice how it is shaped like inverted parentheses: ) ( as opposed to the ideal S shaped curve. Put bluntly: I look like a tube. A cute tube (this was in my youth), but a tube, none the less. I couldn’t wear this thing for more than a few hours max before I would bark: get this f*ckin thing off me! And this is also why I hate corsets with paracord. It looks tacky, callouses the fingers, and digs into the skin.

At Dicken's Faire

The fabric colors of my first Dark Garden corset was very similar to the one I ordered from Corset Heaven — it was as if I was trying to fulfill the vision. However, the two could not be more disimilar in terms of quality of construction or shape. You can see for yourself the difference between the two garments in resulting silhouette alone.

Whereas I was eager to start waist training around the time I ordered from Corset Heaven, I was discouraged at the bulky, poor fit — and a disconcerting lack of a waist! After being over $100 in the hole on the idea, it didn’t feel good to have a crap quality garment. And so I didn’t actually start my waist training journey until I got my hands on a Dark Garden waist cincher. This picture was taken on Day 1 of training, which happened to be at the Bay Area’s annual Dicken’s Faire.

At Dark Garden, we have an antique Edwardian dress form, which showcases what a lifetime of corsetry might achieve. It looks a little beat up, but hey, it’s literally 100 years old!dress form

People and adverts from the era: check out their silhouettes!

IMG_3307

IMG_3465

IMG_3459

Can you imagine being at that party, surrounded by gowned hourglasses? I think I would swoon.

IMG_3457

You may have noticed by now that I’m into historical research, but I’m not exactly a costumer. For me, it’s a lifestyle, a body mod, and a fashion statement. In the mainstream, it is also a nearly extinct Western feminine tradition to which I cling, to the point of idiosyncrasy. What does corsetry mean to you?