Tag Archives: Dark Garden

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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Hungover Vlog: Corset Care After a Night Out

What is shame?

I’m not sure. I think it’s cultural construct that gets in the way of people appreciating the silliness and truth in their humanity.

That’s why I made a shamelessly hungover, instructional vlog, demonstrating one of our simple, industry tips on corset care. Yet again I humble myself on the internet: for you. You’re welcome. And when better to demonstrate this particular corset care tip than after a ruckus night out?

…I probably could have done this better. Oh well, here goes:

For those of you who like contextual stories, read on (if not, skip to end).

There was once a girl in a stupid American Apparel dress. One day, she donned a corset an turned into a princess (kind of).

Corselette = wardrobe game changer.
Even whilst mustering the energy for a big night of rocking out, it’s clear that a corselette is a wardrobe game changer.

The princess wished very much to dance and be entertained, so she traveled to a far away land called Oakland, where the most zef minstrels in all of the world’s kingdoms were blowing fucking minds. 

Die Antwoord. Baby's on Fire.
Yes, yes, yes. Baby’s on Fire.

She danced and danced the night away, stomping around and having a blast at this strange festival of the celebration of large booty and …rats. 

It obviously got "freeky"
As was to be expected, things got “freeky”

When the night was over and she had returned to her own dominion (studio apartment) she was very tired and extremely sweaty.

Aaaaaand collapse.
Aaaaaand… collapse. Full circle!

Her clothes smelled of all the wonders the Oakland had to offer, and so, the next day — though the princess had turned back into a normal, scrappy lady — she had to freshen her corset. Because adults take care of their nice things. 

Caring for a sweaty, smelly, or even stained corset is easier than one might imagine. A simple brew of vodka and water (no, a cocktail spilled on you doesn’t count) will do wonders to freshen your garment and remove odor when dry cleaning is inconvenient. Watch the following video for details on how-to.


The underbust corset featured in this tale of an evening and it’s aftercare is Dark Garden’s black poplin corselette — of which I am a big fan. On long torso’d folk like myself, it acts like a wide waist belt: perfect to throw over any dress, jumpsuit, or pant/shirt outfit to amazing wasp-waist silhouette effects. Its smaller dimensions make it a great option for those with a shorter torso as well, for whom most underbust corsets are too long.

Lucy of Lucy’s Corsetry did a thorough review of Dark Garden’s corselette, which one can view here. It’s available for purchase on Dark Garden’s online boutique.

Simple tips like these can lengthen the life of your corset and make the experience of wearing them (for you and those smelling you) much more enjoyable. For more intensive (and sober) corset cleaning tips, refer to this article, written by Dark Garden pattern associate and stitcher, as well as very coherent corset blogger, Marianne. More for your bag of corset tricks — and happy (clean) corsetting!

LOVE,

Dark Garden's corselette in black diamond brocade fabric, paired with Dita Von Teese's Tulip Bra and high-waisted brief from her Von Follies line of lingerie (also available currently at the Dark Garden boutique). Photo by Joel Aron, modeled by Euphrates X
Dark Garden’s corselette in black diamond brocade fabric, paired with Dita Von Teese’s Tulip Bra and high-waisted brief (also available currently at the Dark Garden boutique) Photo by Joel Aron, modeled by Euphrates X

Euphrates X

Expert Fitter | Tightlacing Liaison (and resident delinquent)

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

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:

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“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!

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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

 

 

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

Vlog: How to Lace Yourself into a Corset

Think you need a dresser, like the spoiled ladies of the yesteryear, to get in and out of a corset? I hear this sentiment repeated day after day, but let me tell you: it ain’t true!

Some of y’all just have to see it to believe it, so allow me to humble myself in front of a laptop camera for your benefit. Here is a detailed and very dorky tutorial rife with info and style tips on getting in and out of your corset.

It does take practice. I recommend practicing when you have no where to be, and no one waiting for you in the next room. Cozy up to a mirror, put on some music, treat your self to a delicious snack or some bubbly, and spend some time getting to know your corset. Lace in, lace out. Lace in, lace out. After about 10 times succession, you’ll be getting somewhere.

If performing fine motor activity behind your back is confounding you, it can help to put your corset on a pillow on your lap, so that you can practice lacing up facing it directly. If you can visualize what you are doing behind your back, it makes a world of difference, especially if it’s difficult for you to see over your shoulder in a mirror.

Video breakdown:

0:41 – About my corset, pants, and back panel

1:54 – Putting on the corset: closing the busk, assessing corset placement, finding the finger pulls, and lacing in (and when to stop)

7:53 – Tying off, tucking in

9:17 – Speed lacing

11:04 – Getting out of your corset

12:36 – Why it is important to loosen the laces every time

13:21 – Lacing in with a free standing back panel (modesty panel)

Hope this helps!

LOVE,
Euphrates X

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

Rant: Folsom Street Fair 2013

Leather harnesses: leather harnesses everywhere.

I ran into my good friend Jason, a gifted San Francisco stylist, at the end of my shift at the Dark Garden booth at the Folsom Street Fair, and so we took to the street arm in arm to enjoy the festivities.

A man in a cock ring and not much else struts by. “Those shoes are Balenciaga,” Jason whispers to me. “And that slutty secretary look over there,” pointing to a young girl in a pencil skirt and chrome slave collar: “designer.” I feel like I’m experiencing the directors commentary to the kinky fashion event of the year.

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Photo by Bigguy, and featuring Anneka photo bombing.

We quip back and forth our praises and criticisms of the fashions of our Dionysian, hedonist, burner, political, and otherwise creatively empowered fellows. I feel free and comfortable in my G-string, thick knee high leather buckle boots, patent leather Dark Garden corset, thigh high stockings, spiked bra and collar. I rock a bun-hawk and the joke was that I was Miley Cyrus for the day (turns out that’s a fetish for some people).

Suddenly, jarringly, I hear a voice from the past ask if I went to <my high school>. To my awkward surprise, I turn to be face to face with one of my worst enemies …a square.

I detest those who show up to a party as if its a spectator sport. But there I was in full leather regalia suddenly faced with the awkward task of making small talk with some dude in khakis I had nothing in common with. What really gets my goat, in addition to the lack of effort, is the shameless admission of tourism: “I came from San Jose just to see the show!” Fuck. This. Noise.

I feel so blessed to live in San Francisco. Historically this city has enjoyed a critical mass of creatively empowered folk who love to party while making the world a better, more understanding place: from human rights activism to artist community communism. Unfortunately, just two days ago I heard the unsettling news that one of my favorite venues lost their lease. It seems that there has been a lot of changes in the SF subculture scene in the last decade, but I’d love to think the changes are evolution, not devolution. However, it seems that SF, with the influx of Googlers and tech-money, is running out of room for creatives; in fact pushing them out to make room. (Wouldn’t want to mar a glossy reputation with a little sin, now would we?)

This begs for a call to arms. Too many amazing spaces for creative expression have been compromised and shoved around in recent years to take it sitting down. There are those in a society who are consumers, and there are those who are movers and shakers: who step up to the plate and innovate experiences and environments for others to enjoy. There are many, many roles to aid this design into fruition, however. Legal, zoning, fire marshall issues, interior design, talent and/or volunteer coordination, contractor labor, fundraising, marketing outreach, branding… In order for these communities to stay alive and thriving, this is a crucial moment to ask: how can I contribute in an impactful and sustainable way?

What does this manifesto have to do with corsetry, some of you might be asking. Well, corsetry is different things to many people. Some are brides, looking for shape wear or a dress bodice. Some are scoliosis patients looking for pain relief. Some are endowed ladies looking for bust support. Some are fashionistas, making a statement through aesthetic and silhouette. But to me and my kind, it’s an expression, sensation, and signifier of leather subculture.

Mainstream fashion incorporated the corset for many centuries, up until the 1920’s, when empowered young women wanted boxy boyish figures and short locks. In presenting this image, they eschewed femininity and presumably likewise, the turn-of-the-century definition of lady-like behavior. Corseting came back into main stream fashion in the 1950’s with Dior’s “New Look”, a fit-and-flare style that featured a tiny waist and an extravagant amount of fabric in the skirt — in celebration of the abundance suddenly allowed at the end of the Second World War.

But subculture folk never stopped wearing corsets. Literally compelled by a force greater than the mind, corsetry means more than fashion and weddings. It’s not a trend, it’s an obsession spanning centuries, and in some cases a signifier of camaraderie.

I guess I’m calling forth the camaraderie.

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Photo by RJ Johnson.

XOXO,

Euphrates X

Tightlacing Liaison | Expert Fitter

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

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)

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 Thanks for that morsel, Fran!

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!

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

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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?