Tag Archives: experience

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?

Driving in a Corset: advice and caution

A frequently asked question is how one can increase comfort when driving corsetted. Hilarious to think that the low dipping bucket seats of say your station wagon was not a problem shared by folk from the Victorian days of yore! Car seats have been designed with relaxed posture in mind whereas corsets provide rigid perfection in this department. Whereas one would think the two would be incompatible, there are certain things you can do to minimize discomfort for happy motoring!

Don’t cinch up to maximum preferred tightness! Go easy on yourself if you’re about to hop in the car; you can adjust your lacing when you get to your destination. If you have a red-carpet situation and/or it’s a short ride, you’ll probably survive but if you can help it, it makes a world of difference.

Click it or ticket!
Click it or ticket!

Adjust your seat back to the upright position. Sit as upright as you can so your body doesn’t fight the corset in its mission and purpose for posture. If you slouch into the corset, your ribs will press against the steel bones. In the beginning I would get subtle rib bruising from this. Ouch! Additionally, you could try sitting on a pillow or putting one behind your back if the seat adjustments don’t allow for satisfactory comfort.

If it’s appropriate for your corset size and lifestyle, you could try a corset with spiral steel boning. I previously wrote about the difference between flat and spiral steels, truth being that they are not for everybody. However, if you decide that they might be for you, they could make your commutes more comfy.

Because I’m on the slender side, the aspect of driving that is uncomfortable for me is the bones pressing against my ribs. Something that could help is a style of corset where the boning misses the ribs. Dark Garden has a custom style that does this with pockets and decorative lacing, called the Madame.

Other than that, my best advice is to keep calm and carry on! Don’t forget the A/C!

And please, please don’t motor in the driver’s seat if you are uncomfortable, distracted, or have greatly restricted movement. The effects could disastrous or even deadly. Safety first! Fashion is a close second… but you can always lace in when you arrive.

LOVE,

Euphrates X

Styling Corsets as Day Wear

When one corsets every day, it poses an interesting fashion challenge. In the beginning of my waist training, I often found myself staring at my closet with furrowed brow; stumped. With my rapidly changing shape, I found that a whole lot of my clothes started to fit me like potato sacks with awkwardly low waistlines. With the knowledge that I may get knocked up or for some other reason fluctuate in size some day, I put the items worth keeping in storage and gave the rest away.

It was hard to get rid of those trusted garments. On the other hand, I was hardly disappointed to be getting more shapely! I found that my confidence to wear skin tight clothes sky-rocked and with that, a whole world of fashionable possibilities opened up; I suddenly found that I can wear pretty much anything I want to without nagging insecurity holding me back. This breakthrough was pretty big for me and one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping others discover corsetry as daily wear. However you come to the conclusion, it’s a wonderful feeling to walk in the world and know you are bangin’.

Now I see every day as an fashion challenge: ways to make my daily corset new, fresh, and exciting, appropriate for my context, and fitting with my aesthetic. My  color palate tends towards greyscale, reds, and burgundies with high/low fashion goth-punk aesthetics.

Here are some examples of my outfits. Sorry that it’s a bunch of selfies, but selfies or not, I’d love to see yours!

Looking good at work standing next to Dark Garden's couture peacock feather covered custom corset ($4,000 in case you're interested). Asymmetrical mini top hat by House of Nines Designs and my leather gloves convinces the baristas next door at Blue Bottle that I'm a assassin. Jacket is from Goodwill, nineties brand Nine to Five.
Looking good at work standing next to Dark Garden’s couture peacock feather covered custom corset. Asymmetrical mini top hat by House of Nines Designs.
Belting a corset suggests that is is clothes rather than lingerie and freshens a corset you wear a lot.
Belting a corset suggests that is is clothes rather than lingerie and freshens up the look of a corset you wear a lot. 
Early in my waist training, wearing a corset under my clothes at a holiday party.
Early in my waist training, wearing a corset under my clothes at a holiday party.
I get in trouble when I wear the combination of a corset with a Ramones shirt. Just sayin'.
I tend to get into some fun trouble around town when I wear a corset with a Ramones shirt, for some strange reason…
Throw a corset over a black dress and a tiny black belt over that? Complete look. Obviously I felt very dark and stormy this day, with some gothy copper eyeshadow inspired by Distillers front force Brody Dalle. But you know, the concept is flexible.
A corset over a black dress and a tiny black belt over that.
Accessories up top such as hats and necklaces help draw the eye upward and the corset will draw the eye back downward, trust me darling. What proper accessorizing will ensure  is movement of the eye across your form: prepare to be drunk in.
I like high necklines with curvaceous corsets: the mystery of covered skin can be maddening when just enough shape is revealed.
Stripes and polka dots: I had a fashion awakening in the nineties.
Stripes and polka dots: I had a fashion awakening in the nineties.
Tight things with high waists work well for me!
Tight things with high waists work well for me!

What’s the point here?

People often ask: what can I wear my corset with? I suppose what I’m trying to demonstrate is: fuckin’ anything. 

Jeans, stretch jersey, knit, under or over gowns, pencil skirts, gaucho pants, jumpsuits, slacks, t-shirts, tank tops, bikinis … play with it!

by Edward Saenz
by Edward Saenz

LOVE, Euphrates X

A Word on Exercise

I look like I work out. 

At least that’s what my love said last night in amazement after I took off my corset. “Your stomach looks incredible,” he added. He’s always loved my ever-increasingly curvaceous form, but this flat belly thing is an added benefit. It’s true, some ladies wear corsets after giving birth so that their tummy muscles will stitch back together nice and flat — and some women I see in the shop bemoan that they wish they had. It’s the opposite result of tight, low-rise jeans that give that pouchy muffin-top belly: the clothes you wear habitually will shape your body.

I don’t work out. 

The most exercise I get is power-walking up San Francisco hills to my car (bad city parking makes for good glutes) and maintaining balance in heels on long evenings out. My liver is probably completely comprised of fat and scar tissue because I drink far too much (according to doctors, pfffft) and seeing as The Fatted Calf Charcuterie is right around the corner from Dark Garden, my diet is rich in rich delicacies such as rillettes and truffled cheeses — between the exquisite food and the handsome yet sensitive butchers breaking down whole animals right before my eyes with artful mercilessness, the total visceral package is too much to forgo. #viscerallunch

I really should work out. 

Sure, exercise is good for the general population of humans, but even more so for waist trainers. Because a corset is a posture device, it holds you up and therefore it’s essential to get some exercise out of your corset for the preservation of your core muscle group. Jogging, swimming, and hiking are good: whole body exercises that activate all of the core muscles (and not just part of them, like sit ups). Pilates, yoga, whatever works for you! A few to several times a week is ideal.

So, maybe I’ll think twice before ordering a large Belgian fry and a beer, thinking I can just stuff it all into a corset instead of exercising. Remember, it’s not about getting skinny, it’s all about the curve, but we don’t want to get weak and floppy like a wet noodle in the process, do we? That’s no way to kick ass.

LOVE, Euphrates X