Tag Archives: waist training tips

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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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

Corsets vs. the TSA

It’s an oft brought up topic in the forums:

Can I waist train while going through airport security?!?

Such inquiries are often blown off with responses such as:

It won’t kill you to take it off for a few minutes!

But for some people, it really is practically life or death — see my previous post on a woman who’s degenerative ligament deterioration makes it such that her corset is her exoskeleton. And, my! With what vivacious ferocity does she battle the world, enabled by her brace and unquenchable spirit!

Other responses I have seen are along the lines of:

My dear! I nearly forgot, so I tucked into the ladies powder room just before the security line and slipped off my naughty erotic bits and no one was the wiser!

Ok, so, I have an answer as to what happens to you when you go through security wearing a corset.

Firstly, let me say that for once I wasn’t attempting to cause trouble or make a scene. I was fat, sassy, and still a little buzzed from my vacation in New Orleans and simply forgot that I was wearing a cincher under my swampy clothes. I was carrying a parasol, wearing a big, floppy hat I’d seen the local teenage hookers wearing and simply had to have — I had enough wardrobe going on to worry about.

I walk up to the body scanner, put my arms above my head, try my best to be serious and not to strike a butt-flattering pose, and exit the booth. Granted, in the Big Easy, folk are a lot more easy going and accommodating, so when I blurted out:

Can I see my picture?!?!

They said sure, it’s right up there on the screen behind you. My expectations were frustrated.

Where as I might expected something a little more graphic and titillating, such as this:

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And hopefully, with the corset, some sort of sexy action like this:

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The image that appeared on the screen looked approximately like this:

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The yellow square shows where metal might be on my body. The TSA agents laughed jovially at my disappointment, explaining that people complained about the graphic images, now that’s what it’s like. Hmmf. I explained that I wear a back brace, and the woman couldn’t care less. She wiped down my hands for explosive evidence and when I checked out, I was on my way.

There you have it. It may have been that NOLA has a prescription for relaxation, but it was not anything to worry about. Tightlacers and waist trainers every wear can relax: people wear back braces all the time and it’s really no big deal.

I did take it off on board though. I wanted to drink two tiny bottles of wine, watch the in-flight movie, and snooze in my partner’s lap in noodley comfort…

LOVE,

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

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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.

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Taupe, with a brief.

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A black wide strap tank and boy-short.

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And alternatively, thin strap tank:

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Feels pretty great under a corset, I must say!

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 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

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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

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?

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

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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!

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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?

Corsets and Fluctuations in Weight

Apparently I’ve let some positive attention on my appearance go not only to my head, but to my ass. Yes, I’ve gained a few. Well, more than a “few,” like five. (Seven. A solid seven.)

Between boozing with my gentleman, eccentric friends feeding me late night Zuni chickens, and the discovery of salted carmel macaroons, in conjunction with my complete disregard for my own excellent advice in a previous post about the importance of corsetry and exercise, I’m not entirely surprised. To be fair, it’s fairly natural for weight to fluctuate a little throughout the course of a month’s cycle, but seven is a bit much to be water weight.

Lucky for me, I don’t feel particularly bad about it. It’s interesting for me to notice that my waist training has still been progressing at a steady crawl even whilst in this moment of abundance (that’s what we say, people: “moments of abundance”  — the three letter “f-word” is never allowed when describing a body). My BMI is totally in the middle of the normal range at under 22 points; and being curvier is never a bad thing!

How much can you gain/lose and still wear the same size corset? The answer to this frequently asked question is dependent on a few factors: how the corset fit you at your baseline weight, where you tend to gain/lose weight, if you are waist training, and even how the corset is constructed.

HYPOTHETICALS: If your corset had at a solid three inch back gap and you lost  6-12% of your body weight (~10-20 lbs for a person whose baseline weight was 160 lbs, and ~7-14 lbs for a person whose baseline weight was 120 lbs), you could likely still wear it. But if you had that solid three inch gap and you gained that weight, that corset would not fit you properly anymore. You probably only have room to go up about 3-4% body weight before the bones in back start to bubble, which is terrible for the garment and your body.

I want all ze corsets... all of zem...
I want all the corsets… all of them.

A 1.25-3″ gap in back is ideal. If you are creeping up on 3.25″, that’s pushing it for the reason stated above. In addition to being bubbly and unsupportive, the curves of the corset and its bones will no longer be hitting you at the appropriate places in your body (read: uncomfortable). On the other hand, you don’t want the corset to be laced completely closed for daily/extended wear because the steel boning in back would rest on your spine, which I can say from experience in my rookie days, is also uncomfortable. The most comfortable corset will always be a corset that fits you right. If you are lacing tighter than a parallel 1″, time for a smaller corset!

But I love this corset! Can I get it altered? Dark Garden can take in their corsets by up to 3″ for a reasonable fee (note that they only alter their own work). I’ve heard that other reputable makers will reduce their corsets by a size as well, so it’s worth asking. Yet another reason not to buy mass-produced product off the internet!

If you can’t get it reduced and you are a waist trainer, you could always use your old, bigger corset as a “sleeper”  corset to progress your training even faster. I would only do this with under busts personally, and only if the corset didn’t have fancy embellishments on it like beading, flossing, lace overlay, or crystals.

That’s the long and short of it. Comment below with anything I might have missed and don’t forget to follow my blog if you found this informational!

TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ I put on a few, but that’s ok. You can too, as long as your corset is still comfy to wear and you are happy.