Tag Archives: waist training

Corsets and Argentine Tango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, brother… He continues:

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

Awkward pause.

Yeah… cool! (Devoted).

He says:

What’s your dance calendar?

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

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

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

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

TL;DR TANGO HACK – wear a corset.

LOVE,

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

Euphrates X

Tightlacing Liaison | Expert Fitter

Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

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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

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: 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

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!

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?