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The Clothing We Wear

The Clothing We Wear

Are we emotionally affected by the clothing we wear? Does it reflect the inner workings of our mind, or is that taking things a little too far? Why does it matter what we wear? We know that people have been fashion conscious for thousands of years, so what has led us to the all-out obsession we have with fashion today?

I have always loved fashion myself. My motto is “fashion is my passion”. No matter what I work at in life I always seem to go back to fashion as my first love. It’s the inspiration that gets me excited. It is my way to feel and display my moods and emotions on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. In my lifetime I have been in awe of the intricacies of clothing, astounded by various styles, and repelled by some trends. Why do people wear what they do? My mind is full of questions! My goal in this 4 part blog is to not only pique your interest but to educate as together we take a journey through time.

Tarkhan Dress- 5,100 to 5,500 years old

Let’s start with the Earliest Known Evidence of actual clothing.

As far back as man can date the presence and existence of our species on this earth we assume that clothing was worn. “There is very little archaeological evidence (however,) to determine the date that clothing (actually) started being worn”. [1] The findings that are based on theories, calculate it to be between 40,000 to 170,000 years ago. That’s a pretty wide-spread of time.

Proof of clothing

Eyed needles and various tools have been found which lead us to believe that clothing may have been fashioned from animal hides to cover and protect the body. Why do they think these tools were used for clothing instead of shelter? Scientists observed lice! “Scientists observed that clothing lice are, well, extremely well-adapted to clothing. They hypothesized that body lice must have evolved to live in clothing, which meant that they weren’t around before humans started wearing clothes. The findings of the study are significant because they show that clothes appeared some 70,000 years before humans started to migrate north from Africa into cooler climates.”[1]. The timing here would put a man in the era of the Ice Age. Ian Gilligan, a lecturer at the Australian National University, said: “Modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regular basis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions.”[1]

 

Clothing as protection

Okay, so we have determined that people have worn clothing for a very long time. Artifacts were found and the type of clothing or coverings, such as they were, were simple and basic in the beginning. They were initially made from the skins of animals and held together in a primitive fashion. These animal skin coverings served as protection against cold heat and rain.

But let’s delve a little further as things are bound to get interesting.

Beauty in the garments

The scientists dug a little more and extended their search. They determined that about 25,000 years ago, give or take a millennium, the clues and artifacts they found pointed to a weaving technology. Dyed fabrics made from various plant fibers and the wool from sheep has been discovered as well. “The earliest dyed flax fibres have been found in a prehistoric cave in the Georgia and date back to 36,000”. [5]

This meant that people were concerned with what they wore and how they looked. For that reason, they wanted variety and beauty in their garments. Their coverings may have been draped over the shoulder and secured with a belt at the waist, while they made a statement with their style. We have always been concerned about the clothing we wear.

Advances in Fashion

Then around the mid-1300’s big advances in fashion were made. Fashion began to get interesting. “For instance, clothing started to be made to form fit the human body, with curved seams, laces, and buttons. Contrasting colours and fabrics also became popular in England. From this time, fashion in the West began to change at an alarming rate, largely based on aesthetics, whereas in other cultures fashion typically changed only with great political upheaval, meaning changes came more slowly in most other cultures.” [1]

Fashion is now coming to the forefront. It’s not just a cover-up anymore. Different parts of the world are beginning to make a statement about who they are. “Look at me. I am different from you”, they say as they present themselves.

So Do the Clothes We Wear Reflect What’s Inside Us?

Kat Rectenwald, an anonymous writer in Germany states her opinion on a writers’ forum named Quora. “No, Your clothes reflect how you want to see yourself and be seen by the world around you. It reflects parts of your self-image, your social identity, your class and often your education, too. But don’t confuse any of this with what may be “inside” of people. Apart from your aesthetics and the above mentioned it doesn’t say a thing about who you are. You can’t draw any conclusion on a person’s intelligence, morals or character from this.” [2]

Good point Kat! But just because we can’t actually determine a persons’ “intelligence or moral character” from the clothes they wear, does that mean that we won’t form an opinion? Absolutely not. Many studies on fashion and clothing style have shown that it is human nature to form an instantaneous opinion of someone based on the way they dress.

 

Does Our Clothing Define Us

In an article by Phil Coomes, Picture Editor September 28, 2016, titled ‘Do the clothes we wear define us?’ we are presented with various people in different clothes which “Explores the way in which our clothes shape us, that outer shell we use to accentuate or sometimes hide who we are. The aim is to see how a viewer responds to the uniform and how it shapes their perception of that person – how we prejudge based on a uniform or a certain look and style.” A few of the photos which were shown at the No Walls Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe Festival are shown here:

FirefighterSarah, Midwife

Dani - Opera SingerBarrington - Entertainer

Our Observations

We observe a firefighter, nurse, entertainer and an opera singer in uniform and casual dress. All photographs courtesy Strand Collective.

So do you have a different opinion of the people in uniform as opposed to their casual dress? I think it is safe to say we all would draw our own conclusion based on the clothing style.

THE UNIFORM

At the blog site International Branding, the whole world knows your name, we observe the comment; “The uniform, although broadly defined, is not just confined to the military. It signifies what apparel is appropriate, practical, or preferable for different occupations and social groups. For that reason, our clothes define the role we are taking at any particular time. This certainly applies to both business and pleasure.  For instance, always dressing for work, would be regarded as eccentric, to say the least. In fact, our clothes say so much about who we are. Even refusing to follow trends gives a signal indicative of a way of thinking, which wants to be free and not conventional.” [3] We can see a very important consideration here. The mere refusal to follow the current trends can also be a way to define ourselves.

Opinions and Assumptions

In an article in Psychology Today magazine by Ben C. Fletcher D. Phil Posted Apr 20, 2013 entitled: What Your Clothes Might Be Saying About You, he writes; “our clothes say a great deal about who we are and can signal a great deal of socially important things to others, even if the impression is actually unfounded.” “It is important to choose our dress style carefully because people will make all sorts of assumptions and decisions about us without proper evidence. We are unlikely to know what these assessments are too, so it is quite possible that our clothes reveal more than we thought.”

The research found in published studies clearly shows that “What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds. Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be the key to success.” [6]

our clothing and our thinking

So we’ve determined that our knowledge of the clothing and coverings that people have been wearing since the beginning has advanced considerably. We’ve gone from the wrap-and-stick-it animal skins to form-fitting clothing produced en masse by the factories of today.

But the questions remain unanswered. Do the clothes we wear emotionally affect us? Does it reflect the inner workings of our mind and why does it matter what we wear? We have proven that a simple animal skin would cover our bodies just as well as an haute couture designer dress. It would be warm and soft although certainly a bit smelly in the rain.

Continuing Our Quest

I ask that you stay with me as I continue the quest of why people wear what they do and how it affects us. In the next blog, we will venture more into the types of clothing worn during different time periods. Finally, we will follow the journey into the varied dress of different cultures from around the world.

When was the corset introduced and why did people seek out such a restrictive garment? And most noteworthy, why has the existence of the corset continued across the span of time.

Life is an amazing journey. The more you know the more interesting it gets.

Elie Saab Designer Dress

References with links:

[1] When People Started Wearing Clothes by Emily Upton September 12, 2013,

[2] Quora Forum

[3] International Branding, the whole world knows your name

[4] Fashion History – Clothing of the Early Middle Ages – Dark Ages 400 – 900 CE by Dolores Monet, Bellatory-Fashion and History

[5] History of clothing and textiles-by Wikipedia

[6] Psychology Today magazine, What Your Clothes Might Be Saying About You, Ben C. Fletcher D.Phil Posted Apr 20, 2013

[7] Letzuploadit displayed on YouTube: Do your clothes make a difference?! (RICH vs POOR) SOCIAL EXPERIMENT 2018

 

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The Time of the Medieval Corset

Medieval Corsets

Many things were happening during the time of the medieval corset. “Centuries of Roman rule in Western Europe came crashing to an end in 476. The emperor was driven from his throne by barbarian invaders from the north. Soon after, hundreds of tiny kingdoms began to form in once Roman lands. Subsequent invasions by Vikings, Goths, Moors, and infighting between neighboring kingdoms began to change the nature of European life”.   From Medieval-Life.net

Clothing Worn During The Medieval Period

The medieval time period is known as the Middle Ages, and the Dark Ages. This time period lasted from approximately 500 AD to 1500 AD. By all accounts, this was a thousand years of war, famine, rigid class systems and rampant superstition mixed with religion. These were serious times, and accordingly, women of stature wore serious clothes. The fashion attire had many layers which included, a smock, hose, kirtle, petticoats, gown and surcoat, girdle, cape with hood and bonnet.

Mary Queen of Scots lived and died in the 16th century, but her wardrobe style was still medieval. (Did the Renaissance skip Scotland?). Mary was a threat to the throne and a staunch Catholic besides. Mary was beheaded on the order of  Queen Elizabeth in 1587. She was reportedly wearing only her undergarments. These were said to have been a velvet petticoat, a pair of sleeves in crimson-brown, and a black satin bodice with black trimmings.

Question: Notice anything missing from these lists?
Answer: Underpants! That’s right, medieval women actually went commando.

Considering the sheer number of layers worn at the time, going bare from the waist down beneath the medieval corset and petticoats was a practical idea. There was nothing to get in the way of a quick in and out, with the cuckolded spouse none the wiser. After all, secret trysts by their very nature have to be brief.  Just think about how long it would have taken for the eager lover to peel off all those layers!

The Medieval Corset

Medieval women sometimes wore “cotes,”. This was made of two stiffened layers of fabric and worn as an outer garment. Sometime around 1300, women’s styles began to be more revealing; the medieval corset was still in use but changing. Clothing was beginning to fit closer to the body. Fashion changed, necklines were lowered and the desired silhouette now had more curves.

In the desire to show off the waistline, steel, wood, whalebone or cane, were slipped into the seams. This part of the medieval corset was the ‘busk’. A busk is a piece of hardware placed into the center front of the corset that could be made of steel, wood, whalebone.

These busks fulfilled another function, as well: they served as love letters. The wooden or bone busks were often inscribed or carved with messages of heartfelt love. These busks were then given as gifts from the men to their lady loves. The ladies returned the favor by giving the laces from their medieval corset to their lovers. So far, we’ve got no underpants, wood stays inscribed with sexy messages and long laces to work with – hmm. . .

Factoid: a 12th-century illustration shows a demon wearing a medieval corset.

The outerwear medieval corset would end under the breasts, whether the corset was a straight, bust-to-waist design or an outerwear one that had shoulder straps and looked like a tight little vest that laced beneath the bust. Fabric choices for the medieval corset grew so that women of stature could choose ermine, taffeta or brocade and colors such as crimson and purple which denoted aristocratic lineage.

Petticoats in Medieval Times

Petticoats – the more the better – came into popularity sometime in the earlier 1500’s. These petticoats, worn under massive skirts to expand them outward,  were often attached to the medieval corset by laces. 

Around this time, too, the farthingale became a popular shaper. The farthingale was a hoop skirt made of metal banding. This metal skirt served to expand the outer skirt being worn.

“The French farthingale was introduced in England in the late 1570’s. Modern costumers conjecture that it probably consisted of one or more large hoops with horizontal stiffeners which radiated from around the waist in order to produce a flat platter-like shape when supported underneath by the “bumroll” or “French farthingale”.  these rolls were made of: they were stuffed with cotton and rags and stiffened with hoops of whalebone, wire or ropes made of bent reeds. Buckram (stiff canvas) is the most commonly mentioned material. Other references describe the rolls as being starched with a form of stiffener.” (Wikipedia Farthingale, post-2018)

Eventually, this style led right into the increasingly, impossibly tightened waist. 

Edmund-Leighton-God-Speed-medieval fashion

The Dark Ages

“Medieval times often evoke images of knights battling on muddy fields, dank and dreary castles, hunger, plagues-in general, a lot of rather depressing scenes. But these Dark Ages also witnessed the birth of a romantic movement. 13th Century conventions of chivalry directed that men should honor, serve, and do nothing to displease ladies and maidens. 

Secret rituals of Romance developed where women-long the loser in a double standard of adultery condoned among men-found champions who would fight in their honor. Courtly love became the subject of some of the most famous medieval poems, and where we get today’s word, “Courtesy.” Through these centuries, Europe was slowly waking from a harsh slumber, and begin to sow the seeds of a Renaissance”. Medieval–Life.net

Scotland Medieval Castle
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Burlesque Dance Costumes

What are burlesque dance costumes? Is it some kind of Middle Eastern dance costume you ask?

Well let me give you a little insight:

1840 London, England:

Close your eyes for a minute. Imagine yourself in the year 1840 in the city of London. It is late, and the night is dark. You find yourself walking down a small alleyway off a busy street. Finally, you spot a red door, therefore you have arrived at your destination.

You knock and the door is opened.

You are escorted by a host to a dark room inside. There is a small stage against one wall. Scattered around the room are small round tables with 2 or 3 chairs at each. You choose your seat and wait.

Now skip ahead to later on in the evening. The room is full of boisterous people, laughing, smoking and drinking alcohol. Suddenly the lights dim dramatically and conversations stop.

Lively music begins to play from the side of the room. A spotlight comes on and a lady in a brightly colored outfit moves seductively towards the stage.

She slightly drags her foot in time to the music as she begins to sway and then skip onto the stage.

Her outfit has many layers, some heavy and opaque and others transparent and flowing. Her makeup is bold and somewhat gaudy, accentuating her facial movements.

She begins to speak. Her remarks are witty and sexual, her skits entertaining. She pokes fun at Shakespeare and opera and can pull laughter from the biggest sourpuss.

Burlesque Dance:

Burlesque dance can be dated back to 17th century London. It began as a way to poke fun at “serious” theater productions. It was promoted to an art form early on and continues in that tradition today.

The working class now had a way to poke fun at the upper class through laughter and lust. Using their social habits and traditions they ‘spoofed’ in a bawdy way. The distinctive look of burlesque costumes and the sly satire of the dancers’ routines are unique.

Famously performed in Paris at the Moulin Rouge theater, the burlesque dance began. There, dancers combined elaborate costumes with detailed stage sets to establish their own unique identities.

Burlesque in the United States:

Burlesque dance evolved and migrated to New York in the late 1900’s. Singers, comics, acrobats and a motley crew of other entertainers shared the stage with the fetching and scantily clad dancers.

In the 1920’s burlesque became known as the modern-day striptease show. Some performances started with an exotic dancer and ended in a boxing match. In New York City the boxing match performance was banned for a time. As a result of the ban, it stopped completely.

Did They Get Naked:

Historically, the style of burlesque costumes and how much a dancer removed depended largely on what she could get away with. Sometimes a little stripping was involved, and sometimes the performer removed all of their clothes.

The obvious fakery was used to suggest nudity. This led to a comic effect. And sometimes the dancer really did remove much of her costume, one piece at a time.

Burlesque dance costumes are ornately designed to titillate and tease. Most of them are based on a corset.

First of all, the dancer may choose a flirty little skirt, opera gloves or mesh stockings. Many dance performances include accessories like top hats and cigarette holders. Furthermore, the dancer can then choose which items to remove in an arousing manner.

Why Corsets:

Corsets as the foundation of burlesque costume served a different purpose. They give the burlesque dancer that classic, hourglass shape.

A corset defines the ultimate femininity. They are sexy, glamorous, and cheeky without being tacky or vulgar. They have attracted the eye of the socially elite man from past centuries to modern times.

This opened the door for burlesque dancers to appear on the arms of noblemen, artists, and the aristocrats.

The Artists:

Many talented women have donned their burlesque costumes and taken to the stage. Often actresses got their start in burlesque, including Mae West and Fannie Brice. The 1930’s saw the emergence of such iconic dancers as Gypsy Rose Lee and Josephine Baker.

It often provided a path to respectability for women who were having a rough time of things. For some, it enabled them to earn their way out of harsh circumstances and hobnob with society.

 

Burlesque Timeline-1920’s-1940’s:

In the resurgence of the early 1900’s, the chorus girls of the Ziegfield Follies skirted the edges of burlesque. They performed in fabulous costumes that showed a lot of legs.

By the late 1920’s we were entering the industrial revolution. The rising popularity of movies had burlesque stage shows shut down and more women arrested for indecencies.

It took WWll in the 1940’s to bring back the burlesque shows. The servicemen needed entertainment! It faded a bit again after the 1940’s. The resulting moral arguments against it began to have a suppressing effect.

 

Burlesque Today:

At the beginning of the 1970’s, the dance began to regain its popularity. Today it is enjoying a full resurgence. Perhaps the most famous performer of the modern style is Dita Von Teese. Ms. Von Teese knows exactly how to work burlesque dance costumes and props with stunning effect. Corsets, stockings, hats, gloves, and her trademark pale skin and raven hair are instantly recognizable.

 

Play your Part:

Does the style and sass of burlesque appeals to you? Join the revelry!

You do not need to be a professional performer to join in the fun.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we can make the perfect custom corset for you. Play out your private fantasies of flirting and teasing in the glare of the footlights.

 

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Tight-Laced Corset With Steel Boning

“Do I really want a tight-laced corset with steel boning?” you ask yourself. Okay, so you’ve finally set down that romance novel with the beautiful heroine wearing the tightly laced corset with steel boning that trims her figure to a waspy 18” waist. She is tiny, gorgeous, and she has “the man”! Now you’ve become that damsel, swept away by the handsome rogue. “I need that damn corset,” you say to yourself! “But do I really want a tightly laced corset with steel boning? Does it need to have steel boning?” So you begin your pursuit on the internet to find something that will make your dreams come true.

You pour over all the websites offering corsets of many kinds with a very wide range in price! Some will insist that “a corset with steel boning is the only kind of corset to buy”! What’s all the hype about the steel in a corset anyway?  Your curiosity leads you to follow the trail.

You do some research. You discover that corsets have been around for a very long time! There must be something to that “waspy figure” that the heroines have.

There have been many types of boning and support used in corsets over the years. Tightly laced corsets have not always had steel boning. Other forms of corset support were used at first. Reeds, wood, whalebone, and even carved ivory were some of the options.  “Why is steel boning better for a tight-laced corset” you ask yourself?

 

Types of Boning Used:

Let’s delve into this subject and compare the various types of boning and their uses, starting with the most popular or well know types of boning used today. The topic of tightly laced corsets with steel boning is a popular subject today.

 

1) Flat steel Boning:

Flat steel strips are strips of steel that are painted and cut to a variety of lengths.  There is also steel sold in a continuous roll format, sometimes known as “sprung steel”. These can be found in basically two widths, ¼” and ½”; galvanized and fusion coated to prevent rusting. After cutting, the ends must be covered with end caps or dipped in a rubberized coating to prevent the sharps edges from cutting through the fabric and possibly impaling the wearer of the corset.

This type of boning is very strong and rigid and has a fairly flexible bend in two directions. It provides strong support for keeping the body properly confined while retaining the shape of the corset. Since it does not have the ability to curve sideways, this type of boning cannot be used on curved seams. It is perfect for the front and back openings, however, where there are straight seams, thus producing the tight-laced corset with steel boning.

2) Spiral Steel Boning:

Spiral steel boning is a type of steel boning has the appearance of wire that has been coiled in a tight loop repeatedly to form a long steel strip. It is sold in ¼” and ½” widths by the roll or precut strips. It can be cut to the desired lengths with a strong pair of wire snips. End caps are then used to prevent the sharp cut wires from cutting the fabric or poking the body. This type of boning is flexible in four directions. It can bend sideways and can also twist.

The ability of this boning to flex sideways makes it perfect for seams and curves in the corset. The emphasis on spiral steel is the flexibility, and not necessarily the ability to retain the shape of the garment. (‘The World of Corsets; Steel Boning, Why, How Many and What Does It Do’, by Another Lone Gunman)

The design and seams of the corset will limit how much the boning can mold out of shape. Because of this, there will be a “compromise between the corset and your body”. Some corsets are inexpensively made with little emphasis on actual support. Lined or unlined makes a big difference. Steel boning, the weight of the fabric and the strength of the lining all have an impact on the strength and shape of the finished corset.

3) Plastic Boning or “Zip Ties”:

Plastic boning is a type of boning that many seasoned corsetieres are getting to know and love. Zip ties that are used in corset making, however, are not to be confused with the thin, flexible, zip ties that are used to bind your stereo wires together. The only plastic zip ties that are useful can be found online through a company that manufactures heavy duty construction cable ties. Cable ties of this form are produced incorporating stabilizers in the nylon resin, giving them strength to hold up to 175 pounds each strip!

This makes them a fairly thick and definitely resilient, strong form of boning. I have found this type of boning to become more comfortable than steel with body heat, yet it retains its strength and shape without the fear of breakage. The ties can be cut with tin snips and the edges filed down with a 100 grit nail file until smooth. This means no edges to cut fabric or poke into the body.

While I continue to use the steel boning at the front and back openings, I sometimes back it up with an extra layer of the cable ties. I can ride all day on a motorcycle and then dance all night, still in comfort, without losing any support. And best of all my corsets stand the test of time. They are still beautiful and hold their shape after many years of wear. I definitely do not agree with people that say the corset is cheaper when made with “plastic boning”. It can last even longer than its counterpart while providing much more comfort in the process.

4) Rigilene Boning:

Because it is sold in fabric stores and referred to in articles on corset making, I will talk about Rigilene boning. It is made of polyester “threads” which are fused together to form a somewhat stiff, but flexible form of stiffening for a garment. Associated with Rigilene is the Featherlite or polyester boning also sold in fabric stores. Because of the scant thickness, however, it will conform and stay out of shape with applied pressure over time. It can be used for lingerie and costumes. I would not recommend this to be used in a corset of any durability that would otherwise stand the test of time. Even with many layers of fabric,s the rigilene boning will not be sufficient support for a corset.

 

Other Types Of Shaping Materials:

 

Fosshape:

Exciting products in the design world are the use of Fosshape® and Wonderlflex®. Industries such as “theatre, costumes, millinery, mask or armor making, puppetry, props, cosplay, craft work, model making, set design, and the entertainment industry” use these materials.  Fosshape® is “limited by your imagination material”.  This inspirational material can be heat shaped and formed with steam. In appearance, Fosshape is a fluffy white filler resembling quilt batting. When steamed it shrinks and becomes dense and conforms to the desired shape. The benefit is that it is durable, lightweight, breathable and you can sew through it!  Costume professionals call it the “buckram replacement”. If you have never tried this product I highly recommend it. But be careful as you may become addicted.

Item from Wonderflex® material

Wonderflex:

The other product sold by this company is known as Wonderflex ®. It is a different form of support or stiffener in that it is sold as a “thermoplastic composite sheet. Made of a unique synthetic polymer that when heated in the range of 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit, Wonderflex® will soften and activate a built-in adhesive for molding and forming”. The Wonderflex® can then be cut with a good pair of sharp scissors or a utility knife and shaped with a heat gun so is easy to use. Wonderflex® cannot be sewn through. But it can be formed to shape, and inserted into those high bust sections that would otherwise be unsupported efficiently. If you have not yet discovered these fascinating products I highly suggest you check out the website: http://www.wonderflexworld.com

In Conclusion:

So once again you ask yourself, “Do I Really Want A Tight Laced Corset With Steel Boning?” From my own personal experience, I have discovered that a combination of various types of boning in a corset provides the best form of support and structure. I use strong and durable fabrics, often having 3-6 layers in the body of the garment. And, do not underestimate an authentic coutil lining. It is perfect for structure, support and comfort for your corset. At the front and back openings, it is best to use strong steel where strength is required for support. This will prevent your corset from breaking and creating an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

If the front steel busk is not thick enough, the thickness can be enhanced with plastic zip tie boning. In the curved seams or where you wish to provide the curve in your corset, the spiral steel boning would be the best choice. For design, or to strengthen weak fabric, I have used multiple rows of cording along with boning on a separate layer of fabric. The options are endless. However personal preference should be left to the discretion of the skilled corsetiere. Not the client that is requesting a tight-laced corset with steel boning due to the internet hype.

A good corsetiere with knowledge and skill can make the corset of your dreams. It is an investment. You want that investment to last for many years to make your dream come true.

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For The Love Of Custom Corsets

For the love of custom corsets, women keep wearing them! First Impressions: A woman walks into a room and every head turns. The glances of the crowd may flicker away in an instant or they may linger and admire.

The way a woman presents herself gives her the power to choose whether to deflect attention or to draw it. When she chooses to walk into a room and say, “Here I am,” her clothing is part of the equation.

The well-dressed woman knows that clothing conveys status. Fabric with a sumptuous hand and design with a fashionable cut, speaks volumes. And above all, a garment with an impeccable fit sends a message: high quality.

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High Concept Fashion:

High concept fashion is the product of the foremost couture houses throughout the world. The annual collections are brought out each new fashion season by talented designers with bold ideas.

The goal of an haute couture fashion show is to make the theme of the collection stand out. They strive to capture attention and turn the head with a gasp from the lips. It’s usually more of an appeal to “look at me!” rather than actual functionality. Very few designers expect to sell a look “hot off the model.” The love of custom corsets with dramatic flair has kept it on the runway.

The overall control the tailor/seamstress has over the final outcome of the corset garment is extensive. From the fitting to the refined and detailed finish, it speaks volumes to the client and overall audience. It is the highest degree of bespoke tailoring. Experienced seamstresses and tailors can produce exquisite garments that reflect a designer’s concept. They can beautifully execute any design that a woman conceives independently. The translation of the runway looks into wearable high fashion is the result of bespoke tailoring.

11-8

 

How Corsets Fit In:

Over the centuries the flow of fashion is often charted by the look of the dresses, coats, skirts, and slacks. As these pieces have evolved, however, so too have the undergarments. Working alongside the tailor and seamstress was the corsetier. Corsets have been shaping, slimming and flirting from ancient times to the present day.

The function of a corset has changed through history. It has been used to support an upright posture and to hold a woman’s body in the desired shape. Often it is simply used as a fashion statement. The woman of today is neither compelled nor forbidden to wear a corset. She can choose for herself the purpose for which she will wear it.

Many women like the support a corset gives them in situations where they desire a straight posture. They feel it gives them a more elegant line that suggests high status. Some women want a corset that will nip in their waist and give them the classic hourglass figure. Still, others are not interested in the function of a corset but just enjoy the fun of wearing it.

 

Bespoke corset being made

Why Custom Corsets:

So does a custom fit maintain a certain superiority? A woman who decides to explore the option of wearing a corset will find many ready-made options on the market. Unfortunately, they are made to fit the average woman with industry-standard proportions, which the average female body rarely follows.

She may also find that the seams begin to pull apart and the stiffening begins to stab before she has even begun to lace the corset tightly. This will not do. In no time at all her desire will be to remove the corset as soon as possible.

For a garment as close-fitting as a corset, the only way to get a piece that is both functional and comfortable is to have it custom made by a bespoke seamstress.

Every woman’s body is unique. The bust may be higher or lower than average, her rib cage may be longer or shorter, and her back may be wider or narrower. Only by having a custom-fit corset can all of these individual measurements be taken into account.

A bespoke corset is a gorgeous creation that will last for years. It is an item that will never go out of style. The love of custom corsets is acquired when worn to an important engagement.

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Corsets and Bustiers in History

From the beginning of time, Corsets and Bustiers in History and today have been a form of outward expression. As with other clothing, it is an outward display of an individual’s personality. By the same token fashion reflects the society of which it is a part.

Fashion has always had a great influence on society. Corsets and Bustiers in History is no exception.

Corsets have long been a symbol of feminine power and beauty, dating as far back as 2000 BC.

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Although corsets have gone through many transformations over the centuries, their general appearance has remained constant. Their main purpose and appeal were to shape and flatter the female form in accordance with current fashion trends.

Corsets Throughout the Ages

Perhaps no other garment in history has caused as much controversy. Certainly, none have spawned so many fetishes or stood the test of time as corsets have.

Tight lacing was blamed on health issues. In reality, tight-lacing likely only caused constipation and indigestion.

Traditionally, the corset was actually a part of a dress. The corset as an undergarment has its origins in Italy. Catherine de Medici brought it to France in the 1500’s. Women of the French court not only embraced the corset but considered it an indispensable beauty tool commonly worn by women throughout Europe.

 

The Skilled Seamstress:

This brought about the highly skilled seamstresses that could fit the human body with a ‘second skin of sorts. They became known as the first corsetieres. From this came the literal translation of the French word ‘corset’ which came from the expression, “pair of bodies”.

From the men there came the “bespoke” tailoring. This comes from the French term, the literal translation being: “men’s clothing made to a high degree of customization”.

Leaders and Their Impact on Dress:

Napoleon hated them. His intense dislike of them influenced the Regency style, or Empire dress, at that time. This started just below the breasts and flowed loosely to the floor, eliminating the need for a corset.

Fashion then shifted from loose, flowing dresses to a more slender silhouette. This was achieved using lacing to create a tighter fitting bodice. The corset as an undergarment was not seen in Europe until the 1500’s.

 

And the Queens:

It is believed that Catherine de Medici first introduced Italian style corsets to France. However, the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Egypt, Assyria, and Crete depicted women wearing Corsets and Bustiers in History for hundreds of years already before her time.

The proclamation of 1597 by Queen Elizabeth went into minute detail about the type of dress allowed for a person per position and social rank. There was strict control of everyday dress. It was essential that the Queen’s subjects know their place. This included the type of fabric, garment embellishments, the color worn, hosiery and even furs.

Corset TimelineREV.indd

 

Corset Materials Used:

The first corsets of the 16th century did not aim to accentuate the waist but rather had a more cylindrical shape. They flattened everything from waist to bust, forcing the breasts up into an alluring curve which just peeked out at the top.

Corset styles and the materials used to make them would change many times over the next centuries. Wood, whalebone and eventually steel replaced the iron cages to make them much more comfortable. Lacing moved from the front to the back.

 

The Busk:

And busks, which provided the stiffening with knife-shaped pieces of whalebone or wood, moved from the back to the front and eventually the sides. This whalebone was the predecessor to today’s boning.

Fabrics changed too, from linen to cotton, wool, leather, silk, and lace. However, this was largely a matter of personal preference and rank.

Virtually all women wore corsets, but not all could afford to commission a tailor to make them. Many corsets made at home used cheaper and more readily available materials. Sackcloth stiffened with readily available reeds was common. Whereas the nobility who could afford the services of a tailor and proper fit had elaborate corsets made of leather, damask, silk, and velvet.

Elizabethan Wardrobe:

“European aristocrats [13] were inclined to regard the body as a work of art. Their prominent reason being their display at court and physical self-control. Court society imposed its aesthetic erectness which was also a way of mastering the passions.”

“The Elizabethan wardrobe was quite complex. Sleeves, bodice, underskirt, corset, and ruff (neck collar), all came as separate pieces, held in place by pins. The Queen loved to receive gifts of valuable garments. A pair of sleeves embroidered with pearls were among these gifts.”

 

Elizabethan Corset:

“In the Elizabethan era, whalebone (baleen) was frequently used in corsets so bodices could maintain their stiff appearance. A front stiffener, called a busk, was typically made of wood, horn, ivory, metal, or whalebone. This busk was carved into a thin knife shape and then inserted into the front bodice”.

n England stays were a part of a basic wardrobe of even working women. ‘The wives of journeymen tradesmen and shopkeepers, either wore leather stays or ‘full-boned’ stays. Worn every day for years and never washed; half laced and black as the post.”[14]

Corsets and the French Empire:

Skipping forward a bit to the 1500’s, after Catherine de Medici introduced corsets to France, the women of the French court wore them as undergarments.

Unlike bustiers, corsets come in two different styles: The under-bust corset ends beneath the breasts and requires a separate bra, while the over-bust corset covers at least part of the breasts. The word in French remained as ‘body’, but in the 17th century the term in England was “stays”.

Corsets-went-out-fashion-during-popularity-high-waisted

The French Empire in the 1700’s:

“By the 1770’s, fashionable French women began to wear a corset made of quilted linen and without bones. They were fastened in front with strings or ribbons.”[15] 

The French, ‘Ladies Magazine’ wrote an article in 1785. In this, it informed the English women that “the French ladies never wear more than a quilted waistcoat”. “The custom of imprisoning children in heavily boned stays was also disappearing”.

The Enlightenment Campaigns of Napoleonic France proclaimed “liberty and equality”. This played a role in loosening the stays. Thus high-waist neoclassical gowns came into fashion. Obviously, women still had waistlines but they no longer emphasized that part of the body. They focused on the bosom instead!

 

Victorian Corsets:

Yet, after a brief period of freedom at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, fashion for high-waist empire gowns was declining. The boned corset reappeared around 1800 and spread throughout society. The French term “corset” was first used in England about 1820. Until then, English speakers called a corset a “pair of bodies” or a “pair of French bodies”; somewhat like a ‘second skin’.

Long, heavily boned corsets continued to be worn by English women. Modesty and corsets were closely associated with sexual morality by the English.

child-corset

Corsets were also considered a medical necessity in the early 19th century. It was thought that women were too fragile to stand without support. Little girls as young as 3 or 4 years old were laced into tiny corsets. After years of being continuously laced up, however, their backs were weakened. By the time they reached their teens, they were unable to sit or stand without the support of a corset.

 

 

 

Victorian Corsets and Tight-lacing:

It really wasn’t until the 1830’s that the hourglass shape came into fashion. This gave Victorian corsets the dual purpose of cinching the waist and supporting the bust. In the mid-1800’s, the fashionable shape was an exaggeratedly curvaceous hourglass with a tiny waist.

This is when real tight-lacing became popular. These tightly laced corsets deformed the internal organs and forced shallow breathing. The results were a lot of fainting; thus the need for smelling salts to revive the fainting ladies in repose.

Tightly laced corsets and the problems that came with them were an affliction unique to the rich. Only the ladies who were higher in class and did not have to work could wear such restrictive clothing. Working class women wore looser corsets and lighter clothing that allowed for more movement.

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Edwardian Corsets:

The early 20th century brought a change in corset shape in response to concerns about pressure on the stomach area. The new straight-front corset, also known as the S-bend corset, the swan-bill corset, or the health corset.

It featured a rigid busk that ran the entire length of the front of the corset. This gave the effect of a very flat front, forcing the hips to jut out in back.

However, the unnatural posture it forced upon the wearer resulted in many back problems. It actually caused more injury than its waist-cinching predecessor. Thus the style only lasted about ten years, from 1900 to 1910.

Around 1908 fashion changed to favor a more natural waistline and narrower hips. This, along with the advent of rubber and elastic fabrics, made way for girdles and brassieres.

 

Corsets in the 21st Century:

At one point the United States government asked women to refrain from buying corsets.

It’s true… it was just after entering World War I, and this single move freed up 28,000 tons of steel for use in war production. It also gave rise to the popularity of brassieres and girdles. Women’s roles in society changed as well in this time period. More women delayed marriage to seek an education, leaving corsets to overweight and pregnant women.

Garconne fashion and the prized boyish body shape of the 1920’s saw little call for corsets, as women used girdles to minimize the hips, and bras to minimize the breasts.

Soon came the fifties and a new appreciation of all things feminine. Dior’s “New Style” celebrated womanly curves, favoring a tiny waist and wide hips. This sparked a return in popularity of the corset which lasted until the rise of flower power and hippie bra-burning sentiments of the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

Corsets and Bustiers:

What is the difference between corsets and bustiers? It’s a question we often get at Sultry Lady Corsets, where we specialize in custom made, beautifully embellished, one of a kind corsets and bustiers. The answer to the question is that while corsets and bustiers look similar, in construction and function they differ.

Corsets have more structured than the bustier. The bustier lifts your breasts to accentuate cleavage, but don’t do much, if anything, to hold in your stomach. The corset doesn’t just enhance cleavage, it also cinches you in so that your waist and torso look slimmer.

The contemporary corset is closer in style to the corsets and bustiers that were popular in the Victorian era. This is when the hourglass figure became a measure of feminine desirability. These shape-shifting corsets used back-lacing to pull the waist into some improbably small sizes. They included boning to keep the garments stiff and supportive.

 

Celebrities and Corsets:

The current popularity of corsets and bustiers in history began in 1983 after Madonna appeared in concert wearing a silk corset. The demand for corsets and bustiers took off like wildfire. The underwear-as-outerwear trend has not stopped since. Her famous corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for her Blond Ambition tour, later sold at auction in London for more than £30,000–about $52,000– in 2012.

Modern corsets are mostly, though not completely, a fashion statement. The shape is complementing and showcasing the natural feminine form rather than trying to manipulate or transform it. To all corset-wearing women, it is a symbol of beauty and femininity.

Corsets are a favorite way to do this. Some celebrities spotted donning corsets include Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, BeonceKeira Knightley, Kylie Minogue, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Victoria Beckham, to name just a few.

gal-sweetheart-beyonce-jpg
sweetheart corset-Beyonce

 

Corsets as a Fashion Statement Today:

Contemporary corsets and bustiers have come a long way from the extremely constrictive Victorian style. The garments are now seductive and comfortable. The desire is to showcase the assets, not change them.

Bustiers worn as lingerie are a much more recent design than corsets.  Made of flexible fabric with stretch panels, they are much less restrictive.

Bustiers often have bras built into them – with or without underwires. They are usually shorter than corsets, ending at the waist or just above it. You will often see the term long-line bra used interchangeably with a bustier.

With so many choices and so much freedom in fashion today, the corset remains a fashion mainstay. It is a fail-proof way to make a statement and honor the feminine form.

 

Informational Resources:

The Corset, A Cultural History:  by Valerie Steele

Clothing in Elizabethan England:   Liza Picard

 

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How a Corset is Made

How a Corset is Made

makes all the difference.  You can achieve the perfect fit but still, have inadequate construction.

A true corset is substantially made with several layers of heavy-duty fabric and durable boning of some form.  Since the withdrawal of whalebone, steel has been the preferred reinforcement.

There must also be a frontal steel busk and heavy-duty grommets at the back lacing. These are the minimal requirements for a well-made corset that will stand the test of time. Even a quality lingerie corset needs to have the structural support of dependable grommets and lacing to do the job.

Starting with the outer layer

The outer layer can be made of a variety of fabrics. The more durable the fabric the more permanence it will have over time. There are many layers of different fabrics in a true corset.

A Sultry Lady Corset will almost feel like a well-made flak jacket when finished. We can proudly say that our corset can “stand alone” on its own merit!

The Final Pattern Is Made For A Custom Corset

 

The Central Part of the Corset

In a very well made corset, you will find an inner layer (or two) of interfacing. The interfacing is inside the outer layers or layers, and inside the lining layer that sets against the body.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, How a Corset is Made is key to our business. We use a layer of ’hair canvas’ that is made from goat hair, polyester, cotton and wool of different amounts. This is the same type of interfacing fabric used to give body and shape to men’s tailored suits. It is quite a costly though unseen part of the corset. Without this particular material, the quality of the corset drops dramatically.

Many companies will skimp on this important part of the construction because it is not visible. To skip this part, however, is like building a body with bones but no muscle! The added expense means you get what you paid for; the quality that stands the test of time.

The Inside Lining

The inner layer or lining can also be made of a variety of fabrics. This is to protect the body of the corset from wear and tear. It is also used to provide structure and comfort. The corsets ability to breathe is of real significance as well. No one likes the thought of wearing a garment that makes them feel like they ‘can’t breathe in it’.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only the highest quality cotton coutil fabric for the liner. Coutil cotton has been the standard in the corset industry for many centuries. It is a cotton fabric that is tightly woven to prevent penetration of the corset boning and is resistant to stretching. This particular fabric also has an incredible capacity for comfort, absorbing body heat and perspiration. Because of this, it is the only lining material that we will use. Although it is much more expensive than other fabrics that we could use for the lining of a corset, we prefer the quality material.

The Front Closure

The early 19th century brought a very different style of corset (still called “stays” at the time). A return to the natural or classical form was embraced by fashionistas. And for the first time in corset history, the bust was separated. To achieve and enhance the separation of the bust, the front “busk” was used. The busk was essentially a large rigid “Popsicle stick” shaped bone, inserted into a casing down the center front of the corset.

The front closure of a corset today contains a metal busk, usually made of a rigid steel. This busk consists of two long pieces of flat steel, one side with loops and the other with posts. They function in the same way as hook and eye fastenings on a garment. This is to allow a person to easily get in and out of a corset by themselves. It also helps to keep the corset straight and upright.  The opening of the corset by using busks did not come into use until the mid-1800’s.

The busk pieces are sewn into the corset on either side of the center front. Lacing is still used on the back section. In earlier times the busks were “made of wood, ivory or bone slipped into a pocket and tied in place with a lace called the busk point. These busks were often carved and decorated. They were sometimes inscribed with messages, and were popular gifts from men to their sweethearts”.

The Boning Support

Boning on a corset can be done with many different types of materials.  Corsets of the 17th and 18th century were most often heavily boned. They allowed for little or no space between the bone channels. This was necessary to force the body to conform to the desired shape of the era. At the time the most popular materials used for the boning were giant reeds or whalebone. Whalebone consists of a horny material from the upper jaws of baleen whales and used as “stays” in corsets.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only steel and very heavy duty nylon boning. The nylon boning does not warp from body heat or collapse with wear. This allows for maximum comfort while maintaining consistent, uniform shape. During the cleaning process, the heavy nylon boning does not rust. This can easily happen with un-coated steel. Rust can also leave a nasty permanent stain on the inside and outside of your corset, completely ruining the garment.

The Back Closure

Finally, you have the grommets and the lacing at the back closure of the corset.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only heavy-duty grommets. We install them with a grommet machine to ensure the durability and placement of the grommet. Since the majority of the strain on the garment is during the lacing and unlacing of the corset, it is imperative that the grommets be installed correctly.

It is also of utmost importance to apply the grommets to a substantial foundation. If this is not a priority for the corset maker in the construction process, the grommets can pull free from the back fabric. One the grommet is free, the lacing can cause damage to the corset that cannot be repaired.

We also install boning on both sides of the row of grommets. This is to stabilize and provide a rigid form for the lacing to pull evenly against. Thus reducing the strain on your corset back.

 

The Back Modesty Panel

The majority of well-made corsets will also have a back modesty panel. This is underneath the back lacing and sometimes a front piece under the busk. Certain corsets will not have modesty panels, however, for the look and design of that corset.

It is customary to apply the front piece under the busk only when necessary for comfort. The front closure should be tight enough to prevent any peeking of the skin. The front piece may also interfere with easily hooking the busk together.

It is important to note when purchasing a corset that even the back panel should be as well constructed as the corset itself.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we do not cut corners on the back modesty panel. Our modesty panel is constructed with the same quality materials as the rest of the corset. We line and interfaced the modesty panel the same as the corset to hold shape and body. There is even boning and loops to hold the lacing and panel in place for a uniform, finished look to the back when needed.  The only time we do not attach a modesty panel is for appearances. Sometimes the desire is to have the skin showing at the back.

 

The Finished Edges

The top and bottom edge finishing are one of the most important parts of the corset for personal comfort. How a Corset is Made is a key element to this! You can’t wear a corset for an extended period of time if you have boning that is constantly poking you! And wearing a corset for an extended period of time to “train your waist” would be agonizing at best.

Having the edge correctly and securely sewn down is extremely important for the looks, comfort, and endurance of your corset.

Hopefully, this article has been interestingly informative. We believe it can assist you with the purchase of a new corset.

We at Sultry Lady Corsets look forward to providing you a well made, one of a kind unique and beautiful corset.  And, as always we’d like the opportunity of doing business with you!

 

References

Richard The Thread- http://www.richardthethread.com/

Farthingales Corset Making Supplies-http://www.farthingalescorsetmakingsupplies.com/

Wikipedia-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset

***The Free Dictionary by Farlex

Download Measurement Guide

 

 

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How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body?

How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body”? you ask.

You bought the corset, admired it, tried it on, and actually wore it for a while.

But still you don’t have that curvaceous shape that you desire; the contour that the girl on the internet had. Or wait, was it Instagram? Whatever! You want the figure that they promised without a lot of work.

Well, you can have it! Okay okay, it will take some time, and a little bit of work, with a lot of patience. But it will happen!

First, there are a few things that you need to know to help you get started in the right way. This helps to relieve some of the frustration too.  Below you will find a number of steps to help you easily contour the corset to your body. This will contour your body as well, over time.

Step 1: Inspect Your Corset

Take your new corset and lay open on a flat surface, like the bed. Look at how it is made.

Observe the front connectors with the flat “loops” on one side and the little balls sticking up on the other. The flat loops are called hooks, and the balls are called pins. If you’re going to be an authentic corset wearing lady you need to get the lingo right.

The two long metal pieces together with the hooks and pins are called a busk.

Look at the busk and how the hooks and pins attach to secure the front opening. They may line up perfectly now, but when you try to put it on they don’t seem to line up. “Why is that”, you ask?

Don’t worry. They are evenly spaced and line up perfectly. When you’re wrapping the corset around your body and attempting to connect the hooks, the busk is usually bending. This makes just enough of a difference to prevent the hooks from lining up as they should.

To get the corset to actually line up and hook as it should, simply straighten the busk so it is flat as much as you can. Don’t allow the busk to bend at this time. You may need to have the lacing open really wide in back to do so but that’s okay. Open that baby up!

 

Step 2: Give it Time

 

So you are still asking, “How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body”? You will find that over time, as you wear your corset, the busk and the corset will begin to curve to your shape. As it does it will also change the shape that you have. Then, surprisingly enough, you will have curves, and the busk will hook up easily when it is bent.

You do not want the corset so rigid in front that the busk does not bend at all. This would make it extremely uncomfortable to wear and would never conform to the human body.
The more you wear your corset, the easier it will be to put it on and wear it for longer periods. It will contour to your body. It’s that simple.

There’s a learning curve, but it can be done. Stick with it because the rewards are impressive!

 

Step 3: Periodic Inspection

It is always a good idea to inspect your corset each and every time before you put it on.

On any well-made corset, there should be a ribbon or band sewn in at the waistline. This is to prevent the corset from coming apart due to the tight lacing. Make sure it is sewn in well so that it does its job.

Always check your corset before and after wearing for any repairs that need to be made. Your corset is an investment in your image and self-esteem. Protect and care for it as you would any prized possession.

 

Step 4: Inspecting the Back

 

 

Now flip the corset over and look at the back lacing. This is called lacing, not “strings”. Note the way the lacing has large loops at the center. These are meant to be there!

Do not attempt to lace your corset with all the extra lacing ending at the bottom or the top. It is meant to be pulled out at the waist and anything other than that looks just plain, stupid!

The beauty of the corset is that it accentuates your waist, pulling it into a curvaceous feminine shape. Pulling the ties together at the waist in a bow also draws the observer’s eyes to the waist; again. This is what you want! You now have curves to die for. It’s attractive.

 

Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice

It may feel awkward when you are lacing the corset on yourself to pull the lacing to the waist, but you will get used to it over time. Just practice a lot. You want those curves that make conversations stop; that perfect contour.

Aside from the looks, there is another good reason that the lacing is secured at the waist, as I will discuss later in this article.

 

 

 

 

Step 6: In The Beginning Take Your Time

First off, take your time getting into your corset. Don’t rush! If you’re wearing it to a special event, allow yourself an hour or more to put it on. This will keep you from stressing and possibly damaging your corset out of frustration. Rushing and stressing will also cause you to perspire and possibly ruin your hair and makeup, not to mention the stains it may leave on your corset. Eek!

There are corset wearers on the internet that show how quickly they can tie up their corset. This is not a competition! They have obviously been doing it for quite a while and have the steps down. You will get there. Just take baby steps at this point.

I am assuming here that you are about the put on a full body corset and not a waist cincher so I am giving you directions for that. I am also assuming that you are getting into the corset by yourself without the assistance of another person.

 

Step 7: The Preparation

Get dressed into EVERYTHING else that you’re going to wear with your outfit. If you choose to wear a thin undergarment to protect your corset put this on now, along with your panties. Fix your hair and apply your makeup.

Once you are in your corset it will take some time to feel comfortable enough to bend over so you don’t want to forget anything beforehand. If you do you will probably need someone to help you put on your forgotten items, like your shoes!

 

Step 8: The Correct Start

1) Lay your corset out on a flat surface, usually the bed. Have the outside of the corset facing you with the top of the corset, the bust part, at the top. You may laugh but this is important. Now open the lacing up as much as you can. Gently pull at the laces until it is much bigger than will fit around you. Try to keep the center loops in place with extra lacing. This will help you later on when you are doing the lacing behind your back.

2) Now that you have it prepared, pick the corset up and wrap it around your body, with the bust part at the top.
Note: Sultry Lady Corsets actually has a waist ribbon with their company name and logo on it. When you have the wording right side up, you’re putting the corset on correctly.
A waist cincher that does not cover the bust can look very similar top and bottom. When the contour and curves of the corset look alike, this can get confusing.

 

Step 9:  Start At The Front

Start by hooking the busk together at the front. Take your time, flatten that busk as much as possible, and don’t get frustrated.

There is no “best” place to start hooking. The top, bottom or middle, whichever works best for you. If the pins keep popping open just take a deep breath and start again.
If you have help from a friend, you can secure one hook, then hold it together by laying a hand flat on top of the secured hook while the other person keeps working on the rest of the hooks.

Just make sure you don’t allow any curves in the front busk as you hold it.

If the corset doesn’t wrap around you easily with room to spare, take it off and open the laces more. You want plenty of room to start.

Once you have it hooked up in front you will start lacing the back.

 

Step 10: The Basics of Lacing

 

 

 

1) If the corset is so loose it’s completely falling off of you, just hold it in place with one hand while you reach around behind you with the other hand. Grasp a loop at the waist and give it a pull. Then reverse the step and reach around to the other side to do the same.

2) You always want to pull the lacing an even amount on both sides to keep the lacing running through the corset balanced. Otherwise, you will have a huge amount of lacing on one side and not much on the other.

3) Now hold the corset in place in front with one hand. Make sure the busk is straight down the center of your body. If you don’t pay attention to this, it is possible to get your corset laced up crooked. Stand in front of a mirror and make sure it is straight in front. Be sure you have the proper waist placement and that it follows the contour of your body when you start to tighten the laces.

4) If the corset is snug enough that it is not sliding down off your body and you have both hands free, reach around behind you with both hands and grasp the loops at the waist. Evenly give them a good pull, taking out all excess lacing until it is snug to your body.

 

Step 11: The Modesty Panel

If you have a modesty panel in back, now is the time to straighten it as much as possible. Some corsetieres actually add boning to the modesty panel edge. This makes it easier to straighten it and keep it straight while lacing. Continue to straighten this panel as you lace the corset tighter. You will want to check and straighten it several times during the lacing of your corset.

 

Step 12: Make Sure You Have Proper Placement

Proper placement is extremely important when you start. Follow the contour of the body. Get that baby set properly at your waist and tied snug right from the beginning!

Proper placement of the corset is the reason that you want the lacing to start out snug at the waist. The waistline of the body is usually the smallest part. This is the part you are most concerned about reducing. Reduce the size of the waist for the curves you want, and that hourglass shape.

Because it is the natural inclination of your clothing to move to the path of least resistance, the garment will either try to move up or down to the smallest part of your body, following the natural curves of your body as you’re wearing it. When you ‘set the corset’ to follow the contour of the body and work from there, the corset has no other option but to shape you the way you want.

It is especially true with a corset. If you are small busted, your corset will try to move up your body the longer you wear it. If you have a large bust and smaller rear end, your corset will eventually slide lower on your body.

Now that you have the corset set at your waist, and the front seam lined up correctly, you are ready to finish the lacing.

If you’re doing this alone it can get tricky so take your time!

 

Step 13: Start Lacing From The Top

1) I have found that starting at the top and working towards the middle (waist) works best when lacing up your corset.

I have a fairly balanced figure and yet my corset still tries to ride up or down the longer I wear it. This also depends on who has tied it and how tightly it was laced, to begin with.

2) Start by reaching around behind you with one arm and feeling for the first two top laces. When you have them in hand give them a good hard tug. Pull as much lacing out as you can until all the excess is taken up. You don’t have to get it really tight at this point, just make sure it’s good and snug.

3) Check then straighten the modesty panel in back now. You don’t want unsightly wrinkles. If you have someone to help you into your corset you may want them to make sure any ‘back fat’ gets tucked into the corset as well. This eliminates excess fat sticking out over the top of the corset.

**Do not attempt to get the lacing as tight as possible the first time you pull the excess lacing out. This will cause the corset to shift where it sits on your body and you may have to actually remove the corset and start over.

Continue working your way down the laces in this way until you reach the waist. Now grab the two waist loops on each side with both of your hands and pull out all the excess lacing. It’s starting to feel like a corset!

 

Step 14: Finish Lacing At The Bottom

1) The next step is to start at the very bottom of the corset and grab the two bottom laces with one hand.

2) Give this lacing a strong steady tug to pull out as much excess lacing as you can. This will ensure the corset pulls your tummy in as you want it to.

3) Usually, the lacing ends at the bottom with a knot that ties together the two laces. Then decorative aglets or beads finishing off the ends of the laces. Before you start tugging the lacing towards the waistline, make sure the knot for the lacing is centered as much as possible on your back.

4) Now pull out as much lacing as you can, working your way to the waist as you did for the top.

 

 

Step 15: Complete The Lacing

 

 

 

 

1) Once you have the corset snugly fit your body you can go back to the top and tighten things up. This time pull it as tight as you can working your way down towards the waist. Pull out the excess lacing at the waist that you have created.

2) Do the same for the bottom, pulling the lacing as tight as you can, working your way to the waist. Cinching and tightening the corset in this way assures that the corset will stay in the proper placement on your body.

**Remember, once you get the corset on you will probably be wearing it for a while. That means you want it to be sitting where it should and feel comfortable to you. In other words; don’t get your panties in a twist or you’ll regret it!

 

Step 16: Check Out Other Lacing Guides

At this point, I’d like to mention that there may come a time when you need to re-lace your corset with new lacing. This may be a bit of a challenge but is not difficult. If you follow the simple steps outlined on our lacing guide here: Lacing Guide

To feel completely comfortable about lacing it may help to read the suggestions from other corsetiers.  Orchard Corset website has various articles to help with this. And make sure to check out Lucy’s Corsetry website for more tip and ideas.

Whereas this is only one way to lace a corset back, there are several other creative, if not complicated ways to go about it.

 

And At Last: You’re In!

 

 

Now that you have dressed in your beautiful corset, relax and breathe. Strut your stuff. Show your mojo. Enjoy yourself and show off how gorgeous you are.

You will be surprised at how fast you become comfortable in the restraint. And how oddly abandoned you feel when you take it off.

Each time you put it on you will get better at it. The corset will begin to shape to the contour of your body. This gives you more sumptuous curves, leaving them awestruck and speechless.
Just practice a lot.

Before you know it you will be slimmer, more curvaceous, and wearing corsets like an expert.