pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Why Corsets Are So Expensive

We are a society that thrives on merchandise. Every day we are confronted with new things to buy. If you have the extravagant taste of a connoisseur you may ask yourself why some corsets are so expensive? In contrast, if there is a comparable item, what makes one cost more?

Some of the items we buy in life are produced to make our life easier, while some of them are just for show. There are things to make you feel good and others to make you look better, younger, and feel happier.

Ferrari

While most of these things may start out as a new idea that someone has come up with, be it a design for a new purse or a tailgate on a new truck, they all have a beginning. From there the item gets refined, improved upon, copied and enhanced. The price may start out as minimal or exorbitant, depending on how much it initially cost to produce it.

But how do we get to the decision making step in the first place?

It Finally Happened

It finally happened, your favorite shoes have taken their last breath. No more coaxing can revive them. The heels are worn and the leather is tired, therefore no amount of sprucing will improve them. You’ve been dreading this time for decision making. Your old shoes are now considered vintage. You had a bond with them like an old pair of slippers. They have carried you through many good times and you will mourn their passing.

The company no longer produces the style or color you have. Now you will have to choose another pair that you are not familiar with. And most importantly, because you may have the new ones for a long time, you are careful about your decision-making process. You do thorough research and weigh your options.

Christian Louboutin shoes

The models you have been looking at are unsimilar. They are a different style with a different look, a higher heel and peculiar material. Decisions galore overwhelm you.

The new shoes can make or break an outfit! It becomes overwhelming you begin to wonder if you should just look for something else entirely. You really just want a good looking pair of shoes. A pair of shoes that are comfortable and don’t leave you wondering if it will match this outfit or that one. You want shoes that you don’t have to think about first thing in the morning with a foggy head.

Daily Decisions

In conclusion, while I am hopefully amusing you with my story of the search for a new pair of shoes, I have made you aware of some of the choices we make on a daily basis.

While not all of these choices are of utmost importance, some are. Some of them are simple choices that won’t alter your lifestyle. Some of them may send a significant jolt to your bank account.

Cost Relevance to Quality

Let’s take the example of the new shoes. While researching information about shoes online we can see that there are literally thousands to choose from. They range from very simple to the exclusive. Furthermore, the price range is adjusted accordingly.

Some people believe that the cost of an item is relevant to the quality. Whereas this may not always be the case, the final decision is based on their opinion.

Why Quality is Expensive

Some people just want to pay more. Some want the unique and rare that is seldom seen. They also may want to have something that others cannot afford. Or perhaps something that no one else has. Because of this, there is always the market for the expensive.

Opus One Wine

The exclusive comes at a high price, however. Be it perfume, shoes, a fine wine, jewelry, or cars, everything has a value attached to it. The value of the exclusive is usually based more on desire than need, because it makes you feel good about yourself.

The Reason for the Decision

How do we come to the final decision? First, you must decide the reason for wanting the item in the first place.

Sometimes you want to spend the extra money to have something entirely exclusive, and other times you want to just fill out your wardrobe.

Some days you dress to impress, and other times you stay in and wear sweatpants.

What About Corsets

Ditta Von Teese

Now let’s relate this to corsets as this is my specialty. Corsets are an exclusive and unique fashion item. Because they are a fashion item that is not worn every day. They can, however, be an awe-inspiring fashion statement. Perhaps you want an addition to your wardrobe that will make others stand up and notice. Corsets can show off curves that you didn’t think you had, with an instant waist reduction.

A striking corset can instantly stop conversations and have everyone reaching for their cell phones. Speechless, stunning, and impressive, are the words on the lips of the onlookers. Cameras are recording and the envy is significant.

Let’s Make a Comparison

In short, I have been asked why corsets are so expensive. “Why should I pay upwards of a thousand dollars for something that I can get for two-hundred dollars somewhere else?” you ask.

Well first you must do your homework. Most importantly, are the two items that are so far apart in price really comparable in quality?

Do you get the same customer service, amenities, and quality when you purchase Honda as you do a Mercedes? I should say not. That is not to say that one is completely inferior to the other. They are simply different purchases for different reasons.

If you are purchasing a pecocky corset to wear to a costume party, then you may not want to fork over a lot of money. However, if you desire a corset that you will wear many times, you will want one that fits correctly and is well made.

Custom Corsets

First, let’s understand the word ‘custom’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, custom, is defined as “something made or performed according to personal order”.

So what does a ‘custom-made corset’ actually mean?

A custom corset is a corset made to your measurements and design specifications. This involves a process that will require you to have some involvement. The design can be as outlandish and inspiring as your imagination.

Many hours are required to produce a custom corset before the final model is finished. But as with any custom item, the cost is equal to the amount of customization you desire.

In this article we are going to outline the basic process of making a custom corset. Hopefully then you will understand why corsets are so expensive.

Basic Steps of a Custom Corset

To begin a custom corset there are four basic steps:

1 .   You provide your measurements to the corset maker using the outline and charts they provide. This is usually a simple and straightforward process but takes a little time, and requires the assistance of a friend.

2.   Together with the designer, you will come to a conclusion about what design you would like. The type of fit you want to have is usually based on the reason for your purchase. Is it for a special occasion, for whittling down your waistline, or just to have a one-of-a-kind outfit? The helps to determine a cost estimate for you. This process can be done by email or by phone.

3.   A mockup is constructed for your fitting once the measurements have been determined. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The mockup can then can be mailed out, with photos sent back to the designer. Or you may be able to have an in-person fitting. Some corsetieres charge for this while some do not. 

4. The actual construction of the corset begins when the correct fit has been achieved.
Most corset makers pay particular attention to the branding of their company name and incorporate labeling into the construction of their corsets. This is their reputation at stake after all.

Initial Mockup

The Corset Construction

Now that you have started the process of the corset with the measurements and fit required, the construction process begins.

First of all, a corset is unlike most garments as the fully lined corset is like putting together a down jacket but with a precise fit. Each garment has two layers identical to each other that are sewn together back to back. That is where the similarities between the corset and the down jacket ends however. With the down jacket, each section is then stuffed with the soft down material and the finishing touches are completed. With a corset however, there are many steps to be completed before the final project is done.

Before the Start

Because a corset is a garment that requires a considerable amount of time to construct a good corset maker takes his or her time. To rush the process could mean skipping a necessary step completely. To do so could mean wasting the entire project to start over again.

The fabric needs to be prepared by finishing the edges or pressing the material in advance. All materials are usually gathered in advance to make sure the proper items are on hand.

The items used in the construction of a corset are not common items that can be found in a local sewing store. The correct size of busk needs to be purchased, as well as specific grommets and often special lacing. These specialty items can only be purchased through a place that supplies corset items. Stiffener and interfacing are specific items that make a well made corset stand out from the others.

The Busk Insertion

There is a variety of terminology used when referring to a corset today. Many people mistakenly refer to a corset-top as a corset when the two are worlds apart. For a garment to be correctly known as a corset it must encompass a busk in the front and also have lacing at the back.

The busk consists of the metal pieces in the front that close the finished corset. It has hooks shaped like loops on one side and small buttons or pins on the other.

It takes time and precise measuring to get the busk installed correctly as it is sewn inside the center front sections. Once it is installed it cannot be moved or changed without damaging the garment.

The Inner Layers

The interfacing and inner layers are added to the corset next. Sometimes multiple layers of stiffening and structure are added to make a fully bespoke item.

Depending on the corset being constructed, the interfacing may be attached or sewn onto the lining or outside layers of fabric at this point as well.

As with everything else in a corset, so many different types of interfacing can be used. Heavy interfacing made with goat hair, which is used in men’s suits, can be found inside the quality made corsets.

Fusible interfacing may be used on outside fabrics that may need extra structure. Another time extensive item is the hand stitching that may be needed to hold the various layers in place correctly.

Inside of southwestern corset-Sedona
Sultry Lady Corsets

Finishing the Waist

Before the boning is added many seamstresses add a cloth tape or ribbon at the waistline. This is sewn onto the inside at the waistline for additional support. This is done to keep the corset from pulling apart when the tight lacing is done for waist restriction. Because of this, your corset will last longer.

Sometimes the waistline tape is added later, depending on the preference of the seamstress or designer.

The Boning

The boning channels are stitched in next or boning tape is added. Every piece of boning requires its own space to sit correctly because e ach seam needs to be precise to have a beautiful finish. It will be quite obvious the more precise and exacting the seamstress is. 

With corsets that have a bra cup design at the bust there may be a special underwire for the bust section. This requires not only a separate boning channel for the underwire but often there is additional padding under the bust section as well.

Setting the Boning

Once the outside and inside sections are sewn together and the boning channels are sewn in, the boning needs to be inserted. Each and every individual piece of boning needs to be cut to the exact size for the corset to be exceptional.

The ends of the boning need to be finished or protected so that they do not cut the corset fabric during wear. This is done with a variety of methods, dependent on the type of boning used. Sometimes this is done with special stitching that is sewn on the outside by hand to hold the boning in place.

Many modern corset makers use a variety of boning types in one individual corset. This requires different techniques in finishing each piece of boning.

The Back

Now that the front busk is in, the interfacing added, sections are sewn together, and the boning is inserted, it is time to complete the back.

The back will typically have many grommets attached to each side for the lacing to go through. As with the front, precise measuring must be done to ensure correct placement of the grommets.

A machine is used to attach the grommets securely in place. If they are not attached correctly, the grommets will come out during wear or the lacing or unlacing of the corset.

After the grommets have been placed, lacing is added to the back for proper closure. Similarly, a variety of lacing types can be used from satin ribbon to nylon cord. Some corsetieres use various ways that they lace the corset together at the back. Moreover, this is done for uniqueness and design.

The Finished Edges

At this point the top and bottom edges are finished with an edging fabric. If there is fabric that goes up to or wraps around the neck, this needs to be added before the finishing edges now.

Finishing Touches

Now we are close to the final completion.

If there is a modesty panel in back this will be added at this point or sooner if the designer deems it necessary.

Any additional embellishments are added at this point for the final look.

Any necessary hand stitching may be done for support or design. Hand beadwork is applied as desired. The most noteworthy labels can be sewn on by hand or by sewing machine during the process.

In conclusion, many labor-intensive hours and attention to detail have gone into the corset. It is an exclusive garment that cannot be changed, and the size cannot be altered.

So Why So Expensive?

Below is an outline of the cost of a simple overbust corset with no embellishments as provided on the website of
Electradesigns: https://corsetmakers.livejournal.com/288314.html?replyto=2812730

How Much It Costs To Make Your Corset

(based on over-bust corset with no embellishment)

Price of over-bust corset with no embellishment $275

Corset Materials

1 yd fashion fabric $15

1.5 yd twill $11

.5 yd binding fabric $4

Grommets $5

10 yd Boning $15

Boning tips $2

Busk (regular) $15

8 yd Ribbon laces $10

12 yd Twill tape $5

3 yd fusible webbing $6

1 roll fusible webbing $2

2 spool heavy duty thread $5

Drafting paper $1

___________________

Basic materials $96

Mockup Materials

1 yd cotton duck $7

Thread $1

Boning $1

laces $3______________________

Basic materials $12

Total materials Costs: Approx $108

Labor for each corset:

pattern draft 5 hours

sourcing materials 5 hours

making mockup 5 hours

altering pattern 2 hours

make corset 40 hours+

email correspondence 5 hours+

Post office 1 hour

_______________________________

hours on each corset 63+ hours

$275 Corset price

-$108 Materials Costs

_____

$167 for labor

Divide $167 by 63 hours of labor = $2.65 hour for skilled labor

Now let’s say you didn’t count the time spent responding to client email, sourcing materials, trips to the post office, etc. That’s about 50 hours spent on each corset., which comes to $3.34 an hour. That’s half the minimum wage in America.

Equipment:

sewing machine

sewing machine attachments

pattern drafting tools

sewing tools

steel bone cutting tools

industrial grommet setter

iron/ ironing board

electricity

workspace

storage space

file cabinet

washing machine/ dryer

drafting table

books

Education/ Experience

Two years of FIDM fashion design major ($60,000)

15 years corset making

18 years sewing

pattern drafting

fashion illustration

technical flats

custom tailoring

artist

Additional Expenses:

PayPal fees

Ebay fees

Web site fees

Internet 

Model/ Photographer

Web hosting fees

Computer software

Shipping for materials

Advertising

Sample corsets

Custom Corsets Made by Corsetieres


Whereas some of the items that were used in the making of their corsets are a different quality from other corset makers, the basic cost is comparable. Because each corset is somewhat or sometimes completely different, the cost of time and materials vary considerably.

Most corset makers use certain items in each and every corset they make. As a result, they have reliable quality in their products. Outer materials vary considerably, while interfacing, lining materials, boning, and finishing touches are consistent.

Some corsetieres send their designs off to a manufacturer to be produced on an assembly line. Other custom corset makers do each and every item by hand themselves.

The Cost of a Well Made Corset

Hopefully, this has given you a peek into the process of a well-made corset. The next time you ask “why corsets are so expensive”, perhaps you will have a better understanding.

As with that pair of shoes that you are hoping to buy, you get what you pay for. Quality does not come cheap. Much more goes into the production of a well made item.

Finally, it is up to you to decide if you want the item that is better made, more exclusive, yet more costly. Only you can decide if that Yeti cooler is worth the money or the Rolex watch is within your budget.

actor Billy Porter at the Oscars

The Realized Dream

The news reporter Robin Abcarian writes in her article on actor Billy Porter and ‘His fashion statement’, “Just like the fashion runways of the world, the Oscars red carpet is a fashion fantasy land. For the fantasy to work, everyone must buy in”.

Billy Porter is best known for his performance as Lola in the musical production of “Kinky Boots”. In addition, his attention-grabbing works from television to the theater have taken him to the red carpet many times.

For Billy Porter it was a realized dream of wearing a voluminous ball gown on the red carpet at the Oscars. “I’ve always wanted to wear a ball gown” he says, “I just didn’t know when“.

Share the Elation

In the article written by Robin Abcarian he continues, expressing his elation at having the gown custom made for him by designer Christian Siriano. The first time he tried it on he says “I felt alive. I felt free. And open, and radiant. And Beautiful! Which has not always been the case for me. I haven’t always felt so good about myself. It really is astonishing how much of an effect clothes can have on your spirit.In conclusion, he finished with the emotions he felt on Oscar night by relating, “I felt like I can float on air. I can conquer the world.”

We all have that opportunity. So what’s in your closet?

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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