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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Basic Steps of a Custom Corset
To begin a custom corset there are four basic steps:
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
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.
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
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, 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.
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 channels are stitched in next or boning tape is added. Every piece of boning requires its own space to sit correctly. Each 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.
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. 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. 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.
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
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
- How Much it Costs to Make Your Corset
- (based on
over-bustcorset with no embellishment)
- Price of
over-bustcorset 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.
- sewing machine
- sewing machine attachments
- pattern drafting tools
- sewing tools
- steel bone cutting tools
- industrial grommet setter
- iron/ ironing board
- storage space
- file cabinet
- washing machine/ dryer
- drafting table
- 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
- Additional Expenses:
- PayPal fees
- Web site fees
- Model/ Photographer
- Web hosting fees
- Computer software
- Shipping for materials
- 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 is this corset so much more expensive than the other ones”, 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.
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”. 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.” 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?