2019 Year in Review

Do you like to set goals this time of year? I do, big time. I also like to spend some time thinking about the goals I set last year, and how well I did at accomplishing them.

And in doing so this year, I have come to the conclusion that 2019… sucked, big time!

I started 2019 on a high note – all fired up! 2019 was going to be the year that I finally figured this stuff out! Success, and dare I say, even a good hourly wage (if you know anyone who has a handmade sewing business, you know that’s the toughest part). All this would finally be at my fingertips!

Lol, I even channeled all that excitement into a bit of artwork:

Dream Big... And believe in yourself

Then came 2019, and (insert crash and burn sound here!)

If you’ve been following me for a while – you probably figured out that I’m an overwhelmingly positive person. Lol, to the point of delusional sometimes!

Therefore, I have no failures, only learning experiences. 😜

So 2019 was a great year, because I learned something important, and I even figured out how to make it happen in 2020…

So, I have bad news, and I have good news. Which do you want to hear first, lol? I’ll start with the bad news.

I am discontinuing custom orders.

If you’re one of the people who’ve been saving money for one of my custom made gowns, and planning to purchase in 2020, I’m truly sorry.

The lesson I learned in 2019 is this – if I want to add new things into my schedule – I have to cut something out! I have to stop thinking that I can just manage my time a little better or work a little harder – it doesn’t work like that. Custom orders are the most time consuming part of what I do. And even though the prices I charge seem (at least to me) rather high – when I divide it out by the time I spend on communication, ordering custom things, pattern tweaks, and sewing things one at a time – I’m earning below minimum wage on average for each custom dress. That isn’t a sustainable business model… 😬

So I’ve deactivated my custom made listings on Etsy, and I’m going thru my listings that have a custom made option one at a time, and updating them with the new information. It’ll take me a few days to finish.

Then when I’m done, I’ll be able to work on several new and exciting things. So without any further adieu, here’s the good news!

I’m starting a Youtube channel.

I’ve known this for a long time – I need to get my pretty things on video! There are so many things that can’t be captured in a photo – how things swish when you walk, the way that literally EVERY angle looks beautiful in one of my dresses, the complete head to toe transformation when we get ready for a photoshoot! And I think it will be a ton of fun too, once I figure out how to use the technology to make the videos. ^.^

Auralynne.com store coming soon!

…For real this time! I actually almost finished it last year. This year it’s HAPPENING. The store on my website will make it easier for me to keep track of what’s in stock, give you discounts when you order a full costume from me, and sell things I don’t make that all of you would love (like my corsets, and fun costume accessories.)

Newsletter coming soon!

In fact, you can sign up for it right now. I’m still working on my welcome series – and once I finish it, I’ll send it to you – and then there will also be a once-monthly newsletter from me, and a few subscriber-only perks too. You can sign up for it at the bottom of this post!

Are you excited? I’m excited. 2020 isn’t just a new year, it’s a new frigging decade! And it’s gonna be AWESOME.

 


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What is Steampunk? The answer might surprise you!

What is Steampunk, really? I’ve seen a lot of definitions out there. And, for at least 5 years, all of them left me thinking that Steampunk wasn’t for me – until I finally attended a Steampunk festival. It converted me –  instantly – into a raging (let’s face it, rabid) Steampunker!

The thing is, I’d seen so much “Steampunk” over the years – and all that brown and all those gears – well, yes, it’s Steampunk, but it’s not REALLY Steampunk.  It’s not all there is to Steampunk.

Stereotypical Steampunk
Image by prettysleepy1 from Pixabay

Let me explain, lol. If I’m hanging out with someone brand new to Steampunk, and I’m asked to define it, here’s what I say:

“Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival? Do you know how, at a Ren Fest, you see people in historical costumes, but you also see fairies and elves, because, why not? And you see Medieval and pirates and belly dancers and all sorts of things because it’s all about having fun!

Now imagine that, but replace the Renaissance with Victorian.

It started with books. Sci Fi books with these amazing worlds based on the question, what would the world be like if the Age of Steam never ended?

People read these books, and their imaginations were so captivated that they wanted to see it! And so they created it, in magical pop up events around the world.

That is Steampunk.”

For years, I thought Steampunk was all gears and industrial looking accents, and all in shades of brown and ivory. And sure, that is your stereotypically Steampunk look. But – what Steampunk really IS, is this amazing community of artists that are all inspired by the Victorian Era, by steam powered technology, or just generally like to create cool looking things that fit in in a steam powered, Victorian inspired world! You can be a Steampunk, and have a wardrobe that does not contain a single item in any shade of brown. You can be a Steampunk, and have a massive collection of props that do not contain one single gear.

My first ever Steampunk convention was in 2014.  I wore this:

And I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb!  I was shocked when I realized that I fit right in.

The truth about Steampunk is, as far as inspiration goes, it’s very nearly a free for all!  The Victorian era lasted for quite a long time (1837-1901) – and most Steampunks also include the Edwardian era (1901-1910).  Aaaaand most people agree that Lovecraftian (H. P. Lovecraft, horror author and inventor of Cthulhu, the winged tentacled ancient god/alien being) ideas belong in a Steampunk universe – and those didn’t come out until the 1920’s!

That’s rather a lot of history – a lot of fashion, a lot of inventions, a lot of styles – to draw from, and combine with things from your own imagination.

What is Steampunk?  It’s a community.  That’s truly the best answer.  And communities are made of people, and we vary!  So while some of us are going to follow the ivory and brown exposed gears aesthetic – not all of us will!

So if you’ve been holding out on Steampunk because you like Victorian things but aren’t fond of the “Stereotypical Steampunk” you see everywhere – stop holding out and come join us!  😉 We’d love to have you!

Corsets 101 Part 8: Storage and Care

Chocolate, pizza sauce, wine…

Pizza and Wine (both things you don't want on your corset!)

All these things have their (delicious) place in life – but hopefully you can keep them off of your corset. If you failed at this task, however, have no fear. I’m here to help!

How to spot clean a corset

There is a product that I swear by, when it comes to caring for and cleaning my cosplay clothing. It’s Clorox 2 liquid. The image below (an affiliate link) will take you to purchase on Amazon – but you can get this at your local Walmart too.

I don’t know how many 50’s housewives they sacrificed to achieve this… 😉 But I swear, this stuff will remove the worst stains from white – while colors either remain unchanged, or look brighter afterwards!

I recommend testing a spot first to be safe. If your corset has a modesty panel, there is a line along the attached edge that will be underneath the grommets when you lace up. Take a toothpick, dip it in Clorox 2, and put a tiny bit in an inconspicuous spot. Let it dry for 30m to an hour, then keep wetting the spot with water and blotting it with paper towels. Keep repeating, and be sure you don’t have a bleached spot. If not, you are good to go!

You’ll need the following:

  • Clorox 2
  • A couple Q-tips
  • A bowl of water
  • Plenty of paper towels

When the stain first happens, if you can, get as much out as possible by blotting it with dry paper towels, wetting just the stained portion, then blotting again until it lightens. Before you start with the Clorox 2, get the spot as dry as possible. The magic seems to happen only when it’s extremely concentrated.

Use a q-tip to apply Clorox 2 just to your stain. Let it sit for 15m. If the stain is still there, apply more Clorox 2, and let it sit for another 15m. Repeat until the only added color in the spot is blue – up to an hour total. Remove the Clorox 2 by applying water to the spot with your second Q-tip, and blotting it out with paper towels. Repeat a butt ton of times, until the blue is gone and the water spot is barely visible. It should disappear once the corset dries all the way.

I’ve used this technique to remove a black ink stain from an ivory corset (as well as less taxing stains) – with perfect results.  It’s time consuming, but it does work!

How to Wash a Corset

My official recommendation: Don’t!  Corsets should be dry cleaned.  If you live near a big city, there may even be a dry cleaner who has experience with them.  You can call around and check.

Confession, however: I hand wash my own corsets.  One of these days, I plan to open up the banding on a couple of them that have been thru the process at least three times, and pull out the steel bones to see if I’ve ruined anything using my technique.  If I find no rust, I’ll post a tutorial outlining the process.  It is a rather long undertaking – and requires owning some specialized equipment (namely, a tailor’s ham designed for ironing sleeves) – but the end result is a corset that looks and feels brand new.  If and when I post the tutorial, I’ll update this post with a link.  🙂

Best Storage Practices for Corsets:

If you wear your corset on a warm day (or if you sweat a lot on a cold day) be sure to air it out before putting it away. Flop it over the back of a chair (with laces spread wide so the modesty panel can breathe too) and put it away the next day.

It’s best not to wrap the laces around the corset when storing it. It will sometimes leave random weird looking dents in the waist area, and I’ve heard it isn’t good for the corset either. If you buy a corset from me, it will come with a fabric storage bag, like this:

The bag included with each of my corsets.

Rather than simply stuffing the corset in the bag, I recommend lacing it up first. Fold the strings, then fold the corset around the strings, and put it inside the bag. The bag will keep the corset safe from other items, and your other corsets if you store them together. If you’re packing the corset for a trip, it will also keep the corsets busk and/or any hardware from messing up any of the items in your bag.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my Ultimate Guide to Corsets. If you think you may have missed one of the parts (there are 8!) you can access each via the links below.

Part 1: History

Part 2: Types

Part 3: Real Corsets

Part 4: Anatomy of a Corset

Part 5: Pattern Matters

Part 6: Sizing

Part 7: Comfort

Corsets 101 Part 7: Comfort

Every time I go to a Steampunk Festival, I see T-shirts that say something like this:

“Boots First, Then Corset”

And I wish I had my own T-shirt that says something like this back at them!

“A pro can put them on in either order.”

Here are my best tips on how to wear a corset like a pro!

How to be able to move while wearing a corset

  1. Get a corset that fits you properly.
  2. Don’t lace it too tightly at the chest. Because breathing is important.

That’s it! To illustrate, I took a few pics. I chose the most heavy duty corset I have. It’s double steel boned (with two spiral steel bones along each seam), weighs just shy of 2 pounds, and is about 3/8 of an inch thick along the boning channels. I’m laced pretty aggressively. Right now my natural waist measures 32 inches, but me plus thick corset measures only 26.5 inches around in these photos.

So here are a few photos showing what I can still do while wearing this crazy heavy corset. I’m not particularly flexible. (Exercise, bah!) But most everything that I can do uncorseted, I can still do while corseted.

Sitting cross legged in a corset

I can sit cross legged.

Picking up goggles while tightlaced

I can pick things up off the floor.

And yes, I can put these amazing boots on. If you follow all of my tips, you’ll find that corsets can be surprisingly comfortable!

Sitting pretty (and comfortably) while tightlaced in a corset

Corset Lacing Tips

Since I design and sell corsets, it made sense to put the corset lacing tips with my store! So if you have a corset, and you’re trying to figure out how the heck to get the thing on, please head over to the guide in my FAQ. 🙂

How to Lace a Corset by Yourself


Corset Comfort Tips

Most corsets require seasoning, or breaking in. This is less true with my hourglass corsets (they mold to your form very quickly.) But typically, to be sure you are comfortable at your event, it’s a good idea to wear the corset for an hour or two per day, for several days before your event. Also if you are wearing a corset (like the silver one I wore above) that reduces your natural waist more than 4 inches, I really recommend waist training prior to the event (Wear the corset or a training corset for a few hours each day, to accustom yourself to the feeling.)

A thin spaghetti strap tank top (like the ones in my affiliate link above) will save your life. You wear it underneath your corset with the straps tucked inside. A V-neck is best for not showing – or, pull it down really far before putting on the corset.  Why? Several reasons:

  1. Laundry day sucks. And corsets are a ROYAL pain to clean. But tank tops absorb sweat and are easy to clean.
  2. The tank top adds an extra layer between your bones and the corset’s bones. It’s a bit more comfy that way.
  3. When all done with your event, it’s quick and easy to go fishing for straps, take off the corset, and SLOUCH.

Tips for car travel in a corset

If you need to ride in the car to get where you are going, “car-tighten” your corset. That is, lace it just tight enough that it won’t fall off. It’s uncomfortable to wear a tightly laced corset in the car, and you can tighten it when you get there. We are cosplayers. We own our right to get dressed in the parking lot. 😉

Speaking of getting dressed in the parking lot… If I’m traveling to an event more than an hour away, I’ll leave the corset in the back of the car until I get there. Which is reason #4 for the tank top!

Things not to do

Never unhook the front of a tight corset. Loosen the laces first. Unhooking a tight corset causes undue wear and tear in the busk area, and can cause stitches and even fabric casing to tear over time. This is also true with swing clasp closures – although to a lesser extent.

Friends share everything except corsets

Your friends will love you if you let them borrow your corset… But you might not love your corset quite as much when you get it back! Letting friends borrow a corset, in my experience, seems to be the number one easiest way to make it go crooked. We’re all shaped slightly different, and most people have torso shapes that are asymmetrical in some way. The corset molds to your form over time. If worn by someone else it will try to mold again to their form – and then when you get it back, it will need to mold to your form again. The process winds up being quite hard on the corset. So just a tip – if you reserve your corset collection for your own use, each corset will last you a lot longer.

And those are my best tips on how to be comfortable while wearing corsets. Coming next week – Part 8: How to care for a Corset!

Corsets 101 Part 6: Sizing

Before I did this series of posts, I posted this question on facebook and instagram:

Corsets FAQ

And I was surprised when about 90% of the responses were questions to do with sizing!  As well as kind of pleased – because that’s a subject I feel that I’ve really got a handle on!

My Story

I’ve been selling made to measure clothing online since 2006 – but it was in March of 2013 that I started specializing in corset costumes.  And as always, the first thing I did is put my proverbial mad scientist hat on – and I did a ton of experimentation!  I trolled facebook groups and volunteered to supply costumes to local collaborative photoshoots.  I took measurements for all the models, and made notes of which size they wore in my corsets.  And I did the same thing with friends and family – until I had a big database of measurements, along with the size that each person wore in my hourglass corsets.

And I used that data to come up with a sizing strategy for my corsets.  It’s very different from the way most other stores out there do it… but it works!  Here’s what I have learned.

Tip 1: Don’t size by waist.

Most stores recommend to size your corset according to your waist.  But very often, this won’t work.  The reason why is simple: Your waist squishes when you wear a corset, but your rib cage and hips can’t squish.  So the most important measurements to determine your size are actually bust (or underbust for an underbust corset) and high hips.

Tip 2: Don’t lace a corset closed

Corsets aren’t supposed to lace closed.  If you have purchased one that laces down to less than a 2” gap in the back, return that sucker and get a smaller size.  Part of what makes them work is some heavy duty steel boning beside the grommets in back.  And that boning should rest on top of the muscles on either side of your spine – and never too close to your spine.  A corset that laces too close together is bad for your back.

Note: I have read conflicting information to this statement – there are a lot of tightlacers who lace  their corsets closed.  I think that there may be exceptions to this rule when a corset is custom made to your form (with a mockup and a test fitting) that makes it possible to lace shut without back pain.  I can tell you – for me personally – If I lace a 26” corset (in any style, overbust or underbust, any shape, and any level of curve) all the way shut, I will experience back pain in 5-15 minutes time.  But it I don a 22 or a 24 in the same style, and lace it to a 4 inch or a 2 inch gap, I’m perfectly comfortable.

Tip 3: Underbust Corset Sizing

Are you tall, or long waisted?  If so, then yes, you can most likely wear an off-the-rack underbust corset.  If you are short waisted, well endowed, or any number of things that could mean you have a short torso (particularly a short waist-to-underbust measurement) then underbust corsets very often won’t fit you!  I’ve bought several from my wholesalers, and although I am average height, I’ve found that I need a shorter corset.  A “Waspie” is a term used to describe a very short underbust corset.  If you find that standard underbust corsets are too tall for you, try searching for a waspie.

Tip 4: Lacing Cheats

Corsets are made to have average bust-to-hip ratio – but if you have a bigger bust, or bigger hips, it’s okay to lace your corset in either of these ways to get it to fit:

…But!  After you lace up the corset like this, feel the flat steel bones by the grommets, and make sure they are flat.  If they are trying to twist on you, that means your corset does not fit – and you need one that is customized to your natural shape.

Tip 5: Wear a bra

Yes, it’s perfectly okay to wear a bra underneath your corset.  In fact, if your cup size is below C, I recommend wearing a push up bra beneath your corset.  But you’ll need a very specific style of bra to get it not to show.  You want a half cup or Demi cup bra – as shown in my sketch below. If your bra has non-removable straps, tuck them inside the corset before lacing down all the way.

If your cup size is DDD or above, you probably can’t wear a bra underneath your corset.  No worries, however, a real steel boned corset provides amazing support (much better than your best fitting bra!)  If you aren’t wearing a bra underneath your corset, lace up partially, then reach down the front and scoop – make sure both ladies are exactly where they are supposed to be!  This will help your corset lace down better, and your chest fill the corset’s chest area better.

Those are my best tips for how to get a corset to fit you perfectly.  Next week, I’m going to talk about how to be comfortable (yes you can be comfortable) while wearing a corset.

Corsets 101 Part 5: Pattern Matters

Today, most manufactured corsets seem to have a shape sort of like inverted parenthesis – like this:

) (

So the first thing I wanted to do is explain why that’s not good!

Parenthesis Corset Bones
The shape of a “parenthesis” corset, in comparison to the shape of your bones

Your bones aren’t shaped like parenthesis!  They curve in at the ribs and have a sharp curve at the hips.  There are steel bones along each seam of the corset – and if the corset does not follow the shape of your bones, you will feel those steel bones digging in in places.  The red in the sketch shows the spots on which you’re likely to feel some discomfort, when you wear a corset shaped like that.

Hourglass Corset Bones
The shape of an hourglass corset, in comparison to the shape of your bones

Hourglass corsets are much more comfortable.  They curve with your bones, which keeps the corset’s bones from digging in.

And here’s the really cool part.  Hourglass corsets will actually make you look curvier – and make your waist smaller, while being more comfortable to wear than a corset with a “parenthesis” shape.  This image shows just the corsets from my sketches above, with the comparison of the waist size for each.  See the difference?

Hourglass vs Parenthesis
Hourglass Corset vs “Parenthesis” Corset

Most people prefer hourglass, but there are other shapes out there too.  The picture below shows a conical or wasp waist corset.  You wouldn’t typically purchase a corset with this shape unless you are a waist trainer (someone who wears a corset daily to reduce waist size).  It will actually move your ribs.  When I’m waist training, I like wearing underbust corsets that have this shape.  Oddly, if I’m wearing a corset more than one day at a time, a conical shape feels more comfortable to me.

Wasp Corset
A Wasp (Conical) Waisted Corset

The shape below is called a pipe-stem corset, and it is only worn by serious waist trainers.  It looks rather painful to me – so I’ve never tried it!

 

A Pipestem Corset
A Pipestem Corset

And those are the primary shapes of corsets that you’ll see when shopping today.  I’ve drawn them in overbust, since that’s my personal preference – but all of these shapes come in underbust styles too.  If you are looking at patterns – you’ll also see historical corset shapes.  Women wore some form of corset for several centuries, so there were a ton of different styles throughout history!  If you want to learn more about historical corset shapes, I wrote a post about it previously in this series.

Coming next week – Corsets 101 Part 6: Sizing

Corsets 101 Part 4: Anatomy of a Corset

I was surprised when I started working on this post – and came up with 18 different terms to explain to you!  Corsets are a rather complex art – so to explain them well, it helps to dissect them into their parts – and define each one.  In this part, we’ll cover everything that goes into making a corset, as well all the terminology you need to become a corset afficionado.

We’ll start with the boning.  In most corsets, there is one steel bone along each seam, plus four in the back with the grommets.  The jury is still out on this – but in my opinion, the nicest corsets have spiral steel bones over the bust and all around the sides.  Sometimes you see them with flat steel – and some people prefer flat steel (saying it gives more support).  Spiral steel bones are extremely flexible (while still being strong as steel) and they mold to your form without digging in.  For me at least, the sensation of straight steel bones digging into my rib cage is extremely uncomfortable!  So I use spiral steel for my corsets.  The bones in the back beside the grommets, however, should be made from flat steel.  They will keep the edges of your corset straight as you lace up into it.

Steel boning
Spiral and flat steel boning.  I have spiral steel boning in long rolls because I use it in my evil queen collars!

The diagram at left shows how the bones are placed in most corsets.  This is called a “Single Steel Boned Corset”.  But some corsets are double steel boned – meaning they have two spiral steel bones along each seam in place of one.  To my knowledge, all double steel boned corsets are made with spiral steel.  With two bones along each seam, you need that moldability!  Waist training corsets are usually double steel boned, since they are extremely durable when made that way.

In the front of most corsets, you have a busk, with hooks all the way down.  In some corsets, you instead have swing latches (or box clasps).  You see swing clasp closures very often in Steampunk corsets.

Corsets are made of two fabrics fused together.  The outer fabric is called the “Fashion Fabric” and the inner fabric is called the “Strength Layer”.  The fashion fabric will usually be something pretty – and the strength layer will be a nice thick coutil or cotton twill.  There are boning channels sewn to the back of the corset, and the boning is inserted inside.

Corset Fabrics
This corset has a two-tone blue brocade fashion fabric, and a cotton twill strength layer. The boning channels (seen on the inside) are also made of cotton twill.

Some corsets have reverse boning channels, which are made from a contrasting fabric and sewn to the outside instead of the inside.  This makes a really cool decorative effect.

Reverse Boning Channels
My stripe corset has reverse boning channels.

Some corsets have waist tapes.  The waist tape reinforces the waist and keeps it from stretching.  I chose to leave the waist tape out of my hourglass corsets, because I find that the corset has a smoother shape without it.  I make these really pretty dress jackets, patterned to curve perfectly with the shape of my hourglass corsets.  The smooth shape in the waist looks nicer with my jackets, so that’s what I did!  But if you have bought a high quality corset elsewhere, you will likely see a waist tape on the inside.

Waist Tape
A waist tape.

In the back, between the two flat steel bones, are grommets.  (photos coming soon!  Lol, I forgot to mention the grommets when I originally wrote this post, so I’m now adding them in way after the fact.)  What are grommets?  They are the metal pieces that protect the lacing holes from getting wallered out over time.  You may think of them as “eyelets” – but eyelets are one piece.  The front looks the same as a grommet, but in the back, eyelets have what looks like metal flower petals that spread out around the lacing hole.  If you’ve bought a corset from a new maker, you might find eyelets instead of grommets.  Grommets are two part.  There is a front piece that curves around the back piece, and if set properly, both the back and the front is 100% smooth.  The flower petal-ed back of an eyelet will cause lacing to fray over time, so for a long lasting corset, grommets are necessary.

In back under the lacing, your corset should have a modesty panel.  This protects your back while lacing up, and covers up the crease you’ll have in your back after laced into the corset.

Modesty Panel
This corset’s modesty panel matches its fashion fabric.

More rarely, corsets will also have a modesty placket in front, to protect your stomach while hooking the busk, and cover the tiny space that can happen in front.  My hourglass corsets have this piece.  I accidentally hooked stomach skin into a busk on a corset once.  (Holy friggin ouch!)  Let me tell you, that experience will make you insist upon always having a modesty placket in the future!

Modesty Placket
Get a corset with a modesty placket if you can. The skin on your stomach will thank you!

The trim at top and bottom of the corset is called binding.  It’s often made from the fashion fabric, or sometimes it’s made of contrasting fabric for a cool look.

Corset Binding
This corset has faux leather binding in a brighter shade of brown than the fabric, which provides a nice accent.

The lacing in back is extra long, so you can loosen the corset to a very wide gap in back to put it on.  It’s laced so that there are bunny ears on either side at the waist – so they are easy to pull to tighten the corset.

Lacing in a steel boned corset

That’s all the parts to a corset.  Was it a bit more complex than you thought it would be?  Coming next week, Corsets 101 part 5 – Pattern Matters

Corsets 101 Part 3: Real Corsets

Welcome back to my series on corsets!  Last week I talked about fashion corsets.  And I shared a bunch of pretty pictures.  Each and every one of the fashion corsets I carry has a “upgraded version” that I offer by special request.  In most cases, the real corset costs at least twice as much.  If you are new to corsets, you might be wondering – why buy a real corset, when fashion corsets are perfectly cute at half the cost?

I use this image in my etsy shop to show the real corset styles which match my ‘Lady in Red” steampunk costume.

Let me describe to you what it feels like to wear a real corset.  Imagine a hug.  A gentle squeeze, perfectly proportioned all around your torso.  Imagine the best support you’ve ever felt (better than your best fitting bra) but with no weight on your shoulders, no elastic digging in anywhere.  Then imagine looking at yourself in the mirror – and seeing this gorgeous curvy bombshell figure that you never knew you could have!

Silver Siren Corset

There is one very simple way to tell if you are purchasing a real corset or a fashion corset.  How is it sized?  If the sizes are Small/Medium/Large/etc, that’s a fashion corset.  If the sizes are numbers, that’s a real corset.

Real corsets are designed to actually shrink your waist size, so they are sized by waist in inches.  They have steel bones, a busk in front to clasp (typically), and lacing in back that is laced in an over-under style that makes them easy to pull tight.  A good corset will be made nice and curvy, so that when you lace it tight it will squeeze your waist but curve out to give enough room for hips and bust.

Overbust Corsets

Overbust means, well, over the bust!  An Overbust corset covers the bust, so you don’t need to wear anything underneath to cover your chest.  I find that looks with overbust corsets are more elegant.  Many people say that overbust corsets can have fit issues in the chest area, but I find this to not be a problem as long as the corset has a good pattern.  My hourglass corsets, for instance, have been officially verified to fit perfectly on cup sizes from A to G.

Underbust Corsets

And similarly, I’m sure you’ve guessed that underbust means under the bust!  If you’re wearing an underbust corset, you’ll need to wear a chemise or blouse underneath (at least to be legal in public!)  You’ll have more mobility in an underbust corset, since it ends lower on your rib cage than an overbust.  If you can find an underbust corset that fits you perfectly in height as well as size, you’ll find it to be the most comfortable style too.

Midbust Corsets

You see these much less often.  Midbust corsets are somewhere in between under and overbust, and they are typically straight across the top.  Authentic historical corsets were often midbust – as there would be several layers worn over the corset, and the corset wasn’t supposed to show!  Midbust can be a great choice if you want to do a look inspired by the Tudor or Baroque era – since the necklines were extremely low and straight across in those days.  Depending on your level of endowment, you may be able to get away with wearing a midbust corset without a chemise.

Midbust Corset
My “Airship Pirate” corset has a very similar shape to a midbust corset.

And those are the primary types of real corsets.  Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I will talk about all the bits and pieces that go into making a corset.

Corsets 101 Part 2: Types

Shopping for a nice corset can get tricky.  Because there are a whole lotta things for sale today that are called “corsets” that aren’t really corsets!  Here’s your buying guide for exactly what’s out there today, and how to tell one type of corset from another.

“Corset” Trainers

If it has latex, or rubber, it probably isn’t a corset.  Yes, there are real latex corsets (drool) but these are the exception to the rule.  Corset trainers are basically one step up from a girdle.  What’s cool about these is, they come in steel boned styles.  The steel boned styles can sometimes be used to train the waist down, depending upon your level of “squish”.  I’ll write about waist training later.  What you can do with a corset trainer, you can do way better with a real waist training corset.

This appears to be the best rated waist trainer on Amazon. (affiliate link)

“Corset” Bustiers and Bridal “Corset” undergarments

If it has bra cups, it probably isn’t a corset.  There are exceptions to this rule too – real corsets can be made with shaped cups – but a cupped corset is very unlikely to fit you unless it’s custom made to your measurements and costs at least $300.  The distance between waist and underbust (bra line) tends to vary greatly between women!  Bustiers solve this problem by being made of elastic, and not having a real waist point, only a gentle curve that can be placed higher or lower on your waist if necessary.  And they are usually plastic boned.  They’ll smooth you out a bit, and look quite nice under a strapless dress (or by themselves at a club!), but they do not truly alter your natural form.

I linked this because I kind of want to buy it! But haven’t yet. If I do, I’ll update this note. (affiliate link)

Lingerie “Corsets”

Lingerie corsets aren’t actually a thing – it’s just something I’ve noticed.  Anytime I’ve seen a “corset” in a lingerie store, it has been the most seriously poor quality corset EVER.  And it has cost a lot too for the bit of poorly sewn fabric, lace and plastic boning.  So just a little warning for you – beware the corset that is made by a big brand lingerie store!

Fashion “Corsets”

Now here’s where it gets extremely tricky.  Fashion corsets are typically copies of real corsets made by various manufacturers overseas.  And they often steal photos to sell them!  So they’ll look just as nice and as curvy as a real corset in the photos, but what you receive could surprise you. Most of the time, fashion corsets have plastic bones.

There are also steel boned fashion corsets – but those aren’t quite the same thing as a real corset either.  The steel bones are thinner than the bones in a real corset (they are called “soft steel”
bones), and most of the time the fabrics used are thinner too.  And we all know that manufacturers (and pattern makers) often do not understand female curves!  Lol fashion corsets will most likely be less curvy than your natural form.  So it isn’t possible to reduce waist size with a fashion corset.

I still love fashion corsets (the steel boned ones, at least).  Sometimes I just want something cute, and I don’t have enough for a real corset in the budget!  I sell the cutest steel boned ones I’ve found in my store.  I don’t use the photos my supplier sends – instead take my own photos for each and every one of them, so you’ll know exactly what you are getting!  I also don’t sell fashion corsets in plus sizes.  Remember what I said earlier about the thinner steel bones and fabric?  Because of this, fashion corsets provide slightly less support than a strapless bra.  So if you are a plus size women, I’ll recommend a real corset instead, which will be better designed to handle your beautiful curves.

These are my favorite fashion corsets (at least the ones that I’ve taken pictures of so far!)

Real Corsets

Now that we’ve gotten all the random out of the way, we can talk about real corsets!

And there are so many types and so many styles of them that it will require an entire other post to share them all with you!  Watch for it coming next week.  🙂