Corseting Safely – School Is In Session!

One of the first things people ask me, if they don’t know my story, is WHY I wear a corset? Is it some sort of sexual thing? Don’t you think you look deformed? Aren’t you just catering the patriarchal ideals of the feminine form? Don’t corsets damage your organs? CAN YOU BREATHE IN THAT THING?

The answer to all these questions is, with the possible exception of the sex thing (which we’ll get into in another post, you pervert), no.

I know, very helpful aren’t I? First off, yes, of course I can breathe. I have asthma and I can still breathe in my corsets. That’s because they are the proper size and measurements for my body, and the cupped rib shape doesn’t compress my lungs or even my ribs.

On that subject, there are two basic corset shapes – conical, which gives that sort of flat, V shape, and compresses the ribs a bit. If you have “squishy” floating ribs, and some do, meaning they move/compress fairly easily, this style can be quite comfortable and it gives a very nice silhouette:

Conical shape

Cupped shape

Then there is the cupped rib style, which is for people like me, who have very prominent ribs and a lung disease, therefore can’t take any compression on the ribs. Even fully closed, my corsets leave me plenty of breathing room because the underbust is measured to fit my ribcage. And, even with the more restrictive conical shape, the corset should match your own measurements as closely as possible to avoid injury or difficulties breathing.

Also, corsets do not cause organ damage. I know, but you read it on the internet! You can also read the theory of the Flat Earthers on the internet, it doesn’t make it fact. Women have been wearing corsets for many, many, MANY many years — I assure you all those women did not die of organ failure. In fact, many died in childbirth, which brings us to this simple fact: pregnancy does more to shift the organs around than wearing a corset ever could.

“But, I have a cheap corset from (insert mass produced corset company here), and it’s FINE!”.

Well, you’re very lucky. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and all that. Maybe your measurements were close enough to fit the corset so you didn’t feel discomfort, which is great. However, I’ve had corsets from these places, and it’s very likely it DIDN’T fit properly (the laces should be parallel when tied in back — if not, it will tie with a V or /\ shape, ESPECIALLY if it’s more than just two inches or so difference. And that means it’s not really doing its job. Trust me when I say it will be a revelation when you get one that does. Also, those mass produced corsets simply cannot withstand the physical strain we put on them with tight lacing and waist training. I’ve had more than one break or simply fall apart.

“But, I got a corset from (insert cheap OTR mass produced corset brand) and it was super uncomfortable and hurt/fell apart/literally BROKE!”

And this is where people tend to run into problems, along with the misconception that wearing a corset is dangerous comes from; when someone just decides to start wearing a corset without doing their due diligence, and they buy some cheapish off the rack “corset” from someplace like Corset Story and the like — basically any place that sells corsets in sizes like S, M, L, or just by the waist reduction you want. These places take no consideration of the most important measurements, which are the high and low hip, and the underbust — at the very least. And here’s why (and why people get hurt wearing a badly sized corset);

Imagine you get a corset from one of the many “corset” shops you can find online. You’re wearing it, with the goal of closing it eventually. You know it’s a, say, 22″ waisted corset. But what about the rest of it? How does the underbust measure, you know, where you do your breathing (and heaving of bosoms)? What about the hips, which you kinda need for walking and standing and chasing your cats/children around? You certainly don’t know from looking at the website, because that information isn’t there. What do you suppose happens when you cinch that thing down, and it’s far too small for your hips or ribs? You measure, for instance, 34 inches around the underbust – but your corset only measures 27″. Or the hips measure only 32″, and you are 36″. What do you suppose that does to your body? Well, let me tell you.

Imagine you are wearing a bra that is four inches too small around the band. I don’t mean some lacy thing you got from Victoria’s Secret; I’m talking about your Great Aunt Edna’s bullet-cupped, ten-hooked, beige monster made out of the shells of armadillos. Now, imagine that bra has steel bones running through the band, and it’s digging into you a couple inches. That might give you some idea of what I’m getting at, here. Now imagine you are wearing a pair of pants that are four inches too small around the hips, and, likewise, the pants are your Great Aunt Edna’s waders made out of the skins of elderly elephants, AND now they contain steel boning. There are nerve bundles, arteries, and bones in there that I can assure you the extreme compression of which can make your entire leg go numb, let alone your hip. It can, at worst, cut off blood flow and cause nerve damage with regular wear. Or, it could be too BIG around the bust and/or hips. Then, you’re not getting proper support, it’s not comfortable, and you’re not getting results. Now imagine all this, and you are wanting to wear a corset for structure and support for back pain….yeah. Nightmare. THIS is why hard core tight lacers and waist trainers will harp on you for purchasing a corset that’s not properly sized – not because we are a pack of elitist snobs who want you to spend a lot of money on some vague idea of a “real corset”, because we are all friends with the expensive custom corset makers and get kickbacks.

No, it is in fact a VERY REAL concern, and if you are going to wear a corset, it should certainly concern you. Another issue with some of these companies is that they will recommend corsets that are not appropriate to your measurements, and lastly, also use cheap materials that will break, snap, poke, and potentially injure you while you are wearing it. Companies that have had complaints of this nature include (but are not limited to):

  • Corset Story
  • Hourglass Angel
  • Orchard Corsets (not to be confused with the wonderful Orchid Corset)
  • True Corset
  • Glamorous Corset
  • ANYTHING from Amazon
  • Angel Curves
  • Corset Deal

I have personally had experiences, back in the day, with four of these vendors, so I know from personal experience you will be getting sub-par and potentially dangerous corsets from these places. Now, I know of a couple people who have been happy with their Orchard Corset purchases, but I know of more who had bad experiences. Purchase at your own risk.

I’m currently working on a section for this blog that has detailed instruction on how to measure yourself for a corset — with pictures and everything. In the meantime, you can head on over to Mystic City Corsets sizing chart, one of just a very small handful of OTR corsets that I trust completely, as their corsets are properly sized and make it relatively easy to get yourself into one that is appropriate for you.

Above is an example of the sizing chart you will find for each model of corset. The MCC-94 is one of the few that I can wear at my reduction — I wear an 18″ or 20″, currently preferring the 18″, as my 20″ corsets all close pretty easily at this stage — I don’t have to lace up more loosely and tighten throughout the day, as one does with a corset that one is wearing while working to a certain reduction. Once they become fairly easy to close, you can consider sizing down.

So here, we can see there are three measurements listed; underbust, waist, and high/low hip (the longlines with have both listed). So, my underbust measures at 30″, and my high hip is 31″. As you can see, the 18″ will fit me as long as I close it with a small gap at the top and bottom, which will result in a parallel lacing with about a 1″ gap at the back. This is perfectly fine. As you can also see, the 20″ I am currently wearing is just a tad too big in the underbust/ribs, and hips, which is also acceptable, I can close it very comfortably with a little bit of wiggle room in those areas — and some days, I want that. Like today; it’s that time of the month when I’m riding the Crimson Wave, and I want SOME compression because I find it helps my Endometriosis pain quite a bit. But, I don’t want to actually push myself too hard, or aggressively tight lace when I’m on my period, as that can have the opposite effect. It’s always important to listen to your body.

My MCC-94 Cotton Mesh corset from Mystic City — built to withstand End Times

Another reason I love the Mystic City corsets is that they are constructed like they expect you to be wearing them during Armageddon — these babies can withstand pretty much anything a dedicated tight lacer can throw at them, and will hold up and stand the test of time. You’ll size out of it before it will come even close to wearing out.

Another good company is Timeless Trends, which you can get at their site, or through Lucy Corsetry (although I do still prefer Mystic City, because honestly between the choices in styles, sizes, and quality of materials, nobody has them beat). However, they are quality corsets, and if you head over to the LucyBot, you can find which is the appropriate one for you. And if you want some more personalized attention, you can email her and she will get back to you usually within 24 hours.

As long as you are careful to purchase a quality corset from a trusted maker, sized properly to your individual proportions, you will have a good experience with corseting. I would even venture to say, great. Next, I’ll be talking about what to do once you GET your new corset; the process of “seasoning” a corset, how long to wear it, how long it takes to see results (spoiler, it depends very much on the individual, and everyone is different; but if you are consistent and safe, you will see results), and the different ways to train in a corset.

I hope this was helpful! Stay tuned, subscribe, and feel free to ask questions.

X, Alice in Waistland

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