Corset advice?
February 19, 2007 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in buying a corset for use as an outergarment and as nightclub wear.

I'd like it to be an overbust corset. I'm having some difficulty with my corset shopping and could really use some good advice.

I don't have much money, so I can't spend hundreds of dollars on it. I'm having trouble finding places in my area that sell them, and after unsuccessfully ordering one and it not working out, I'm now thinking that trying one on in person is the way to go. Where do I need to go
in Southern California or in the Tucson area to purchase a corset?

I'm also not sure that, given my figure, a corset would be as flattering as I'd like it to be. (I'm 5'2" with a small frame, and my bust/waist/hips ratio is 32"/27"/34".) I've tried a grand total of two corsets, and they have both greatly accentuated my large hips after lacing the ties tighter. Since my hips are so prominently displayed, I don't really know what to wear with the corset that would be flattering. What types of things does one generally wear with them, and how would someone with my type of frame cope with this problem when wearing a corset?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Ask Kellydammit. Seriously. (previous CorsetFilter)
posted by SassHat at 8:08 PM on February 19, 2007

Mentioned in the previous thread but bears repeating, the FAQ has a decent, if moderately outdated, list of stores/tailors, and quite a few of them are in the general southern California area...

Re: big hips. If you're going to an actual goth club, have a dress that poofs out over them and makes them bigger. Tell them you're 1850s Victorian. (If it's different, flaunt it.) Even better, if you're going to a RenFaire, make your hips -really- enormous and be Elizabethan!
posted by anaelith at 8:39 PM on February 19, 2007

Lots of options for what to wear with: a long full skirt for that Renaissance vibe; a tutu or petticoat (plus fishnets and boots if you always wanted to run away with the circus); an A-line leather skirt for a formal fetish look; skinny jeans and spike heels if you can rock the Dominatrix of the Dancefloor thing.

And hey, try thinking about your hips as an asset, not a problem. If you got it, flaunt it! Accentuating the hips is half the point of a corset. They look silly on girls with no embonpoint.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:43 PM on February 19, 2007

A corset should make the waist smaller, causing the hips to look bigger in proportion as a side effect. Most people seem to wear them in a way that also emphasizes the bust. There is no way anyone other than yourself will be noticing your hips in anything but a good way, believe me.

I'm sure you will be able to find a store that sells corsets in your area, although at your budget it will probably not be one with full boneing. You can still find something that will look nice and be fun to wear, keep trying things on until you find one that fits in a flattering way.
posted by yohko at 8:47 PM on February 19, 2007

Here's a good trick: take a pair of old tights (fishnets are perfect). Cut the crotch out, and cut off the tips of the feet. Pull the waistband down over your head and below your breasts, put your arms into the legs, and put your head through the hole where the crotch used to be.

Presto! a skin-tight long-sleeved bodicey thing to wear under your corset. Wearing something under the corset keeps you warmer and more comfortable, protects the corset from body oils, and mitigates that "tits on a platter" effect -- which may or may not be what you're going for.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:51 PM on February 19, 2007

I tried the jeans look, but there's a huge gap between where the corset ends and my jeans begin. Lots of skin showing, and it's not very attractive. That gap isn't normal when wearing a corset & jeans, is it?
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 8:51 PM on February 19, 2007

It can look great if you're comfortable with it. Otherwise it's a matter of matching the length of the corset with the rise of the jeans.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:58 PM on February 19, 2007

My girlfriend recommends Charlotte Russe or Frederick's for all your affordable corsetry needs. Regarding CR, they don't appear to have any on their web site, but she says you'll find them in their stores - "It's where I get all of mine."
posted by autojack at 9:12 PM on February 19, 2007

the 18th c.
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:56 PM on February 19, 2007

The type of corset you chose will affect how much your hips are accentuated. There are corsets out there for everyone.

When I had mine made for my wedding, I went through the Gallery Serpentine website (disclaimer: a friends wife makes some of these). It's Aussie-based, but the info on various types is extremely good and will give you a good idea of what to look for in a ready-made. If you don't want to accentuate your hips so much, perhaps choose a longer-line corset like the long-line Femme Fatale.

Other things to think of when choosing your corset;

Shape. Generally, the more panels in the corset, the more shape it has and the more curves you will get. Mine gave me a fairly straight front profile that - in hindsight - wasn't as flattering as a more hour-glass shape.

Stiffness. Are you going to have just plain dressmakers boning or are you going to get proper steel stays? Boning is cheaper but may wrinkle and pucker and it *will* creak. Steel is more expensive but silent and generally won't rust (as it's usually powder coated).

Go try them on and have fun. Please note, corsetry can become addictive! (And I think it's interesting that our grandmothers were trying to get out of corsets and we're just dying to get back in!)
posted by ninazer0 at 10:07 PM on February 19, 2007

I've had three custom corsets made by Dark Garden. I've been very pleased with all of them, even the least expensive model has held up well. For the record, I'm difficult to fit, as I have chest and hips that are 20+ inches bigger than my waist, and I prefer "full" corsets, rather than cinchers, or flatboards.

Dark Garden has a SoCa location, so they might have something you like.
posted by dejah420 at 10:19 PM on February 19, 2007

I have no personal corset experience, but here in SoCal, your options include Farthingales L.A. or Exquisite Restraint.
posted by serialcomma at 11:17 PM on February 19, 2007

Your hips don't seem that big from your measurements- and corsets are all about curves as everyone else has said. Do get one custom made- off the rack overbust corsets don't fit anyone properly. If you want a real, steel-boned corset made by a reputable maker, plan to spend 2-300 dollars. Underbusts are cheaper, and I think it's much easier to have them fit well and emphasize your bust, balancing out your hips. (Here's an example)
That being said, a long black slinky skirt will make you look more long and de-emphasize your hips. Astrid from bloodrop has a good reputation and makes a nice looking custom overbust for a modest price. Farthingale's also has a shop in LA now, and they offer corset making classes if you're at all crafty.

I most often wear very short or very long skirts under my corset, though I have worn black capris. There was a bit of a gap, but I prefer that to being unable to unzip my trousers to pee because my corset is laced too tightly over the top of the zip (happens even with the skirts sometimes).
posted by oneirodynia at 11:28 PM on February 19, 2007

I have one from Charlotte Russe that I get lots of compliments on. I don't remember how much it cost, but I wouldn't have paid more than $50 for it. If you go into the store, it's the black one with the white flowers running down the front. I've tried a couple of their other ones on, and they're not as sturdy as mine -- that may or may not be a plus for you.

I usually wear mine with jeans, and there is some overlap. However, that means that when I sit down, my body folds up and the corset doesn't, which can be a little uncomfortable. I've never really had much of a problem getting to the zipper on my jeans though.

Also, I think mine has some sort of metal boning, since it will develop a kink at my waist that I can straighten out by bending it the other way.

No doubt a custom corset would be better, but if you don't have the money for it, you don't have the money for it.

Also, previously.
posted by natabat at 11:45 PM on February 19, 2007

I would highly recommend looking up a corset vendor on eBay known as Alter Ego Erotics Corsets. It is a great alternative to having a custom made corset, because not all of us can afford that kind of money, especially if you are just starting out.

I picked up an extremely affordable (less than $140 CDN including shipping) black lambskin corset, that was fully lined, with a front steel busk and stays and a full privacy panel in the back.

I've worn it countless times during the past year and have always gotten tons of compliments on it, particularly on the quality of the leather and it's construction. Alter Ego makes a wide variety of sizes "off the rack", from XXS all the way to 9X, so there *will* be something that fits you. Pay attention to the sizing descriptions in each listing and you should be fine. I am only 5 foot tall, so I paid careful to the length measurements, as I *did* want one that came down over my rather rubenesque hips.

Since you are less voluptuous on top, I would recommend avoiding the flat front type of corsets, as they will only flatten you out. And don't worry about your hips girl -- that is one of the things you are trying to show off in a corset!

Do be aware that leather will gradually mold to your form better, the more you wear it. So the more you wear it, the better it will fit, and look. Great excuse to wear it out whenever you have a chance!

I have several other friends who have also picked up their corsets from Alter Ego Erotics, and have nothing but praise for the vendor, the quality of their corsets and their service.

Good luck!

~ Jade Dragon
posted by Jade Dragon at 2:24 AM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Stiffness. Are you going to have just plain dressmakers boning or are you going to get proper steel stays? Boning is cheaper but may wrinkle and pucker and it *will* creak. Steel is more expensive but silent and generally won't rust (as it's usually powder coated

All very true -- and another note, do you just want something that looks corsety, or do you actually want something you can lace up tightly enough to visibly reduce your waist? The $50 Frederick's/Victoria's Secret/etc. type with the plastic boning will look quite cute, but they're just not sturdy enough for tightlacing: do that and you WILL eventually wind up with bent boning, fabric fraying apart at the seams, and so forth. Steel-boned corsets are sturdy enough that you can lace them up much more tightly, if that's the sort of look you want, but the downside of course is the added expense.

While custom-made-to-measure is always the best choice in terms of fit, it may be possible to find something a bit cheaper off the rack if you look at the right styles. Something more in a waist-cincher or underbust style, that doesn't cover the bust or extend too far down over the hips, could be sized by your waist measurements alone, and in a nifty fabric that can still be quite striking worn over a dress or long blouse, even if it can't be worn by itself as a fitted top. (I'm a shade over 5'3", broad hips and shoulders but small bust and waist; off-the-rack over-the-bust and longline corsets never fit me, but I've got an off-the-rack underbust halter style corset cut much like the one in that link, which fits decently enough for non-custom and works nicely over a dress. And I've got a much shorter leather waist cincher just like this one, purchased ready made, that fits beautifully.)

As for what to wear the corset over, that'll depend somewhat on the cut of the corset you end up with -- but on my figure, with those sorts of corsets and cinchers, I generally like to stick to fuller gathered or a-line skirts, and tops or dresses that are close-fitting through the bodice. Even without tight-lacing, a corset will emphasize an hourglass shape, and a full or slightly flared skirt will work with that pretty gracefully. You really have to try things on together, and see how the neckline and sleeves of a particular dress or top mesh up with your corset and how the whole ensemble looks on your figure.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 3:06 AM on February 20, 2007

Seconding Alter Ego Erotics on Ebay. I was throroughly sketched out at first, seeing as they are offering full steel boned leather corsets for 100 USD, but damn, they are incredible. I have two, and intentions of ordering more.
I wear mine with poofy skirts, jeans (although some muffin topping occurs with the shorter corset, the longer one covers the gap), and long skirts. If you're nervous about the hip enlarging effect, wear a tutu type skirt at first, then after a night of being able to knock people over with your hips (which is an empowering, super sexy time) you will enjoy wearing corsets with other clothing.
posted by nursegracer at 4:41 AM on February 20, 2007

If you do end up going with an off-the-rack corset, select a brick-and-mortar store where the staff knows how to properly fit and lace you.

A knowledgeable sales associate should be able to listen to a description of the fit you are hoping for, and then lace you in such that you never have to lace again. It's a science, and not merely "grab the bedpost and hang on, Scarlett," as I previously thought. (There is nothing as frustrating as trying to lace your own or recruit a clueless significant other to help. So I hear.)

I am a fan of the Empire Intimates line, which are usually priced $75-100 retail, and are a good intersection between "sportwear" (the ill-made pieces from lingerie shops that aren't meant to be worn all that long, or out in public) and serious corsetry -- the custom-made, steel-boned stuff referred to upthread (which was more than I needed and too pricey).

I ordered online once, a mistake I'll never repeat. One's bra size isn't necessarily one's overbust corset size, and the Internet doesn't actually properly fit me into the thing like a smart shopgirl can.
posted by pineapple at 7:33 AM on February 20, 2007

For my job, we buy 'em at Period Corsets- there are many different profiles and types to replicate the tastes and fads of fashions past.

Looking through them is allso an interesting study in the different ways the female figure has been prodded and squished around to achieve a sociallly defined idea.
posted by Miko at 7:35 AM on February 20, 2007

Oooh... I've been paged!

OK, a corset will always make your hips look bigger. It's sucking in the waist, and generally the hips are left alone, so they'll look bigger by comparison.

But think of it this way... true hourglass measurements are equal hips and bust, and a waist that's about 10" smaller or more. You don't have large hips. You don't even have disproportionate hips by that standard. Heck, you have SMALL hips. (for comparison, and keeping in mind I'm like a size 16-18, my waist is like 14" smaller than my hips depending on how bloated I am- now those are big hips!).

But... if you think your hips are large, or disproportionate to your frame, you'll think that in every corset you try. That's what corsets do.

Honestly, a lot of the advice in my last post that was referenced and in the replies here just isn't going to apply in your price range. You're going to really be stuck with the stuff Fredericks offers and the like on ebay since a good quality corset does cost at least $100 (usually more).

Keeping that in mind, I'd personally suggest looking at underbusts since, as long as you're not going custom, you'll find most overbusts to be long and may dig under the arms (I'm just shy of 5'3" myself, so I know that pain!). Plus, the overbusts that most places offer ready made tend to really flatten you out on top.

Really, I think everyone's covered it all. And my knowledge of non-custom is pretty limited.

Oh... and I have an alter ego one, too. I dislike it for the reason they've been praised! Leather stretches too much, and after a couple wears it now feels too big. I wish I'd gone down 4" or so when I bought it. (oh, and I loathe the kind of laces they use, but that's just my personal quirk.)
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:50 AM on February 20, 2007

Thank you for all of your advice. I'm still going through it all and will be back with more comments.

I'm actually buying the corset because of someone who likes the look. That's why I'm going for the overbust. Cinching my waist down a few inches isn't my main concern; it's more about the look of the corset.

A lot of the ones mentioned are very expensive given my limited funds, and I wish I really wish I could spend that much. If I have to go the Frederick's route, are those suitable for outside bedroom wear?
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2007

If you're not looking for extreme waist reduction, and just want something pretty to go on top of clothing, sure, you can find Frederick's-type corsets that will do the trick on a tighter budget. I used to have one that looked almost identical to the "Hollywood Dream" on the bottom of this page, and I was quite happy with how it looked worn as an outer garment -- just take off the garters. (They're usually removable anyway.) I wasn't happy with how well it lasted, but I wore it a lot and laced it tighter than something like that was meant to tolerate, gentler treatment and a looser fit will surely help extend the useful life of yours. (And if you're wearing it over garments of the same color, that'll help conceal any fabric wear and fray at the seams.)
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2007

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm not going to be buying one at the moment. I will definitely keep everyone's advice in mind if my circumstances change.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 3:46 PM on February 21, 2007

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