Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I don't think that word means what you think it means...

The lovely Jess W. Pinup Model in the Mz. Wright corset, a tight lacing corset that she inspired.

Anyone who spends more than five minutes with me will know that I have a huge pet peeve with what manufacturers call a corset these days.

Just because it has laces does not make it a corset. If it were that simple, my shoes could be called corsets.

It has also become trend to make sure everything is steel boned. Yes, this is important, and all of my corsets, corsellets, bodices, and cinchers have steel boning, but the type of boning is just as important.

So let me lay out a few ground rules for you so that your heart won't be broken hearted when that $20 steel boned corset 1) doesn't fit you the way you had thought it would and/or 2) rips after trying to lace it to as tight as you can stand or 3) the bones snap or bend out of shape.

Rule 1: Know what it is you are looking for
When I say "corset" to you, what do you think of? Are you looking for something that will take your waist down several inches? How long do you intend to wear it? Is this something you want for every day or just to break out on special evenings? When you do wear it, will it be on for an hour? two? five? twenty three? 
These are all very important questions to ask yourself before even looking for a corset, because your answers will change not only the price range you are looking at, but the basic construction and essentials to the garment. 
    If you want something to wear for a few hours at a time that will give you a bit of shaping and the lacing look that is iconic to corsetry, then by all means, buy what ever you find for $20 bucks BUT do not expect it to be able to take your waist down 2+ inches. 
    On the other hand if you are looking for something that will slim your lines this is not going to cut it. Unless otherwise stated, from here on out we're going to go based off of the assumption that we are shopping for something that fits into the latter category. 

Rule 2: Look for layers

Before we get into bones (which yes are very important) I want to talk a bit about the layers of a corset. 
    My own very first corset  had a single layer. It was lovely, and I loved it, but it would not hold up to tight lacing, and the shaping was very minimal. So again, if you just want something that will give you the look of a corset, with out the support, stability, or contouring of a tight lacing corset, then this is a fine option for you, but that's not what we are after. 
    So what you do want for a tight lacing corset (one that really is what everyone thinks of when they say "corset") is at least three layers. The corset should have an outer pretty layer that is not made of anything stretchy, next at least one inner core layer made of a sturdy fabric, and the lining layer. For the lining I prefer cotton because it breaths, it's easy to clean, and it's light, but other fabrics can be okay. 

Rule 3: The bones of the issue

I HATE plastic bones. I understand that they do have their place, such as in bodices that just need light support. I can get that. What I can't understand is why anyone would put them in a corset. Next to single lace layers being called corsets, this is probably my biggest pet peeve. The problem with plastic boning is that as it heats up to your body temperature, it softens. This allows it to mold to what ever position you are in (which for me was usually sitting, so the bottom of my corset would bubble upwards at every opportunity), they also pucker when soft, and just plain loose most of their stability and integrity. A huge issue for shape-ware.
    Since the issues with plastic boning has become well known, most have switched to steel. So how do these big manufacturers keep their $20 prices using steel? Well, not all steel is the same. It used to be that corset boning would be made of German steel. You didn't even have to ask about the origin, you knew that your steel bones were made from a high quality German steel. However, keeping with the trend of making everything cheaper, China is now making steel boning out of Chinese steel.
    Labor issues aside, Chinese steel just does not hold up to the pressure. I have had these bones and busks break on me, and if you have ever had plastic bones snap on you, you can only imagine how much more painful a steel bone snapping is.
   Unfortunately, suppliers aren't likely to disclose where their steel comes from. I don't think I've even put that information in my descriptions before. So this one is going to have to be a common sense kind of thing. If the corset says steel, and it's $20, it is going to have one or more of the issues described above.

So, know what you are looking for. Look for layers. Know your steel. These are your basic guidelines. I'll go further into what to look for in tight lacing corsets at a later date, but this should clear some things up on why you might see a huge company selling "real steel boned corsets" for $20-$100, and then see some one like me selling corsets for $150-$350. Remember, you always get what you pay for.

No comments:

Post a Comment