1. When did you get/wear your first corset and why?
I took a class at university during my fashion design degree called Fashion Theory and Practice. At the beginning of the semester we chose three themes. One of them was “corsets and crinolines”. That was 10 years ago. The rest is history.
2. How did you come across corsetry?
The first “real” corset I saw in person was at a shop called “Trashy Diva” in New Orleans (still there, and still lovely). I was fascinated by the cool busk closures! The shop keeper was wearing a corset and was so elegant I couldn’t help but stare in admiration.
3. Has there ever been a strain or problem especially when it comes to costs?
Because I make them, it isn’t a issue for me. I do wish I had unlimited funds to purchase antique corsets and maybe some from those corset makers I admire, so that’s the only issue for me.
4. Have you ever been criticized for wearing corsets? What are the criticisms? How do you overcome it?No, not really but I have heard my family talk of how Victorian women fainted, and all that jazz. Once I explained it how they work, and how most of the mythology of corsetry is just that, made up stories, they have been more open an interested.
5. How much reductions do you have compared to your natural size? Why did you choose to go for those particular reductions? I do about 3-5 inches. Not a lot. I am incredibly short waisted and the top of my hip bone and bottom of my ribs are less than 1 cm. This means that I can’t get the kind of reduction that some people can. I also prefer the look of less extreme reduction.
6. Do you tightlace/waist-train? If yes, are your reductions considered "extreme" in the eyes of others? Anybody ever chose to compare you to Cathie Jung? No. I love the look of corsetry but not of extreme tight-lacing. For myself and for most of my clients, the goal to smooth and support rather than to reshape the body significantly.
7. How long and how often do you wear your corsets? Any discomfort, pain? Bad experiences while in a corset? I wear my corsets 1-2 times a week for several hours at a time. The only bad experience I can recall is when I wore my fist corset for several hours and then unlaced it, took it off and then had a huge restaurant meal. The result was quite unpleasant indigestion, so I wouldn’t recommend it!
8. Would you continue to wear corsets long term? Why?
I plan to continue to wear corsets indefinitely. I love the shape and support that they give. I am glad to have a choice and only wear them when I’m in the mood.
9. Has corsetry hindered your daily life or lifestyle?
No, this has never been a problem.
10. Do you stick to certain corsetmakers or brands? How come?
Because I make my own, I really only wear my own corsets. I have closely examined and worn other corset with varying degrees of satisfaction. I find Totally Waisted corsets to be the most comfortable out of any other corsets that I have tried.
11. Any advice for those interested in wearing corsets? Make sure it fits! A poorly fitted corset can really sour your experience. There are a few corset companies that sell nice ready made ones. If you can’t afford to get one made to your measurements and you have access to a shop, do try a few on! Made to measure is always best, but I understand that isn’t realistic for everyone.
Additional questions for corsetmakers!
1. When did you start making corsets and why?
I started to make and wear corsets at the same time. As I mentioned above I took a class in the 3rd year of my fashion course, where we voted to tackle corsets. It was a very “independent-study” focused class, so we were shown a couple of corsets and a copy of the book “Corset and Crinolines” and encouraged to go from there. I chose to make the Edwardian from that book in silk duchess satin with piped seams and quilted hip gores. Little did I know that was one of the most difficult patterns I could have chosen!
2. Do you feel that the number of corsetieres out there are very little?
Where I live, in London, there are a great number of corset shops and makers. Corsetry is not as unusual here is it might be other places. There are trendy lingerie shops that sell incredibly expensive ready to wear corsets, goth and vintage shops that have decent ready mades and a number of independent designers and bespoke corset makers such as myself.
3. Have there been complaints from newcomers saying that the prices are way too high and that they would rather go for a really
low priced mass-produced version? (steel boned or even plastic)
I don’t really encounter complaints but that’s probably because my website clearly list my starting points so the people who come to me are prepared to pay based on my craftsmanship, fit and reputation.
4. Has there been an increasing demand for corsets over the years?
Demand is variable. I have been making corsets for clients for about 8 years and demand does vary from season to season. It slowed down a little bit a few years ago but has been steadily rising again. I’m usually busy enough that I have to pace my orders carefully and often have a waiting list.
5. What kind of customers usually come to you for corsets? (e.g goth, Victorian fans, people who want to "slim down")
Most of my customers are educated, self assured and like to express themselves through their clothing. Not all are experienced corset-wearers, they are just looking for a stunning gown for a special occasion or a treat for themselves. Some are goth or ex-goths but many are just interesting people who want to wear something unique and flattering. I also make quite a few wedding dresses most of them incorporating some sort of corsetry.
6. Do you feel that people are more exposed to corsetry through media now (e.g Dita Von Teese, Victoria's Secret Fashion show)? I suppose more people are exposed to corsetry thought these but not always in a positive way. Both of these examples are highly sexualized so even if people are exposed to it, the connotation of corsetry remains a bit too risqué. I am aiming to show corsetry in a more positive light. It is elegant and refined. Sexy yes, but classy too.