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Copyright © 2018 by Enchanted Custom Corsets. All rights reserved.

WHAT KIND OF CORSET FITS YOUR NEEDS?

A corset can be used to achieve a number of goals, and knowing what you want your corset to do will aid Enchanted in designing and constructing a corset to fit your body and your needs.

Fashion Corset

A fashion corset is made to be worn so others can see it, and can reduce the waist from 2"-6".  Usually constructed of medium to lightweight silks or satins and appropriate for clubs, special occasions, and intimate occasions, this garment will still last a long time, but is not made of sturdy enough fabric for daily wear.  Note: an Enchanted fashion corset is still made with a coutil lining and all the other high end supplies found in the custom corset: it is just that fine fabrics on the outside of a corset cannot hold up to your skirt/jeans/tops rubbing over them on a daily basis.

Daily Wear Corset

A daily wear corset is usually worn as an undergarment, to shape your body and provide a smooth silhouette.  This type of corset is made of the more sturdy coutil, making it hold up to the rigors of every day use.  Most people who get a daily wear corset are doing so to flatten their tummy or smooth over the hips, or for back support (see below).  Women with large breasts have found relief from the digging of bra straps through an overbust corset, as the weight of the breasts now rests on the pelvis rather than the vulnerable shoulders.

Corsetry for Back Support

A well made, custom fit corset can do wonders for your back!  The gentle compression from the sides and structure all the way around creates space between vertebrae and lifts your upper body up from the hips, reducing pressure on the lower back.  Excellent for improved posture and even increased self esteem, some even find better sleep through wearing the corset overnight.  Success has also been reported for healing abdominal muscle separation (rectus diastasis).  This type of corset is also constructed of heavy duty coutil inside and out, and comes in a variety of lovely prints and colors - see Textile Choices

Note: Enchanted corsets are not licensed medical devices, and if you have a history of back or bowel problems, you should consult a physician before wearing one.  Caution should be exercised when wearing a  corset: if at any time you experience pain in relation to wearing your corset, you should loosen or remove the corset to avoid damage to your skin, muscle, nerves, or internal organs.

For more information, please see Enchanted's therapeutic and back support corsets.

Weight Loss Through Corsetry

If you are looking to lose weight, wearing a corset during mealtime will reduce your consumption capacity, as there just isn't room for your abdomen (and thus, stomach) to expand and fit a large meal.  While eating less has been shown to lead to weight loss, wearing a corset is not a substitution for a healthy diet and regular, sustained exercise.  Please look at Links to find suggestions for exercise plans that are low impact and have resulted in transformational weight loss and other positive benefits for many people.

Common Sense Corsetry

Corsetry is not the solution to all body image and back issues.  If you are considering waist training or a corset for back support or weight loss, please consult your doctor first.  Enchanted Custom Corsets and Bridal Apparel is not responsible for any damage to you or your corset caused by over-tightening or improper use.  Always loosen or remove your corset if you are in pain, lose feeling or sensation anywhere, are short of breath, or experience changes in your skin. 

Waist Training Corset

Waist training is a process whereby the muscles on the sides of your body, from the lower ribs to the hips, is slowly retrained into a different, smaller shape.  In some cases, the lower (floating) ribs may also shift up and in.  Over time, one can expect to reduce one's natural, uncorseted waistline by two to six inches, depending on body type and age.

Waist training requires that the wearer be patient and wear the corset on a regular basis and for extended periods.  It varies from person to person exactly what that "extended period" is, but a minimum of four hours per day is advised.  Some people do wear their corset in excess of 12 hours/day, but caution is advised!  Always loosen or remove your corset if you are in pain, lose feeling or sensation anywhere, are short of breath, or experience changes in your skin. 

Make sure to engage in daily core strengthening exercises to prevent atrophy of your abdominal and spinal muscles.  Time expected for results varies from six months to a year, depending on fat distribution, underlying musculature, age, and sex.

If you are interested in waist training, you should expect to buy at least two corsets - if you rotate them, you can wear one while the other dries after washing (see Inside an Enchanted Corset), and it extends the life expectancy of the garment.  Waist training is not permanent - over time, without the continued use of the corset, gravity will have the last word, and muscles and ribs will return to (approximately) their original position.

For more information please see Tightlacing & Waist Training.

 

BUYING A CORSET

Corsets are pretty complicated garments - in order for them to be comfortable, they must fit like a second skin and then some.  Because there is more to a corset than the waistline, and everyone has different distances from the waist to the hips or the underbust (not to mention breasts), you can line up 100 women who wear a size 8, and get 100 different sets of measurements! 

If you have ever worn a store bought, ready made corset, you know that getting one that fits right and keeps it's shape for more than a wear or two is easier said than done.  It comes down too far...  It comes up too far!  It fits in the waist and ribs but cuts into your hips, making an unsightly bulge.  Or it's either too small or too big in the bust, showing or covering more or less than you desire.  

Not all corsets are the same!  A little research will reveal that you can pay as little or as much as you like, and that some of the cheapest corsets aren't much different than a few of the really pricey ones - the difference sometimes being as little as a designer label!

To save you some time and possible heartbreak, outlined below are the three different categories of corsets, some of their attributes, and what to look for while shopping.

Ready Made Corsets (i.e., Store Bought, Off-the-Rack)

A ready made corset can be bought in a brick and mortar store or online, and is the most commonly purchased as you get it pretty much on demand.  You can expect to pay anywhere from $8-$800 (upper end being for designer labels but not necessarily a superior product).  The off-the-peg corset can vary in quality, but they all have one thing in common: they are made to a set of measurements assumed by the manufacturer to fit the "average" figure.  While I have yet to ascertain exactly what "average" is, much less the accompanying measurements, here are a few things to be aware of if considering a ready made corset:

  • Boning: Ready made corsets generally come with 6-8 panels (thus less ability to form to the curves of your figure) and usually only have one piece of boning per panel (this reduces it's ability to keep it's shape while giving you the intended effect - see What is a corset).  You want to look for one that has STEEL boning on either side of each seam, and on either side of the grommets.  Flexible boning should be used throughout the body of the corset, and rigid in the front and back to prevent bowing and pinching.

  • Grommets: Many ready made corsets have a few corners cut, and the most common is the use of single piece eyelets instead of two piece grommets.  As single piece eyelets only have a thin piece of metal that wraps through the hole (for laces), they are very prone to pulling out and leaving you with a corset that has begun a rapid downward decline.  Look for (or ask for a picture of) a corset with a washer on the inside of the corset - this will prevent the metal ring from pulling through (see Inside an Enchanted Corset).

  • Lining: The cheapest corsets do not have lining, just a single layer of (usually) polyester.  Now, if you are just looking to wear this for a hot second or a first impression, then no worries.  However, if you want something that will be pleasant to wear all day or alllll night, and last a long time, look for a cotton lining.

  • Laces: The average corset is laced with pretty cheap polyester, corded laces.  These slide through pretty easily, yes, but they also slip as you try to lace, making it hard to get the corset evenly laced up the back.  Look for cotton/poly laces, or better yet, sturdy satin covered laces that slide but don't slip, and hold up beautifully!

  • Modesty panel: Unless you  like the look and feel of your flesh bulging though the laces of your corset, look for one with a back modesty panel.  You can also have one made and sewn in by your local seamstress.​​

Semi-Custom Corsets (i.e., Made to Order)

A semi-custom corset is one where the company asks you for a few measurements, makes the corset (sometimes you get to pick from a selection of fabrics), and sends you the final product based on those measurements. 

  •  While this is better than a ready made, exercise caution: if you mess up the measurements, or don't curve or squish where expected by the manufacturer, your corset might have some unexpected lumps or lengths. 

  • The more measurements required, the better the fit you can expect.  Look for a company that asks for vertical measurements like waist to center front top and bottom, waist to underbust, etcetera.

  • This type of corset, for the medium price range it generally commands, should have all steel boning, two piece grommets, a modesty panel in back (and preferrably in front), and have quality lining and lacing.​

Fully Custom Corsets (i.e., Bespoke)

A fully custom corset is nothing less than what you want, exclusively handmade for your body (so you don't have to worry about your friend asking to borrow it!). 

  • The main difference between a semi-custom corset and a fully custom corset is that there is a fitting (or two) to make sure that the final product is what you want.  See Inside an Enchanted Corset for details of the fitting process.

  • A custom corset allows you to pick the fabric - to match your car or your curtains, your hair or your favorite shade of dusk, providing you can find (or the designer can source) the fabric.

  • Expect all the bells and whistles: modesty panels front and back, minimum of 8 panels (preferably 12), quality throughout, and heavy coutil lining. 

  • You will have to wait a while for perfection: wait times for custom corsets vary from a few weeks to a few months, sometimes longer.  Make sure to set a "deliver by" date with your designer if you have a special occasion in mind.

 

Myth:  Corsets are Uncomfortable

Let's say that you have wide feet, and want a pair of high heels for a wedding.  If you buy a pair of shoes online that don't give the width, chances are that those shoes are going to hurt within an hour of putting them on.  The same goes for corsets: if you don't get a corset that is made for your body, you will likely end up uncomfortable very quickly.

Myth:  Wearing a Corset can Damage Your Digestive System

Myth:  A Corset can Crack Your Ribs

This is the myth that is closest to true.  A corset, by design, provides a structure that will hold you in an upright position whether you try or not - basically, you don't need to utilize your abdominal or spinal muscles to sit up straight.  Long term and constant use of a corset, therefore, could lead to atrophy of these muscles.  But keep in mind that you use those same muscles every time you sit down, sit up, get in or our of a car, or even roll over.  Essentially, as long as you are not wearing your corset ALL THE TIME, and especially if you implement a regular core strengthening exercise, you should be in fine condition.

In summary: Most corset myths are a result of people getting over zealous or impatient with their corset or waist training.  Use common sense, take it slow, and don't get carried away with how small you want your waist.  Most models that you see on TV have a waist that is only 8" smaller than their bust, and a couple of inches beyond that is where you get the hourglass look.  Remember that more is not necessarily better: Love your body, embrace your body with a nice custom corset that looks AND feels good, and take care of yourself!

 

CORSET MYTHS

Corsets are the source of much myth and debate, and have had a reputation for pain and trauma since the Victorian era.  Here is a brief list of questions and concerns regarding corsets, explanations sourcing the how's and why's of the issue, and how to avoid those problems.

 

No, not breathing makes you faint! Corsets have earned a rather...uncomfortable reputation, mostly due to the extremes that Victorian fashions attained.  Women wore (often ready made) corsets that were often over-tightened in hopes of achieving waistlines of below 18".  This in combination with the multiple layers of heavy fabric that were the fashion of the time, AND no air conditioning, would lead to shortness of breath and heat exhaustion.  Enchanted corsets usually take around 4" off your natural waistline - this lets you flaunt a lovely figure, and have fun doing it.  You might not want to attend a yoga class in your corset, but you can definitely go and tear up the dance floor!

Myth:  Corsets Make You Faint

A properly fitted and laced corset constricts around the waist between the lower ribs and upper part of the pelvis, but does not pinch or prevent any movement of food or waste.  There are people that have taken waist training to extremes - reducing a natural 28" waist to 18" or even 15" is going to radically displace the intestines and have subsequent consequences.  However, reasonable and responsible corsetry (and designers) will prevent this from happening, as most people get a lovely, natural looking waistline from a gradual and safe 4"-8" reduction.

The only case under which this would occur is the drastic and careless overtightening of a corset, possibly combined with brittle bone structure.  If a corset is made for your waist:ribs ratio, there shouldn't even be discomfort, much less damage.

Myth:  Corsetry Weakens Spinal Muscles

 

CORSET CARE

Proper care of your corset is very important for extending its lifetime and your long term comfort.  Below is are a few tips to help you and your corset become fast friends!

  • Store your corset flat, gently folded, or hung in the closet on a hanger.  NEVER roll the busk of the corset inward - it will cause the metal busk to chaffe against the fabric of the corset, leaving unsightly wear marks over time.

  • Do not over tighten your corset or cinch your corset as tight as you can bear right away.  Letting your body become accustomed to the corset first prevents undue stress on the fibers of your corset, allowing them to "warm up" and mould to your body.  If you try to cinch it tighter, it will cause undue strain on the grommets, seams, and fabric, reducing the lifetime of your corset and possibly causing pain or injury to you.  It is much sexier to be seen having someone tighten your corset than loosening it!
    

  • Do not put your corset through the washing machine - it is made with steel boning, which can rust and damage the fabric on your corset.  Recommended cleaning is spot cleaning or dry cleaning.  If you must wash your whole corset, do so by hand, in cold water, and with mild detergent.  Gently squeeze (do not wring) water out of the rinsed corset, and lay flat lengthwise on a clean, dry towel.  Roll the towel up with the corset on the inside and firmly press on the rolled towel so that it absorbs excess moisture from the corset.  Hang to finish drying in a well ventilated place.

 

  • Do not cinch your corset as tight as you can bear right away.  Let your body become accustomed to the corset first.  It is much sexier to be seen having someone tighten your corset than loosening it!  Also, this prevents undue stress on the fibers of your corset, allowing them to "warm up" and mould to your body.

  • Store your corset with a pillow case around it to prevent snags from other clothing or your dresser drawer.

Enchanted Custom Corsets takes at least 24 measurements to ensure that every area of your corset contours perfectly to to your specific body, ensuring a comfortable fit.

TIMELINES

 

How Soon Can I Get It?

How long it takes to get your corset / gown / skirt / pants / shirt / moonsuit depends on current demand and the complexity of the garment.  As Enchanted is a very small business, you can expect a turn-a-round time of at least one month from the time your measurements are taken for a corset - longer if you want a corset with a ball gown skirt and petticoats or corset with every option and then some.  Rush orders are sometimes available depending on how many other orders are currently underway, though there may be a rush fee (see our General Price Guide).

Remember the old adage: Good things come to those who wait.  And, buy good shit, don't buy it twice!

Please contact Enchanted today, indicating what you are interested in, when you need it, and any questions you may have!  If the above link doesn't work for you, or you aren't a form sort of person, feel free to email your inquiry, ideas, and questions to: owner@enchantedcorsets.com.

"a high quality made to fit corset is imperative to both comfort and health. These [Enchanted Custom Corsets] are the only corsets I trust for my daily use. Strong, beautiful, and finely crafted, nothing could be more worth the investment."

- Nostalgia

 

TEXTILE CHOICES

If they make it, and you can find it, chances are good that you can have your corset or other garment made from that fabric. 

Corsets usually do best when constructed from a medium to heavy weight woven fabric, though you can use textiles as light as taffeta or silk dupioni or charmeuse.  In essence, the more sturdy the fabric you choose, the longer your corset will last.  However, if this is for your wedding or a garment that you don't plan on wearing all the time, it doesn't really matter - the corset will still do it's job no matter what you go with for outer fabric as it is made with quality boning and lining.  Lightweight fabrics will be interfaced to add structure and durability. 

For daily wear, waist training, and support corsets, coutil is the fabric of choice.  You can view the different coutils available on the market at Richard the Thread and Farthingales, and samples of these coutils will be available for you to look at and feel in person at your consultation with Enchanted.

All corsets are lined with either black, nude, or white coutil, chosen to best match your outer fabric.  Other colors can be used upon request.

 

CORSET TERMINOLOGY

Binding:  A strip of bias cut fabric, folded three times and sewn along the top and bottom edges of the corset to encase raw edges and give a finished appearance. Usually made from the same fashion fabric as the rest of the outer layer, contrast binding can be used as well.

 

Boning:  A narrow vertical strip of wood, bone, or metal inserted or sewn on to a corset to give support and prevent the corset from buckling or sliding down.  While a variety of materials have been employed for boning over the years, most modern corsets are constructed with some sort of steel boning.  See spiral steel and spring steel boning.

Brocade:  A type of fabric with raised designs, particularly nice in silk

Busk:  The front closure of many modern corsets, consisting of two halves: one with posts (commonly referred to as the "male" side), and one with flat, semi-circular loops (commonly referred to as the "female" side)

Casing:  A strip of fabric applied to the corset, into which the boning is usually inserted - very nice when used in contrast to the rest of the corset.  Casing can also be created by sewing channels into the body of the corset itself.

Coutil:  A woven fabric specially made for use in corsetry, coutil has a herringbone weave and does not stretch, ensuring that the corset molds your shape instead of visa versa.  Enchanted uses 100% cotton coutil for the lining of all corsets unless otherwise requested.

 

Fitting:  The session in which a mock up (see below) is tried on to indicate what alterations need to be made to the pattern before commencement of construction of the final corset

Flossing:  Embroidery placed above or below boning to hold boning firmly in place

Grommet:  Two pieces of round metal which are sturdily and permanently combined to form a protective opening for lacing

Gusset:  A triangular insert at the bust or hip to allow for fullness

Interfacing:  An additional layer of fabric used to strengthen another kind of fabric - usually used on back side of light weight or loose weave fashion fabrics

Lace overlay:  In addition to the coutil lining and fashion fabric of your choice, you may choose to have lace on top of the fashion fabric for added depth.  Other options include but are not limited to: rhinestones, flossing, piping, cording, pleating, and pretty much anything else you can imagine or find a picture of.

Mock up:  A trial run of a garment that lacks the finishing touches seen on the final garment.  In regards to corsets in the context of this site, a mock up has temporary boning and lacing panels, is closed up the front, and made of natural coutil.  The purpose is to ensure the corset's fit in diameter and height - essentially, to identify any changes that need to be made to the pattern before commencement of construction of the actual and final garment.  See below picture of an underbust mockup.

 

Modesty pane: l All Enchanted corsets come with a sewn-in panel in the front and back to prevent smooshed skin from showing through the laces or in the sliver of space between the two halves of the busk.  Of course, since all Enchanted corsets are custom made to your specific requirements, you may forgo this option if you choose, or request that your corset close in back

 

Silk dupioni:  A woven and sometimes shimmering silk fabric, usually with a somewhat rougher appearance than that of satin due to nubs in the fabric

Spiral steel boning:  One of two types used by Enchanted, this boning gives support to the corset, but is flexible side to side, preventing pinching along the body of the corset.  This type of boning is used over the curves of the bust/waist/hips.

Plastic boning removed from a cheap lingerie corset - the boning buckled at the waist, resulting in pinching the skin at the waist and pushing the tummy out.  Right: The respective amount of spiral and spring boning used in every Enchanted corset.

POLICIES

This is the technical page, full of stuff that must be said for everbody's sake.  Think of it as a way to make sure that we are both on the same page when expectations meet reality, and that I don't end up talking to your lawyer.  So do everybody a favor and read through this.  Thanks!

  • A corset will not make you lose weight.  It might make you feel full faster while you are wearing it (leading to eating less), but it will primarily reduce your waist while you are wearing it.

  • Please consult your doctor before ordering a corset if you have ever had any back pain, surgery, or abdominal problems. 

  • Enchanted nor any of its associates are responsible for injuries that take place due to the improper lacing or use of a corset, nor damage to the client due to pre-existing medical conditions.

  • All deposits are non-refundable.  This means that if you give Enchanted a deposit and then change your mind and want your money back to spend somewhere else, tough.  By that time, several hours of work have already gone into your garment.   If you gain/lose weight, get with child, or change your mind regarding the design or size of the garment after the garment is commissioned, you will be responsible for an additional deposit equal to the original deposit, as well as any changes in price due to construction changes.

  • If the remaining balance due on commissioned items is not paid in full within a month of completion, items may be forfeited and sold to another client.  Please see above for the Enchanted deposit policy.

  • Due to the nature of custom work, Enchanted does not generally accept returns.  By the time the client gets their finished product, there have been mockup fittings and plenty of time for changing of the mind.  

  • If Enchanted does agree to make a corset without the client present, Enchanted is not responsible for inaccurate measurements.  It is STRONGLY recommended that you have another person take your measurements, and use a marker to keep track of vertical reference points.

  • Prices are subject to change without notice.  Estimated price of project will be discussed at the time of commission, with upper and lower limits clarified in writing for the client.

  • Key search words that might stick in your memory long after you have found and lost this site: Enchanted Portland Oregon, Enchanted Custom Corsets, Enchanted Corsets, Custom Corsets.  And just plain Corsets.  That should do!

 

Spring steel boning:   Used behind the busk and on either side of the grommets in the back of an Enchanted corset, this boning is more rigid (only bending forward and back), ensuring that your back is not pinched and that your tummy stays flat.

Twill tape:  Like a ribbon, only woven with the purpose that it will not stretch.  Enchanted corsets are made with a length of twill tape around the waist, between layers of the corset to ensure that the corset wins the battle.  Corsets designed for waist/rib training incorporate another strip along the lower rib area.

Piping:  A length of fabric wrapped around a cord, inserted in between seams.