Fitting and putting on your corset
I’m putting my corset on for the first time. Which way is up?
My corset seems to have changed the way it fits when I got it home! What happened?
The first thing we always ask: Are you sure you have it the right way up? The majority of time, this turns out to be the problem. Most of our corsets are mailed or sold with the bow in the back lacings on the top edge. The bound edge usually points down.
Sometimes, if you got your corset at an event and wore it for a while, you may have found that it felt looser as time passed, so you had it tightened a bit. This is because some people are “shrinkers” – your body temporarily gets smaller around the waist area under compression. When you take off the corset, you “grow back,” and the next time you go to put on your corset, it feels too small. If this happens, loosen off the back until you can close the front, and have the back re-tightened to your current comfort level (this is the easiest way). Or if you don’t have anyone to help you do up the back, just put on the corset so there’s an inch or two of gap left in the front; as your body “warms up” to the corset, odds are that it will do the same shrinking trick, and you’ll be able to tighten the front all the way in twenty minutes or so.
If you are having fit problems that don’t fall into these categories, you should just contact us.
How tightly can I lace the corset?
That depends on you, and the kind of corset you have.
The most important rule to follow: you should never be laced so tightly that you feel at all uncomfortable. Only you can decide how tight that is, so use your judgment, be aware of your body, and don’t hesitate to adjust the fit with the back laces if you need to.
From the standpoint of the corset itself, if the material or stitches are showing signs of stress, such as significant horizontal pull wrinkles or visible stretching of the stitching at the seams, you are lacing it too tightly. Loosen it off a bit or try a larger size, or you will shorten the life of your corset and void the warranty.
If you really enjoy the feeling of lacing very, very tightly, you may want to upgrade to a tight-lacing corset specifically made for the purpose. Our off-the-rack corsets are very sturdy for everyday wear, but are NOT intended for tight-lacing or waist-training. If that’s what you’re after, contact us for information on specially designed tight-lacing corsets (which absolutely must be custom-fitted to your body for safety, as well as made with entirely different materials and construction techniques than “regular” corsets).
How do I lace up the corset by myself?
The first time you’re fitting a new corset to your body, it’s much easier to have someone help you. You can find detailed instructions for this here.
After the initial fitting, you can lace yourself up the front just the way you do up your shoes or a pair of skates. If you forget how, look at the way the back is laced and imitate it.
If you have someone to help you and you find it easier, you could have them loosen off the back laces until you can close the front easily, then have them re-tighten the back to your liking.
If you’re on your own and aren’t flexible enough to reach the back laces, tighten the front as far as you easily can, and wait for ten or twenty minutes while going about your business. Fabric is more elastoic when warm, so you’ll find it much easier to close the front once you let the corset come up to body temperature.
If you like your corset really tight, you might need to tighten it after a few minutes have passed, then again after another several minutes, and so forth, until you get it to close all the way. But remember, don’t over-tighten! Regular corsets (i.e. ones that weren’t specifically constructed to withstand tight-lacing) can only withstand so much pull.
Can you wear a corset inside out?
We don’t recommend that you wear any corset inside out. Though it is sometimes doable depending on the style of corset and your own body shape, it can mess with the curvature of the boning and the seams.
Sizing and size changes
What size corsets do you make?
We can make a corset in any conceivable size or shape. Seriously, we have yet to find an upper or lower limit. We’ve done 18-inch waists and 72-inch waists, M cups to no cups, 4’1″ tall to 6″9 inch tall. Inclusivity is kind of our thing!
What if I outgrow my corset?
It happens to us all sometimes. You have a few options in this case, other than re-homing your corset to a smaller friend or relative that has more or less the same shape and height as you.
- If the corset is new and in excellent condition, you might be able to trade it in to us for partial credit for a new one. We evaluate these on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to get in touch with us.
- If your corset is an older model (one we no longer carry) or is in rougher shape, it probably can’t be traded back in. You could opt to donate it to our program, where we try to provide free corsets to people who need it for back support or pain relief but can’t afford one.
- You can hang onto it if you think there’s a realistic chance that you might fit back into it in the near-ish future, and maybe have us add a modesty panel under the back lacings if you’d be more comfortable with a wider rear gap is you weren’t showing skin under it.
What if I shrink out of my corset?
If you have reason to believe that you have shrunk for good and will never fit your corset again, there are a few options (other than giving it up for adoption to a larger friend or relative with a similar shape and proportions as you):
- If you don’t have sensitive skin and don’t mind a visible exposed join on the inside, a tuck can sometimes be sewn into a corset to take it in by a couple of inches. This works better for underbust corsets than overbust. Because the inside seam will not be enclosed as is usual in our corsets, you may find it irritating (it bothers some people and not others, so we can’t know unless you try).
- If your corset is fairly recently acquired (we still carry that shape/model) and in excellent condition, you could try trading it in for partial credit toward a corset that fits you.
- If your corset is older and/or in rougher shape, a trade-in probably isn’t an option. But you could still donate it to our program, where we try to supply free corsets to people who need it for back support or pain relief but can’t afford one.
What size range do you carry?
No, really. We can and have fit everyone from the truly tiny to the majestically proportioned. If we don’t have your size in stock (and we probably do), we will make it for you.
Corset care and repair
Why has my corset become bent in spots?
Under normal wearing conditions, the boning in your corset should always curve smoothly, but never form a sharp bend or kink.
However, you may occasionally see boning bending more than it should, or buckling a bit at a very curved or soft point on your body. This generally only happens to our earlier-model corsets from before we switched to our current boning, which is considerably stronger.
If you purchased your corset within the last four or five years and you’re having boning issues, be assured that you can simply send your corset to us for a complete re-boning with extra bones thrown in to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you’re wondering what caused bent boning to happen to you (it only affects a tiny, tiny minority of our customers, given that we like to go a bit overboard on boning strength), it’s usually one of the following:
- You’re extremely compressible; your soft tissues, ligaments, and tendons are more malleable than average
- You have a condition such as EDS that causes your connective tissues to be lax
- You have significantly recessed or missing ribs (often, people who have this aren’t even aware of it)
- You just have really super-fabulous curves! The more pronounced your hip-to-waist differential, for instance, the more boning you need. You could probably use more and smaller corset panels as well.
- You tend to keep bending sharply from the lower back, which isn’t good for you in any case, but is sometimes habitual
If you experience severe kinks in our recent corsets, we will often recommend that you go for a custom corset, which will almost certainly feel and fit MUCH better on your body than any off-the-rack one (because the fact that you had this issue at all means that you have a far-from-average body, which will benefit from customization).
What if my corset needs repair?
All our corsets (unless you bought it on sale or you are not the original owner) come with a warranty against defects in materials or construction.
That means if I had a brain floof and skipped a stitch or the binding came undone, we will fix or replace the corset for free except for what it costs you to mail it to us. Within reason, of course. If your corset is ten years old and worn hard and often, the problem is probably natural wear and tear and not a manufacturing defect.
But sometimes, your corset needs repair for reasons that are totally not our fault! It happens – you catch the fabric on a ring or a splinter, you scorch it on a candle, you fall down an icy slope wearing it and burst a seam, and so forth. Contact us, and we’ll see if it can be repaired. You might be surprised at what we can do, but there may be a charge for our time, shipping back to you, and materials.
Basically, if your corset is fairly new and you followed all the care guidelines, but still find a problem with it, we fix it. Acts of cat, laundry accidents, physical trauma to the material, and so forth are not our responsibility — but we may still be able to help.
How can I keep my corset clean?
FYI, This isn’t quite the same question as “How do I clean my corset?”
We always recommend that you wear something between you and the corset. Any old thin, breathable, washable tube top/camisole/undershirt will do, as long as it’s very soft and won’t irritate your skin. Make sure it’s not bulky or loose enough to bunch up when you tighten the corset, or it could dig into you (so elastic garments are probably best). We have corset liners we can make on request if you’re having trouble finding anything appropriate in your closet.
This is necessary because perspiration, skin acids, oils, and some people’s body chemistry can all cause the corset fabric to deteriorate more rapidly. Also, it’s a lot easier to throw a liner in the washing machine than it is to hand-launder a corset.
How should I clean my corset?
The short answer: hand-wash gently in cold water, blot carefully, then lay flat to dry.
The detailed answer is as follows.
Washing the entire corset is something you won’t need to do often if you wear something between you and the corset (which we always recommend, because your skin chemistry can cause the lining fabric to degrade more quickly and reduce its lifespan). If you don’t have a suitable tube top/undershirt/camisole that will work, we can make corset liners on request.
If you spill something on the surface, you can usually spot-clean it by gently dabbing it with a dampened (not wet) soft cloth with a tiny bit of clear dish detergent (try this on a silk or satin surface only at your own risk!).
If you absolutely need to wash the corset, fill your bathtub or sink with several inches of cool water and add three or four tablespoons of clear (and preferably colourless) liquid soap or detergent. Stir until dissolved. Lower the corset into the water, keeping it flat, and immerse all at once. Swirl the corset around in the water, and rub any visible stains very gently with a finger, with a small dab of extra detergent if needed. Drain the water and fill the tub with clean water, and swirl around until the water runs clear. Take out the corset, lay flat on a large light-coloured towel (so you don’t risk getting dye transferred onto your corset), and roll up tightly. Press evenly to blot excess moisture, and repeat with new towels if needed until you get the corset as dry as you can. Leave somewhere out of direct sunlight to dry completely before wearing.
When in doubt, contact us for help before cleaning your corset!
Other corset questions
Why does a custom corset cost so much more than ready-to-wear?
First, by “custom,” we don’t mean every made-to-order standard corset that we create to fill your order. If we used one of our pre-existing patterns (remember, Kitty has developed 99 separate corset shape patterns to date), either as-is or with only minor modifications, we count it as honorary “ready-to-wear,” and you pay pretty much the same as if you bought one off the rack.
A true custom or bespoke corset costs two, three, or (depending on the details and materials) even ten times as much. This is for a number of reasons:
- When you order a custom corset, we need to spend a lot more time consulting with you. We need to nail down what you’re visualizing, what you need it to do, and the adjustments you want to make. We may need to make sketches, and go back and forth several times to refine the final design.
- Then comes the part where Kitty makes a pattern from scratch to your specs and measurements. Sometimes, this is just a lot of math. Other times, it may mean we make a complete duct tape double of your body first. Depending on the complexity, the pattern-making can take anywhere from several hours to weeks.
- If your custom item calls for lots of physical detail (added embellishment, miles of trim, any kind of hand-stitching, etc), the construction can take much longer as well.
The good news: because we make our general corsets in so many different body types as well as sizes, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll need custom work, unless you want a corset for a one-of-a-kind look (such as a cosplay character or a theme wedding), or for body modification (such as for binding, compression of anything other than the waist, or serious tight-lacing).
What can I wear with a corset?
That depends on the effect you want, and where you want to wear it. For a detailed look at this topic, check out this article on how to incorporate a corset into your daily life.
At the very minimum, you need to wear some kind of liner garment under it, even if you usually wear a corset under other clothing. This is so you can keep the corset cleaner and protect it from your skin’s natural acids, oils, and perspiration (which can shorten its life).
You can wear a corset in almost any environment if you style it right. For example, a grey pinstripe corset worn with a suit can go to many offices. Corsets can be used instead of a vest, especially under a blazer or jacket, in many settings – try it over a simple button-down shirt. If you have someone who can help you get dressed in the morning, you could always opt for a solid-front look (only back lacings) for a more subtle look.
A corset worn over a low-necked T-shirt or camisole with trendy pants makes a great outfit for a night out. You can pair one with a dramatic skirt or tuxedo pants and jacket for a black-tie look.
You can take it to a cosplay or anime convention as part of a character look (such as with lace and tulle petticoats for a Lolita outfit), or build an entire Steampunk ensemble around it. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
How should the corset feel on me?
Contrary to popular myth, wearing a corset should never be painful or uncomfortable. A properly fitted corset that follows the contours of your body does NOT hurt, pinch, or dig in anywhere. You should feel like you’re being evenly contained all over. Your back feels supported, your posture becomes perfect, and your abdomen is gently held in but never squished to the point of discomfort. If you own a large bust, your shoulders should relax as they no longer have to carry its weight.
To a point, how tight you want the corset to feel is a matter of personal preference, so do adjust the back lacings to a point that feels best for you.
The first time you put on a corset, you may feel short of breath; if that happens, loosen the back laces at once! You must NEVER stay in a corset that feels uncomfortable. When it doubt, loosen it off!
In a short while, your body typically adjusts, and it’s not unusual for you to want to tighten it back up (or not – it’s up to you!). Twenty minutes after putting on a well-fitting corset, you should forget you have it on.
The only exception to these rules is if you’re deliberately tight-lacing or “waist training.” This is a highly specialized use of corsets which should ONLY ever be attempted 1) after extensive research on the topic, 2) with a corset that was carefully made to measure on your own body, and 3) with a corset that was made using a whole other level of materials and construction techniques. If you use a regular corset for this purpose, you will ruin it, and categorically void its warranty.
Remember to drink water and eat; your body may not realize you’re hungry due to the compression of your stomach. Small quantities of food more often works better than one large meal if you like to have your corset quite snug.
What should I look for in a good corset?
First and foremost, you need strong, stiff boning (that’s the vertical ribs that keep a corset from scrunching down into the smallest part of your torso). Basically, a corset without boning is just a fancy tube top, and would lose all its power to modify your shape.
If you can take four to six inches of a corset’s boning in your hands and bend that length in half, it’s far too weak to support you. Weak boning will kink, poke, and stab you, and is by far the most common reason that a bad corset it painful to wear.
Next, you need heavy-duty lining. If the lining fabric is flimsy, you’ll get excessive pull lines when you lace the corset. It’s not attractive, and you can also rip out the stitches or grommets! A thin lining can also mean that the boning will abrade it easily and poke out through the fabric, which is pretty much the end of the corset.
Also, if you tend to get warm easily, make sure the lining material is made out of a breathable fibre.
Finally, and very importantly, check with the maker that the corset comes in different shapes, not just sizes. A good corset maker will have different corsets for people with long or short waists, straight or flared hips, small or large chest, and varying heights, among others. It’s not a good idea to get a corset from anyone who thinks humans only come in two or three shapes, because odds are that you don’t happen to be one of those shapes.
For more detailed info, check out our page on finding the perfect corset for you.