The Corset Guide: Part III

“To put on a corset properly is as much of an art as to make a corset properly.” – Anna Held

In The Corset Guide: Part I, we learned a little bit of the history of corsets, why women wear them today, the dissection of a corset, and the different styles available today. In The Corset Guide: Part II, we learned how to choose the right corset for you, how to be measured, and advice for plus size corsetry. Today’s third part of The Corset Guide, we will learn the art of tight lacing, how to breathe, drink and eat in a corset, and ways to accessorize your corsetry look.

Breathing, Eating and Drinking
The first time I wore a corset, nobody taught me these things, so I’m going to teach you. Most people breathe outward with their stomach muscles, causing the tummy to expand and contract. A corset will not allow the tummy to expand and contract, so it becomes necessary to shift breathing patterns to up and down through the chest. Try it now without a corset. Put a hand on your chest and a hand on your stomach. As you draw in a breath, fill your chest without filling your tummy. It will feel strange at first unless you already breathe this way naturally but if you’re breathing correctly in a corset, it will be your breasts that rise and fall rather than feeling pressure around your abdomen. As you get used to it, you may find yourself beginning to breathe this way even when you’re not wearing a corset.
Eating and drinking are a little more tricky. In my early days, I used to forget to eat and drink entirely. For some women, wearing a corset completely stifles the ability to feel hunger. This may be a reason why women in the nineteenth century were not so apt to eat a lot in public. In private, they often loosened their corsets or took them off completely and, feeling hunger, ate more. The key to eating and drinking in a corset is not to eat three large meals in a day but to continuously eat smaller snacks throughout the time you’re wearing the corset. Don’t guzzle liquids and don’t stuff your face. It will leave you feeling bloated like a sausage crammed in hot dog casing. Sip your liquids. Eat a snack. Give the food a chance to digest a bit and then eat more. By the end of the day, you will not have eaten less but you will have spread out the volume of three big meals into five or six snack sized portions. That way you won’t feel discomfort but you will stay hydrated and get the nourishment you need. Sometimes it will be impossible to avoid a large dinner though. Just eat slow and stop when you feel discomfort. Stop for a few minutes and then start eating again. Meals are not a race! If anything, wearing a corset will force you to slow down and really experience flavors and good conversation.
Tightlacers and Waist Training
Consider this advanced corsetry. You should not jump right into waist training if you have no other experience wearing corsets because it can harm you. Tightlacers are people who wear the strongest heavily boned corsets for anywhere between 8 and 23 hours every day in order to train their bodies to have smaller waists. This practice is largely done in the BDSM world, although don’t judge a tightlacer by her cover. I am not part of the BDSM world but I have done tightlacing before. I don’t do it continuously because I experience discomfort faster than other women due to my disability. Not to worry though. Everything I do in corset culture is safe because I listen to the signals my body gives me. There is a certain level of hypersensitivity in the body that happens when women begin corset work. We are very aware of your shapes, curves, how we’re feeling, the changes happening in our bodies, etc. Sometimes that translates into sexual hypersensitivity, which is why, I suspect, tightlacers are involved in other fetishes.
Tightlacers practice waist training with very specific corsets designed for that purpose. The process is slow and progresses along making the waist smaller and smaller. Most people in the lifestyle have been doing it for years. From Wikipedia:
The most frequent aim of tightlacing is a slim waist. Depending on the silhouette desired, the shape of the ribcage may be altered as well. Wearing a corset can also change the bustline, by raising the breasts upwards and shaping them, flattening the stomach, and improving posture. However, these effects are only temporary and will be lost on removing the corset. Indeed, excessive corset wearing has been claimed to weaken certain muscles, making it more difficult to maintain posture without a corset. Although some tightlacers aim to get their waists as small as possible, others prefer to reduce their waists to a certain point and go no further as they consider that proportion and aesthetics are more important than achieving the smallest possible measurement. For example, cross-dressing males may seek to make a more feminine-appearing waistline through tightlacing, but do not want to make their waists too small, as this would look unnatural. Tightlacers typically wear a corset for at least 12 hours a day, every day, when they are most active, although more serious tightlacers (particularly those trying to achieve the smallest waist they can) wear corsets for up to 23 hours a day, taking the corset off only in order to bathe. Tightlacers sometimes have a partner, called a trainer, to help and support them. However, it is possible for somebody to tightlace without a partner.

In my case, I’m not an extremist. I can’t go to those extremes because of my disability. My natural waist fluctuates between 26 and 29 inches. As a tightlacer, I go down to about 22 inches, sometimes a little smaller. I don’t have the major side affects that other tightlacers do, such as the shape of my body becoming altered on a permanent level.

Prolonged tightlacers find that their ribs become narrower, tummy fat is shifted downward to the pelvic region, and even internal organs move into different positions. While I never judge what people do to their bodies, I personally cannot do that to myself. I have a hard enough time keeping my body in good condition. A tightlacer has to be healthy and in strong physical condition.

Do not attempt tight lacing if you have heart problems, breathing problems, blood flow problems, or anything else that might cause fatigue or weakness, as this process will intensify any weakness in the body.

From regarding the art of tight lacing.

Things to Do

  1. Wear an undershirt (cotton) or corset liner under the corset
  2. Moisturize the skin and make sure there are no dry spots. Red skin is a sign of dry skin
  3. After putting the corset on, pull the laces snug, not tight and straighten out the shirt or tube underneath. Reach behind you and run your fingers under the eyelet edges and lift the corset away from the skin a bit, while straightening the shirt or tube with the other hand. Settle the corset again, twist and bend and snug up the laces.
  4. Hook the laces around a doorknob or hook, walk forward until taut and even out the left and right laces, working any uneveness towards the top. Then tighten by pulling the lace crosses bottom to center, center to top with the excess on top evening the two laces out, and then pull the crosses top to center again.
  5. Keep the two sides evenly spaced top to bottom, and avoid a bulging gap at waist.
  6. Make several tours or runs when lacing, only take 1/2″ at a time and resettle.
  7. Once it gets tighter, pause and relax. Walk around and after 10-15min, undo the laces, relax the laces just a little, resettle and go again. After another two or three tours the corset will be on much tighter than before. Repeat this after another 20min or so.  If you plan to tight lace, allow an hour, unless you are already wearing it 23/7, in which case you can probably go a little faster. For a special night out, an hour is a good number if you plan to wear it very tight. It will be much more comfortable.
  8. Take your time when getting into your corset! If you don’t have time, start earlier!
  9. For figure training, the duration in the corset is much more important than the degree of tightness. In fact if you cannot keep yourself from lacing in to your tolerance limit, then relax it by 1/2″ or so once you are “done”, just so you can enjoy it, rather than feeling you are in a fight with your corset.
  10. Don’t eat large meals before or during! No fatty foods, lots of water, fruits and vegetables and fiber. The corset will keep your stomach small and you will not have trouble losing or maintaining weight. In the end you will likely be healthier and more energetic.
  11. Exercise daily. Work the back and stomach muscles, but don’t tone the sides too much as these may “fight” the corset. For an hourglass shape you want your sides to “cave in” as much as possible.  For good cardiovascular health, walking is excellent and you do this can while tight-laced if you like. Watch the breathing. If it becomes labored, slow down to match your pace to your breathing capacity
  12. Wear your corset as often and as long as possible. Sleeping in the corset allows the body to adapt faster and settle into the corseted shape. Usually the corset is relaxed by one or two inches especially if your daytime reduction is greater than four inches.
  13. Proportion is far more important than absolute smallest dimensions:  A slender 31-22-32″ Bust/Waist/Hip would be corseted to 31-20-32″, but would be less dramatic than a 38-28-40″ laced to 38-22-40″.

Things Not to Do

  1. If tightlacing or long term wear is intended, don’t wear the corset directly on the skin
  2. When a spot continues to itch, don’t “sit it through”, but take it off and oil the skin
  3. After putting the corset on, don’t just start pulling the laces at the waist, it may damage the corset (tear out eyelets) and it may bulge and pinch the skin in back
  4. When putting the laces around the doorknob, do not “run away” or let your full weight pull the laces! This will damage the corset and it will not be comfortable! If it only took 5 minutes to take in five or six inches, you probably went too fast!
  5. Don’t pinch the top and bottom and allow a bulge at the waist! This will curve the stays in back and spoil the corset line. It should be hollow in the back. In general the back should curve more inward than the front, but usually less so than the sides.If the top and bottom close and you can’t get the waist to close no matter what, the corset waist size is too small, and you’ll have to train down your waist first and leave some gap at the top and bottom.
  6. Don’t pull it in all at once and tie it off. It’s not going to be anywhere near as tight as it can be and it may wear out the corset faster due to uneven pressure.
  7. Don’t lace to the point of discomfort and then stop,  slow down when you feel it is getting close and enjoy it. If you are in a hurry, aim for less reduction. Even if you have been able to lace down to a certain size, don’t assume that you can always lace down to that size, unless you have been consistently wearing the corset. After a few days off, you have to re-train some to regain the lost ground, before getting down to your smallest size again.
  8. If it does not go down to size, don’t force it, choose different clothing, something that’s less dependent on the corseted size.
  9. Don’t think that by over tightening you can speed up the training. You may in stead get your body to put up a revolt and produce aches and pains. A corset can and will improve your shape in a healthy manner, but only if sufficient time is allowed for.
  10. Don’t eat a big meal and then start tightlacing. No fatty foods, avoid carbonated drinks, mint, tea, coffee, spicy foods may irritate the spincter, and cause acid reflux
  11. Don’t do heavy exercise while tight-laced. Moderate it if you plan to work out while tight-laced. When very tight, your breathing capacity may be reduced, and you need to allow for more frequent but shallower breaths. Walking, hiking, muscle training are not an issue, but running is probably not a good idea. If you plan to do so, just leave the corset off.
  12. Don’t tight lace just for a few hours a day. If you only plan to occasionally wear it, moderate the reduction, probably two or three inches, four inches max.
  13. The smallest waist does not necessarily give the best figure. Shape and proportion are the most important.


Accessorizing Your Corset
A corset is beautiful on its own but adding the right accessories can make it fabulous. My advice, however, is to keep the focus on the corset itself. Overdoing it makes you run the risk of looking like a prostitute. My favorite accessory is a necklace that draws the eye downward along your figure. Other women accessorize fashion corsets with skirts, stockings, heels, etc. It seems that ostrich feathers are very in right now as well. Are you a little bit on the domination side? Get yourself a play whip or feather tickler. Bracelets are a great option for accessorizing too.
Here are some visual ideas:
Tomorrow we will discuss my favorite corsets and where to buy your own.

2 responses to “The Corset Guide: Part III”

  1. Anonymous says:

    >Hi Jessica,

    This is very interesting. I enjoy the information you provide. I have never worn a corset in my life, I never thought about it, really. I might consider it now, just to feel how it feels, how it will make me feel.
    Late 19th century, corsets were used constantly. How did it work for pregnant women? Did they adapt their corsets. Did special corsets exist or were the ladies "excused" of wearing them? Did they have to hide?
    Could women wearing corsets today on a regular basis actually feel a sort of protection by it? I mean outside of the bedroom, playrole reason for wearing a corset. A corset covers the body, the most vulnerable part of a body. Could it be seen as an extra layer? Not just empowerment, but an extra shell?

  2. Heather Anne says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for all this wonderful information! I’m a post op trans-female and trying to get a nice shape to your torso is really hard for people like me. The tips on eating and drinking and allowing you corset to settle and re-lacing it where very helpful. Love and happiness to you and yours.

    Regards Heather Anne Exley – UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *