There is a certain joy in being able to share an enthusiasm with others. Whether it’s coaching, giving a talk, or exchanging information it’s undeniable that when there is something that sparks your interests and you connect with other who share it you get a certain thrill run through your biological meats and hit you hard in the soul. I’ve touched on, thoughout this little blog-o-mine that one of my passions is corsetry and sharing that with other interested parties. Ten years ago, Melanie Talkington connected with me and through the years shared her passion, knowledge and love of the corset with me. This is my way of paying it forward to everyone who’s asked me about my corsets and collection and life inside the corset…
Since most of these questions come when I’m out at shows (ie: kind of intoxicated in public) and over loud music, it’s hard to really get down into the nitty-gritty and have a decent conversation that isn’t facilitated by shouting over the din and sticking your face an inch from their ear. In the burlesque world, this means the dangers of getting your fake eyelashes tangled in someone’s hair flower or birdcage veil, prompting you to walk crab-like to the bathroom like conjoined twins until someone more sober than you can detach the pair of you. At which point, you’ll likely go back out into the main room and repeat until it’s time to go home. The whole enterprise is vastly unsatisfactory. So, I’ve put together a list of some of the FAQs I get on the frequent with the hopes of answering questions, and provoking new ones (of which I’ll be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge and experience.)
1. Can you breathe in that?
I don’t have a great lung capacity for holding my breath, other than underwater, wearing a mermaid tail and even then… so it stands to reason that yes, I CAN breathe in my corset. Often, depending on how tight it is and how high it comes up over the rib cage are factors. Who don’t STOP breathing, but you tend to draw breath through the chest more than expanding your diaphragm. But for all intents and purposes, I’m still alive, not passed out, and drawing breath. Which leads me to…
2. Can you eat in that?
Eat, drink, fuck, and write dirty text messages. I’ve ridden bikes (velo and motor) in corsets, and in one case (though this was related to me after the fact) climbed a rather large oak tree after a bottle of wine. The style can determine range of motion, since some styles will be longer on the body, therby restricting movement. If you have a style that is cut higher on the hip, you’ve got more freedom of movement, but the longer over the hip, and the higher on the ribcage the corset is can hinder one’s flexibility.
In the case of eating, two things is you won’t be able to eat a ton. I’d avoid anything that’s a bread product or pasta. These things will expand in your stomach, and so if you eat, say, a large plate of tortellini and then take your corset off, it will expand in your digestive track, and it will be painful. Happened to me once, no one warned me, and I thought I was gonna die. I didn’t but I want to assure you that death is not imminent, but you WILL be very uncomfortable. Giving you fair warning here.
3. Are there long term side effects?
While wearing the corset on the regular, your body can get used to the the reduction more quickly than if you wear one, say, twice a year. While women have two floating ribs which do shift, they never permanently change. Your body has a wonderful muscle memory whether it’s cardio, weight training, flexibility, and even waist training. Again, if wearing a corset/waist training is done gradually over time your body gets a chance to adjust. While I have no adverse effects to report, some of the benefits I’ve experienced is improved posture, and knowing that as I age and the cartilage between my vertebrae disintegrates, the support from my corsets will prevent me from developing a hump. Just sayin’.
4. Alcohol. How does that affect you in the corset?
Well, okay. Two things about drinking while in a corset… first let me say I learned the hard way for the rest of you so you need not repeat my messy, messy mistakes. If you normally can put away six singles in 4 hours, cut that tolerance in half. It’s erring on the side of caution, since everyone’s body is different, but it’s the most consistent formulae I’ve come up with. The math goes like this: I can drink three doubles in three hours (one cocktail per hour) normally. In a corset, I can do one single per hour. The problem is your fine until you take your corset off; at which point you become a laughing lunatic and captain of the Floor Ship. Been there, done that, and had to untag the photos off of Facebook.
The second is anything with carbonation. That means keeping an eye on your mix (soda, cola, ginger ale etc.) and your champagne and sparkling wines. As much as I love to attack a bottle of the bubbles with the gusto of a rapper at a strip club, the carbonation will build up in your system and at worst give you cramps from the gas or at best the ability to produce loud basso profundo belches that will ensure you impress only 14 year old boys. So again, be mindful of consumption, lest you want to feel like a gassy toad the rest of your evening.
Now, To give you an idea of some of the style that are off-the-rack that I used to sell at Lace Embrace, here they are on me….
The little black dress of the corset dress. Usually the first corset most start with is a basic black cincher, super versatile to just pull in one’s waist. Cut higher on the waist and a good little starter corset.
The overbust version of the Cincher corset. Sweetheart line, offers coverage to most bustlines. If you have more treasure in the chest, you might not get as much coverage. Depends on your level of modesty…
The Clara: Lace Embrace used to do this as a custom corset, but popularity demanded it for the classic collection of ready-to-wear. This is based on a late 1880′s sport corset. Cut high on the hip to let ladies ride horses, pennyfarthings and so on. I have worn this on bikes, both pedal and motor. Not ideal for someone who wants more tummy/hip control, and can look a little on a belt with someone with a longer torso. However, those who like it, like it a lot.
I don’t have photos of me wearing either of these, but the Edwardian is like the Cincher, though longer in the hip, and the Eyenede is her overbust version. Both are good for those long of waist or wanting more tummy/hip control action… The Edwardian is a close second to the Cincher in popularity and versatility.
At the end of the day, having friends who share your interest/passion are always a plus. Being in the burlesque world I spend a lot of time with other ladies in a frequent state of undress and have the joy of helping them in (and out) of these garments. While it’s important to be able to get in and out of your own corset, like everything else, it’s always nice to have a little assistance.
Keepin’ it tight.
Little Miss Risk