As a sideshow performer, I’m often asked a lot of questions. “How did you get started?”, “Does it hurt?”, “where did the balloon go?”. All good questions, with equally good answers. But hardly a show goes by without someone asking me about my corset and where to get good ones. So I decided to write this article. * This is being reposted from my website, MabJustMab.com
I tend to wear corsets that are suitable for “tight lacing”. They are sturdier, have better shape, give great reduction, better boning, etc. I personally prefer the “underbust” or “waist cincher” styles. Other folks perfer the “overbust” cups, but they ~never~ fit right without serious customization, and even then, there are good days and bad days. I like the Victorian style a little better. Renascence styles do not feature the curves as much. The 1950′s styles are rather industrial looking, and I have to admit, they look kind of cool too. All of the corsets I wear use front busk closures and lace in the back (lace to the middle!).
A lot of times you will see cheap “corsets” that offer no reduction at lingerie/goth shops. They tend to buckle and crease and do nothing to accent the dead sexy shape of a woman. There is a time and a place for those types of garments, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
My old corset (that survived 4+ years of rough wear) came from Brute Force Leather/ Fallen Angel Fashions. His corsets use solid steel boning, (which I like), and have a good shape. The customer service is touch and go/crap-shoot. His corsets are at the high end of pricing, so I decided to shop around till I found better for less, which I did.
I also have a black and white pinstripe that came from Isabelle’s: http://www.corsetmaker.com. She uses spiral steel boning which is more flexible than solid steel boning. The cut and her pattern for the underbust is excellent, and gives a good reduction. It was an off the rack job, on sale, and around $99. It looks great, fits great, and feels great. Great deal!
You can’t discuss corsets shops without mentioning Timeless Trends. They are the McDonalds of corsets. They have a standard formula pattern, not much variation between the cut of their corsets. Since they cut/build in bulk, most of their corsets are $99. I have seen them on some people and they look stunning. I tried one on and it didn’t look/feel right at all. It has a center peak to separate the boobs (not a flattering look on me) and a high back. The waist of the corset didn’t offer much reduction either. So try on a timeless trend before you buy if you can, but if they work for you, they are a good deal.
My latest and most stunning current corset is from Clockwork Couture. It took almost 8 weeks to get to me, it’s not custom fitted, and has flexible boning (even the busk!). All of these features usually lead to unhappy Mab. But lo! I tried it on, and the cut of the corset is beyond stunning. It offered the greatest waist reduction of all my corsets. I suspect if I ordered a smaller size, I would have been able to get a few more inches out of it. The corset was in the high end of mid-level price range. I was lucky enough to catch it on sale. They run between $200-$250.
Someday I hope to get one of the ~really~ nice ones, specifically a Delicious custom job. (Actually, anything from their shop would delight me to no end.)
If you are getting a corset, a ~real~ corset, expect to spend up to $300 for a basic, well made piece. (Unless you choose to go w/ timeless trends). If you can find a well made/custom for less, ask a lot of questions. Boning used, lined? lacing? busk? etc. There are a lot of people out there that will sell very bad corsets for a lot more than they are worth (but a lot less than you would expect to pay for a nice one).
My current favorite corsetry resource is this corsetry discussion group on Livejournal, which is full of great suggestions, corset sales, and “stay away from this guy!” tips. You can scroll through and read past topics.
Hope this answers some of your questions, but certainly feel free to ask any others. Apparently, I love corsets.