Corsets are a great way to add flair and structure to a costume (or even a muggle outfit), but they are not something to jump into uneducated. I'm not talking about waist training here, just about safety and a basic comparison of some different popular brands. If you are interested in waist training, I really suggest checking out Lucy Corsetry and The Tightlacing Society (a Facebook group) for info. If you have health issues that make you concerned about wearing any sort of corset for any reason, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before jumping in.
If you follow me, you know that most of my costumes begin with deciding which corset to feature. My first corset was purchased around 2009 at Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival to the tune of $300, and I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into other than something pretty. The vendor actually did put his foot on my back to tighten it. Here is where I tell you not to ask or allow someone to do that to you, especially with a brand new piece. You can injure your corset or, more importantly, yourself. I don't recall the name of the vendor and my corset has no maker tags in it. It is, to date, the most expensive corset I've ever bought. Don't be like me. While I do love that piece, please do your research and make sure you're buying from a reputable company that makes quality products. Just because something is expensive, doesn't mean it's a well-made, trustworthy piece.
My first corset. Sorry, I don't have any great pictures of it. This is the Ringmaster outfit my mom and I made for it. That's hubby as Cobra Commander on our first Halloween as a couple.
Don't be afraid to ask around and find out where other people you know or follow have gotten their corsets from and what they think of them. I was one of the first of my friends to get into them, so I didn't have this luxury. The pieces I bought after my RenFest corset were from Corset Story. Back then, you could get them for really, really low prices. I still didn't know much other than that I liked corsets. Corset Story is pretty prevalent now, but they are not a maker that I would recommend, especially for the prices they retail at now. I've talked to too many people who have had problems with the boning popping out, breaking, and actually injuring them (as in badly enough to scar). If that isn't enough, they really don't give you a very nice shape. While their stock photos may show them being very nicely hourglass shaped, that is not the reality of them. There is no waist definition. You just kind of looking like you're squished in a really big Chinese finger trap tube. For some shape comparison, here is my friend, Octavia, in a Corset Story piece, as compared to the stock photo of it. It was her first corset.
Do you notice how much less curve this piece has on an actual person? These next pictures are with a cincher from Timeless Trends.
I also want you to look at the stock pictures in comparison to each other. The Timeless Trends piece looks so very uncurvy until it gets on a body. Photos of corsets on a white background are easier to photoshop that pictures of a corset on a body. If you check out Timeless Trends' website, you'll notice that they do provide stock photos of their pieces on models. Now check out Corset Story's website. Pictures of their corsets on people are few and far between. There are definitely none available on the individual listings. You always want to be able to see a piece you are interested in on people, not just a background.
These next photos are of Octavia in a costume corset by Heavy Red.
As you can see in the stock photo, this corset is kind of a demi-bust, but depending on your shape it may or may not actually sit like that. Octavia is a busty girl, so it sits down lower on her than the Heavy Red model, which makes this long piece extra long for her and it's not very comfortable. This is why it's a good idea to really look at the corset you're thinking of buying on actual bodies.
So, what else should you learn before you buy a corset? You can tell by now that they are not all created equal; a lot of that has to do with boning. To say it simply, STEEL. You want steel. There is no room for plastic or acrylic boning if you want to actually look nice. Those are inferior materials that break easy, give poor support, and just do not look nice. There are two different types of steel bones: spring and spiral.
And now for more about why you don't want a Corset Story piece. They use none of the aforementioned types of boning. Their bones are steel, but they are hard, barely flexible sheet or scrap steel. Between this and their curve-lacking pattern, it's no small wonder they make people look like they have less curves with it than without. So, while they have attractive designs, you're better off going with a more simple corset and embellishing it yourself. Bonus: you won't look like everyone else!
Measuring yourself correctly is key. Different brands may want different measurements taken in different ways. Read their FAQ and if you still have any questions, don't hesitate to contact them and ask questions to make sure that the piece you get is the best fit and style for you. Don't tell them that your measurements are smaller than they really are. Pretty much everyone wishes that they were skinnier, but wearing things that are too small for your body is never a good idea, especially when they're corsets. You can end up hurting yourself. If you live near a place that sells corsets or you know that a maker you like is coming close to you soon, there is nothing like a live fitting to help you find the piece that will work best for you. No one knows their work better than the creator!
Once you have your corset, it is tempting to put it on and lace it down as tightly as you can for the most dramatic shape. Don't do it! Your corset needs to warm up to you and you need to get used to it. Put it on so it's comfortable and once you're used to each other, snug it up a little bit at a time. If something hurts, that's bad. You don't want your corsets to hurt. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if something seems wrong.
Good brands to start with:
Damsel in this Dress
There are lots of other brands that I am looking forward to trying, so keep an eye on my blog! ;)
Don't think that you can't wear corsets at all if your first one doesn't work for you the way you want it to. There is no single corset style that works for every body. There is some trial and error here. I'm pretty sure most people who have bought corsets have had several that simply didn't work for them. It happens and it will be OK.
Have you worn a corset before? Let us know what it was and your experience with it in the comments! If you have any questions that I didn't answer, ask me in the comments or on Facebook! I promise to answer them as best I can!
I have to admit straight from the beginning that this isn't something that I had planned to do tonight! I've known for a while that we were going to see the new Star Wars movie tonight, but I decided only a few hours beforehand that I wanted to dress up for it! I didn't do any practice on this makeup, and everything I wore was from my existing wardrobe. I do have an interest in building upon this for an original Sith character eventually! Sorry these aren't great photos, I just thought it would be fun to share with you. Did you dress up to see the movie or do a Star Wars cosplay lately? Share your pics with me on Facebook!
I didn't want to go too over the top with my makeup for tonight because I'm wearing makeup for a few parties and events this weekend and was worried about breaking out. When I improve on this look, it will definitely be more elaborate! I highly recommend looking up other Sith makeup to get some ideas as to what kind of look you really like.
I would normally have started off bare faced, but I went to hubby's holiday work luncheon earlier today, so all I did was take off my eye shadow and blush, then touch up my concealer and powder.
Next I applied some red/copper eye shadow. I took it up further than I would for regular looks because Sith need drama!
I darkened my eyebrows to go with the wig I planned to wear. If you aren't wearing one, you can do your regular brow treatment or you could look up a tutorial to "disappear" them and be more elaborate. It was also at this point that I realized I should actually put on what I was planning to wear so that I wouldn't mess it up later! I layered three shirts. The turtleneck was because it's December in Pennsylvania. Don't worry about the lace on the shoulders of the top shirt-- it'll get covered up; I know that lace is very much not Sith-y! ;)
Added red wings.
Went to town with eyeliner! Don't worry if you screw something up-- incorporate it into your design! Mine is far from perfect, but it worked for tonight and I don't think it's too bad for no practice on this look! I also did some contouring for sharper cheekbones.
Sorry that the final picture of the whole outfit isn't great. Hubby doesn't usually work my phone and I forgot to try again after the movie. I hope that you had fun watching this anyway and that it might help you with a direction to take your own Sith look in. May the Force be with you, and don't forget to share your pics with me in the comments or on Facebook!
If you've been following me for a bit, you know by now that I run a group that organizes costumed photoshoots. I have had some people ask about how I do this and how I got it started, so I thought I'd share my experience here with you! I was inspired to start my own group because my friend, Josephine, is in an organization that does amazing shoots out in California called Worlds of Wonderment. I am friends with several other local costumers and cosplayers and we are always looking for more opportunities to get out, wear our awesome stuff, and share our craft, however, living in Central Pennsylvania feels kind of like being alienated from the rest of this community because we're kind of the middle of nowhere. I decided to set out on creating DuBois Area Fantasy Photoshoot out of the town I live in because there are several towns to which we are central and most of the shoots are hosted within an hour of Dubois, PA. I run everything through Facebook because the majority of people have it and it makes it a lot easier than trying to set up a separate forum and trying to admin it. I also don't think that many people would be happy with having to go to yet another website. You need to be ready to be in charge to do this. If you're interested but don't want to be the organizer, talk to friends you think would be interested and see if you can loop one of them in.
Step Two: Advertise! No, I don't mean that you have to pay to advertise your page with facebook or anyone else. Share your new public photoshoot page with your friends and invite them to like and follow it. Share it into local groups, whether they are for costumers or not. I shared often into just out local DuBois groups to connect with photographers and people who wanted to model. If you have a blog or a website, use it to help get the word out. Get your friends who want to get this started to help spread the news and invite people they know, too. While you're doing this, don't forget to be adding content to your page to help keep people interested. I share lots of inspiration pics from a lot of different sources-- mostly photogs and models on Facebook whose work I admire. I wouldn't upload pics from people who are not a part of your group to share because then others may think that they are a part of your organization. You should always tag and credit the people in the photos if you do it that way, though.
Step Four: Plan your first shoot! I recommend that for your first time out, you go somewhere public so people don't worry about creepers and whatnot. Ours was done at our city park and some of my amazing friends reserved a pavilion and donated it to us. You don't need a pavilion, but it was really nice to know that we had a central meeting area. Before they did that, I had just been planning to have everyone meet by the stage there. You will get people giving you weird looks and asking you what you're doing. Our first shoot did not have a theme because I didn't want to alienate people by making them feel that their costume wasn't welcome. Anyone under 18 is required to bring a parent/guardian with them. I try to keep our shoots free if possible. If people in your group are willing to put out the money to rent a location all together, go for it, but it can be difficult to get everyone to send you money and then you also have to deal with people cancelling last minute and wanting a refund. Think about whether you want to have each photographer bring a release document for models to sign or if you want to make one for the group in general. I do the latter, then scan them in and upload them to Google Docs so all photogs have access to it. I started out doing a new release for each shoot, but as we have now made it into our second year, I am going to be changing to yearly ones so we don't have to spend time doing it at each event. Some photographers will probably still bring their own forms even if you do this and that's OK.
Step Five: Make a Facebook event page! You're going to have to do this from your public page and not within the group. Facebook has recently rolled out some changes so if you make the event in the group, only group members will be able to join it. This is good for small things, but not for a big shoot. No one will be able to invite other people if it is not a public event. To create an event on your page:
Step Six: Have your shoot! Your first event is going to be chaos and everyone is going to be nervous. It's OK. When I run mine, photographers have one month to have their images edited and either uploaded into the group or shared with us from their page or site. People go through the photographers to order their prints. Print cost is left up to the photographers. I am kind of a dictator and require that if you share photos into my group that they need to be put in an album to make sure things don't get lost. After each shoot, I come home and create a cover image and make the album or things will just be uploaded all over the place and then you have to track them down and it's a lot of stress. It will still be stressful keeping everyone and everything in order, but it's worth it-- honest!
Step Seven: Upload the photos from your first event to your public page. Create an album and add the photos you got back from your first event if your photographers and models are OK with it. Make sure to include all credits. Don't tag peoples' private, personal pages on these. If they want to tag themselves, they can go do it, but since it's public, everyone will be able to follow the tags back to them. I never post last names for minors. I always check first to see if any photographers or models don't want their photos on the public page.
Why should you put pics in a public album? So everyone can see what you've achieved and share! It's also great for people looking to see if they want to join your group to be able to see the work you've done previously and who is a part of the group.
Step Eight: Plan more fun stuff! The first shoot with my group was 5/30/14. We have had six big shoots that were open to whoever wanted to come, as well as several smaller ones that were just planned for the group. We've had modeling classes and a luncheon-- there are all sorts of cool things you can do and lots of fun people to meet in doing it!
Of course there are more details that I'd like to get into, but to save this post from becoming too massive, I'm going to gather them together for Part Two! If you have any questions or concerns that you'd like to make sure I cover, send me a message at Figment Costuming or post them in the comments! And don't forget to follow me on Facebook! There's also a giveaway going on! Find it HERE!