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Wearing a corset. How to put on and take off.


Victorian corsets have a feature no other item of clothing has. The simple steel busk is an engineers dream. On one side is a pin with a large head and on the other is a hook tapered to a slot. This simple device on the front of a corset can be hooked on to the pin and when under tension will not come off.


So to put on a corset first you have to loosen the laces. The knot at the bottom of the corset should not be touched. That is not the way in. The two loops of lace from the centre of the corset need to be fed back through the eyelets until they are only approx. 6 inches long. The laces will make the back of the corset widen and it becomes a bit floppy as the two halves move about. The corset can then be wrapped around the waist and the busks clipped together. Once this has been done the laces can be pulled from the two loops and worked back out of the eyelets thus closing the gap at the back of the corset and reduce your waist. Care must be taken when initially tightening the corset as these busks work best under tension and are likely to slip of the pins when the corset is put on before tightening the lacing.  It is always best to adjust the corset position to get comfortable and then tighten the lacing until the pins are under a little tension.


A quick check to make sure none have come unclipped and then continue lacing the corset to a tightness you desire. Failure to do this check will result in the time consuming unlacing of the corset. Do not be fooled into thinking you can just simply clip an open busk closed on a tightened corset as it will damage the fabric, bend the other busks or break a nail!  Once the corset is tight these busks will remain pulled into their closed position. Simple and effective.


The corset lacing may be tightened towards the centre by gently but firmly pulling the lacing in the centre. The jerking and foot in the back methods are for films only. You will be surprised how powerful the gentle pull of the laces can be and the laces will all take the strain of the corset. One you have tightened the corset to feel comfortable the laces can be tied in a bow at the back. Do not take the laces around the corset as this will damage the corset and can be uncomfortable as it causes pressure when the corset and body become one.


When taking off the corset the temptation is to unclip the busks when the lacing is still tight. Some busks will come open but then the pressure and tension is transferred to the ones still closed. This can cause bending of the steel busk and damage to the pins. Ensure the lacing is free of tension before opening the front of the corset. Tell tale signs of a corset taken off too early are bent busks in the middle section of the corset.

Any questions we will be happy to answer.


Corsets and lacing.

Tightlacing a corset can give you a lot of spare lacing. If you put on a corset and reduce your waist by 2 to 3 inches the laces tumbling from the back of the corset will increase in length. Some corsets have 14 to 20 eyelets, the gap as you put the corset on can be approx. 3 to 4 inches apart. As the lacing is pulled this gap will reduce to 1 inch wide. That is a 2 inch reduction on the gap and can result in 40 inches of extra lace once the corset is tightened. This is a lot of cord to deal with and many new to corseting make the mistake of wrapping it around the waist and tying it at the front. This lace can cause uneven pressure on the corset, distorting the boning and material. It can also be very uncomfortable to the wearer as it focuses the pressure in a very narrow band around the waist causing red marks on the skin if worn for a long time. The corset is always best tied at the back. This allows the lacing to find its own equilibrium and give a comfortable fit. Sometimes the lacing will move in the eyelets as you move, a little bit like ships rigging, taut but controlled.

Once the corset has been worn a few times the lacing will not need to be unlaced fully to put on the corset as your body becomes accustom to the shape. This could lead to the long lacing being spare for use. You need to be sure when shortening the lacing and should only be carried out when you are certain the extra lacing is not required. Then and only then you should cut the laces shorter. This can be a tricky thing to do but the lacing on a quality corset will have a join in the laces where it is knotted. Normally on the bottom of the corset between the bottom eyelets. Place the corset around your waist and clip the busks together. Don not tighten the corset. The lacing should be loose enough for you to put on the corset and take it of comfortably. The corset needs to be taken off and laid flat on a surface with the gap of the corset clearly flat. You will have two loops from the middle eyelets. The gap of the eyelets should be approx. 3 to 4 inches apart. Pull the lacing loops to a shorter length, say 12 inches long and work the extra lace down to the bottom by the knot. The gap in the corset between the eyelets should remain at the gap measured earlier. Once the extra lacing has been moved to the bottom of the corset tie a knot in the laces. Do not cut at this stage. Place the corset on, does it fit, is there enough of a gap to put the corset on. Good, now lace up the corset in the normal way to the size you would normally wear it.  All ok? Now loosen the laces and take the corset off. If this has worked you can now cut the lace under the knot and the extra lace can be abandoned. Simple yet as a supplier of pre worn vintage corsets you will be amazed how many wearers cut the corset at the loop end and tie a knot in it. This not only weakens the lacing but gives a bulky knot on each loop that can be difficult to tie but more importantly untie when the lacing is tight leaving you trapped in your underwear!

 Here we see a corset wit the laces loose but on the body. This is how it should look going on and just before you unclip the busks.

Any questions please ask.    

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