Thought I would start this discussion as my quick search indicated that it hadn't yet been covered.
Since I was first able to afford a waist cincher in college, some type of corset has been a vital part of my outfit. I wouldn't even consider going out in public without it. There are many types available out there, but my personal recommendaiton is to stay away from corsets you get in local lingerie shops, or from Fredericks of Hollywood. They are mostly lighter weight and designed for natural women, who are not interested in serious waist cinching, and already have some semblence of a figure. Some of my sisters who are well established in their transition, and have developed a feminine figure, may be able to wear these, but they are not nearly heavy-duty enough for me. For those of us not blessed with a feminine figure, you want to find a heavy duty corset that is designed for serious waist cinching, and designed to last. Look at the cordage or ribbon supplied, the eyelets or closures and look for reinforced stiching to determine if you think it is going to hold up. To tight-lace correctly, the corset needs to be able to withstand a serious amount of pressure, especially if you intend to sit, move, cough or sneeze in it. I've know a simple sneeze to literly blow out the closures of inferior model corsets.
The issue here is price. None of these are cheap, but you generally get what you pay for. My recommendaion is to save up your money and pay the extra to get a good, quality, heavy-duty corset from a place like Romantasy in San Francisco. http://www.romantasy.com/
They make some models specifically for men or the Transgender community, and know what is required. Ann Grogan, is both knowledgeable and helpful, and will get you what you need. The Romantasy web page will step you through the process of collecting measurements (if you can't personally go to San Francisco). From these measurements, they will send you a pattern, to check the fit, before your corset is hand-made to your individual measurements.
I wear a 1901 type corset, because it provides a greater degree of rib-cage control. I've included a picture of myself to show what is possible. In this picture, I am wearing a control slip over the corset to create a seamless figure effect. Notice how reducing the waist gives the effect of hips, even if you don't really have any. However, you could easily wear hip padds under the slip. I am also wearing silicone brest inserts under the slip.
Let me stress, this is an un-doctored image. I normally have about a 38" waste, but can easily get it down to 32" or so with relative comfort. (I've been doing this a while.) More is possible with training, but a reduction of 5" seems to be the norm for starters. I find that it helps to be a little "soft" in the middle. So while I try to minimize body fat, especially in the mid-section, I try not to do too many crunchs, as the abdoninal strengthing seems to limit your ability to cinch.
Just my personal thoughts. Hope they are helpful.
Gretta you're right on. A well fitting corset can do wonders for your look and dramatically improve your posture. Ann Grogan knows her business but it's difficult to achieve a good fitting without traveling to her studio in San Francisco or meeting up with her at a TG convention.
I generally wear an under bust corset with separate hip pads (from Espy Lopez of Classic Curves) and bra with silicone inserts (from Janet's Closet).
I agree Connie. Corsets are not for everyone. It takes training and dedicaiton. But with that effort, can come some great results.
Jennifer, I find not only posture improves, but self-confidence as well. And there is nothing like a constricting corset to control your appetite. If I could only spend more time wearing it.
I also like corsets and have several in my wardrobe. A couple were bought with tight lacing in mind (one day maybe). Under or over some evening wear they make for such a nice figure. Mind you the long line ones make it a bit tricky for me to get in and out of the car as I tend to bump my head (can't bend my torso much).
Its approaching summer now here in Brisbane Australia with temperatures hitting the 30C mark (high 80s Fahrenheit) so they are getting packed away until its cooler. Interesting that I had more of a thing for them before I started transitioning. Now living as a woman full time I prefer a cooler, more free flowing bright and colourful style of clothing which thankfully is also this summers fashion here.
Great post Gretta! Thanks for covering the topic.
I pretty much agree with what's been said here except that I find getting the corset done up nice and snug isn't much of a challenge at all. Just make sure the corset is laced properly. The long laced ends should appear as big loops coming out at the waist .. not at the top or bottom (hope this makes sense!).
Regarding quality, especially for tight lacing, buy the absolute best quality you can afford, and if you have the budget for custom-made, even better. We tend to have narrower hips and wider rib cages that the bodies that off-the-rack corsets were made for. I actually have a corset that I wear upside down for this reason.
So, buy 4 to 6 inches smaller than your regular waist measurement and break the corset, and your body, in slowly. Don't try to lace the corset up fully at first (or ever). The commitment you have, and the extra time you spend breaking it in will greatly enhance the experience and the lifespan of the corset .. especially if your body starts to contour. Remember,your internal organs will start to move a little .. go slow! Overdoing it can lead to bruised ribs .. don't ask me how I know this!
About a transsexual artisan
I've examined various posts here on "Pe" regarding corsets, some dating back to 2010. I was nonplussed to find no mention whatsoever of one of the more accomplished corsetière (corset maker) here in America despite the fact that she's a very OUT trans sister. I suppose the only remedy is for me to take the initiative and share with you my knowledge about Fran Blanche.
Fran sustained a loving and creative relationship with a natal female named Amy Crowder who basically set a world standard for the fabrication of corsets. At age 39, suddenly passed away May 22, 2010. Fran inherited several of Amy's traditions of fabrication although the core of her designs are original and uniquely informed by her experience as an engineer. This fusion of tradition and modern material science has led Fran in the development of innovative, strong, lightweight corsets that are perfect for the tightlacer seeking to achieve a classic wasp waist.
For those who haven't noticed, I live in Mesa, Arizona. The climate of my desert wonderland doesn't naturally lend itself to a daily tightlacing regime unless you can afford to stay inside in the air conditioning around the clock. I lead an active life and I'm not certainly not independently wealthy. My life that demands that I be out and about throughout the day in bone dry heat that is often above a 100° F. Trying to wear a heavy, tri-layer cotton corset design at least 20 hours of the day as is normal for waist training would be sheer madness in my humble opinion.
Fran has eschewed the use of the relatively flimsy cotton mesh which appears to be the predominant choice for "Summer" corsets of our day. Instead she has developed a corset fabricated from strong, durable polyester mesh which allows the skin breath, is light in weight and most important for my purposes strong enough for serious tightlacing.
As with most people that adopt the tightlacing lifestyle, a term I don't use lightly, the target goal is to wear the corset as long as possible throughout the day. This is done over a period of years by listening to one's body and carefully adjusting the corset's tension over the course of the day and obviously loosening it at night while one sleeps. When engaged in waist training the corset is only removed to bathe and put on a fresh corset liner. I'm talking about a goal of eventually achieving 20 to 23 hours of wear per day, every day of the week.
I've found a local tailor that is very experienced and has assured me that he can alter my "off the shelf" clothing to look natural while I wear my corset during the day. As I'm able to progressively cinch my corset tighter he will fashion bespoke clothes that conform to my corseted dimensions at a reasonable cost. Well reasonable considering the kind of work I'm asking him to do. I've chosen to have my corsets made in black and free of embellishments so that they don't show under my clothes. My goal is to have a wasp waist that gives the illusion of being as natural as possible.
The Contour Corset Company
Polyester Summertime Corsets
If you want to watch and listen to Fran discuss what it's like to be an very openly out transsexual business woman, engineer and artisan then find your way to YouTube and search for Fran Blanche Trans or Transsexual. She speaks very well about transitioning at 20 and her decision to live openly as a transsexual woman I believe since 2008.
Fran is a good friend of mine, and even if she weren't I'd highly recommend her work. She makes THE best corsets out there. Worth every penny!
This is very interesting! As a musician, I've been aware of Fran's highly-regarded (and comparably priced) guitar effect pedals (Frantone) for several years, but I had no idea that they were the work of a woman, let alone a trans woman. If I had known that, I certainly would have purchased one while she was still in that business.
So now I will seriously have to consider placing an order with her current business (sooooo tempting!!!).
@Auriel Kitsu .. thank you soooo much for sharing this! I totally fell in love with Fran and love her work. Must order!