Thursday, 15 September 2011

Welcome to Corset Week 2011!

We're kicking off the fresh content tomorrow with a feature article from Kiss Me Deadly & FairyGothMother about the difference between authentic and knock-off corsets, but I know I have a lot of new readers here this year (yay!), and I just want to make sure that we all have the same background and context.

I started Corset Week in 2008 because 1) I love corsets and 2) there isn't very much information on corsets written from a customer's point of view. I remember what it was like to try to figure out how to buy my very first corset. What shape did I want? How much should it cost? Where in the world should I buy one? Corset Week is just a way of sharing some of the corsetry information I've picked up over the last several years with you.

If you're brand new to Corset Week, I recommend getting started with a few of these articles from the very first Corset Week. And, as always, feel free to share your advice in the comments section. See you tomorrow!

Corseting for Your Needs, Part II: How to Choose the Right Corset for Your Body

Now that we know how to choose the perfect corset for any occasion, it's time to learn which corset shape is the best fit for your body type. Whether you have a full bust, small bust, long torso, short torso, wide hips, or no hips...there's a style out there to suit you. The second piece in an excellent 2-part series by Marianne Faulkner, this is a timeless article with tons of useful information. For more about Marianne, please visit her website

So you want to wear a corset, but you want to know what corset style will work best on your body. To really be certain, you should try them on, of course, but the following tips can serve as a guideline.

First up, three common bust issues. Both the gamine and the extra-curvy frequently express concerns that corsets aren't for their figure type, and then are amazed at the transformation or support provided by a well-made corset.

For the large of bust, you may find that an overbust corset is more comfortable than a bra. Overbusts supports your breasts from the waist up, distributing the weight and easing the pain of bra straps cutting into your shoulders, or a band around your rib cage. Alterations or a custom corset may be necessary, as the bust apex (fullest point) on a ready to wear corset will probably be too low and create the dreaded “quad boob” effect. A style with gussets (triangular insets) at the bust can provide shaping and support to the buxom better than a silhouette shaped solely by regular seams. Any corset will also provide you with extra back support.

Conversely, if you are small busted (B cup or smaller), try a flat front style. Depending on the shape of your breasts, this can actually add the illusion of multiple cup sizes, as anyone who's ever worn a ren faire bodice can tell you. If you are in love with a corset but the bust is too loose, you can order one with alterations or pad the bust of an off-the-rack.

If your bust is asymmetric, the popular sweetheart silhouette is likely to exaggerate the fact, unfortunately. Go with a straighter neckline and/or flatter bust, and buy cutlets or bust pads to fluff up the smaller side. Take some time in front of a mirror to determine the best placement of the cutlets to create the illusion of symmetry.

If you're small hipped, I've got good news: pretty much any corset will improve your hourglass. A sharp hip spring will make the biggest difference, but it also runs the risk of being too large in the hips. A corset that nips in under the ribs, rather than compressing them along with your waist, will add to the wasp-waist effect.

On the other hand, those starting with a natural hourglass will absolutely need a sharp hip spring. Low-end corsets are often less curvacious than a curvy girl's natural figure.

Corseting lends itself well to full-figured types, but if you're starting with a rounded belly, the displaced flesh still has to go somewhere. A longline style, preferably adjusted to your torso length, will minimize this effect. Wear your corset with a panty or pantyhose that slightly underlaps the bottom of your corset to encourage a smooth line.

For a long torso, stick with a short-hip rather than longline corset. An underbust will break up the span of your torso more. Pair your corset with full-length skirts or those cut to mid-thigh to add length to your legs. If you go for an overbust, make sure your nips are covered! Also check that the the bust is high enough to provide you with flattering support and lift.

Those extremely short of torso are also liable to require alterations. If buying off-the-rack, make sure you can sit down – the boning should not poke into your thighs. An underbust should not prod the bottom of your breasts. Overbusts may have the bust placed too high, and it may poke too high into your underarm as well. A waspie is a safe bet. For a longer underbust, you'll have more wiggle room with a pointed silhouette, which is long at the center front and back but shorter at the sides.

A corset with wide straps, such as a halter or cross-back style, will minimize wide shoulders. Underbusts and overbusts both are available with straps. If going strapless, a sweetheart neckline will flatter more than a boxy flat-front.

Corseting for Your Needs, Part I: How to Choose the Right Corset for Any Occasion

Today's amazing Corset Week feature is from Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique. An independent corsetiere and corset model, Marianne's article is all about how to choose the right corset for your needs...whether that's tightlacing, everyday wear, or a fancy evening out. You can find Marianne on Pop Antique and on Facebook. Come back tomorrow for Part II, which focuses on buying the right corset for your figure.

So you want to wear a corset, and you're wondering where to start. At first glance, they all seem kind of the same – curvy pretty things with laces up the back. Well, your body type and corseting intentions should guide your choice of corset, just like they would for any other garment. A corset worn for a specific costume or event is probably not the same corset you wear to get the appropriate silhouette in your vintage day dress. Feel free to skip ahead until you see a paragraph relevant to you.

Let's begin with the corset's origin: a foundation garment, molding your body to a fashionable silhouette. For 20th century vintage or even under contemporary garments, a cotton underbust will be your friend, coupled with a good bra. Opt for internal, rather than external, bone channels. See if you can upgrade to a “busk cover” as well. Detachable garters are a valuable, and generally inexpensive, add-on; I recommend three pairs. If you are actually dressing for a particular historic period, don't assume that all corsets are created equal. As the centuries turned, the silhouettes did, and your outerwear will neither fit nor look right if you are mixing and matching your foundations.

One popular misconception – and I do mean popular, the uneducated love to tout this “fact” - is that corsets are uncomfortable and terrible for your body. To the contrary, a well fitted corset is actually excellent back support, may even work out your core muscles as you wear it, and encourages good posture. If you struggle with back aches and poor posture, a corset may help combat them. The higher the back, the more supportive the corset. Add straps and it can pull back those rounded shoulders, too.

This being the Lingerie Addict, perhaps what you have in mind is more decadent than utilitarian. For a bedroom corset, it goes without saying that you should feel comfortable and confident in whatever style you select. That will depend on your own personal taste and body. When it comes to taking it off, though, you may hit a bit of a stumbling block – a real corset doesn't have a quick-release button, unless it's one of those steampunky affairs with swing-hook closures. Make the process part of your seduction. Whether you're unlacing yourself or having your partner assist, use the action to heighten the anticipation. Definitely do avoid closed-front corsets. Order a style with built-in or detachable garters for additional sexy functionality. This is the place for sumptuous silk duchess and lace overlays.

If you're thinking of starting waist training, there's no better place to start than a basic underbust corset. Several ready to wear corsetieres have curvy and comfortable styles to get you started until you're ready to upgrade to a custom corset. More panels will mean a better and more comfortable distribution of the shaping (and boning). Cotton will stand up better than silk to the rigors of frequent wear.

For the corseting equivalent of daytime casual, an underbust style can be worn as outerwear. If you are flat-stomached, a short underbust (often called a waspie or waist cincher) can be worn much as you might wear a wide belt. Select a bold print or contrasting color that will complement the rest of your wardrobe, or perhaps even a wool suiting. You can also pair the contemporary “sweetheart” silhouette with your favorite fitted jeans.

Now, if you're dressing up for a special event, this is the time to go all out. Order your corset with that extra trim or that plunging neckline. Leave your black underbust at home. Look at your favorite corsetiere's menu and consider their more unusual silhouettes, such as ribbon corsets or corset bodies. Peruse the decadent laces or the fancy brocades. If you have the moxie to pull it off, get a special occasion corset and not just a bread-and-butter style. You'll find other excuses to wear it, trust me.

If you've made it through this post and are still unsure about where to start, it's hard to go wrong with a black cotton underbust corset with detachable garters. This style will be the most flexible for a variety of outfits and uses.

The Agent Provocateur Sale is Live!!!

If you've read my articles on luxury lingerie, you know I'm not a big fan of paying full price for Agent Provocateur, but I always make a point of stopping by when they're having a sale.

This year's sale is really exciting because several of Agent Provocateur's core ranges have been drastically reduced. I'm talking classics like the Nikita, Love, and Marilyn ranges just to name a few. I picked up the Nikita demi bra, knicker, and suspender belt for myself over the weekend...and I've been wanting it for years.

Below are some more of my favorite looks from the Agent Provocateur sale. Do you plan on buying anything? I would love to hear what you've got your eye on in the comments!

10 More Bridal Lingerie Options for Your Wedding Day

If you were around for Wedding Week in 2010, then you know I believe bridal lingerie should be lacy, pretty, feminine and, above all, comfortable. A couple of weeks ago, the popular women's website GalTime, invited me to write an article with 10 of my wedding day lingerie recommendations. Because it's nearly impossible to limit myself to so few wedding day lingerie sets, I thought it'd be a good idea to post 10 more of my faves to the blog. Which ones do you like best?

Mary Green Crushed Silk Kimono
Available from Figleaves

 Hanky Panky 'Victoria' Chemise
Available from Faire Frou Frou

Between the Sheets 'Playdate' Babydoll
Available from Between the Sheets

 Hopeless Lingerie 'Thalia' Cami & High Waisted Knickers
Available from Hopeless Lingerie

What Katie Did 'Hollywood' Robe
Available from What Katie Did

Samantha Chang Lace Cami & Tap Short
Available from BHLDN

Myla Leavers Lace Chemise
Available from Myla

Agent Provocateur 'Love' Demi Bra & Thong
Available from Agent Provocateur

 Gilda & Pearl 'Backstage' Silk Coverup
Available from Gilda & Pearl

Carine Gilson Silk Satin Chemise
Available from Net-a-Porter

Indie Designer Spotlight: Naomi Lingerie

It's been a few months since the last Indie Designer Spotlight, but I've recently discovered a new lingerie designer that I think you'll really like too.

The name of the label is NaomiLingerie, and it's a 100% handmade, Japanese style brand. Every piece is about conveying innocence, warmth, and pleasantness, and I believe these designs do exactly that.

Her supercute patterned boxers especially have me smitten. What's your favorite piece?

Designer Interviews: Liya Amar of La Lilouche

This month’s Designer Interview is with Israeli-based Liya Amar of La Lilouche (who was also the sponsor of my most recent Facebook giveaway!). Liya’s graceful, sophisticated aesthetic is generating a lot of buzz in the lingerie world and I’m super excited to share some of her behind the scenes insights with Lingerie Addict readers. In our interview, Liya talks about the meaning behind her lingerie label’s name,  the hardest part of being a designer, and her most favorite piece from her recent collection.

1) How long have you been designing lingerie and what made you want to be a lingerie designer?
I’ve been designing Lingerie & nightwear for about 7 years. I started right after graduating from college. I left my home and moved to the UK to work as a lingerie designer for commercial High Street brands in London such as La Senza, Top Shop, Evans and House of Fraser. That’s mostly where I learned about lingerie and gained my experience in the industry.

I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but never knew what I was good at. To be honest, I never planned to be a Lingerie designer…I just happened to realize how much I LOVED it!  There is something about lingerie that is quite different from designing other clothing. It’s fashion, but also reveals your deepest desires. And that’s why I love it so much.

2) What does La Lilouche mean and why did you choose that name?
La Lilouche is actually my nickname ‘ Lilouche!’ My given name is Liya, but all my loved ones call me Lilouche.  When I was searching for a name for the label, I wanted a name that reflected my design style & concept. I felt using a name really close to my heart that I identify with would be the right choice.

3) Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
For inspiration, I love this quote by John Keats, “You are always new..and your last kiss was ever sweetest.”  To me, that sentences means that you always find a way to look new in your lover’s eyes and that your last kiss is as sweet as it was the first time you met.

That’s what’s really inspire me…poetry that moves your heart, music that brings emotion & fashion together like Florence & the machine, Bob Dylan, and Pantha du Price.  I also adore great fashion designers like Lanvin, Stella McCartney, and Alexander Mcqueen and just anything that has a whimsical, retro touch and that “boudoir” feeling.

Lastly, my everyday life inspires me as well. I travel quite a lot between Europe, China, and India and I try to soak in everything I see along the way.

4) What’s the hardest part of being a lingerie designer? The best part of being a lingerie designer?
I think the hardest part of being a lingerie designer is Keeping It Simple! Sometimes as a designer your creative juices are overflowing and you can’t wait another minute to put every single detail that has been stored in your brain into your brand new collection…and you always want it to be amazing, the best thing ever designed! But the thing is that you always need to keep a balance in the design…otherwise you can’t sell those lingerie pieces. More importantly, you can’t produce those them!  As Leonardo DaVinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

The best part of being a lingerie designer is that I have so much gorgeous lingerie to wear for my hubby!

5) Many of your pieces are bespoke or made-to-order. What should someone who’s never ordered bespoke know about the process?
Most of my lingerie is handmade to order so that I can offer more innovation in design.  I don’t want to make mass production a part of what I do.

I think it’s very important for a customer to know that when you are buying handmade lingerie, you are not only supporting the artist, you’re receiving personalized service.  Because the lingerie is made to order, it can take a week or so to be ready to ship, and sometimes fabric availability can change…so certain styles become limited edition.

Another important thing to know is your correct bra size. Sometimes women are not sure about their size because our bodies change with time, so if you are not sure it’s always better just to measure yourself and let me know your measurements.

6) What’s your favorite piece from the current collection?
My favorite piece from the collection is our Lotti Boudoir Bra set! Everything is in darling pink French lace & dazzling Swarovski. It makes my heart flutter…

7) What kind of woman wears La Lilouche?
A La Lilouche woman loves ‘Fashion With Sprinkles On Top.’  She has a soft spot for vintage style, boudoir, pretty pastels with glitter, and a touch of edginess.  She is very confident and fashion conscious, or a fashionista who loves the latest trend.

8) And last (but certainly not least) where can we buy your stuff?
You can find my lingerie online on La Lilouche website: or on the Etsy handmade community, and also in a few boutiques around Europe.

Thank you so much for making the time to talk with my readers, Liya. I can’t wait to see your next collection!

My Underwear is Green: How to Buy Eco-Fashionable Lingerie

Next Friday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, but since it's also Bettie Page's birthday, we'll be celebrating Pin-up Week instead. However, there's been a lot of interest in eco-friendly and ethically-produced lingerie lately, and I wanted to make sure we talked about it on the blog. So I asked Josh Verleun, environmental lawyer and co-founder of Between the Sheets to share his expertise with us here. He and Layla are also appearing on Sundance channel's "All on the Line" tomorrow night so be sure to check them out!

They say “green” is the new black. The world is changing and more and more companies are introducing “eco-friendly” products into their lineups. Although the thought of environmentally friendly apparel may evoke nightmares of scratchy hemp and drab colors, this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Thankfully some of the softest most comfortable, luxurious fabrics are eco-friendly, and many eco-lines have a vibrant color palate.

With so many companies jumping on the green bandwagon and throwing around terms like “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, and “green” in a seemingly interchangeable manner it can be almost impossible to sort out what it all means. The fashion and lingerie worlds are no different with new eco-lines introduced every season.

With so many terms floating out there I think it is important to start the conversation about “eco-fashion” from a baseline understanding of what these terms mean. It’s also true that no matter how “green” a new line may be, there are always tradeoffs and environmental costs of some sort. For example a line of “eco” undies could be made from organic cotton or modal, but use spandex or other non-sustainable stretch fibers in their fabric. Even though spandex may not make you think of saving the planet, using a fabric with high spandex content makes the garment last longer and wear better, keeping it in your drawer and out of the garbage.

Apparel companies who set out to create eco-friendly lines must make countless numbers of these types of decisions and have to decide where their fabrics, trims, and other materials are sourced, as well as where the line is manufactured. This makes it very important for companies to be transparent with their customers about these decisions.

What does “green” mean?
It can be a challenge to sort out what each “green” term means, and figure out which terms have real meaning and are more than just marketing buzzwords. For example “Certified Organic” products are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture and must follow certain standards, Fair Trade Certified apparel (which recently was introduced to the US) is certified by several affiliated not-for-profit organizations around the world and works to guarantee fair wages and labor conditions. On the other hand products that call themselves “green” or “sustainable” are using vague and poorly defined terms that could mean a whole range of things.

Even if a garment is made of organic or another eco-material it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is environmentally friendly. This is why transparency from a company is so important. For example—a shirt could be made of organic cotton, but be dyed in a polluting dye-house in China , or could be sewn in a factory that does not pay a living wage. This same organic cotton could come from China, be cut in Mexico, and sewn, in India—adding up to a large carbon footprint.

How to tell “real green” from “greenish”
Even though many lines call themselves green because they use “sustainable” materials, not all “green” is created equal.

Bamboo: Fabrics made of bamboo have been touted as natural, green, and environmentally friendly, but are produced using a non-natural chemical process that leads to air and water pollution. The bamboo plants are broken down to be spun into fibers using acetate (not so different from nail polish remover). These deceptive eco-claims led the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to crack down on companies who were “Bamboozaling” consumers by falsely marketing their clothing made of bamboo fabrics using terms such as natural, and environmentally friendly-when the fabric was in fact Rayon.

Cotton: Other fibers used in fabrics can be more environmentally friendly—although there are still eco-pluses and minuses. Cotton is considered the world's 'dirtiest' crop-even though it covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land traditional cotton production uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Organic cotton is grown in a manner that doesn’t use harmful pesticides, thus sharply reducing the environmental impact. Despite these huge reductions in impact, like all cotton, organic cotton uses an enormous amount of water to grow, which in and of itself is an environmental impact.

Modal: Another eco-friendly fiber is modal. Made from sustainably harvested beech trees-the wood is broken down using chemicals in a “closed-loop” process that reuses much of the chemicals. The fibers are then spun and knit into fabric. Although similar, this process is far more environmentally friendly than the process that turns bamboo into fiber as the chemicals are reused and not discarded.

Polyester: It may surprise you, but Polyester is now emerging as an “eco friendly” fabric. With advancements in production and recyclability, polyester’s environmental star is on the rise, even though it is made from a non-renewable resource.

Environmentally friendly and affordable:
Even though the desire is often there to buy products and support companies who help protect the planet, cost can sometimes get in the way. As more and more companies introduce environmentally friendly lines the price points for these offerings has started to broaden from basic to contemporary to luxury. Although you don’t often find eco-friendly lingerie at bargain basements prices there are lines that hit price points from $15-20 for bottoms and $30-$50 for bras. At most price points the added benefit is often that the lines are produced in the US, supporting our local economy and keeping jobs from vanishing overseas.

It’s Easy to Go Green:
With so many companies offering “green” or “eco-friendly” intimates and other fashion, going green is not so hard or expensive. All that it takes is a little time to become an educated consumer on the things to look for and a dedication to buy from companies who are transparent and market “eco friendly” products real information and not just vague ill-defined buzzwords.

Bio: Josh Verleun lives and works in New York City as an environmental lawyer and business advisor.  He currently holds the position of Staff Attorney at Riverkeeper, a not for profit tasked with protecting the waters of New York and serving as a global model for watershed stewardship and protection.