After finding out that Arya Blue has a lot of experience in corsets and tight-lacing, I asked if she could answer some questions about them for my readers, and luckily she agreed! She even picked out some pictures! The post ran a little long, so I divided it into 2 posts. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday morning.
You said that you have been tight-lacing since you were a teen, were you a casual user, like for cosplay or burlesque, or did you waist train?
ABB: How I got started with tight-lacing — I was the ﬁrst girl in my class to get boobs and a butt, they came all at once too. I felt fat when I wore baggy clothes, boxy. I started to accentuate my small waist with tight clothes or shirts that exposed my midriff. Without my budding(lol) obsession with having a small waist, I probably wouldn’t have even considered tight-lacing.
I spent a lot of time at the library when I was younger (a lot!). The summer I turned 14, I was just starting to get into historical victorian romance (almost erotica; heavy on romance with lots of sex euphemisms). These were horribly written, predictable garbage, middle age women take on vacation type books, but several of them discussed tightlacing. It was enough to spark my curiosity in waist training. That summer, I read everything I could find on the subject of corsets/waist training.
I started with ace bandages, cheap and easy. I would suck in my stomach, wrap myself as tight as I could and sleep that way. I did this, almost every night for a year. It took me a few months of practice before I could get it tight enough, so it wouldn’t slip while I slept. Sometimes, I even got up in the night and would re-wrap myself (I’m such a weirdo -lol). Eventually, I cut up several bandages, sewed them together, and put laces into it. It was really ugly. I saw noticeable changes within the first few months, and this kept me doing it. Since my body was still developing, there is no way to know how much of a difference wrapping myself made, but I personally believe it worked. I gave it up when I started seeing spots and experiencing blurry vision. I found out years later that this was because I was putting too much pressure on my abdominal area, not allowing for enough blood flow. This is a common problem with tightlacing.
Another thing to watch for is shooting pains in the legs. This is caused by too much pressure on the nerves above the tailbone(the sacrum). In both cases, it is your body telling you it’s too tight, loosen the corset. Always listen to your body.
TTC: Oh, that’s funny, when I was a kid I straightened my teeth using white dental floss and it worked; my teeth have been straight ever since! I wrapped behind teeth I wanted to pull forward and in front of teeth I wanted to pull back; it’s so hilarious how kids think and how they can work around financial and other concerns.
You have a nice waist to hip ratio; do you think that has anything to do with wearing corsets, or is it purely from a lot of good work watching your diet and working out?
ABB: Thank you. :) It is primarily my body type (good genetics). I’ve always had an hourglass ﬁgure, and since puberty I’ve been doing everything I can to keep it and show it oﬀ. Being only 5.1, I have to watch what I eat, not obsessively, but it’s certainly a part of it. Exercise is a big part of it too. I do a lot of speciﬁc exercises to keep a small waist (yoga, bends, leg lifts, hula hoop).
Tightlacing has worked for me and taken permanent inches oﬀ my waistline. Mostly, it’s allowed me to move and keep my fat deposits in more appealing places than my tummy. Tight-lacing is basically the diet and exercise of the past. It’s what women used before they had diet and exercise to mold their bodies. With that said, I’ve seen girls that waist train and don’t eat healthy or exercise, most end up with problem areas that are difficult to disguise (like a huge, misshapen butt). Waist training is not a quick ﬁx, it’s uncomfortable and it takes time. If a girl is going to put the effort in to properly train her waist, she should be doing other things to maintain it too.
TTC: When I noticed that I formed permanent fat deposits above the waist of my jeans (a mini-muffintop, LOL) about a decade ago (after quitting smoking and gaining weight 5 years previous), I started using one of those rubber workout belts you wrap around your waist and sweat, but I wore it overnight for a couple of months, and that worked pretty well. It eventually broke and I didn’t replace it until recently. That was immediately what I thought of when I heard of waist training. I should probably take up the hula hoop though! That looks like an excellent and fun workout.
ABB: Hoops are popular dancing props in Burlesque. I read somewhere that burlesque is responsible for renewing interest hula hoops. An entire community now exists of hippie Jam band devotees doing crazy tricks with them. My cousin is a professional “hooper” (not even joking — I have another cousin who is a professional frisbee golfer. lol “Do want you love” means a lot in my family). I had her teach me a few of her tricks. It isn’t just moving it around your waist, although that is the best waist reducing exercise, but using your entire body for a difficult and creative workout. I highly encourage women to try it. Plus, it has the added advantage of making you feel silly and youthful, like jumping double dutch or doing extreme hopscotch. :)
Were your first corsets the expensive custom ones, or did you ever buy and use any of the cheap ones off of the internet or from the mall?
ABB: After the ace bandages, I spent the rest of my teen years wearing lots of corsets and corset dresses. I was a bit odd and eccentric. :) My mom taught me to sew growing up (she could make anything). I made most of my own clothes, including corsets. These were not waist training corsets, just fashion.
I didn’t do any proper waist training, until I started professionally dancing burlesque(19). On my second day (ever) of rehearsal, the director asked me if I had ever done any corset training. He informed me that I needed to learn to breathe and dance properly in a fitted corset (achieving a smaller waist was just a bonus). He recommended I have one made, and start sleeping in it. Another dancer(Nanette-mmmm), an experienced waist trainer, helped me fit it and make the corset. This was not a ‘wear out’ type of corset. It was an underbust, made from four layers of satin and was double boned steel, this was extreme waist training. I hated wearing it but enjoyed the shape it gave my body. I spent a year cheating (not wearing it as often, as long, or as tight, as I should), still it took at least 4 inches off my waist. I really didn’t want my waist any smaller, so for the most part I stopped tight-lacing.
In the years since, I only go back to waist training if I see any gain. Most notably, after I had my son. I had a difficult pregnancy, and spent almost 5 months on bed rest. I couldn’t exercise, and gained more weight than I wanted. I spent the first year, after having him, going through the early steps of waist training. I started by wearing spanx type trainers, within a few weeks of giving birth, and moved slowly back into my waist training corset. Tight-lacing helped me quickly get my body back in shape, but keep in mind, I breastfed for almost 2 years (burns calories and reduces belly swelling), worked out and ate healthy.
TTC: LOL, I was a bit odd and eccentric, too; my little sister and I collected and wore vintage clothes in the 1970s and early 1980s. There I’d be at some punk show wearing a pillbox hat, a froofy dress, stilettos and white cotton gloves. I also made a lot of my own clothes and have used a sewing machine ever since I was big enough to sneak into my parents’ room and use my mom’s machine to sew doll clothes. I thought about sewing my own corset, but the task seems daunting!
ABB: It’s difficult to make a tight-lacing corset. This is a garment you will wear (if truly waist training) for thousands of hours in a single year. It needs to be fitted and constructed correctly, or it will be unbearably uncomfortable. I have all kinds of advice on patterns and techniques I’ve learned along the way(that’s a post by itself). With the internet, information is so accessible, you shouldn’t have any problem finding resources to help you.
Fran’s Writings on Corsetry and Tightlacing
Waisted Couture Corsetry
Have you ever bought a corset that was professionally fitted?
ABB: Yes. Twice, both were made while I was still dancing burlesque and were part of stage costumes. My director loved to put me in ‘straight-jackets’’ (as he liked to all them). It’s a dramatic look for burlesque but it was incredibly difficult to retrain my movements and more importantly my breath control, while cinched in.
If someone is serious about waist training, they should have corset professionally ﬁtted. They’re expensive($300 and up) and as you lose inches you have to have new ones made. It really adds up, but it’s the safest and most effective way to waist train. If you have tailoring and sewing skills, you can learn to make them yourself. It’s time consuming, and complicated (at first) but it’s much cheaper. Waist trainers don’t have to be pretty, but the do need to ﬁt properly. I can’t stress enough how important the fit of a corset is, in relation to proper waist training. The general rule is to start with a corset that is 3 or 4 inches smaller than your waist. As your waist shrinks, so should your corset.
The best tight-lacing corsets are made from silk brocade (strong woven fabric). They must have steel boning, preferably double (twice as thick) steel bone. Look for ones with all spiral steel boning or at least some. It needs multiple layers of cloth, and extremely durable stitching. To prevent chafing from the laces, I recommend modesty panels. Make sure you take measurements from: your bust (if an over the bust type), under the breast, the waist, hips and the length between the bust and the hips.
Come back on Wednesday for the rest of the conversation!