That Awkward Moment When Your Roommate Walks-in on You Lacing up a Corset…

CW// dysphoria mentioned

Long story short, I really, really hate wearing bras. I hate wearing bras so much that I literally said, “screw it, I’ll wear a corset” and sunk several weeks of research into the pros and cons and buying vs construction. I haven’t worn them (yes that’s “them” plural now) to work, but that’s basically my end goal. The ones that I have right are “off the rack” corsets so they’re a LOT cheaper than a custom fitting (like hundreds of dollars cheaper) and if I can successfully wear them at work for a year, I actually would be saving money because of how often I was replacing and buying the cheap ass bras I’ve been getting. Also, I find corsetry super interesting and apparently my aesthetic attraction has a freaking type, but that’s a post for another day (maybe).

If anyone is asking “Lib, what the hell are you doing?” while flashing back to the corset scene from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, I promise it’s fine. Wearing a corset isn’t any more uncomfortable than wearing a bra (as long as said garments fit) and it’s actually is more comfortable for me because it’s like a hug and all the pressure is off my bad shoulder and upper back which is my main issue with bras.

So, out of the five over bust corsets I have none are a perfect fit because humans don’t come in standard sizes so I’ll inevitably have to teach myself to alter them or make my own. Ha. ha. haha. Oh, man, this is definitely going be a learning experience. Fortunately the three out of the five I currently have fit pretty well. The other two will be harvested for parts because I actually really do want to learn how to make my own corsets because the construction is surprisingly fascinating and really complicated.

Now to touch up on the elephant in the room. My gender, or more specifically, my lack there of since I’m agender. In the past I had to be really careful about what “girly” things I get into because people calling me a girl, overtly treating/seeing me as a woman, or applying women stereotypes to me was very dysphoric for me. Now I’m 30 and I don’t give a fuck. Yay!

Yeah, no, it’s not actually that easy unfortunately. Since I don’t have a gender there’s nothing for me to really transition to that’ll fix my dysphoria so I’ve had to approach it from a different way. The source of my dysphoria was (I think) people putting a gender on me that isn’t there. I literally can’t fix that. What I could do, though, was change my perception of gender to be as whole and complete as possible so that I don’t make the same mistake.

It’s like that one time a bunch of people thought red heads are going extinct because they saw something on the internet (spoiler alert, it was an ad for a hair dye company) and I suddenly had to brush up on my knowledge of genetics because other people were forcing a false narrative on me. The worst moment was when somebody told me, a total stranger and just a 18-19 year old cashier, that I should “marry another red head and have lots of red head babies”. Wut, the literal fuck? Like who the fuck think’s that’s okay to just tell your teenaged (and aro-ace, but that’s not the point) cashier that??? What is wrong with you?! Obviously, I’m still not over it and I should probably work on that.

BUT similarly to THAT unfortunate mishap of misinformation, there’s a lot of people out there who have never had to ask, “what the hell is a gender” so they’re stuck with their grade school explanation and never had to personally grow from that. That’s not something I can fix. However, focusing on what I can actually do has really helped me accept myself and my more feminine tastes in garments.

I like how there’s a whole myth of how corsets are somehow “anti-women” because of how they’re portrayed in media. The scene from Pirates of the Caribbean were the maid is tying Elizabeth’s corset as tight as it go until she passes out in a later scene is the one that comes to my mind and there’s so much to unpack there.

1) What do you think she was wearing before? Before the corset were corset-like garments called “stays” because nobody’s boobs were just left flopping around. There’s a technique called “cording” where you stiffen the fabric by sewing cotton cords into the fabric. Elizabeth would have been used to wearing tight (by modern standards) undergarments and as a woman of the upper class all of her clothes would have been tailored and fitted to fit her body. If you bought an off the rack modern corset and just pulled the laces all the way, yeah it’s not going to be comfortable and you might actually run into our next problem.

2) Corsets are really expensive and the most expensive part is the busk, the metal front closure piece that allow you to take off the corset without unlacing it completely (which is a pain in the ass) or slipping it off like a binder. Beginners to corsets are warned to be really careful with the busk because if you break the busk you have to throw the whole garment away. Imagine spending a couple hundred dollars on a corset and not even getting a chance to wear it because you either snap the laces (pro-tip: buy spare laces) or break the busk the first time you try to lace it up. I bought all of my corsets on sale and I went ridiculously cheap knowing that because I’m really new to this that something was going to go horribly wrong or would be destroyed because of my ignorance. Or not fit and now I have spare parts to make mock ups now, yay.

Book screenshots

3) Making corsets, is really freaking hard. Every website I’ve looked at has mentioned that ideally there should be a two inch gap at the laces back and that tight lacing is a very advanced method and requires a custom made corset. My good ones are a little tight around the hips (which is promised to be a beginner friendly fix), but otherwise are just a nice “hug” feeling because the pressure is distributed properly. To make a corset requires some serious math skills because you’re trying to turn a flat image into a curved surface. Try to draw the pieces you would need to make a globe on a piece of paper and then cut it out and tape them together and see how close you get. Doing that alone isn’t easy, but then you have to account for waist reduction (because squishy humans), tension on the seams, and making boning channels. Most corset patterns are only one half because the garment is symmetrical. Then you have an inner layer and the outer “fashion” layer. The more pieces you have, the more chances there are to make a mistake.

Image out of how-to book

I’m actually really surprised how well I was able to keep my new hobby under wraps until my roommate walks in on my lacing up my corset. Oops. After the judgement wore off she was immediately like “can I tighten it?” and of hell no. I am not letting her snap my laces (I don’t have spares yet!). Naturally when I asked if she wanted to try one on she said “no”. Which is good, because they’re probably not her size and wouldn’t be comfortable. It’ll be a while before I can share my progress on my own corset making, and I hope I’ll be able to wear them to work soon. Winter’s the best time to do it because it’s an extra layer which is great when it’s cold wet and rainy and not so great in the summer.

Side note: people forgot to mention this during my research, but over bust corsets actually flatten your chest unless you pay the extra for cups so that’s another reason I really like them. My favorite is a corset maker out of Russia who’s stuff is so simple and so pretty, but that’s to far and too expensive for me so I must admire from afar.

2 thoughts on “That Awkward Moment When Your Roommate Walks-in on You Lacing up a Corset…

  1. I’ve also considered the possibility of using overbust corsets instead of bras … but concluded that the cost (not just the upfront cost, but the effort to maintain a corset, lace and unlace every time, etc.) just wasn’t worth it for me at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (This is actually in response to your Agender Fashion Problems post, but comments aren’t open there so I’m posting here).

    I assume that by ‘making clothes from scratch’ you don’t actually mean taking fibers, spinning them, weaving them, and then sewing them. Though if you do mean that, that would be really cool.

    In December 2019/January 2020 I completed a nightgown based on the “Easy Ways to Pretty Frocks” pattern (which was originally published in the 1920s). I have no idea whether the Easy-Way-to-Pretty-Frocks patterns would be compatible with your desired gender expression, but since I’ve already make one gown from those patterns, I could offer some guidance if you tried that group of patterns for yourself (though I’m far from an expert myself).

    Liked by 2 people

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