As you (LISA) know, I
originally wanted the overbust corset for horseback riding to control
bounce, and for added support, but having worn it just a few times, I have
come to rely on it for comfort under any conditions.
I've had to wear a bra since I was 13 years old. I've always hated the
slippage, and the trenches in my shoulders caused by the straps. Since I
was always large breasted, it was always insisted by lingerie specialists
that I use heavy underwiring and side boning. The underwires always ended
up poking under the arm, even when I was thin, and caused all kinds of
discomfort and bruising. And this was from bras that I was fitted for by a
reputable bra specialist. The side "boning", little plastic pieces of
nonsense, never stood up to any test of time or activity. The few I've had
with metal side boning bent easily, twisted, poked and cut.
I was a very active teenager, taking part in sports like volley ball
and basket ball, ballet, modern dance and horse-back riding. All these
things caused a lot of upper body bounce and high breast impact. These
heavy duty bras caused severe bruising and chafing around the entire
breast area and
under the arms, to a point where my GYN thought I was being abused, and
told me I should wear something less severe, and cut down on my activity,
as the bruising could cause deeper damage which could lead to possible
cancerous growths. Decreasing my activity was out of the question. Sports
bras were not made for larger breasted women at that time, so I tried all
kinds of things to try to control the bounce, from ace bandages, to
wearing jacket vests a couple of sizes too small. None of these worked
very well. There are a few sports bras available now, but they are not
comfortable, and still rely on your shoulders and uncomfortable over
compression to work.
The overbust corset is the best thing I've ever worn. Just yesterday I
wore it to work, and was so comfortable all day, not feeling my shoulders
and upper back being dragged down by the bra straps. What to wear over it,
the odd twisting motion (which LISA warned me about), and the exaggerated
breast height are the only problems I am encountering, and that's only
because my wardrobe and current fashions do not mesh with the look. (For
the twist, I just have to adjust my gait, and not swing my hips too much
when I walk.) I can honestly say, though, that many of the armor-like bras
I've had to wear in the past caused the same look, both in height, and the
way they poked through clothing.
I understand that not every woman has the same problem, but for those who
do, I think an overbust corset is the best answer! So far, I have had no
problems causing any restriction of activity. I have not ridden in it yet,
but I did make a (successful) jump to kill a bee on a 9' ceiling, and did
not even have to run to the ladies room to readjust. When I make a motion
like that w/a bra on, I usually pop out of the cups.
The original white C&S underbust also did a lot to help the situation
originally. The blue one seems to be too short in height, and I needed to
go back to wearing a bra with that one.
Sorry for being so wordy, but I cannot say enough how much better things
are for me physically since I've started corseting.
The article of Colin on
the update log of 10/11 is astonishing, mostly in its conclusions. I, of
course, would find great that women wear corsets again. But I wonder if a
corset, that has much more contacts with the body surface, and normally
much tighter than a bra, would not cause in fact other disagreements. When
I read on your site or elsewhere that even women liking to wear a corset
don't like riding a car or bending, which actions are very common in an
active wife's modern life, you can agree with my doubts. About effect of
bra on cancer, I think Colin forgets that the older people live, the more
probability they have to develop a cancer. So, places where women don't
wear bras are maybe just the same places where people don't live too long.
You always must be careful, about a statistical correlation, to find the
REAL causal link, which can be quite different to the compared parameters.
I feel the need to open
my big mouth once again. But, I am speaking for myself, and of my own
experiences. I am not trying to speak for any one else.
I admit to being a novice, as I have been corseting for only one year. In
that year I have obtained a 6" reduction. My corsets have been
professionally fitted by LISA. When going for fittings, we discuss what
I've been doing, what problems I've had w/the current corset, and what I
would like to achieve w/the next. I have asked for longer, tighter,
straighter across, more pointed at the top, bottom or back. I have
listened to Tom's advice, and, when I've been stubborn, he contacted
C&S for their advice.
I must also admit that upon first looking at every one of the three
corsets I've ordered from
C&S (so far) out of the package, I have been disappointed due to them
NOT looking exactly as I had hoped. BUT - immediately upon wearing the
garment, I have been completely satisfied. In no time at all, they come to
fit like a most comfortable glove.
I drive a 4 speed manual Toyota Tercel, a Chevy Lumina mini van, and an
old Ford van type school bus. I have had absolutely no discomfort or
problems in any of the vehicles, and I drive a few hundred miles a week
for one of my businesses. I also have had no discomfort performing any of
my daily activities. (I am fat, but very active.) Tom even asked me some
specific questions recently about comfort and the corset.
For example (against all advice), I tend to tighten down the new corsets
within a few days to almost closed. Tom was worried about digestive
problems, and discomfort around the hips, ribs and abdomen. As I said to
Tom, I don't know if it is because I am so fat, but I have not experienced
any problems like these. I believe it is because my corsets are properly
measured by someone who knows corsets intimately. I know that when I get
home after a fitting, I re-measure myself and say, "Well, I think he could
have gone smaller here, longer there, etc." I am sure were he to listen to
me, I would have experienced all sorts of discomforts, and probably would
have given up tightlacing. In some cases, the customer is not always
right. (This won't stop me from asking!)
If you are serious about wanting to wear corsets, my suggestion is that
you get properly measured, by someone who knows how to measure for a
corset. If no one is available, I'm sure Tom would be more than happy to
send advice about where to be most conservative about your measurements.
Corseting really is a wonderful experience in so many ways, I hate to
think of anyone missing out due to an improperly made or fitted garment.
I do have a (very thin) family member who has been tightlacing longer than
I have. She has experienced some discomforts at times, but she admitted to
me that it was because she over tightened for a party, and over ate at the
same time. A bad combination. She has also had some problems with chafing.
I think it may be because she is so thin, and possibly should wear a
thicker layer under the corset to pad her (skeletal, not corset) bones. I
hope she isn't angry at me for mentioning this.
The bra vs. corset
question is interesting. I started out many years ago with both bra and
corset, although my teenage bust was contained with a relatively small
bra. After two deliveries I've grown a bit heavier on top and I had to
modify (gussets) the corsets to avoid the shelf effect. Although an
under-the-bust holds up A's and maybe small B's it does not look very nice
for most B's and larger, so some kind of support is needed. Soft bras your
size or one larger are good, provided they have a wide band to avoid
getting rolled up under the top edge of the corset. Over the bust works
too, especially the soft cupped ones.
From a health and comfort perspective, I hate a tight bra, so I can
imagine the circulatory problems with the usual binding types. Proper
corsets do not bind, even though they can be made very tight. The
compression, if it's properly made, is very even.
As far as daily corset wear, the usual problems that are mentioned, like
sitting in a car, can be helped by making sure the front stays do not go
down all the way to the edge. This way the bottom can fold up when
driving, without cutting into the thighs. With suspenders or garters it
will straighten itself out when standing up.
If you are a long time wearer, the self-consciousness becomes less and
less over time, although clothing styles that do not over emphasize,
prevent giving too much away. Although I think corsets can be very
decorative, for every day wear I'd like to have it concealed. Besides it's
certainly a tease when someone is wondering if there is something there or
Everyone has their own reasons for lacing, but aside from the figure
benefits, I am convinced that the support is very much a health benefit. I
never have back problems, which for people my age appears to be unusual.
Without any drastic lacing it is a great way to maintain or reduce weight.
Admitted that I struggled a bit after the deliveries, but without the
support, I don't think I would have gotten back somewhat close to my
Returning to "bra vs corset", my Grandmother used to mention that she used
her chemise as she called it, for proper coverage, but she also was not
very large on top. It was worn under the corset and it if pulled and
adjusted the right way, once the corset was on tight, it provided
sufficient containment. Then, the heavy fabric dresses provided some
external support as well.
As far as health, she was convinced, and she certainly convinced me, that
there was not much to worry about. This question came up more than once
when she attempted to convince my mother that my odd behavior was
harmless. She pointed out that the bra and girdle were probably less
comfortable than the corset, and having tried both, I can only agree.
For modern day women, I think that the corsets that are now available from
the renowned makers are a reasonable alternative and the support they
provide make it a sensible choice, especially for working women. There is
no need to over tighten to look good. It's surprising what an improvement
even a few inches of reduction make to the overall appearance. Today there
is enough variety in the corsets, that most lifestyles can be
accommodated. An example is the ribbon styles, which are wonderful for
younger figures and hardly inhibit or restrict movement. Most shorter
corsets are very wearable, although containment below the waist is always
important for comfort.
For those of you considering getting into the act of lacing, I can only
Dr. Ann Beaumont - LISA's resident physician
I believe there is an
element of speculation in thinking that compression in itself would cause
cancer. Certainly the way bras are constructed there is significant
potential for excessive localized pressures by use of straps or bands that
are too narrow and thus focus the pressure over narrow regions of skin.
This causes circulatory deficits in those regions. I would assert this
only for heavier breasted women. A proper breast support should have wide
enough straps to distribute the pressure and maintain comfort and avoid
The comparison with the corset is appropriate as it preceded the bra. In
general, corsets were probably not worn all that tight, so that the
comparison would favor the corset and not the bra. I would certainly
expect this to be valid for average 2-4" corseting.
On the converse side, as mentioned by others and myself, any overly tight
corset that does not smoothly fit the body will likely cause a variety of
problems. I explore this topic in more detail in
"Corseting the Human Body," which investigates the various health
aspects of the practice.
Another often-ignored aspect of corsets is that their size is usually
fixed, whereas elastic garments exert continuous pressure. In a corset,
the body can adapt so that the actual degree of constriction diminishes
somewhat over time, making the corset more comfortable. This aspect is, of
course, also used in training to effect body reshaping.