I have been working on a few new designs for corset patterns here. A good thing to remember is that what a pattern looks like on paper is not as important as what it looks like on an actual person. Yesterday I tried this design on a model for the first time. It is a plunge front corset based on the 1860’s corset (with a few other changes). Based on how it had looked in the PDF I had thought that the neck plunge area would actually be too narrow and would need to be made wider.
When you look at photos of Victorian women in corsets they often appear to have impossibly small waists. There are many myths that say that look was achieved by lacing the corset down to a level that could break ribs or do internal damage. More often than not it was actually achieved by some retouching of the photo in the darkroom by the photographer. (Yes that was very much a thing! in the 19th century)
As a middle-aged man who runs a business making corset patterns, I often am often in the position of having to have a model over for a fitting. (I don’t sell corsets, but I do make test pieces to test patterns etc) As one can imagine this involves getting both taking measurements and trying garments on various women.
As a goal I want all of the models to feel comfortable in the fittings, even with me being in closer proximity to them than would normally be the case. In any other circumstance, it would be highly inappropriate for me to ask someone what their bust measurement is. Here are a few things I do to ensure client comfort.
First, suggest that they bring another person with them. This could be their friend, partner, sibling or parent. If they are under 21 years old require it. Having another person present can add a level of comfort for a model.
Second, be as clinical as possible. If you are going to measure or mark a garment with chalk explain what you are going to do (and why) before you do it. Respect the model’s personal space. If they need a minute let them have one.
Having a place for the model to change is also useful. A bathroom or spare bedroom will work quite well.
If you type “Corset” into an image search engine many of the pictures will take on some specific styles. Somewhat sexy, lots of cleavage which may work for a nightclub or steampunk convention but not for a business meeting. That being said a corset can be the basis of other kinds of looks. I wanted to create a more professional look that might work for a business setting.
Here is a look featuring an 1860s Victorian corset in brown wool suiting that has been paired with a matching pencil skirt. In addition, trim has been added to the corset to accentuate the fact that the model in this image is tall and slender.
Our model is wearing dark stockings and a pair of flat shoes in these pictures.
This look was also designed to not show cleavage. Not every woman wants visible cleavage (or at least may not want to have it on every occasion). A blouse under the corset provides a level of modesty as well as protects the corset from the oils of the skin.