Swimming Corset FAQ

Wow! Thank you all for your amazing interest in the swimming corset. I had no idea the level of enthusiasm you would have for this idea.

L1361492 Pop Antique Swimming Corset Victoria Dagger Alyx Ryan.jpg

As my original post made the rounds on Facebook, I noticed a few questions cropping up repeatedly:

  • But... why?
    Well... why not, mostly! The fancy struck me and I wanted to see what happened. As for why you, or anyone else, should want it now that it's happened – all the same reasons you'd wear a corset in the first place! (Except maybe historical reenactment.) Are you waist training and looking to maintain your reduction while also hitting the beach? Do you perhaps respond to the deep pressure therapy of wearing a corset? Are your joints hypermobile? Any of those reasons and more are grounds for considering a swimming corset.
  • Can you really swim in it? That seems highly improbable and/or like a terrible idea!
    I am definitely not suggesting using this corset for swimming Olympic laps! This is fashion swimwear, much like many other beautiful bathing suit designs – what's up, string bikini? It absolutely can be safely submerged and worn while splashing about, but it is not intended for serious sportsmanship. Additionally, for those who aren't already familiar with my work, I tend to fit my corsets for minimal rib compression and high mobility to begin with.
    Personally, I didn't notice any reduction in my lung capacity. Part of what makes the swimming corset viable is that I varied the construction and materials to suit the activity, not just to make it waterproof. It's two layers of powermesh with no waist tape, so there is more room for rib and waist expansion as needed. Even the binding is elastic. The waist reduction is very modest.
  • So you mean it's a fashion corset, not a real corset?
    No, it's a real corset – there is a real waist reduction and appropriate hardware. Synthetic whalebone is different from regular plastic boning – it doesn't crumple over time, just molds beautifully as your body heat contours it to form. I didn't use a busk in it – but then again, my Minx ribbon corset doesn't call for one either!
  • Even if you technically can swim in it, isn't it uncomfortable?
    Honestly, I was way more concerned about the chlorine leeching the color from my freshly-dyed hair. (Shout-out to Katey at Glama-Rama!)
    I did not feel any discomfort or shortness of breath while wearing, lounging, shooting, and swimming in this piece. I used one of my bespoke patterns, and one of my major goals with corsetmaking is always maximum mobility and comfort, even in the standard fit. The use of powermesh took that to the next level.
  • What about cleaning and care?
    I rinsed it out thoroughly after swimming in it, then again when I got home, and hung it to dry. If you have a bigger sink, and more clean towels than I did that day, you could also handwash with a lingerie detergent like Soak, then roll it in the towel for a spell to aid the drying process, and finish with an air dry (outside, if possible). Once dry, I store it with my other corsets, rolled up. The corset is made from powermesh, which is often used in swimwear, although I did use small pieces of herringbone coutil as a casing for the underbusk and the center back bones and grommets.
  • Is this an all-in-one corset suit?
    No, I paired my bespoke swimming corset with Target's finest swimwear. Actually, finding a black bikini that fit me reasonably well was much more stressful than making the swimming corset! Technically, I could integrate more coverage into the piece, but for mobility I think it's best to have them as separates.
  • What was that about additional prototyping?
    I have a few more ideas I'd love to test out. In exchange for your feedback on these variations, I can offer something of a discount for a select few orders.
  • How do I place an order?
    Currently the swimming corset is waitlisted, mostly because I don't have synthetic whalebone in large quantities yet. If you don't mind waiting until the end of swim season (in this hemisphere, anyway), I might be able to make a couple more this year – please contact hello@popantique.com to get the ball rolling! You can even place a deposit to secure your place in the queue.
    Please note that I am taking orders for other types of corsets in the meantime! You can read more about that here – I'm running a sale on single layer Gibson Girls in select fabrics, through August 23rd, 2017.
  • So when will it really be available?
    I'd like to complete the prototype run by March of next year, which would allow me to begin taking orders in the spring so you can spend next summer splashing about! Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter, to stay abreast of these developments.
L1361469 Pop Antique Swimming Corset Victoria Dagger Alyx Ryan.jpg

Sign Ups for OCOC16 Close This Month!

The Oxford Conference of Corsetry is a can't-miss event for corsetmakers. Though for many it is a yearly pilgrimage, it's an event that every person in the craft should try to attend at least once. The networking and sense of community is not found anywhere else, whether you're a beginner or an expert. Each year's program is stronger than the last. The workshop leaders, keynote speaker, and models are all top-notch. This year, sign ups are closing early, and I encourage you to take the plunge if you've been tempted by the program!

Due to restrictions that we have with the new venue, we have to announce that although ticket sales are healthy, we need a further 20-25 definite sign-ups before the end of the month in order to meet the requirements of the venue and the conditions they have imposed upon us. If we do not meet that target, we will have to defer the conference to 2017 when we have our regular venue back.
— Oxford Conference of Corsetry

I've been involved with the conference since its inaugural year, when I was on the committee of Corset Fellows. In its second year, I taught a workshop on pattern grading corsets, and my mentor Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden came as our keynote speaker. Last year, I attended as a regular delegate to experience the workshops first hand. Autumn in turn brought Mister Pearl himself and led a curated Q&A panel with him.

Sketchbook excerpts as I designed my wedding gown (seen on the right).

Sketchbook excerpts as I designed my wedding gown (seen on the right).

For the 2016 programme, I am slated to teach a workshop on illustration. Fashion illustration was my passion before I discovered corsetry. My sketching skills have come in incredibly handy for designing my ready-to-wear line and custom pieces both. I use my sketchbook to map the construction of integrated corset concepts, which simplifies the patterning and sketchbook phases. On Sunday, there will be an additional mini workshop in which I discuss technical flats. And for the conference gift bags, I'm working on special croquis which delegates can use as a template for their own designs. The latter is inspired by a vintage croquis pad which I've been using of late.

Technical drawing of wedding dress design.

Technical drawing of wedding dress design.

Eveningwear corsetry design sketched on vintage croquis pad.

Eveningwear corsetry design sketched on vintage croquis pad.

Build your design skills and your brand with us at OCOC16! We will have more workshops and more models than ever - just take a look at our 2016 programme! Sign up now for an unforgettable weekend in a classically English location.

Corset FAQ: Where's my waist? Am I wearing this thing in the right place?

Today I will answer for you a question that I often see asked in online corset communities. I've touched upon this in one of my posts for The Lingerie Addict, 3 Most Common Corset Lacing Mistakes, but here I'll be going into greater depth. Just where is your waistline, and where should you wear your corset?

Pop Antique Integrated "Bombshell" Corset Top | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

For a modern audience, many of us think of our waistline as where the waistband of our jeans rests. From a dressmaking standpoint, this is actually called the "high hip," and not part of the waistline. The "natural waist," or, "apparent waist," is the visually narrowest part of the torso, generally about an inch above the belly button. High-waisted skirts and pants or dresses with a waist seam utilize the natural waist and it's an important point of reference for fit. As there is such a variance in body shapes in proportion, of course, your natural waist may be in a different position or less obvious.

Neither of these, however, is the waist level where you'll settle your corset. For comfort and maximum reduction, it's best to cinch your corset to your skeletal waist. The skeletal waist is the space between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the hips. Many people assume that their ribs end at their apparent waist, and when they realize this isn't so, they then assume that their body is "weird." Nope, your body's not weird! First of all, there's a lot of natural variance, but it's actually pretty standard for the lowest ribs to be below the apparent natural waist. So when you lace on, make sure your corset is settled at the skeletal waist to avoid putting undue pressure on your ribs. Proper waist placement will also provide better support for the stomach and low back, and help the hips of the corset to fit smoothly.

Pop Antique "Vamp" corset styled with Angry Rabbit high waisted jeans | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Corset neophytes often try to lace their corsets to their apparent waist, then get concerned when it naturally settles at the more compressible skeletal waist. Better to lace to this level from the get-go and enjoy the extra cinching (and comfort!) it will provide. If you think your corset might be settled too high on your waist and you've already laced up, there's an easy fix. Firmly grasp the bottom of the front of the corset with both hands. Holding it in place, inhale upward, arching your back. This will stretch your spine and raise your ribs above the waist of your corset.

Personally, I tend to wear my corsets a full inch below my apparent waistline. You can really see it with the long ribs and sharp hip spring of the Gibson Girl. Speaking both generally and specifically, the sharpness of the hip spring is tied into the length of the waist - or rather, the level of it, with a lower waist corresponding to a sharper hip spring.

Pop Antique "Gibson Girl" waist training corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

The space between the top of your pelvis and the bottom of your rib cage can also vary quite a bit. Short-waisted individuals may have as little as half an inch between these bony masses, whereas someone long-waisted may have three or more inches of compressible space.

Lastly, be sure to take this variance in waist placement into account when taking your vertical measurements! It's for this reason that I prefer to use separate waist to underbust and waist to lap measurements, rather than a continuous torso/princess/busk length as reference. It's entirely possible for two individuals to have the same underbust to lap measurements, but different waist levels within that range. So the same corset might leave one wearer's stomach unsupported while prodding into their bust, while on another individual expose the ribs (creating a pinched roll between bra band and corset top) and instead poke into the lap, making sitting difficult.

~Marianne Faulkner
The Corsetrix, Pop Antique