On several occasions through the years, I’ve mentioned to my husband that I had some interest in buying a decent corset to wear with particular styles and to formal events when I really want to highlight my hourglass figure. So for Christmas this year, he had the brilliant idea to buy one for me!
I selected one from Orchard Corset, because I’ve read extremely positive things about their product quality and their customer service. For the next few weeks, I’m going to write about the seasoning process (through which you gradually mold the corset to your body shape and get used to wearing it). Today, I’ll start with the purchasing and customer service I encountered.
I started out by using Orchard Corset’s sizing calculator. My measurements (in inches) were as follows:
Natural Waist: 29.75
Squished Waist: 27.0
Upper Hip: 37.0
Seated Torso Length: 9.0
Turns out, I somehow measured the seated torso length incorrectly (more on that later), but regardless, I was recommended a size 24 “hourglass curve” corset (there are four curve levels that correspond to how big or small your ratio is from waist to upper hip).
I knew I wanted an underbust style so I could wear different bras with it. I also landed on satin fabric because Orchard notes that clothing glides over it the best and pet hair tends not to cling to it. As such, I selected the CS-426 style, which has a pointed underbust profile and a semi-flattened curve at the bottom hem.
The corset looked sooooo pretty when it arrived! But then I put it on…and realized the hip curve starts much higher up than where my hips actually start flaring out. This is really typical for me in clothing. With wiggle skirts and dresses, I often have to sew the hips to have the flare begin lower down. I even had my husband tighten up the bottom half a bunch more, but there was still empty space between the side of the corset and my body.
As well, my protruding tummy made the front of the corset stick out, and the corset was in no way long enough to give any belly compression, as you can see in this photo:
I thought perhaps I needed a longline version of the corset, so I messaged Orchard through their online chat feature. And now I can attest to how great their customer service is!
The gal I spoke to had me send her photos and also tell her my measurements. I took that opportunity to re-measure myself, and that’s when I realized I had somehow shortened my seated torso length by 2 inches. She also had me do a test where I sit up straight and place a magazine in between my underboob and my leg. If the magazine buckles, you need regular length. If it remains straight (or doesn’t touch both body parts at the same time), you need longline. It definitely remained straight.
She also noted that each column of grommets in back should be parallel to each other. But I had tightened the bottom half so much that it was closer together at the bottom than the top—and it still wasn’t hugging the sides completely.
The Orchard customer service rep recommended that I try the longline “romantic” curve instead of “hourglass,” which is slightly straighter. She confirmed that the additional length is only at the bottom of the corset and that the waist would remain essentially in the same position, so romantic curve made more sense given that my hip flare starts so low. Here’s the manufacturer photo of the CS-345 Romantic Curve Longline Underbust Corset:
The corset exchange was easy enough. I filled out a returns/exchange form on their website and then received a confirmation email with further instructions. I had to pay for return shipping, but it was only $11. And if I had purchased the corset myself (rather than my husband), I could have gotten reimbursed for the return postage through Paypal’s “Return Shipping On Us” program (if I paid with Paypal in the first place). My replacement arrived a couple weeks after I mailed back the reject.
Along with the new corset was a page of instructions on caring and prepping it. When you first get a corset, you need to wear it for short periods over a duration of time (called “seasoning”). You can’t just jump right into tight-lacing, otherwise you might damage the garment or hurt yourself. Seasoning the corset properly will make it mold to your unique body shape and also ease you into wearing it regularly and/or for long periods of time. So I’m following their schedule:
At the time I wrote this, I was on Day 3 and the following photos are from Day 2. I’m actually able to lace it up all by myself, though I did have my husband tighten up the bottom half just a little more. It’s more work contorting my arms to lace it up than it is actually wearing the thing!
The romantic curve definitely suits my long torso better, but the sides come up three inches higher than the front and back, so once again my tummy is pushing the corset front away from my belly. However, you can see in the following photos that the grommets in back are still not parallel, only now they’re wider at the bottom, so I’m hopeful that as I continue seasoning the corset, I’ll be able to gradually lace it tighter on the bottom half and it’ll pull in my tummy more. If not, then I’m going to have to wear it with shapewear over the corset (which a lot of people do anyway to hide the corset’s textures under clingy clothing) or attach some garters (there are loops on the interior of the corset for this purpose).
Sorry, I forgot to take photos with no corset at all so you can see the difference compared to my un-corsetted body, but I’ll be sure to do it before moving on to the next set of the 14-day seasoning schedule, and then between each set thereafter.
So far, I’ve worn the corset while sitting at my desk doing work on the computer and also took a stroll to the supermarket (about a 12-minute walk each way, plus carrying 15-20 pounds of groceries on the way back). And so far, I’ve experienced no discomfort. It doesn’t dig in at the top or bottom and it doesn’t restrict my breathing or ability to reach high up or bend down.
I don’t plan on doing extreme tight-lacing or plan on wearing this every day. But I’m excited to have the option to wear it when I’m going for a particular look. It’ll also open up my shopping options to a lot more true vintage clothing, because I rarely see those pieces with waists over 28”. With my torso length, squish factor, natural 29/30” waist, and goal (fashion, not waist-training), my final corseted waist measurement should end up around 25” – 27”.