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A Ruggedly Feminine Corset

What a joy it is to be back again here in the Black Rock Nevada desert! I have once again ventured to the playa as a proud member of the Black Rock City's DPW and one of the builders of Burning Man's central sculpture, the Man.

As one of the women of Man KCrew , I thought it apropos to sport a garment that combines both beauty and strength on the playa. To this end, I am especially excited about the debut of my rugged "Carhartt-inspired" work corset!

For the past year, I've desired to create a garment which blends the femininity and elegance of a corset with the durability and ruggedness of a workbelt. Recently, I shared my idea with the talented seamstress and designer Robynne Winchester of Tulgey Wood Designs. She was instantly excited about the concept and agreed to collaborate to make it a reality.

I love the ruggedness of Carhartt work clothing and a quick glance around the work crews at Burning Man proves I'm not the only one. It withstands the harsh working conditions of the desert and meets all my utilitarian needs on the work site. So it delights me to create a corset, a nearly polar opposite piece of attire, which incorporates all the functional things I love about Carhartt work clothing.


To create this hybrid corset, I first chose a fabric consisting of same type of rugged cotton canvas found throughout the Carhartt line. Durable, practical, and breathable, the material allows me to get down and dirty with my hammer and drill without fear of damaging my corset.

Functional & Versatile

Next it was important the corset be functional and versatile. I attached holsters for a hammer, drill, tape measure and pliers, as well as pockets to use for assorted needs while working.

All the tool holsters and pockets are attached to the corset with heavy-duty snaps allowing me to change the configuration according to my needs on the job site.

A modular system - above I have attached a cordless drill holster.

On those days I just need to pound nails, I can replace it with a hammer holster.


Finally, I wanted the corset to be as beautiful as it was functional. For this, I specifically chose quality Occidental Leather tool holsters which compliment the design of the corset. This juxtaposition of reinforced feminine curves and sturdy sensibility was exactly what I wanted in a haute couture work garment. In addition, the cherry leather and hand-dyed laces to match are the perfect compliment to the classic Carhartt carmel brown.

And it's fashionable too! I reconstructed a Carhartt workshirt into an adorable shrug to wear during those those chilly evenings in the desert. And for that event in the evening when I just don't have time to change? A tiny top hat, of course!

I am so happy with my work corset! Robynne's skill with corsetry is wonderful and she was a pleasure to collaborate with. There are still a few more tweaks and additions that I plan on adding, but I'll save announcing these little treats until I am finished making them—soon!

Also, it should be mentioned that the gorgeous photo taken of me at Man Base at Burning Man, is the work of excellent photographer Neil Girling, aka Mr. Nightshade, aka Carnivillain. I highly recommend checking out his continually updated series of photos from Burning Man 2009 on Flickr. Neil took a small series of photos of me in my work corset which I look forward to sharing as soon as I return home from the desert.

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Nifer Fahrion
July 11th, 2010
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Nifer Fahrion is creative mastermind behind NifNaks and lives in the dynamic and vibrant city of San Francisco. An artist and crafter since childhood, she has always taken great delight in hand-...

 Reprinted with permission from Nifnaks.