Doing It Right: Buying a Custom Corset, Part 2
I'm a little nervous about writing this week's article, part II of the "How to Buy a Custom Corset" article.
Buying a custom corset is a surprisingly emotional process, with many opportunities for intense feelings. For most people, it's the first custom-made article they have ever bought, and the most expensive piece of clothing they've ever bought. You will want to make an informed choice for this purchase! You will also not want to be in a hurry. You'll be damn lucky to get a custom corset in four weeks without paying a rush fee; six months' wait is not unusual.
Here are your options:
1. Go to Dark Garden in San Francisco, get fitted, have a great corset made to fit you perfectly in a predictable, reliable amount of time. Your order will include a personal fitting and a mockup. If it doesn't fit, they'll fix it. Spend approx $800-1000.
2. Go to Romantasy in San Francisco, have a detailed 3-hour consultation, trying on different styles, discussing fabric and design options and with tips on measuring, then take and submit your measurements to the corsetmaker you choose—-consult is $100, corsets range from $475 to $700. (There's a clunky, dated, un-navigable site.) Romantasy currently has five experienced corsetmakers on their team doing custom work, including Sue Nice, Sheri Jurnecka and Sharon McCoy Morgan of Altered Tyme.
3. Go to a corsetmaker near you and get fitted. Spend $450-900. Some cities with well-known corsetmakers that will book studio appointments for custom fittings:
NYC, LaraCorsets (sometimes taking orders, sometimes not)
Philadelphia, Delicious Corsets
St. Paul,Minnesota, Scoundrelle's Keep
Wichita, Kansas, The Secret Boutique (Romantasy corsetmaker Jade Locke)
Houston, Texas, Electra Designs—$50 first hour, $25 each additional hour, when available (she is frequently booked and not accepting orders)
London, Morgana Femme Couture (appointments available depending on how busy the shop is, 100 pound fee is applicable to corset purchase for 30 days), Velda Lauder, House of Harlot (latex corsets only)
"Wow, that's not a lot of cities. That sucks!" Yeah, I know.
So it is quite likely that you'll be ordering your custom corset by mail.
4. Order a custom corset by mail.
If you're ordering by mail, you'll be doing the measuring at home, with the aid of a friend. (Pro Tip alternative: talk to a tailor in your neighborhood and see if you can pay them a nominal sum to do your measurements!) Measuring is subjective and involves some judgment calls, and may cause tension if your romantic partner does it. I strongly suggest you look at the measuring charts of these corsetmakers before you begin measuring, even though each corsetmaker measures slightly differently, because some charts explain the process better than others. Here are the very informative charts by dedicated tightlacer Amy Crowder of Wasp Creations, who sadly recently passed away.
After you're done taking your measurements over bare skin or thin clothes, and have recorded the measurements, using the specific measurements chart of your corsetmaker, there's something else you can do about the judgement-call measurements to ensure your corset fits comfortably.
If you own a off-the-rack corset, or several, get them out and try them on. Most people have already bought a couple of OTRs—I bought half a dozen—before they spring for a custom. However if you haven't, props to you!
*Corset on this page made for the author by amazing sewing wizardess Shaerie Mead of Sew-LA, who no longer makes corsets, sadly. But she'll teach you to sew!