Waist Not - Want Not
Corsetry Newsletter
October, November, December 2001
Volume 5 Number 4



Carol We are pleased to donate 10% of sales of all Simple Pleasures cinchers shown here, to the New York Fire and Police Widows and Childrens Benefit Fund through December 2001, to honor and help our September 11 fallen Heroes' families.


In This Issue
   

Ann
FROM THE EDITOR
OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER 2001

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

SantaNOW IS THE TIME TO ORDER FOR HOLIDAY DELIVERY!

Ooooooooo.....don't miss having a stunning outfit ready for Christmas or New Year's parties: you must order by mid-October to avoid rush delivery fees, so call or write us right away! Unbelievable but true....And don't forget our Shopping Cart, featuring lots of corset related gifts for your corset-loving self or friends!


WE HAD A BALL AT THE AUGUST SAN DIEGO CORONATION
AND A FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Ann in San Diego
Ann debuts her 18.5" waist in BR Creations wedding corset.

Yes we did, and made a lot of new friends whom you can see below. In addition, we were invited to a friend's birthday party with a Casbah Theme, and asked to bring corsets for try on. We did not think the idea would go over very well but it did! Our hostess, Carol, and I are pictured at the right, and two of her happy guests are pictured above.

It was with great pleasure and a huge amount of anticipation that I attended the San Diego Coronation and goodbyes of Emperor Clarence and Empress Samantha and welcome to the new royalty, Empress Katrina and Emperor Clarence.

Ann and Carol
Ann

Robby Cannedy, our Corset Dream Maker, and Madeline a new client and friend (see below in white Simple Pleasures cincher and to right in Jane Smith's green brocade Aiyana Corset), accompanied me to the lovely evening ball where we feasted our eyes on the most fabulous of gowns and jewels! Robby and I changed outfits twice just for good measure and to show off our beautiful corsets which you can see in this newsletter.

I was proud to walk on stage with our San Francisco Empress Chablis and Emperor Tom, as their 'Princess of the Nipped Waist.'! Here is my entitlement certificate to really prove that I'm a royal Princess true! I hope I looked the part in my Wedding Corset by BR Creations.

Certificate
Ann and Madeline

I tell you, it really got some attention, as I had been waist training for one month prior with some success, although not with the perfection of my recent waist training students Camille P. and Sarah! I managed a 18.5" waist line, maybe a bit less because of the two layers of skirts underneath. Even the founder of this wonderful fol de rol charity group, The Widow Norton, noticed and commented! I hope to get her permission soon to prepare a lovely outerwear corset for her next Coronation appearance somewhere in the US, Mexico or Canada.

The Court System raises literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities as diverse as women's breast cancer, gay youth, foods projects, and AIDS relief.

Chablis and Madeline
Empress Chablis and Madeline in Jane Smith corset.

Contrary to some of your more standard and somewhat boring chartity events in the "straight" community, the Court System does it in style with a "gay" flair, and with a lot of good-natured over-the-top humor. That's why Robby and I adore attending these functions, and our photographer girlfriend Jeanette and model Marcia frequently go with me in San Francisco. If you'd like more information on how to get involved or join us, please call or email us!


Ann and former Dallas Emperor
Chablis and Tom
Empress Chablis and Emperor Tom.
Emperor and Empress
New Emperor and new Empress.

DESPITE THE ENTRY OF MANY NEW HIGH FASHION COUTURE HOUSES INTO THE CORSET WORLD, CONSERVATIVE STANCES STILL PREVAIL...

After the release on June 1 this year of the Hollywood movie "Moulin Rouge" featuring fabulous corsets and costumes, it seemed that all the American fashion magazines and couture houses in Europe featured elegant corset outfits. Of course, my personal favorite designer whose corsets will never be equalled, is none other than the French designer, Cristian LaCroix. But even Mr. LaCroix in his own country has not managed to change all the common prejudices and stereotypes it seems, as you can see from the below story.

After the movie was released, many friends called to wish my business luck and say that they were certain I would become wildly successful! I was a lot more sanguine, having 11 years of experience mounting an uphill battle to increase my market of this lovely and magical garment. Eleven years battling against continuing prejudice and irrational fears of "being different", "being noticed"... maybe even subconscious fears of sexuality and romance. "It's fine for Nicole Kidman because she has a perfect body....but me?", or "It's fine for Hollywood but I live in St. Louis...." Even a few of those who live in Paris have a hard time getting behind the corset it seems....

The battle continued when as 'an American parent', I recently hosted a six week visit of a 20-year old college student, a French woman from Paris. One day after she arrived, her American friends who knew her French parents well, let it be known to me in no uncertain words that I was NOT to take her picture in a corset! Imagine that! The family assured me that both she and her husband were very certain that the young woman's very "conservative" and powerful French family (they were bankers) "would not approve if I took her picture in a corset."

These comments still take my breath away in a manner that is far more unpleasant than any cinching down of a corset could ever be! The comment stunned me, although I hear similar ones more times than I would wish.

Now, I pride myself in a policy of never posting photos of anyone who is not at a public event or who does not specifically authorize them (besides I am an attorney and quite sensitive to possible legal liability). But in the case of the French student, what was anathema was the very fact that I might take a photo--even if not publicized, even if of an elegant corset valued at over $1000, and more surprisingly, even if requested by my student who was no longer a teenager!

For an American, it seemed quite unusual to me that parents would so closely control their 20 year old's behavior and choices that she could not even volunteer to dress up in an elegant corset gown and have a photo taken, if she wanted to. Were I the parent, I would be proud to have my daughter look beautiful, elegant and absolutely fashionable, especially when she lives in the heart of European haute couture, and in Paris--the home of my favorite corset maker! Posting the photo on the web is another matter of course...but just taking the photo? Hmmmm...

Ah well....the marketing struggle continues. Some people just don't get it. Luckily, you, dear readers....do!

Happy Holidays to all!

Ann Grogan

Wreath
  Kitty
Can Webkittymistress Tata have a new boyfriend from Langenfeld?
Tata
Happy Holidays from Corset Guardkitty Tata!

WHICH TYPE OF BONING CASINGS PROVIDE THE STRONGEST CORSET?

We had a customer ask the above question, and decided to consult the experts themselves. Here is what Sheri Jurnecka of Creative Corsetry said:

"I think it's pretty much equal, but it really depends on how the corset is made. If the outside boning casing is doubled over so there are two layers padding the bone, that could conceivably be slightly stronger than inside boning, since on one side of the seam there is only one layer of fabric over the bone. However, since the fabric is interfaced, itt may end up to be just about the same. I've made several hundred of corsets or more and only a few have come back for repairs for bones working through, usually on corsets that hae been frequently worn. Bones can work their way through outer boning casings as well."

MP Garrod of True Grace Corset Co. agrees with Sheri.

WHY A CORSET IS NOT PERFECT

Continuing our discussion of the above topic from a prior newsletter, not long ago I had a bride return for me to check the construction technique and fit of her overbust corset which she desired to wear under her wedding dress. She desired absolutely no waist reduction, only shaping. She was not pleased, to put it mildly! Apparently, a critical mother and fiance, plus her dress alterations seamstress, had criticized the corset!

Hanae
Hanae (Japan) models a gorgeous BR Corset which looks pretty perfect to us!

It is quite easy to criticize when you have not tried to manage the multiple factors of corset construction: fabric and its properties, achieving the perfect fit so that the corset comes to the exact top but not over the bodice of the dress, making the look of the bosom exactly the way the bride wants it but working with the sometimes-grim reality of impertect bodies and bosoms, strengths and weaknesses of the corset maker in production issues, and other. Achieving a good fit on the body, using rigid steel boning and four layers of fabric, can by itself, not to mention all the other factors in corset construction, be quite challenging!

This bride had taken one or two rather minor issues, added all the comments of her hyper-critical mother and non-corset maker friends, and gotten herself into a veritable "state" by the time she arrived at my home. She was absolutely convinced at the fit check, that one side of her corset was higher than the other! I measured with a tape measure, and lo! our corset maker had made each side absolutely perfect! And the difference to my trained eye, was nil, and must have been imagined or so small as to be invisible to me at least! Indeed, it is a well-known fact that one side of a woman differs from the other in size, especially in the bosom. I pointed this fact out to the young bride who stopped a moment in her litany of complaints, to consider my point.

In addition, the bride was convinced that the corset maker had not raised the underarm edge as high as she had asked for at the muslin fitting. She felt her bosom was "spilling out" under the arms.

Now, each women has more or less underarm fat...let's tell the truth! This bride, however, was very slender, had a lovely figure, and was almost obsessed with this small natural roll of "fat" under her arm! Unless she wished to undergo liposuction, this was going to remain a fact she had to deal with. Indeed, the top underarm edge had been raised after the fitting, according to both the bride and her mother's comments! When I simply repositioned the corset 1/4 inch higher on the bride's body, the corset adjusted accurately, the roll of underarm fat minimized, and the bride noted the improvment!

But now she complained that it was more comfortable previously with the waistline positioned lower on her body! To my external view, the corset still sat appropriately at her natural waistline. The solution now was to advise her to change the back lacing cord to create waist pulls at the waistline. Then she could simply open up the corset at the waistline, while pulling the corset closed at the upper and lower edges, thereby releasing a bit of pressure on the waistline.

I marvelled at all this "discomfort" with a corset that created not one smidgeon of body reduction anywhere! Which all goes to show that we react quite individually to restriction of any kind. Obviously this bride hated it! The final issue was one upon which we could reach agreement. We merely replaced the top and bottom bias edging, smoothing it out in the process. And no, we could not reduce the front edging by 1/8 inch and raise it by 1/2 inch under the arms as initially requested! To request such fine, fine tuning is not reasonble considering the price that is being paid!

"Is price a factor in quality?" my bride asked. Yes, it is, if truth be told. That is because there are standards of production in the corset making, as in other fields, and we all are familiar with the saying "You get what you pay for." If those common standards are generally met, the artist or craftperson has complied with all legally imposed duties of care and quality. We think that paying $400 to $600 for an overbust corset in satin, including a personal fitting, is extremely reasonable in cost, especially when the maker has some 15 years of experience in fit and technique!

Now, if someone wants a higher standard either in technique or materials, they have to pay for it. It is the difference between ordering a Toyota and a Merceds. Or ordering cotton versus leather. The price goes up. Sometimes merely the name of the manufacturer adds a substantial amount, without adding one more whit of quality or true value to the product! Something of the equivalent quality to what ROMANTASY provides custom, would run at least $3,000 at any good department store, and that likely would not be a totally from-the-ground-up custom corset! I have seen one so-called corset by a name label manufacturer, with seams popping out and bones sticking out, terribly finished edges with strings hanging, and all for $1200....not custom! Yes, I saw it in Neiman Marcus, and you can see it other fine stores everywhere.

Since I have examined and worn corsets by many, many makers over the past 11 years, even some not represented by ROMANTASY, I am quite familiar with standards in the field, including fit standards. This bride's corset met those standards, but this bride was very picky. We suspected that it had more to do with the bride's mother than with the bride.

Which brings to mind something brides may want to consider, that is, whether or not to bring their mother to the fitting! This mother may have been well-intentioned but was extremely opinionated and was not even a corset maker. Her comments were aggressive and intrusive, causing the corset maker to become distracted, maybe even irritated, and to ask them both to sit in another room so she could concentrate on some minor adjustments to the muslin, and re-fit it while they were there.

It is best not to irritate one's corset maker, to be sure! Maintaining an even temperament while expressing one's wishes can be tricky of course. The best approach is not to make definitive statements or demands, but rather, ask questions of your corset maker, using a give and take approach. If your mother insists on attending the fitting, consider having her wait in the outer office or living room, show her the corset on you and solicit her comments yourself, evaluate them independingly to decide which are valid, then convey them as your personal opinions to the corset maker.

After this experience, we are considering prohibiting relatives or freinds from attending the fittings, or at least restrict them to the above process and method of indirect input. What do you think about this issue?

SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT ORGAN MOVEMENT THROUGH CORSETING

"Dear Ann; Just love your web site..."
So began an email from James. And here is my reply:

WOW! Thank you so much for spending some time with us on the website, and giving us your comments. I work very diligently with two excellent web people, to keep it up to date and complete! I am very proud indeed, of my excellent quality and corset makers, the best in the world! :-)

"I could spend many hours looking through the many pages of info. I have two questions for you. While someone is corset training for waist reduction...what is the impact on the internal organs?"

Lara
Lara models her first custom corset by Jane Smith.
Excellent question. I have an 200-plus page manuscript of a book-in-progress available via email for $15 by email or $25 by snailmail, plus 8.25% sales tax for CA residents. The short answer is: A well-fitting custom corset of the hourglass style, gently pushes the lower tummy up, the kidneys slightly toward the spine, the intestines divide up and down, and over many many years, the lowest ribs could go down permanently, we think! Has there been any long term damage? Of course. If you lace down say 10 inches in one week and have a 24" waist, you could cause damage. If you take it slowly, slowly according to our moderate instructions and if you use your common sense and maintain a good diet (high fiber high water) and normal exercise, then, no. It is like anything in life: excess causes harm. Each person is different so I can't say for you unless I know much, much more. I can tell you that my three waist training students have suffered no damage and I have two students more currently (in September) in training.

"What about disruption to normal bodily functions including pregnancy?"

In Victorian times there were pregnancy corsets, and Mr. Garrod of True Grace corset company has and can make one (with elastic gussets of course in front and no tight lacing. These are more for back support! I do know of one female who laced down 10" in one or so weeks, and her period stopped for some months. That was a crazy thing to do in my personal opinion. Of course, I do recommend if you hesitate at all on the health issue, that you check with a physician as I am not licensed to give you medical information, and do not attempt to do so herein.

"Being a male, and a shy one at that...this is what keeps me from an in person fitting."

What? Oooo, I hate to hear that. Here is what a shy male (research physicist) said to me on the email just today, after visiting San Francisco from out of town, gathering his courage and coming to my private home for a fitting:

"Hi Ann, just to say thanks for the consultation and tea. San Francisco is a great place. I did have time to see the Golden Gate Bridge and hope that my work will return me to San Francisco for a chance to explore some more. I must say however,that the visit with you was the highlight of the trip. Your understanding and kindness was very much appreciated. Wishing you well Don " 6/25/01

If you are close enough to San Francisco, it is far better to meet me and let me measure you, but it is not mandatory of course. Here is how we operate: http://www.romantasy.com/cyboutique/Workshops/PrivCorsetConsult.shtml

I serve many many clients around the world, and can assist evaluating your own measurements if you cannot come for a personal fitting, as I have reviewed 3000 of them in my 11 years in business!

"I would prefer a professional fitting over taking the measurements myself. Are your 'fitters' sensitive to people like me?"

My "fitters" are me!

"I had a bad experience in (name deleted) and would not like to repeat that experience!"

Really? That is very interesting to me as of course, some would say, they are a competitor! Of course, I do not believe so, nor could they ever be! :-) We have over 11 years of experience in corsets and are not "jane-come-latelys" getting on board a trend just to make money! Did you read our pages on men and corsets (transgendered and non-transgendered?) And also our page on Gender Image Salons?

Those pages tell you a true story about me and my approach to men, corsets and cross-dressing. I hope you see that I am extremely compassionate and friendly! All my best to you and let me know how I can help you obtain one of these magical, wonderful garments with the most fun and least stress to you! Ann Grogan, President

CORSETS WITH HEALING POWERS?

" A textile research student has created an intriguing new line of clothing that claims to have healing properties, the Evening Standard reported. The 'Clothes That Cure' range, which includes underwear and dresses, is made of fabric impregnated with miniscule beads of medicine and herbal remedies. As the wearer's body heats the fabric, the substances are released on to the skin." (From the online newsletter "McPete Sez," July 15, 2001)

THE READYMADE GARMENT STORY

Hanae
Hanae (Japan) models a overbust green brocade Victorian by Sheri.
"The Asian financial crisis has affected the U.S. textile industry. The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (A.T.M.I.) has decided to strongly protest against the recent surge of Asian imports into the United States, following the devaluation of Far Eastern currencies. Apparel imports from Asia are up 12 percent for 1998 to 5.9 billion square meters. Additionally, Asian imports of fabrics, yarn and home furnishings have soared 16 percent to reach 6.1 billion square meters. As a result, U.S. fabric manufacturer Burlington announced in January 1999 that it would reduce its production capacity by 25 %, due to increased Asian garment imports in the U.S.A. Seven plants were closed, and 2,900 people laid off, 17 % of the domestic force. Burlington Industries employs 17,400 persons in the U.S.A., 18,900 worldwide. It is estimated that the U.S. textile and apparel industry's has suffered a drop in employment from 1.5 million people in 1990 to 985,000 in 1999." (From the "McPete Sez" web journal July 15, 2001)

Our corsets at ROMANTASY are NOT made in Asian by underpaid, overworked laborers! While you may increasingly see labels on haute couture garments--as I did when I worked Christmas, 1999 at Neiman Marcus Department Store--"made in China", you will never see that on a ROMANTASY corset!

We make corsets the old-fashioned way: one garment at a time!

A CUSTOMER QUESTION:

QUESTION:
"Hi Ann. The thrill of the corset still hasn't worn off :) ! Question - it slides up a bit. Is that a normal occurence until it is a bit more broken in or am I not tying it properly?"

ANSWER:
Even my corset occasionally slides up. In part it is, yours is creeping up because you are not tight laced yet! As you bring the sides together, it will stay more properly where it belongs. Do bend sideways and pull the opposite side down with both hands and reverse, before you lace down. If you note it sliding up during wear, simply repeat. Sometimes I have to do it to properly seat the corset waistline at my waistline.

This may be more of an initial problem with men who have less hips and curves to anchor the corset down. If for example, an ample belly makes the waist measurement larger than the fanny measurment, you can likely see the problem! However, the above techniques should work for you. Just keep gradually lacing down and this will also help.

WE GET LETTERS... AND KUDOS!

"Thank you for your WONDERFUL corset site. I'ts full of info and nice pictures. :-)" Luci 4/25/01

"Hi! I enjoyed myself at the Soiree evening at the Fairmont Hotel (May 10)! It was wonderful to have met everyone. I talked with others not in our group and it was great to pass info on about corsets, despite my very limited experience, but am so full of enthusiasm and SO GLAD to have finally made the decision to obtain one! As of June 1, I want to start the waist training program!" Christine 5/12/01

"Ann, My corset arrived safely this afternoon, and it was love at first sight. It is absolutely gorgeous, and it fits me like a glove! I still can't get over how comfortable it is, and that it already knows all my curves (and how to accentuate them). Whoever is making the generic, plastic-boned corsets should be dragged out back and shot. They give corsets a bad reputation. Thanks for all of the information on how to lace it and wear it, it was very useful. We will be putting in another order shortly. Is it still possible to get a November arrival if we put an order in this week? Thanks again for making this stunning corset for me. Sheri is definitely gifted. Hugs, Etta" 6/12/01

"Dear Ann, Thank you for taking the time from your busy day to answer my email. I can tell from your answer that you are a sensitive person toward the many types of lifestyles in this world. It's women like you who allow men like me to feel like a person again. Than you again! Sincerely, James" 6/27/01

"Hello Ann, I want to thank you for your kindness. I just received my first corset Thursday. It is now Sunday and I had the first oportunity to wear it. It fit like a glove and I am the proverbial duck to water. I love it. I was only going to wear it for a short while and then my friend Ron called me when I had it on! He needed me to come over as quick as possibe so he could get his truck to the body shop. I wanted to do it later in the afternoon, but he needed to get it over with. I didn't have time to take off what I had spent two hours to put on. To make a long story short, I got a ride on the back of his motorcycle wearing my corset for the first time. I was in heaven. No one knew I was wearing it, but I had a great time. It's time to order another one. Sincerely, Kathie 7/9/01

"Hi Ann ! Just wanted to let you know that I wore the corset again tonight. It is so amazing to me - it makes me feel so comfortable with myself (and prevents me from slouching too) that suddenly I am taken for an attractive (albeit too tall) woman ! Love," Bev (a cross dresser) 7/9/01

" I'M SO EXCITED... Omigawd, it's here and it's unbelievably GORGEOUS!!!! My True Grace corset arrived just moments before I had to leave for work last night. Talk about frustration... I was tempted to call in sick so I could stay home to parade around in it! Gene's gone today and I have the day off... PHOTO SESSION!!! Ann, your description was appropriate... it IS a battleship of a corset. Heavily reinforced and sturdy, but just oozing in sensual femininity at the same time. The meticulous detail work is fabulous, even down to the individually numbered garters. The stitching is flawless, the trim is flashy, and the color is SO VERY PURPLE!!! The deep color of the satin most closely resembles Welch's Grape Juice. I'll put it on today and take some pix, if I can lace it alone... it's unbelievably stiff. I may need someone's knee in the small of my back to do this right! Michael is a living god... can't wait to order another one" Camille P. 7/11/01

*        *        *
AND IN CONCLUSION...


And to all the most wonderful of New Years for 2002~surely a fortuitous year coming up! We tightened our belt this year, paid some major business bills, learned to do our own bookkeepping on Quick Books, launched a new corset maker's page, added a Bridal Bliss page featuring bridal corsets by Sheri, got a new domain name "ExquisiteCorsetry.com", and welcomed many new customers! Of course, we suffered a stunning blow to our spirit and soul on September 11, but we are lifting ourselves up and moving forward, resolute and thankful for the continuing confidence of our customers and international friends. We truly hope that those in love with corsets will come to see us in San Francisco. We hold your friendship dear and most precious, as ever.

Have a most joyous and safe New Year! Happy Corseting!

Ann Grogan
with Corset Dream Makers, Robby Cannedy and Martina Ostermann
 

Ann Grogan Ann at TGSF Ann and Madeline
Ann and Camille P. MP Garrod

Sleigh   Tata   Sleigh

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