Waist Not Vol 2 No 4

December 1998/January 1998


Ann in ROMANTASY's Point Counter Point reversible cincher for Xmas!
Unbelievable, but believe it, the holiday season is here once again...even before Thanksgiving! The stores had holiday trees out early November, and I even saw Christmas items about Halloween! 

I don't know about you, but I find it distressing. It distresses me not because it focuses on the commercial aspects of Christmas/Hanukkah so much, but because it seems we will now be obliterating perhaps the most important American national holiday of all--Thanksgiving. 

My mom says I always loved Thanksgiving when I was a child. I busied myself making decorations for the family dining table, helping her cook, set the table, arrange flowers, and I even had the honor of saying the prayer of thanksgiving at the table. 

It's not that I want to promote any particular kind or style of religion, but I do want to promote Americans, and everyone, retaining a time to reflect on and say special thanks for our half-full cup of many blessings. I say "half-full" because too often I look only at the half-empty, and complain or worry too much. Never enough money. Never enough time. Never enough of anything, until I really slow down and look closely at all the things I do have, and need to appreciate. 

Like you! Our visitors and many, many friends who have found us in person at our eight-year old San Francisco boutique, or only on the web! You have not only helped us survive, thrive and grow by your orders and patronage, but also and perhaps most importantly, by your encouragement to keep pursuing our vision of a more loving, romantic and beautiful world where we grow in self-appreciation, and appreciation of others. Some of you have even given us our share of criticism and problems, but those are learning experiences, and prove us human after all! 

Although to survive on the web as in real time, we do need to promote products and information services, and do hope you will continue to shop with us, mainly my staff and I primarily want to wish you the very best of end of 1998 and a most wonderful new beginning for 1999. Take time to appreciate your loved ones and the supporters and cheerleaders you surely have in your life, and count us among them! 

Ann Grogan, Wanda, Christine, LeCharles, Alicia, Cristine and webmaster Steve! 

PS Our recent web statistics show us many interesting things. We'd like especially to thank other sites who refer customers to us: Vicci Gold and Arthur Dinsen. Most of our international inquiries come from Germany and Japan! 


castle The 13th Annual Bal de Gracieuses for the member and guests of Les Gracieuses Modernes, the international corsetry enthusiasts club, was held in late October at Schloss Wolfsbrunnen, a fairy tale castle from the turn-of-the-century in the heart of Black Forest country in Northern Germany. This picturesque setting, originally built as a wedding present and used for military purposes in W.W.II, proved to be successful for a second time as a comfortable hotel and secluded elegant venue for such an exclusive event. There are already plans for next year's Ball to be held there as well, in November 1999. 


The Bal usually consists of a three-day event starting on Friday evening with an informal dinner and chance to meet the other guests for the weekend. The ladies always make a special effort for this with lovely evening outfits, corseted of course! A pianist and strolling violinist provided entertainment to our pleasant surprise, and a belly dancer performed for a full 20 minutes without stopping for a breath! The host and hostess, Dirk and Britta Flemming also formally greeted the diners and welcomed them to the opening of the weekend's events. Due to a long days traveling, we retired at midnight so as to be rested fully for the next day.  ballroom
pandora and michael
Pandora and Michael for True Grace
A display is featured on Saturday in the afternoon when the guests who are retailers or manufacturers show their wares to the other interested guests. True Grace, C&S Constructions, Bizarre Designs and JC Creations Amsterdam were on hand as usual with full tables of garments for all to view. During this time the Hotel provides the guest with refreshments in the form of cake and coffee or sandwiches and punch which adds to the jovial social atmosphere. By 5 p.m. however, it's time to pack up and start to get ready for the main event--the Bal with a champagne reception to start.
At 7:30 guests arrive down the central stair case into the main hall of the Hotel. Many cameras are present to capture the moment and small waists, as each guest is asked to pose on the stairs for a photo, like starlets at a Hollywood premier! At 8 p.m. sharp, the host and hostess arrive to greet the guests and officially welcome them to the Bal with a champagne toast. We are then invited to dine in the festively decorated dining rooms with a lavish buffet and free flowing wine. britta
Hostess Britta, in "Bizaar Designs" corset
group at bal
Michael, Pandora, Karen, and Constance of C&S Constructions
Afterwards there is dancing with an excellent live band and a special performance by Germany's first lady of Country & Western, Lady Jane De aka our hostess, Britta Flemming! Lady Jane De has released a new CD with a selection of songs, which can be ordered from the LGM web site. 
On Sunday we have a lingering breakfast and say our goodbyes until next year. The weather this year was superb and the leaves on the trees in the forest land surrounding the schloss were beginning to turn. Such a pity it all ends so soon! Until next year... 

--Pandora Gorey, London

pandora and michael
Pandora in a black velvet and rhinestone "Diamante" corset with Michael Garrod

"The Corset Busk"

The stiffener, called a busk, which has been fitted to the front of a corset has been in existence for many centuries. At one time it was made of wood, then metal. 

When small waists became fashionable in the early 19th century it meant that (for a back-lacing corset) a great deal of lacing had to be employed in order to open it out sufficiently (to be donned). The split busk with hooks and studs (for the front of the corset) was born, and remains in use to this day. 

The shape and length has varied enormously. It has been straight, wedge shaped or spoon shaped. The longest busk I have personally seen was one fitted to a corset belonging to Ethel Granger--18 inches! This was probably manufactured by her husband, Will Granger, was spoon shaped, and two inches wide at its broadest point. I have a replica of this corset which I made myself with considerable difficulty. 

The supply of busks these days is very limited. There is only one manufacturer in the UK, Steels and Busks Ltd of Leicester. At the turn of the century they employed 1,000 workers solely devoted to making metal components for corsets--now they have only 20. They only make lightweight busks, suitable only for moderate lacing. 

Heavy busks are obtainable from Wilhelm Wissner in Goppingen, Germany. They also make spoon busks, which in this day and age is quite remarkable (although Michael reports there have been some durability problems with a recent order he placed). I don't know any other manufacturers worldwide (Ed note: busks can be ordered in America from Richard the Thread in Los Angeles (323) 852-4997, Finebrand (213) 588-3228, or a new company, Paxton Mfg., Box 2164, Appomatax, VA 24522, (804) 352-0231). 

The only source of wedge busks that I know is from Streifeneder in Emmerring, Germany. They are wholesale stockers, so it is quite possible that manufacturing of these items no longer takes place. I am not aware of any other busk manufacturers in Europe. 

The continued availability of busks remains in doubt. The demand has decreased over the last three or four decades, and at some point it may no longer be economical to produce them. I have been forecasting this to happen by the year 2000 but I hope I am wrong! 

Busks are expensive items, ranging between $1.25 to $15. (Ed note: purchased one at a time they are quite a bit more expensive in America, more like $15-$25 each!). It is worthwhile recycling them, especially the rare spoon busks. Other corsetry components are less valuable but also under threat. 

In my next article I will discuss other corsetry components.

--Michael Garrod


Questions Editor note: Sometimes we get so many emails that, considering that I answer all my own email (some 15-25 a day! plus run the boutique) we simply are not staffed to handle expeditiously although we try to answer with as much helpful information as possible. This recent letter seemed to lend itself to a newsletter answer however, and we hope our visitor, Kimberly, will find her answers below. 

1. Q: If you wear a corset over the course of years, does the very bottom rib or any of them, move inward over time? 

A: Although I am not a doctor, I have seen photos of x-rays and held conversations with long-term corset wearers and even corset makers, that show that they do. Apparently the bottom floating rib can elevate upwards and may even move together toward the center of the body. I am not sure if the stationery ribs also move but suspect that some minimal movement is possible. Remember that this happens only after long term tight-lacing and as to how long or how tight, that would depend on each person's body structure. I would imagine that at least five years of daily wearing of a corset for at least 6 hours a day moderately to tightly laced, would be required for permanent movement. 

2. Q: How does wearing a corset enhance a weight-loss program? 

A: When one is eating healthily and controlling calorie intake, adding a corset moderately laced for about 3 hours before the meal of largest intake and three hours after, without loosening the laces, does several things to assist weight loss. First, it slows eating down and causes you to take smaller bites. Since common knowledge has it that it takes 15 minutes for food in the stomach to "reach" the brain and for us to feel satiated, slowing down lets us feel full before we overeat. 

In addition, with the stomach restricted, one simply cannot take in as much food as normal. The secret is not to let those laces loose so you can fit in more food! 

If you overeat, or eat fatty foods or rich proteins which are difficult to digest, it will only happen once. That is because you will suffer the painful results while you are corseted, and you will remember your discomfort and do anything you can to avoid it in the future, while you are tight-laced.


3. Q: What are the best ways to lace a corset? 

A: I don't know if you mean, by yourself, or if you mean how the laces should be structured through the eyelets. 

Lacing yourself can be done fairly easily with some practice, in about 2-3 minutes! But you must practice and increase your finger dexterity behind your back. You may also wish to purchase a "Lacisstant" (c)(R) ROMANTASY 2000, which acts like a second pair of hands to assist you more easily lace your corset by yourself.

I find it easiest to loosen the corset very wide, clip it in front, reach around back and then crisscross the waist pulls, and pull. I then place both pulls in my left hand (I am right handed), and with my thumb, hook it under the first crisscrossed laces at the top of the corset, and pull about 2-3 inches in, then progress with each one down to the waist. I then crisscross the pulls and pull again. I repeat this process from the bottom up. Finally I tie a bow but do not knot it. I tuck the laces under the bottom of the hem to insure I do not have an unsightly and sloppy dragging "horse tail." 

To the left is a photo of "The ROMANTASY Salute", named by our friend David. If you are fortunate enough to have someone assist lace you in, it helps to lift your hands skyward and hold them up while being laced. This lengthens the torso and allows for more waist reduction than otherwise. Also, once you are initially laced in, lean to one side, grasp the bottom edge opposite to your 'lean', and pull several times downward, in order to "seat" the waistline exactly at your waist. Then, lean the opposite direction and repeat the process. Pay attention while you are wearing your corset during the day as it may sometimes tend to 'creep' up and press on the ribcage. At any time you may repeat the leaning process to 're-seat' the waistline in its proper position.

As for methods of lacing, here is one standard method by Voller's Co., England, and there are others we will post soon.

4. Q: I have read in your newsletter that you should not tightlace a new corset. Why is that? 

A. Simple: you can ruin a brand new corset, cause yourself to pay more for repairs, and delay your wearing pleasure. You can also cause your body damage, or create a negative association with your beautiful new garment which your mind and body will remember, causing you to resist lacing down in the future. 

It is my experience and opinion that the body develops memories. Remember when you overate something as a child and felt nauseated? From then on you probably recoiled from eating that food again. 

It is the same with bodily feelings. If a garment causes you pain or discomfort, your body will remember it, despite what you tell it with your mind. Your body will not yield to the corset's embrace but will push outward and resist it. 

As for damage to the corset, I have seen it time and again when some customer into fetish tight-lacing and overly anxious to experience the pleasurable feelings of restriction, laces a new corset down too fast and wears it for too long a time, not following our careful plan for "breaking" in a corset. 

I have seen a customer return a corset for repairs, having blown out the entire front busk panel stitching, having the studs rip through the fabric, having stays permanently and grotesquely bent in wild contortions, and having perfectly good and strong and appropriate corset fabric fray around eyelets or seams. 

Don't do it. Be patient, and most of all respect your body, the coming and delicious pleasures of tight-lacing, and the craftsmanship of the gorgeous and magical custom garment you now own. Know and respect the limits of each style, each corsetmaker, each fabric, and each construction technique. 

If you wish a copy of ROMANTASY's corset advice monograph we give each corset customer, please send $5 and we will happily send one to you. Also, for $5 we will send you a copy of our Eating Well While Corseted monograph, containing lots of good information on that topic.

We'd like to reiterate our offer to readers, of a special one-time discount of $50 if you mention the web, on a custom corset and $25 on an off the peg steel boned corset (not lingerie style), if you place your order and pay 1/2 deposit by December 24. 

Gift certificates are available. 

Don't forget to check out our corset-related products page, and our romantic specials page (including our exclusive pheromone perfume, massage oil, room spray/cologne, body lotion, shampoo and soap bar).


writinghand "Dear Ann:  It is a such a pleasure to finally see that there are other people out there that love wearing corsets as much as I do, because getting a corset for my birthday was really the turning point for me, in the sense that I have finally found my own way of expressing my fetishism, because here was something that made me feel very, very sexy. So it sort of felt like a pad on the back to find out about your boutique. Thanks! Actually I am going to San Fransisco within the next week, so I look so much forward to come by the boutique" --HK, Denmark.
"Dear Ann: We found your shop closed in fall of 1977, but we plan to see you in December of this year and order a corset. I LOVE this site and recommend it to all of my friends. I especially love how you involve plus-sized women in on the fun!" --Suzie 7/98 

"Dear Ann and company: I'm the young man, general contractor, that stopped on a lark and was supremely assisted by Christine in trying on several corsets. I have not forgotten the day or you. I am still planning to purchase a corset and am budgeting for that day." --William 9/98 

"Dear Ann, I'm EXTREMELY interested in one of your corset creations. I called you from Louisiana. You were so NICE! Thank you! You were encouraging me to consider a corset even though I'm losing weight. I think I will hold off until I reach my goal in 3 or 4 months and I will definitely keep in touch. Deal?" --Jay 9/98 

(Editor's note.: Don't forget to check out our web WAIST TRAINING COACHING PROGRAM, to start now with a corset as an adjunct to your weight loss program. It can truly help you reach your goals more quickly than without, and the 4" gap can be ordered at 5 or 6" to accommodate your intended weight loss, and still cause a waist reduction after you lose!) 

"Dear Ann, I will come visit soon. Over the years Romantasy has grown up to be quite a legendary place. Romantasy overflows with your personality. In many ways it's a mirror of your dreams, efforts, personality. It is as unique as you are!" --Bernice 8/98 (Ed note: And so are you unique to take your valuable time to write us such encouraging words, Bernice! Good karma to you in return!) 

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Ann, Wanda, Santa and Christine!
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