June/July 1998

FROM THE EDITOR

Corvest model   I don't know about you, but corsets have been seen everywhere this spring, including on the front cover of the March VOGUE and the April BAZAAR magazines. Movies such as The Titanic, Wings of a Dove, and Man in an Iron Mask, feature spectacular costuming incorporating corsets.  And CYBOUTIQUE/ROMANTASY has been caught up in this whirlwind of favorable...and sometimes controversial media coverage.

As ever the debate and stereotypes about comfort, effects on the body and wisdom of corseting abound, and must be addressed with patience and vigor! We have attempted to do so on two media occasions; an ABC television news segment aired March 29 on ROMANTASY's corsets, and particularly the new corset for men, the "Corvest".  The coverage was fair, balanced and favorable, stressing the fashion and elegant aspect of custom corsets. 

Our new Southern California Field Rep, Robby Cannedy, and her husband, Larry, were featured--both corseted--dancing the night away at the elegant Starlight Room, top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.  It was all quite romantic and appropriate, with Robby dressed in ROMANTASY's new style Ballerina Corset (see Dorothy's page for details), and Larry in his handsome new Corvest.

In addition, I just returned on May 7 from a trip to New York City to tape a segment for the Maury Povich talk show on NBC television, which aired on May 18th.  Maury and I appear in the photo (at right) after the show. We also appeared with Cathie Jung from Connecticut, and Christine, one of Ruth Johnson's customers from Pennsylvania.

Maury and his production staff were extremely cordial and warm in their welcome to New York and Maury called our corsets "beautiful," but the audience expressed many of society's reservations about corseting.  I wish I could report that the minute or so we spent on stage, and the questions we answered, will illuminate the beauty and comfort of custom, made-to-measure corsetry.  Alas, it was not to be so.

The time devoted to the discussion was simply too brief to do the topic justice, and the simplicity of the questions did not permit us to address the wide variety of ways that corsets are worn and enjoyed today.

But perhaps if viewers inquire further and visit our website, which I mentioned on the air, they will learn about the wide variety of ways corsets can be enjoyed, and health can be benefited.

Ann and Maury Povich
Pollyanna model In fact, Robby and I came up with a list recently, which we'd like to share with our readers below.  If you can add to our list, please write us and we'll be happy to credit your ideas and experiences.

As ever, we love to hear from you with photos in your new ROMANTASY corset, so please email or write us at: 2912 Diamond Street, Suite 239, San Francisco, CA 94131. And check out our new Corsets and Related Products page, where we now have several new off-the-peg corset styles at reasonable prices, plus new products such as the beautiful hand-painted silk corset scarf by our German friend, Melanie, and new "Swinger" earrings by editor Walt Kleine.  Don't forget to send us new product ideas you find around the world for our corset collection.

Hugs and tight squeezes,

Ann

OCCASIONS TO WEAR YOUR NEW CORSET

By Robby Cannedy and Ann Grogan 

You may think that your new corset has limited fashion use.  Or perhaps you purchased it primarily as an item of intimate lingerie or for figure control.  You'll be surprised to learn how versatile your corset really is.

So, we've collected occasions on which you may wear your corset to derive additional pleasure and value for your investment.  Remember:  the more you wear your corset, the better value and the more comfortable it becomes.  So don't wait:  try some of these:

Ann with busks
BODY MECHANICS; SUPPORT AND POSTURE

--to create body "memory" of what it feels like to sit up straight or hold in your stomach
--to make your mother proud of your posture!
--to avoid unnatural and stressful twisting, such as when you enter and exit a car seat, or reaching for  products on high shelves

TRAVELLING

--for lifting or pulling suitcases, even on wheels
--for standing in long lines
--for sitting and waiting in planes while the weather clears
--for driving long distances 

Note:  place a cold gel pack inside a small plastic baggie under the back laces of a loosely laced corset, and up against your back, for comfort during long drives.

HOUSEHOLD TASKS

--for preparing for large dinner parties, with lots of standing in the kitchen as you chop, grind and mix
--for lifting heavy grocery bags
--for moving furniture
--for pushing a sweeper
--for leaning over to make beds
--for scrubbing floors
--for reaching high for products on kitchen shelves
--for any heavy cleaning or organizing task, such as cleaning out closets or garages

WORK THAT REQUIRES EXTENDED SITTING, STANDING OR LIFTING

--for retail sales
--for nursing
--for care and lifting the elderly
--for painting
--for trade show exhibits
--for air hosts
--for typing at computers
--for waiting tables
--for dentistry or surgery

SPORTS

--on the gold course
--bowling

CHILD CARE

--for lifting children
--for carrying carseats and toy bags
--for watching grandchildren, or supervising a kindergarten

RECOVERING YOUR FIGURE

--after childbirth
--for daily wear during dinner to control appetite
--for permanent waist reduction

HEALTH AND  RECOVERY (Please check with your personal physician before using your corset for these purposes; we assume no responsibility and make no medical claims, but only give you our personal experiences)

--when icing your back is recommended therapy, use the gel pack technique mentioned above under travelling.
--to support tummy muscles after abdominal surgery; please inquire of your physician if a medical corset is recommended for support, such as post-liposuction or post-c-section
--back strain or spasm

SLEEPING

--To support an aggravated or strained back while you sleep, especially if you occasionally wake up with a stiff or sore back.

INTIMATE RELATIONS

--coupled with careful, intentional rapid breathing, the corset can encourage a feeling of euphoria during love making (don't do this standing up!)
--using the corset-lacing and unlacing ritual intentionally to slow down, and to focus attention on love-making and romance (in Victorian times, a groom was known to take an hour or more to unlace his bride on the honeymoon night!)
--protection from muscle straining during peak experiences of love-making (having one's back "go out" is not that uncommon during amorous activities; Ann knows because she once experienced it!)

Lady in corset reclines

Click here for advice on Corset Wear and Care

GUEST COLUMN - "Fabrics for Today's Corset"

by Michael Garrod (True Grace Corsets)

MGarrod Poster The uninitiated might well think, with the plethora of fabrics available in the large stores these days, that the corset maker's supplies were healthy. The truth is, they are not.

At the turn of the 19th century, when the production of cotton fabrics reached its peak, there were 8000.000 looms operated by about 20,000 firms in England alone!  A substantial proportion of that output was geared to supplying a very large corset industry, and the demand was for high quality, strong cloth.  This was made both for the outside surface as well as the lining of corsets.

A gradual decline in consumption of corset cloth took place during the 20th century, making a nose dive in the 70s and 80s.  This had catastrophic consequences, resulting in most corset manufacturers, as well as suppliers, going out of business by 1985.  Few remain in existence.

The most important aspect of a corset, especially if it is subjected to tight lacing (Ed. note: tight lacing is generally defined as lacing a garment so that the waist reduces four or more inches), is that it will withstand usage over many months--if not years.  It is not enough to have a lining material which is strong, combined with a lighter weight outside--it will not last.  The lighter fabric has to be backed, preferably bonded, so that there is no possibility of it coming under tension and breaking it. The corset maker of a century ago would not have had problems like this to overcome!

What we can buy in the shops these days is fine for dresses and the like, but as a material for a corset you can write most of them off as useless. I have learned through bitter experience that even an interlined corset, with a lightweight nylon covering outside, is at risk of failure at the seams.

Supplies of corset weight materials, specifically brocades and satins, are very limited.  In the United Kingdom the choice is down to only a handful of designs, and these mainly exist in black, pink or white.  Other colors are very rare indeed.  There are isolated sources within Europe, but here I have so far found only three suppliers of good quality materials--I have paid as much as $45.00 a meter to get what I need!

The situation with lining materials is totally different.  Even though the demand for corsets by the public in general is now almost non-existent, corsets still require surgical supports. (Ed. note:  not by ROMANTASY's recent experience:  our orders double almost every 12 months as we sell an average of 2-3 per day!  Imagine the growing national demand when you consider off the peg steel boned corsets of certain--if not perfect--quality).

I was told by a manufacturer I visited recently that the demand for this type of corset remained unchanged, so that the coutils (similar heavyweight weaves) are still easily obtainable.

So--if you are lucky enough to have a corset in a quality brocade, do not be surprised at what it costs!  You are lucky to get it at all!  If your corset is made with anything else, then it may not survive heavy wear.

--Michael Garrod

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