Buying a good quality corset is not a cheap affair and with this extreme shapewear I have found you really do get what you pay for. I wrote about my experiences with trying the infamous What Katie Did Morticia corset here, and although the fit was not quite right for me I could tell the quality was superb.
Corsetting is an interesting subject area and I am by no means an expert but I do know that it's worth going for a steel boned corset if you want it to (a) last, and (b) do some serious shaping. Fuller Figure Fuller Bust has a great guest post on her blog about corsetting here.
Earlier this year, I was contacted by the lovely Cheri at Orchard Corset. She offered to send me the corset of my choice to review on my blog and naturally I was absolutely thrilled. Coincidentally, I finally had a genuine need for one as I had my photo shoot with My Boudoir coming up and I felt a corset would be just the job for some of the pictures.
(The lengthy delay in me posting this review from when I received my first corset from Orchard Corset is because I injured my neck and shoulder in the summer and it became impossible to even attempt to put a corset on for quite some time. I finally managed it a week or so ago and am so pleased to be able to finally share my full review with you today. I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Cheri for her incredible patience and understanding during this time - she is such a wonderful lady!)
So, the first thing I had to do was to choose the right corset for me. I spent some time browsing Orchard Corset's website and reading the handy guides on their superb blog and eventually settled on the CS-426 steel-boned longline underbust corset in satin ($79 US).
Image courtesy of Orchard Corset
Image courtesy of Orchard Corset
The 426 is an underbust corset (I had immediately ruled out an overbust due to the 16" difference between my overbust and waist measurements) and in the pictures it look as though it might be similar to the WKD Morticia. And indeed it is!
My next decision was colour. My first choice for this sort of thing would normally be black but somewhere in my wardrobe I have a black one bought a few years ago from elsewhere so I thought it would be pointless to get one in the same colour. I therefore opted for Maroon as I felt it would blend well with the red lingerie I own. I decided against a patterned fabric as that would limit what I could wear it with and as this would be my first 'proper' corset I wanted it to be as wearable as possible!
As an aside here, I must add that since I placed my order the 426 has been made available in cotton. I would definitely have gone for this if I'd had the choice at the time - while I love the satin fabric it is pretty shiny and so a more matte fabric would have been my preference. I also think the cotton is more breathable and therefore possibly more comfortable for periods of extended wear. And there's also a leather option - I would LOVE to one day own a leather corset!
The final thing to decide upon was size. At WKD, I had found the 26 fitted best, so I went for the same with Orchard Corset. The idea is to go for a corset that is 4-6" less than your waist measurement; as my waist is 30" the 26" seemed like the perfect match. I could possibly have gone for the 24 but I erred on the side of caution and opted for the 26 as I felt that it would fit my 47" hips better than the smaller size.
In no time at all, my corset arrived. It was beautifully packed and came with clear instructions on how to wear and care for your corset (also available here on the blog). Such a simple touch but for a newbie like me this sort of thing is invaluable. I briefly tried the corset on for some photos and fell in love with the shape it gave me:
Please note that I laced the corset myself and as a novice I am pretty awful at it so this is only a hint of the shaping that can be achieved with the 426. For reference, I am wearing my Ewa Michalak PL Czerwona Panterka 30KK/65KK.
I have been asked in the past why I should want to wear a corset when I am lucky enough to have a natural hourglass shape. I have wondered that myself sometimes but the fact of the matter is that I want ALL the pretty things, and even with an already shapely figure it is possible to make it even more so with a decent corset. I don't think I could ever have the patience or time to do waist training (where you use the corset to semi-permanently reduce the size of your waist) but the shape a corset gives even when only worn infrequently is pretty awesome.
I was delighted with the shape the maroon 426 was giving me so I threw on some heels and struck a few poses! (Note to self: it's very important to use tinted moisturiser on one's feet as well as on one's upper body...)
The main problem I had with the WKD Morticia corset was that it seemed too long for my body, with its short torso and high waist. Since trying the Morticia on in the shop it has been suggested that I might have been wearing it too high so I have longed to be able to give it another try. The 426 was indeed similar in many ways to the Morticia (including quality-wise) and by positioning it very slightly lower on my body I was able to achieve a better fit. It's still a tall corset (this video by Orchard Corset can help you determine if you have the torso length to comfortably wear the 426 - and isn't Cheri absolutely adorable?) and by its shape and cut the corset will naturally position itself in a certain place on your torso but I have found that it is possible to ease it down very slightly as it is laced. This is of course much more easily done when someone is lacing for you.
The pictures above (apologies for the naked boobs) show exactly how high the 426 comes on my torso and I think I am just within the limits for comfortable wear. You can see from my previous pictures that the underbust corset pushes up my bra band and therefore my boobs, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it was important that my breasts didn't become misshapen in the bra because of the corset. Again, I think this is borderline in these photos but I have found that wearing a non-wired bra, as I did at the My Boudoir photo shoot, negates the issue.
In the final picture you can see the effect of the corset under clothing...it's brilliant! Yes, it's a little apparent - particularly the fastenings (busks) down the front of the corset - but that's partly because my Pinup Girl Clothing Jessica dress is very form-fitting. I could have avoided this by wearing smoothing shapewear over the top, which is something I would do if wearing the corset under fitted clothing for a party or suchlike.
For the photo shoot, I was laced into my corset by Nicola and Georgina, so they were able to really get my waist cinched beautifully. However, whilst doing so one side of the laces became frayed and unusable so these photos don't show the maximum curvature available from a corset!
Upon closer inspection later on, I discovered there was a problem with one of the eyelets on the corset (also known as 'grommets') and there was a slightly sharp edge that had cut the lace and caused it to fray and come apart. I contacted Orchard Corset who were absolutely brilliant and resolved the issue by immediately offering to send me replacement laces. As we all know, sometimes items are not 100% perfect and that can be disappointing; however what makes all the difference is how a problem is dealt with and I was really impressed with the way Orchard Corset were so kind and helpful. They simply wanted to rectify the issue and that's what makes a great company for me - one who cares about their customers and not just the bottom line of selling products.
I was even more thrilled when they offered to send me a replacement corset as well as the new laces, so this time I went for the CS-426 steel-boned longline underbust corset in black satin. I teamed it with my Ewa Michalak PL Milady 30L/65L, some shapewear briefs from Maidenform, a suspender belt from eBay that was far too big and slipped down, and some cut up tights (thanks for the tip for DIY stockings, Georgina!)
I had gained a few pounds since taking the maroon 426 photos and as you can see from the rear photo I wasn't able to lace the black 426 corset quite as tightly as last time but even so the effect is amazing! I also wasn't able to lace as tightly as I would have liked due to my neck/shoulder injury which I still haven't fully recovered from, but again it would have been preferable to have someone to lace me up. Orchard Corset have a terrific guide here on how to correctly lace yourself into a corset, which I must study closely so I can do better next time!
Many people ask if corsets are comfortable; I guess it comes down to personal preference but I will say without hesitation that the 426 is incredibly comfortable. Ok, so maybe it's not something I would wear all day, every day, but that's more down to me and the fact it would be completely impractical in my job and with my lifestyle to do so. I really enjoy the feeling of being compressed by the corset but of course it's not so tight that it feels painful. It was wonderful to be more tightly laced at the My Boudoir photo shoot and I need to practice lacing myself into the corset so that I can achieve a greater waist cinch on my own.
The CS-426 is lined with 100% cotton for comfort and is available in sizes 18 to 46 (see sizing advice here). The newer stock comes with six attached garter/suspender tabs and the overall quality is superb. The gored hips of the 426 are perfect for hourglass girls such as me, as they provide a built-in allowance for our extra curviness below the waist.
If you are thinking of buying a corset, do take the time to do some research as to what might work best for you. Orchard Corset's blog is a truly invaluable resource, covering pretty much every corset-related topic you can think of (and if anything is missing do let Cheri know as I'm sure she'd be grateful to bridge the gap!). Recent posts include a guide to corset sizing for fuller-figured/plus size customers, a discussion around how corset use can affect sizing, and an in-depth look at the difference between a waist cincher and a steel-boned corset. There are heaps of other useful posts and I have referred many readers to the Orchard Corset blog in the past as it explains everything so clearly and concisely.
Orchard Corset offer corsets in a range of 'silhouette levels', meaning that there are items suitable for even the most extreme of curves. You can search for corsets by silhouette level here; at the moment the range is from level 1 (for less extreme cinching) to level 3 (for the maximum cinch (the CS-426 is level 3)) but I have been advised that soon there will be a level 4 and I absolutely cannot wait for that - perhaps I might be able to fit into an overbust corset at long last...?
I cannot recommend Orchard Corset highly enough. Their customer service and communication has been second to none and their corsets are incredible! I genuinely believe that the 426 is a very strong rival for the What Katie Did Morticia corset, which is particularly good news for those living in the US as prices compare favourably. Even with the shipping and customs charges to the UK I daresay the 426 would still end up cheaper, so it's a great option to consider for anyone looking for a good quality corset that lasts well and is comfortable to wear.
The wonderful people at Orchard Corset have made a special offer code for you, my lovely readers! To save 15% off your order with Orchard Corset, just use code 'curvywordy'. It's available site-wide and you can use it up to 5 times. Enjoy - and please let me know what you buy!