Its an interesting question, with a very interesting, if amusing answer!

Whilst this is a ‘business’ blog, I still want to retain the element of personal thoughts, events and feelings, I dont want it to be a rigid, ‘businessfied’ efficient page of no personality.  Since my early twenties, I began wearing corsetry and more adventurous get ups (thanks to a LOT of soul searching, and the break up of Marriage #1) I would buy RTW corsets (shop bought, ready to wear, standard size) and these came from 2 companies, Vollers, and Axfords. the fit was okay, the comfort factor was also fine for RTW, but, being standard sizing, it was never going to be perfect, and let face it, there’s not a whole lot of people out there who conform to a standard size all over – I NEVER have, even though I’ve been many different sizes, I’ve been underweight, I’ve been average weight, ive been slightly overweight and ‘obese’, yet one thing remained consistent, my ‘well defined’ bottom and hips – yes, even when I was underweight, this ‘Baby got Back’To get jeans to fit my bottom, there would be several inches of gape at the waistband, and this inevitably made other RTW garments including corsetry difficult, and the bigger I got, the bigger my butt got, but I still retained a waistline, which in corsetry gives me quite a decent ‘Hip spring’ and made RTW corsetry more and more difficult.

Claire & David proofs-008

Spin forwards to 16th April 2011.  This was my wedding day (#2) to my wonderful soulmate David.  Like many brides I’d planned on losing a LOT of weight, and which I inevitably failed, I’d lost some, but not enough to fit into the corset I’d bought for the big day and so, in a mad panic, 3 weeks before the day and the dawning realisation that my wedding corset just wasn’t going to fit, I delved into the ‘dark side‘ of corsetry, I knew it wasn’t great, I knew it would probably be rather uncomfortable, but I also knew I could get a ‘Plus-Size’ corset and it would be delivered in time – I ordered a corset from CorsetsUK.

It arrived within 7 days, it fit (kind of) and it was uncomfortable.  the day of the wedding arrived, and I rapidly began to realise that the longer I wore this ‘corset’ the more uncomfortable I was getting, and then discomfort turned into actual PAIN.  Now, I need to point out that I’ve worn corsets for a number of years, and I’m no lightweight when it comes to pain, I’ve had Arthritis since I was diagnosed in my early 20’s, I’m ‘used to’ pain, but this was different, my lower fixed ribs were aching, the bones were digging in my ribs, my hips and my lower lumbar… but the moment when I first though “I’m sure I MUST be able to make something better myself (even though I’d barely sewn since school) was this conversation, with the registrar, just before the ceremony:

“Are You sure you want to get married? … You look VERY uncomfortable… You are not being forced into this marriage against your will?”

Sweet Lord, I was looking THAT uncomfortable, the registrar actually thought I was involved in a forced/sham marriage?!! I had to explain to this registrar that I was fine, and it was actually the corset that was making me uncomfortable… Wow.  Anyway, the ceremony was perfect, just how we wanted (instrumental Guns & Roses  – November Rain in the background) and I managed to keep the corset on, longer than my shoes! but I’m sure the copious amounts of alcohol that night numbed the pain somewhat!

When we left the venue for our honeymoon suite, the anticipation building of that delicious moment I’d been waiting for ALL DAY… the moment of sheer unadulterated bliss when I could unlace this damn corset and get it off me!  What I wasn’t expecting were the deep gouges where the bones had been pressing against my ribs, the blue bruising was already evident along my rib cage, down the ribs on my back where one of the bones had snapped, and the deep bruising and once bleeding cut in one of my hips, where a ‘bone’ had cut through the fabric, and into my skin.  This corset had injured me, and I’d only been wearing it for a period of around 10 hours.  I hadn’t taken photos (and looking back, i really wish I had) but the bruising was still there toward the end of our honeymoon.

Claire & David proofs-016

Not long after that, after some employment related issues, I lost my job, and with the money I received in settlement, I paid for several courses so that I could learn corsetry, even after such a bad experience, I still loved corsets, as I know myself its NOT the corset that is the bad guy here, its the cheap sweatshop factories producing these tube like garments in vast numbers, garments that are geared more toward the Asian build (slender, with little hip/waist ratio) and the Transgender community which bears little resemblance to the typical Western woman of today. By training in corsetry, I could not only make my own corsets that actually fit ME, but I could in time, offer my services to other people.

Its always going to be hard to convince people who want to buy corsets, that they should invest their hard earned money in a well fitted quality piece that will last them, that won’t hurt, that FITS, but all I can do, is tell it how it was for me, there are lots of people out there that will always take cost over comfort, but all I hope is that in time, people will see the benefits of good, locally made, bespoke corsetry over cheap imported corsetry – hopefully before another Rana Plaza type disaster happens.