Postcards From the Orchid Corsetry Studio- June 2014

Gold silk covered suspenders, partway through being constructed.

At Orchid Corsetry we want to share an ongoing journey with you, it starts anew every day as we unlock the door to the studio, and begin a new stream of creativity. From client meetings and fittings, pattern cutting, selecting fabrics and sketching ideas, to the nitty gritty of shaping steel centered sculptures with you at the centre, we would like you to join us, and follow our progress.

We hope you enjoy these glimpses into studio life at Orchid, whether it’s time-out with a mini tea ceremony and handmade treats, or an unusual commission being formed from ground work to finishing flourishes. Welcome to the wonderful world of the corsetiere, where the silhouette is re-imagined, and our individual ideals of beauty and perfection are realised.

Three mannequins displaying Orchid Corsetry corsets.
A selection of mannequins at the Orchid Corsetry studio, displaying a scarlet silk corset dress inspired by Jessica Rabbit (on an antique mannequin) a black and champagne summer weight mesh corset on a contemporary wasp waisted mannequin, and a teal and black Isis overbust, with an 18″ waist.
A silk satin modesty panel mid-construction, with Leavers lace embellishment.
This is a mid-construction shot from a piece that can be seen in it’s completed glory in next months installment of postcards. This piece is from our Gilded Cages collection (Modest Intentions) and uses a deliciously vivid combination of scarlet silk satin and indigo lace, which is hand cut with great care to create symmetrical, organically flowing details on the corset. This shows the modesty panel, designed to match up perfectly with the rest of the corset when laced up.
Summer corset made from black silk mesh
This 14 panel underbust style corset is made in black silk mesh for perfectly ventilated Summer waist training. It features black and champagne rose coutil at the centre front and back panels with matching silk covered boning channels layered on the outside of the corset. This piece uses a zip to allow for a sleeker line when worn under clothing.
Gold silk covered suspenders, partway through being constructed.
Another teaser image, to be fulfilled next month with the completed piece. This is a snapshot of silk ruffled suspenders being created for an ombré corset inspired by the clients bridal bouquet, which contained delicate, precious Spring blooms of subtle shades. This is a really original commission with the most refined appeal.
Close up of mesh training corset
The beauty of bespoke corsetry is that it allows us to be really responsive to the individual ways in which our clients work their corsets into their lives. This summer weight corset uses a firmer man-made mesh, mixed with extra coutil panels to give a balance between sturdy compression and support for a back ailment, with breathable sections for improved use in hot climates. This was the result of a third project with this returning client.
Tea infusing in a glass teapot
The Orchid Corsetry studio is run almost entirely on freshly infused green tea, so when the lid of our favourite glass tea pot was smashed, there was occasion to use our problem solving skills in a new direction.

Corsets For Men

A few words about making corsets for men, for those considering the leap to a bespoke piece.

Understanding the difference between a bespoke male corset and a female off-the-rack corset

The first thing we hear from our male clients when they make contact is usually that out of desperation, they’ve been driven to buying off the rack women’s corsets, or perhaps borrowing from their girlfriends or wives. This is all very well, and a little experimentation with a medium like corsetry can add a lot of value to the first bespoke piece, however, don’t expect them to fit you well. Why not? Well, a few physical differences will account for the four main complaints I hear from men who’ve been trialing women’s off-the-rack corsetry.

“The corset is too narrow in the chest- it pinches my ribs and there’s a huge gap between the laces at the top”

Women do not flare outwards from above the waist to the same extent as men do. The classic male shape is quite triangular, broad at the chest with little waist definition, and narrower hips. Women will tend to slope more gently out towards the bust,  with the allowance in that area of a corset left for a bust to project, rather than a broad ribcage to fan out.

“I can’t sit down in the corset- it’s so long below the waist”

From making men and women’s bespoke corsets for 7 years, I can say with confidence that most men need a corset around 2″ shorter in the lap than a woman of equivalent (or shorter) height. The male genitalia can make any additional length very uncomfortable in a way that would not impact on women, and as such women will usually prefer a pointed or curved base, allowing space for our thighs when we sit down. Almost all my male clients require a straight base to their corsets, as they do not carry weight on their legs in the same way.

“The gap at the back of this corset looks like a “V”, it’s already closed at the hips and it’s not even tight!”

The simple answer to this is child bearing. Women are built to a much broader hip shape than gentlemen, as mentioned in the first point, a man’s natural triangular shape is in starkest contrast at the hips.

“It’s so hard to reduce the waist”

The male physique tends to be much more muscle bound by default. Women tend to be much softer in the torso, allowing for a greater cinch without really feeling it. A 4″ reduction for a gentlemen is probably the equivalent of a 6-7″ reduction for a woman, making extreme male tightlacers like Mr Pearl even more distinctive in their achievements.

How we approach the challenge of making bespoke corsets for men

Naturally, dealing with bespoke corsets automatically deals with most of our problems above. The individuals own shape is used to sculpt the corset pattern, providing correct coverage and support. However a few things must still be considered to lead us to a really outstanding outcome. What are the goals of the wearer? If they want to retain a natural, masculine figure with back support then we must choose a style that will prove comfortable for long periods of wear. If our client is looking to feminise their figure without the use of padding or enhancements, then we will choose a corset style that will maximise the waist definition and balance out the narrower hips with the broad ribcage. Does the wearer carry weight in front of them? (a “beer belly” or paunch) in which case we must choose the right hardware to smooth out their figure and provide a sleek silhouette. We will also tend to use more rigid boning when making corsets for men in order to work with the stronger muscle tone we mentioned above, we’ll also consider the durability of the construction choices we’ve made very carefully.

What can we cater for?

We offer many different styles of corsets for men- for classic masculine pieces we would tend to offer underbust or waistcoat corsets, where the purpose is to sculpt and perfect the figure, smoothing a prominent abdomen, and creating a trim waist. For more essential wear such as back support, simpler and more functional corsets can be designed, offering discretion under daily clothing and a sleek finish. Where a male client is seeking feminine curves, we can work to padded or unpadded figures, providing overbust corsets that cater to bust enhancement, and underbusts designed to provide a feminine form and act as attractive underwear beneath clothing. Some of our male clients looking for a fetish corset have chosen knee length or body corsets, that fully encompass the upper torso and shoulders. We can create various locking devices and themed pieces for a special event… just send us some details of what you desire to create, and let us help you realise your ambitions.

Sheer Silk Summer Corsets

Locking underbust corset made in sheer silk mesh

At Orchid we do try to keep setting aside little nuggets of time to invest in bringing you something new, or to brush up on a new skill. Recently we’ve been trying out a whole host of new practices, the loveliest of all being our new sheer silk summer corsets, made in 100% silk mesh that is breathable, healthy against the skin and as lightweight as you can possibly imagine. I’ve been trialing the first prototype, made with external seams and surface boning channels for the smoothest finish and greatest comfort while you’re wearing the corset. We used delicate flexible spiral steels for support, with a gold zip front to ensure a smooth profile under clothing, and supportive, solid steel bones at the centre front to flatten the stomach and give a sleek silhouette. This corset also has a discreet little overlapping tab, where a locking post can be fixed to turn the corset from sensual shapewear into part of your intimate play, ensnaring you by means of  a golden padlock passed through the zip tab. All hardware is totally removable to restore the corset to functional, glamorous underwear whenever you wish. A locking corset is just one of the ways we can make your everyday wear an integral part of your liaisons, just get in touch to discuss your ideas.

My experiences of wearing the corset have been really positive-  it’s breathable layers make this the most comfortable corset I’ve ever worn, to the extent that I could forget I was wearing it. Unlike our more rigidly built corsets, this fabric has a gentle degree of flex, allowing the corset to breathe with you and move with more grace and less inhibition. Normally I train with a 2 layer underbust (coutil and lining) which is still a very lightweight corset without much bulk, but the difference between the corsets worn under clothing is very noticable; that slight difference in thickness gives an even more distinctive silhouette, making the body appear reduced yet again.

I normally wear an hourglass cut, and decided to make this style with a wasp waist, to see how the material coped with the demands of the additional pressure. As I’ve never trained my ribs it was interesting to see that with a 4″ reduction, my ribs showed signs of following a straighter line than my usual hourglass curve. Whilst not a “true” severe wasp waist, it gave a good approximation of the smooth lines you would expect from that cut.

With regard to the corset playing a part in BDSM or sensual play with a lover- the locking feature is an obvious function, but a more interesting general use is that the mesh allows the wearer to still experience hot and cold sensations on the areas of the body covered by the corset. Clearly care needs to be taken with anything sharp or genuinely overheated that could damage the wearer and the fibres of the corset, but there is a great scope to utilise that sensitivity, where a regular corset would simply remove that skin from access.

The limitations of the corset are as you would probably expect from a sheer silk summer corset with slight give to the mesh, the waist reduction that can be attained with it has a cap. To ensure long life of the corset I’m recommending that a 4″ reduction is the maximum attempted. I would still consider this an occasional use corset, whether that’s just for the hotter months of the year, or for discreet shapewear under clothing on special events, but really, the corset is surprisingly sturdy for something that you can see straight through! Though only available in black for a 100% silk mesh corset, we can offer pure cotton mesh in black, nude and white. This can be teamed up with our beautiful coutil selections for intriguing designs and elegant finishing touches.

To discuss your sheer silk summer corset please get in touch.

Gilded Cages- New Corsetry Collection from Orchid

For several years, Orchid have been working behind the scenes on some seriously raunchy boudoir wear. We have created fully locking, restrictive S&M corsetry, that in most cases, can be stripped back to an unassuming training corset for daytime use, a knee-length hobble corset, a fully encompassing body corset as well as collars, cuffs, harnesses and hog-ties. All executed with our trademark essence of quality, in-depth craftsmanship and attention to detail.

“Gilded Cages” was born from the inspiration and technical challenges that these commissions raise, but combined with an obsession for pleasing textures against the fingertips, delicate and feminine design that enhances our finest features, and transforms the beautiful into the glorious. There is no more intimate garment than a corset designed to work alongside and play a part in your fetishes- imagine the thrill of donning your second skin in preparation for your encounters- restraint points just where you need them, cording to allow you more freedom of movement, subtle interplay between luxurious materials and elegant bondage.

This new range is here to inspire your own fantasies in silk satin. We invite you to come to us in confidence, to collaborate on something truly unique to you and your needs, and to stop making do with goods that were built for someone else’s ideals. After all, what could be more important than expressing your purest self?

Tell us what makes you tick


Our gratitude and thanks to the people who made this everything that it is- and without whom it may never have happened

Darren Athersmith

Miss Miranda

Missy Fatale

Waifs and Strays

Nelson Bespoke

Last but not least, my incredible partner, who helped make garters at the last minute when time was tight, chauffeured models, kept us fed and watered during the shoot and went in search of “tit tape” in the name of the cause.

Choosing Your First Waist Training Corset

Rear view of a gold silk dupion waist training corset

As you plan your first steps with waist training, the most exciting decision is surely the styling of the corset that will mark the beginning of your journey- what colours, what textures, what shape will you choose? Here’s a short guide to some of the things you should start to consider before we let our heads run away with the beautiful possibilities.

One of the most important where we are concerned is which cut would you like? When we ask this, we are usually referring to two main distinctive shapes that hold within them a world of variation- “hourglass” and “wasp waist”.

Hourglass is a term used to describe a cut that largely follows the natural shape of the ribs down from the underbust, till at perhaps half way down to the waist, where it nips in to your reduced waist size. Some people consider this the “beginners choice” because it can be worn comfortably without extended training, and it has the least impact on your ribs. I often recommend this style to individuals with a small “waist to hip ratio” as it can be used to make the waist reduction seem more dramatic than it truly is.  An hourglass produces a softer, curvier silhouette, which, to my eyes, focuses attention on the waist point when nicely balanced.

A wasp waist is what most people think of when they envision a true Victorian corset, it carries a severe, almost diagonal or conical line between underbust and waist. This tapers the lower floating ribs into an elongated shape through wear, and these changes are permanent. Training a wasp waist is achieved steadily over time, and we make various adjustments in a corset design to accommodate it. I always think that this style gives the most definition to the hips, as the hips usually retain a natural curve and fullness in comparison to the severe lines above the waist.

~NB– this is usually the stage at which beginners ask us if the waist reduction they choose will be a permanent effect. The answer is no- your body shape may change during the course of training through various causes (diet changes, the need for a regular exercise regime etc) but do not expect your waist to retain its corseted shape permanently.

The next most important consideration is your lifestyle needs. Most frequently, we are asked to make our corsets as light as possible to remain discreet beneath work-wear and daily attire, certain styles may be more suited to this than others, and depending on your figure type and your choice of clothing some styles may be entirely ruled out. This area will also affect your colour scheme for the corset, for instance, if you wear a white shirt to work every day, a flesh tone corset will likely be essential. You may want the corset to function as smart outer wear for weekends and evenings as well as underwear for the daytime, you may wear clinging clothing that will affect our choices of fixings- all objectives can be accommodated, so make us aware of what you need.

Last but not least, what is your body type? Do you carry your curves in your hips? do you want additional support in this area? perhaps you have a post natal tum that you’d like to control, or you have a “sway back” or curved spine that requires more fluid support. Some styles of corset provide more specified target areas, for instance a tapered panel to flatten the stomach, or low sways on the hips to keep the lower half of the figure smooth and sleek. If you’ve worn “off the rack” corsets up until now don’t forget to talk to us about what did and didn’t work for you with what you’ve tried so far. Up to date pictures of you wearing said corsets, showing problem areas or features that you’ve liked will be helpful beyond measure. The last client who took the time to do this responded to my feedback by saying “you’ve just told me more about my corset than even I knew!”

When it comes to design, the world is at our feet, we can create the most elaborate and beautiful waist training corsets that are still utterly practical, but these corner stones will help us to keep the styling specific to you and your needs. After all, it’s no good giving you an exquisitely made corset that could have been created for just anyone!