“Little Foxglove” Feminine Locking Corset

front view of Little Foxglove locking corset

It seems fitting somehow that the deprivations and constraint of this year’s lockdowns and upheavals have given rise to some of the most opulent and elaborate requests of my career. The trend predictors suggest that economic struggle usually prompts a demand for minimalism and pared down style, however I see things differently; a hunger for escapism wherever we can get it. Denied our holidays and adventures to places filled with exotic colour, we seek something within ourselves, in the safety and sanctuary of our homes. As our worlds shrink outside, we want to broaden our horizons in other ways.

Little Foxglove was one of those commissions that ensnared my imagination from the first contact. The locking corsetry that I make had garnered a lot of attention but I was itching to take the structures and mechanisms used on previous pieces somewhere different. When Terra got in touch looking for a rich feminine aesthetic with full locking capabilities, I knew we were on the same page.

close up of padlock on Little Foxglove corset

From the first communication it was clear that I was working with an articulate and thoughtful individual who had really considered what elements were important to him for construction and styling. Terra is a male corset enthusiast, whose wife was excited to see him locked securely into his corset, however they wanted the locks and hardware itself to be as minimal as possible to benefit the soft styling we were working towards. Terra were also open to input from me on design and I was only too happy to oblige! Working with clients who have a strong starting point for our project but want a little guidance on the details leaves room for so much creativity.

close up of lace detail on Little Foxglove corset

After some discussion we had a plan for our design for Little Foxglove; an underbust style in a complex and nostalgic shade of silk satin, embellished with champagne Chantilly lace for a refined and sophisticated colour contrast. The corset would have fully locking panels at the back to cover the lacing, fastening at the front with a locking buckle. The strong busk front would be covered by a locking zip (meaning no padlock was required to secure it) and a subtle Edwardian shape was agreed upon.

locking zip front detail on corset

I often use an Edwardian cut on feminine corsets for male bodies to visually rebalance the body proportions, as we would classically see a longer distance between underbust and waist and much shorter distance between waist and hips than on a style for female bodies, where these lengths are often around 50:50. The slight dip at the underbust level serves to shorten the effect above the waist, and the flowing low hip shape helps to lengthen the body at that point and also to infer more fullness. The majority of my clients aren’t interested in padding their bodies for greater curves, aside from bust enhancement, so using my skills with cut and design is how we get the most impact!

I’m constantly asked how long it takes me to make a corset, and it’s a very hard question to answer. A simple piece that’s already cut out could be made in 6-8 hours, but a piece like Little Foxglove works out around 2 weeks full time work, say 80 to 100 hours. And I’m not including pattern making or client communication in that time! One of the main reasons this particular corset took so long was the lace work.

The time seems to come far more from planning the placement and being sure that before you’ve sewn any crucial seams, you have any lace that needs to be pre-sewn taken care of. It’s a very logistical process, in which you don’t have much room to deviate from the ideal path! I often spend a whole day on the locking panels, hand basting layers together, plotting lace placement so that it has a chance to blend with other sections on the corset, even though it’s position will alter depending on how tightly the corset is laced each time. Hours pass so quickly when you’re intent on your task and your scissors quietly snip away, revealing flourishes of lace.

locking panels mid construction

Finishing the corset is more handsewing, finishing the binding and any last additions to the lace design (it can be hard to know when you’re done!) and lacing Little Foxglove with her cream satin ribbons. Stronger laces are sent with the corset but, well, sometimes a girl just needs ribbons! One of my favourite details is the post for the padlock that secures the zip fastening. As we wanted minimum impact for the hardware I used lace to help blend it in a little! There is also a lace embellished pouch to slip the padlock at the waist onto, and a little belt loop to keep everything tidy!

Sending a piece like this out is always an unnerving and vulnerable moment. You have tried your best to interpret a client’s vision, in this case working from measurements I wasn’t able to take myself, and you just hope that everything has come together in a way that your client loves and feels connected to. Receiving this message and images from Terra reassured me that Little Foxglove had met with a wonderful reception!

“Thankyou so much for this experience! I have never felt this feminine and pretty before, with the obvious exception of my wedding day!”

Being able to work towards a moment like that is a very moving part of my job. How we feel in our own skin is so important.

If you have your own inspiration you want to breathe life into, please don’t hesitate to contact us– we are still working through lockdown and eager for more adventures in silk and steel!

*Please note that I sought Terra’s permission before sharing his stories and photos- if you prefer anonymity that is perfectly understood and respected*

Lockdown, Locking Corsetry And Punishment Corsets

Close up of locking corsetry

Something has become very apparent to me over lockdown. It announced itself with tentative emails from new clients, most of whom were complete newcomers to corsetry as well as to my door. These weren’t practical daily wear corsets they were seeking either- questions about elaborate locking corsetry, punishment corsets and decadent fetish pieces came up again and again. As these clients began to explain their stories, and talk about what had lead them to finally making contact after a life of curiosity, I realised we had all been given a bit of a wake up call.

lose up of cupped overbust

When our routines and our plans and our security were summarily cancelled a few months ago, some of us took a look at ourselves in this new hush we found ourselves in. We began to question why we’d been denying ourselves things that held our hearts so fast. I don’t want to seem glib here, as I know that for some of my clients, corsets are something fun that they indulge in, and there have been serious hardships and sacrifices made during this crisis. However I also know from nearly 14 years of working with trans clients, crossdressers and fetishists that corsets can be a part of a deeply fulfilling practice of self actualisation and acknowledging a part of themselves that is absolutely vital to their well-being and happiness.

Close up of locking buckles

The frank and open conversations I was having with these new clients kept returning to emotions, to roots of this long held passion or self knowledge in childhood- seeing a particular actress on stage or a style of nostalgic dress that has fascinated them for a lifetime. And yet, those dreams have been subdued for years, put to one side in order to fulfil other people’s requirements from them, or perhaps from trepidation of the unknown. However, this catastrophic shock to the system in whole and our lives in particular has left us reeling, and questioning something simple and profound of our secret hearts. If not now, then when?

sketches for locking corsetry

I would also add that something I frequently hear from my fetishist clients is how this other world they build for themselves (or with a partner) is pure immersive escapism, and how during times of stress it can be a refuge to open a drawer full of transportive garments and items. How the touch of certain materials is enough to push away a hard day or the smell of leather change a mindset. One client calls his corset from me “a holiday in a box!” It strikes me that there can never have been a time so fitting to have the means at home with which to lose oneself so completely.

 

There was one hurried video I published to YouTube back in January that seemed to be the siren call to all these new enquiries. It was a commission from late 2019 featuring a locking punishment corset for a male client, with locking panels inspired by a Edwardian bathing corset! You can see it here-

Something about this corset has really captured imaginations, or possibly just a new audience as I’ve tried to reach out through this new platform a little more. It was so commonly referenced in new enquiries that I started to keep a tally! The thing is, I’ve been so eager to work on corsetry like this and had come to believe that there wasn’t really much demand at the level I work at. These pieces are seriously labour intensive (my most recent commission used 20 metres of steel boning which all had to be individually cut and tipped into around 60 bones) and there is an unavoidable cost attached to this. Not to mention that I really dream of working on locking corsetry with an opulent, couture approach, which makes the process even more exclusive. Working with exquisite French lace, lovingly handstitched to jewel toned, gleaming silks- the juxtaposition of delicacy and luxurious indulgence against a hard working and well engineered fetish corset.

I’ve been delighted to find not only imaginative, creative clients through this process, but also some who share my vision for blending a detailed and lavish aesthetic with sleek locking mechanisms, so there will certainly be some exciting pieces to show you in the coming weeks and months! but in the meantime, here is a second video of a different style of locking corsetry, fully removing access to the lacing and fastenings. I’m fascinated by the subtleties involved in making these deeply personal pieces- every tiny decision has a lot of thought and intention behind it.

Another interesting note is that most of my new commissions have needed to be built for self locking! Either because the client plans to use it entirely unaided, or because they are sometimes away from their partner and need to be able to follow orders remotely. I will be releasing another video soon showing how to self lock your corset if this is of interest to you! However I have also been looking into some very interesting technology that could play a part for couples using our locking corsetry! Watch this space!

If you have questions about your own locking corsetry commission then please feel welcome to contact us.

Feminine Corset For A Male Tightlacer

A side back view of the overbust corset

We had a wonderful reaction to this vintage inspired overbust commission recently, though what not many people knew was that this generously curvaceous silhouette was made for a male tightlacer!

The finished pink overbust corset in the Orchid studio, complete with suspenders.
The finished corset in the Orchid studio, complete with suspenders.

This rose quartz coutil corset was created for a long term client, who always selects deliciously dramatic designs and I think this particular one may be my favourite to date. The corset is designed to fit over Priscilla’s padded form, but a sweeping waist reduction is still achieved, creating a silhouette that feels like a classic Victorian illustration of the idealised femme.

A side back view of the overbust corset
The dramatic curves of this sculpted corset are perfectly proportioned.

Priscilla came to me with a bag full of milkshake-pink hand dyed coutil and images of 1950’s corselettes, intrigued by subtle details such as satinised cups on matte backgrounds and stitch detailing, looking to create a hybrid that incorporated the rosy femininity of the Dior era lingerie with the structure and shaping power of a corset.

A close up showing detail of cup cording and continuous boning.
Detail of cup cording and continuous boning.

The corset is made in four layers- a central core of canvas with a fashion layer of spot coutil and herringbone coutil lining, 50 steel bones are fanned through the body, accentuating the contours and curves whilst giving exceptional support.

The ballet slipper peach satin cups are corded to enhance the roundness of the bust and the same satin binds the bust and hipline edges. The corset uses a spoon busk front fastening and has 8 removable suspenders in this beautiful rose pink.

A close up of pink suspenders with gold fittings
Suspenders made in pink elastic with warm gold fittings.

I think a great deal of the charm of this corset lies in the simplicity, letting the drama of the hourglass silhouette take centre stage. This also highlights the construction techniques, with the continuous boning and cording adding texture and catching the light beautifully.
Working with this male tightlacer to create a vision of femininity was a real delight, and the end result was even more beautiful than I could have imagined. I hope we have an excuse to make something similarly romantic and resplendent very soon!

A close up of the corset laced with pink satin ribbon.
The perfect shade of pink satin ribbon to lace the corset.

Male Corset Commissions

Black spot coutil underbust with external waist tape.

The art of corseting the male form

I’m often approached by clients who are surprised that they can buy a male corset, or a feminine corset for a male physique, when in fact around half of our clients are male tightlacers! I felt it was time to share a post showing some of the many possibilities available for helping to support a masculine figure, or transforming your body into softer flowing curves. It’s always a joy to see what a difference a thoughtfully designed male corset can provide to appearance but also to the confidence of the wearer.

Classic Masculine Corsetry

Some of our male corset wearers are looking for back support or figure control and our designs here tend to be much plainer and based on practicalities like keeping the corset discreet under a suit or ensuring that it’s breathable for use in warmer climates. Typically a corset like this would be an underbust style built in a single layer of strong cotton coutil or cotton mesh for hot weather with a zip front fastening for a sleek finish under clothing and light lacing cord to keep bulk at a minimum. These pieces can also be made in multiple layers with continuous boning for those that are looking for a greater level of compression and restriction. A wasp waist is often favoured as the more masculine cut on corsets like these.

Top Styles

  • Corsets For Men Explaining our approach to masculine corsetry
  • 12 Panel Underbust This is our go to style for figures that are not naturally curvy. It comfortable and versatile.
  • Waspie A great option for those who need their corset to cope with an active lifestyle.

Feminising Male Shapewear

These corsets are often similar to the classic masculine corsets in construction as they are intended to create feminine curves under clothing for cross dressers or TV’s, but are often built around prosthetic breasts or hip padding, though it’s also possible for unpadded figures to be given a more noticeable curve. Sometimes our clients like vintage reproduction corsets so that the functional underwear regains a little romance and nostalgia, for instance an overbust corset in delicate peach satin with straps like a 1950’s corselette. At times a compromise between elegant design and practicality is needed but we can always find a way to make the garment feel precious when it is put on. An hourglass cut is usually chosen here to demonstrate a softer, more generous seeming curve.

Top Styles

  • 14 panel underbust This style of corset works well with more dramatically enhanced hip-lines
  • Ribbon Corset A lightweight option for summer wear or medium reduction shapewear.
  • Cupped Overbust Not the most discreet option under clothing but elegant and great at smoothing the transitions between padding.

Feminine Corsets For Men

These are often our “showstoppers” designed to be seen and admired, perhaps as part of an outfit or a costume but always designed to reflect the tastes and personal style of the wearer. They may be showcasing dramatic construction techniques such as flowing fans of continuous boning or corded cups, or perhaps a striking colour or bold brocade fabric will be used. We can also create beautiful effects with delicate lace appliqué or contemporary graphic details in contrast colours. Typically these corsets are overbusts intended to be worn with prosthetic breasts but we have made beautiful waist cinchers and ribbon corsets for this purpose as well.

Top Styles

  • Princess Seamed Overbust A traditional corset style that lends itself well to dramatic embellishment and styling.
  • Cupped Overbust A distinctively feminine design with more definition to a padded bust.
  • Waspie A smaller corset can give you greater freedom for movement but also to demonstrate elaborate fabrics and techniques without overwhelming an outfit.

The beauty of bespoke corsetry is that it allows us to cater to the subtleties of personal taste with ease and flair, so if you have a commission that has been playing on your mind for some time don’t be afraid to ask us about the possibilities available to you!

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.