How to Lace Your Corset Alone
So you just got the corset of your dreams at Venus Unveiled: “Awesome!” you think to yourself. “I’m going to leave the house looking like a Burlesque Queen tonight!” You take the corset out of your bag and realize that the trained staff at Venus aren’t sitting in your closet to help you lace up. “Oh no.” Now what? Well we can’t be there for you physically (unless you come back into the store) but we’re here for you online with this Guide to Lacing Your Own Corset.
Disclaimer: Don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of people who can’t lace themselves into corsets on their own. You’re not going to be one of them? It will just take some practice. If you do usually have a buddy to lace you up this guide should be helpful to them as well.
Step One: Loosen your corset. When I fit people into corsets at the store (you might remember) I typically open the corset as wide as possible to allow for more operating room. As you become more comfortable with your own lacing routine you may only feel the need to loosen up about 6” or so.
Step Two: You’re going to need your reflection. Make sure that you are standing in front of a full length mirror, or any mirror angled so that you will be able to look over your shoulder to see your laces.
Consider: Some corsets have a feature called a “modesty panel” Your modestly panel is that little flap of fabric that is meant to go underneath your laces to hide your skin and bra. When corsets are laced tightly there is often this little cleave running down your back called the “venus fold” (no affiliation with Venus Unveiled of course). Modesty panels can be really pesky during the lacing process but if you lay them flat before you buckle yourself in and adjust them as you tighten they will hide your venus fold and protect your skin from lace burn.
Step Three: Get in there. Buckle, zip, clasp, or snap yourself in. Remember that if your corset has fish eye hooks they are perfectly lined up at the seams. Because of this, if you clasp one at the top then you should be able to line the other hooks over the eyes and catch them at the same time. Catching the hooks in one swooping motion is better for your corset and easier on your nerves.
Consider: Leaning forward before you go on to the next step. The next step will be the first part of tightening your corset. Especially for the first pull of your corset it can be good for you to lean forward because that way gravity will leave your bust sitting up like a shelf as you tighten. No one expects you to go through the entire process bent forward, but at least for the first pull lean forward first and then perhaps lean forward for following full puller loop pulls.
Step Four: Find the puller loops and take the first tug. You’ve probably noticed that corset laces X up and down the back. Towards the center of your corset, typically about where your ribs end and your waist starts there should be a break in the Xs. This break usually leads to two long U-shaped strings called the Puller Loops. Make a secure stance. Brace yourself, seize the puller loops (top and bottom) and take the first pull. Don’t pull the loops forward toward the front of your corset because this is bad for its structure. Pull the strings from behind. Also, don’t expect to have perfectly tightened yourself after one pull of the puller loops it does take a bit of adjusting.
Consider: Modesty panels again. In the following step you will need to tighten your Xs, but if you have a modesty panel then you also need to make sure that you use your fingers to comb the panel between the Xs to keep it straight. The modesty panel should be sewn into one side of the corset. I comb it away from the side that it is sewn into towards the skin gap that I’m trying to cover. Do you want your corset to look classy? Yes? Then you want your modesty panel to be straight in the end and to cover your skin in the lace gap.
Step Five: Adjust the Xs. After your first pull you should notice from looking in the mirror that there is some lace bunching at the top and bottom of the corset. Use one hand to hold the puller loops in place and the other to tighten the Xs. Start at the top of the corset and pull the laces on the outside of the gap from top to bottom so that you are tightening them one at a time until you reach the puller loops. Usually the top set of strings in your puller loops will control the bottom and the bottom set of strings will tighten the top of your corset (sometimes it’s the opposite). Now that you have tightened yourself down to the puller loops, feel for the bunching at the very bottom of your corset. Get ahold of the outer Xs at the bottom of the corset and tighten them up toward the puller loops. Once back at the puller loops, pull whichever corresponding loop tightens the bottom half of your corset.
Step Six: Back to the Puller Loops. Now that you have a lot less slack take a firm hold on both sets of puller loops and give them a good tug. If you feel like you need to go through and tighten your Xs again do so. Otherwise, pull your puller loops until you are comfortably squeezed. A corset should have between 2-4 inches of space in the back. If your corset closes all the way then the size is too big for you. If you have more than 4 inches open then the size is too small for you.
Step Seven: Tie a cute bow.
Step Eight: The Back View. Once you feel tightened to completion, your Xs should sit between two parallel lines. Just like this: I I. If the panels next to your laces don’t sit in parallel lines something is wrong. Sometimes they sit like this: (). This means that you have tightened too tight and that you will probably have to loosen your corset up a bit or else seek another size. Sometimes they tighten more diagonally. Either like an upside down V or a normal V. This usually means that you have a much narrower ribcage then hips, or much narrower hips than ribcage. Solution: Look for a different cut of corset. If you’re still having trouble with your corset gap then I recommend consulting this website: lucycorsetry.com. While Venus Unveiled is in no way affiliated with this site and also does not necessarily share all of the same views, the site does have a very comprehensive guide to corset gaps. Thanks Lucy J
Step Nine: You’ve done some more adjusting and should be happily laced up by now.
Step 10: Escape. You don’t want to put extra pressure on the hooks, clasps, or zipper of your corset. This is why you should always make sure to loosen your corset up at least 6” before taking it off. To limit warping you also want to make sure that you loosen up before eating and drinking.
Skip Step 10 for Now! Go off and have a good time….
-At that Burlesque show that you’re performing in
-At the Bondage night of a local club (Thursdays? And Saturdays at Ground Zero, First Fridays of the month at the Gay ‘90s)
-At a Goth Club (The Saloon’s Hard Mondays are one of my favorites. Ground Zero as well.)
-At the Renaissance Festival
-At a science fiction or fantasy convention
-With a blazer and dress pants or a pencil skirt to a fancy party
-To the sexy lingerie party that you’re going to throw…
-Over a dress or with a shorter skirt or shorts to a more casual party
-Around Uptown Minneapolis because everyone’s so damn hip
-To the boudoir photo shoot that you’re taking in your vintage swag
Modesty panels suck. They have a lot of practical reasons for being there but they can be really tedious as you tighten.
Huge thanks to Quince Mountain for editing this guide and to his dog-sled-racing anonymous friend for testing the steps in store. It works!