Driving and Corsets

One of the things that I had to get used to while corseted is driving. I live in a city where public transit is… well… what’s a good way to say ‘lack lustre and uninspiring’? Don’t get me wrong, thousands of people get around solely by mass transit, and it’s true it’s not as terrible as it could be, but let’s be honest: I’m an independent gal who has whims. I’ve had a car since I was 16 and after that long you really get used to the idea of “wanna go somewhere? POOF you’re there!” where transit is more like… “plan out your day the night before, and be sure to give about an hour’s lead time to anything in case the bus is late/early/possessed by damned spirits”. Being driven, whether by bus, taxi, or pedi-cab is far easier than doing it yourself, but as stated above, that’s just not for me. (In case it isn’t self-evident, the following will explain why being driven cuts out about 90% of the troubles with driving laced up)

The first thing to do is realize that you DON’T have to drive corseted. You can always bring the thing with you and lace up once you get there. Of course I don’t do that because I am lazy, so I learned to adapt.

Lesson one: You have steel strapped to your torso, act like it. That gorgeous up and down posture that your stays force you into? Yeah, that’s going to start irritating the shit out of your back and possibly neck if you try to sit in your car seat with it reclined at all, like most people drive. Put that puppy into it’s full upright position, and don’t forget to adjust your mirrors to match. You might want to see if you can scoot your seat back a bit, too, if you feel like you are about to eat the steering wheel.

Lesson two: You have steep strapped to your torso, act like it (sorry, half-assed Fight Club reference). Before driving anywhere, see how much range of motion you have in your torso and neck. Pretend to check blind spots, pretend to check your mirrors before changing lanes, pretend to parallel park. If you are anything like me, you have ingrained muscle memory for all of these motions, and the corset is going to inhibit that. Plan accordingly, and if you don’t feel confident that you can see everything, take that sucker off or practice some more. For you more chesty ladies, there’s a good chance that sitting down with your butt lower than your hips will push the girls heavenward (called chinboob in my circles) this can be uncomfortable. Putting a little pillow under your tush can be the difference between driving easily and choking on your own tits.

Lesson three: Keep light on the pedals for a while. Maybe I’m weird, but when I drive in my corset I feel like a bit of one of those Weebles that I used to have as a kid (for those too young, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”, these were little toys with weights in their round butts that would come right back if you tried to knock them over. It was a simpler time). My ramrod upright posture means that braking or accelerating too hard would make my whole upper body weave forward or backward, giving me the most uncomfortable “Dear gods I’m not actually attached to the car” feelings. (Did I mention that I might have a teensy tiny fear of dying in a car wreck? Yeah. Thanks dad.) Learning to stop and start smoothly should be in driver’s ed 101, but if you are more of a lead foot this is a great time to see about changing that. Also your gas mileage will thank you.

Lesson four: It’s hard to be graceful: Imagine a proper Victorian lady, crisply stepping out of a horse-drawn carriage. Her skirts swing before her in a very fetching manner, a lovely gentleman in a top hat and gloves holds out his hand to steady her as she sets each foot down primly on the pull out stair and then the ground. Elegant, graceful, and seemingly effortless. Trust me, this is NOT how you look getting out of a dusty coupe with bucket seats. I drive a late-ish model Honda. It’s lower to the ground than SOME cars, but it’s your standard commuter plugger. I very nearly resemble the crouching spider attempting to reach from the edge of your counter top to your waiting shoulder (don’t look now, but something seems to be creeping up on you…) If I’m in a full skirt or pants, this momentary awkwardness is usually hidden by my door, which I use strategically as a leverage to pull myself into a standing position. But if I’m wearing anything remotely tight (and for this purpose, anything tighter than a half circle skirt is “tight”) I can’t rightly stretch one leg out and down far enough to get to the ground to brace myself for the little “skooch-skooch pull and lift!” bit that I do normally. I have to throw one leg out as far as I can, then sort of wiggle my other leg over to meet it, then throw the first leg out again, and over and over in a most undignified manner until I’m close enough to the edge of my seat where I can twist and plant both feet on the ground simultaneously. If done with speed, one can get away with this. But I am not speedy. I am not graceful. And this little maneuver gets me laughed at by my partner all the damn time. (Happily, there is little chance of his reading this blog, so I might be bringing him up more often in the future).

Have I made the idea of driving while laced in sound far too complicated? In truth, this is one of the more aggravating things I have to deal with personally while corseted, so I might be a little bitter. Just like anything difficult, doing it more and more makes it easier. As long as I remember to think before I move, I can get in and out of cars with little trouble. I’m not above asking for a hand out of the car if I have someone with me, but on my own it’s getting easier all the time. I can now easily drive, change the radio, drink my coffee, and flip off inconsiderate drivers with a fair amount of ease. Honestly I find driving in stilettos more difficult. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that if you do anything often enough it becomes second nature (seriously, I can’t put away my socks without balling them up military-style, I pack my cigarettes in a very specific staccato, and I still kiss my hand and hit my car’s roof when running a yellow light)

So, what did I cover? Getting in (basically like normal, except I find it easier to just sort of throw myself in rather than sit on the edge and swing my legs over, like I am sure is more proper), adjusting seat and mirrors, practicing the moving part of driving, and the most dangerous part, getting out again.

There’s a chance I over analyze things too much. Being in a corset (and now, almost strictly in skirts) I’ve become even more aware of my body, what it can do and what it can’t do. Happily, though, instead of chronic pain being my main reason to keep aware, it’s the gentle restriction of my lovely ‘bodily support structure’. I hope I’ve been helpful and/or entertaining.

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On dressing… Or, “Don’t you need help with that?”

Here I am stealthing my Victorian Underbust under a black skirt, stripey top, and stretchy belt

Here I am stealthing my Victorian Underbust under a black skirt, stripey top, and stretchy belt

So, I’ve been wearing a corset almost every day for a little over a month now (there’s been a few days ‘uncorseted’ due to an injury and a cold, but other than that I’ve been laced in for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours every day). By and large the question I get the most often in person is “Who helps you put that on?” and my answer is almost always “I put it on myself!” because it’s true.

Sure, back in ‘the day’, upper class ladies had maids to dress them, but remember that back then all women wore corsets, and I promise you that the washer woman or the dress maker did not have maids and whatnot to dress them. They either got their family (husband, daughter, whathaveyou) to help, or they simply did it themselves. It’s not that hard. And, just like anything, it gets easier over time. My first time lacing myself in took me about 20 minutes and I was sweaty and uncomfortable. This morning I laced in (and out, and in, again, since I didn’t like the fit the first time) in about 5 minutes. I’m breaking in a new corset this week, so everything is a bit stiff. In my ‘daily’, the victorian underbust by Isabella Corsetry, it literally takes me 30 seconds to lace down to a closed back, and maybe a minute or so to tie it off tightly. I spend more time attempting to put my boots on than I do lacing into that corset. (Tip, and it’s more like a mantra, “Boots first THEN corset!” I never remember)

There’s YouTube videos galore about this (Lucy Corsetry alone has a veritable library on all topics corsets) but what I do is simple:

I ‘break’ the busk into it’s two parts (pins on one side, loops on the other) and shift the corset until all the laces are evenly stretched out.

I wrap the two pieces around my torso, making sure the laces are evenly placed on my back and the busk is center front and straight up and down.
I close the busk by catching the second to the last pin (on the second to last loop), then using that as a hinge point catch the pins above that point, until I just have the top and bottom pins to attach. At that point those both get attached, and I have a closed busk. Now, for me, the corset is now /just/ tight enough that it stays in place on my torso, but not tight enough to compress anything.

I reach down inside the front of my corset, my palm to my body, and sort of “scoop” my tummy pooch up into the bottom of the corset. This keeps that extra flesh from oozing unattractively out from under the lip of the corset, and lets the front bottom edge of the corset lay flatter.

Looking in the mirror, I make any adjustments I need to to make sure the corset is settled properly, waist tape at my natural waist, everything even and laces not tangled.

From here, I grab the two loops of laces at the waist and pull. I pull out a few inches of lace, reach back and tug on the X’s the corset laces make (starting from the middle and tugging up, then down, then even the slack at the waist) depending on how new the corset it, this takes a few passes to get the corset to it’s proper tightness. In a well-worn corset it very well could just take a good solid yank and a few wiggles to settle everything.

I make sure that the back edges of the corset are parallel to each other (unless it closes all the way, of course) and tie off with a regular bow.
I tuck the extra laces under the bottom edge of the corset, and feed that through up and over my hip so it’s secure between my high hip and the corset.

Then the rest of the clothes go on.

If the above seems complicated, trust me, it starts of as frustrating as hell because we as modern women (and men! Men wear corsets too and look awesome doing it!) aren’t usually wearing complicated clothing every day. I will say that the above is infinitely easier and less stressful than trying to wiggle into any kind of shape wear, and trust me, I adore my Rago all-in-one girdle. But think back to the first time you put on a bra, with the hooks and eyes, having to reach back behind you to even out the band, fiddling with the arm straps. I bet now you can do that without even thinking about it. Corsets are just the same.

Some caveats: Wearing corsets as underwear is awesome- I have always been fairly straight up and down from armpits to thighs so it’s great to have a defined waist and actual curvy hips- but it limits what you can wear comfortably. I’ve already mentioned the biggest point, boots (or other shoes, stockings, socks or tights) before corset, as obviously your ability to bend is severely compromised. But, there’s a reason all of my pictures show me in skirts. Pants are almost impossible to wear with corsets. I’ve seen some success with girls wearing extremely low slung jeans, or high waisted pants, but the construction has to be fairly thick to hide the obvious ridge of the corset edge. I almost always wear compression shorts over my corset to hide that ridge AND to make sure my thighs don’t rub together (I hate that), and I wear skirts on top to make the look even more seamless.

One has to consider the top half, too. A corset is a fairly heavy duty item, and thin t shirts or very clingy sweaters will show the outline with very little trouble. I’ve worn camisoles over my corset to help hide this, but I almost always wear either thick, dark, t shirts, some kind of fitted but not tight sweater, or a tailored button down over my corset to help hide the top edge and busk pins (this is called ‘stealthing’, or wearing your corset hidden under clothes. I am not entirely certain where it came from, but it’s an OK word for it I guess). Of course, on the rare occasion I am wearing my corset on top of my clothes, none of that last paragraph really matters. Add a belt to draw attention to the waist AND to hide the spot where blouse ends and skirt begins, and you have a basic outfit.

So, that’s in a nutshell how I get dressed in the morning.

Wait, you actually LIKE wearing that thing?

keepcalmUm, yeah, it’s like a hug that lasts all day and goes away when I want it to.

Hello, internet! I am Vixen Villain, and I am a newly converted evangelical of the corseting movement! (Gosh darn it but those “sensible clothing reform” ladies would hate me!) Before we get into the fun stuff, let me put a little bit about myself and what this blog is supposed to be out there.

I am a 30-year old woman living in the best city in the world. Over the past… oh I don’t know, let’s say 15 years, I’ve been interested in body modifications on all sorts. You name it, I’ve considered (or done!) it. Scarification, tattooing, ear stretching, wonky hair colors, implants (medical, metal, or otherwise), ear elfing, and so on. So it comes to no surprise that corsets have always caught my eye. Sadly, I believed some of the more… heinous myths about ‘real’ corseting for years so I never pursued anything more than a sexy romp or a killer Goth outfit when wearing a corset. I went the other route and dyed my hair insanely bright colors, had someone take a tattoo gun and turn my back into a piece of art, pierced about 13 places on my body, and toyed with the idea of stretching my ear lobes so I could wear those amazing cork screw-y danglies I’ve seen out there (this didn’t last long. I’m not cut out for it). It wasn’t until years after an injury that I considered looking into corseting as a sort of back brace type of thing, and the other benefits were more tangential to my goal of being able to stand up for long periods of time (don’t worry, some day we’ll get to my origin story.). So, since I am of the “instant information gratification” generation, I hit the internet with a vengeance to see about what ‘real’ corsets do, don’t do, and if they could help me.┬áLo and behold, corseting seems to leave me nearly pain free and with the added benefit of standing for up to 4 hours without me wanting to kill myself. But, just like with tattooing, corseting is becoming an obsession of mine, and I’m slowly changing my lifestyle to accommodate them.

That’s what this blog is about, how I am changing my life from ‘blah’ to ‘I have steel wrapped around me, I am invincible!’. I hope to cover lots of things, from corset construction to how do you exactly pick up a dropped fork in that thing. A word of caution: I was raised by two amazing, yet foul-mouthed, parents, and thus I cuss. All. The. Time. If you can’t handle a bit of blue streaking, I suggest you either remove your monocle from your eye socket and get with it, or just not read this. There will also be pictures- oh so many pictures, because I’m a little vain and wanting to document everything. Now, I am attempting to keep said pictures in the PG-13 range, but if you catch the vapors over a bit of nipple or lacy undies, again, exit stage right. If you are scrolling this at work, maybe turn images off (or, ya know, get back to work ya bum!). I promise there will be NO porn, NO full nudity, and nothing I’d be ashamed of my mother seeing (sorry, everyone else. There’s porn to be had literally everywhere else on the internet). For all I know my mother is stalking this blog even now, and if things get a little cheeky I’m sure she’ll pop me one.

I will be posting lots of links, mostly to corset makers, other amazing corset-related blogs, and cites if I can find things. I am in no way affiliated with anyone or thing, and am not profiting off of anyone I might recommend or discuss (if that ever does change I’ll say so. Fair is fair) I only bring this up because there seems to be a bit of a witch hunt regarding blogs and their writers somehow making money “on the down low” and pissing people off. I have no fucking clue what that is about, but all knowledge is worth having, so here’s THAT knowledge.

So! That’s me and this blog in a nut shell. I hope I can be informative, funny, and more than a little bit interesting. I’m happy to take questions, suggestions, and other stuff– on the proviso that you be a gentleman/lady.

Until the next time, be awesome!