Steampunk Corset Instructable

There’s some aspects of Steampunk fashion that I’m happy and able to make myself. Corsets, however, was one particular item that I always approached with some caution. There’s a lot of important internal organs being compressed as the corset laces are tightened. A poorly constructed corset would not only be uncomfortable, it could also be dangerous.

Corsets are, however, a staple to the feminine Steampunk wardrobe and knowing how to make them is a wonderful skill and knowledge to have. A recently published Instructable does a fantastic job of demonstrating how to construct your very own corset.

Written by lw119, this instructable provides great visual and textual steps for the creation of your own corset, which is fantastic because making your own corset means you can choose any fabric and color you desire. It even has video!

Constructing a corset according to this Instructable will run you an inexpensive 30 to 50 USD, though plan on more if you have to purchase the necessary tools to get the job done.

Corsets, and Dressing Oneself

I always seem to hear a lot about Steampunk ladies needing help getting into their corsets at Steampunk events. When I ask them why they need help and inform them I’ve been putting corsets on by myself since the moment I started wearing them, they stare at me as if I am insane. How is it that I am able to put on a corset by myself, they demand. Isn’t that physically impossible?

Entirely unnecessary

Ladies, I’m here to tell you it is not impossible to put on a corset by yourself, given a little practice and a correctly laced corset.

The fact of the matter is that most women had to put on their corsets by themselves because the majority of them did not have servants to assist them. The corset was a fundamental undergarment that nearly woman of every social class wore during the Victorian era. Given that, and the fact that not every woman of every social class had a  servant, that leaves a lot of women in our past unable to dress themselves every day, right? Wrong. They figured it out, and rest assured, we can as well.

Allow me to direct your attention to a useful tutorial How To Put On A Corset… By Yourself by Corsets and Crinolines, a website dedicated to vintage fashion. This tutorial takes you step by step through the same method I use in putting on my corset. Though it requires some patience, putting on a corset by yourself can be done.

If you’re still finding it difficult to put on a corset by yourself after patiently following the directions linked above, it is highly likely you have an improperly laced corset (or fused elbow joints). Please view this lacing tutorial from Wasp Creations which will show you instructions in photographs for lacing a corset. If your corset is not laced in this manner, you will find it incredibly difficult to ensure the laces of your corset are properly and evenly tightened in general, and especially if you are attempting to put on the corset by yourself.

I hope this has helped a few of you become more independent in your corset wearing activities. Enjoy the new found freedom in being able to dress yourself in your Steampunk gear!

Alternatives to Corsets

Recently, I was asked by some very good friends for some tips on Steampunk Fashion. Corsets tend to dominate the feminine Steampunk look, and my friends were looking for a few alternatives to squeezing into a corset. While a corset does wonders to define the female figure, there are some people who do not wish to wear one or have medical concerns that complicate the wearing of a corset. But does this mean that said lady must give up her Steampunk wardrobe?

I did some research and I’m very happy to report back some of my findings for their, and your, enlightenment. I’ll be providing photos and lots of clicky-links for inspiration. Just as a reminder, though, all of these suggestions will look much more Steampunk with a collection of accessories. Though you are leaving your corset behind, don’t forget about important additions to your ensemble that are critical to completing your Steampunk look!

Option 1: The Steampunk Jumper, or Ragamuffin Dress

Here’s a photo of me in my Steampunk Jumper. I like this style of dress because it is flexible, casual, and lightweight, perfect for the sweltering Texas summers. I’m not wearing a corset with this dress, or stockings, or a bustle, making me a far cry from a proper Victorian woman (lulz) but definitely a good example of a comfortable Steampunk. The dress has been tailored to be form-fitting in the bodice, so it has a flattering look without the use of a corset. Some other examples of this type of dress can be found here, here, and here.

Option 2: Waistcoats

Lady Dedlock Victorian Waistcoat on Etsy

Waistcoats are also another solid option when aiming to replace the corset in one’s wardrobe. They are versatile, can be worn with any bottom garment and with or without a blouse to achieve different looks. You can see other examples of Steampunk waistcoats for women here and here.

Option 3: The Fancy Jacket

Womans frock coat on Etsy

Why bother with any more than a simple blouse when you can wear an impressive frock coat that is sure to make a statement? Coats are nice because, if properly selected, can single-handedly redefine your look simply by slipping it on and off. Unfortunately, coats are not a staple fashion accessory in Dallas, but they are still worth looking at as a way to replace the corset and still look Steampunk. There’s lots of options out there aside from the one listed above, that you can see here, here, and here. I really love the last example because the coat (which has a matching skirt that is sold separately) is just “professional” enough for me to get away with wearing it to work. Needless to say, it’s high on my list of things to purchase soon. You could even wear a jacket as a top by itself, like this riding habit from the Victoria and Albert museum.

Option 4: Aprons

This is, admittedly one option that I really like but have not seen done too often. An apron can transform your look significantly based on the sort of apron one chooses to don. The one above reminds me of a scientist or engineer. A leather apron can also work wonders for the Steampunk wardrobe. Here’s another similar example of a Steampunk Apron from the Steampunk Fashion Live Journal community.

So, the verdict is… yes, you can most certainly go without a corset and still achieve a very Steampunk look! It’s all about using a bit of creativity to complete an ensemble that represents and expresses you.

Scarlett’s Corset

This evening (finally) starts the series on merchants whose wares impressed me at A-Kon and had business cards to give me so that I could follow up with them here at Trial By Steam. First up, is Scarlett’s Corset.

I saw these corsets at A-Kon and was very much impressed by the workmanship of the corset. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell from just an online picture how well made and supportive a corset will actually be when worn. And a corset is one article of clothing that one should not causally approach. It’s a very confining garment which literally changes the way the wearer breathes. Lacing a corset too tightly can cause one to pass out, and if done over a long period of time, can actually shift the shape of the wearer’s body and internal organs.

So, corsets are not to be taken lightly. If you should choose to wear a corset, make sure it is one that is well constructed to your body’s specific dimensions.

That being said, these corsets are gorgeous! Here’s a photo of them that I took from the convention floor:

What’s even better for my readers in the DFW area is that Scarlett’s Corset is a locally owned business. So, if you missed the opportunity to buy one of these at the convention, you haven’t missed the opportunity to be measured and fitted by the maker of the corsets so that you can be absolutely sure that the corset you buy is properly suited for your body. For information on sizing a corset, click here.

For my out of region readers, however, fret not! Scarlett’s Corset’s tours the nation sporting their wares at many a convention. Click here to see when they may be coming to your part of the US to witness these wonderful articles of clothing for yourself.