The following is a TG/crossdresser corset article I wrote for the print version of GirlTalk magazine in 2001, or thereabouts. Take my "washing directions" with a grain of salt since you really have to make sure your corset is hand-washable. Not many companies make them, but Exquisite Restraint does. I recommend dry-cleaning your fabric corsets if it is not "hand-washable."

Things have changed since 2001... Jim Bridges Boutique is gone, as is its predecessor, Glamour Boutique. None of the names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Ten Tips on Why You Should Wear a Waist-Cincher Corset
GirlTalk Magazine 2001

Nothing- not even diet and exercise slims your waist and transforms you better! No pills! No funny electronic belts! So grab a bedpost and join me, gentle reader, for a little Corset Primer, whether you're a first time corset wearer or a seasoned wasp-waisted pro looking for some new info.

Buying your cincher off-the-rack? There are many brands, styles, and retail boutiques out there, and it is possible to find a great cincher. Henceforth, I will use the terms "corset" and "waist cincher" interchangeably. Do your homework before you leave home and be prepared for some shopping and a lot of trying on. Bring a friend to help with the lacing if you find yourself at a place other than a friendly boutique that offers personal attention to your fitting needs (i.e. helps find your size and laces you up, like Jim Bridges Boutique in Studio City!).

Be sure to bring or wear all of your undies (bra, girdle, pantyhose or garters and stockings.) You want to see how well your new cincher will work with them. Is the cincher too tall and slides under your bra? That could show visible bulk under your clothing. Does the cincher look too bulky over your favorite girdle? Is the cincher too long in the back and interferes with your derriere (i.e. any padding that you favor)? Examine the thickness of the top and bottom edges­ they may show through. Be sure to try a few wardrobe items on over your undergarments, and ask your friend's honest opinion. This is the only way to see any bulkiness showing through the clothes.

What you are looking for is a corset in a "waist-cincher" style, meaning it ends under the bust, and goes over the hips a few inches. The cincher should be 8 to 10 inches long in the front and back, and of course longer if you have a particularly long torso. Pick out a waist size that is 4 inches shorter than your own (trust me on this). If a salesperson does not measure you, you must measure yourself with a cloth measuring tape before you leave home. Measure at the place where your hands naturally go to your waist, or where a crease forms when you bend from side to side. This could be slightly above or slightly below your belly button. The 4 inches are a special treat: the cincher will tighten you up so that you loose 2 inches automatically. You should then have an approximate 2-inch opening at the back, under the laces. This is one to grow on: later, when the back edges of the corset finally meet, it's time to buy a new, smaller corset.

Consider the fabrics (Yes, you are learning some new skills here!) The cincher should have a very durable base fabric, such as a cotton twill (a discernable diagonal weave) or a true corset "coutil" fabric (a crisper, finer-woven twill). I don't recommend waist- cinchers in heavy spandex. Elasticized fabrics wear out and stretch after a while. Ask if the cincher is appropriate for "tight-lacing" (if the salesperson draws a blank, leave immediately!) A good clue is how unattractive the cincher is­ think sensible and practical. A decorative fabric on the outside is fine as long as it is also durable, like a heavy satin. Any lovely jacquard flowers and paisleys will likely fray and wear thin, but the slickness of satin will help your clothes glide over the cincher.

And the construction. Examine the inside for exposed seams­ remember whose waist these have to contain! After a half hour of wearing, those seams will be imprinted on your torso! Look for a lining and nice clean construction inside. Check to see that the seams are very flat. On the outside, they may even be double stitched, like blue jean seams. This is okay as long as there is not a lot of bulk showing through your clothing. Try a spandex body shaper under the cincher to protect your skin. The cincher should have all steel boning at every seam and even some extra bones sewn in between the layers of fabric. The bones may even be contained in "twill tape." Again, just watch for too much bulk. Donıt be afraid of a cincher that looks like it is made of only 1 to 2 layers of fabric, as long as they are the finely woven twill that I have described. It may look dainty, but if it's constructed well, it will do its job and less bulk is what you want.

Ask if the cincher is washable and if the fabrics will shrink. You should be able to take your corset to the creek and beat it on a rock, just like they did in the old days! Contrary to what you may think, throwing a steel-boned cincher into the washer won't hurt it­ it's just not as effective as an old-fashioned scrubbing with a soft natural bristle brush. You can use Woolite, old-fashioned laundry bar soap, or even shampoo- if its good enough for your hair and skin, it should do well on your cincher. If you own a black cincher you may even find patches of white powder inside after a particularly long wearing. No, that's not anthrax! It's the salt of your sweat. After scrubbing and rinsing (I launder a lot of my undies in the shower to save time!), roll it up in a fluffy bath towel to blot all the water, and hang to air-dry. I don't recommend putting your cincher in the dryer since excessive heat destroys fabric fibers. Any wrinkles may be ironed out using a low setting, or you may find the wrinkles go away after you are laced back in.

The cincher should lace in the back with an extra-long heavy duty "shoe lace" (grab the bedpost!) and should open in the front with a steel "busc." The busc is a series of small steel knobs and exposed eyelets built into steel bones. Don't worry about the knobs or eyelets getting pulled out­ this durable set-up has been around for over a hundred years and has served us well. The sign of true corsetry is two laces: they start at the top and bottom with the ends at the waist, since that's where you want all of your hard work to go. You shouldn't be overly constricting your rib cage, only your squishy love handles (Oops! Did I say that?) Tie the laces into a bow with extra long loops. No complicated knots! Wrap those long loose ends around your waist and tie another simple bow. This is a nice traditional touch. You should be able to release yourself quickly and easily after a hard day's night. And when you do, be sure to loosen the laces thoroughly before opening the front busc.

Price: Shop around, but remember that you get what you pay for. A good price range is $150 to $275 (anything cheaper is exploiting some worker in some country!) Yes, it's expensive, but you will be wearing your waist cincher every single time you go out. Consider having more than one so you can rotate them, just like you do with your brassieres. Try a black one for dark outfits and a flesh-colored one for your pastels and whites. And by all means, remember that you canıt go wrong with a custom made cincher and they are invariably a lot more comfortable since they are made to your measurements. Many boutiques offer this service, as does my favorite custom company, Exquisite Restraint.

Practice makes perfect. Do not wait until a special event to wear your waist cincher for the first time! Wear it at home and practice sitting­ on a cushy couch, in a chair, in the car. Just like new shoes, it's no fun discovering you are a little uncomfortable when you are supposed to be having fun. Here's the bad news: you can't eat as much once you are laced up. Graze, nibble, and drink water. The water will actually prevent bloating. (But use your best judgment. You know more about what clothing hurdles you have to deal with in the washroom better than I do!) Foods to avoid at least a day before you plan to get dressed up: the usual suspects- broccoli, beans, carbonated sodas, and of course, beer. Think water. (At least 64 ounces a day for beautiful skin- ask Bijoux!)

Breathe. When laced up, learn to inconspicuously, and periodically, breathe all the way into your diaphragm (as if filling your stomach with air). Go ahead and push against the corset­ itıs not going anywhere. This will insure that you arenıt taking shallow breaths. You will stay relaxed and get plenty of oxygen all the way out to the capillaries and your skin will love you for it. *Believe it or not, your waist cincher should not be an instrument of torture (unless you are into that sort of thing, but that's an article for another issue!), but rather, only one item contributing to your elegance and beauty. The less self-conscious you are of your cincher, the better you will look and ironically, a less self-conscious air is better achieved with better body consciousness. If you aren't physically active, try exploring yoga, Pilates, the Alexander technique or your favorite dance. Love your body and take care of it, rather than fret over those last few pounds you need to lose.

If you follow these tips, your inquiries and research will lead to beautiful results. Nothing beats the thrill of tightening your laces in front of a mirror and giving yourself some oohs and aahs as your gorgeous figure comes into focus. Relax, enjoy yourself, and have fun! Simone ties up the best as owner and designer of "Exquisite Restraint by Simone" in Los Feliz, California, specializing in custom-fit, finely crafted corsets. Visit her at: