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[READ ONLY PAGE. Updated 4/9/15]

Q.1 Why do you work with more than one corset maker, and how should I go about choosing among them?

A.1 To provide the best possible service and product to our corset enthusiast clients, I decided to adopt a business model that is principally client- and education-centered rather than sale-centered. This requires offering real options to my clients, including choices from among a variety of superbly-quality corsetieres.

Almost each ROMANTASY corsetiere (excepting qualified junior corsetieres whom we represent from time to time) has constructed literally hundreds, if not thousands, of custom corsets during her business history. Her productions have been "field tested" for hours and hours by clients and by ROMANTASY owner Ann. All of our corsets are presently American made, by Sheri Jurnecka, Jill Hoverman, and Sharon McCoy Morgan, while Brazilian-born seamstress, Maria Socorro, constructs our more complex and elegant bridal gowns and Red Carpet ensembles.

Initially we settled on a team approach to corset production, where individual corsetieres specialize in particular styles, construction and patterning techniques, body silhouettes, fabrics and embellishments. We decided to produce as well, related garments such as skirts and gowns. Thus, as a team, we are able to offer an amazingly wide range of price points and style and design options, so that almost anyone with a little to no effort can find a way to invest in a quality garment that will last for many years to come.

Rather than learn to hone my limited corset making and seamstress skills, I purchased and wear many custom corsets from many corset makers (some not on our team) in order to understand and see the differences in their productions, then interview many other corset enthusiasts to learn about what constitutes true "tight-lacing quality." I then searched the world, and continue to search in every possible location for corset makers with a certain level of experience, excellent reputation, and high quality. Many claim to be corsetieres making tight-lacing corsets, but time and again I examine their work, or see how they relate to projects, clients, and deadlines, and they fall short of my strict quality standards. We always appreciate referrals to other corsetieres who might wish to join the ROMANTASY team.

To educate clients, I help them analyze both corset style and individual choices from among our wide range of options. I learn their priorities including budget, and point them toward one or more corsetieres on our team who will most likely satisfy their priorities, leaving the ultimate choice up to the client.

We also work with various other seamstresses and seamstresses producing related garments such as our Training Belts, the man's CorVest, custom skirts, costumes, aprons, baby doll dresses, maid's outfits, wedding gowns, posture collars, gloves, purses, hats, and other fashion items to coordinate with your corset.

Q.2 Can you explain more about the differences?

A.2. We will try, with the initial comment that the one lesson we have learned since 1990, is that corset wearing (and how a corset actually fits and feels) bottom line, is an entirely individual, and somewhat unpredictable, matter.

We must of necessity, use words and pictures for our web visitors and long-distance clients to represent and interpret the corsets of the variety produced by the ROMANTASY team. Many of the differences among the corset productions of our individual corsetieres are quite subtle, or are a "feeling" difference hardly visible, one that can only fully be appreciated when you try on the corset. What might be called "de riguer" and "required for a good tight-lacing corset" by one client may be entirely different from another commentator. We like to say that the "proof of a custom corset is in the pudding" of the actual wearing over a month or more.

Sometimes I am asked, "can you please ask Sheri to make this more of an hourglass or more straight rib?" Or I am asked, "I like Sharon's sturdiness, but can you ask her to pattern more out over my rib cage as I don't like pressure there and I like more the wasp silhouette comfort"? Or maybe someone likes the wasp but wants Jill to make her corset. Usually I say: "Yes, but..."

The "but" means that each corsetiere has a specialty in the silhouette (and production technique and style plus fabrics preferred etc.) for which she likes to pattern her corsets. She has come to that over the years with hundreds (if not thousands) of corsets completed. Even if this is not a conscious decision to choose a precise silhouette or pattern (and what she chooses is usually based on her experience with what her clients love and prefer and feedback to her), there is usually a "lean". Some silhouettes of course, like the "stem", actually require different widths of waist tape and a somewhat standard pattern (as does the ribbon corset), because the stem and ribbon corsets are in fact, both a silhouette and a style.

For example, to my body and eye, our famed elder former corset queen Ruth Johnson (BR Creations) produced the most lovely and typical of hourglass silhouettes. But she surely was not an expert in neat finish or perfectness in some aspects; no one among us is perfect! By this comment I do not mean to demean Ruth or anyone on my stellar team or in the corset construction world, but this is my personal conclusion based on my artistic preference and my bodily feeling when wearing 19 of Ruth's corsets for years. As far as I am concerned there will never be any corsetiere who will make a corset exactly like Ruth with precisely that same lovely hourglass silhouette in a simple eight-panel pattern, of the comfort level I feel along with her tight-lacing quality (though Ruth used only two layers of cotton-backed satin, by the way, with no stretching I note, nor have heard of) . Over time new corsetieres may or will approach Ruth's look and feel.

Sometimes I will venture to request a team corsetiere to adjust her patterning a wee bit. For example, once Jill had a client who wanted the "The Rose" underwire overbust corset, but she was absolutely convinced she did not want Jill's typical hourglass silhouette, but a straight rib silhouette. So we asked Jill to pattern more tightly over the ribs to create that silhouette, because no one else on our team specializes in the underwire style. She did, and the client was very satisfied. You will see the client wearing her corset (small image to right of the closeup of the corset on a manikin, a wee bit of rib curvature is still observable but not much) in one picture of the deep plunge Rose.

I like to let each lady do what she does best and prefers to do best, and don't often ask for pattern adjustments. That being said, were a client to be in San Francisco in person to touch our sample corsets, view them up close, and try them on, he or she could tell from both body feelings and visual cues what they like and if truly they need to request an adjustment -- or truly prefer one corsetiere's productions over another.

To help make this decision, we place multiple images over time on corsetiere's individual pages of clients of various figure sizes and shapes, to show what any new client may likely look like if they order that corset. What we recommend is that you find a client shown wearing the style and maker's corsets, one whose figure is approximately similar to yours, to determine how you are likely to appear in her corsets. Look carefully at the silhouette, shape and artistry.

An interesting example is seen on the underbust Victorian style page of our senior corsetiere, Sheri. I am pictured wearing a bright orange silk corset and also a blue denim one with button embellishments (a client is wearing the same corset in the closeup to the right). What would you call my waist silhouette? Wasp? Hourglass? It is likely somewhere in between and even to my eye, seems more hourglass than wasp. Yet the feeling on my body and on other clients from their reports, is major pressure exerted near the waistline and not on the ribs, more akin to the wasp silhouette or effect. Her corset is often the corset of choice for those moving to the next tighter stage of lacing down, or working up to long, long hours and requiring some flexibility on her body with easy breathing and rather quick seasoning. Sheri's patterning is also just perfect for example, for short-waisted clients having little distance from the lowest rib and pelvic bone.

Some individuals develop a preference for one corsetiere, period, for multiple reasons. I have one client (pictured on Sheri's UBV page) who won't order anyone but Sheri. She ordered five of her corsets over the years. I cannot convince her of any reason to try anyone else, nor should I. For her body she loves Sheri's corsets.

I served another lady client pictured on that page, who actually started to cry gentle tears when she got to try on Sheri's corsets, which totally disappeared 10 years of lower back soreness, she said. None of the other team members' corsets did that, when she tried them on. She argued that she could not afford Sheri's corset but I refused to sell her any other and sent her away to save money. She was not particularly happy. She came back four months later, ordered a Sheri corset, and was exceedingly happy with the fit and her ultimate choice -- as I was convinced she would be. I knew she would never be happy with any other and that it would waste her money and time to let her choose anyone but Sheri. Plus I knew her disappointment would make it a very distressing experience for me, and I don't like that feeling! I like to be spot on in terms of what I advise my clients, and hope and pray that I am mostly right.

I can mention other clients who feel the same about Sharon and Jill, and each of my past team members! That is why one corsetiere will or may have a devoted loyal clientele for years and years.

The reason I recommend that some clients venture out and try others styles and makers, including others not on my team, is to experience on their body, the differences. There is nothing like the body to give us our answers. I can use words and post images, but the proof is in the pudding of your individual experience. I have worn corsets by about 15 different makers, not all of whom were ever on my team. I sometimes buy corsets from others to experience them and try to understand the subtle differences, if any.

If like me, you are an adventurer and perhaps in this for many years, I encourage you to venture out. But at ROMANTASY, the final choice is up to you.

Which Corsetiere Should I Choose from the ROMANTASY Team?
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