A Corsetière in New York

The Brutal Truth About Corsets

This blog post is a little different than my usual posts. Over the past few months I have been doing extensive research on ready-to-wear corsets. I’ve sampled known retailers for availability, customer service, and the knowledge or lack-there-of about corsets. It’s disappointing to see how the market is focused on cheaper, mass produced items. Join me on a journey through one of the greatest fashion centers on earth as we compare RTW “corsets” to our own custom, hand-made Champagne Corsets and the overall experience of finding, or not finding, the perfect corset for your body. Isn’t life about quality, not quantity?

All market research was performed by me, all samples were purchased, examined, and tried on and all opinions are my own. Modeled garment images belong to their respective retailers.  Garments without models were photographed by me.


The Brutal Truth About Corsets

Saks Fifth Avenue – I headed right to the Designer Collections on the 3rd floor at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. As I strolled around and admired the designs from Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana, just to name a few, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see one single corset. I was approached by a very helpful sales associate who was just as shocked as I was. He couldn’t believe Saks didn’t carry any corsets, especially from Dolce & Gabbana who are usually the ones to design worn-to-be-seen corsets year round. We chatted for a few minutes on how corsets are season-less and the only thing he could think of was directing me to the 10th floor Lingerie Department.

As I stepped off the elevator I asked a lingerie sales associate where I could find a corset. She then turned to another sales associate who shared with me that many people have been asking for corsets and how sorry and frustrated she is to turn me away. The item that she recommended to me was a bustier from Simone Pérèle that I felt was over priced at $260 USD. This was not the type of “corset” I was looking for because it doesn’t have any of the features a corset should have. The boning is plastic, there are no grommets for the back lace up, there is no waist tape to help cinch in your stomach and to give you that hourglass shape, and the garment is made of 100% polyester.

Simone Pérèle Floral Lace Bustier
Color: Black
Price: $260.00
Sizes Available: 32B-36D

Bergdorf Goodman – Another disappointing shopping experience on Fifth Avenue in NYC, the lingerie sales associate in Bergdorf Goodman’s was very apologetic and also shared that many women have been asking for corsets. I can tell she was genuinely trying to help recommended a specialty store where I could possibly find a corset, but she couldn’t think of anywhere offhand. I politely thanked her and continued on my shopping journey.


The Brutal Truth About Corsets

Victoria Secret – Upon my entrance into Victoria’s Secret on 34th Street at Herald Square in NYC, a friendly sales associate immediately greeted me. I asked the woman to point me in the direction of a corset. She gladly accompanied me and within minutes, 2 different styles of “corsets” were in my hands. As I began examining these so-called “corsets”, I wanted to sit this woman down and tell her that these are clearly bustiers and not by any means do they have the same benefits as a corset. However, I understood this woman is a sales associate and most likely trying to fool me as much as she is fooling herself. I listened to the woman as she pointed out the boning, which is plastic by the way, and the tape around the waistline that will help “cinch” my stomach in. As I tugged a bit on the waistline I noticed the “waist-tape” is just a wide stretch elastic with no chance of anything being “cinched” in. The fabrics are nothing more than a polyester blend that will snag quicker than my thigh-high stockings. Both of these pieces are priced at $78 USD. The over-all aesthetic of the pieces are pretty, but how does Victoria’s Secret and their shoppers justify these price points? Do they consider these pieces luxury items? Or is it the overall shopping experience that influences people to make these purchases?

Very Sexy Shine Lace Corset
Color: Powered Blush
Price: $78
Sizes Available: 32-36, A-D

Very Sexy Chantilly Lace Corset
Color: Desire Red
Price: $78
Sizes Available: 32-36, A-D


The Brutal Truth About Corsets

Orchard Corset Center – I hailed a taxi down to the Lower East Side to Orchard Street. This was my first time visiting Orchard Corset Center so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I approached the front entrance I had to ring the doorbell to be buzzed in. This store reminded me of an old-school lingerie shop with boxes upon boxes of corsets, bras, hosiery, etc. lining the walls in a very tight space. This was not your typical retail experience of browsing racks and picking beautiful items off of shelves filled with corsets and lingerie. My experience was a no-fuss, no-nonsense attitude and within minutes I was laced-up in an underbust corset. This basic underbust corset is reasonably priced for those on a budget at $79 USD. This corset is made with a printed satin fabric; metal steel boning, 1” waist tape, a front metal busk, and grommets for the back lace up. I would recommend this corset for first time wearers who want to start waist training and who aren’t necessarily ready for a custom corset just yet.

Orchard Underbust Satin Corset
Style #: 1291
Color: Blue
Sizes Available: 18-42

Overall my experience was very quick, straightforward and right to the point. I left the shop thinking to myself if I didn’t have the knowledge that I do in Corsetry would I understand how to properly wear this corset? At Champagne Corsets & Designs we strive at making customer service one of our top priorities. We help you fully understand how to lace yourself in and out of your corset and how to properly care for your corset. We are always here to answer any questions via email, phone, text or in person.

Have you tried any off-the-rack corsets that you may have loved or not so loved? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Do you currently own a corset and would like help styling it? Or perhaps you’re ready for a custom handmade corset of your own. Let’s get started! I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please comment below.