Musings on the Beauty of Corsetry

Pink Sweetheart Steel Boned Corset

Pink Sweetheart Steel Boned Corset by Three Muses Clothing. Photo by John Rennie Photography. Modeled by Candy Keane.

There are many garments a woman can wear to slim her waist from Spanx to a girdle, but none have the beauty of a corset. A corset is more than just a quick fix or an undergarment. It’s a beautiful piece of clothing that can be dressed up or down, worn under or over clothes and worn for fashion or for function. You can’t get that out of a pair of Spanx.

Traditional corsetry has been experiencing a resurgence over the last few years, but along with it comes a lot of misinformation about what a corset is. We have people who call the shop all the time asking if we carry waist training corsets (we do) and then they come in and what they actually want is a girdle. All those constricting undergarments with the rows of hooks- those are not corsets no matter what they call it on eBay.

So when I talk about a corset, I am referring to the Victorian styles of the 1800s and the Edwardian style introduced in the 1900s. Both of these styles moved toward a more hourglass shape and away from the earlier corsets, or stays, which produced a more funneled silhouette. Our modern corsets are based of these designs with some modifications. The basic idea is still there though- the solid boning all around, a front busk that opens and lacing in the back.

A corset should feel good when you wear it. It should feel secure and supportive, never over constrictive. If it hurts or pinches or pokes, then you need to readjust, loosen it or find yourself a better corset. One of my favorite parts of this job is putting someone in a corset for the first time and seeing them smile when they see their new shape. And when they mention how good it feels, I know it’s the right one.

There’s beauty in a well constructed corset. I love feeling the weight of a heavy steel boned piece when you pick it up. Both flat and spiral steel boning create a wonderful shape and then revert back when you take the corset off. On cheaply made corsets, plastic acrylic boning will keep the curved shape over time and eventually bend sharply so it starts to poke the wearer. I would only recommend plastic boning for short term wear, and never for tight cinching.

There’s also an art to the lacing, which takes time and practice. The right lacing can make the difference of whether a corset fits or hurts. Different lacing can create different effects because it exerts pressure on different areas. Corsets should be unlaced when putting it on and taking it off. If you aren’t unlacing, you aren’t getting the full cinching benefit and it will lead to damaging your corset with wear most likely showing up around the corners of the front busk. Your corset will tell on you if you aren’t treating it right.

At Three Muses Clothing, we are immersed in corsets of all kinds on a daily basis. It has become the cornerstone of the business with most of our handmade costumes using corsets as a foundation. We have done corset fittings on hundreds of women since we opened the shop in 2009 and look forward to doing hundreds more!

Black Satin Steel Boned Waist Cincher

Black Satin Steel Boned Waist Cincher underbust corset by Three Muses Clothing

Got a blog I might like? Post it so I can follow

One of the things I enjoy about WordPress blogging is the reader function. I like to pull up the reader and scroll through all the latest posts from blogs I follow. However, I didn’t discover this function until sometime last year and am quite late in the game since I’ve had this blog for a loooong time.

So if you have a WordPress blog you think I might like, or even just have a good one to recommend, please post it so I can follow and add you to my reader 🙂 *This only works with blogs using WordPress

Throwback Thursday- Partying at the Playboy Mansion

Invitation to the Playboy Mansion

Invitation to the Playboy Mansion

If you’ve been to the shop, you might have noticed a framed invitation to the Playboy mansion’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Party hanging on the wall. The art on the invites was always a work of one of my favorite pin-up artists, Olivia De Berardinis, so I saved several of them.

I was never in Playboy Magazine, but they always invited models to attend the parties and basically serve as pretty scenery. Nudity was never required, but a strict adherence to the dress code was. It was always a specific theme or lingerie. For me, it was always both! I enjoyed making costumes out of my lingerie outfits.

My first trip to the Playboy mansion was to attend a rockstar themed party by Skyy Vodka and Cutty Sark.

Hanging out in the famous grotto

Hanging out in the famous grotto

I met a couple ladies there who informed me it wasn’t a “real” mansion party because Hef wasn’t there and you couldn’t go inside the mansion. Companies rent the backyard and grotto out for events. After chatting with a few Playboy bunnies I got the address to submit my photos to, which was the first step in getting an invite to a real party.

I sent a few bikini pics and a letter explaining I had gone to a sponsored party and would love to attend the real deal. My invitation came a month later for the 4th of July party. I went on to attend many parties there but due to a very strict no photos rule, I have very few photos. There was a second step after you get your invite. If you are an invited model then you park offsite and ride a shuttle in. Before you get on the shuttle they check you off the list and take a Polaroid to make sure you look like your photos. So basically if you look like crap, you don’t get invited back.

I moved to FL before the show Girls Next Door started filming, but I was actually there the night Kendra was one of the painted girls and met Hef. Being a painted girl was also a way to attend the parties but you had to be fully nude and covered in paint for hours. I just wanted to dress up and enjoy the free drinks and lavish spread of food. I did get to meet a lot of celebrities and have some funny stories about a few of them. Most of them were very nice though.

I never actually saw anything too scandalous, though Ron Jeremy did offer me a “sensual massage,” which I politely declined. It was always just a really amazing lavish party filled with celebrities and decorated with half naked women. I don’t think the parties are quite the same now as when Hef had two girlfriends and was looking to add a third. I’m glad I got to experience it when I had the chance!

In Hef's Game Room

In Hef’s Game Room

A Facebook page without limits

After agonizing over whether to start a personal “page” or not on Facebook, I finally went ahead with it after being frustrated by the 5,000 friend limit for profiles. “Who needs 5000 friends??” you may be asking right now. Well, I used to just accept all requests since it was a public profile used for business and somewhere along the way I actually became friends with a lot of those people! And before I knew it, I was at the limit and wasn’t sure who to delete to make room for new friends.

So here’s the new, no limit page where I’ll be posting cosplay pics and stuff: https://www.facebook.com/CandyLKeane

The profile I have been using for a while will still be active and I have the option to follow on there. I couldn’t convert that to a page without losing a lot of my photos and everything I’ve put into it over the past few years. I have a website for the store, blog, my personal portfolio website, twitter, 2 Facebook profiles, the business Facebook page, a badly neglected Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and countless other profiles I’ve most likely forgotten about. More reasons to stay online is probably the last thing I need!

But this will give me a chance to post a lot more costume pics without feeling like I’m bugging my friends and hogging their feed. All the business related stuff will stay on the Three Muses Facebook page. There will always be a little crossover with all the profiles, but I do try and make everything a little different

Candy Keane's New Facebook Page

Candy Keane’s New Facebook Page

Throwback Thursday: SF Girl and the Dotcom Revolution

After graduating from UF in 2000, my future husband and I both had a travel bug to go west and see what adventures California had to offer. Since he graduated first and had a brother in Sacramento, he went there before me and started the job hunt. Wherever that job was would determine where we lived.

Luckily he found work with an advertising agency in San Francisco and I found work writing content for websites. We soon found ourselves in a very big, extremely expensive city with very little money and no place to live except for a seedy hotel downtown that we could rent by the week. We at least had enough to pay extra for a bathroom in our room instead of having to use the communal bathroom on each floor. We also had a vehicle, but it was parked far away by Golden Gate Park so we only had to move it every few days instead of every few hours. We would take the bus to go move the truck, drive around looking for a new spot, have lunch and go home.

SF Girls

All the SF Girls at the Pickle Pilot Pagan party. I’m wearing my first corset and elf ears! I’m also very tan and have purple hair. I dyed it just for the party and it took forever to wash out.

We were only there for a little while when we met Dawn at a gathering for Sean’s work. I can’t even remember how we met, but it seems like we were all instant friends. Dawn invited us to go out with her friends, and again more instant friends. How could you not like a group of like-minded individuals whose past time was hunting for extravagant and free (free!) dotcom launch parties. Not on the list? No problem! We were about to learn the fine art of party crashing from the SF Girl and crew.

Dawn’s friend Patty had a website called SFgirl.com. It was mostly party reviews and pics from what I recall. This was enough to get into some parties, others we did the “walk in like you’re supposed to be there” method. Some parties had strict lists and those required some ingenuity and acting skills. I’ll never forget trying not to laugh as Dawn gave the guy at the door her name, which was mumbled and sounded suspiciously like female anatomy. As he looked confused and flustered, she grabbed the list and told him she’d find her name herself. Ten seconds later we were all treated to lavish spread of free sushi, drinks, balloons and freebies. There may have even been an ice luge. By then end of the evening, Dawn was dancing on chairs and I had snagged enough balloons to be in danger of floating away.

Dotcom Boom

The article that was on the front page of the paper, with Sean and I lurking in the background.

And so we rode the crest of the dotcom boom. Sometimes there were 2 or 3 parties in an evening, always with free food, drinks and schwag bags of free stuff. We were only there a few weeks when we ended up on the front page of the newspaper (as two blurs in the background, but still, front page!) in an article covering the SF party crashing culture. Eventually we managed to find a studio apartment in Union Square, a block away from our hotel. Me, Sean and my cat all lived in a space smaller than our current master bedroom. It had one room and a Murphy bed that pulled out of the wall. But while we may have had to scrounge for pennies if we wanted to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, we were still able to experience all the nightlife SF had to offer thanks to a thriving Internet economy.

Getting ready

Me getting ready in our “living room,” which was actually just the back of the Murphy bed after you flipped it around and put it away. It had a mirror on the back! I’m also showing off my fabulous early 90’s tramp stamp.

Unfortunately all bubbles eventually burst and the launch parties gave way to Pink Slip parties as people were laid off and businesses closed. My web content work dried up as they all started to offer “exposure” instead of actual money. The chilly grey San Francisco weather started to wear on me and it was time to move on to a sunnier place and start our next adventure in San Diego.

You can see a little bit of what remains of the SFgirl.com website here:
http://www.SFgirl.com

Dawn has her own blog about her post-SF wanderings:
http://henderbalz.com/

And Patty has an Etsy shop with vintage finds:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/58petticoats

Apples vs. Oranges, or HALO vs. Dr. Who

Recently I’ve had the chance to be a judge in several costume contests. I thought it would be fun to be on the other side of the table, but I’m finding it very hard to pick a winner when so many different costuming techniques are presented and presented well. It seems the winning contest formula that prevails is “big+lights=1st place!”

It’s very hard to compare a perfectly hand sewn costume with an impressive (insert any kind of large combat robot here). How do you compare serged edges and straight seams with sculpting/welding/vacuum forming?

For example: it’s hard to judge a Dr. Who group against a HALO group, unless maybe the Dr. Who group includes several impressive Daleks.

Being on the judging side has made me realize how tough it is to judge a general costume contest that pits many different styles, genres and ages against each other. Also, when it comes down to it, stage presence actually counts for a lot and can even overcome some costume shortcomings.

What do you guys think about costume contests? Any experience judging them? Or being in them? I know it’s tough on both sides of the judging table!

A post-Halloween rant, and then I can move on to other fun things

Halloween is always a whirlwind of activity, and when it’s done and things have quieted down I get to pick up the pieces, put things away and get everything back in order. I’m looking forward to blogging a bit more. I use Facebook a lot, but sometimes the status posts get a bit long and I think it would be better suited to the blog…so that is how this post ended up over here. I also feel like this is a smaller audience (even though it is way more public) but people who actually make it over here to read this came because they wanted to read it, not because Facebook kept shoving it in their face in their newsfeed. (I know I do have it linked to FB, but it at least takes a second click to read it)

And while this started as a store blog, we have a Facebook page just for store-only related stuff, so now this blog is mine. Mine mine mine mine. And I am going to dust off those writing skills I used to love so much (though now they are technically typing skills) and post more on the blog about my experiences as a store owner, costume maker, cosplayer and whatever else I want to chat about along the way.

So right now, I just wanted to share a few things that drive me crazy, because I feel the need to get them off my chest, share them and then move on with it. Because these things aren’t going to stop, and the list could have been a lot longer but I didn’t want to bore you if you’ve managed to keep reading this far, so I narrowed it down to five things.

And these are the Top 5 Things That Bugged the Crap Out of Me This Halloween:

1) Telling me we should let people know we are going to be closed. I am sorry I cannot send a postcard and/or call everyone who has ever come in the store to let them know we will be closed. I really thought posting it on the front page of the website, the blog, Facebook, Twitter, the store answering machine and on the store door 2 months ahead of time might get someone’s attention. Apparently, this is still not enough.

 2) Poking disdainfully at the corsets and inquiring whether they are steel boned, only to tell me you don’t think they are steel boned and then continue to insist they are “fashion corsets.” At this point I usually run away and let Brema deal with them because here’s the story- I’ve taken the boning out and checked and you haven’t. So if you poke my corsets one more time with that attitude, I no longer want you to get a corset. This is also why Brema does a lot of the selling and I do a lot of hiding. I take things too personally. You might as well be poking one of my dogs and telling me they’re mutts and not Australian Shepherds. Of course both mutts and fashion corsets are great, but don’t try to tell me one is the other when I know better.

 3) Calling the store, asking directions, hours, 5 million other questions and then at the very very end, asking if we have something very specific, like a Kermit costume. Oh? You don’t have a Kermit costume? Well that’s all I wanted, thanks anyway. You know you could have saved us both like 10 minutes by just asking that question first. I also hate it when people ask me if they can ask me a question. Because really that’s just redundant, and now you’ve asked me two questions.

 4) Complaining we have nothing in your size. Yes we do, you just don’t like those particular things. And also, we had it but it sold out already. We normally get one of each size in each item. When it sells, it’s gone. This is a boutique, not Wal-Mart. It doesn’t seem to matter, big or small, there is always somebody complaining we have nothing in their size.

 5) Trying on 20 costumes, shoving them back in the bags and then sticking them back on the racks. You are not being as helpful as you might think. There is a sign in the dressing room asking items to be brought to the counter for a reason. We need to make sure all the pieces are there and it is folded neatly so it is not crushed and weird for the next person. And the store is organized so we can find the costumes. If you stick Snow White in the beer wench section, well now we think Snow White is sold out because she should be with the fairy tales. And then we take it off the website, ponder what happened to Snow, only to find her weeks later hanging in the wench section after she has long been removed from the website, therefore costing us a sale.

So that’s it. I probably could have made a top 20 list but I’m starting to get really hungry and have to go update the website with our new hours before people start leaving mean messages on our answering machine. Because yes, they do that. I once got a really long message from a lady yelling at us for not being open on Sundays. For the record, we are still closed on Sundays.