Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Want to Be Your Derivative*: Orchard Corset's CS-411.

After months of looking longingly at the selection of corsets on Orchard Corset's website, I sold a few clothing items and suddenly had a bit of extra spending money (isn't that an awesome feeling?).  I did a lot of research- apparently not quite enough, as you'll see later- and decided on a size 22 in a black pinstripe CS-411 style underbust corset.  

Ordering was easy, the free shipping (same day if you order by 6 PM EST) was a nice perk, and the package arrived only two days after I made the order. That was very impressive considering the estimated time of arrival was a week later.  In my haste to actually see the corset, I forgot to take a picture of how it came. It was neatly rolled up in tree-printed tissue paper with a sticker holding it together.  It also came with an order/return form, detailed instructions about how to put on, lace, wear, and care for your corset, two business cards with a discount code for a future purchase, and a nice touch- a signed customer appreciation card.  I never needed to contact them, but I have heard nothing but good things about their customer service, and the attention to detail alone was impressive.

The instructions were very thorough, but if you can't find some information,
you can often find it on their website or blog.

My first reaction upon unrolling the corset was panic.  It just looked so tiny.  I couldn't ever fit into that!  I breathed a bit easier when I realized that it came fully bi-directionally laced... and completely laced shut.  I already knew I would have to wear it with a gap in the back.  Phew!  The materials felt durable and the corset seemed sturdy and well-made.  If you're looking for a more in-depth review of the actual corset construction, there is an excellent one on Lucy's Corsetry.

I've had some trouble when lacing getting the modesty panel smooth and centered,
but I don't think I'd feel comfortable without it.

Despite wanting to put it on immediately, I made myself unlace it and follow the lacing directions so that I would know how to do it in the future.  Then I made myself carefully read the instructions sheet.  Then I put it on (albeit loosely, basically just resting on my waist- see picture below) and thought, "Huh.  I guess I overestimated how curvy my body is."  As you can see, the corset flared out and left gaps at the hips and at the underbust. The fact that this made me think there was something wrong with my body rather than shrugging it off as a garment simply not being right for me is a sad testament to the way women are conditioned to think about themselves.  So I want everyone to say it with me: clothes should fit you; you shouldn't fit the clothes.  

Keep in mind that in these pictures, the corset isn't paired with outfits,
just what I wear it with around the house. 

It turns out that the curve of this corset makes it more like a Level 3 in Orchard Corset's "silhouette level" system, even if it is labeled Level 2, and I probably should have read their blog post about that issue.  I had ordered assuming that it was made for moderate/enhanced Level 2 curves: while my hips at their fullest point measure about 10.5/11" more than my waist, my upper hip where a standard-length corset would sit is only 8" larger.  I wondered if I should send it back.  I knew that you should never over-tighten or pull in too much when breaking in a corset, so I decided to give it a chance and see what happened once it molded to my body and I could close it a bit further.  I wore it for about 1.5 hours a day for a week and then reassessed my original conclusions.  And boy, am I glad I did:

Yes, it's almost impossible to take a picture of your own back without a mirror.
Also, I guess I never notice how square and minimizing the Masquerade Rhea is from the side
because of the view from the top :-).  

I love it!  It certainly forces me to correct my posture, which is great, because my posture is dreadful.  There is indeed a slightly V-shaped gap in the back, but nothing very noticeable.   If you have larger hips than I do, it might be worth searching other sites that have corsets with gored hips or larger hip pockets.  Most of Orchard Corsets Level 3's- their curviest silhouette level- measure 10-11" (or 11-13" for longlines) more at the bottom edge than at the waist when completely shut.

There are a few other fit issues. I have an average-length torso, and my boobs are set low on my chest, so I suspect I don't have enough distance between bust and hips to accommodate a longline.  This one already pushes my bust up enough, in any case.  So this corset is -about- long enough but is still unfortunately just short enough to create a bit of upper back and lower tummy bulge.  I suspect this could be ameliorated with smoothing shapewear, and I've seen some suggestions to wear a bra with a thick band underneath as well. 

Although I haven't yet found one in my size, a longline like
Freya's Just Flew In would probably be ideal.  
Curvy Kate's Tease Me has worked best so far.

Again, I was tempted to blame my body for these (minor!) problems.  Why are my upper back and shoulders so broad?  Why is my stomach so weirdly shaped?  Why don't I have 0% body fat so that this can't happen?  Why don't I fit this corset perfectly?  This was crazy talk. Clothes should fit you; you shouldn't fit the clothes.  I don't buy a hat and then think that my head is somehow "wrong" if the hat squeezes my head but fits someone else just fine. I simply think we might have differently sized or shaped heads!  I shouldn't blame my body for not fitting into certain shirts, or pants, or dresses, or corsets either. 

If I ever have more opportunities to actually wear a corset, I can see investing in a custom-made overbust one.  Even though this is the only corset I've tried, I doubt that I could get a much better or perfect fit in an off-the-rack one.  And that's OK.  It doesn't mean that my body is bad or abnormal if it doesn't fit into OTR clothing, especially such a specialty item. While this one isn't perfect, it's still lovely, comfortable, well-made and wearable, and I would definitely recommend checking out Orchard Corset if you're in the market for an OTR corset.  

* ... What?  You mean women don't usually fall for pickup lines even if they're math-related?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday: "Ameliorate" + Blog Notes.

Today's word is "ameliorate," a verb meaning to improve, make better, or amend.

Many people suggest eating chicken noodle soup to ameliorate the symptoms of a cold.

Just remember: Amelia Bedelia could ameliorate everything with pie.

Blog Notes:

I have some general updates about future posts. I bought my first corset slightly over a week ago, and I'm writing a post more about the process and body image issues when purchasing such specialty clothing items than a true "review" of the corset; it should be posted this weekend.

I also bought a Curvy Kate bikini, and I'm considering doing an actual review of that in a Bra Edition of Thesaurus Thursday next week, assuming it has arrived by then and is anywhere close to the correct size.  There are many great reviews of Curvy Kate swimwear out there- though none of this particular bikini that I could find- but I know how much I appreciate it when a full bust blogger posts a review of anything I'm considering shelling out a good chunk of money for online.*  I don't intend this to become a full bust/curvy clothing blog, because there are already so many wonderful ones at out there (see sidebar for just a few!), but how would everyone feel about the occasional** review?

*Yes, I know return policies exist.  I usually resell items instead of returning, because I dread returns.  I can deal with spiders better than I can deal with returns, and I really don't like spiders.  I know; I have issues.

**Probably no more than once every 3 months or so, if that.  I love clothes/bras/swimwear, but I just don't buy them that often, and as I mentioned, that will never be a main focus of this blog.  Unless someone comes out with full-bust-friendly versions of any of these.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday: "Quandary."

I remembered that Thursdays exist this week... I opened my laptop, prepared to write a Thesaurus Thursday post... and BOOM, no internet.  We don't know what happened to it; we have to have a technician come and look.  So a regular post might not be forthcoming this weekend, and that is why yet another Thesaurus Thursday is brought to you on Friday from a coffee shop.  A post definitely will be out the weekend after that.  I'm going to review my corset!  In the meantime, the word for today is "quandary," a noun meaning predicament, bind, or a perplexity about what to do in a difficult situation.

When we lost our internet connection, I was in a quandary, because I didn't know how to get a blog post done; luckily most places have free wi-fi!


Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Rant (or Why The Internet Gets on My Nerves).

*Note: Please bear in mind that I use "she" and "her" throughout this post, but these can easily be exchanged with "he" and "him" (except perhaps in the last section).  Men can and do have body image issues.  Though I still think that the majority of the time, body hate, criticism, and snark in the media are directed at women.*

I think eating healthfully and exercising are great.  Teaching people about the effects of food and exercise on their bodies is perfectly fine- even laudable- as long as you do it in, say, a nutrition or fitness class, use positive language, and then don't judge them if they decide that following your advice is not a priority.  I do believe that any true concern that someone has for another person's health should be relayed face-to-face and not online, through e-mail, Facebook/social media, or texts; in other words, if you are not close to the person you are concerned about, you definitely should not say anything.  I admire anyone who feels unhealthy, wants to make a change, and goes for it, but that is a choice that needs to come from within that person.  I do, however, firmly believe that health and attractiveness can be separate.  If you do not agree, I would encourage you to examine why you place such a high value on the appearance of health in other people.  Why do you give a flying fish what other people look like?

You see, I am officially Fed Up with some of the stupidity on the internet. And so, without further ado, I give you my mini-rants to the writers of and people who comment on body, health, and food articles on the internet.

"She looks like she doesn't take care of herself.  Looking as if she takes care of herself makes a woman attractive."
"Looking as if she takes care of herself" can mean many different things for different people.  For some, that could include having super-defined muscles.  For others, that would mean always having neatly styled hair or having skin that isn't deeply tanned.  The list goes on.  And for some, looking well-groomed/put together/what-have-you actually isn't a factor in determining a woman's attractiveness at all; personality or sense of humor might be key.  So I'm taking a wild guess here: you define "taking care of herself" as doing the same things you do for your own health and happiness.  You're really saying that a woman who has a certain lifestyle appeals to you.  You know what?  That's fine.  Everyone has preferences.  But you're a grown up (hopefully) and should realize that not every woman needs to meet your standards. 

"This isn't about bullying.  It's a health issue. You can sugarcoat it all you want.  Her BMI is too high/low, and that is unhealthy."
Hi there, fat shaming bully!  Your comments are very predictable, you know.  You always insert attacks on other people for "skirting around the facts" or "sugarcoating" or "normalizing" so that you can get readers to subconsciously believe that you are just the Good 'Ole One Who Tells It Like It Is, when you are actually using that phraseology to skirt around the fact that you're being extremely rude and unnecessary.  Let's leave aside the fact that BMI is an unreliable measure of health and pretend like you just said "weight."  I could argue with you all day that weight and health aren't always related. But you probably wouldn't bother processing my words and likely have some ridiculous stock insult prepared for anyone who disagrees with your opinion ("Well you would say that- you're probably fat!" Fabulous argument, there.)  The real question is: Why do you give a flying fish?

"You should NEVER eat this.  Did you see how many calories/how much fat/how much BAD STUFF is in it?"
There is no way to say this politely: get off your high horse.  If you go to most large websites with recipes, I can almost guarantee you that there will be an easy-to-find section with healthy recipes advertised on the main page.  So why not relax and let people talk about the taste of the food instead of using the comment section as a platform to blame other people's (posited) health issues on the mere existence of junk food recipes. It's as if recipes for things like bacon cheeseburgers are magnets for people like you who would never eat them and feel that it is their moral duty to tell others to do the same.  You will say there are foods you simply shouldn't touch with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole and look down your nose at anyone who dares say that they enjoy those foods, even if they only eat them occasionally (by the way, eating better does not make you a better person).  You will say, "Yeah, until you have that heart attack/high cholesterol/BAD STUFF."  Which brings me to...

"Moderation is just an excuse for the lazy/weak-willed."
Please, please let me know about the scientific studies (plural) you've seen that take a group of people who exercise and eat healthfully the majority of the time who have a slice of cheesecake a week, or a McDonald's combo once in a while, or even a bit of ice cream every evening, that finds these (non-elderly, without preexisting conditions) people at a higher risk for health problems.  Or studies that find that these people often keel over from heart attacks after eating one high-calorie or high-fat meal.  I haven't found any yet, and I've looked.  I'm guessing there aren't any. And please don't use something like "Supersize Me" as proof of your point; that was not a documentary about moderation.  Even if some people using this Unholy Recipe actually eat like that, again the question arises:  Why do you give a flying fish?

"You can tell she has had children."

This could just be a simple statement, but you almost always say it derogatorily.  When did this crazy idea that women's bodies need to be exactly the same before and after kids come from?  I admittedly haven't had children yet, but I'm pretty sure pregnancy usually involves growing another freaking human being in your body.  Even the women who come out of the delivery room wearing their pre-pregnancy clothing or who live healthier lives than they did before kids will show some evidence that they had children.  That isn't wrong or ugly.  It just is.  Also...

"I don't want kids because it will ruin my body."

If you truly like your body as it is and don't want it to change; whatever.  I could even support you in that decision, as long as you don't look down on others for not doing likewise.  It is certainly your choice not to have children.  But why are you telling the entire world about it in this particular manner?  Are you looking for validation in your quest not to have stretch marks?  Applause because you won't go through nine months of weight gain?  OK, good for you!  Huzzah!  Better now?  And if you must tell the world about it, just say, "I'm happy with my body the way it is, so I'm not having kids," instead of saying pregnancy would "ruin" it.  You do realize that you're implying that your mother, and her mother before her, and all mothers around the world have bodies that are irreversibly screwed up after having children?  It is rather sickening if you actually believe that.  If other women have gone through pregnancy and labor and as a result have stretch marks, or cellulite, or their skin isn't taut, or they've gained weight, why do you care?

Really, if ANY woman has stretch marks, or cellulite, or her skin isn't taut, or she has gained weight...

Honestly, do I have to keep saying it?

Do you have any comments like these that drive you absolutely bonkers?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday (Sort Of).

Hey everyone.  There is no real Thesaurus Thursday this week, because I was working on a post that has been very difficult to write just because I'm getting so emotionally involved in it, and I completely forgot to pick out a good word.  It is about the types of comments that I would prefer never, ever, ever to see again on internet threads.  And writing it, as you can imagine, makes me a bit frustrated.

I suppose a good word for the day, even if it isn't particularly interesting, should be "nice" as in "be nice on the internet, or I will slap you with a wet noodle!"

The post should be up this weekend.

The Absurd Curvy Nerd


The bad news: I haven't been feeling too well, so what with that and Father's Day and a lot of other stuff going on, the next post will probably be up closer to Tuesday.  Also, one day I might actually remember that Thursdays come between Wednesdays and Fridays.

The good news: I am finally going to purchase a steel-boned underbust corset-- I fall in love with corsets easily but have always gotten cold feet before buying-- and I might have to do a brief (gulp) review about the process and the actual corset when that happens.  I say (gulp) because it's new territory for me, and it might even make me come out of my shell and post a couple pictures!

I actually like my face but would probably leave it out on a public page.  You can just picture my face looking like this:


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bedknobs, Broomsticks, and How Many Bookshelves?

I'm not exactly a "neat freak."  I try to keep a clean house, but I do occasionally forget the laundry in the hamper or suddenly notice that dog hair has taken over our furniture.  But when I clean up, I like things organized in very specific ways.  Mr. Nerd once found me in the closet holding up two shirts and mumbling to myself.  When he asked what I was doing, I said that I was sorting my clothes according to ROYGBIV, of course, and which shirt did he think was closer to indigo?  Sorting kitchen supplies by purpose is all well and good, but I'd like them separated by frequency of use as well.  Spices?  Alphabetical order only goes so far; sweet and heat need to be apart from each other.

We had a bit of meltdown of order recently, so some of these things aren't "right," and I'm itching for the opportunity to fix them all.  The disorder makes me anxious, which in turn makes me less likely to do anything to correct it, which then makes me more anxious... it's a vicious cycle.  Whenever I feel panic rising, I turn to books.  Reading is my therapy.  Sometimes just looking at the books has a calming effect, because our books, being some of the few inanimate objects Mr. Nerd and I truly care about, are always well-organized.  And we have a lot of books.

Of course, it doesn't help when an entire shelf looks like this.
The next one down is all Terry Pratchett.

There are pluses and minuses to book hoarding.  The best things?  The first ones that come to mind are the feel and the smell.  I would purchase "Old Book" instead of "New Car" smell in a heartbeat.  And there is just something about the crinkles around the page edges and lines in the spine of a well-loved book that makes me nostalgic and about the crisp edges of a new book that gives me shivers of anticipation.  The memories are another wonderful aspect of books.  Picking up a book that I read or had read to me when I was younger and rereading it is like taking a bite of a chocolate and tasting hints of peppermint or cinnamon that I've never noticed before that make it just that much more delicious.  I feel like I'm in my room growing up, head and shoulders under the covers reading until late at night, hoping my mom won't peek in and start telling me that old wives' tale about how reading in the dark will damage my eyes just so that I will go to sleep.  But at the same time as the books bring memories of the past, I can pick up on nuances of humor, plot, and character development that I might not have noticed or been too immature or inexperienced to appreciate the first time around.

           "You can't get a cup of tea big enough 
               or a book long enough to suit me."
     -C. S. Lewis

There are more practical pros to book hoarding, like always having a copy of a classic when it is assigned at school.  I know some schools allow electronic books now, but not all do, and I've always been frustrated by those mouse-over comments in electronic formats.  Yes, I've written in many books, and yes, I know that is sacrilege to some.  But I always think it is entertaining to find my old comments when reading, especially if I'm having a completely different reaction to the book.  Another fun part of book hoarding is having interesting research material or completely random information that happens to be useful.  Want to know why your parents or older siblings keep referring to a country called Czechoslovakia?  We have geography books spanning three generations.  Curious about how the economy of the 80's compares to the one now?  We have various textbooks and nonfiction books by economists in both decades.  What did they add to this textbook that made it imperative to get the newest edition?  Look in the previous edition; we probably have it.

Of course there are problems with book hoarding.  Emotional attachment can make it hard to accept that certain books would be appreciated at new homes.  We try to donate/give away old books and also have a trade-in store nearby that will sell the books at very low prices.  But sometimes it can become difficult to let go.  And the most obvious problem that has to be mentioned: books take up space.  We don't mind much, as we would rather have them than most decorations, but when a well-meaning relative gives us a pretty vase and says, "Well, we could just make a little space on this shelf...," it's difficult to say, "No, no you can't.  The book stops here."  Also, when we get a new book, sometimes it is hard to put it where it belongs without moving another, and one book in a set on a different shelf than its counterparts always looks so sad and lonely.

And then I inevitably start singing "Carnival Town."

Books are wonderful in the old-fashioned sense of the word.  Don't get me wrong- I love my Kindle.  I remember a time when going on vacation meant one suitcase for clothes and another for books, so I do love the convenience (and the fact that I can store so many more books on it; I think if we had hard copies of all the books we own, we would be beyond eccentric and into pathological territory), but... I just can't imagine a world without printed books.

There was an old woman 
who lived in a library.
She sat in a corner
with too many books to carry.

She had grand adventures
going on in her head.
And she always wanted to read
one more chapter before going to bed.

 Yes, I'll be that woman.