FairyGothMother / Lulu and Lush has been a specialist corset store for 12 years now (where does the time go!) As well as our own brand we have stocked the very best corsets from corsetieres from around the world.
Now our corsets are expensive, we appreciate that. So, if you see a Lulu and Lush product at another retailer (we do wholesale so we are elsewhere) at £20 rather than at £200 . . . well, you’d jump at it. Wouldn’t you?
Apart from the authorised retailers (who would sell at similar pricing) more and more websites are springing up using our owned copyright images, to sell a “copy”. That is why, when you order you won’t be receiving the genuine item you see in the pictures, but something vaguely similar, usually for around £20 (approx. $30). If you want a real corset, you want something sturdy, beautiful and of course something capable of giving you a great shape. You want to be admired in your new pride and joy. This we hope is why you’d come to us, or another reputable corset company.
For this very reason we decided to purchase a couple of the “copies” to see what exactly you might get. The two corsets below are the ones we find most copies of. One is our very own Lulu and Lush black satin sweetheart corset , classic in shape and giving 3-5 inches waist reduction. It’s fully steel boned, so does a great job of supporting and enchancing the cleavage. And we offer this classic shape in other fabrics and finishes each season to keep your wardobe up to date.
The second corset (on the right) is by the fabulous Miss Katie, an individual corsetiere who works from her studio in London, shown here in a two tone taffeta with luxury cream frills. This is very often called the Princess or English Princess corset when sold as a cheap £20 copy.
So what do you get for £20?
The first obvious difference is the weight. The real corsets feature steel bones (spirals and flat steels, with heavy steel busks) which with the shape of the corset help support and shape the body. The “copy corsets” feature fine plastic boning, so the garments are very light. The problem with plastic boning is it doesnt support shaping at all, and worse can bend out of shape, forever, with wear (e.g if you sit down the bones bend and wont go back!) In contrast, a real corset will mould to your shape over time and will enable even greater waist reduction.
The fabric content of the “copy” black corset is described as 80% lycra, this would suggest the fabric was stretchy, though strangely is wasn’t! The overall shape is similar, though its more square than curvy. It is also made of only one layer of fabric. Generally, real corsets feature at least two layers, often three, with the lining being in a cotton, twill or coutil for comfort and strength, and the outer layer being the finished fabric, such as satin, silk etc.With no lining, the copy corset is likely to get sweaty against the skin, not the most glamourous idea on a night out.
Looking next at the Miss Katie copy (shown above), You will notice from the images here, and in the video, that Miss Katie contrast stitches her corsets. This obviously takes extra time, but clearly shows the quality of the handmade garment (any deviation from the perfect stitching would show.). This extra time, adds to production costs, so the copy does not feature this. Miss Katie also uses a lovely pleasted ribbon trim, with a contrast ribbon running through the centre of the trim. The copy features a very shiny cheaper trim, thats gathered rather than pleated. All this means the copy can be produced more cheaply. But the main issue with this corset is the fabric. To be blunt, its vile! Think of the fabric you get on raincoats, all stiff and stratchy, and you’ll be close.
From the image above, you can see the basic shape, laid flat isnt too different. The copy (shown at the bottom of the image) is not lined, and does not feature a waist tape. Waist tape helps maintain the shape and supports the garment (it stops the seams being strained), so you can seriously reduce your waist. The extra features on the real corsets (waist tape, lining, steel bones) mean you corset will last for years and years. We were able to fold the copies in half!
Real corsets generally come with tough, strong lacing. A longer version of the kind of thing you find in good boots or 12mm wide, thick, strong ribbon (Miss Katie’s preference – it looks great!). The copy corsets came with very thin , 6mm light ribbon, not ideal as it breaks when pulled, though you wouldnt need to pull too hard on the copies anyway as they are not able to reduce the waist at all. The real corsets are tradionally laced into the middle, where they are tied off, so the whole corset takes the strain on the lacing. The copies are laced at the top. Again not ideal.
Now to the eyelets, the eyelets (grommets) on the real corsets are supported either side by boning so the lacing is fully supported. The copies have no support, and the grommets were bunching up together when laced.
To get a better look at the two corsets, you might want to watch the video, if you haven’t already. But, I think you can tell from the above images that the Lulu and Lush sweetheart corset gives definition to the waist and bust. The copy (shown on the right) has a twisted busk (it looks diagonal across the body) and offers little shape.
Just the same with the Miss Katie (shown above on the left) and the copy (right). Even from the small images below, you can tell the fabric is creased and the corset is not supporting the model at all.
In conclusion, with the copy corsets you get what you pay for, a similar garment with no shaping ability, probably fine for fancy dress, but not really the fabulous look you should get from a real corset.
With thanks to Annette for her short notice modelling and Catherine from Kiss Me Deadly for narrating our little video.