Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Double the Brides, Double the Fun!

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
What a week, what a month! Now that the hectic rush of Pride is past, we have a moment to breathe and share some lovely staged bridal photos we took with Jim Vetter. (No, Autumn and I aren't getting married! I'll be marrying a different curvaceous, talented, creative brunette this October... and of course, Dark Garden is making our gowns!)

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Here at Dark Garden, we've had the pleasure of working with many, many queer couples to create ensembles for their weddings. After the back-and-forth battleground that California was, we are so very thrilled that gay marriage is now a right across all 50 states. It's been a joy for all of us to watch the news and see couples across the entire country have the opportunity to (legally) express their devotion and commitment, and have access to all the vital partnership opportunities that affords.

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Thank you to all of those who participated in, facilitated, and enjoyed our fashion show at the Pride VIP party on Sunday. It was a pleasure to be involved with a cause that is so important to all of us here at Dark Garden.

Victoria Dagger
in a bridal 
Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter 

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Waist Training with Dark Garden Corsets


This post was originally written on MissDarkGarden.Tumblr.com, as part of Autumn's Daily Corset Posts series.

I was recently asked to provide some bite-sized information on waist training, including what type of garment is best suited. What follows is more than a bite or two, but easily digestible at one sitting.
Dark Garden Bespoke "Underbust Victorian"
in Peach Fireworks Brocade Coutil
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
Many things can be used to train the waist, but none is better than a shapely corset. Corsets reduce the waist by compressing the waistline, but also comfortably supporting the ribs and hips. Some “waist trainers” being sold simply compress the whole mid-section, a far less comfortable approach, as this squeezes the ribs, resulting in the notorious inability to breathe. In addition, many waist trainers are stretchy and have no boning, which means they have the potential to roll up into a small band: uncomfortable, and liable to create unsightly bulges above and below the waistline. Well-made corsets are supported with steel boning, which keeps the length of the corset consistent, no matter how snugly the corset is pulled.

Dark Garden "Cincher"
in Signature Collection Red Silk Satin
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
Waist training works by gradually reducing the areas of the body that are being compressed. This is another reason why it’s important to have a garment that is shapely and fits you well. Some people believe you can “season” a corset into fitting by starting out with something that is large for the ribs and hips, but only snug at the waist. This has the potential of not only intestinal discomfort, but training the organs down into the lower abdominal region, since in that situation there would be no support. A corset that is comfortably snug over the hips and tummy can actually create a flatter stomach than the wearer starts out with.

To make progress, frequent, comfortably snug wear is more superior to infrequent, very tight lacing. It’s very much like results from exercise and diet - the better your habits are, the more progress you make. Likewise, as soon as you go off your program, your results begin to diminish. There is not a hard or fast rule about how much you have to wear a corset to make progress, but again, like exercise, if you do it once a week, your progress will be less than if you wear it moderately for a little while every day, or even every other day. That said, even once a week will get you more progress than never starting!

Dark Garden "Valentine"
in Signature Collection Red Silk Satin
Model: Allie Diane
Photo © Joel Aron
Most people are able to begin with a standard-sized corset before eventually graduating to wanting a custom or bespoke corset. The majority of waist trainers use an underbust corset on a daily basis, but some women with fuller bustlines are very happy to have the bust support of well-made overbust corsets as well.
Dark Garden "Corselette"
in Signature Collection Black Lace Overlay
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
At Dark Garden, we developed our unique ready-to-wear corset patterns after years of making exclusively custom sized corsets, and put the information we gathered there into creating some of the shapeliest, most comfortable corsets available anywhere. We continue to refine our patterns, and add styles as needed. With us, most waist trainers begin with our Cincher or our Cupid, a more shapely underbust corset. Those that are shorter waisted or just want a nip at the waist enjoy wearing the Corselette or Waspie. Many eventually go on to have a bespoke Underbust Victorian or Underbust Edwardian custom fit to their body via exhaustive measurements and multiple mock-up fittings.

Dark Garden Bespoke "Underbust Victorian"
in Peach Fireworks Brocade Coutil
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
As someone who has worn corsets both lightly laced and very tightly laced for more than 20 years, I firmly believe that good corsets can feel absolutely wonderful - comfortable and supportive - but there are plenty of poorly made and uncomfortable corsets on the market, especially these days. I recommend looking for a corset that creates more of this } { shape (an hourglass with a defined waist), than this ) ( shape (a shallowly flared tube).
Dark Garden "Cincher"
in Signature Collection Black Silk Satin
Model: Dwoira Galilea
Photo © Joel Aron
Quality materials and boning are more important than one might expect. You don’t want cheap steel, because it can break, causing damage to the corset and wearer. It needs to be made well, because a poorly constructed corset will twist around the body, which can cause back problems - just like wearing a back brace that forces your body into a poor posture and holds it there.

Lastly, make sure you’re putting your corset on properly, as this can make or break your corset wearing experience - if the corset is too high on the body, or tilted forward, it will put pressure on the ribs, making breathing difficult. The waistline should be parallel to the floor. Here’s a lacing video we made, all about lacing someone else into a corset - no bedposts or knees required! If you think you can’t put a corset on yourself - here you go!

Dark Garden "Underbust Victorian"
Photo © Chris Gaede
-Autumn Adamme
Proprietress


Read More

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dark Garden's Inclusivity Policy

Dee and Nya from AsiaSF, another San Francisco mainstay of the queer community,
trying on Dark Garden corsets.
Inclusivity Policy
It always has been and always will be our policy at Dark Garden to assist all customers and try to meet their needs to the best of our abilities. Gay, bi, straight, cis, trans, or genderqueer, etc., our door is open to everyone. Through our bespoke corsets and couture, we love to build corsets that express our client's individuality. Our boutique staff are trained to fit the styles from our ready-to-wear line on any body, and we can execute minor alterations on these styles to personalize them to your form. Whether you are looking to waist train to enhance a feminine physique or invest in a butch, shoulder-emphasizing, tailored vest corset, we promise your needs will be met with sensitivity and care.

From left to right:
Associate Designer Kalico Delafay in a Dollymop Cavalry corset
Proprietress Autumn Adamme in a Risqué Cincher
Production Manager Kristin Argue in a Dollymop Lancer corset
Photo © Joel Aron
A Queer-Owned Business
Dark Garden is not only a woman-owned, queer-friendly business, we are queer-owned! Our atmosphere of acceptance has attracted not only San Francisco's legendary gay community as clientele, but also as our employees. The overwhelming majority of our staff identify along the LGBTQ spectrum, though of course our self-identified straight employees are equally welcomed. Our team is a very close-knit group, fostering a playful atmosphere in the workroom where we create our corsets, each one individually made to order.

Dark Garden Corselette and Jacob corsets
Photo © Joel Aron
Our History
"Is this a new shop?" is a question we probably get at least once a week. Tucked away at 321 Linden St, a small side street in Hayes Valley, our boutique and atelier is nestled cozily next to Blue Bottle Coffee. Despite our bright purple exterior, many people don't even realize we're here. But not only have we been in Hayes Valley for over 15 years, we've been in business in San Francisco since 1989, and it's been our pleasure to serve the gay and fetish communities since our inception. As you can imagine, the cultural landscape of San Francisco has changed a lot in the intervening 26 years. In that time, we have made corsets for hundreds of queer, trans, and cross-dressing clients.

Dark Garden Pointed Victorian with straps
Photo © Joel Aron
Celebrate Pride with Us
Our doors are open six days a week. We invite you to stop by for a consultation at the 321 Linden St. boutique during business hours and be dazzled by the array of corsetry options. Not only has it been our joy to serve our local queer community but we are so grateful for the support we have received from that community through the years. We would not be the business we are today without that support and collaboration!

We will be tea modeling our couture fashions at the Gay Pride VIP party on June 28 from 2-5pm. See you there!


Marianne and Autumn, getting faux married in
bridal Alexandra and bridal Dollymop Lancer ensembles
Photo © Jim Vetter


~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Monday, June 1, 2015

On Wings: Introducing Dark Garden's Newest Underbust Corset, the Cupid

Dark Garden Cupid & Dollymop Gown
Model: Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
After careful development, we are thrilled to herald the arrival of our newest underbust corset style: the Cupid. The Cupid is the underbust version of our best-selling Valentine corset. If your hourglass is more than half-full, then the Cupid is for you.

Dark Garden Cupid & Dollymop Gown
Model: Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
The Cupid features ten shapely panels with double boning on each seam, for a total of 22 spring steel bones plus a sturdy German busk. Most of our ready-to-wear styles are eight panel construction; the extra panels of the Cupid and Valentine allow for smoother and more dramatic curves. In sizes 28 and up, the Cupid has an even more pronounced hip spring that accommodates the extra compression that is possible in those sizes. As compared to the Cincher, you will find the Cupid to be even more supportive, having a bust-framing point at the center front and a slight high back to encourage smooth lines.


Dark Garden Cupid
Model: Tuesday Blues
Photo © Chris Gaede
We currently have the Cupid available in sizes 24" through 34", as measured at the waist. We will soon be offering it in our complete 18" to 38" size run, in store and online. Visit our 321 Linden St. boutique, where our staff will help fit you in a corset of the correct size and even measure you for any fit personalizations you may need. The Cupid starts at $335 in basic black poplin - an excellent choice for beginning waist training. Come try on the Cupid and get struck by love's arrow!

Dark Garden Risqué Waspie
Photo © Chris Gaede

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Monday, May 25, 2015

Annual Corset Rummage Sale, July 19

Anneka in a bespoke Baroque corset
Photo © Betsy Kershner
The curviest event of the year is nearly upon us! Join Dark Garden on July 19th for our annual rummage sale, the biggest single-day event of the year. Savvy shoppers line up on Linden St. before we open to get first dibs on an selection of archive, unworn bespoke samples, and gently loved pre-owned corsets, as well as discounted stock corsets, clothing, accessories, and studio odds and ends.


Dark Garden Annual Rummage Sale
Sunday, July 19, 11am-6pm
Dark Garden Unique Corsetry
321 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-431-7684

Here's what you can expect to find at our rummage sale:
  • Corset raffle! A single $5 ticket could win you a made-to-order corset from our Signature Collection
  • Corsets and ensembles from our archive and fashion shows on sale
  • Unworn bespoke sample corsets, deeply discounted from their list price
  • Pre-loved corsets, sold on consignment from their previous owners
  • 10% discount on in-stock corsets and accessories made by Dark Garden
  • Deeper discounts on select Dark Garden stock corsets and accessories
  • Last-season garments and accessories on sale
  • Fabric remnants from the studio
  • Vintage patterns
  • All manner of miscellany
Anuka in a Signature Collection Cincher
Photo © Joel Aron
We will also be doing ready-to-wear fittings and taking commissions for made-to-order corsetry. However, please note that we will not be doing bespoke corset measuring on this date. You may start an order for a bespoke corset at the rummage sale and schedule an appointment to come back for a measurement intake. This is to ensure the highest quality of service and accuracy for the first step of the bespoke process... and guarantee the availability of a fitting room!

Autumn in a leather Alexandra corset with triple lacing
Photo © Perry Gallagher
If you've outgrown - or outshrunk - your old Dark Garden corsets, bring them in between June 18th and July 17th to be assessed for consignment. You can opt to get cash or Dark Garden store credit if your corset sells at the rummage sale. Corsets must be dry cleaned and in good condition to be eligible; only Dark Garden corsets can be sold at our rummage sale. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com with, "Rummage sale consignment," in the subject line to make arrangements for consigning your Dark Garden corset.

Please RSVP to the event on Facebook and share it with your friends - the rummage sale is a crazy day, and it's also an absolute blast. There are plenty of other things to see, do, and eat in Hayes Valley while you're in the neighborhood. We'll see you there!

Couture Dollymop Ensemble
Photo © Danger Ninja

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Friday, April 17, 2015

How to Break In a Dark Garden Corset

We often equate corset shopping to shoe shopping. Like shoes, if you only have one corset that you wear everyday, it will wear out more quickly. And like new shoes, your corset might need a little bit of time to break in and mold to your body. If you're wondering how long this process should take and how you should do it, this is the article for you! Much of this information is aimed at waist trainers, but even if you're just wearing your corset for a special occasion like a wedding you may have wondered about breaking in your new corset.

Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Dark Garden Bespoke "Sweetheart" Corset
Photo © Perry Gallagher
Our proprietress, Autumn Adamme, has been making corsets for over 25 years, and, having grown up in a historic costuming community, has been wearing them for over 30. You can see she has a lot of experience to draw on when designing the construction, fit, and wear of our handmade beauties!

Your new Dark Garden corset should fit you well from the get-go. Don't worry about "seasoning" your new corset, be it Ready-to-Wear, Personalized Made-to-Order, or Bespoke, to make it fit. Your new corset should lace to a gap of 2-3", with the ribs and hips just flush against the sides of your body, and a comfortable compression at the waist. If you are "seasoning" your corset with only the waist actually touching your body, you may as well just be wearing a belt! Part of the reason to train with a corset instead of a belt is that you support your guts while you make your waist more pliable.
If you train too far without this support for your belly, you will encourage that below the waist bulge that very few people like. Additionally, wearing your corsets with a too-wide gap strains the bones at the back of the corset and can cause them to twist in their channels or warp the fabric.

Dark Garden "Cincher"
Model: Nicole Simone
Photo © Joel Aron
When you first pick up your new corset, wearing it at the standard 2" lacing gap might seem a bit too snug. Breaking in a corset, especially for first-time corset wearers, is also about training your body to understand the compression/redistribution and newly improved posture. With your body heat, the fibers of the fabric will over time relax and mold around your unique body shape and the corset itself becomes more pliable. The waist should stay fairly stable, because of the waist tape running the circumference of that area.

Here at Dark Garden, we do have an organic process of "breaking  in" our corsets. It is a much more relaxed process than the "seasoning" espoused by many. The nuance in vernacular seems defined by common use, different methods to achieve the same goal.

  • Simply lace your corset as tight as you find comfortable.
  • Leave it on as long as you can, going about the sorts of activities you expect to experience while wearing your corset in the long run.
  • Do this as often as is practical.
  • If you're waist training, this will seamlessly translate to wearing your corset at its designated 2" gap on a daily basis.
  • In other words, just wear your corset, but don't overlace.
Dark Garden Bespoke "Cut Out Victorian"
Model: Anneka Quellhorst
Photo © Edward Saenz / Ultravolta Photography
A well-fitted corset should sit pretty flush against your ribs and hips immediately, as would be assessed by our trained fitters on any visitors to our San Francisco boutique. Our company policy is to only sell corsets that are a good fit in both size and shape: a corset that stands away from the ribs and hips to a noticeable extent can chafe and create pressure points instead of support. Unless you are actively losing weight, your brand new corset should fit well with a gap that is no more than 1" wider than the final lacing gap measurement. In most cases, this means that you will have a 3" gap for first wear, and eventually settle to the standard 2". If the corset and your body are in perfect harmony, feel free to wear your corset perfectly laced to its 2" gap immediately, for as long as you like.

Breaking in a corset should not be the mechanism that makes it fit. Breaking in a corset makes it more comfortable to wear, especially for longer periods of time.

Dark Garden "Grable" corset
Photo © Joel Aron

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Corset Boudoir Returns: April 25

Dark Garden is pleased as punch to bring back our beloved Corset Boudoir this spring! On April 25, 2015, from 5 to 10 pm, you are invited to book a session with our featured photographer Chris Gaede. Pamper yourself with an intimate evening of glamorous boudoir photographer and luxe corsetry at Dark Garden's boutique at 321 Linden St., San Francisco.
Dark Garden Risqué Cincher
Model: Miss If-N'-Whendy
Photo © Chris Gaede
Chris Gaede was a great hit at the 2013 season of the Dickens Fair, and I've had the personal pleasure of posing for Chris on several occasions. He is incredibly skilled with light and fantastic at making non-models feel at ease while nailing beautiful shots in-camera.

Dark Garden Sweetheart
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Chris Gaede
Photography sessions may be scheduled beginning at 5:00 pm; allow for up to two hours total time for complete styling and your private boudoir experience. Availability is limited so please reserve your sitting early with a non-refundable deposit. Call 415-431-7684 to book. Wardrobe is, of course, provided by expert Dark Garden stylists, featuring Dark Garden Corsetry for all participants. Bring your own intimates and shoes to complete your ensemble. Expert hair and makeup artists (Danielle Blanchet of Sublime Salon and Lee Stewart, respectively) will also be on-hand should you wish to upgrade your experience. Also included are an 8"x10" print and 10% off any corset purchases - a value of $25-$150! Additional prints and digital images may be ordered online after your session.

Photo © Chris Gaede
All packages include:
Personal styling, including corset fitting & rental
Photo session
Online gallery for additional images
Private shopping
10% off corset purchases
Sneak peak photo print

Dark Garden Risqué Sweetheart and Tailored Cincher.
Client image used with permission.
Photo © Chris Gaede
The following packages are available; additional prints and high-res image galleries may be purchased after your shoot.

Classic Shoot, $75
Personal styling
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Swanky Set, $135
Personal styling
Professional hair or makeup
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Deluxe Experience, $195
Personal styling
Professional makeup artist
Professional hair styling
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Prints and Image Galleries are available directly from your photographer after the shoot.
Prints begin at $15
Single digital images from $25
Digital galleries from $75

Photo © Chris Gaede
Want to hear about events in The Corset Boudoir before everyone else?  Sign up for our mailing list and be the first to hear about upcoming sessions and upgrades to the program!  Never miss out on shooting with your favorite photographer (we almost always book solid for each event); early notification means you get first pick of session times.  No worries about cluttering your inbox - you'll only hear from us a few times a year.

Dark Garden Dollymop Overbust
Photo © Chris Gaede

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Read More

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Double the Brides, Double the Fun!

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
What a week, what a month! Now that the hectic rush of Pride is past, we have a moment to breathe and share some lovely staged bridal photos we took with Jim Vetter. (No, Autumn and I aren't getting married! I'll be marrying a different curvaceous, talented, creative brunette this October... and of course, Dark Garden is making our gowns!)

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Here at Dark Garden, we've had the pleasure of working with many, many queer couples to create ensembles for their weddings. After the back-and-forth battleground that California was, we are so very thrilled that gay marriage is now a right across all 50 states. It's been a joy for all of us to watch the news and see couples across the entire country have the opportunity to (legally) express their devotion and commitment, and have access to all the vital partnership opportunities that affords.

Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Autumn Adamme in a bridal Dollymop Lancer corset ensemble
Victoria Dagger in a bridal Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter
Thank you to all of those who participated in, facilitated, and enjoyed our fashion show at the Pride VIP party on Sunday. It was a pleasure to be involved with a cause that is so important to all of us here at Dark Garden.

Victoria Dagger
in a bridal 
Alexandra corset ensemble
Photo © Jim Vetter 

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Waist Training with Dark Garden Corsets


This post was originally written on MissDarkGarden.Tumblr.com, as part of Autumn's Daily Corset Posts series.

I was recently asked to provide some bite-sized information on waist training, including what type of garment is best suited. What follows is more than a bite or two, but easily digestible at one sitting.
Dark Garden Bespoke "Underbust Victorian"
in Peach Fireworks Brocade Coutil
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
Many things can be used to train the waist, but none is better than a shapely corset. Corsets reduce the waist by compressing the waistline, but also comfortably supporting the ribs and hips. Some “waist trainers” being sold simply compress the whole mid-section, a far less comfortable approach, as this squeezes the ribs, resulting in the notorious inability to breathe. In addition, many waist trainers are stretchy and have no boning, which means they have the potential to roll up into a small band: uncomfortable, and liable to create unsightly bulges above and below the waistline. Well-made corsets are supported with steel boning, which keeps the length of the corset consistent, no matter how snugly the corset is pulled.

Dark Garden "Cincher"
in Signature Collection Red Silk Satin
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
Waist training works by gradually reducing the areas of the body that are being compressed. This is another reason why it’s important to have a garment that is shapely and fits you well. Some people believe you can “season” a corset into fitting by starting out with something that is large for the ribs and hips, but only snug at the waist. This has the potential of not only intestinal discomfort, but training the organs down into the lower abdominal region, since in that situation there would be no support. A corset that is comfortably snug over the hips and tummy can actually create a flatter stomach than the wearer starts out with.

To make progress, frequent, comfortably snug wear is more superior to infrequent, very tight lacing. It’s very much like results from exercise and diet - the better your habits are, the more progress you make. Likewise, as soon as you go off your program, your results begin to diminish. There is not a hard or fast rule about how much you have to wear a corset to make progress, but again, like exercise, if you do it once a week, your progress will be less than if you wear it moderately for a little while every day, or even every other day. That said, even once a week will get you more progress than never starting!

Dark Garden "Valentine"
in Signature Collection Red Silk Satin
Model: Allie Diane
Photo © Joel Aron
Most people are able to begin with a standard-sized corset before eventually graduating to wanting a custom or bespoke corset. The majority of waist trainers use an underbust corset on a daily basis, but some women with fuller bustlines are very happy to have the bust support of well-made overbust corsets as well.
Dark Garden "Corselette"
in Signature Collection Black Lace Overlay
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
At Dark Garden, we developed our unique ready-to-wear corset patterns after years of making exclusively custom sized corsets, and put the information we gathered there into creating some of the shapeliest, most comfortable corsets available anywhere. We continue to refine our patterns, and add styles as needed. With us, most waist trainers begin with our Cincher or our Cupid, a more shapely underbust corset. Those that are shorter waisted or just want a nip at the waist enjoy wearing the Corselette or Waspie. Many eventually go on to have a bespoke Underbust Victorian or Underbust Edwardian custom fit to their body via exhaustive measurements and multiple mock-up fittings.

Dark Garden Bespoke "Underbust Victorian"
in Peach Fireworks Brocade Coutil
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
As someone who has worn corsets both lightly laced and very tightly laced for more than 20 years, I firmly believe that good corsets can feel absolutely wonderful - comfortable and supportive - but there are plenty of poorly made and uncomfortable corsets on the market, especially these days. I recommend looking for a corset that creates more of this } { shape (an hourglass with a defined waist), than this ) ( shape (a shallowly flared tube).
Dark Garden "Cincher"
in Signature Collection Black Silk Satin
Model: Dwoira Galilea
Photo © Joel Aron
Quality materials and boning are more important than one might expect. You don’t want cheap steel, because it can break, causing damage to the corset and wearer. It needs to be made well, because a poorly constructed corset will twist around the body, which can cause back problems - just like wearing a back brace that forces your body into a poor posture and holds it there.

Lastly, make sure you’re putting your corset on properly, as this can make or break your corset wearing experience - if the corset is too high on the body, or tilted forward, it will put pressure on the ribs, making breathing difficult. The waistline should be parallel to the floor. Here’s a lacing video we made, all about lacing someone else into a corset - no bedposts or knees required! If you think you can’t put a corset on yourself - here you go!

Dark Garden "Underbust Victorian"
Photo © Chris Gaede
-Autumn Adamme
Proprietress


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dark Garden's Inclusivity Policy

Dee and Nya from AsiaSF, another San Francisco mainstay of the queer community,
trying on Dark Garden corsets.
Inclusivity Policy
It always has been and always will be our policy at Dark Garden to assist all customers and try to meet their needs to the best of our abilities. Gay, bi, straight, cis, trans, or genderqueer, etc., our door is open to everyone. Through our bespoke corsets and couture, we love to build corsets that express our client's individuality. Our boutique staff are trained to fit the styles from our ready-to-wear line on any body, and we can execute minor alterations on these styles to personalize them to your form. Whether you are looking to waist train to enhance a feminine physique or invest in a butch, shoulder-emphasizing, tailored vest corset, we promise your needs will be met with sensitivity and care.

From left to right:
Associate Designer Kalico Delafay in a Dollymop Cavalry corset
Proprietress Autumn Adamme in a Risqué Cincher
Production Manager Kristin Argue in a Dollymop Lancer corset
Photo © Joel Aron
A Queer-Owned Business
Dark Garden is not only a woman-owned, queer-friendly business, we are queer-owned! Our atmosphere of acceptance has attracted not only San Francisco's legendary gay community as clientele, but also as our employees. The overwhelming majority of our staff identify along the LGBTQ spectrum, though of course our self-identified straight employees are equally welcomed. Our team is a very close-knit group, fostering a playful atmosphere in the workroom where we create our corsets, each one individually made to order.

Dark Garden Corselette and Jacob corsets
Photo © Joel Aron
Our History
"Is this a new shop?" is a question we probably get at least once a week. Tucked away at 321 Linden St, a small side street in Hayes Valley, our boutique and atelier is nestled cozily next to Blue Bottle Coffee. Despite our bright purple exterior, many people don't even realize we're here. But not only have we been in Hayes Valley for over 15 years, we've been in business in San Francisco since 1989, and it's been our pleasure to serve the gay and fetish communities since our inception. As you can imagine, the cultural landscape of San Francisco has changed a lot in the intervening 26 years. In that time, we have made corsets for hundreds of queer, trans, and cross-dressing clients.

Dark Garden Pointed Victorian with straps
Photo © Joel Aron
Celebrate Pride with Us
Our doors are open six days a week. We invite you to stop by for a consultation at the 321 Linden St. boutique during business hours and be dazzled by the array of corsetry options. Not only has it been our joy to serve our local queer community but we are so grateful for the support we have received from that community through the years. We would not be the business we are today without that support and collaboration!

We will be tea modeling our couture fashions at the Gay Pride VIP party on June 28 from 2-5pm. See you there!


Marianne and Autumn, getting faux married in
bridal Alexandra and bridal Dollymop Lancer ensembles
Photo © Jim Vetter


~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Monday, June 1, 2015

On Wings: Introducing Dark Garden's Newest Underbust Corset, the Cupid

Dark Garden Cupid & Dollymop Gown
Model: Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
After careful development, we are thrilled to herald the arrival of our newest underbust corset style: the Cupid. The Cupid is the underbust version of our best-selling Valentine corset. If your hourglass is more than half-full, then the Cupid is for you.

Dark Garden Cupid & Dollymop Gown
Model: Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Photo © Chris Gaede
The Cupid features ten shapely panels with double boning on each seam, for a total of 22 spring steel bones plus a sturdy German busk. Most of our ready-to-wear styles are eight panel construction; the extra panels of the Cupid and Valentine allow for smoother and more dramatic curves. In sizes 28 and up, the Cupid has an even more pronounced hip spring that accommodates the extra compression that is possible in those sizes. As compared to the Cincher, you will find the Cupid to be even more supportive, having a bust-framing point at the center front and a slight high back to encourage smooth lines.


Dark Garden Cupid
Model: Tuesday Blues
Photo © Chris Gaede
We currently have the Cupid available in sizes 24" through 34", as measured at the waist. We will soon be offering it in our complete 18" to 38" size run, in store and online. Visit our 321 Linden St. boutique, where our staff will help fit you in a corset of the correct size and even measure you for any fit personalizations you may need. The Cupid starts at $335 in basic black poplin - an excellent choice for beginning waist training. Come try on the Cupid and get struck by love's arrow!

Dark Garden Risqué Waspie
Photo © Chris Gaede

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Monday, May 25, 2015

Annual Corset Rummage Sale, July 19

Anneka in a bespoke Baroque corset
Photo © Betsy Kershner
The curviest event of the year is nearly upon us! Join Dark Garden on July 19th for our annual rummage sale, the biggest single-day event of the year. Savvy shoppers line up on Linden St. before we open to get first dibs on an selection of archive, unworn bespoke samples, and gently loved pre-owned corsets, as well as discounted stock corsets, clothing, accessories, and studio odds and ends.


Dark Garden Annual Rummage Sale
Sunday, July 19, 11am-6pm
Dark Garden Unique Corsetry
321 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-431-7684

Here's what you can expect to find at our rummage sale:
  • Corset raffle! A single $5 ticket could win you a made-to-order corset from our Signature Collection
  • Corsets and ensembles from our archive and fashion shows on sale
  • Unworn bespoke sample corsets, deeply discounted from their list price
  • Pre-loved corsets, sold on consignment from their previous owners
  • 10% discount on in-stock corsets and accessories made by Dark Garden
  • Deeper discounts on select Dark Garden stock corsets and accessories
  • Last-season garments and accessories on sale
  • Fabric remnants from the studio
  • Vintage patterns
  • All manner of miscellany
Anuka in a Signature Collection Cincher
Photo © Joel Aron
We will also be doing ready-to-wear fittings and taking commissions for made-to-order corsetry. However, please note that we will not be doing bespoke corset measuring on this date. You may start an order for a bespoke corset at the rummage sale and schedule an appointment to come back for a measurement intake. This is to ensure the highest quality of service and accuracy for the first step of the bespoke process... and guarantee the availability of a fitting room!

Autumn in a leather Alexandra corset with triple lacing
Photo © Perry Gallagher
If you've outgrown - or outshrunk - your old Dark Garden corsets, bring them in between June 18th and July 17th to be assessed for consignment. You can opt to get cash or Dark Garden store credit if your corset sells at the rummage sale. Corsets must be dry cleaned and in good condition to be eligible; only Dark Garden corsets can be sold at our rummage sale. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com with, "Rummage sale consignment," in the subject line to make arrangements for consigning your Dark Garden corset.

Please RSVP to the event on Facebook and share it with your friends - the rummage sale is a crazy day, and it's also an absolute blast. There are plenty of other things to see, do, and eat in Hayes Valley while you're in the neighborhood. We'll see you there!

Couture Dollymop Ensemble
Photo © Danger Ninja

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Friday, April 17, 2015

How to Break In a Dark Garden Corset

We often equate corset shopping to shoe shopping. Like shoes, if you only have one corset that you wear everyday, it will wear out more quickly. And like new shoes, your corset might need a little bit of time to break in and mold to your body. If you're wondering how long this process should take and how you should do it, this is the article for you! Much of this information is aimed at waist trainers, but even if you're just wearing your corset for a special occasion like a wedding you may have wondered about breaking in your new corset.

Proprietress Autumn Adamme
Dark Garden Bespoke "Sweetheart" Corset
Photo © Perry Gallagher
Our proprietress, Autumn Adamme, has been making corsets for over 25 years, and, having grown up in a historic costuming community, has been wearing them for over 30. You can see she has a lot of experience to draw on when designing the construction, fit, and wear of our handmade beauties!

Your new Dark Garden corset should fit you well from the get-go. Don't worry about "seasoning" your new corset, be it Ready-to-Wear, Personalized Made-to-Order, or Bespoke, to make it fit. Your new corset should lace to a gap of 2-3", with the ribs and hips just flush against the sides of your body, and a comfortable compression at the waist. If you are "seasoning" your corset with only the waist actually touching your body, you may as well just be wearing a belt! Part of the reason to train with a corset instead of a belt is that you support your guts while you make your waist more pliable.
If you train too far without this support for your belly, you will encourage that below the waist bulge that very few people like. Additionally, wearing your corsets with a too-wide gap strains the bones at the back of the corset and can cause them to twist in their channels or warp the fabric.

Dark Garden "Cincher"
Model: Nicole Simone
Photo © Joel Aron
When you first pick up your new corset, wearing it at the standard 2" lacing gap might seem a bit too snug. Breaking in a corset, especially for first-time corset wearers, is also about training your body to understand the compression/redistribution and newly improved posture. With your body heat, the fibers of the fabric will over time relax and mold around your unique body shape and the corset itself becomes more pliable. The waist should stay fairly stable, because of the waist tape running the circumference of that area.

Here at Dark Garden, we do have an organic process of "breaking  in" our corsets. It is a much more relaxed process than the "seasoning" espoused by many. The nuance in vernacular seems defined by common use, different methods to achieve the same goal.

  • Simply lace your corset as tight as you find comfortable.
  • Leave it on as long as you can, going about the sorts of activities you expect to experience while wearing your corset in the long run.
  • Do this as often as is practical.
  • If you're waist training, this will seamlessly translate to wearing your corset at its designated 2" gap on a daily basis.
  • In other words, just wear your corset, but don't overlace.
Dark Garden Bespoke "Cut Out Victorian"
Model: Anneka Quellhorst
Photo © Edward Saenz / Ultravolta Photography
A well-fitted corset should sit pretty flush against your ribs and hips immediately, as would be assessed by our trained fitters on any visitors to our San Francisco boutique. Our company policy is to only sell corsets that are a good fit in both size and shape: a corset that stands away from the ribs and hips to a noticeable extent can chafe and create pressure points instead of support. Unless you are actively losing weight, your brand new corset should fit well with a gap that is no more than 1" wider than the final lacing gap measurement. In most cases, this means that you will have a 3" gap for first wear, and eventually settle to the standard 2". If the corset and your body are in perfect harmony, feel free to wear your corset perfectly laced to its 2" gap immediately, for as long as you like.

Breaking in a corset should not be the mechanism that makes it fit. Breaking in a corset makes it more comfortable to wear, especially for longer periods of time.

Dark Garden "Grable" corset
Photo © Joel Aron

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Corset Boudoir Returns: April 25

Dark Garden is pleased as punch to bring back our beloved Corset Boudoir this spring! On April 25, 2015, from 5 to 10 pm, you are invited to book a session with our featured photographer Chris Gaede. Pamper yourself with an intimate evening of glamorous boudoir photographer and luxe corsetry at Dark Garden's boutique at 321 Linden St., San Francisco.
Dark Garden Risqué Cincher
Model: Miss If-N'-Whendy
Photo © Chris Gaede
Chris Gaede was a great hit at the 2013 season of the Dickens Fair, and I've had the personal pleasure of posing for Chris on several occasions. He is incredibly skilled with light and fantastic at making non-models feel at ease while nailing beautiful shots in-camera.

Dark Garden Sweetheart
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Chris Gaede
Photography sessions may be scheduled beginning at 5:00 pm; allow for up to two hours total time for complete styling and your private boudoir experience. Availability is limited so please reserve your sitting early with a non-refundable deposit. Call 415-431-7684 to book. Wardrobe is, of course, provided by expert Dark Garden stylists, featuring Dark Garden Corsetry for all participants. Bring your own intimates and shoes to complete your ensemble. Expert hair and makeup artists (Danielle Blanchet of Sublime Salon and Lee Stewart, respectively) will also be on-hand should you wish to upgrade your experience. Also included are an 8"x10" print and 10% off any corset purchases - a value of $25-$150! Additional prints and digital images may be ordered online after your session.

Photo © Chris Gaede
All packages include:
Personal styling, including corset fitting & rental
Photo session
Online gallery for additional images
Private shopping
10% off corset purchases
Sneak peak photo print

Dark Garden Risqué Sweetheart and Tailored Cincher.
Client image used with permission.
Photo © Chris Gaede
The following packages are available; additional prints and high-res image galleries may be purchased after your shoot.

Classic Shoot, $75
Personal styling
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Swanky Set, $135
Personal styling
Professional hair or makeup
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Deluxe Experience, $195
Personal styling
Professional makeup artist
Professional hair styling
Photo session
Sneak peak photo print

Prints and Image Galleries are available directly from your photographer after the shoot.
Prints begin at $15
Single digital images from $25
Digital galleries from $75

Photo © Chris Gaede
Want to hear about events in The Corset Boudoir before everyone else?  Sign up for our mailing list and be the first to hear about upcoming sessions and upgrades to the program!  Never miss out on shooting with your favorite photographer (we almost always book solid for each event); early notification means you get first pick of session times.  No worries about cluttering your inbox - you'll only hear from us a few times a year.

Dark Garden Dollymop Overbust
Photo © Chris Gaede

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere