Dressing the Part – Corsets, Torture, & Voyeuristic Pirates

Song of the Day: Pain by Three Days Grace

The woman, a complete stranger, left me winded, dizzy. Like a thief, she stole my breath away and along with it, my good sense. Reining me into her designs armed with nothing more than a scrap of leather.

What’s this all about?

Since my passion is writing fun, steamy, adventuresome pirate romances, I’ve been toying with the idea of dressing the part – for appearances and book signings, of course. Last week, I visited a boutique, The Spotted Pony, in historic Old Town Spring. The shop specializes in Renaissance and pirate paraphernalia, including authentic clothing. Its proprietor is a saucy sort, old enough to be my grandmother and sharp of tongue. She was eager to help me once I explained why I was shopping in her unique store. In hindsight, she might have been too eager.

She produced a leather corset from behind the counter. An investment, she insisted. Now, I recently lost 40 pounds, but when she said the corset was a size 30 in the waist, I laughed. She suggested it was too big. I disagreed considering I couldn’t get the damned thing to latch around my ribcage. I wondered if I might have peeved the woman for chuckling as she slapped down on the counter a corset the next size smaller. She was either a witchy woman ready to deliver spite upon me or a tarot card short of a complete deck.

She had me unlace the corset while she rang out another customer. When I misunderstood and removed the laces instead, she chastised me with a wag of her finger and the shake of her head. Hey, in my defense, I write about taking these things off, not putting them on.

I followed her to the not-so-private dressing room. Ironically, I shared the space with a life-size cutout of Will Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean. Not that I minded. After finally attaching the first button (I swear it took five whole minutes!), I was drenched in sweat. Oh, but we had only just begun.

The crazy proprietor tells me to turn around so she can lace me up. Tugging away, she tells me she has arthritis and may not be able to tighten the corset completely. Really? Imagine, if you will, the scene in Gone With The Wind with Mammy lacing Scarlett’s corset. All that yanking and cringing … I’m holding onto the door jam, giggling like a crazed fool, as the lunatic conducts torture with her arthritic hands. I half expected her to brace her foot against the wall for leverage as hard as she pulled. It’s all fun and games until someone cracks a rib.

All blood flow had been cut off to my brain, my vision blurred with the spinning of the room. Breathing had become a luxury and came only in short gasps. Good grief, by the time she was done, my boobs, which is one of my better assets, were eye level. I needed mirrors and a guide dog to walk across the room. No doubt the contraption was created by a man. Speaking of which, this is when I noticed the twenty-something man lingering by the same racks he’d been browsing before we started this cruel and unusual punishment. Hmm…

Perfect! the delightfully batty shopkeeper claimed. The lack of oxygen must have caused a momentary lapse in reasoning because I agreed. I bought the “investment”.

The things we do for our craft.

Have you ever dressed the part for your stories or bought something to help inspire you? Let me hear from you, but speak up. I can’t hear you over this heavy breathing.

27 Responses to Dressing the Part – Corsets, Torture, & Voyeuristic Pirates

  1. William says:

    I would normally have approximately 117 witty and clever comments to make on this one, but I’m laughing too hard to get my thoughts organized…:)

    Trust me, people, as funny as this is, it is NOTHING compared to hearing Jennifer *tell* the story, complete with gestures, acting out, etc. Not for nothing, but Christie just *might* have some competition with her World Famous Mattress Story….


  2. jbrayweber says:

    Only 117? Surely you are just being polite, William. Ha!

    BTW -I could never compete with Christie Craig’s famous mattress story. 🙂


  3. Tess says:


    Jenn, dear…could you imagine really wearing something like that every day??? It had to be torture. Growing up I was “big boned” my mom always said, but honestly I was built like a tank…overweight, very athletic and stumpy…so I used to wear girdles…It was like trying to squeeze a watermelon into a tube sock. I don’t know how I survived. Today I can’t stand bras that are are snug.


  4. jbrayweber says:

    Ugh, Tess! A girdle? Geez, And I thought pantyhose was torture. Good grief!
    And no, I could not imagine wearing a corset every day. Well…maybe. If I had a personal dresser, I should be able to afford that nanny, maid, chauffeur, cook, accountant, etc.Wearing a corset daily would be a small price to pay for the luxury of being a domestic goddess without the domestic part. HA!


  5. Nina Cordoba says:

    When I started reading, my first thought was, “Oh, man, I wanted to go to the pirate store with Jenn!” It sounded like fun…until all the torso torture began.

    Regarding dressing like a pirate, I was going to say Stephen King doesn’t go around made up to look like a fiend, but then I realized he doesn’t need to. (Just joking Stephen. Loved “On Writing,” by the way.)

    Have I ever bought anything that inspired me? Does brownie mix count?


  6. jbrayweber says:

    LOL! Nina, you are baaad. And you know you want to see me dressed up like a wench.

    No, brownie mix doesn’t count. Chocolate inspires most writer’s. Now, if you said you had a dog that closely resembled a chupacabra, well, now THAT would count. LOL!


  7. Jeff Salter says:

    I got nuthin’

    Well … I think corsets LOOK cool. For example, Kate Beckinsale (the girl who slayed vampires) in the movie “Van Helsing”.

    But I wouldn’t want to be strapped into one.

    I bruised some ribs once and wore a compression bandage for over a week. Does that count?


  8. jbrayweber says:

    Kate Beckinsale was so hot in that movie, especially in the red dress during the masquerade ball. What woman wouldn’t want to look like her?

    Sorry, Jeff, a compression bandage doesn’t even come close to counting. *snort*


  9. derekd says:

    Oh that is hilarious! Thank so much. I can assure you corsets were NOT invented by a man. Anything that takes that much time to strip off a woman could not have been created by a guy.

    In addition to Ms. Beckinsale’s Van Helsing and Underworld movies, you also have Carrie Ann Moss’s Trinity in the Matrix films for corset examples.

    Having been a sailor all my life, I would suggest loose and flowing over tight and restrictive for authenticity. Good luck!


  10. jbrayweber says:

    Hi derekd~

    LOL. “Anything that takes that much time to strip off a woman could not have been created by a guy.” You got me there. Speaking from experience *wink, wink*, I’d have to say you are right.

    Ooh…you’re a sailor. Ahoy matey!
    I’ve had an opportunity to sail on a brigantine once. If I were a pirate back “in the day” I’d want loose and flowing, too. It’s hot, there are ropes everywhere, and you need to flexible when hanging on. LOL!


  11. To Jeff, I say, “oh whatever- that sooooo does not count!”

    What a great story and I can picture the whole scene in my head, I actually used to wear a corset from time to time and it IS difficult to breathe. Don’t forget I have the poet’s shirt for you to wear!! Lookin’ good Ms. Jenn-


  12. jbrayweber says:

    Somehow, I’m surprised, and oddly not surprised you used to wear a corset. You have many secrets, my dear. 😉

    I do need to get that shirt from you. Otherwise, I’ll not be a romance writer, but a candidate for Playboy Magazine. LOL!


  13. Ruth Kenjura says:

    Now there is a new way to kill a character. (couldn’t resist) Those things had to have been created by the male of the species, just to torture the women- but I am courious–didn’t you try on any priate type/wench type clothing??? and if so– where are the pics.



  14. jbrayweber says:

    I knew someone would ask. I didn’t get the entire outfit. I thought I had the tunic and skirt already. But these items turned out to be more like a Halloween costume than clothing. I’m going back to get the rest of the ensemble, including a pirate hat. Once I’m complete, I’ll take pics to satisfy your curiosity.


  15. Too funny! Loved reading about it almost as much as hearing the delightful tale in person. LOL I can’t wait for the pictures!! You brave woman, you! 🙂


  16. jbrayweber says:

    Yeah, I guess I tell it better in person, since I talk with my hands. LOL!
    Thanks for being my audience, Missy! HA!


  17. Bethany says:

    You are one really, really brave woman, Jenn. I bet you didn’t take breathing easily for granted anymore LOL


  18. jbrayweber says:

    Hi Bethany~
    We’ll see how brave I am when I go out in public dressed like a pirate wench. I’ll probably have rum with me. Ha!


  19. Nina Cordoba says:

    Uh…may I point out that you said your skirt and cape were too much like a costume, but you were going back for the PIRATE HAT?

    Regardless, can I go with you when you go back? There might be a fun Christmas present in there for one of my family members. Oh, and the husband loves things that lace up, although I’m not willing to suffocate for his viewing pleasure.


  20. jbrayweber says:

    HAHA! I already have a costume pirate hat ala Jack Sparrow. This hat is more sturdy and authentic.
    And yes, you can tag along. But I might suggest if hubby is looking for things that laceup, it’s a different kind of shop he’ll want to visit. 😀


  21. Jenn,

    I’m right there with you. I’ve been collecting my wardrobe because I too have been planning to dress for book signings and cons.

    Would I do a corset? Yes, but I’m wondering if they have one to uhm…contain my upper half within the bounds of propriety.

    Loved your adventure! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Daughters of Avalon Publishing


  22. jbrayweber says:

    Hi Tambra~

    “Bounds” being the key word. I know what you mean. I’m a bit top heavy, myself. If you tip me over while wearing the corset, I’ll need one of those emergency alarm systems because I won’t be getting back up. AT least not without a lot of unladylike maneuvers. LOL!


  23. Emma says:

    Thank you for starting my morining with a laugh!

    If I had any thought of dressing like one of my characters, the laughter has chased it from my head. (Probably a good thing too!)


  24. jbrayweber says:

    So glad I could start off your day with a laugh, Emma. My work here is done. 🙂 But now I’m curious what kind of characters are in your books. My imagination is running wild!


  25. Francine Infortunio says:

    I’ve had a leather corset made for me. The guy who designed it had me put on a tee shirt and then proceded to tightly duct tape me into it starting at the hip and wrapping around me going up till I almost stopped breathing.
    Once I was about to faint, he took out a scissors and proceeded to carve out his design on me… his fingers sneaking under here and there. By then I wasn’t sure if his touch or the corset left me breathless. Memories…


  26. jbrayweber says:

    Corset, duct tape, scissors, fingers, breathless …Francine, I don’t think I need to tell you how this sounds. A prelude to an erotic story, maybe? *gasp*
    LOL! I bet those are some spicy memories. 😉


  27. […] me begin with a reminder. You may remember from a previous blog post, Dressing the Part – Corsets, Torture, & Voyeuristic Pirates, that I intended to dress as a pirate wench for books signings and bought a corset. Investment, I […]


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