Your first corset will probably be only about 2 inches smaller than your natural waist measurement. If you close the lacing entirely you will probably feel a little bit of uncomfort, but you'll be well able to stand it, I'm sure. Some weeks or even some days later you will notice that it is no longer tight, you'll in fact hardly notice anything any more. Now the time has come to put on a tighter corset, which has a waistline of about 4 inches less than your unlaced waistline. Now try to close the laces. It will probably feel a bit uncomfortable again, maybe even more than with the first corset. But after some time you will have got accustomed to this corset as well. Principally you could go on like that, but judging by experience I can say that the waist should not be laced in smaller than by 20-25% of its natural measurement at the beginning of the lacing to maintain a tolerable level of comfort. If your natural waist measurement is, say, 65cm, you can lace it by about 13-16cm, that is a resulting waistband of 49-52cm.
The period of becoming accustomed to corset-wearing usually takes some weeks or months; that depends on the wearer's physique and robustness; but after a certain period of time all women can get used to corsets. This is not idle talk, I have experienced it myself; and it corresponds to the experiences of all other corsetting women whom I know! My natural waistline is 58cm. Usually I lace it down to 44cm, that is to say 75% of the normal width. And I feel comfortable with it.
In case you are one of the more ambitious ladies, you can stick to the following details, which are based on recommendations of ladies who lace or laced themselves very tight; a part of them was written during the great period of the corset, about 100 years ago. According to them there are three methods to find out the smallest possible and the smallest advisable waist measurement. The first says that the target waist should be smaller by 25cm than the natural waist. A natural waist measurement of 65cm would then measure 40cm at the end. The disadvantage of this method is that the waist reduction is not dependent on the natural waistline. The second method takes the bust circumference as a basis. According to this method a moderate waist reduction would end up in a waist measurement of 5/8 of the bust circumference with the minimal waistline not under half the bust. An example: a woman with a bust of 85cm would have the following waist measurements: moderately laced 53cm, minimally laced 42cm. This method has the advantage that it takes the proportions into account and thus creates a well-proportioned figure. The third and last method suggests that the waist measurement should be a bit smaller than that of the thigh, which is advantageous in so far as body proportions and indirectly the body weight and amount of body fat are taken into account. So you can look well-proportioned after having changed your figure (i.e. by losing or gaining weight). The three methods described in this paragraph require more intensive preparation in order to get accustomed to them than those I mentioned above. But if you use the corset consequently you can feel quite comfortable in a rather tightly laced corset.
I'd like to add something concerning the period of becoming accustomed to corsets: I assume that you sometimes wear high-heeled shoes (7-9cm of height). Here it's similar as with corsets: You have to walk in them for a certain time in order to get used to them. And if you want to wear even higher heels you once again have to get accustomed to them. It has been my experience (and that of all other corsetting ladies whom I know) that it is easier to get used to corsets than to get used to high-heeled shoes!
By the way: You can easily reduce your waist by several centimeters by losing some pounds.
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