Want an hour-glass figure? Corset shop makes it a real cinch
Holywood mum Nicola McIlhagger tells Una Brankin why her online firm is in really great shape
That famous Instagram shot of Kim Kardashian in a waist-training corset has led to a boom in sales for good old-fashioned strumpet lingerie. The modern version of the midriff-moulder comes with the added attraction of weight-loss properties - based on the theory that regular wearing helps to reduce the size of the wearer's waist.
Sounds too good to be true?
Not according to the local businesswoman behind Cinch Corsets. With her enviable hour-glass figure, Nicola McIlhagger is living, breathing proof of her hand-stitched product's appeal.
"A good friend of mine had bought one like Kim K's online last Christmas - I thought the idea of it was great but the quality was terrible, and it was very uncomfortable to wear," says the mother-of-one from Helen's Bay.
"The magazines were full of pictures of Kim in the gym with this amazing silhouette, and I started to look for something a little bit more upmarket - and hopefully more comfy - than my friend's, but they were all the same.
"Then, it suddenly occurred to me that, maybe, I could come up with a better design.
"I mentioned it to my friend Angela - by this stage she had given up on the cheap one she'd bought - and she thought it was a great idea, so we sat down and designed what was to become our very own luxury version, and within a couple of months we had a sample made that we were absolutely thrilled with."
Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, Nicola and her friend, Angela Hunter, from Holywood, set up their company, Cinch Corsets, the very next day.
"We came up with the name - Cinch - in a flash. We'd come up with something that literally cinches in the waist - it does what it says on the tin. In two weeks our corsets were selling like hot cakes and Angela dropped a dress size within a month," she says.
A trim size 10, Nicola's keen to recommend healthy eating and exercise for weight loss, but she's convinced a Cinch Corset can give a helping hand, beyond the impressive instant results.
"Quite simply, the corset compresses the stomach and holds it in, which has an immediate slimming effect, but we use latex material which can also help to attack unwanted fat and impurities within your body," she says.
"It creates a micro-massage when you're wearing it and that allows your body to rid itself of harsh toxins and impurities, through increased perspiration.
"The strong compression fabric helps strengthen the core, working it continually, and that radically improves your posture - which reduces back pain and relieves pressure. I work at a desk in an office all day and I can really notice the difference from sitting up straighter."
A mortgage adviser by profession, Nicola sought the advice of a contact she had in a latex manufacturing plant in south east Asia to create a fabric that wouldn't chafe the skin.
"Comfort is key with this corset and that's why we recommend getting measured to buy the correct size," she says. "If it is too small, like any garment, it will be uncomfortable. And I've heard of girls wearing waist-trainers all night - we definitely don't recommend that. You should build up gradually to six hours a day. It will naturally feel a little stiff in the beginning, but then it moulds to your body.
"In the first few weeks of wearing the corset, you mustn't over-train. Like any exercise, you have to warm your body up and get used to it. You should gradually add an hour or two to your daily waist-training regime until you are able to wear the corset throughout the entire day, ideally."
The cotton-lined corset comes in nude, black and hot pink - the latter being popular with gym bunnies. It has three sets of clasps, but no rib-poking wire.
Nicola says: "We advise starting on the first set of clasps, then moving on to use the second set to make the corset tighter. As your waist becomes smaller, the corset should become more comfortable. Then you can progress to the next size down as part of your continued waist-reduction regime, keeping in mind that individual's body shapes and requirements can vary."
Eye-popping waistlines aside, Nicola's brand has also just launched Booty Full knickers, which lift the buttocks - a godsend for flat-bottomed girls everywhere.
"They don't train the derriere, as such, but they can make your butt look great in a pair of jeans," laughs Nicola. "It's amazing how underwear can redefine your shape these days and it's great for giving you confidence to wear flattering clothes you wouldn't dream of without a little hidden support."
- Cinch Corsets can be ordered online at www.cinchcorsets.co.uk or from stockist La Bella Vita Hair and Beauty, 767 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT16 2QY, tel: 028 9048 0530
‘It’s basically a quick fix that gets results’
Hairdresser Clare Brown (20), from Comber, has dropped a dress size, from 12 to 10, since she started wearing her Cinch Corset a months ago. Clare says:
I'd always been a size eight to 10, but I've been in a relationship for three years and put on weight gradually. I went up to a size 12 and have love handles - the usual.
We're so busy in the salon, and the chippie and McDonalds are on our doorstep - far too handy. I tried personal training and all the usual fad diets, but nothing seemed to work for me.
I could stick to a diet for about a week and, like anyone, the temptation soon crept back in and the weight would come back on.
The Cinch corset basically is a quick fix that actually gives results - it does sound like magic but it genuinely works.
It has health benefits, too; it corrects your posture. I think it should be the law for all women to have them.
All this stuff you hear about crushed ribs and internal organs is only from women buying cheaper products that are too small, usually online. Sizing is the key - you need to be measured properly and fitted, then you gradually build up how tight you wear the corset, and how long for.
My boyfriend, Chris, loves it. I put on a black dress I'd worn to a hen party once, back when I was size eight to 10, and he nearly fell off the sofa.
"He was very happy."
Train waist to drop size
- Claire's waist measurements before waist training: 36.5
- Dress size before waist training: 12
- Measurements four weeks after waist training: 34.5
- Dress size after four weeks after waist training: 10