Star Goes Colonial: How to get into stays

IMG_3031There are two kinds of stays in this world; front-lacing and back-lacing. I will be demonstrating the differences between the two in this blog. When I first started working at Colonial Williamsburg, I was beyond excited to get my costume. The idea of being in full colonial get up and doing my job was awesome. When I went for my fitting I could not have been more stoked. I tried on the stays and the costumer laced me up.

I felt like I was in the 18th century! I have an hourglass shape and let’s just say that the stays were working on me and I was working it. When I got into full costume for my first time I had to get my mom to help me get into the stays. I was sure that I would figure them out on my own, eventually. But with everything else that I had to manage, I thought that I would just let her do the lacing this time. When I got home, no one else was there. I tried to take the stays off myself and after 15 minutes of extreme discomfort and getting an earring ripped out, I managed to free myself.

The problem persisted as I continued to get more comfortable with the stays but still wasn’t able to dress myself. I asked my co-workers for tips and unfortunately, they all agreed that stays are a bitch to get in and out of. Finally, I went to the CDC (Costume Design Center) and the first person I talked to that wanted to instruct me was a tiny waif with no boobs. We clearly did not have the same problem here.

They told me to come back for a fitting and they would help me get in and out of the stays myself. So I brought my undergarments and a shift in and went to the fitting. It took over a half hour and my arms were killing me, but I got into the stays. I have now made a handy guide on how to get into back-lacing stays. I hope this helps everyone that is insane enough to do it themselves when they have 38G boobs.

Step 1. Loosen your stays until you can slip them over your head.

This will require more room than you think because no matter how big the stays look, you’re always fatter than that. Also, you have to get them over your boobs. So keep unlacing them, tubby.

Step 2. Put the stays on.

Rip out your hair from whatever style it was in, almost suffocate yourself, get the stays stuck on your shift’s bunched up shoulder.

Step 3. Adjust your boobs.

This is the easiest part.

Step 4. Start to pull the laces tight.

Your stays should be in a spiral lace. Twist your arm into an uncomfortable position in order to pull it to the left. Pull as tight as you can and go down the stays, continuing lacing until your arm locks up and the muscles start to burn. Get to the bottom and realize that they’re still not tight enough and you have to do it all over again.

Step 5. Cry.

You’re in pain, you’re frustrated, it’s been twenty minutes since you’ve started and you just want these damn things to be on you.

Step 6. Try again.

Pick up the lacing again. After your cry, your arm is a little less sore, so you can do it again. Start pulling the laces and immediately feel the pain from your twisted arm.

Step 7. Plead with a god of your choosing.

I preferred to invoke the name of Thor as he seems like the kind of god that would help a bitch out with her stays. But really, any god will be fine. As they will all have the same result. Which is nothing. It just comforts you momentarily. There isn’t a physical result.

Step 8. Give up and see who else is in the house that can help you.

You’ve had enough of these fucking stays. Time to cheat and cheat well.

Step 9. Get someone else to lace up your stays and get to work only 40 minutes late.

Good thing your bosses are dudes and they just trust you that stays are difficult enough to get into as they really are.


At the end of my instructional session with the costume designers, I told them flat out that this was not going to work and there was only one thing to do; I needed front-lacing stays. The costumers, seeing as how much trouble I had getting into those fucking stays, agreed immediately. I got my stays back about two weeks later with the front lacing added.

The first time getting into it was interesting as I had to do two sets of lacing. I recruited my mom to help me lace the back. The front laces completely to where it touches. Once the first time was done, the stays were set. Now, here is my guide to how to get into front-lacing stays:

Step 1. Lace up those stays like a motherfucking adult and go to work.

Self explanatory.


So for all of those big girls out there, don’t fuck around with the back-lacing shit. Get front-lacing stays and go about your day. It’s not worth the hassle or the pain.

For more in this series, click here.