This year’s Mardi Gras marks the anniversary of my first year as a bonafide citizen of New Orleans and my second Carnival season. Despite living here for a year, my costume closet is woefully under stocked. To remedy this egregious error, I booked an appointment at Trashy Diva with Lindsay Davis for a corset fitting. The idea is that with a corset, many getups are possible.

Davis, who recently began learning the art of burlesque, told me the corset costumers are comprised mostly of those like me who are fleshing out their costume collection. The retailer also caters to those on the Goth, Rockabilly and burlesque scenes.

After chatting for a few minutes about my needs, wants and concerns, Davis measured my waist. My natural waist is a 31, making me between sizes. Normally, she recommends going down four sizes, but for my “between size” waist, she suggested a 26. With no size 26 in stock, we opted for a 27.

I tried on a custom-fitted, eyelet-front, lace-up back, handmade underbust corset with steel boning in front and back. The underbust style goes between the hips and, as you may have guessed, under the bust. Corsets also come in overbust styles that come down over the stomach area. Each style offers a different look, so try on both before making your decision. At Trashy Diva, they vary from about $195 to $395, depending on the style and fabric (satin, taffeta, brocade and lace are the most popular) and whether or not you go for a custom version. If you want one for this year’s Mardi Gras, order now and be flexible with your fabric choices, in case the corsetier (male) or corsetière (female) doesn’t have the material you picked in stock, as there wouldn’t be time at this point to order it and get it to you.

I was able to breathe fairly normally, as well as sit and stand back up without issue. However, I attribute the not-too-restricted breathing to many years spent playing the trumpet and the sitting and standing ability to the fact that my mother drilled into me from an early age to suck in my tummy and stand up straight. That said, I have an all-new respect for our foremothers. We should all give thanks that we are no longer expected to wear them, but I must say, a four-inch waist reduction, plus perfect posture in the span of a few seconds and the foundation of multiple costumes, is rather amazing.