Get Laced! Corset Lacing, Ribbon, and Bow Tattoos

Updated on February 8, 2016

Fit to Be Tied

Incurable romantics rejoice: the delicate trappings of the Victorian era are increasingly popular as tattoo designs.

There are thousands of new ideas for ribbons and bows, or perhaps even a full back-lacing corset design! I love the vintage look—tattered lace and swirling ribbons—and there are countless variations to make these tattoos your own, whether you like the traditional look or something more modern or even abstract.

The shape of lacing in relation to where it is on the body plays a huge part in the overall look, we'll look at how to figure out a layout that will work best for you and check out some ideas for inspiration too!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I love this watercolor-style bow on the back of the neck— so dainty!Ankle/calf wraparound ribbon & bow.Upper back only.Back of both calves.Down the ribs—good if you actually wear corsets and don't want your ink interfering with the look of your laces (like me!)Regular & tattered bows on wrists.Lacing & bow down hip/pelvis area.Cute little laces & bow on the wrist.
I love this watercolor-style bow on the back of the neck— so dainty!
I love this watercolor-style bow on the back of the neck— so dainty!
Ankle/calf wraparound ribbon & bow.
Ankle/calf wraparound ribbon & bow.
Upper back only.
Upper back only.
Back of both calves.
Back of both calves.
Down the ribs—good if you actually wear corsets and don't want your ink interfering with the look of your laces (like me!)
Down the ribs—good if you actually wear corsets and don't want your ink interfering with the look of your laces (like me!)
Regular & tattered bows on wrists.
Regular & tattered bows on wrists.
Lacing & bow down hip/pelvis area.
Lacing & bow down hip/pelvis area.
Cute little laces & bow on the wrist.
Cute little laces & bow on the wrist.

Placement Is Key

For back lacing designs in particular, the overall shape and size plays a huge part in how the tattoo will suit your shape. Whether you're working with a designer/tattoo artist or drawing it yourself, it's best to try some different sizes and layouts with your concept, keeping in mind your body shape.

It all depends on what you prefer. Whether you like the hourglass shape or you're trying to accentuate a certain curve in your body, this style can create an optical illusion, so make it work in your favor.

Choosing the Best Layout for Corset-Back Lacing

Use Tattooed Laces to Accentuate Your Shape

#1 Lacing that widens at the shoulders and hips and narrows in the middle creates a sexy hourglass shape if you have (or want!) a more curvy-looking waistline. As with a corset, keep the narrowest point at the waistline to make this look work.

#2 Widest at the top on the shoulders, narrowing towards the bottom: Not traditional corset lacing, but works if you are trying to accentuate the thinness of your waistline in relation to your shoulders.

#3 A hybrid of hourglass and straighter lacing, becoming not just narrower but smaller at the bottom. Want to look taller? This one's for you. Keeping the laces narrow but still in an hourglass shape creates height without sacrificing curve.

#4 Perfectly straight: Creates a clean, modern shape. Nice for long, lean figures but can be tricky (but by no means impossible) to wear for other types.

Ribbons and Bows

Looking for something with a feminine style that's not as big as a corset tattoo? A little bow is just as playful and reminiscent of girlie fashions. It could be placed on one of your fingers, on the back or side of the neck, on the lower back... the malleability of this design's shape and style makes it a great choice for just about any placement.

The superb quality of modern inks mean that with a skilled tattoo artist, there is an unbelievable level of detail that can be achieved, permitting some very life-like results. So if you're after an antique look, complete with a vintage velvet and a tattered lace bow, you can have exactly that!

Of course, the more artistic of a look you are after, the more carefully you need to choose your tattoo artist, finding someone who is not only highly skilled but also experienced in this style. Be sure to look at their portfolios, keeping in mind the style of art as well as the colors you want, and look for examples in their work.

Cheerful Little Bows

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This mix of angel wings and corset is so beautifully done it looks like a photo! The corset's color is a lovely backdrop for the wings, adding a bit more contrast than usual on pale skin.
This mix of angel wings and corset is so beautifully done it looks like a photo! The corset's color is a lovely backdrop for the wings, adding a bit more contrast than usual on pale skin.

Photographic Detail

With the new high-quality inks and machines on the market, the level of detail and realism achievable by a skilled artist is absolutely staggering, but If a realistic, photo-quality tattoo is what you're after, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Art needs maintenance. This is true for any tattoo, but the more detail on your 'canvas,' the more TLC it needs. The worst culprits? Sun, chlorine, salt water, dry environments, and the mortal enemy of both tattoos and the living—time. Choose a spot that will be affected as little as possible, depending on your life and activities. Using a good moisturizer or one of the wonderful tattoo balms on the market will make a tremendous difference, and don't forget sunscreen! Many clients don't understand the maintenance commitment required, and even the best art can look awful in a few years if not planned and cared for. Be ready to commit to caring for your ink not just when it's healing, but for life!

2. Art depends on the artist! Many wonderful tattoo artists simply don't do realism. It's a style that demands dedication, and not everybody has learned it or even wants to. Look carefully at your artist's portfolio and be sure it's a style they're fluent in.

3. It takes time and money—Generally speaking, artists who are good at realistic tattoos command a high rate. And given that you'll be in the chair awhile for all that detail, the price can be steep. Of course, you'll be rewarded with a piece of everlasting art, but be sure you go in understanding this.

The exposed bone and muscle tissue in this piece  makes a striking balance to the pretty pink bow, and the ribbons look great across the bones!
The exposed bone and muscle tissue in this piece makes a striking balance to the pretty pink bow, and the ribbons look great across the bones!

Gore and Girlishness!

...why not both?

If the idea of ribbons and lace only appeals to you contrasted by some skulls or tattered skin, there's no reason you can't mix the two! Tattoos are all about personal expression, and the (usually) symmetrical layouts used for lacing tattoos are perfect for illustrating balance or opposition.

If the idea of muscle tissue doesn't appeal to you, consider mechanical parts, circuitry, fire, stone, a night sky, a garden, or anything else you can imagine. It's a great way to show your underlying nature, whether sweet, sinister, or a little bit of both!

Underneath the Surface

I like this piece for not only its shape—which is perfect for her figure---but also for its elegant contrasts. Graceful, flowing blooms mixed with surreal, alien-like parts, all with impeccable detail.
I like this piece for not only its shape—which is perfect for her figure---but also for its elegant contrasts. Graceful, flowing blooms mixed with surreal, alien-like parts, all with impeccable detail.

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      purplemadhatter 

      4 years ago

      wow that last one is so amazing! it pops out at you

    working

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