The Lowdown on Shapewear

OK, so here is the issue. Many of us of all ages could benefit from a little shapewear, but in our family there is a big difference of opinion on the subject. It may just be generational:  Jeanne grew up when nice young ladies were encouraged to wear girdles and this went on until we threw off the “shackles” and started wearing bell bottoms and tie dye in the 70’s. Kate, on the other hand, never really wore actual compressive “foundation garments” in her life and sees no real reason to start.

But it’s a new fashion age and shapewear is definitely a part of it. Haven’t we heard enough about celebrities wearing multiple Spanx to look good in their evening wear? In the last ten years, the shapewear industry has exploded and today one could pretty much wear shapewear 24 hours a day – under street clothes and evening wear and built into tops, pants, pencil skirts, leggings, activewear, etc.

Here are some basic guidelines for those of you who want to try shapewear out.

  • Shapewear exists for every figure need: light smoothing, moderate firming, and heavy duty extra firm compression. Buy for what you need and no more. For example, Jeanne doesn’t need heavy duty compression, but she does want a smooth line through her torso and thighs for jersey and other form-fitting dresses. So she looks for lighter “hold” as in these examples:

shapewear slip         shapewear short

  • There is no way to know how shapewear will work for you unless you go to the lingerie department of a store and try them on. It was hard for Jeanne who shops online to do this, but she succumbed and is glad she did. If you have certain dresses or other apparel you want to wear with shapewear, take them with you to the store so you can be sure the item you purchase will work. If you shop with a friend, ask for an objective opinion on how different pieces of shapewear work for you; otherwise, ask the salesperson to give you an honest evaluation. And don’t just try the name brands; there are many good shapewear manufacturers today and a wide variety of price points.
  • At the same time, make sure the shapewear is really comfortable for you. It defeats the purpose to look two sizes smaller and have an excruciating stomach ache at the same time. What’s the fun in that? Jeanne tells a great story about wearing a shapewear slip one day and developing a pinched nerve in her neck/shoulder because the slip’s straps were too tight!
  • Stylewatch magazine says that the majority of their readers want shapewear to flatten their tummies. We personally think the best solution for this (and most general shapewear needs) is the slip design since it’s the only item that creates one slim line from the back through the thighs. Shapewear briefs and other “bottoms” are OK, but frankly may create bulges above and below.

Younger fashionistas may scorn the need for shapewear, but let’s face it: none of us have perfectly smooth body lines and most of us want to wear fitted sweater dresses, pencil skirts and other figure-hugging silhouettes. Carefully chosen shapewear can make every one of us look just a little more perfect – without any plastic surgery!

What is your opinion on shapewear? What has worked for you?

7 Comments on The Lowdown on Shapewear

  1. Robin Moll
    January 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm (5 years ago)

    Lisa Scottoline writes Chick Wit in the Philly Inquirer and a few years ago, did a hysterical column on Spanx. It later appeared in her book, Why My Third Husband will be a Dog. Here’s how she describes her first encounter with the product :”I actually managed to squeeze myself into them, then I put on a knit dress, examined myself in the mirror, and hated what I saw. From the front, I looked like a Tootsie Roll with legs. From the back, instead of having buttocks, I had buttock….I went back to the mirror and noticed something else – that the fat that properly belonged on my hips, having taken up residence there at age 40, was now homeless and being relocated upward by my tights, leaving a roll at my waist which could pass for a flotation device..” Here’s the link to the whole thing: Enjoy!

  2. Brittany
    January 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm (5 years ago)

    So funny the generational differences! I am not a shapewear lover. Just ain’t.


  3. Girlscout
    January 27, 2013 at 12:59 am (5 years ago)

    Whatever works I say 😉 I am not against it but it does tend to be uncomfortable, maybe I just haven’t found my thing yet 🙂 Cool post!


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