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Wednesday 27 May 2020

Shaping Up with Shapewear

Have you ever tried on a dress made of an uncompromising material, which would look fabulous if only you could flatten that little poochy belly, or eliminate that squidgy back fat? I have, many times, and I've found that good shapewear has allowed me to wear those dresses and feel confident, and, dare I say it, even comfortable.

I'm featuring three dresses which I would never have worn without that reassuring hug of lycra underneath.  Even Gwyneth Paltrow, who is tiny, admits she always wears Spanx  (sometimes doubled up) under her Oscar gowns.

For our wedding in June 2010, I found my dream dress in January. The problem was, the dress was tight and they didn't have the next size up, which was also out of stock online.  I adored the dress so much I bought it there and then, resolving a) to lose weight, and b) wear shapewear.

Is This Mutton over-50s style blog on how shapewear has improved in recent years

The months went by and I was very gradually losing the pounds but not in an organized way - I wasn't weighing myself.  I was dreading trying the dress on, because I felt sure it was still going to look too tight and I'd have to find a new one.  Two weeks before the wedding, I finally tried it on, with one of those shapers underneath that goes up to the bra line. And I heaved a huge sigh of relief, because the dress now skimmed over my belly.

I wore the shaper a couple of times before the big day to make sure it wouldn't roll down.  I'm sure those of you who have worn shapewear will have horror stories from the past of trying to wee with one on  (we'll come to that!) and how they sometimes roll up or down, releasing the fat in a tragic way.

Two years ago I was searching for two dresses for the weddings of my step niece and step daughter.  I didn't want anything frumpy or aging. I  needed shapewear for the two dresses I finally chose because both were made of a stretchy scuba material which highlights curves, and not for the better.

I made a schoolgirl error with the first dress because I wore the shaper - one of those that you wear with your own bra - over my knickers, so I was basically showcasing the elastic indentation!  I didn't realise until I saw the photos.

A statement dress for the mother of the bride or groom who doesn't want to look old fashioned. Egg yolk yellow dress by Lavish Alice with flattering draping over one arm

Shapers that include a knicker and cover your waist and torso have either a fastening at the gusset or a "hole" to allow you to use the bathroom. The hook and eye fastening can become very challenging when you've maybe had a couple of glasses of champagne and you've been queuing to use the facilities. You become a contortionist. The press stud fastening is better, but many women have metal allergies so you don't often find them.

And then there's the "hole," which can only have been thought up by a man, because no woman would expect a woman's flow to go in a reasonably straight and tidy line!

The shaper worn with the dress above had "the hole," and after realising that it was not possible to wee through it, I had to take the dress and shaper off. This was such a depressing experience in a tiny bathroom cubicle that I stopped drinking and probably became a bit dehydrated, to avoid having to do it again.

On Susannah Constantine's Wardrobe Malfunction podcast, there's a hilarious reader's story about her own experience with the same type of shaper.  This lady was at a very distinguished society gathering, and found to her horror that the shaper had somehow rolled up and funnelled all the wee up her back, very noticeably!

For the second wedding in 2018, I wore a dress made of the same (unforgiving) material and this time wore a shaper from Maidenform with a hook and eye fastening. All was well.

The bridal party:  Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon at the 2018 wedding of her stepdaughter

I was recently asked to choose a piece of shapewear by Maidenform and I went for a "Cover Your Bases" slip. It has a Stay Put band on the bottom hem, which helps prevent rolling, Although it's "light,"  (their shapewear has three different control levels), I found that it gave me a better silhouette under another dress that I find problematic.

Maidenform has a long heritage - it was founded in 1922 by seamstress Ida Rosenthal; Enid Bissett, who owned the shop that employed her; and Ida's husband, William Rosenthal. They rebelled against the flat-chested designs of the time and instead produced both dresses and support undergarments that flattered a woman's shape.

Shapewear has definitely come on a bit since the days of Gok Wan and Trinny and Susannah, when the first thing they ever did was force the hapless makeover victim into a cantilevered body suit or cycling shorts.

They're made of a much more effective and lighter material - less strangulating - and there are several different variations to suit your preferences.

You can create an hourglass figure with shapewear, and it can eliminate problems such as bra bulge, back fat, saddlebags, poochy belly, spare tyre. I read a while ago that you can even get shapewear for your arms - removable sleeves.

What are your experiences of shapewear, past and recent?  Do let us know in the comments.

I was gifted with an item of shapewear by Maidenform, but this post was not paid-for and copy approval was neither sought nor given. My editorial opinions are always objective and I turn down many brand opportunities because I don't rate the products. 

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday - the link up where everyone gains. Readers can find new blogs to enjoy and bloggers can find new readers!

Last week's most clicked post was Tone on Tone Blue with Dyed Cardigan~Style Imitating Art from Kim at Fierce Fashion.  Kim, below, has a gift for being able to customize outfits and make her own clothes. She dyed a cardigan a perfect blue to match another top for the Style Imitating Art challenge. 

My favourite was by Montreal styling diva Lucy Bertoldi and her post 
Fabulous Fridays…Fashion Challenges, Good Food and a LINK UP PARTY!  I feel I was quite late to the party in "discovering" Lucy, on Instagram, but she has a cool, edgy style I love, and writes in a positive, fun way. I can virtually hear her talking.

Montreal style blogger Lucy Bertoldi in statement tee
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1 comment

  1. I ve bought some awful shapewear over the years too. Some i couldn't put on without putting my back out. This brand sounds intersting.


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