A brief history of “Body Shapers“
Corsets have been around in various forms for a long time. These instruments of torture helped women have super-thin waist (who can forget the scene in “Gone With the Wind” where Scarlett keeps demanding that her maid pull ‘Tighter! Tighter!”). If a man could put his hands clear around your waist, it was thought to be a thing of beauty (no matter that some women resorted to removing some ribs, and many suffered fainting spells, to wear these corsets). Less restricting but still uncomfortable was the girdle, invented around 1910 by the French designer Paul Poiret. He designed the corset to fit under his clothes, because his designs fit closer to the body than most other. Created with less boning and structure, girdles were a bit less restrictive, and offered at least some “freedom.” In the bra-burning era, bras and girdles fell out of favor. That’s fine when you’re wearing a loose peasant dresses, but today’s clinging knits and synthetics require a little something underneath to make them (and you) look good. The new breed of Body Shapers are light and stretchy, in styles from from simple panty types, to teddys and slips, tops and some styles that literally compress your entire body from shoulders to toes. Today’s body shapers are generally made from interwoven nylon and Lycra spandex so they can move with you, but still conform to your body. You can choose from “light control,” “medium control,” or “firm-control.”
The Benefits of Body Shapers:
Body Shapers aren’t substitutes for diet, exercise or even surgery. They won’t shave 50 pounds off your body, but they will instantly make you look less lumpy and therefore give you a slimming appearance. It won’t change the world, but it will make you feel great! Celebrities swear by body shapers to make their already great looking bodies, even better. If you want to try some basic body shapers, here are a few different brands and styles that I tried that work for every part of your body:
The Body Wrap full mini slip style #44201 $58.00 is a full control piece that slims most of you so that you look better in a sweater and skirt, as well as a dress. This all in one bodyshaper has soft cups with and underwire bra that will work up to a D cup . The one-size-fits-all underwire offers support and is comfortable as long as you’re an average size. The pice comes in black, nude or light nude and while it’s not a sexy piece, it gets the job done (you’re wearing it under clothes anyway, so unless you’re having a really hot date night, no one will see it anyway). Clear straps are supplied as well as colored ones (straps can be worn criss-cross or halter, too)–a nice bonus. The body shaper gives great control, and I really did look slimmer and sleeker wearing this piece. It could be a bit uncomfortable to wear something that covers your body from your bust down past your thighs, but the 75% Polyamide and 25% Elastianne fabric offers compression, and still has stretch and a nice, soft touch. The middle part of the piece has additional control panels to flatten your tummy and lip and shape your hips and buttocks. In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to wear this all day at work, but for evening wear and special occasions, it’s good. One thing I really like about all the Body Wrap products is that the size chart (Small to XL) is attached as a clearly marked tag, with sizes in seven different countries including dress size, weight measurements, underbust and cup size (with and without underwire), hip and weight size,
Sculptz are another company with great body shapers with products for the lower half of my body: Tights $25.00 and Pantyhose $23.00 are available in traditional pantyhose sizes A-E (Size A up to 120 pounds, size E up to 300 pounds). This is the season for tights, so I tried the Shapely Perfection Tights, first. They look and feel like any other high quality opaque tights, made of 85% nylon, 17% spandex (and there’s a cotton-lined gusset). I liked the intense black and deep brown (also comes in fashionable grey and plum). I thought the “warning label” that says wearing this will: “flatten your tummy, lift your rear, and slim your hips and thighs” was cute. As to the product itself, the legs are light and soft with plenty of stretch–really good quality. The waistband is wide and strong enough to stay up, but not in a death grip–just about right. All of the actual control is in the tummy and rear area via shaping control panels that offer a more solid control than your regular, control top pantyhose. The shaping is still reasonably light, so you can wear these all day and not squirm uncomfortably! Ditto the pantyhose, available in black and taupe. These are also ultra-control top-style shapers with graduated compression so your thighs won’t be so squished you’ll want to scream “Uncle!” They offer you a smooth line under clinging knits with no VPL (that’s visible panty line, ladies). The only downside (if there really is one) is that the legs on these are not as sheer as I’d like if I was wearing them for a special event. For most occasions, they’re great.
I also tried a few styles of Slimpressions Body Shapers. This time for the upper part of the body. Slimpressions is a patent-pending line of everyday shapewear designed to slim a woman’s arms, back and midriff. Although the shapewear is for the upper part of the body, curiously, the three different sizes in this line are based on your lower body, on your pants size! Size One fits pants sizes 2-10, Size Two fits pants sizes 8-16 and Size Three matches pants size 14 to size 22. I have spent a great deal of time lifting weights to avoid an “underarm wattle,” but if your flesh isn’t firm and you want a sleeker look, “The Haves” $72.00 gives you a 3/4 sleeve top (with mesh armpits for breathability) that accentuates your cleavage while offering gentle compression to smooth and shape that dreaded “arm flab.” The 75% microfiber, 25% Lyrca Spandex top with soft cups could be worn as innerwear and outer-wear. It comes in black, chocolate, white and nude. The style is reminiscent of a ballet or exercise wear top, with a scooped neck and a long, seamless torso that’s stronger and ribbed, to whittle your middle. The Have Nots $72.00 is really low cut–below the normal bra line. Many body shapers flatten you out up on top, but with The Have Nots you can wear your favorite bra to showcase “the girls” while still offering a toning effect to your arms and middle. There’s still plenty of smoothing compression but light weight to wear comfortably under clothes. This style is also 75% microfiber, 25% Lyrca Spandex also has 3/4 sleeves (with mesh armpits for breathability) –enough compression to keep your body under control, but not so much that you’ll be wanting to rip it off your body in a few hours. It’s available in black, chocolate, white and nude. For women who have worked hard on toned arms, there’s still a cami style with adjustable spaghetti straps called: Upper Body Control Top (“Skinny Mini”) $58 that helps keep midriff under control. It’s my favorite piece, because it’s perfect for layering and you can wear it comfortably in warmer weather. Ruched, soft cups even allow you to wear this without a bra (assuming you’re not va–va–voom-sized). The rich, chocolate brown color looks adorable with jeans and casual clothes, but the solid black version could pinch-hit for an evening top (with lots of chunky jewelery).
How to Care For Your Body Shapers:
Most bodyshapers look too small in the package to fit a baby, but they’re made to stretch. Still, they’ll only stretch so far until they pull apart or make you want to rip them off you right away! Getting the right size is critical. Buy one too small and you’ll feel like it’s pulling your skin off. Get one too large, and the slimming effect will be, well…slim. You will probably have to put most body shapers on by stepping into them and pulling them up as very few use zippers or lacing or hook and eyes, and getting in and out of them takes a bit of patience. As you gently pull the garment on, you’ll probably notice yourself struggling in what I call the “anti-jiggle, wiggle.” Wriggle if you must, and keep pulling these up slowly as if they were a pair of delicate stockings. If you pull too hard you might poke your fingers right through the fabric. When you’re ready to remove the body shaper, also take care when removing it. Some of the body shapers suggest you put them in the washing machine on cold, and even perhaps tumble dry…I wouldn’t. These are expensive items and the elastic and stretchiness will be compromised over time. For longer wear, it’s still better to hand wash body shapers in gentle soap in your skin, and hang them to dry.