Shapewear makes a comeback
Star Jones - the Diva of Daytime - wears a girdle? "Southern ladies know, you put a little Lycra on those hips when you're wearing those outfits that cling," Jones has said on ABC's The View.
Don't be fooled - this is not your grandmother's girdle. Fiber technology means that today's shapewear bears little resemblance to the monstrosities which women of generations past struggled into. According to Manette Scheininger, senior VP of marketing for Maidenform Worldwide, "The fiber people have created yarns that are stronger, which makes for smoother styling and lighter fabrics." In the 21st century, shapewear is "lightweight, modern looking - not heavy or grainy," says Scheininger. In addition, fabrics like LycraSoft enable the garment to stretch more and recover to its original shape, which means that it can be made smaller, while maintaining "the fit and function needs that shapewear requires."
The new look and feel of shapewear make it the fastest growing segment of the intimate apparel market. Steve Chernoff, spokesperson for Rago Shapewear, attributes shapewear's revival in part to the fact that "Baby boomers will never have the shape they had (when they were) in their 20s. The same women who literally burned their bras in the '60s are now buying shapewear."
Chernoff reports that "the stigma of your mother's garment is gone. Women today desire shaping, even the younger generation. And even the psychological orientation has changed from g-i-r-d-l-e to 'shapewear.'"
Fashion trends have also contributed to the desire for shapewear, says Chernoff. "Outerwear garments have been co-mingled with innerwear garments for the first time during the last five years." The marriage of outerwear with innerwear, he says, "has increased the need for shapewear."
Shapewear comes in a variety of styles, from panties to full body briefers, and in different levels of compression. Rago Shapewear, for example, offers four lines. Rago Lites are sheer and stretch both ways, smoothing out the silhouette through special sewn detailing, while their Diet-Minded series provides even more compression, reducing measurements by 1-1/2 - 2-1/2 inches. From there, Rago offers their Shapette line and Lacette series, with detailed sewing to provide more control.
Whether you want to create a smooth silhouette for a form-hugging dress, or you want more strategic body contouring, it's important to get a proper fit. Maidenform's Manette Scheininger advises women to "try it on, which most women are hesitant to do. Put your clothes on over the shapewear, so you can really see the difference." Rago's Chernoff concurs, and adds, "Really, really look for comfort."
The Right Fit
Finding the right fit in shapewear is crucial for comfort. Hanes gives this advice for getting the perfect fit:
- Does the waist stay in place when you sit down?
- Does the crotch fit naturally against the body?
- Do the legs cut or bind at the thigh? If so, try a longer leg length
- Does the torso fit smoothly? Bulges or wrinkles may indicate a need for a shorter length or smaller size.