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How to shop for shapewear

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Gone are the days of struggling into a corset torture device
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Knowing how to shop for shapewear helps you address your own figure flaws

The first things you need to know about foundation garments - the magic underpinnings now called "shapewear" - are what it is and what is its purpose.

Once upon a time, women were subjected to all kinds of torture in the name of beauty including wearing boned corsets, girdles and garter belts intended to keep their waist small, their breasts high and their bellies and thighs tucked in. These garments were murderous to wear.

In the 1960s, when women's liberation came to the fore, many women abandoned these restrictive undergarments (including bras) and swore never to go back.

However, there is certainly a benefit to wearing foundation garments that smooth and contour the body and make you look slimmer. Do they have to be torture devices? No.

Fast forward several decades and shapewear appears on the scene. Initially, it was too tight, restraining, uncomfortable and unpleasant to wear, much like its predecessors. Many women slipped off to the restroom to remove their undergarment halfway through the evening because of the discomfort they were experiencing.

Today's foundation garments have been tweaked, redesigned and improved and are comfortable. They transform a frumpy, bumpy, chunky body into a smooth, slimmer silhouette.

This garment is worn under clothing to alter the wearer's body. It controls the the body and smooths out problem areas. That bulge around your mid section -- forget it! The right type of foundation garment disguises it.

Dancers have been wearing a version of foundation garments for centuries: Leotards and tights are made of material allowing the dancers to move freely yet simultaneously holds body parts in place and smooths out bulges and imperfections. The material used in these articles includes Lycra Spandex and Lycra cotton blend.

Body shapers consist of even more Lycra Spandex and cotton blend than the average leotard so they provide additional control and shaping, while not forfeiting the wearer's comfort.

Shapewear consist of bras, camisoles, panty hose, garter belts, girdles, hosiery, control slips, tights, body suits and briefs. Choose between light-, medium- or strong compression The difference in control is determined by the thickness or weight of the material. If you need a little bit of help, go with the light compression. If you need a lot of help, pick a stronger material.

When compression fabric is strategically placed it performs a miracle. The wearer is held in as if she's wearing an old-fashioned corset but she isn't miserable and isn't getting poked in the ribs by boning.

These foundation garments can be worn daily if the wearer is comfortable doing so. However, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before wearing anything that compresses their belly.

Problem Areas

Is your stomach your problem area? Wear a body shaper camisole that holds the belly in, smooths out muffin top and conceals back bulge. The camisole covers your back side and midsection. It stays put and doesn't ride up. In the event you bend over and your pants slide down, your lower back is covered by the camisole. No more worrying about exposing your butt cheeks.

Panties made of Lycra and Spandex get rid of panty lines and slim and contour the butt, thighs and tummy. There are various styles of panties to choose form.

Instead of wearing a regular slip under your dress, choose a body shaper that makes your body look smoother and slimmer. You'll be amazed at the difference when you slip into your little black dress.

Oprah Winfrey is the self-acclaimed queen of shapewear. She admits to having them in every style and color possible.


Foundation garments should never be so tight or restrictive they hurt you or prevent you from breathing normally or eating. Undergarments of this nature make you appear slimmer and trimmer with better contours but are not intended to cause you misery or keep you from engaging in your regular activities.

*This writer, for one, is a huge fan of this type of foundation garment. Once you try it and see the results you want more!

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