InFashion Tips

Shape Up

I’ve been meaning to tackle this topic for some time. It’s a tough one. I see so many women wearing an ill-fitting bra. Oprah addressed this years ago and made great strides with the female population. There is still work to be done, but finally women understand that the proper fitting garments underneath your clothes make all the difference to completing a polished look.

I see lots of lumps and bumps. I have them too. We could call these “situations”. Let’s talk shapewear. In general, I feel it is fair to say that a certain percentage of women are against support garments or they have misconceptions about them. Ladies, this is not your mother’s girdle! Every week I meet women at the boutique where I work who complain about that little area above the waistband of their jeans. Women think that if they lose a little more weight, or work out a little more it will all go away. It might and then again it might NOT.

I’m convinced that the term “muffin top” came about with low rise jeans. I recall the first time I heard it. I stopped “dead in my tracks” because it described perfectly what I was experiencing around the middle. It wasn’t a pretty picture! When my clients complain about a muffin top I am honest about the 3 options they have.

1. Wear a support garment/shaper.

2. Wear a mid-to high rise jeans which help “reign in” that excess weight. (I am NOT talking “Mom” jeans. Let me clarify that Mom jeans were high waisted, pleated, and tapered.

3. Plastic Surgery

The last suggestion usually gets a laugh and I say it for that reason. #1 and #2 are reasonable and affordable.

SPANX, created by Sara Blakely, have become a household word. Sara created SPANX  by simply cutting off the feet of a pair of pantyhose. She wanted the smooth look created by hosiery, but did not want the “feet” when wearing her strappy heels with pants. Now, a decade later, Sara has expanded the line and had made millions with this novel idea. If you’ve never read Sara’s story, do so; it’s inspiring!

I recall the first time I saw the SPANX concept on a mini TV  in the hosiery department of Nordstrom nearly a decade ago. I was intrigued. At the time, another passing customer remarked that she did NOT need any such thing. After she left, the sales associate and I chuckled together at her rash statement. Back then I was just beginning to struggle a little with some excess middle weight. I was seeking out all the options to smooth those lumps and bumps.

One of the reasons SPANX were created was to reduce VPL (visible panty lines) I’m going to be blunt here. As much as women think that thong underwear is the way to go, you can still see the outline through some outfits. Sorry, but it is just not a good look.

I first began wearing Spanx for that reason–smoothing AND reducing VPL. Years later they came out with the “Higher Power” version which helped my upper middle. Spanx work for me in many situations. Take a look at this video and you’ll see that I’m not alone! Watch it all–highly educational and entertaining!

I do NOT wear SPANX seven days a week. I’m also fully aware that there are drawbacks. Comfort is the top concern followed closely by the fact that they simply are too warm for some women and in some climates!

If you carry your weight in your middle, but do not feel like you need the support in your thighs/hips, let me suggest these options.

I first discovered Yummie Tummie in a magazine several years ago. The top part works like a camisole. The middle is a panel that smooths and “sucks”, the bottom piece is like a tee so when layered, it can hang below another top. Yummie Tummie has come a long way since I discovered them. Oh the choices!

Next, Spanx has several top half options that could do the trick.

The first shown may be a little difficult to wear with certain sleeveless or low cut back tops, but it will work with many garments. The 2nd photo shows an example of Spanx APPAREL, thus alleviating another layer. This one in particular works on shaping the upper arms. Check out the SPANX website for many more options.

Last year I discovered a shaper by TC FINE, available at Nordstrom. Women complain that tank shapers squash the chest. This is the ticket if you’re worried about that. In addition one of my clients who was a nursing mom pointed out the benefits of this style!

I prefer the shaper in View #1,yet it limits you when it comes to some sleeveless tops. I tried the shaper in View #2 and it just wasn’t that comfortable for me. I’m still on the hunt for something to go under certain tops that gives the same support maximum support.

 Next up: Part 2 on Shapers I’ll discuss smoothing the bottom half, cooler options if you live in heat/humidty and the support level of popular shapers.

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Over to you. What do you think? If you’ve written off shapewear, are you willing to give it another try? Questions? Jot me a note so I can address it in Part 2.


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  • Barb

    I bought a “shapewear” thingie 2 years ago and I have never put it on since I left the dressing room. It seems like wearing a lie. I just don’t see the point of squishing myself into something so uncomfortable.

    August 19, 2011 at 7:27 am Reply
    • Karen

      Barb you might fiind the tank styles to be much more comfortable. One client was thrilled when she found the waistband of her pants to be so much looser post shaper! As for it being a “lie” I don’t see it as being in different than wearing a push up or padded bra or coloring your hair. Women do things to enhance what they have. If they feel better because they look better and gain extra confidence–well I’m all for that!

      August 19, 2011 at 8:32 am Reply
  • Sherra

    I’m a big proponent of all three of your options! I’m laughing about Barb’s comment about “wearing a lie.” Anything that makes me feel better and look better is okay with me! The key with the shapewear is to buy it large enough that I don’t feel like a sausage in a casing. I don’t want to sweat and get a workout just getting dressed (although maybe that’s the point – I’m burning calories too so I really get my money’s worth. lol) I’m with you all the way Karen on finding great undergarments that do their job so we can look better and yes, my hair is colored because I’m pretty sure it’s white now. 😉
    Sherra recently posted..DIY Kitchen Renovations ~ Glass Tile Backsplash

    August 19, 2011 at 10:23 am Reply
    • Karen

      Sherra, you hit a key point about shapewear that fits. You don’t want it so small that you’re sweating to get it on. And when it is too big it doesn’t do the what it is supposed to. ALWAYS try different sizes to compare and then put your clothes back on to see the difference. you’re right–could be some extra calorie burning going on during this process!

      August 19, 2011 at 10:45 am Reply
  • Angie Leonard

    Totally agree with the bra fitting information. I was wearing the wrong bra and my chest looked like a “shelf”. It was terrible.
    As far as the Spanx, love them, but don’t find them comfortable to wear for a full day. Mainly evening outtings or shorter time frames during the day. If I get on a plane, I will not wear them because my body feels like a balloon ready to burst.
    I look forward to getting together Karen and going the next step with your service.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm Reply
    • Karen

      Thanks Angie! I can’t say I’ve worn Spanx on a plane LOL. I agree that they can be hard to wear for a long day. We’ll connect soon.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm Reply
  • Ruth C.

    Hi Karen,
    I, too, find the need to wear shape wear on occasion and it is never comfortable for me. I feel too restricted and uncomfortable but I found a great piece from Essential Bodywear that I like. I will take a look at the brands mentioned here and see if I can find more to add to my wardrobe. Thank you!

    August 22, 2011 at 5:51 am Reply
    • Karen

      Thanks Ruth! Stay tuned for Pt 2 tomorrow. I too like some of the pieces from Essential bodywear and mention them tomorrow.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:19 am Reply

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