Shapewear Goes Stealth: The Power of Powermesh

Shapewear Goes Stealth: The Power of Powermesh

  |   By Holly Jackson

The first time I ever went to Curve (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I remember a huge emphasis on sexy shapewear.

Every brand seemed to be trying to transform shapewear into something fashionable and desirable, rather than some beige piece making you feel like an overstuffed sausage. While that movement appears to have gone by the wayside, shapewear has achieved popularity another way: by stealthily hiding inside our everyday panties, bras, and bodysuits.

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Lingerie brands come up against a conundrum in the age of the body positive lingerie consumer. Many customers see shapewear as restrictive and ugly (and distinctly not body positive), but the average customer still wants a smooth hourglass figure. Instead of championing shapewear as fashion, companies have started building it into everyday lingerie products. This seems to be the sweet spot, where customers can have their cake and eat it too (literally, in this case).

Shapewear now comes in many built-in forms, from lingerie company branded tech to “smoothing” briefs to specialized “linings." What most of these have in common is one fabric: powermesh. Powermesh is considered ugly and utilitarian but actually, comes in a wide range of gorgeous and comfortable iterations. Many brands are utilizing dead stock vintage powermesh as well, giving them access to beautiful pieces that are one-of-a-kind.

Sukki High Waist Brief by Tutti Rouge:


Sukki High Waist Brief
Available in Sizes S, M, L
via Tutti Rouge

Tutti Rouge always seems to be going after the next big thing successfully, so it’s not surprising that their launch of briefs with the smoothing “Tutti Tec” was a big hit too. These match the sensual Sukki Bra well, but also provide the light amount of smoothing and shaping that customers want to see.

Strawberry Knickers by Buttress & Snatch:


Strawberry Knickers
Available in Sizes XS - XL
via Buttress & Snatch

You don’t associate polka dots with power mesh, but Buttress & Snatch uses a vintage design to incorporate shaping into their high waist panties. These are stunning in person---and you’d never know how functional they were!

Envy High-Waist Shaping Brief by Panache:


Envy High-Waist Shaping Brief
Available in Sizes 8 - 20
via Panache

While Envy has always been sold as a “basic," the addition of a houndstooth print and new colorways each season helps disguise its practical nature. These briefs provide light shaping and smoothing, but the subtle print dresses them up.

Boss Black Underwire Swimsuit by Swimsuits for All:


Boss Black Underwire Swimsuit
Available in Sizes 6 - 24
via Swimsuits for All

Swimsuits have always had shaping built-in, but many brands now rely on heavy shapewear linings in for extra smoothing. When you put on a bathing suit that makes you look amazing and feels like a gentle hug, this is what you’re sensing. While we think of shaping as something reserved for the unfashionable swimsuits that our mothers used to buy, it’s good to acknowledge that it’s built into all those cutout suits we wear now as well.

Carine Bodysuit by Tatu Couture:


Carine Bodysuit
Available in Sizes XS - L
via Tatu Couture

Shaping can come in all forms, such as this tattoo inspired high fashion bodysuit by Tatu Couture. Shaping is built-in throughout the entire bodysuit, which smooths and pulls you in, even though you can’t see it.

New Look Solutions Shaping Slip Dress at ASOS:


New Look Solutions Shaping Slip Dress
Available in Sizes US  2 - 12
via ASOS

Even things being marketed as necessary shapewear have changed, such as this stylish and functional New Look slip. This piece reminds me a lot of the types of things I saw at my first Curve show.

Wolford Buenos Aires Pullover Shapewear Dress at ASOS:


Wolford Buenos Aires Pullover Shapewear Dress
Available in Sizes XS - L
via ASOS

This Wolford shapewear dress is stylish, basic and provides a nice smooth under layer. I suspect it would be ideal for extra warmth in the winter as well. This is an excellent example of how even core shapewear pieces are being upgraded to serve multiple purposes, as well as looking beautiful on their own.

Hibiscus Dreams Bodysuit by Va Bien:


Hibiscus Dreams Bodysuit
Available in Bands 32 - 36, Cups A - D
via Va Bien

Va Bien used to be known as a company that sold well-made shapewear and solution bras. Their Atelier line has put them on the map regarding fashion and has garnered praise from the entire industry. While the build is that of a shapewear bodysuit, the fabrication and embroidery have taken it up several levels. Companies that do want to create fashion and shapewear fusion pieces should look at Va Bien as a major reference point.

Strawberry Cake Girdle Skirt by Dottie’s Delights:


Strawberry Cake Girdle Skirt
Available in Sizes XS - 3X
via Dottie's Delights

This skirt is another good example of vintage “shapewear” materials that combine modern and vintage aesthetics. Dottie’s Delights sources authentically vintage but never used before fabrics, garter clips and more to create pieces for her customers that both shape and delight. It's the ultimate in environmentally friendly shapewear!

Would you wear one of these powermesh shapewear pieces? Why or why not?

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