How would you describe modern shapewear? Uncomfortable? Useful? Here’s my word: bor-ing!
There, I said it. I despise modern shapewear. Not the fact that it exists. I do get why many people want to wear it. If it makes your outfit fit better or gives you a boost of confidence, good for you. I’m all for having diverse options available when it comes to lingerie.
No, my problem with the shapewear industry is simple. The brands designing it seem so caught up in making something practical, they’ve forgotten to make it pretty. Smooth, skin-tone, invisible-under-jersey-clothing shapewear has a place. But so do prints and fun colors. And most modern shapewear brands aren’t interested in making those.
Pretty shapewear is out there though. To find it, you only need to look to vintage-inspired lingerie brands. They do the job just as well, but with lace, color and patterns galore. In fact, not only is this shaping lingerie attractive, some of it is downright glamorous!
Here are the key styles to search for when shopping for pretty shapewear:
A girdle is a long garter belt. It begins at waist height or higher and extends to the top of the thigh. It will smooth your stomach and upper hips.
Vintage girdles were sometimes made from rubber or had fan lacing to do the cinching. Nowadays though, brands tend to use powermesh.
The garter clips on a girdle are there to secure it, so the hem doesn’t ride or roll up. If you don't wear stockings, check out ‘panty girdles’ further down.Blue Fan Lace Girdle Available in sizes S – XL via Kiss Me Deadly
As the name suggests, a panty girdle is a combination of a girdle and a panty. If there are garter straps, they’re often detachable.
Wear these just as you would regular high-waist briefs. The difference is that they’re made from shaping fabrics, to smooth your waist and tummy.
Just as a panty-girdle combines a girdle and a panty, a corselette combines a girdle and a bra. It’s not the same as a merry widow (see below) which stops above the hips. A corselette provides full-torso shaping, from your ribcage down to where your thighs begin.
And there’s more! I mentioned merry widows---it’s the vintage name for what we nowadays call a basque. Shorter than a corselette, it only shapes your waist and upper tummy.
I can’t write an article about retro shapewear without mentioning the corset too. To this day, they’re still the most effective option for significant waist reduction. Note that very short ones, covering the waist only, are called waspies.
And then there’s the waist cincher. (Though confusingly, they sometimes get called waspies too). It’s very like a girdle but ends before the hips. These often have plastic in place of metal bones, or stretch fabrics instead of rigid ones. As such, it offers more lightweight shaping than a corset.
Are you as bored of seeing bland, beige shapewear as I am? Then let me know your favorite retro pretty shapewear look shown here.