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A Frank Conversation About Shapewear

I sell a lot of shapewear from many shapewear manufacturers at HerRoom. So, I’ve heard all the pitches as to why each brand thinks they do it the best.  And, with some brands, I agree that their approach is unique.  But, (and this is a big but) shapewear is not the panacea that many women think it is.  It absolutely has limitations. For starters, women need to understand that it can only reduce your measurement 1 to 2 inches at the most.  This makes sense if you think about it.  You know what a tourniquet is – a tightly compressed bandage you put on your body to stop the flow of blood.  If your shapewear was too tight, your blood system could not function.  This is one of the reasons why I get mad at my daughters when they put their elastic hairbands on their wrists; they are cutting off the flow of blood to their hands.  This is also the reason why doctors don’t want you to wear tight knee-high nylons; this stops the flow of blood to small blood vessels in your legs. So, now you get why shapewear has its limitations in terms of how much compression it can provide.

But, here is another important point.  You can not reduce body mass.  A pound of flesh is a pound of flesh no matter how much you compress it.  Think of it as a water balloon.  You can’t make it smaller, you can only reshape it. So, let’s say you buy a biker short piece of shapewear.  Yes, it will compress your tummy (assuming it comes up high enough) and your thighs, but at each end of this piece you will see a bulge – muffin top, and lines on your thighs.  Your body mass has to go somewhere.  It does not go away.  One fact is true, the more you cover your body with shapewear, the smoother your body will appear and it can reduce the largest measuring points of your body.

body wrapA discussion of shapewear must also include a quick comment on fit.  First, never buy a smaller size thinking it will give you more support.  All you are doing is buying a garment that is too small for you.  Buy your correct size.  If your shapewear garment constantly rolls up on your legs, or rolls down from your tummy, your shapewear is too small; you need a larger size. Having said all of this, I am still a believer in shapewear, and I wear it on occasion.  It’s not because I am delusional, it’s because I am wearing something form-fitting and I want to look smooth.  The other reason I wear shapwear is when I have a tummy and the garment I’m wearing will show this.  A piece of shapewear helps to smooth my tummy.  Also, because it is there pushing in on me, it reminds me to keep my tummy muscles tight.  So, for me, it’s also a kind of silent posture reminder.

Shapwear comes in many control levels from light to very firm.  The lighter levels are mainly selected by women to provide a smooth shape all day.  A light to medium control camisole, for example, helps reduce bulging along the bra lines on your back.  The firm to very firm should really be worn for no more than 4 to 6 hours – it’s event shapewear.  Wearing this all day is a real challenge and a mental distraction because no one is truly comfortable wearing this level of support for long periods of time, and don’t even get me started about the challenges when going to the bathroom.

So, what shapewear brand do I recommend? Well, clearly every brand on my site.  But, each has its own reasons.  Let me enlighten you to a few.  Alphabetically, let me briefly talk about BodyWrap, Cass, Rago, TC Fine and Va Bien.

BodyWrap is the original shapewear that actually knits in different levels of firmness throughout the shapewear piece.  Made by a Canadian swimwear manufacaturer, it is a great product for women who want to keep their curves.  It factors in having less compression in the bust, and bottom area so that these shapes can be shown off.

Cass Luxury Shapewear was the first to create garments that you can wear as outerwear but with compression built into them.  So, instead of wearing shapewear AND a camisole, just buy one of their beautiful pieces and you don’t have to cover it up. The pieces look great on, and you look smooth.

Rago is one of the oldest and most traditional shapewear brands out there.  The size range is vast going up to 9xl.  Thier products are impressive pieces of construction with boning, non-stretch tape, and extremely firm fabrics being used to create their silhouettes.  Spend the time to get into one of their garments, and you will know that you are contained with nothing hanging out.

TC Fine Shapewear specializes in firm control garments and does very impressive and very extensive wear testing before putting something on the market.  They have an army of women who wear-test their garments and wash them repeatedly, then provide feedback.  They boast that their products have extraordinary comfort given their firm control, use thin fabrics, give a tailored appearance, use invisible seams and do not ride up or roll down.

Finally, Va Bien is a terrific brand of shapewear owned and designed by the Gimble Family who are French.  They specialize in shapewear that is also beautiful.   You would never be embarassed being caught in your Va Bien shapewear. Thus it is a favorite for brides and their mothers and for other special occasions.  But, you can also wear it for every day and feel like you are wearing something very beautiful. With the New Year upon us, think about creating a new you, whether it be with exercise or shapewear or both.

Find all of these shapewear brands and more at HerRoom in these departments: Shapewear   Follow HerRoom on Twitter for daily tips.

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  • Reply
    January 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Shapewear can be a flattering aticle of clothing…especially when dressing up. Many men are even finding shapewear to help shape posture as well as confidence.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Tomima,

    I have a question for you that I was thinking about as I was watching the SAG Awards tonight. Usually, I don’t pay attention to lingerie/shapewear advice from Hollywood since most of those women have fake breasts and don’t have to deal with the issues that we naturally endowed girls have to.

    However, I was looking at Sofia Vergara (who has real breasts to my eye) and was just wowed at how she was able to wear a dress like she did. We are very similar in breast size, yet I could never get cleavage like she does. Can you recommend shapewear and/or bras that one could use to achieve that effect?

    • Reply
      February 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Great question. If you are referring to her beautiful sapphire blue dress, you need to know that that dress had a foundation-like lining installed inside the dress. There is nothing on the market that could provide this look with such a plunging neckline. I, in fact, had a formal dress once that I could not find an undergarment for. I ended up purchasing a bra, and then had an alteration woman sew it into my dress and cut away parts of it.

      So take heart; a lot of time, effort, money, and resources go into these starlets to get them ready for the event. And I bet you 5 bucks she couldn’t wait to get out of that dress by the end of the evening.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Thank your for responding! That sounds right; I now vaguely recall Helen Mirren talking about how her supporting garments were sewn into her dress.

    Of, if we mere mortals had the resources of the rich and famous…! 🙂

    Thanks again.

  • Reply
    The secret underneath.. | Sexy in my stilettos
    June 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    […] don’t even get me started about the challenges when going to the bathroom. – See more at: Shapwear comes in many control levels from light to very firm.  The lighter levels are mainly […]

  • Reply
    Donna C Delgado
    May 16, 2016 at 2:21 am

    Nice share,

    Shapewear gives immediate results and one can really look their best with the help of these under clothings.

    I am able to hide my bulges with the help of shapewear which really feels good.

  • Reply
    amanda warner
    May 17, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Brilliant Article..! Thanks for sharing the useful information about the corset. Have an experience with the new waist trainer available at

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