By Marcy Montgomery Jones
Whether walking around the intimates section of your favorite store, or searching through an infinite number of intimate-apparel websites, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed when trying to choose the right shapewear. There are a multitude of brands, control levels, and silhouettes out there. To make this task more manageable, it can be helpful to focus on one variable at a time – for example, the part of your body you want to address. Here are some tips to help you choose the best silhouettes for your lower-half shapewear needs.
When selecting among lower-body silhouettes, keep in mind two key considerations: the garments’ waist heights and leg types. Control garments are available in several different waist heights including: low rise; waistline; adjustable rise; and high waist. Low-rise garments sit below your natural waist. They’re best for lighter control needs. When you need significant shaping, the awesome compression that smoothes your belly tends to pop any extra bulk upwards. When wearing a low-rise garment of greater control, this bulk tends to pop out of the top of it. This is not a look you want to have. Waistline garments sit at your natural waist – the area right above the top of your hip bones. (For you youngsters out there, the natural waist is where “mom jeans” hit on the body.) Waistline garments with significant amounts of control also can produce a “mushroom,” “muffin top,” “spare tire,” or “overhang” effect. With some styles of clothing this isn’t a problem (e.g., a blousy shirt or pant suit). However, if you were to wear an extra-firm waistline brief under a sheath dress, the effect would be noticed! Today’s waistline garments most resemble traditional girdles.
Two, more updated, waist heights have addressed this “spill over” problem. Adjustable-rise garments are modern versions of cuff top garments. They deliver lighter control and have extra stretchy material that can be pulled up, or adjusted, to rest two to four inches above the natural waist. This adjustability provides control for the larger areas at, and around, the waist. This silhouette’s waist hugs the body right above the problem areas to give a seamless, hourglass effect. Such pieces also employ silicone at their tops so wearers don’t suffer the discomfort and show-through issues that elastic bands can cause. Adjustable-waist garments are obviously great for those with in-between torso heights, due to their built-in, custom-fit characteristic. Finally, high-waisted garments eliminate any chance for the creation of “muffin tops” by having waists that rise all the way to the underbust. This silhouette means business.
The leg type of a garment is the second key consideration to keep in mind when choosing a shapewear silhouette. Options here manifest themselves as thongs, briefs, boy shorts, bike pants, long legs, and pantliners. Thongs need no introduction. A brief leg is one that you’d see on a panty – they can be traditional or hi-cut but normally are just referred to as “briefs.” The “legged” options have different inseam lengths depending on the manufacturer’s interpretation of each one. Boy shorts have inseam lengths of two to four inches. Control boy shorts (as opposed to boy short panties) are tricky animals when someone has thick legs, as their lengths end at the fattiest part of the leg. The thought of control boy shorts makes me shiver, but that’s because they’re not well-suited for my body type. For thin- to average-legged women, however, this option is great when wearing short shirts and other short-length garments. Bike-pant inseams are four to six inches long and are great for skirts that hit above the knee. Long legs, a.k.a. thigh slimmers, have inseams that are six and one-half to eight inches long. This option is great for slacks and skirts that end below the knees. Pantliner inseams are seventeen to twenty-one inches long, and are obviously great for pants and Capri pants, depending on their length.
Before concluding, let me leave you with a couple of my favorite tips related to legged shapewear. First, such pieces can provide an invisible, extra layer of warmth during those cold winter months. Second, they can prevent the chafing that can occur when wearing skirts. If this problem vexes your life, you can really get a “2 for 1” benefit by choosing the right piece of legged shapewear.
Remember, examining each of the silhouette options for your lower half can allow you to find custom-fitting shapewear that tones, sculpts, and flatters areas from your underbust down to your calves.CC Image courtesy of petetaylor on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/petenator/2933214806/ / CC BY 2.0 CC Image courtesy of cooljinny on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/11600215@N02/ / CC BY 2.0