By David Welsch
If you’re like most women, there’s at least one aspect of your figure with which you’re unhappy. Perhaps you’re looking for a flatter tummy, or smaller hips and thighs; you might want to eliminate some back fat or smooth away a muffin top; or maybe you desire a bit more shape for your derriere.
Many women deal with what they perceive to be their figure flaws by choosing to wear certain outfits that hide them. That is certainly one way to deal with them. But that strategy places limits on the kinds of fashions that can be worn. A better way to deal with figure flaws, while maintaining “fashion freedom,” is to wear the right piece of shapewear.
For shapewear to be right, it has to work for the woman wearing it. It has to improve her figure to her satisfaction, while simultaneously feeling comfortable. If shapewear doesn’t make clothes look better when they’re worn, or is so uncomfortable that wearing it is something to be dreaded, it loses its reason for being.
So what’s the key to making shapewear that strikes the right balance between function and comfort? The answer is properly controlling stretch. For a piece of shapewear to deliver real shaping or smoothing results, its stretch has to be reduced. But for it to be comfortable, and for it to move with the wearer throughout her day and its activities, sufficient stretch has to be left in.
Also, for shapewear to be practical, it must be easy to put on and take off. This ability is lost when stretch is overly restricted. In addition, since most people frequently gain and lose at least a little weight, shapewear must be able to adjust to changes in a wearer’s size, while remaining comfortable and continuing to perform the job it was purchased to do. So ease of use and fit adjustability should always be considered when one shops for shapewear.
You might wonder exactly how shapewear is designed so that its stretch is properly controlled. Designers employ several different tactics. They try to choose the right fabric for each garment and the specific function it must perform. Different fabrics have different amounts of stretch (fabrics made with spandex can have a great deal of stretch, whereas satin tummy panels without spandex can have virtually none). Designers also determine where seams need to be placed. Whether created with a needle and thread, or adhesives, seams are essential to the functional success of shapewear. They control stretch, and allow the garment to shape, by allowing different fabrics to be used within the same garment, one type of fabric to be placed in different orientations within the same garment, or the size of an unrestricted area of fabric to be reduced. Designers also determine how many plies or layers of fabric will be used in some, or all, of a garment. The more plies used, the more the garment’s stretch will be reduced. Of course, not all parts of a wearer’s body will require the same amounts of shaping or smoothing. A shapewear designer, therefore, skillfully provides for stretch and control in targeted parts of each garment.
The next time you’re in a store looking for some shapewear, do yourself a favor. Before trying on garments, place your hands inside of them and see how their fabrics stretch. You’ll be able to narrow down your choices, and save yourself a lot of dressing-room time, by getting a feel for how much control each will deliver, which areas of your body will be targeted, and to what degree each will provide fit adjustability and comfort.CC Image courtesy of nagillum on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/nagillum/ / CC BY 2.0 CC Image courtesy of mikebaird on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/ / CC BY 2.0