A Brief Brief about Briefs

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24 Feb

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By Adam Welsch
Naomi & Nicole®

When you think about shapewear, which silhouette do you envision?  Do you see a torsette, a bodybriefer, a pantliner, or a waist cincher?  Chances are that you picture something more basic; chances are you see a brief.  Briefs may not be exciting, but they address certain needs well.  Think of them as the vanilla ice cream of shapewear – nothing fancy, but very popular.  But even the brief can be made with features that will surprise and delight.  In fact, I could go on and on about this pillar of shapewear, but I think it would be best to be brief.

Before proceeding, a clarification is in order.  This post will discuss shapewear briefs, not panty briefs.  While it’s certainly true that a shapewear brief made with a cotton crotch can be worn as a one’s sole pair of undies, it’s not a panty.   A shapewear brief, as its name predicts, shapes the wearer’s body as it delivers at least some degree of control.  Panties, on the other hand, provide no control.  While some of you may be old enough to remember that the term “panty girdle” was used when legged girdles were widely sold alongside open-bottom girdles, don’t let that throw you.  To simplify matters, briefs that control are considered shapewear; briefs that don’t are considered panties.

So, why should someone choose to wear a brief?  Briefs are designed to address the tummy, hips, and tush.  Some variations also target the midriff.  Due to the relatively small size of their silhouettes, briefs tend to be less expensive than more comprehensive styles, like torsettes or bodybriefers.  And for someone looking to enhance her appearance from the back side, padded and rear-lifting briefs are available to bump up one’s rump.

Briefs are available in all levels of control.  Light control styles are designed to provide a smooth look to tighter-fitting fashions.  They help reduce lines and bulges but are not meant to allow someone to wear a smaller-sized outfit.  Light control briefs can be comfortably worn all day and are the perfect choice for first-time shapewear buyers.  Comfortable Firm® control styles control, rather than just smooth, and do so with only a single ply of fabric.  Firm control styles shape the wearer and generally incorporate panels for targeted results.  Finally, extra firm control briefs transform bodies, allowing wearers to slip into smaller-sized pairs of pants.  These styles also incorporate paneling, and can have two or three plies of fabric.

Briefs are available in a variety of “sub-silhouettes.”  The standard brief that most people envision sits at the waist and has leg openings where the thighs meet the hips.  These are called waistline briefs.  If you’re larger around the middle, a waistline brief can produce the dreaded muffin top.  The solution is to switch to a hi-waist brief.  Instead of the waist, the top of this brief rests at the midriff, just below the bra band.  Hi-waist briefs have become the more popular choice of the two.  An adjustable rise brief allows the wearer to choose exactly where the waistband will be placed.  These are great solutions for women with taller midriffs and those who are in-between sizes.  A waist-cinching brief has the height of a hi-waist brief, and combines the simplicity of a brief with the controlling power of a waist cincher.  Usually designed with a hook-and-eye closure, many women who experience chronic back pain find the added support provided by this style to be quite comforting.

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Variations on the brief’s standard form aren’t limited to the waistline.  Changes to the length and placement of the leg openings create four additional sub-silhouettes.  A hi-cut is made for someone looking for a somewhat sexier look than that imparted by the standard form.  The tops of its leg openings rest at the hips, rather than at the junction of the hips and thighs.  If you’re looking to reduce VPLs, a body-shaping thong can be a good choice.  Of course, many women find thongs to be uncomfortable.  At the opposite end of the brief (and comfort) spectrum is the boy short.  Though made with leg openings that fall below the junction of the thigh and the hip, boy shorts are noticeably shorter than thigh slimmers and are therefore properly grouped with other briefs.  The girl short is a special case.  In some instances, it’s just another name for a boy short.  But for manufacturers that offer both boy-short and girl-short styles, the girl short has leg openings with lengths that fall between those of the standard brief and the boy short.

As with panty briefs, two problems many women experience when wearing shapewear briefs are wedgies and VPLs.  Though these problems can be addressed to some degree by wearing boy shorts or thongs, respectively, the best way to prevent them is through the application of technology.  Briefs are available today that employ a directly-applied, silicone finish at their leg openings.  Not only do they stay in place and remain invisible beneath the tightest pants, the elasticity and spacing of the finish ensures a cool, breathable fit.  Brief lovers no longer need to tolerate ride-up or show-through.

Oops, I’m sorry.  It looks like the many virtues of this pillar of shapewear silhouettes made it impossible to keep this brief on briefs, well, brief.  Thank goodness comparisons don’t have to be drawn to such things as shapewear boxers.

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CC Image courtesy Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital// CC BY 2.0
CC Image courtesy izik on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/izik// CC BY 2.0

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