Shapewear: Try Before You Buy


5 Nov

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By Adam Welsch
Cupid Intimates

Try before you buy.  That’s a pretty ironic statement to make in the online world, where purchasing items usually requires a bit of faith, backed up by an accommodating product return policy.  But whether you purchase shapewear from a website or a traditional brick & mortar retailer, investing some of your time in a store’s dressing room first is sure to make you a more satisfied customer in the end.

Why?  While all clothes come in sizes and fabrics that fit differently from person to person, shapewear has more “satisfaction variables” than other apparel (due to the functions it performs) that consumers must take into consideration and assess.  Trying on shapewear, therefore, may be more important than trying on any other type of apparel.  Each garment combines a fabric, silhouette, and level of control to produce a specific look, feel, fit, and function.  You know from experience that if an item of clothing doesn’t look right, it’ll end up sitting in your closet or drawer.  Imagine how infrequently a piece of shapewear will see the light of day if it’s unattractive, uncomfortable, and doesn’t do the job you thought it would do when you bought it.  Trying on a garment will tell you how it’ll look, feel, and function on your unique body.

Let’s take each consideration in turn to better understand the benefits of “trying before buying.”  First – the look of shapewear.  You may not be a person who’s concerned with the look of your underwear.  But many women are.  Knowing that your piece of shapewear looks attractive may make you feel more attractive overall.  Not only will the cut, or silhouette, of your shapewear affect its appearance, so will the fabric from which it’s constructed.  Some silhouettes are sexier (like camis and torsettes); others are more modest (like bodybriefers and hi-waist long legs).  Similarly, some fabrics have shiny, attractive appearances or are made in a variety of fashion colors, while others have more plain appearances and/or are made in only basic colors.  Though a picture on a website or a hang tag can give you an idea of what that garment will look like when it’s sitting on someone else’s body, it won’t tell you what it’ll look like on you.  The mirror in a dressing room will be your best guide to that.

Second – the feel of shapewear.  This too is affected by the fabric, and to some extent by the silhouette, of a particular style.  But it’s also determined by the degree of control a garment provides.  Not only will the relative smoothness or silkiness of the fabric, and the places and ways the garment lies on your body, affect the way the piece of shapewear feels to you, the amount of compression it delivers to do the job you expect it to do will dictate whether or not it’ll be comfortable.  Make no mistake about it – comfort, or more precisely, whether or not you find a particular garment to be comfortable – may be the most important factor when choosing shapewear.

No matter what it looks like, no matter how well it’s made, no matter what it costs, if shapewear isn’t comfortable, you won’t wear it and won’t get the control, shaping, and/or smoothing benefits it can provide.  Each woman must determine what the correct balance between comfort and function is for her.  Even if you’re sure that you have the size that’s right for you, you won’t know whether that size, in a particular style, is comfortable until you try it on.  And when it comes to judging a garment’s comfort, there’s no substitute for taking the time to do it right.  The more time you can spend in the dressing room, the more likely you’ll know whether the amount of control a garment provides is right for you.  (Important Tip – Make sure to judge its comfort when standing, sitting, and walking.)

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Of course the fit of a garment will affect its feel to you as well.  Even when shapewear is well-made, the fact that every woman’s shape is in some way unique means that the same garment will fit two women of the same size differently.  It stands to reason then that one can’t rely on the promises of infomercials, or sizing charts of websites or hang tags, to determine whether bodybriefers, pantliners, camis, or any other shapewear silhouettes will fit or not.  Only by trying on garments will you be able to tell if you need mediums or larges.  And though some find it a bit embarrassing, securing the assistance of a trained salesperson when journeying into the fitting room can make the experience of trying on shapewear even more beneficial.  It often takes someone more familiar with the products in a store, and more objective about judging a body’s shape, to correctly identify one’s sizing and style needs.

Lastly – the function of shapewear.  Depending on its degree of control, shapewear can smooth, support, control, or shape various parts of your body.  Of course, when talking about the degree of control, what we’re really talking about is the amount of compression the garment will apply to your body.  Only by trying on a garment will you be able to tell whether a piece of shapewear transforms your figure to the degree you expect, and does so comfortably.  As with the considerations of look and feel, tags, TV commercials, and website videos can only make promises about function that don’t necessarily apply to all consumers.  You have to see for yourself whether the product really cinches your waist, flattens your tummy, lifts your backside, or smoothes your thighs.

So, if you’re buying a piece of shapewear that’s simply replacing an identical size and style that has finally worn out, by all means shop conveniently from the privacy of your own home computer or purchase something quickly from a sales floor rack.  But if you’re looking for a style you haven’t worn before – that incorporates a new silhouette, fabric construction, size, or level of control – do yourself a favor.  Make a plan to spend 20-30 minutes (or more) in your favorite store’s intimate apparel dressing room trying on a variety of shapewear pieces – along with some outfits you might not otherwise wear but for a bit of help underneath.  Rather than a chore, you might find the whole experience to be loads of fun (and a bit uplifting).

CC Image courtesy Phillie Casablanca photography on flickr CC BY 2.0
CC Image courtesy Tessss on flickr CC BY 2.0

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