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Beyond the Bra: Shapewear for the Upper Body

8 Dec

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By Marcy Montgomery Jones
Cupid Intimates


When women think about shapewear, pieces for the lower body come to mind.  But there are a multitude of shapewear silhouettes for the top half too. Something to address every conceivable insecurity or unruly bulge exists, and it seems like the products just keep coming. Within the last year there’s been a tremendous growth in consumer-driven demand for upper-body shaping products of all varieties.

Let’s begin with the torsette.  This is a hybrid silhouette, lying somewhere between the waist cincher and the cami.  The garment has its chest “removed,” and if you’re having trouble picturing it, take a look at the black garment over the white blouse that the St.Pauli Girl wears. No one wears a torsette as well as her.  The torsette is worn with a bra, and provides the definition otherwise given by a waist cincher along with the back-smoothing ability that a cami delivers.  It also helps hold back the shoulders to give the wearer excellent posture. Its deep scoop in the front accommodates both large and small breast sizes.

High-waisted garments arose from the demand for control garments that didn’t create a bulge at the waist caused by the movement of the midriff up and over the top of waistline control garments. High-waist pieces feature extra fabric height above the waist for smoothing that extends all the way to the underbust. This eliminates the “muffin top” effect that significant shaping briefs can produce.

Waist cinchers are high-stretch, high-modulus, tube-shaped garments that are especially adept at creating an hourglass figure. Typically, these garments use flexible, spiral-metal bones that allow the wearer to maintain freedom of movement. The one big variance from waist cincher to waist cincher is their heights, as these can range from ten to twelve inches. Another difference is that some styles have hook-and-eye fasteners in the front and others don’t.

The control cami can be thought of as a “gateway to the girdle.” Depending on the construction and fabric used, this garment can have multiple purposes, and can be disguised so well that the eye can’t tell whether it’s a piece of sportswear or shapewear. New and exciting styles are popping up that look more like sexy, layered suit pieces than scuba suits. Camis are available with several different kinds of cup construction; there are those with wire cups, those with molded or foam-molded cups, and those with “shelf bras.” Camis can be strapless, have tank straps, or have adjustable straps. Often the tank- and adjustable-strap camis offer back smoothing in addition to the belly compression offered by all control camis.

The control slip is a full-body smoothing unit. It comes in strapless, tank, and adjustable-strap options. Styles include those with foam-molded cups and bullet-molded cups. Depending on their construction, typical slip lengths will hit anywhere between the upper thigh and the mid-thigh.

Other than your bra, which item of shapewear do you most often wear on your upper body?

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Body briefers offer the best, full-body, control solution, and are often the choice of the hardcore shapewear lover. They’re similar to one-piece swimsuits; they have cups, torso coverage, and a crotch. They may have seamed, foam-molded, or, occasionally, bullet-molded cups. Body briefers can be strapless or have adjustable straps. Their leg options can be of the thong, brief, or long-leg style.

Arm shapers are relatively new to the industry and are now being offered in a small number of department stores. These garments come in several forms, and some look like mini shawls that wrap around your back and can be cleverly hidden under short-sleeve and ¾-length tee shirts. These garments address the underside of the upper arm known as the “bingo arm” or “batwing”.

Regardless of whatever upper-body concern you may have, chances are that there’s a shaper available to solve your problem.

CC Image courtesy of CarbonNYC on Flickr / CC BY 2.0
CC Image courtesy of greg westfall. on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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