Many women come in to a lingerie department or store looking for something to squeeze and smooth out the too-human bumps underneath their dresses—to take off inches, essentially. But no matter the hype or how many pairs you squeeze into, Spanx are not about making miracles.
“Unless you’re dealing with a waist cincher or corset, shapers are for smoothing; they are not as much for taking off inches,” says Top Drawer bra fitter and buyer Heather Skonberg. They may offer a little slimming power, she adds, “but it’s not going to be a drastic change.”
According to Skonberg, the biggest mistake people make with shapers is they opt for a smaller size in order to get more slimming. This is what usually causes rolling, digging and tearing—not to mention the dreaded sausage effect—so for best results stay true to your size. Here's three of Skolberg's favorite shapers:
One of the reasons Skonberg likes this French brand’s shapewear is that it lasts a long time compared to other products. It’s a medium hold, so it not only smooths you out, it also shapes out your derriere, thighs, and waist. The lace accents on the legs lay flat, so they won’t be visible underneath a dress. And if you’re worried about the shapewear peeking out from under higher hems, there’s also a high-waist brief.
Wacoal’s shapewear is the sleeper of the shapewear world. Although it has firm support on the tummy, this shapewear is surprisingly comfortable, and it’s seam-free! How can you beat that, especially in a form-fitting dress?
Of course we can’t write about shape wear without mentioning Spanx! And the Spanx model that comes highly recommended is also the strongest of hold. No lie, it is a workout getting into these babies. But it does its job of smoothing you out and holding you in as well as lifting your derriere a bit. Plus, this shapewear comes with a set of straps to help keep your Spanx from rolling. (There's also an “easy access” slit, for when you can't wrestle the whole thing off of you in the ladies' room.)
About those bustiers and cinchers…
If you're looking to really take inches off—temporarily, at least—there are bustiers, which Skonberg says are a whole other animal. However finding one with the right fit can be a real challenge.
“You’re not just dealing with ribcage and bust, you’re also dealing with midsection and hips. The proportions are hard to get exact on both sides. You’re also dealing with torso length. A lot of times, we find that the bustier is too long for people’s torsos, and when that happens, the cup just falls forward. It doesn’t lift, it doesn’t support,” she says.
Another common problem that Skonberg has found is that the best-fitting and most supportive bustiers consist of lace and boning, which can be seen through certain fabrics.
“People come in with a jersey knit dress and they need a strapless bra for it and the only option is the bustier. But that lace and that boning, everything about that bra, will be showing straight through those lighter-weight knit fabrics."
If a bustier isn't right but you still want inches off, look no further than Squeem's waist cincher ($60), which Skonberg says it actually does take off inches. “It’s awesome, but you do need help to get into it. It’s intense!” Skonberg says. “A lot of women feel it forces you to stand up taller and straighter.”
Ah, standing up tall—that's the shaper that money can't buy.