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Got A Sleeker Physique (Part 1)

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Body-shapers have come a long way since the girdle

The very mention of shapewear may make you shudder if the last time you encountered any it was of the girdle variety, but these days there are some fantastic foundation garments and every day wear products out there designed to make you look fabulous. Shapewear has seen a real resurgence, and now it's worn by everyone from Hollywood starlets and divas to everyday women seeking to improve the way their clothes look. For older women, shapewear may offer a few other benefits, too.

Body-shapers have come a long way since the girdle

Body-shapers have come a long way since the girdle

Jeanie Kimber, a Halifax-based stylist and owner of Style Me! Wardrobe Consulting, is a big fan of shape-wear. "Proper foundation garments really make a difference in terms of how your clothes fit, but there's also a side benefit in that they give a lot of support to your posture in the lower-back area, so the advantages are more than purely aesthetic," Kimber says. That support helps you carry yourself better—and look a little younger as a consequence.

While shapewear isn't a miracle worker and can't completely transform your body shape, it can take things back towards the way they were before menopause or perimenopause may have started to work a number on your body.

"Shapewear can contain your body in a way that you're maybe more familiar with," Kimber says. "It can help you get the body you knew in your younger years, giving you a little bit more of a waist, which can be one of the first things to go as our shape changes with age."

Shapewear

Shapewear

Diane Thomson, owner of Dianes Lingerie in Vancouver, sells a lot of shapewear and sees it as an essential part of every woman's wardrobe these days. She says, "Every woman should have some shapewear because it just makes such a difference to how good our clothes look on us. Shaping garments will provide a seamless, sleek foundation for an outfit and as a result make the outfit look and sit better."

Kimber adds, "Darts and seams fit where they are supposed to, and there are no panty lines to contend with. Plus, you can go for ones that add a little padding around the bum if yours has slid or flattened down a little bit. So you can in fact reshape your body, as well."

The Right Undies for the Job

Because of the huge comeback shapewear has seen over the past few years, consumers have a lot of options when it comes to choosing garments. Some brands of shapewear offer much firmer support (and can therefore be hard to wear all day), whereas others offer less support but more comfort. You can buy shapewear in most department stores and in specialty lingerie stores, and many of the brands you already know and trust are producing their own lines.

The term shapewear encompasses a lot of differently styled garments; you can buy everything from thongs that have tummy-flattening panels to all-in-one garments that cover you from shoulder to knee. When shopping for shapewear, you need to consider what you'll be wearing over it (are you aiming to look better in certain dresses or in a favourite pair of jeans, for example?), and it's a good idea to take that garment with you when you shop to see how the body-shaper works with it.

Thomson says that panty-style shapers are better suited to dress pants or jeans, and those with a leg or shorts will always give a more seamless look. If you're planning to wear the garment under a skirt or dress, you should look for a shaper that starts under the bust: "That way, you get one continuous, seamless line."

The color of the body-shaper is also important. Thomson advises staying away from white, as it is never as flattering as nude-colored shapers, which can be worn with any lighter-colored clothing. Black shapewear, she says, should be worn with darker outfits. "You also need to keep in mind the season, as you'll want to wear something made from a lighter fabric in the warmer months," she says.

And consider the results you want and how much you're willing to swap comfort for looking slimmer. Generally, the body-shapers that give the most impressive compression are going to be harder to wear for longer periods of time.

"As you get older, I think, your tolerance for uncomfortable things gets lower," Kimber says. "Maybe for a more dressy occasion you'd be more interested in something that isn't as comfortable, but there are so many choices out there that you don't need to feel like you're stuffing yourself into sausage casing!"

For example, if you want to dress to impress for a special event and don't mind feeling a little compressed, Spanx's Slimmer and Shine Mid-Thigh Bodysuit ($82) gives you a really great shape and comes with removable "buttlets"—extra padding for your behind, should you want to add curves there. Triumph's Shape Sensation Highwaist Panty ($55) is also fab at flattening your tummy. For more comfortable, less compressive support, Playtex's Super Look body-shaper ($72.25) is great, and Hanes's All-In-One Torset ($27) is made to be worn with your regular bra and gives a good shape without squeezing you too tightly.

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