Ask Allie: Shapewear and Other Underpinnings

 

Hi Allie, I'm wondering if you have good resources for bigger undergarments? Thank you.

Thank you for asking this. I don’t think many lingerie companies realize that when you are plus sized you can’t just rock the same thong or bikini in a larger size. Flattering and comfortable undergarments for women with curves are hard to find… but they do exist. Here’s some retailers that are known for understanding a woman with curves. 

  • Eveden Lingerie Group – Eveden is a group of brands that specializes in fuller figured women. Elomi is one of these brands, and they offer bras and matching underwear for fuller-figured women. Their pieces fit and flatter, don’t ride or dig but are still feminine and yes, even sexy. All of the Eveden brands fit up to at least an H cup and are specially designed for women with curves, you can find a list of their brands here.
  • Cacique – Cacique is the lingerie brand under Lane Bryant (does anyone else remember when Cacique was a mall chain that was part of The Limited? I think I still have a robe from there). Cacique has bra sizes starting at 36C and they go up to an H cup; their panties are available in sizes 12-28 and are cut for a fuller figure. Cacique also offers a nice variety of shapewear. You can find Cacique at Lane Bryant, but there is an even larger selection online.
  • Just My Size (JMS) – JMS is a brand under Hanes that is geared towards plus size women. They offer wallet-friendly lingerie, as well as clothing and exercise gear. Just My Size can be found at Walmart as well as online – be sure to check out their online outlet where you can get undergarments for up to 70% off.
  • BarePlus by Bare Necessities – I raved about Bare Necessities here, and I love that they have a shop within a shop just for fuller-figured women. BarePlus has more than 1,000 styles of plus size bras and lingerie, and also sells plus size swimwear, shapewear, sleepwear, and hosiery.

 

What do you wear under your thin or knit (and possibly casual) dresses during warmer weather? I don't feel comfy in just a pair of undies, but any kind of control garment seems like overkill and too hot!

Bike shorts. Yep folks, I wear a lot of bike shorts come summer. They are silky so knits don’t cling, I don’t have to worry about panty lines, they prevent chafing, and the waistband comes up high enough that I don’t have to worry about muffin top or roll-down when I sit. The ones I have are from Kmart circa 2007 – they aren’t very tight, have a cotton crotch, and are free of any details so if the wind decides to have me do a Marilyn, I don’t look as though I am wearing gym clothes under my frock.

 

I've noticed that you always look very smooth and “defined” in your photos even when wearing fitted garments. You've mentioned in previous posts that you have some tummy since having your daughter, but you never look like you have the typical pooch! Do you wear shapewear? I saw that an old post circa 2006 mentioned a Spanx product and a closet/drawer inventory also listed a few pieces, but I'm really interested in what pieces you've been wearing (if any!) lately that have given you such a smooth and defined look.

I used to wear shapewear almost daily. These days, I am often just wearing “granny panties” under my dresses – high enough waist to not worry about rolling or muffin top, a hem that doesn’t cause VPL, a smooth fabric that doesn’t cling to knits. However, I do have some control garments I adore and wear often:

  • Spanx Higher Power – I adore Higher Powers with the bike shorts because it will tuck under my bra strap, give a smooth look from ribcage to thigh, and have a split crotch so I don’t have to wriggle in and out of it with each bathroom break. I have one in nude, one in black. If you’re torn between two sizes, size down. They stretch out a bit after wears and washes, and I found the slightly bigger ended up being completely ineffective after a few wears.
  • Spanx Tight End Tights – They are super durable (they will survive the washing machine!), super thick, not too shiny, not too matte, and suck in the pooch. I wear them almost exclusively all fall and winter.
  • Assets High-Waist Shaper – I’m shaped like an apple, so any control panty that hits at the natural waist cuts me in half and makes it clear to people a mile away that I am wearing a control garment. This shaper is comfortable, and can tuck under my bra strap for a smooth line. I wear this one instead of the Spanx Higher Power when I am wearing a dress that doesn’t cling on the rear – it is more comfortable than the bike shorts, but can cause a bit of VPL.
  • DKNY “Lace Curves” Shaping Brief – They’re pretty in a retro/vintage way, the lace edging keeps it from riding up or causing VPL, and it’s comfortable. These aren’t briefs that will remove the pooch, but it will keep it contained and looking a bit more firm. I like these under dresses that aren’t tight, but can still show some pooch when sitting or dancing.

 

I have a question about shape wear. What should I look for when I buy shape wear? I have bought shape wear before but I find that it never seems to stay put. It will ride up or down, smash the twins, or just be visible. What do you recommend?

Different shapewear works for different women – the control garment that your best friend adores may be completely the wrong type for your figure and lifestyle. Different styles of shapewear target different parts of a woman’s body. You’ll see at online boutiques that they often organize shapewear by body part you wish to target (hips, thighs, rear, belly, etc.).

When it comes to shapewear, I love to read online reviews. Sites like Nordstrom and Amazon are known for having tons of customer reviews and such honest feedback from real people can assist in helping you find the style that is best for your body.

For me, I find high waist shapewear to stay in place better than those that end at the natural waist – they don’t roll when I sit, and I can usually stretch them to tuck under my bra strap (for special occasions like weddings I have been known to pin my shapewear to my bra to prevent it from sliding). I never purchase control camisoles or shapewear with a built-in bra because I don’t think they do a good enouh job of supporting and flattering my breasts. Brands like Spanx sell slips and control panties that either have straps to connect to your bra, or are cut to expose the front of your bra, still providing slimming control along your back and torso.

If there’s a seam, it will be seen. Heavier duty shapewear has to have visible seams so they are better worn under heavier fabrics. Again, I will mention Spanx who makes relatively seamless control garments that are still good at compressing and slimming – I usually find they only have one seam down the center, which is pretty easy to hide with pleats, belts, and blousing of a top. As for VPL, I usually go with a bike short style to prevent it – I find control thongs to be uncomfortable, and usually if a control garment has a no-VPL backside, it doesn’t control well, or it rides up.

Finally, one should never purchase white shapewear. While black is important to wear under dark fabrics (hello flash photography), finding shapewear as close to your skintone as possible will prevent it from showing through your clothing.

Allie, what do you think of maternity shapewear? It boggles my mind, but I was wondering if you tried it?

I wore Spanx and Assets maternity tights and loved them. When you get into the last trimester, it actually feels good to have something help support all that weight. Maternity shapewear isn't trying to shrink the belly, it is more for support and control. I liked having something prevent the jiggling and sloshing. That being said, I was in my third trimester in the winter – I couldn't even imagine wearing such things if pregnant in the summer.

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20 Comments

  1. Dorothy
    September 19, 2016 / 11:26 am

    Hi Allie, I have several shape wear garments . I’m trying to stretch them because they are to tight. Any suggestions

    • Dorothy
      September 19, 2016 / 11:29 am

      stretching shape wear garments????

      • September 20, 2016 / 8:26 am

        Oh gosh not sure. I know putting them in the dryer will break down the elastic which will make them less tight, but that will break down the shaping aspect as well. That would be my suggestion though if they can’t be worn otherwise!

  2. Dorothy
    September 19, 2016 / 11:24 am

    hi allie, i have several shape wear garments that are too tight I’m trying to stretch them any hints for stretching

  3. Kaijsa
    April 24, 2012 / 9:04 pm

    Thanks for that. I am still hunting for the perfect low-cut brief with a high waist!

  4. April 20, 2012 / 1:20 pm

    Oh, that’s a toughie. I’d probably wear a slip in white underneath, which would give more opacity than nude. I have a white cotton slip of a thing that was actually the lining in a thrift store sundress – I hated the dress but the lining was 90% separate, I just stitched up the place where it connected to the dress and made it into a slip to wear with anything else. It’s thin breathable cotton so it isn’t dreadful in the heat. I bet stores sell similar pieces too. 🙂

  5. Meganrosberg
    April 20, 2012 / 2:12 am

    I bought a cute white sundress on vacation last year but have never worn it because it’s too transparent (apparently I didn’t realize it in the dark fitting room). It’s strapless with an empire waist (cuter than what I’m explaining) but have no idea what type of undergarments to wear. I tried it on with nude underwear but still a little transparent for me. Do I go the slip route? Not something I’d like to wear with a sundress….

  6. TinaPete
    April 19, 2012 / 1:55 pm

    Thanks Allie, I’m revamping my summer wardrobe for weight loss and this post came in mighty handy.  Orderd bike shorts by Danskin & the DKNY lacy things.  I’ll be careful about the lacy part, thanks for the heads-up Ginger.  I love  this blog!

  7. April 19, 2012 / 11:55 am

     Read thinandcurvy.com for tips on where to find small bands with big cups. And everyone else should read it too. You don’t have to be thin OR curvy to find great advice there. 🙂

  8. Ginger
    April 18, 2012 / 9:44 pm

    Bike shorts are great. 
    A word of caution about the DKNY lacy things.  I bought a pair and the first time I wore them I put my finger through the lacy part pulling them down to pee.  I thought I was being careful! 

  9. April 18, 2012 / 8:09 pm

    I’m going to try the bike short idea.  I love it.

  10. April 18, 2012 / 6:52 pm

    I haven’t tried the Spanx, but I find these to be cut like a higher cut brief. My hip bones aren’t exposed, but it’s not like a low-cut brief.

  11. April 18, 2012 / 6:49 pm

    Nope, basic bike shorts. I think they were around $10, really cheapy, no silicone or elastic on the legs. If anything, they are a bit more like a boxer brief, except no fly. Short, slim fit, but not tight.

  12. April 18, 2012 / 6:43 pm

    I remember the old Cacique. The first time I came to the US, it was ’93 and I got some great, pretty bras there. I was disappointed when I came back a few years later to find it was now only a plus-size brand – I have a DD cup, but a 32 band, so the “new” Cacique has nothing for me. 🙁

  13. Grace Mitchell
    April 18, 2012 / 6:38 pm

    LOL. I literally cringed at the idea of wearing shapewear right now. The itchiness factor alone…just no.

  14. April 18, 2012 / 6:30 pm

    Now, when you say ‘bike shorts,’ do you you mean a control garment shaped like a bike short, or do you literally mean bike shorts?

  15. Kaijsa Calkins
    April 18, 2012 / 6:28 pm

    I’m also an apple, and I love high-waisted shapewear. I’ve liked the Spanx high-waisted power pants or whatever they’re called, but find they are a little more high cut on the sides of the leg openings than is ideal for me. Do you think the Assets high-waist shaper is like this? Thanks for this post!

  16. April 18, 2012 / 6:05 pm

    You must be reading my mind. I wore a knit wrap dress yesterday and thought, “I really need to do some research about undergarments.” And here it is! 

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