My Favorite Underpinnings

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Wardrobe Oxygen: The best lingerie for curvy women and women over 30. Favorite bras, panties, shapewear, and more.When I was in my ‘20s, lingerie was chosen for its cute factor (or sexy factor). I had a drawer full of lacy frothy bras and slips of underwear, often in candy colors. As I have gotten older and my body has gotten softer, my lingerie drawer may not be as exciting, but I love it even more. Great underpinnings can really transform a figure, make clothing hang better, and give you a boost of confidence. Below are my favorite underpinnings – bras, shapewear, hosiery, and underwear of all styles.

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Favorite Bras

This is where I again tell you to get a professional bra fitting! Even with a tape measure and a friend, it’s better to put your girls in the hands of a pro who will not only give an accurate fitting but know which type of bra that would best flatter and support your specific figure. I always wore traditional bras of half satin or another fabric, half lace. They were pretty and they were what my mom wore when I was little and what I bought when I finally developed breasts. When my bust grew, I bought a lot of bras that were made of stretchy seamless lace or satin to have them invisible under knits. I never considered molded cups because I figured they’d make me look bigger but a salesperson suggested one, I tried it, and I never looked back. With weight gain and loss, over two years of breastfeeding, and a large cup size, a molded cup gives me a round perky shape without looking larger or fake. Molded cups also hide “headlights” and usually disappear under knits and light-colored tops.

Everyday Bra – Fantasie Smoothing Molded Cup Underwire Bra

I love this bra, it has been my everyday bra for over five years. I replace them every 6-9 months, around the time when the band gets too stretchy and a wire starts poking me in the armpit. This bra give a great shape, is extremely comfortable, and invisible under 99% of my wardrobe. I also like that the strap is simple so if it peeks out it doesn’t look weird.  I wear Nude with light colors, Black with dark, they disappear under everything and don't look terribly frumptastic.  In fact, if I were the type to wear just a bra under a sheer top this would be a perfect choice.

Strapless Bra – Fantasie Strapless Underwire Bra

The coolest thing I learned with my first pro bra fitting is that it is possible to have a large bust and find a strapless bra that lifts, separates, and is comfortable for an entire evening. This is essentially the strapless version of my everyday bra. It’s not the most comfortable strapless I have ever owned, but it holds me up, gives great shape even under slinky pieces, and I can survive a day wearing it without wanting to tear off my chest.  This bra comes with straps, I have before worn one strap with an off the shoulder top but really this holds up well enough on its own.

Summer Bra – Chantelle Rive Gauche Underwire Bra

In the summer heat and humidity, molded cups can feel like encasing your breasts in sponges. Not hot. This is when I switch to more traditional of bras, and look for ones with thinner straps that won’t look as frumptastic if it peeks out from a tank top. Not only is this bra comfortable and flattering, but it’s sexy looking too (I have the matching panties to wear for special occasions).  Check out places like Amazon and Bare Necessities where they often have discontinued colors for cheap.

Sports Bra – Still Looking!

I have this one from Wacoal and for now it gets the job done, but it takes 20 years for it to get on and the straps unhook really easily, especially while I'm in some yoga-like position trying to get this thing on in the dark early in the morning.  But so far it's the best I have found, I don't jiggle and I don't have monoboob.

Favorite Shapewear

I have no desire to make myself look or feel like a stuffed sausage or try to pour myself into a smaller size dress, but I do like wearing shapewear, especially under dresses for a smoother line and to have things hang better.  For transparency, I do sometimes double up my shapewear for outfit posts but if you see me around town I'll be softer.

Control Panty – DKNY Lace Curves Shaping Brief

These control panties don’t suck me in as much as smooth everything out. I regularly wear these under dress pants because they don’t give me VPL (visible panty line), no muffin top, no gas pain, just a smooth look. They’re also super cute and have a vintage vibe, which is nice. These do stretch out after a few months, Nordstrom almost always has them part of their sales and you can often find them on sale at Amazon.

High Waisted Control Panty – DKNY Seductive Lights High Waist Shortie

This sucks me in more than Spanx, and far more than the Lace Curves Shaping Brief, but it doesn’t hurt. The higher waist prevents muffin top and on my petite self, ends only an fraction below my bra strap so there’s no spillover. There’s also plenty of silicone on the top which keeps it from rolling down (seriously, all other styles like this eventually roll down on me but not this one). Like the Lace Curves, the rear is lace so there’s no VPL and it’s prettier than traditional control garments. When I do an outfit post, more often than not this baby is worn under the dress.

Under Bust Bodysuit – DKNY Jolie Under Bust Bodysuit

This is essentially the same thing as their Lace Curves shaping brief, but with straps. The straps are adjustable and relatively thin so you can carry off wearing this even with a sleeveless dress. The satin is right up to my bra band so with a coordinating bra it gives a bodysuit effect and the back is high enough to not have a roll under the bra strap. No panty lines, and though there’s lace and seams it’s not visible unless your dress is a very thin material and quite fitted. The black is downright sexy, my husband thinks it’s lingerie. I got a hot pink one on clearance and baby the heck out of it because it’s my favorite to wear on Date Night with my hot pink and violet crossdyed push-up bra. Again, this won’t suck you in, it just smooths under dresses. My one issue is the hook and eye closure at the crotch; the bodysuit can ride up and you end up with metal in a very sensitive part of your body. I’ve become expert at shimmying the bodysuit down further than I think I need it each time I use the bathroom and it will ride up to a comfortable place and stay (unless I dance or anything like that… then I feel the pinch).

Firmer Control Under Bust Bodysuit – TC Fine Intimates Open Bust Torsette Bodysuit

This thing is NOT cute. It’s like a wrestling singlet as it’s a thick stretchy fabric that feels athletic. It is not something to wear under a bodycon dress as it will give you VPL, and the straps are wide and not cute so you don’t want to wear with a sleeveless outfit. BUT… it gets the job done without having you doubled over in pain or feeling too sucked in to have fun. The whole thing is seamless and stretchy, and there’s no hardware so it’s invisible under clothing, and it has a high back so you’re smooth from every angle. For going to the bathroom I do the same as I do with bathing suits – I move it to the side and hold in place. I don’t get sweaty or claustrophobic in it, and it holds up beautifully through multiple (gentle) launderings.

Favorite Underwear

I have small hips, a round booty, and a “mama pooch” so I look for styles that won’t roll under my belly, won’t segment my cheeks, and hopefully won’t give me VPL all while looking relatively pretty.

Thong – Hanky Panky Retro Thong

This thong is high waisted, it ends up just a bit below my belly button and has wide sides that stay in place meaning no wedgies! These never roll down on me, and I don’t wear lowrise pants so I never fear them showing. They’re super comfortable, come in a bunch of fun colors, and if you launder them correctly stay looking great for a very long time. I’ve been buying and wearing these thongs for years.

Everyday Panty – Hanky Panky Retro Vikini

This panty also has a higher front, so it doesn’t roll under my belly and the full back really fits my rear and never gives me wedgies. However with the v-front and full lace design it’s still a darn cute pair of undies. Even though they have a standard edge, I don’t get mega VPL with them. These are summer favorites as they’re cool and breathable but substantial enough to wear under sundresses.

Pretty Undies- Variety

I go up a size to prevent rolling and riding and buy designer brands on clearance. Since most of my bras are black or nude, I usually choose a black based style so it coordinates. Bikinis are often too skimpy, briefs are usually too full of coverage, I do best with a really general term of “panty” for underwear that is usually designed to coordinate with a bra that usually doesn’t come in a cup size big enough for me. I also have success with what some brands call a “bikini brief” and snag those when I find them on sale.

Favorite Hosiery

A good pair of tights are a gamechanger. I like them really opaque, with a matte finish, and a high waist that won’t dig in, segment, or give me muffin top. No sagging, no bagging, and no defined foot since that is always too big for me.

Everyday Opaque Tights – Spanx Tight End  Reversible Tights

I’m a big fan of these tights. Though I never wear the non-black color, the reversible version of these tights are nice and thick and hold their shape really well. I can walk on concrete, scrape against a brick wall, have them accidentally go in the dryer and they hold up. Usually I have to replace because the crotch has fallen apart, not because of a run or snag.

Fleece Tights – Oroblu Warm & Soft Tights

I bought these on Nordstrom but since then I can only find them on UK-based sites or Oroblu's online boutique. They are the only fleece tights I have found that aren’t too long, too short, too saggy, not stretchy enough, don’t pill, and don’t stretch out. They’re a matte black finish and super opaque and unless you’re right on top of them you can’t tell they’re not normal tights. However they’re super warm.

Everyday Socks – Lands’ End Seamless Toe Cotton Blend Crew

I’m picky with socks. Even though I wear a size 8 shoe which is pretty average, most socks are too big for me. I have short toes and a seam always seems to be pressing on the pads of them. I have thick ankles and wide shins so many socks dig into my legs leaving marks and being uncomfortable. And my feet sweat, so I want a sock that breathes a bit, absorbs, but still looks professional enough to peek out between ankle bootie and trouser or disappear when wearing black pants and shoes. These accomplish all of that, and they’re often on sale.

Now Show Socks – Smartwool Hide and Seek Socks

These socks are awesome. They keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter, if you size correctly (I wear a medium and I am a size 8) they don’t slide around and they’re low profile enough to not be seen under my oxfords and brogues. In the winter I sometimes wear them under taller socks for an extra bit of warmth and I wear them over tights when I wear slim-fitting knee high boots. They’re not cheap, but they’re awesome.

Other Miscellaneous Lingerie

Things to add opacity, to prevent chafing, and complete a look. These are usually the things you don’t think you need until the situation arises and you wish you had!

Full Slip – Calvin Klein Icon Full Slip

This slip has adjustable straps, is thin and airy and free of adornment so it disappears under clothing. I have it in nude and in black. They’re great for adding an extra layer in the winter – really great for wind protection!  However, it's not too sweat-inducing for sheer summer dresses.

Camisole – Random H&M Purchase

I know, very vague but I bought it at the Annapolis Mall H&M when Emerson was an infant. It’s essentially the same fabric as my Calvin Klein slip, has adjustable straps and is really long so it doesn’t ride up or slip out when tucked in. I don’t recall what department I got it from but I bet it wasn’t lingerie. I don’t like those stretchy body-hugging camis because they roll up on me and usually are too tight to work with my bra; before I had this I used a synthetic cami from Express. Though this may be considered clothing and not lingerie, I only use it as a camisole and keep it in my lingerie drawer.

Chafe Protection – Jockey Skimmies Original

These don’t suck you in, they are just made to keep a smooth line under clothes and prevent chafing. And they work, read my story in this post or this post. I’ve tried a variety of the Skimmies and prefer the original version the most. If unsure size down, they do stretch out with wear.

Long Underwear – Lands’ End Thermaskin Collection

You can read my review here. And I do use the cami from this collection in the same manner as my H&M cami, it’s just not as long so not as good under dresses and times when I don’t want a seam or it to ride up.

Now I’d love to hear from you! What are your must-have underpinnings? What has transformed your body or your wardrobe and you can’t live without?

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  1. I was a 36 F and loved the Moving Comfort Mia (?) and Juno. The Juno is difficult to get into and even more difficult to get out of when you’re sweaty – but it’s a racer back and most cute workout tops require racerback. I recently discovered Shock Absorber Women’s Multi Sport Max Support Sports Bra Top via Amazon and love it – especially for the price point. I can get 2 of these to 1 Moving Comfort. Bonus, they’re a racerback but I like that it has more support of a standard bra since it has 2 latches to keep the girls steady.

  2. Just wanted to say that on your recommendation I bought a pair of the Hanky Pany Vikini and they are wonderful even though a little pricey. I will be adding these to my wardrobe a little at a time. Thanks !

  3. I LIVE in the Panache sports bra. My daughter is newly walking, and I finally gave up on balconettes because I’m bending over and rolling around on the floor all day. This holds me in and makes me feel ready for anything. I wear it to work 4 days out of 5, and even in the most strenuous dance cardio class, there’s practically no jiggle. For reference, post-preg, I’m a UK 36FF in this style. Just be aware the band on this is tight compared to other brands and the cups run one size large, in my opinion. There’s a wire-free version, too, but I wasn’t as impressed with it. For a wire free sports bra, it’s a great bra, but there’s nothing to prevent large breasts from falling together in the center, and the boob sweat is very real. I use it for heavy house and yard work, rather than working out.

    1. Can I second the Panache sports bra? I wear a 38FF in Fantasie and Panache, and I ordered the no-wire Panache sports bra off of Amazon and *adore* it. It gets me through kickboxing class, has been worn as a swimsuit top in a pinch, and I even get compliments on how it looks. That’s something I didn’t expect to find as a FF.

  4. I like Soma’s Vanishing Edge panties for every day use. They really don’t ride up and they wash and dry well, too.

  5. Argh. I just bought that Fantasie bra (with the molded cups) and it wasn’t working for me. I imagine maybe my sizing was wrong, although I bought the size I usually get in Elomi (which also runs with British sizes). I may just try another size, but the hook and tag were digging into my back and making me nuts.

    1. Ew that’s not good, but it is true that especially with bras, one’s person’s fave is another’s awful! It’s funny, I have some in a 36 band, some in a 38 because they give a different effect or felt different when buying.

    1. I loved the Cake Lingerie nursing sports bra when pregnant. I pretty much took it off only to wash it and put it on again the second it was dry. I found it true to UK sizing, and liked that it had six layers of hooks for a nice, snug band fit. It’s very full coverage, so when I wore it under low cut tops, I just let it peek out and it looked like a contrasting cami. It wasn’t *quite* as supportive as my beloved Panache sports bra, but the soft fabric felt wonderful on my sore ribs.

  6. I picked up some smart wool low cut socks and they are the greatest.
    They will outlast every cheap pair of socks you buy in six packs.

  7. Great post! Very comprehensive thank you. Nice to know previously reviewed items stand the test of time. I like the natori yoga sports bra, and agree with the previous commenter. Even more supportive is the panache underwire sports bra. Sizing can be tricky (size up cup and down band) but totally worth it.

  8. Thanks for this post! I wanted to share my favorite sports bra:

    It is super comfortable! I am a 32 or 34 DDD/E/F and I can run without jiggle. I don’t have uniboob. It’s easy to put on. It’s actually a little cute! I’ve never found a sports bra I’m happier with! Sometimes you can find them on clearance at Nordstrom Rack.

    I have this Wacoal bra, too. It gets the job done. No uniboob, no jiggle, and it’s easy to put on. It’s just not as cute or comfortable as the Natori Yogi. I hope this helps!

  9. Okay-totally unrelated to your topic, but did you change the font on the blog? Can I vote against? I love you and look forward to reading your posts, but I’m finding the new font not as user-friendly as what you used to have 🙂

    1. Heidi, I was thinking the same thing, lol. Love the content, but the new font is impossible to read. It’s too bad because it’s a very cute font!

      1. It’s bothering me too. On IE, it is passable, but on Firefox it is almost illegible. I didn’t try Chrome or other browsers.

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