Ask Allie: What to Wear Under Fitted Knit Dresses

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I have been following your blog for awhile now and bought many things from your recommendation; the latest one is a dress from Dobbin. However, I need the correct undergarments. I put on the Jockey shorts (also your recommendation) but the seams show. I have tried Spanx and they are a bit too constricting. Any advice as to what I can wear under dresses so I can incorporate them into my wardrobe?

fitted dress underwear control garment

As I write my response to you I’m wearing a wrap dress I bought from Old Navy that needs just the right light control garment to smooth my figure, gently hold me in without gas pain and without visible seams. Like you, I find I need underpinnings like this in my arsenal to wear under my Dobbin ponte dresses, my Karen Kane jersey dresses, and other frocks that need that special something. Here's my favorite light control garments that I wear under fitted and knit dresses:

DKNY Under Bust Bodysuit

This is what I’m currently wearing with my dress. I have three of these babies – one in nude for light colored dresses, one in black for dark colored dresses, and one in the most gorgeous fuchsia because it was on clearance and I couldn’t resist. While this suit has seams, they are in logical places that match up with seams of most dresses. The rear has a wide lace band so there’s no VPL, and I LOVE that it can be comfortably worn with any bra from my lingerie drawer. The straps are adjustable, which is a perk for my short-torsoed self, and it’s actually PRETTY.

The crotch has a hook and eye opening that I find utterly ridiculous to try to maneuver, especially when in a public restroom trying to handle heels, strangers’ germs, and a fitted dress hiked up around my waist. I don’t unhook it with each visit to the lavatory but instead just slide the whole garment to the side, hold in place as I take care of business. But really that’s the only negative aspect of this garment.

This is not a Spanx-like control garment. In fact, it doesn’t do a lot of gut sucking. What it does do is smooth the figure. No indentation of a belly button, no segmentation from the waistband of panties or tights, no VPL. My body is the same size, but it appears to be firmer and smoother under clothing.

DKNY ‘Lace Curves’ Shaping Brief

I’ve written about this garment before because I’ve been a fan for many years. This is pretty much the same thing as the bodysuit, but it ends at the waist. Same lace back, same smoothing but not gut-sucking capabilities, and same ability to not look like Bridget Jones scary pants. Seriously, pair with a pretty bra in the same color and you feel retro bombshell.

Unlike the bodysuit, the shaping brief does have a waistband, and depending on your figure and softness, it may show. I find this piece best for skirts or dresses with a defined waistband. Also know they do stretch out with time; pairs I’ve had for a year still look great but slowly get bigger even with careful laundering. I buy a new one when Nordstrom has them on sale (not on clearance now but have been part of their Anniversary sale), and have found them at a nice price on Bare Necessities.

Spanx Tight End High Waist Tights

I’ll tell you a little secret; one of the perks of durable tights is that you can go commando under them. They’re opaque enough for it, and they can handle being laundered so often. This really reduces the segmentation and lines that can happen under garments.  I wear these tights on their own quite often because they suck in a bit but not nearly as much as the brand’s actual control garments, and the waist is high enough that it doesn’t cut me in the middle. If you’re someone who doubles up hosiery for extra opacity, control, or warmth; this is a great pair as they don’t shift and they can handle it without stretching out. And as I mentioned at the beginning, they’re super durable and can handle being machine washed on gentle in a lingerie bag (or even a run in your stockinged feet across concrete to catch a dog chasing down the mailman).

DKNY High-Waist Control Top Tights

I also like these tights from DKNY, and for all the same reasons mentioned for Spanx. These do run a bit tighter in the elastic top, but I actually like that because it gives an even smoother line from ribcage down. DKNY’s tights come in Plus Petite which is a nice feature that I wish more brands would embrace. But these tights are durable enough that this fall I’m wearing a pair I purchased in 2012.

So now I ask you readers, what do you find works best under fitted knit dresses?

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  1. I wore a Hane’s shaping slip last week and it really made my wrap dress fit nicely and didn’t ride up or bunch. However, it included a shelf bra which was just obnoxious over my regular bra. I felt like my breasts were being pushed up to my neck.

    1. I do NOT get shelf bras! Only like 5% of the population finds them useful enough for going out of the house. I wish more brands built their slips so they can be worn with our own bra! But thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I love the Assets line from Target. They are made by the Spanx people, just not as heavy-duty and with a correspondingly gentler price tag. Spanx are fabulous for a special event but too tight for sitting all day at the office. Assets give me a nice smooth line with a bit of gut-sucking. I love their high waist tights. I’ve had the same ones for a few years now and they’re still like new. I also have a pair of high waist briefs that are great for some tummy control. They have a VPL, though, so they work best for cloths with a fitted waist and loose hips. The high waist, thigh length shorts are very slimming from bra to thigh when I don’t want full length tights.

  3. Does anyone have any suggestions for plus size undergarments? I have been trying spanx. It smooths everything, but it also concentrates all the extra weight around the waist and I end up in pain at the end of the day

  4. I wear halfslips under dresses for coverage as well as to keep some dresses from clinging. The only issue I have occasionally is that the slip will bunch up on me.

  5. Wearing some type of slip is helpful even if you don’t need compression. If you do, Commando’s Control Skort is a half-slip attached to the sides of shaping shorts. Most other “shaping slips” are useless because they tend to creep up or roll, and forget about wearing them with hosiery. I also like Commando’s regular full-slips, and Gap makes something similar. Sometimes I wear a torsette (similar to what you described) and put a regular full slip over it.

    1. I second the notion of a slip.
      The quality of slips on the market is not always very good. I paid $30 for a satin half-slip at Lord & Taylor awhile back and it’s my best slip for keeping knits from clinging.

      I got a flier from Jockey about some shaping shorts that area supposed to have anti-cling properties. I liked their wicking shorts this summer and am considering a trying the anti-cling ones.

      1. I LOVE slips (and find good quality ones on eBay, not afraid of used since they’re machine washable), but under dresses like these they bunch on me and show. Maybe Julie’s Commando Skort would be an option, I’ll have to check them out!

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