We Tried It: Shapewear From 'Barely There' to 'Would Make Scarlett O'Hara Proud'
PEOPLE StyleWatch magazine editors tested tons of shapewear for our December issue (on stands tomorrow!), and the dot com wanted to get in on the fun. Well, as much fun as one could possibly have while holding her breath in tight spandex. Our team was determined to give shapewear a shot at every level of intensity and share our findings with you just in time for “unofficial shapewear season.” Read on to see our top picks, and share your favorites in the comments, so we may all face holiday cookie parties prepared.
Courtesy Va Bien
Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor: As you can see by my photo, shapewear confuses and intimidates me. I know everyone swears by it. I’ve read all the glowing reviews, but my main experience with any body-smoothing product is a pair of Spanx tights I swiped off the giveaway table. Moral of the story: It was time for me to venture into some legit shapewear territory.
And I went fancy! I picked Va Bien‘s Marquise Plunge Basque convertible bra. I’ve been debating whether or not to buy this mini dress from Express for New Year’s Eve. However, that mesh insert panel in the front raises the eternal question: “What Bra Do I Wear With This?” Well, I found the bra!
Va Bien’s plunging design dips down low enough that it won’t be exposed, plus, it’s super comfortable and gives my waist a nice shape — a must when attempting a lycra bodycon number. And I’m pretty sure it doubles as sexy lingerie thanks to that lace detail. So if you’re a shapewear skeptic who’d splurge on the right find, I highly recommend it.
Zoë Ruderman, Senior Style Editor: Horror story: A friend once wore a massive flesh-colored granny undie situation to a wedding, had a bit too much wine and woke up next to her boyfriend wearing only that. She still hasn’t lived it down.
So I’m moderately afraid of shapewear. It’s not that I’ve never worn it (see: the testing of the rubber corset), but no matter how good it makes me look once I have all my clothes on, I know how ridiculous I look underneath. So I was really excited when I discovered Cosabella, my favorite underwear brand, now carries shapewear that looks vaguely like lingerie, not the girdle from my nightmares.
They come in a pretty lace (in three colors) — as well as a great thong version. Genius, right? They definitely don’t work as hard as typical shapewear, but they suck everything in and smooth it out. Just what I needed to fit into this bought-it-a-size-too-small high-waisted skirt. And yes, I know the zipper isn’t pulled all they way up. These underwear aren’t miracle workers, people.
Alex Apatoff, Style News Editor: Pfft. You shapewear rookies. I love the stuff so much I even know the pros and cons of many a stomach-sucking brand. And I knew going into this that the best there is of the “Bridget Jones variety” is made by Wolford — it’s insanely comfortable but still works wonders.
That’s why I was ready to go to the next level and try a major shapewear contraption like Wolford’s Tulle Forming Body. Not cheap by any means — and intimidating in the box — but in the name of science, I took a deep breath and wiggled in. I had a fancy event to go to and a dress that fit before I spent all summer eating my feelings; this shapewear was more than a test, it was a necessity.
Verdict? Totally obsessed. It tricked me into buying a dress. It tricked me into eating the whole cheese course. And it even tricked me into forgetting I was wearing it. If you have an event where you need to look unbelievable, this is worth the splurge. As for me, I’m going to be carefully hand laundering this thing until the end of time.
Andrea Lavinthal, Style Director: My first shapewear memory is also my last. I wore a pair of Spanx to my sorority formal and spent most of the night in a bathroom stall trying to take them off so I could pee (and breathe).
This time around, I avoided the shorts altogether and chose what looked like a sexy minidress. The hand-made garment, appropriately named the Marilyn, is by dMondaine, a high-end line loved by celeb stylists. It’s the brand’s signature piece and is supposed to “slim without flattening your body” and has a built-in bra to enhance cleavage (you can wear a bra if you need extra support). When you see bigger photos on the site, you know this is not your average shapewear — it’s carefully crafted armor.
There’s a video on the dMondaine site that shows you how to get into the garment. I neglected to watch the video so my experience was a bit challenging and required the assistance of my boyfriend. Here’s how it went down:
Him: “It won’t zip.”
Me: “Keep trying.”
Him: “I can only get it like halfway.”
Me: “Keep trying.”
Him: “It’s like three quarters and that’s the furthest I can get it.” (At this point he was starting to sweat a little)
Me: “Keep trying.” (At this point I was starting to sweat a little.)
Him “I think I just broke my finger.”
Me: “How do I look? Am I skinnier, yet curvier?”
Him: “Seriously, I think I broke my finger zipping it up. And you look the same but your boobs look weird.”
Me: “Yeah, they’re a bit smushed, but do I look skinnier?”
Him: “My finger hurts. Stand sideways. I guess you look thinner. Why is there a large diamond on your stomach?”
Me: “It’s a panel that sucks in my stomach.”
Him: “You have the weirdest job.”
I wore the Marilyn for over 13 hours under a very body-conscious dress I rented for a friend’s wedding in Mexico (and may I just point out, that’s a bindi, not a zit!). The slip wasn’t insanely uncomfortable, but I was definitely aware that I had it on. When I finally took it off I made a really embarrassing sound that could’ve been mistaken for something else. But I suppose that’s better than waking up the next morning in granny panties — right Zoë?
For even more shapewear testing at every style and price point, pick up our December issue, on stands tomorrow. And tell us: What’s your favorite shapewear piece? Would you try any of these?