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Finding the right foundation garment

Hide your body flaws and look great in clothes with a foundation garment

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky February 4 2008

foundation garments - camisole and brief

For most women, it doesn’t matter if she is size two or 22; she still has parts of her body she doesn’t like. It might be a slight curve across the stomach, bulges at the hips or bra, or something else altogether. Whatever it is, she doesn’t want to see it when she looks in the mirror.

Curvaceous women tend to have more problems than those with a boyish figure; those curves come at a price that some of us don’t really want to pay. Luckily, there are a handful of women’s clothing designers who have taken note. With determination, care, and respect these individuals have developed foundation garments geared toward giving a woman the figure she always wanted. They smooth a little here, tuck a little there, and make a woman feel like a million dollars.

Foundation garments cannot hide every flaw, however, and there are some tricks to buying the right garments for your personal figure. This article hopes to clear some of those muddy waters!

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General Information

The first point to make is that most foundation garments sold by discount retailers are inexpensive for a reason. They use inferior products, pay less attention to size control issues, and don’t provide heavy-duty support. While these inexpensive garments may work well for smaller women with only minimal figure issues, they will not do the job for larger women with more complex issues. With regard to foundation garments, the old adage is absolutely true - you get what you pay for.

Foundation garments, as a whole, should be purchased in stores that specialize in them or by designer names that specialize in that particular arena. That does mean they will be a bit more expensive, but in the long run they will not only work better but also last longer and be easier to care for.

Foundation garments are nothing new. Women have been sporting them nearly as far back as fashion itself. Corsets and brassieres, in some form, have been worn for a very long time. Some have been absolutely essential to the fashion trends of the time. Others have been born out of the need for women to feel more secure. In either case, they are most likely here to stay in some form or another.

Better known today as “shapewear,” these garments include items like body briefs, bodysuits, bras, control panty hose, control panties, corsets, garter belts, and girdles. Retailers like Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret have turned the making of such garments into a multi-million dollar industry. But they no longer control a monopoly on an industry that continues to grow with each passing year. Now, brand names like Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Just My Size are entering into the arena, albeit on a much smaller scale.

There are also foundation garment designers who have started their own lines from the ground up. These include former television icon Rhonda Shear, inventor of the world phenomena known as Spanx by Sara Blakely, and renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Rey. Each bring with them a new perspective on how a woman should view her body and they are not alone. New designers jump aboard the foundation garment express every year.

Lets take a look at some typical figure flaws in women and the solutions offered by these three wonderful designers and some of their most well known competitors.

Flaw - An uneven or unattractive looking bosom

Any woman who has watched Oprah Winfrey knows by now that women tend to buy the wrong bra size. Part of the problem has to do with the bra industry itself. Most of the really pretty bras aren’t made above a size 44 DD. Unfortunately that means that a large portion of today’s women get left out, forcing them either to purchase something way too small or a garment that only their great grandmother would have willingly chosen.

Finding the right size bra is essential for women who seek to look their best in their clothing. Larger women must, therefore, look for alternative sources in finding the right fit. Luckily there are a number of Internet retailers who can help – as long as your size is in stock. That can be tricky, I know. I’m a 42-H and finding my size bra is often an exercise in futility.

Tip #1: Look for bras that offer support. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an underwire is required. Several of the newer bra designs, such as Breezies, incorporate patented technology that provides support without binding.

Tip #2: Don’t sacrifice looks for support. It is possible to find both. It may take some time and a lot of research and it most assuredly won’t be inexpensive, but you will be amazed how much better you will feel.

Tip #3: Buy quality, not quantity. It is better to purchase one or two bras that fit perfectly at $50 each than five that fit only so-so at $20 each. Quality garments also tend to last longer so, in the long run, you will get more bang for the buck.

Tip #4: If it doesn’t make you feel pretty, don’t buy it! I can’t count the number of times I have purchased an ugly bra because it fit properly, only to let it sit in my drawer while I continued to wear those that made me “feel” pretty but didn’t fit as well.

Tip #5: When the support goes, toss it and purchase a new bra. Women tend to believe if they spend a lot of money on a product they should keep it forever. Trust me, however, a bra that is held together by safety pins or that is so frayed that it looks ancient, isn’t something you need to hold on to.

Flaw - Bra bulge

Even when we find the right bra, that unsightly bra bulge, sometimes referred to as “back fat,” can still be an issue. Every woman’s torso is different, with weight distributed accordingly. However, the new shaper camisoles and dress shapers on the market today can help to smooth out that disturbing little issue.

Lipo in a Box shapewear even combines bras with full body shapers to give women a sleek perfect line from top to bottom. They aren’t alone either. Rhonda Shear and Dr. Rey offer similar products geared to the same end result. Several other brands like Kathleen Kirkwood, Carol Wior, Spanx and others make support camisoles that smooth out just the mid section, for those who don’t need the bottom support.

Flaw - A stomach “pooch”

Nothing frustrates women more than never being able to quite get rid of that little “pooch” in the tummy that remains after childbirth. Sit ups and abdominal exercise work for some women but simply leave others in frustrated tears. While to many, that slight little bump may be barely visible, to the woman in question; it might as well be Mt. Rushmore. Today, however, women have options to help smooth away the offending problem. From full body shapers to support briefs to dress shapers, these new foundation garments help a woman look her best in even the most figure-hugging dresses and second skin jeans.

To determine which foundation garment is right for you, analyze your specific flaws. If all you have is a slight stomach “pooch,” chances are a body brief, support panties or control panty hose will do the trick. On the other hand, if you also want to smooth out the thighs or whittle the waist, you might want to choose a foundation garment that will do it all.

There are a number of great long line panty briefs on the market today. I prefer Spanx because I still think it is the best on the market, but there are lots of brands to choose from. While I find that the high-waisted briefs that are meant to synch in the waist don’t work for my hourglass figure, those with a more boyish style absolutely adore them. The new dress shapers on the market, particularly those made by Dr. Rey, smooth out the body from the bust to about mid thigh, which by the way, help those Hollywood starlets look amazing in their clothes.

Flaw - Thick legs

I was never considered a beautiful girl - I was wholesome at best. However, I had two figure assets that most men liked: an ample bosom and great legs. A consequence of my years of exercise, however, was the building of muscle in my legs. Unfortunately, that made my calves a bit thicker than I wanted them to be. But as they say, you can’t have everything, and my problem isn’t anything new - women have been dealing with leg issues forever! Some are blessed with great legs and some simply are not.

Today, however, we can take advantage of a little help. Companies like Spanx and Legacy Legacy Legwear make panty hose and tights that help smooth out our legs to make them look their very best. They come as short (mid thigh) or as long (ankle length) as a woman wants them, ensuring that all dresses and pants fit like a glove.

With everything that is available in today’s market, a woman need never worry about looking her best. With the right foundation garment, any woman can look like a star!

Where to find Foundation Garment brands

  • Carol Wior products are available at many major department stores as well as through catalogues (Speigel) and at several online sites.
  • Frederick’s of Hollywood has stores in some areas, offers catalogue support, and can be purchased through their website
  • Kathleen Kirkwood products are available at many major department stores, on QVC, and through several online sites.
  • Lipo in a Box is available through QVC and at their own website
  • Dr. Rey’s shapewear is currently available through Home Shopping Network (HSN) and online.
  • Rhonda Shear products are currently available through HSN.
  • Spanx products are available at many major department stores, through QVC, and online at their website
  • Victoria’s Secret has stores all over the world and offers their products online

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Posted on 08/08/08 20:00 by: mary ann

I do not agree with you about Spanx. I have tried Spanx Power Panties and am very disappointed. They slide down on me and I weigh 137 pounds. I am looking for a garment with good stomach control. Any suggestions?
Posted on 09/12/09 23:24 by: Trina

My favorite underwear company is Bubbles Bodywear. Another nice alternative to Spanx is Sassybax.
Posted on 04/03/10 19:29 by: M

The Ardyss company has great reshapers and panty girdles.

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