SHAPE SHIFTERS: A girl's best-kept secret
Any fashionista worth her weight will tell you that the perfect outfit starts with a great foundation.
That's why women in Victorian times used to wear corsets. By cinching the waistline, corsets forced the body to redistribute fat, creating an hourglass figure.
But corsets were intricate and made from stiff and rigid materials. They were time-consuming, uncomfortable and dangerous.
Then came girdles. Unlike corsets, they supported the body from the lower torso to below the hips, and they were more flexible. But the girdle didn't exude the same sex appeal as the corset.
Today there are new, chic body-shaping garments on the market and A-listers - from Beyoncé to Miley Cyrus - claim they cannot step onto a red carpet without wearing one.
Catherine Trope, managing director at Wolfords in Hyde Park, Johannesburg says: "Perceptions are changing and that's partly due to the fact that modern shapewear looks good and sexy, not like something your grandmother wore."
Some experts believe there has been a risein demand for body-shapers with the launch of the TV series Mad Men, in which the women have voluptuous, hourglass bodies.
Shapewear has become the fastest-growing market in lingerie worldwide.
Francesca Clayton of Flexees says: "Maidenform Flexees and similar brands have revolutionised shapewear.
"Fabrics are lighter, with a higher elasticity content, and are breathable."
But don't get too excited.
"Shapewear does not miraculously help you lose 5kg," says Clayton.
"It smooths over and enhances a silhouette to its best effect, removing unwelcome bulges that even skinny girls complain about.
"The overall effect enhances confidence and, to an extent, corrects posture, which also gives the appearance of being slimmer."
FRANCESCA Clayton of Flexees offers shapewear advice :
- Identify the body area that needs attention as there are many different products available.
- It is advisable to get yourself professionally fitted by a consultant to ensure you are wearing correct shapewear for the function required - the garments on offer target various areas.
- Always ensure that you are wearing the correct size, as there is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable all day. Shapewear should feel supportive and corrective. The garment should not roll - if it does, it is either badly designed, or too small. The shapewear needs to be concealed by outerwear so that the secret of what lies beneath is not revealed.
- Lastly, wash garments with care as they are made from delicate fabrics and should never be tumble-dried. This will cause fabrics to perish and garments to shrink. - Refilwe Boikanyo