A little help (shapewear)

Celebrities have access to the best and latest in couture. When we see them step out onto the red carpet they are looking as perfect as it is possible to look. Pampered and toned no doubt, but the structure of the dresses they wear contribute to the overall glossy appearance. We never see a bulge, wrinkle or VPL because the gowns are built around their own support structure.

This technology is available to us all, especially when choosing formal, wedding and cocktail / evening dress. They feel great to wear, giving us a little more confidence in our appearance without the need for complicated underwear.

It is a shame we can’t feel like that at other times, without the expense of a special dress.

But now we can!

Almost all of us require a little help to smooth our contours at times. The current popularity of clingy, stretchy fabrics increases this need from time to time.

We females all have that pesky extra layer of body fat to some extent, and there are times when we would like it to be camouflaged.

We are not talking corsets – in fact corsets, with their boning, are not appropriate at all under jersey fabrics, as the bones will show through, giving a bumpy appearance.

We have known for years about Magic Knickers which would smooth and control the hip, thigh and tummy areas – but were heavy and hot and caused a bulge where they end.

Fortunately there is a new generation of fibres and technologies which designers have put to good use producing ingenious garments to combat most problem areas.

There are new versions of contouring knickers with built-in lift, body suits with a range of cup sizes or those which allow you to wear your own bra – there are camisoles and waist cinchers, slips and full slips and an almost endless variety of other little helpers.

Due to the popularity of shapewear at present, the prices tend to be high and the majority of pieces probably too ornate and glamorous for everyday wear.

For everyday, a light body suit will give us a firmness, without constraints and make us feel a little more confident, streamlining our silhouette under any outfit.

So if you feel like you would like a little less jiggle and fewer bulges, consider a trip to the shops to see what is available for your particular area of concern. Beware of getting caught in the trap of thinking ‘If I pay more it will do more for me’, that could lead you to buy fancy products you might hardly ever wear – comfort + confidence is what you want.

N.B. Of course this is not a way to get out of exercising In fact a light bodysuit worn while jogging help control the boob bounce and improves performance!

  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shape wear items - High Waisted thigh slimmer, thigh slimmer, full slip
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shape wear types - Body, wear your own bra slip, wear your own bra body.
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shapewear options - V-neck body, waist cincher and pant/cincher
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shapewear which allows for a full range of cup sizes, strapless slip dresses, and waist slips

Which part of you would benefit from a little help?

  • If you are otherwise slim but carry weight on your thighs, consider a thigh slimming garment – but beware of one which ends at the waist unless you carry very little extra fat there – or you will still end up with a muffin top – go instead for a high waisted version.
  • If your bottom is not as perky as you would like, a simple pair of contouring knickers – designed to lift the buttocks, makes a flattering difference under fitted pants and dresses.
  • If you have difficulties finding bras to fit – or have your favourite brand and size, go for a body or slip designed to allow you wear your own bra.
  • Some brands produce bodies with a full range of bra and cup sizes, some underwired.
  • If it is your lack of waist which concerns you, try a waist cincher which just focuses on that area. Waist cinchers also come in pants form if you prefer.

Special Occasion?

Full slips, either v-necked, scoop necked or strapless will smooth out your contours under any fitted dress – choose the one which best suits the dress you buy.

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Dresssense is essentially a guide to dressing for the figure we have right now. Some aspects of our shape + proportion we can do nothing to change – but, looking around, how many of us would clearly benefit from losing a few kilos?

We have all tried various regimes and diets suggested by manufacturers and magazines – some with a little success sometimes.

The truth is – we can all lose weight if we really want to – without paying a cent. We have to fully accept the responsibility ourselves.

So here it is:

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Okay girls – we all know what we should and shouldn’t eat, we all know we have to exercise – we all know we should drink more water –


The answer is simple – we have developed bad habits which are sabotaging our efforts – EVERY DAY!

The Ten Deadly Habits

  1. Imaginary “calorie cancellation”
    Be honest with yourself – be aware of everything which passes your lips. There are no free calories – even that chip from someone else’s plate!
  2. Learn to distinguish real hunger from ‘fancying something to eat’. Teach yourself to enjoy the sensation of hunger!
  3. Portion size – we are generally smaller than men and therefore require fewer calories – keep this in mind when dishing up!
  4. Breakfast – sorry, but it is essential.
    It takes three weeks at most to learn to enjoy it. (Women who skip breakfast but on weight more readily – FACT.)
  5. Concentrate – eat only when you can pay full attention to your food – no mindless chewing in front of the TV or cinema screen! 
  6. Eat slowly – give yourself time to enjoy every mouthful and chew well (and give your stomach time to send a message to your brain to tell it when you have had enough!)
  7. Beware of cheese – very high in calories and as we know, very tasty – choose lean protein instead.
  8. Eating out – the more we eat out the less nutritious our diet becomes – FACT.
  9. Soft Drinks – they are all either full of sugar or chemicals, neither of which we need – train your palate to enjoy plain water and green tea or herbal teas, or pure fruit juice diluted with water.
  10. Alcohol – Sorry – this is a habit most of us have come to enjoy – but if we value our health, looks and waistline, one drink a day is the only safe allowance – two for special occasions!


Sculpting with Tone

Remembering the basic principles that dark colours appear to shrink and light colours appear to enlarge, we can manipulate our outfits to create the shape we want.

If you have just one problem area, such as big hips, saddlebags or bust, it is a great technique to always use your dark tones on these areas and highlight your better features with lighter tones.

Those of us who are shorter, chunkier or have shorter legs than we would like would be well advised to avoid wearing strongly contrasting tones on our top and bottom halves. For example, don’t visually cut yourself in half by wearing a dark top and light trousers or light top and dark skirt. Any visual dissection like that will further reduce the length of your body (see illustration below).

By keeping your top and bottom halves tonally close you will give the illusion of a slimmer, taller you. This does not mean that both halves have to be the same colour – just tonally similar – as light or dark as each other.

This season there are cleverly designed dresses available which do the work for us, making use of tonal contrast to flatter any figure. It is a simple trick, not new, but very effective. The idea is that the central panel of the garment is in one colour, or print, while the side panels, framing it, are in a darker tone. If the contrast is too great, for example black and white, this technique can look too obvious, but Mark & Spencers have produced some very successful examples this season.

Play around with these ideas to visually sculpt a new you without the gym.

Average Proportions and Looking Good

Most of us have fairly average proportions. By being aware of how different tones work, we can make our clothes enhance the way we look.

The basic principles of sculpting with tone are:

  • Dark colours absorb light – visually receding (shrinking)
  • Light colours reflect light – visually advancing (enlarging)

Useful if you need to visually widen your shoulders – good for hippy girls too, as it helps to balance shoulders and hips.

Therefore, people with very slim figures can wear all light coloured outfits with no problem – in fact those who feel they are too thin will find that light colours help to give them volume.

The rest of us know how wearing black outfits visibly ‘shrinks’ our outline – great for ‘feeling fat’ days! But some people are convinced that they can’t wear black for various reasons. I  believe everyone can wear black to great effect with a little planning.

Redheads always look great in black – simply because they have enough natural colour above the neckline to carry it off effortlessly – warm hair & skin tone, green or blue eyes, possibly freckles & rosy cheeks. It is often a favourite colour of redheads as it is a perfect foil for their natural palette.

Those of us without the advantage of an interesting natural colour scheme don’t need to be left out:

  • Eyebrows – if you have indeterminate eyebrows get them tinted and shaped
  • Eye Make-up – a little more pronounced than you would normally wear – experiment with eye shadow colours.
  • A little blusher – always flattering to give your face definition.
  • Highlight brow bones & cheekbones.

Using these hints, you can wear black when you choose, looking glamorous and not dowdy (and a size smaller too!)

Don’t have the waist you’d like?

No definition at the waist?

Many of us are dismayed that we do not have a sufficiently trim waist, especially as some current styles seem to demand a well-defined waist in order to look good. Of course body shapers and cinchers can be helpful and are readily available in stores, but there are perfectly lovely styles around which will disguise this problem area when you want to look your best, without the aid of special underwear!

The idea is simple – draw attention away from your problem, wear softer shapes around the area, accentuate your best points and no-one will guess you are not perfectly proportioned, not even you!

Skirts and Trousers

Firstly, low waisted skirts and trousers will only draw attention to your lack of definition – far better to select a high waisted version which will snugly hug your waist ( I don’t mean ‘under the bust’ high, just what we used to think of as normal!)
But this first step is just to help you feel secure – you will probably not show the tops of skirts/ trousers when you discover the joy, comfort, freedom and elegance of the wide range of loosely fitting tops available.


Don’t follow the crowd by choosing tightly fitting tops.
T-shirts which gently skim around your waist and end at your hips or thighs are very
flattering for your figure type. If your hips are relatively slim you could try a loose belt too. Kaftan shaped tops are very fashionable just now and are the perfect shape to hide a less than perfect waist – they are available in a fantastic range of colours and prints.
( also good for too-generous boobs – but that’s another post….)


Is it any wonder that Empire Line wedding dresses are so popular? They give the illusion of height, drawing the eye upwards towards the face, they kindly skim both the waist and hips, leaving the boob area a clear field!


Lightweight jackets, hip to thigh length, worn open, are also flattering, distracting the eye from your perceived problem.
Tailored jackets which are shaped in at the waist also help to give the illusion of a shapely waist, as long as they are not too tight.

There are many beautiful styles on the market to suit you – we have probably never had so much choice which can sometimes be the problem. But once you have found the basic shapes which suit you, which make you feel good and confident – you will have a great time shopping!