MA Beauty Expert: Your Shapewear Handbook - What to Wear Under That Party Dress

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Donna Macdonald, GoLocalWorcester Beauty Expert

Great Grandma had to be trussed into a corset to get that highly-desired Gibson Girl shape and Grandma spent her life in a pinching stifling girdle. Blessedly, shapewear has evolved, thanks in part to the innovation of Spanx, the company that at last gave American women comfortable shapewear. Long gone are the days when women traded inhaling for svelteness. Today's shapers eliminate muffin tops, VPL (visible panty lines), and all manner of flaws without kidney-crushing. Here's our shapewear handbook for when you finally find that perfect holiday party dress:

Body Suits and Slips

Flowy dresses cry out for clean lines underneath. Today's body suits are not body armour and gently nip it all in. The strong lycra is tempered with cotton blends that give. Shaper slips are great for tucking in the derriere and upper thighs.


Muffin-tops are the scourge of the fashion-conscious. If your problem spot is the tummy a shaper cami will smooth down the line to the hips. Find one in flesh-tone for the best coverage - it camouflages better than pure white.

Mid-Thigh Shapers

These jodpur-like pants might look strange but they evaporate the dreaded VPL as well as keep everything leggy and tight. Plus they offer an element of warmth on those cold festive nights. You can't beat the back-side sculpting too. Perfect for pear-shaped types.


Admittedly not for the faint of heart, they do give the illusion of a smaller waist. They look scary but they work and with a lot less discomfort than you might imagine. If an hourglass is what you're after, you'll get it with one of these shapers.

Shaping Hosiery

Here's something new: hose with a built-in squeeze. Like control-top pantyhose but for all over gentle tightening. No jiggling thighs and super-comfortable and elegant.

Shaping Panties

This daily underpant gives you one thing above all else: confidence. The elastin fabric holds you in subtly and gives just as much assurance to office pencil skirts as party dresses. Find pretty ones with lace and give up those flimsy cotton briefs that do nothing to enhance your look.

Haute Mess

There’s nothing less chic than starting to sweat as you try to wiggle into shapewear. Choosing the right undergarments can be a tricky because the tendency is to buy one size smaller. Don't. It will be harder to get into and may cause popping in a place you didn't expect. Choosing the proper size makes for easy, non-clammy dressing and ultimately better results with your frock.
Shapers can be found in nearly every major department store chain. For truly knowledgeable assistance, check out Deborah Winthrop Lingerie in Portsmouth. Staff know the benefits and limits of good shapewear and can make recommendations.  Bring along that gorgeous party dress to actually see results in real time. Bend, sit, stand, even dance to make sure it's truly comfortable.

Donna Macdonald is a freelance writer who enjoys covering topics of interest to women, especially fragrance, style, beauty. She has also written marketing material for a women's book that hit the New York Times Bestseller list and netted her an up close and personal discussion on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Donna currently writes her own personal blog,, where she also writes about issues close to a woman's heart. Donna believes that when a woman finds beauty in the world, she will find beauty in herself.

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