Using shapewear to create a vintage silhouette

Morning folks! I hope it's not too early in the day (or too late for some of you) to talk about shapewear! I don't know about you, but I've never given shapewear much thought before and I've certainly never owned anything 'structural' before. But when the good people at Marks and Spencer got in touch about picking something out from their extensive shapewear range to create a vintage silhouette, I jumped at the opportunity. Although there's a lot of pretty numbers to choose from the lingerie section, I decided to go for industrial strength support to see what all the fuss is about. I picked the Firm Tummy Control Waist Sculpt Wear Your Own Bra Slip because I'm really fussy about my bras! Lucky for you, I decided against sharing a photo of myself 'modelling' the slip...you're welcome!


The main reason I was excited to try this out is because I'm a bit of a sucker for a 1940s silhouette, but the typical panelled skirts and slinky fabrics don't 100% flatter my figure - exemplified by both my McCall 4193 and By Hand London Anna dresses.  

You may well remember me bemoaning that my Anna is a tubby-tummy-hugger, but the shapewear made quite a dramatic difference to the silhouette. I wasn't expecting it to smooth over the 'lumps and bumps' as well as it did, working wonders on my tummy and muffin tops. I always thought I had a relatively slim waist, but again, the slip made a real difference in that department too. Another pleasantly unexpected outcome was perkier boobs - the slip is really tight fitting and literally pushes everything up...although I can safely say that I did not end up with rolls of fat spilling out under my armpits! 


The results are more subtle for my McCall 4193 dress, because it has a more blousy bodice and isn't as clingy as my Anna. However, I think you'll agree that once again, the slip creates a more streamlined silhouette. I wish now that I had actually used a measuring tape to calculate the difference, but I think the photos speak for themselves really.


There's no question that the shapewear works, but will I wear this slip on a regular basis? Probably not! Although I love the results, I felt way too constricted and have serious doubts as to whether I could last a whole day wearing it...having to negotiate things like sitting, eating and toilet breaks. It's excellent knowing that I can turn to my slip for a special occasion though, so thanks for the generosity M&S!

The toughest thing about this 'photoshoot'? Remembering not to suck everything in during the 'before' pictures!. Seriously! It went against my every instinct to just let it 'all hang out'!

Anyway, what's your take on shapewear? Got any favourite brands, products or tips to share?

**Post-publication edit**

In my excitement to show off my streamlined silhouette, it appears that I neglected to share some important information about the slip itself! So to answer your questions:
  • I'm on the fuller side of a UK size 12 and I'm wearing a UK size 12 slip. If I was ordering again, I would actually go up a size because it's REALLY tight. I know that's the whole point of it, but it was comical to contort myself in and out of.
  • The slip has no closures as it's made of stretchy spandex. Stepping into it wasn't an option for me due to my gigantic hips, so I had to put it on over my head. It may have been a different story had I ordered a size up though.
  • This isn't a slinky slip at all, it feels much more like a wetsuit if anything, so it definitely doesn't slide around or ride up. Once it's on, it's definitely on!
  • You can still move around, sit down, reach up and the like, but the slip's not exactly a second skin. It's tight and you know it's there, so for me, definitely not everyday wear!

46 comments:

  1. I often wear tummy flattening pants. After an op and a pregnancy it's never going to be flat (well not without lots of situps that I'm too lazy to do!) Been thinking about making my own with the ohh lulu high waisted pants pattern and something like power net. Tk maxx is a great source of cheap shape wear!

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    1. Oooh, the Ohhh Lulu pattern would be perfect! And of course, why didn't I think of TK Maxx!?

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  2. You're adorable, Marie. And I like your new photo spot! I was looking at this shapewear in M&S last week because I'm intrigued by the idea of being able to use your own bra. I have a great body stocking type thing from Debenhams that's great all over except for the bra bit - not only are the cups a bit too small for my reasonably ample bust but there are no closures in the whole thing and trying to wriggle a thing with underwiring in it either up over hips or down over bosom is not easy. I feel like a contortionist trying to put it on! But it does make me feel more sleek in fitted dresses so I do wear it every so often - although, trying to get it off after a couple of glasses of wine is entertaining.

    So TD:DR - I would probably consider buying one of these, but for special occasions and not every day wear! And you look lovely in ALL of the photos xxx

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    1. Thanks lovely! This one's great exactly because you can wear your own bra - so much better that way. But, it doesn't have closures and is still quite tricky to wriggle in and out of!

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  3. It's never too early or late in the day to talk about shapewear! =) You look gorgeous in both before and after photos, but the Anna dress and the shapewear for a hot date... Perfection! I do have to ask, how does it stay in place? All my shapewear attaches to stockings that keeps it from riding up, and I've always wondered if the modern shapewear stays in place or if it rolls/slides upp towards the waist? (I have a clear image of Bridget Jones in the second book... Hilarious, but not something I'd like to experience).

    I have a couple of shapewear products from What Katie Did, and while they really are quite comfortable I don't feel the need to wear them to work. My favorite so far is the Cabaret girdle. I like that it starts at the waist, so it doesn't constrict my lungs, it gives tummy and hips a nice streamlined shape without loosing my curves. I've worn it to social dancing and eating out dinners, and it's came through beautifully and surprisingly comfortable. Because of that it of course doesn't flatten my tummy entirely, there's still a little bump. But that's ok, I am a woman after all =)

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    1. Thanks Erika! I can't speak broadly on modern shapewear, but this slip is pretty tight and wetsuit like, so it doesn't slip around or ride up from my experience. I'd love to try some stuff from What Katie Did...I only hear good things about their range!

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  4. Ooh creates a lovely smooth silhouette at the waistline - though to be honest you look lovely in both the before and after shots :)

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  5. I love shapewear!
    I've got a great slip that I got at victorias secret in Las Vegas and it feels very va va voom! I think you look great either way! Thanks for the before and afters :-)

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    1. Oooh, that sounds very sexy indeed ;o)

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  6. Wow. You look great before, of course - but the after shot is so smooth! And I have to ask... as you wearing the same bra in both shots? Because there's definitely more uplift (in a good way) - I wonder if the slip is inadvertantly offering better support in that area too. Looking great! I too would love to know about the practicalities of wearing such a thing over a night out - does it move around much or stay in place?

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    1. Yep, it's the same bra, so the slip definitely helped in that department for some reason!

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    2. Ooops, also - it stays in place pretty well. I've add some notes on this to the bottom of my post ;o)

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  7. I love the impact Shapewear has on the silhouette, but I find them very uncomfortable. Especially wearing them for a whole day. You, however, look fantastic in the Shapewear above!

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    1. Thanks so much! Not sure I could go a whole day wearing it either though!

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  8. This is a good thing M&S approached you cause you just sold this one to me:) I also use shaping underwear , but what I like in this one is the fact it's shaped like a slip- dress, and looks kinda vintage.. I just wanna ge the sizing thing- what size are you (if that info is something you share:)) and what size of slip did you chose.. Also where is the closure? Thanks Marie!

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    1. Darn it, I wish I was on commission ;o)

      Happy to answer all your questions, which I've done in a note at the end of my post. Hope you find it helpful!

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  9. I think you look great with or without the shape wear! The only major thing I see in both versions is your bust. And when you lift your bust the waistline looks better, so I think you should try next a bra and see the difference (and you car wear the bra everyday heheh!)/ Love your post, very honest.

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    1. Hehe, thanks for the kind words and constructive advice. I'm wearing the same bra in both shots, but the slip really helped to lift it all up by the looks of it ;o)

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  10. Oooh bras and shape wear, two of my favourite topics. I also prefer to wear my own bra so I really like the sound of the slip, especially the perkier boobs bit! You really can tell the difference in the Anna dress pics, very streamlined!
    I have a waspie corset from What Katie Did that I wear for special occasions and it does make a difference, especially with vintage styles. It's too uncomfortable to wear every day though, I like stuffing my face too much! x

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    1. Ditto on the face stuffing front Jane ;o) I really must invest in some What Katie Did items soon...all I hear is positive stuff!

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  11. Marie - this really enhances your beautiful Anna dress. And thanks for showing the back views - I always appreciate seeing the back of garments and you always deliver!
    These slips are great for fitting because you can purchase a perfectly fitting bra size separately and then just buy the slip that matches the rest of you - going by your RTW dress size. I have one that has hook and eye closures all the way down the front (starting from beneath the bra) which makes it VERY easy to get on - a bit like a cardi really, but tighter. Sorry I can't help with the closures on Marie's example. The hem usually has a 1.5" strip of clear rubber all the way around on the inside which stops it from rolling upwards and stays put.
    Like the other commenters, I have worn it for special occasions (including all-day weddings) but not for everyday wear.

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    1. Glad this is helpful and you like the back views Nessa...I figured I like seeing stuff from all angles, so I try my hardest to share when possible! I like the sound of a slip with eye closers down the front, must be so much easier to get on and off!

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  12. You look great in both photos , the shapewear just changes your silhouette. I recently ventured into shapewear and tried several options to wear with a red duchess satin sheath. am small framed with skinny arms but over 40 and two kiddos so the tummy is far from flat. I was amazed at how well they work. Some left concerns about using the ladies room. It seemed you would have to practically undress to remove them. I wonder what the secret was to this in the 50's. I ended up purchasing a Lace Rago Panty Girdle from Her Room. It was fairley comfortable, didn't create a muffin top and the bonus was it looked pretty. I would like to try the long line bra next to see how that looks.

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    1. Oooh, must check out Her Room! The good thing about this M&S slip at least, is that you can still go to the ladies room easily ;o)

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  13. Wow! Thanks for sharing, Marie! There's definitely never a bad time to talk about shapewear! I agree, I think you look absolutely lovely in both sets of photos, but a girl's gotta give props to the power of lycra! I think this is great that you can wear your own bra. I usually avoid shapewear like the plague because every time I see it in a store I break out into a sweat just LOOKING at it! But then again, I live in an extremely hot climate where I try to avoid layers at all costs! Haha! But I do own a great pair of giant 'tummy-tuck' pants that I wore for my wedding day, and I'm pretty happy I own them because every now and then I'll pull them out when the tubby tummy strikes! But everyday? Heavens no!

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    1. Sallie, I'mm not surprised you avoid shapewear in a hot climate! My chubby thighs were sweating in this M&S one and it's winter here...haha! I honestly can't imagine why you'd ever need shapewear with your gorgeous figure by the way!?!

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  14. Thanks so much for this post! You look lovely in the "before" photos - but the shape wear seems to make these two dresses hang better on your figure, ya know! Will have to look into this... :D

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  15. Does this fit well sitting down and getting up? Does it ride up? I have had great shapeware that looks great when I first put it on but after a few times of sitting down and getting up they tend to ride up and I am uncomfortable thinking about a bulge at the botton

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    1. Hi Rosamond! This seems to have behaved itself for me. I've added some notes to that effect at the end of my post, which I hope you find helpful!

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  16. I've only experimented with shapewear on a couple occasions and had a very similar feeling about my ability to wear it throughout an entire day. I think it would take a bit of endurance training before I could accomplish my daily activities wearing it.

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    1. Haha, yes! Maybe some endurance training is the answer ;o)

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  17. I love good shapewar! I'm a big fan of longline bras. My grandma introduced them to me when I was 12, and I find I've kept with them and enjoy them. Those before and after pictures were great to see the differences!

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    1. Thanks Lauren...will have to check out longline bras!

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  18. well to be honest i think you look every bit as good in the before pics so for the lack of comfort, not sure it's worth it. but then if you feel more confident and stand up straighter, as you said, maybe for a special night out. i have some what katie did shapewear and am looking forward to the cooler weather to really give them some testing. i got them at end of spring and summer so havent really worn them; i did wear one of the girdles to a party where i danced and my hose kept sliding down driving me nuts so i'm anxious to see if not dancing they'll stay up. i did feel less wobbly in it and more confident and secretly sexyish lol. i bought a longline bra from them as well but it's the wrong size and i would spend more sending back so it's just sitting there; too bad b/c i think that's a great option for me who is more topheavy. love your take on this anyhow. thanks for posting .

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  19. I get laughed at work because I wear panty hose and slips/petticoats. I find they give a much nicer line to my clothes. I have some body shaping wear and tend to wear this when going out.

    One of these days I will tell the girls at work that maybe they should look at their own backsides; and that visible pantylines s are not cool.

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  20. Shapewear and me are very good friends! After six children, believe me I need it! I've tried many brands over the years, but my faves are definately the wear your own bra varieties, like you I am fussy about my bras. My absolute fave brand for a vintage silhouette is Scandale.
    I've also found over the years of breastfeeding that the wear your own bra variety are great for hiding and keeping warm a post partum tum while nursing.

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  21. Well, I'll start with the (irrelative) issue at hand: your (new) wall and its lovely color: soooo nice of a background (clap-clap-clap!).
    Secondly, I think that you look perfect, either with theh structure underneath or without it. You have a very feminine (being curvy and all) silhouette, and you look great in both (before and after) photos. But. I can understand (I've tried it, and I know) that wearing such underwear can give you a significant boost of confidence, although not for everyday use, I totally agree with you. D' ya think I should pay a visit to the nearest M&S??? ;)

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  22. Since having a baby I am all about shape wear. It makes an amazing difference under slinky fabrics. I have a few different types but this one sounds awesome. I love that it doesn't ride up or anything. That is the main issue I have with my ones.

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  23. Fascinating!! But a great review which you've done in such a down to earth way.
    I find even waspi belts constricting for any length of time, I can't imagine how it must feel wearing shapewear, but you've done a good job of describing it!! Wetsuit :-)

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  24. I am too much of a sloth to wear shapewear... I guess this is why I wear so much loose clothing too. I do have a pair of 'control knickers' I bought for my wedding that I dig out if I am going out & wearing something really fitted.

    I think you look gorgeous both with and without the shapewear! I don't think you need shapewear, but it sure is fascinating to see how it changes your shape. I reckon wear whatever you feel best in.

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  25. For the USAnians, I've found that Sculpz has very good shapewear, and I have one full shaper slip like this that is not very tight but smooths out lines nicely. I'd wear it all day at work and I work 12 hour days.

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  26. Great read, really interesting results between the before and after pictures as well something so simple yet so effective, very talented at dressmaking by the looks of it also :-)

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  27. I have shapewear pants but I feel I can´t breathe whenever I wear them xD xx

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