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How Not to Look Fat
By Danica Lo
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Danica Lo
All right reserved.
First things first.
To build a good anything -- be it a home, a sofa, a face full of makeup, or even an argument -- you'll need a good foundation. Laying a solid foundation for a top-to-toe slimming look is far easier in some seasons than others. Take summer, which is the most brutally fat season of the year. Soaring temperatures and stifling humidity bring with them grin-and-bare-it hot-weather wardrobe staples like sleeveless tees and skimpy shorts. There's hardly any hope of hiding anything at all behind those strips of fabric otherwise known as sundresses.
But during the rest of the year, when the weather is cooler and there's less chance of sweating to death in more substantial clothing, it's time to think about camouflaging that summer backyard-barbecue-baby around your waist with some good old granny panties.
Just for you, I tried on dozens of pairs of waist-cinching, thigh-slimming, butt-containing, body-shaping underwear. After standing, wriggling, measuring, and almost passing out from the circulation-stunting compression of these garments, I have good news:
Expensive doesn't necessarily equal effective.
There are lots of great bum-belly-blubber-cinching under-things for every budget.
Tip 1: Underwearshopping should be approached in the spirit of ER triage. Before you shop, prioritize. What bothers you the most? What do you consider your problem areas? Hips? Back? Be honest with yourself and take mental notes. Look for undergarments that target these particular issues.
Tip 2: Try it on -- While most women only tote bras into the fitting room, don't be shy of trying on undies as well. Keep your own panties on (for hygiene's sake), and shimmy into those grannies. Think about how they feel -- can you imagine wearing them all day? Do they cut into your skin?
Tip 3: Consider your toosh. Even though you usually don't have to look at your backside, other people do. A sexy backside is different things to different people, but things like perkiness, smoothness, and curviness are general, universal must-haves.
Tip 4: Test-drive for lumps. Bring a thin-fabric T-shirt or dress to put on over the underwear to see what it looks like under clothing. Consider buying a maximum-coverage piece -- one that stretches from just below the bust to the knees -- for the sake of minimizing lumpiness at the seams.
Tip 5: Try on more than one brand. Even if you can afford a $50 waist-cincher, it doesn't mean you should eschew all the $10 ones! You'll be surprised at how some cheaper pieces can work just as well, or even better, than their more expensive counterparts.
At the very height of fashion and luxury, you'll find the incomparable couture corsets made by the 18-inch-waisted Mr. Pearl (nee Mark Pullin), whose work has graced Parisian catwalks and countless celebrity midsections. At his atelier located behind Notre Dame in Paris, Mr. Pearl painstakingly hand-makes elaborate corsets for fashion houses like Dior and his wealthy clients -- women like Kylie Minogue, Jerry Hall, and Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham.
On the other end of the spectrum, Hanes Body Enhancer maximum control underwear, which resembles thick pantyhose, is super-smooth and compresses your waist and hips by up to 1.5 inches all around. It's easy to wear under nearly anything, comfortable enough to wear all day, and, the best part is, it can be found at drugstores everywhere for under $15 -- it's a great flab-emergency product. Just watch out for your rear view in these -- while this underwear certainly won't flatten or mush your butt, it doesn't do much to shape or flatter it either.
Somewhere in the middle-of-the-road price range is JCPenney's firm control high-waisted thigh slimmer, which costs under $30. This was the most comfortable pair I tried, but that, in turn, means they're not as aesthetically effective. While they left me looking like I had the best butt in town, there was minor lumpiness around my hips, since they're less constrictive. If you're planning on wearing the undies all day long, JCPenney's are a good choice.
Of course, control-top underwear has been around forever, and if one particular product has worked for over five decades, why fix what ain't broken? That's the philosophy behind old-school all-American company Rago Shapewear, manufacturers of bodyslimmers since the 1950s. Their high-waisted long leg shaper shrank me by an inch all around, and its contoured boning in key areas -- like around the hips and lower tummy -- minimizes problem spots. They've also, thoughtfully, made the lace hem at the leg adequately wide and stretchy, so there are no weird indentations at the leg-underwear interface. Rago also gets points for the best rear view -- firmer, tighter, and ever-so-slightly perkier.
Excerpted from How Not to Look Fat by Danica Lo Copyright © 2006 by Danica Lo. Excerpted by permission.
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