Here’s the scenario: you’re a prepubescent or early teen girl in the 1960s, ‘70s or ‘80s. You go with mom to a department store and she picks up some boxes of bras in varying sizes and hands them over the changing room door. You struggle with stiff straps that are adjusted to fit in a box not on your shoulders.
You start to giggle and she starts to chuckle; pretty soon it’s a laugh fest of embarrassing proportions. You finally figure out how to get the darned thing on and somewhat adjusted. Since you’re beet red at the mortifying experience of having adults (because the sales clerk just has to hang around) see you in the nearly all-together, you say “It’s fine.” and grab a white one and a beige one in the least uncomfortable size. Hanging your head as you stand next to mom at the cash register, you promise yourself that it’ll be different when you have to do this with your daughter.
The Janira Cuilotte Siluete is a corset-inspired item that ensures optimal compression with maximum comfort, using silicone on the upper band to prevent slipping and rolling. Available in nude and black at Linea Intima, in sizes small to double extra-large.
The ultimate back smoothing bra and body shaper by Shapeez, available at My Top Drawer, is a camisole-like foundation garment. Preventing lumps in the back always starts with wearing a correctly fitted bra.
Solving fashion conundrums, Spanx has developed new lines of foundation garments featuring bodysuits that are cut lower in both the front and back.
The deep plunge front of this Spanx bodysuit allows the wearer to go braless, as it has light padding in the breast area.
Spanx Conceal-Her Open Bust Control Cami is an alternate for smoothing front and back. It comes up to the bra with straps over the shoulders to stay in place and meets the top of the panties to prevent demarcation.
Men want to look great, too. Spanx has a full line of foundation garments for gentlemen. The compression vest is not only slimming but is also great for posture, alleviating pain in neck and shoulders.
Now you see it, now you don’t. The Janira Vientre Plano Secrets Brief has an ergonomic cut and ultra-flat band to ensure invisibility of the garment. The Janira line uses the fabric baby terry for its gussets (the panel of fabric in the centre of the garment) to provide revolutionary comfort and is available a Linea Intima.
Most of us learned about foundation garments from our mothers, who learned from their mothers, and they from their mothers. And so it goes through the generations. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a cycle of misinformation that has left women unnecessarily relying on antiquated thinking about outdated technology.
According to Liliana Mann, president and owner of Linea Intima, their independent research shows that 92 per cent of women don’t know their correct bra size. The technology used in manufacturing foundation garments has come so far in recent years that today’s bras would be unrecognizable to women of our grandmothers’ generation. Even the terms used, like shapewear and shaping tape, were unheard of a few years ago.
The needs and wants of women of all shapes and sizes are finally being addressed, with comfort and confidence being the top priority. Foundation garments have made the move from being worn solely for special occasions and now are considered to be part of the ‘everyday’ wardrobe.
Laser cut fabrics have effectively eliminated demarcation and have created invisible seams, Mann says to be cautious about garment care to ensure optimal performance and elasticity. “Wash Lycra garments after every use, on a gentle cycle. Never use a dryer, and don’t wear the same garment every day. Let it breathe.”
Strapless bras are now available in larger band and cup sizes with versatile necklines, according to Lisa Robinson, co-owner of My Top Drawer. Gores (the centre of the bra between the cups) are being fitted closer to the breast bone. This, along with the use of silicone linings, ensures that they stay in place over longer periods of time. “On a properly fitting bra with straps, 80 per cent of the (breast) weight should be (borne) on the band, with only 20 per cent on the straps,” says Robinson. Therefore, when professionally fitted, women of any size should feel supported and comfortable wearing a strapless bra.
Just Between Friends specializes in options for women who have undergone cancer treatments and mastectomies. Their prosthetic breasts are silicone based, with cooling features – developed using technology borrowed from NASA – to help balance body temperature.
“The prostheses come in all shapes and sizes, are completely safe, and they often play a huge role in helping women to feel like themselves again,” says Martha Hall, store manager. Initial fitting appointments usually last between 45 minutes to an hour and can completely change the outlook of these women who have already been through so much.
Foundation garments are no longer the enemy. They can be a means of empowerment and our greatest fashion ally ensuring that our clothes fit well and we have the desired silhouette. Gone are the days of dressing room embarrassment over not knowing what to wear with your favourite slinky dress or body hugging t-shirt. We have definitely come a long way, baby.