I’m new to shapewear, help!

If you are sick of t-shirt bras and tights, and want to try out a new type of underwear that will give you a retro shape and feel sexy all day long, then you have come to the right place.

I am well aware that getting into the world of vintage inspired lingerie can be very daunting and that there is a lot to take in;  why would I choose a padded bullet bra over one without padding? Should I buy a long or short girdle? What does ‘firm control’ mean?? Gahhhh!! I give up it’s too scary! Yes I have been there too and it’s no fun.

So, this post is designed to answer some of those tricky questions, you are however more than welcome to ask me a specific question by contacting me here.

Should I buy a one, two or three piece?

This is quite an important question, it totally depends on what you want to achieve, your body and your taste of course. I am very tall and cannot wear some one piece items, so for example, I would never buy the Rago 9071 as my body is too long for it and would result in my special area being cut up by the fabric. Instead I would buy the Rago 2202 longline bra and combine it with the Rago 6210  to allow for my long torso.

Just saying...

Just saying…

I would recommend that you check the specifications of each garment when you’re deciding on what to wear, however I wouldn’t recommend anyone over 5’8″/ 5’9″ wearing a closed one piece, for the above reason.

You should also take into consideration the shape you are looking to achieve, if you want an extreme nipped in waist, a corset may be required, Orchard Corset and What Katie Did do some fabulous ones.

If you want to achieve a slightly less extreme nipped waist, you could go for a waist the What Katie Did Glamour waspie and pair it with a nice pair of knickers and a bra of your choice:


How many pieces you should wear completely depends on what you’re looking for but generally, one or two pieces will achieve the similar results, which will be control whereas a three piece look is more for firmer control and nipping in of the middle area.

Light control, soft control, extra firm control – What the heck?

Shapewear comes in a variety of control levels, this essentially means that each category varies in strength. Light control items will not be very strong and therefore will not pull your tummy in nip your waist in for example, whereas extra firm items will keep your belly completely flat all day.

Below are some examples of the different levels of firmness:


Bullet bras – I don’t know where to start!

When people say they want a bullet bra, what they often mean is that they want pointy boobs. There are different levels of extremity with the pointed boob look and they aren’t all created with a standard ‘bullet bra’:

The least extreme version is the three piece wirefree bra, something like this will give you the pointy look without fearing that you will poke your friends’ eyes out (available from Target):


After the three piece, would be the cone bra. What Katie did make a great version that is pointy but not extreme:


Then, there is the Cabaret bullet bra, also by What Katie Did, which creates a more extreme pair of pointy boobs :


The winner of the pointy boob world is undoubtedly the Maitresse bullet bra:


Choosing the right sizing for the last two bras isn’t the easiet of tasks. I own the Cabaret bullet bra and adore it but when I tried the Maitresse in the same size, and then a variety of other sizes, it just didn’t suit my bust. I would recommend emailing What Katie Did or going directly to one of their stores to try them on to prevent disappointment.

Can I wear all this stuff on a daily basis or is it only built for special occasions?

Most pieces of modern vintage reproduction lingerie are extremely sturdy, they have to be to hold your body in so tightly! Women during the 1930s to the 1960s mostly wore shapewear all day every day;  and many pieces that can be bought in today’s market are based on some of the original designs. I wear modern and vintage shapewear every day and I have not had one piece break on me, and not only are they strong but they are also comfortable (as long as you are wearing the right size and fit for your body).

However I wouldn’t recommend jumping into wearing a 20 strap girdle, tight corset and Maitresse bullet bra on your first day. Explore the different shapes and how the various items look and feel with your outerwear.

Stockings and hold ups, they’re the same thing right?

Nope. Hold ups do what they say on the tin, they hold themselves up using adhesive bands along the welt. This means that they don’t require suspender belts or girdles to keep them up. In my experience, they rarely stay up and the adhesive actually doesn’t last for many wears. If you really can’t find any stockings and you are desperate to wear something other than tights, you can clip your suspension to the top of hold ups.

Stockings are require suspension to keep them up. They come in many different styles, colours and qualities. I could go on for hours about stockings but please ask if you have a specific question. One of the best places to go for stockings is Stockings HQ as they carry a very wide range.


I don’t want to look like my great aunty Edna, where can I find modern looking versions of vintage shapewear?

Many women associate the peach or salmon coloured underwear with being out-dated old fashioned because those are the colours that were most common with our ladies back in our grandmother’s era. This can be very off-putting and I get it, you want to look and feel sexy and modern, rather than feeling like you’re raided your granny’s underwear drawer. There is such a wide range of styles out there, you just need to know where to look. Kiss Me Deadly create some beautiful and vibrant designs that are inspired by mid-century styles but brought back to the 2010s, check out some of their designs:



Hope this helps!






7 thoughts on “I’m new to shapewear, help!

  1. Elinor, I find it difficult to find nylon stockings for larger thighs. I’ve learned that buying “long” (such as Secrets in Lace) does work, but one definitely needs adjustable straps with a girdle if you do it that way. Any suggestions? Money is tight but I love my nylon stockings!

    • Hey! Can I ask you to measure around the top of your thigh (where the welt would be) and I will do the same. That way I can get an idea of your size and recommend accordingly – Please feel free to send this through privately 🙂 xx

  2. Alright, I’m 22 inches around my thighs and I know what you mean, it is difficult. I would first of all suggest continuing getting the longer stockings and folding the welts down before clipping the suspender belt/ girdle to it (I do this) or you can find some larger stockings on the net (stockings HQ or Naturalcurves.co.uk) but they might not be nylon. I am still trying to find a plus size nylon stockings because so many women ask me about this. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful 😦 Also if you want to message me privately, please email me at elinor@thenylonswish.com 🙂

  3. Fascinating! I’m brand new to retro fashion, and just about to buy some underwear, and have just found your blog from Miss Victory Violet – I’m going to subscribe and go and read your archives!

  4. As far as being new to shape wear – keep in mind everybody is different. Some people can jump right in without any problem and start wearing the Rago 6210 which is one of the firmest girdles and be very comfortable. Some it will just take a little time, and it is best to start with very light girdle, then move to a moderate for a few more weeks, and to a firm, and finally to the extra firm.

    The real key is keep your stomach muscles always well relaxed and just rely on the girdle for supporting you posture.

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