Modern ‘shapers’

Modern shapewear is something that I have some previous experience with. A few years ago, one of my favourite pieces of clothing was a long, tight stretchy t-shirt dress, and that is not a very forgiving look if you have wobbly bits, as I have. I was obsessed with finding something that would flatten my tummy and control my huge bum. I spent so much money on a variety of ‘shapers’ in one form or another, however I never found anything that worked – Some rolled down, some rolled up, some cut off my circulation at the top of my thighs but mostly they didn’t help shape me at all, and they were universally UGLY.

After consistently wearing both retro and vintage shapewear on pretty much a daily basis for the last couple of years, I have become accustomed to the flattering shapes of girdles, the structure of corsets and most of all, how I look in my outerwear. However, as I walked past the ‘shapewear’ aisle in Big W a few weeks ago, I was drawn to the beige stretchy garments that I have ignored for so long. In a moment of madness, I bought a pair of these CLIO longline knickers and see if they really were as horrible as I remembered them to be.

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I decided to wear them to work for an entire day, as I like to thoroughly road test everything I review. This is what I thought…

Sizing – I know from previous purchases, that a size 12-14 is too small for me, so I bought the size 14-16. My actual trouser size is 16 and I was hoping that these would be slightly tight, in order to suck me in a little. This sizing is actually perfect for me and was comfortable.

Comfort – This is literally the most comfortable thing I have ever worn, and so is my blue and purple monster onesie, but that does nothing for my silhouette. It felt like there was nothing there, and I obviously didn’t experience any thigh chafing, which I would say is the one positive of these knickers (wear them as anti-chafing knickers!).

Appearance – It’s so damn ugly! I don’t even mind the colour, I have plenty of vintage pieces in this colour. It’s just not very feminine – there is no detailing, no lace, no nice… well, no nice anything! Shapewear doesn’t need to be this boring, honestly. Apologies for being crude, but imagine your partner taking your dress off at the end of a lovely date, and being met by this ugly thing. It’s not the sexiest thing you could be wearing. But not only that, how I felt wearing this all day doesn’t even begin to compare with how beautiful I feel in my retro underwear, I felt like a scruff!

Shaping – With my retro and vintage shapewear, I really rely on the structure and the plastic/ metal boning to support my wobbly bits. Even if the garment doesn’t have boning, or a complicated structure, the fabrics that they are made of are a lot stronger and will actually hold you in. This is like wearing cut off leggings, which is not supportive at all.

I have taken a few photos of modern, retro and vintage foundations, and how they look with and without a dress over them. I should probably apologise for the bra poking out of the dress, and I should really have worn a longline bra with all of these garments, but I didn’t… Blame the gin.


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As you can see, my two main problem areas are my tummy and my bum. I really need my tummy to be flattened and my bum to be controlled, by this I mean that it needs to be supported and pulled in a little.

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I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing this dress with this shapewear, my tummy is hanging out and my bum is so round! I love a round bum, but this is too much for me.


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This is a Rago 1294 girdle, which is considered ‘firm control’. There is some boning and lots of structure and panelling, which really flattens my tummy and pulls my bum tight.

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I would feel comfortable going out wearing this dress over the 1294 girdle, it really controls and shapes my figure.


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This girdle is genuine vintage (and my favourite!), it is full of boning and is made up of thick non-stretch fabric. My flab is going nowhere in this, and it’s also (believe it or not) very comfortable. As you can see, it has created some squish between to the top of the girdle and the bra, so I would really need to wear a longline bra with this.

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Boom! Look at that, it’s perfect! in both this set of images and the retro images, you will notice that the transition from my waist to my hips is smooth, whereas the modern shaper creates a kind of bubble butt. It really depends what you like but I prefer a much smoother silhouette.

To conclude, I will stay loyal to my retro and vintage underwear because modern shapers just don’t cut the mustard for me. I will now file the CLIO knickers away, in the bin.


5 thoughts on “Modern ‘shapers’

  1. To me, that Rago is still a significantly better look under that particular dress.

    I know it’s tempting, but like I told my daughter when she started to show an interest in that sort of thing,”You know me I’m results focused! I just have yet to see anything recent that can put it’s money where it’s mouth is!”

  2. Absolutely agree on the ugly look of the modern stuff! I believe that my shapewear shouldn’t be something that I’d be ashamed or embarrassed to be seen in if the occasion arose – one of my favourite words for the look of modern control garments is “utilitarian” i.e. it’s not made for its looks, but for its purpose. Give me my Ragos any day!

  3. I totally agree with you on all of the thoughts, but the only reason I ever go back to those modern ones is that it significantly lowers the old inner thigh rub problem. Whis is a problem for me. Any solutions to that? I’d love help on it and then I’d LIVE in vintage foundations!

  4. I have a book written by the Mad Men stylist, and she suggested modern shapewear is really only good for smoothing out bra straps and so on from showing, and won’t actually help ‘shape’. I would agree, the Rago stuff is fantastic, but shapewear is very helpful under those fabrics that show every wrinkle. And you are right! They are not to be seen by suitors!!

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