Control briefs, panty girdles - modern corsetry

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Just thought I'd add my tuppenceworth as a veteran of 30 years experience of foundation garments!

The past 15 years or so have seen various resurgences in the sales of foundation garments. Nobody uses the 'G' word, but control knickers, are really just the good old trustworthy panty girdles of yesteryear. OK modern technology has seen some advances in materials used, but in so far as control briefs, shape-wear, panty girdles (call them what you like), the main aim is to enhance the figure? Or is it? A decent fitting brief can smooth out lumps and bumps, but any excess flabbiness has to go somewhere. So if it's squeezed out from beneath, it can often end in a 'muffin top'. So why are there so many control-wear garments on sale these days? There's specialist garments, designed to flatten the tummy, some with built-in waist nippers, to correct for muffin top, and of course, those with longer legs to tame those thighs. There's even some that do the whole lot - long-legged brief, with boned waist cincher that goes right from the knees to below the bust!

Well - I've tried them all! I always revert to my trustworthy control briefs for daily wear. The trick is to find a brief that has sufficient hold, to be at least partially effective in squeezing out a few inches, but without creating excess bulges elsewhere. For me - and I suspect the vast majority of shape-wear wearers, the main reason for donning the garment is for the added confidence, posture and comfort. Just look at the on-line reviews of some of the famous brands - Flexees, Bali, Playtex, and you'll see loads of write-ups where the wearer likes the 'held-in' feeling. This is I suspect is the main reason why shape-wear continues to this day. Gone are the bones, zips, laces, hooks-eyes and buckles, that made corsetry horribly uncomfortable 25+ years ago! With decent modern fibres, we are left with garments that are a sheer joy to wear. Comfort, confidence, and the possible added benefit of looking a size smaller. If the reason for wearing was figure reduction alone, well there are an awful lot of garments in sizes small and petite, where the wearer, probably doesn't need to wear control briefs, but chooses to do so anyhow.

OK - on to some specifics:

For me, my favourite brief, by quite a margin, is the Flexees 6854 'Instant Slimmer'. As claimed on the label, it is 'Truly Firm Control'. It does a good job in flattening the tummy, and is exceptionally comfortable. For a firmer brief, I really can wear this all day, and not feel uncomfortable. These tend to be slightly higher (about an inch) in the waist, so they're particularly good for a longer torso. They also have a wonderful smooth shimmering 2-tone floral fabric. The tape measure indicates that I ought to order 2XL, but XL, or L are a great fit, depending on how much control I want for the occasion. These are low-cut on the legs. An inch higher on the leg would be good, but still a wonderful garment.

Next favorite, and getting harder to find, is the hi-waisted (2-inch cuff waistline) Playtex 'Fits Beautifully'. This is a degree firmer than the Flexees, but the cuff waist gives a bit of cinching (which I like) on the waist. Again pleasant tightness, and reassuring to wear - but maybe for 6 hours max. I have this in 2XL and XL, but going down another size would be too much. Marketed as Firm Control, but in general comparison I'd say 'Extra Firm Control' is more appropriate. Believe it or not, Playtex still make their 18-hour girdles. These give fantastic control, are actually very comfortable, but rather bulky and have a very distinctive rubbery odor – there’s probably loads of 18-hour addicts out there, for these very reasons – the range has been going for almost 40 years! Incidentally, the UK 18 hour briefs are vastly superior to the US versions, as they have a satin front panel, whilst the American version has the front panel of the same rubbery material (spanette). Not my choice for everyday, but every now and again, it sees the light of day. Even after 20+ years it hasn’t lost much of its control.

For moderate control, I still have a few Flexees 5844 'Valuable Solutions' briefs. These are hi-cut on the legs, and whilst not as firm as the 'Instant Slimmer' briefs, they are superbly comfortable for all day or even night wear. Alas they've been out of production for several years, and the replacement has a lace front panel which is a bit scratchy. Plenty of other manufacturers do these medium / moderate control types. I find that the firmer hi-cut briefs do not come high enough in the waist - even the Flexee-firms, and tend to roll over, which is REALLY annoying and uncomfortable, because the waistband is nearer the hips, so my advice for hi-cut briefs is to stick with moderate control.

I've never got on with long-legged garments, but I may try the Flexees 6855, which the long-legged version of my favorite brief style, mentioned above!

As for all-in-ones, my granny used to call these corselets! Well they still do the same thing, but modern garments look a whole lot nicer than the structurally-engineered monstrosities that grandma used to wear! Alas, having a long torso, they tend to be not a great fit for me. The trouble with them is that they are designed for a standard figure type - and most of us are not standard. As well as being long in the torso, my hip / waist difference is a bit smaller than the typical 10-inch difference that these are designed for - so if the waist fits, the hips aren't snug enough. Also, if you're rather busty, you may not get the same level of support that your favorite bra gives. If you’re lucky enough to find an all-in-one that fits well, then grab several while you can. I only ever found one that fits well on the longer torso – again, Flexees, the 6866 non-wired, and 6856 under wired. Fine in length, but with the correct back and waist size, the hips are just a bit too big. (BTW – I’m NOT on commission from Flexees!)

In fact this is my advice for any type of corsetry: if you find something that you like, is then:  stock up with plenty!

Having spent a lot of time researching, and not an insubstantial amount of money buying sometimes useless garments, once you find a control brief or any other form of shape-wear that you really like, is comfortable, fits well, and a pleasure to wear, stock up with as many as you can! Particular lines in particular styles are not in production for ever!

Specialist briefs: I don’t like the briefs with the built-in waist cinchers. The brief portion tends have very little control, so the wearer may as well just wear regular knickers and a separate cincher. My trick is to wear a separate waist nipper, when I really want to trim down my waist as well as my regular choice of control brief. Then I get my needed tummy control, AND a slimmer waist, and no muffin top! This can get a bit hot in the summer. Most of the nippers / cinchers are hook-eye fastening, and I prefer to have the hooks/eyes at the back. It’s not really that different to fastening a bra, but with 13 or 14 hooks/eyes rather than 2 or 3! Having the hooks at the back, means that you generally will have a bit of boning at the front, and this stops the cincher from scrunching up at the front. Incidentally, the modern "boning" is flexible spiral steel, so there’s none of the digging-in that you used to get with the flat-steel bones from the quality firm-control basques of the 50’s and 60s (I have a couple of these vintage garments, and whilst incredibly sexy, they’re not as comfortable as modern structural under-pinnings).

There’s some real whacky stuff out there too, and my advice is to avoid! For example you can get all-in-ones, that are cupless, designed to be worn with your favourite bra! Well – there’s no point in having two pairs of straps digging in over each shoulder – OUCH! I’ve seen cupless basque-type thingies too, and even foolishly bought one once – rotten fit – no support – complete waste of money. There all-in-ones with a zip-up central sections, that you can unzip for a bit of relief when relaxing – just take the damned thing off! There’s panty girdles with additional 'wings' that you can adjust to get the right level over control………the list goes on……..these are just gimmicks, probably aimed at conning the fetish inspired customers! It is no surprise that the major manufacturers don’t sell this rubbish! If you’re buying on Ebay, most of this gimmicky rubbish tends to come from the far east. So – top tip stick with well known brands, where the companies have put in a lot of money and research working out exactly what the connoisseur of shape-wear really wants.

So stick with the well-known brands: Flexees by Maidenform, Playtex, Bali, Marks and Spencer (in the UK – fantastic ranges), Fantasie, Berlei, Triumph, Crown, Crown-ette, VaBien,

I haven’t mentioned the modern resurgence of lace-up corsetry either – but have some experience. Great for the odd occasion, but I prefer the flexibility of regular shape-wear. One commentator has mentioned that the biggest difference between shape-wear, and rigid corsetry, is that you can suck yourself in from a rigid corset if it’s not excessively laced and feel your body separate to the corset, whereas elasticized shape-wear will always hold you, even if you really breathe in – fine by me! Anyhow – if corsets are your thing, check out Axfords and Vollers for off-the-peg, otherwise always go for made-to-measure.

Hope this helps, and at the end of the day, enjoy your shape-wear, and don’t be embarrassed by it. You’ll be surprised how many partners encourage their significant others, especially if it gives them confidence, makes them look and feel good, and hey – some of the modern garments are really sexy too!

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