Modern-Day Shapewear Sucks, but Vintage Shapewear Rules

A few weeks ago, I asked a bunch of my coworkers if they would participate in a pretty rude experiment: squeeze their bodies into different styles of shapewear and tell me about how it made them feel.

To the surprise of no one, most of my colleagues did not like having their flesh and insides squished into stretchy fabric for more than an hour. Alanna said her shorts-shapewear “successfully smoothed my tummy but only because they displaced the fat elsewhere, brimming over the top and peeping out the bottom.” Meredith said that she found herself “halfway through the day, slumped in the office bathroom, unwilling to pull my shapewear back up.”

Of her control top tights, Cheryl offered: “I am certain they somehow impede your intestines from doing what needs to happen, though I have no medical evidence for this. I was in such agony by the end of the day that I didn’t have the guts (sorry) to try the other items, like this high-waisted contour thong.” And of her shapewear shorts, Laura said: “The fabric rolled up at the thighs and down at the ribcage when I did shapewear-forbidden activities like sit, breathe, or generally move.”

Lastly, Stephanie told me she “avoided going to the bathroom because getting them off and on was such a challenge.” I personally was concerned we were all going to get UTIs.

The initial plan was to run everyone’s reviews about what they liked and didn’t like, but the one I personally found the most helpful came from Annemarie, who’s really into shopping for and wearing vintage clothing. Her takeaway: Modern-day shapewear sucks, but vintage shapewear actually rules.

Here, I’ll let her convince you on the merits of longline bras, girdles, and corsets, and why they’re better than modern-day shapewear:

Last week, the Racked shopping team struggled and pulled ourselves into a variety of shapewear. Mini shorts, contouring leggings, and long tank tops in shades of beige and nude and made out of rubber band-like materials. None of the pieces looked beautiful, and none of them made us feel beautiful.

In fact, battling and fighting the rolled-up top of the contouring leggings, I started crying from being so uncomfortable and feeling so ugly squished into this skintight material. This is the story of modern shapewear.

I’m not a stranger to shapewear. I wear a longline bra most days, a girdle when I wear a dress, and a corset on the days between. These luxurious items were costly and are made of lace and ribbons, and I take care of them. I take caution in the stores I buy them from, often preferring overseas indie brands with good customer track records. And I store all these items in a drawer by themselves.

When I’m shopping for these items, it’s impossible to go to your local Macy’s or department store to find the right stuff. Fit is super important here, and you need to go to someone who has long-lasting experience in shapewear. What Katie Did is a great starting spot as it has a wide variety of options and price points that won’t scare away newcomers (corsets are pricey!), and no one is better than Rago for longline bras and girdles, including pieces with stay-up clips

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