Ever since starting up my ask.fm over a year ago, the one theme that keeps resurfacing (besides the classic relationship advice for some reason) is that on how to dress – or specifically, how to dress flatteringly, especially if you’re not stick thin. It seems looks still play a huge part in how one perceives oneself, if all the letters I get denoting insecurities are anything to judge by, and while I can’t change how you see yourself, I guess what we can do right now is change how others see you. You can watch my latest episode on how to dress – I guest starred on Budget Barbie this month to a flood of emails asking for more:
Hence.. one of my most requested posts ever – The Guide To: Flattering dressing, part one; Shapewear.
Because what can I say? It’s what’s underneath that counts.
Lets start from the bottom.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. (Judge it by its underwear.)
And all sorts of other cliches. Ok, enough. Lets get started.
I find that one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to dressing up for size is the notion that you should get something as oversized/baggy as possible. Despite the fact that every single magazine / website has long denounced oversized dressing as the worst mistake possible (it actually makes you look even bigger!), people everywhere are still committing to baggy boyfriend tees and loose shift dresses in an attempt to hide their flaws. I get it, it’s a vulnerable place to be in. There’s a reason why tent dresses were so popular at one point in time. You can’t see one’s tummy in it – but then again, you can’t see the difference between yourself and a curtain rack either.
The uncomfortable truth is, you’ll look better in something that’s cut to fit, that skims, not hugs, and that basically doesn’t smother you in swaddles of cloth.
Right now, let me just briefly pin down what I consider to be some of the key rules in dressing: the rule of thirds, the fit and flare, the color pop, the accentuating of curves. All of these can and will be elaborated on in a later post, but for now it suffices to know that they have one thing in common – they all include creating some sort of shape that isn’t just a huge, flaw covering blanket. What you want to do is dress in a way that imitates what pop culture commonly calls the “s” shape, and the first step to getting there is making sure that what goes under your clothes sets the foundation for that to happen.
Why you need to know your underwear:
1. Most girls (80%!) wear the wrong bra size, or wear their bras wrongly
2. Wearing your bra wrongly can over an extended period of time actually make you look bulkier because it squishes your flesh together and creates weird and unsightly bulges that stay there after you take your bra off
3. The wrong bra will give you back fat and underarm fat.
4. If you wear the right type of bra early, you’re less likely to sag later on.
5. Wearing the wrong underwear is basically uncomfortable and makes you grumpy.
The bottom line is this: if you have back fat or underarm fat around the band of your bra, chances are you’re wearing it wrong. If your bra is the right one for you, you should not have back/underarm fat. Tada! What a glorious revelation.
So! Firstly, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT BRA SIZE.
Go get yourself fitted at any lingerie store, it should be free. Don’t be embarrassed about it, because this is important! You need to know what size you should be wearing – both cup size and rib size. You can measure it yourself with this guide here, but still go to a professional to get it measured because they will know best what products suit your body type, and because not all bras are created equal, so if you’re a 34B for one brand doesn’t mean you’ll be a 34B for another brand. The store assistant should be able to recommend what size you’ll be based on your measurements with them.
What works for someone else may not work for you
Next, PICK UNDERWEAR THAT FLATTERS YOUR BODY.
Easier said than done, right? I’ll be listing a couple of things to look out for here. Everything I’m featuring below can be found in all Impression Lingerie outlets, because they’re the ones who kindly sponsored this post, but the tips can be exported across all bras in general and will be useful to know in any case.
Above Pictured: Impression store in BHG Bugis Lingerie Department
To illustrate what I mean, I dragged out a bunch of clothes to demonstrate my point – starting with my old prom gown. Because when else do you fret the most about how you look, eh?
You know how it is with things like prom, or dinner functions. Glamour comes in shimmers and silhouettes. Adorable minidresses with cinched waists, sequined drop back dresses, full length mermaid gowns all demand some sort of silhouette creation, and unless you’re planning to wear a tux (which, for the record, I find pretty cool. Girls in tuxes, I mean), you’re going to inevitably end up in something rather more skin hugging than your daily fare. For both my proms, I picked full length gowns partly because I find them to be the most flattering cut and partly because it’s a rare opportunity to go all out on dressing. And this is where shapewear comes in.
When it comes to picking underwear, something too loose is uncomfortable and insecure, but something too tight creates very unflattering and unsightly creases. And when you’re wearing something tight fit, like a formal gown, everything is emphasised even more.
See what I mean?
If you’re not confident of sculpting your ideal silhouette in the gym before your event date, you can thankfully sculpt yourself out based on more structured, boned shapewear. Here I picked out what can pass as lacey full body underarmour, really. Let me break it down for you.
1. Impressions body shaping bra. (The one I got was black, with lace details)
What to look out for:
- Side and back panels of the bra are higher than normal bras, with firm boning instead of the filmy gauze panels regular bras subscribe to. The boning prevents your back from bulging or creasing even when you slouch, functioning like a cast that ‘sets’ your muscle or bone in place. This works to redistribute the excess fat from your sides, giving you a slimmer silhouette.
Notice the higher panels of the body shaping bra as compared to a normal bra?
- Firm support especially on the side of the bra – creating a push-in effect at the underarm area – preventing armpit cleavage. A bonus benefit is that it actually enhances your boobs at the same time, so that’s just peachy.
What to look out for:
- Firm boning support all round for tummy control. You can feel it for yourself when buying/trying it on – pick something that doesn’t ‘bend’ easily so as to really keep your body shape together. Most corsets are also designed to curve inwards, so they have the effect of creating an hourglass effect. I picked one with a zip function because it’s easier to wear than the elastic kind you have to slip into – having tried both, I believe it’s far more effective as well.
3. Seamless underwear
C’mon, do I really need to spell this out? Tight fitting clothes make VPL even more .. visible, so wear underwear that’s seamless. Come to think of it, this applies to all your body hugging clothes, not just with formal wear.
The overall effect?
No distracting bulges. Creation of an ‘s’ shaped illusion that I don’t actually have in real life.
Picking out shapewear for the day to day.
If we are all agreed that wearing sackcloth benefits exactly no one, then I trust that we also see eye to eye on the idea that your clothes should fit your body properly, skimming your body in all the right places with proper contrast at others. Think a loosely fitted bohemian top with slim cut jeans. A tank top with a beautifully flared midi skirt. The idea is for part of your outfit to ‘fit’ your body and the other part of it to ‘flare’, creating a curved silhouette that comes in at the waist. As such, the parts of your outfit that ‘fits’ your body should strive to skim it in the most flattering way possible, with no unsightly creases or bulges.
The great thing is, you don’t actually need to wear a corset all day long to achieve this effect – save your corset for the formal events. If you wear the right bra, as mentioned above, you can generally minimise creases and get rid of unsightly bulges, especially on your back.
Below, I’m reusing the body shaping bra that I showcased in the formal wear section. You don’t have to get a different type of bra for every single occasion is what I am saying. A body shaping bra is a lifestyle choice, not a special occasion thing. If you wear it everyday, over time, your posture will improve and your flesh will ‘remember’ its shape and stop sagging or bulging in places it shouldn’t be.
Black Body Shaping Bra with lace details and optional padding
Nude Body Shaping Bra with lace details and optional padding
Two basic colors each girl should have for pairing interchangeably with your clothes – for example, please don’t wear a dark coloured bra with a sheer top. Notice the high side paneling on both bras again?
If you’re wearing a fitting dress like this and you’re moderately uncomfortable still, you can wear a shaper underneath. Underwear that doubles as shapers generally come in high, medium, and soft tummy control levels, so it really depends on what you’re comfortable with wearing all day. Probably start with the medium if it’s your first time wearing it. I suggest picking something seamless as well, because if you’re wearing a fitting dress you won’t want to worry about VPL.
Sometimes your outfit doesn’t allow you to wear a classic body shaping bra as shown. Now that’s a pity – because I hope by now you’ve decided to wear a body shaping bra every day of your life – but it happens, when you’re wearing something like a tank top that’s cut low round the back and sides.
Nothing is grosser than letting your bra straps or sides show – so pick out something that’s strapless but still not flimsy. A half cup strapless bra is what you’d conventionally go for when wearing a tank top, but go one step further and look out for one that’s also seamless and that has solid boning, similar to what you get in the classic body shaping bra.
The Classic Seamless Bra comes in 4 styles. The one pictured here is a half-cup seamless style which one can wear with detachable straps – I obviously removed them for this outfit.
The boning of bras like these, while not as full-control as classic body shaping bras, will still give you a moderate amount of support with the added advantage of making sure your bra doesn’t slip down when you move.
I also took the chance to wear a bodycon skirt to show you what I mean about underwear with tummy control and to highlight the existence of high waist girdle shapers that are a pretty decent compromise between corsets and regular underwear.
Just as a side note, even if you’re not wearing a particularly fitting dress, VPL is a real and obvious issue. As a general rule, try not to let any of your undergarments show – be they bra straps or panty lines.
Seamless, cotton, or mesh net underwear will solve this problem – and an additional benefit of mesh net underwear is that it’s great for travel, since you can wash it everyday and it essentially dries in a jiffy.
Lastly, LEARN TO PUT ON YOUR BRA.
It sounds so simple, but this is where it makes all the difference. There’s no point owning the right bra if you don’t know how to put it on. It sounds so simple, but it turns out most girls don’t know how to put on their bras either. Apparently, there’s a technique to it.
Brittany has an awesome article on how you can put on your bra correctly, which you can read here. In any case, for your convenience, this is what i pulled from thinandcurvy.com:
1. Put on the band and hook it. It doesn’t really matter whether you prefer the put-it-on-straight method or the put-it-on-in-front-and-twist-it-around method.
2. The straps should not be too tight at this point. If they are, loosen them up. Once you are used to this bra you can keep them on the length you like.
3. Lean forward and put the straps on your shoulders and fit your breasts into your cups.
This is the most important part! Neglect this step at your peril! Reach into the cups, to the side, under the wire in your armpit. Pull the flesh forward and up. If you have “armpit fat,” pull this in too. Trust me.
4. At this point, if you have bulging or “four boobs” above the top of the cups, it means you are wearing the wrong size!
5. Now you can tighten the straps. Don’t tighten them so that they are pulling on your shoulders, just tight enough so that there isn’t any slack and there is a slight bit of tension.
Still not sure how to do it? Here’s a very helpful youtube video that shows you exactly how to wear your bra in a way that gives you the best support and that flatters your upper body the best.
You need to know how to wear a bra correctly even if you’re not wearing a body shaping bra. Every girl should watch this.
She’s super cute, so watching it should be both entertaining and educational. See, we watch out for your needs here.
And there you have it! With the right bra and the knowledge on how to wear it right, I guarantee you will see a difference when you put your clothes on and go out and about every day. This post is especially timely because Chinese New Year is around the corner, and we all know that is just code for cheongsam, and other tight fitting bits of clothing. After trying out the shapewear myself for a whole month, I decided to bring my mum down to Impression, BHG Bugis to pick out some for herself as well before the CNY period kicks in, since I feel like shapewear will be especially helpful for older women and mothers.
They’ve got all the CNY themed underwear in now, heh. For those of you who are big on the red = auspicious thing.
For my mother I got basically the same thing I had – a body shaping bra and a medium control underwear shaper.
And you can see for yourself how effective/ happy she is with it.
1 x shy mum
There’s an obvious slimming effect on the silhouette, even with clothes that aren’t very tight fitting to begin with. Yes please!
In any case, although the main point of this post is to show you guys how to pick out slimming underwear and what you should be looking out for when buying shapewear, I’m also glad to announce that if you’re looking to get your first piece of shapewear and still would like someone to guide you through the process in real life, Impression is giving away 5 sets of Bodyshaping Bras (for yourself and your mum!) on their FB page, which you can take part in here. Otherwise, I’m also holding a mini giveaway on my end on instagram – five sets, for you and your mum, and all you have to do is show me some lovin by posting a picture with your mum and hash tagging it so I can see your pictures!
For the Facebook Contest, all you have to do is:
1) “Like” the Impression page at www.facebook.com/iloveimpression
2) Share the “Jemma goes lingerie shopping with mum at Impression” post
3) Leave a comment with the reason why you’d like to win the Body Shaping Bra. Eg ” I hate armpit cleavage!”/ “My mum thinks she needs it!”
4) Period of Entry will be 30th Jan to 15th Feb2015 11.59pm.
Thank you for all the love, Impression! You can find Impression Lingerie on and off-line in the following places:
IMPRESSION LINGERIE is available in store at the following locations: BHG Tampines, Isetan Katong (Parkway Parade) , Isetan West Gate, Isetan Nex (Serangoon) ; John Little Marina Square, John Little Plaza Singapura, John Little Tiong Bahru, John Little Jurong Point ; Metro City Square, Metro Woodlands, Metro Seng Kang; Tom & Stefanie (West Mall and Civic Centre); OG Albert, OG Orchard Point, OG People’s Park
And for all of you, remember – now that you’ve read this, you have no excuse! Dressing flatteringly starts from bottom up, so keep in mind all that I’ve mentioned when shopping for new garments and under-garment this CNY, and all the best in your respective quest to look gorgeous as always x