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Foundation Garments - (LSOA In The News)
"Good figures are made, not born. It is up to you to make the most of your body's contour as well as condition." So said Johannah Letz in her book, A Youthful Figure is Forever. This point was made in 1966 regarding the wearing of foundation garments, and the point itself still stands today. Unless you have the most athletic, sculpted, and firm figure, a little bit of lycra stands to help smooth your shape where diet and exercise haven't. What, you ask, is a foundation garment?

Generally speaking, a foundation is an underlayer that either gently or firmly contours and supports the curves of your body so that clothes drape elegantly on you. Strictly speaking, a foundation garment is a girdle. For the purposes of dressmaking, a foundation layer flatters the body under clothing, and it protects fine fabrics from body oils and perspiration.

Johannah Letz, custom-corsetiere and patent holder of the first Uplift bra (1934), advocated that women from the age of 13 to 80 wear girdles daily, with everything from office attire and eveningwear, to sportswear and pajamas. Thankfully, we no longer live with such strict fashion dictates! And I hope you'd no more consider wearing a girdle with you gym shorts or nightshirt than I would. However, while fashion no longer requires daily girdling, don't toss out the concept of a foundation until you've given them a good look.

"The success of your dress
depends on your foundation"
Today, foundations are often called "shapewear" or "bodybriefers." And shapewear includes everything from control top pantyhose to the Miracle Bra. You're about to invest in a custom garment for several reasons, and one of them is that you want to look your best while wearing it. As a lingerie retailer, I know that fit is the first and most important element, it making you look good in your clothes. But I also know that the elegant and curvy figures of the most glamorous of women come with a little help from a foundation garment. Girdles--call them shapewear or bodybriefers if you prefer--are miracle workers for shaping the curves on every woman (next to exercise and a proper nutrition, that is). Shapewear provides different levels of control, depending on your needs. Choose light for smoothing, moderate for smoothing and shaping, firm or extra-firm for smoothing, shaping and reducing.

I'm not asking you to wear your grandmother's underwear under your evening gown (though I admit to wearing a girdle under all of my formalwear). I am suggesting that you consider a foundation garment so that you have a finished, smoothed look when wearing your gown. This is not about sucking in the fat. This is about smoothing your shape! Think about it as an extension of your bra... why do you select one bra over another? Comfort, sure. Support, yes. And ultimately it's also about making the best of your curves under your blouse--and sometimes, let's be honest, it's even about enhancing your bustline. A foundation garment does exactly the same thing, and will do amazing things for your appearance in your outfit. The following passage, while outdated for 2002 and everyday wear, still sums up the effectiveness of wearing a foundation with your formalwear:

Quoted from the Book of Fashion and Beauty, published in 1967:

"Never underestimate the importance of your bra and girdle. They cannot substitute for diet and exercise in correcting figure problems, but oh, what a difference they can make in the fit and swing of your clothes. [Foundations] can and should make minor readjustments in your proportions through control and redistribution where necessary: by lifting your bosom to give you a prettier shape under sweaters and knits and allow the bustline darts of a dress to hit the right place; by flattening the tummy and firming the derriere so that your skirts do not cup and vertical seams fall straight; by smoothing bulges to make your thigh-line sleek and trim. Your choice of bra and girdle should be determined by two things: your own silhouette and the particular clothes you plan to wear.
"A good foundation is basic equipment even for the perfect figure, while to female forms less than divine, a little knowledge of the mysterious art of underdressing is a vital move in the subtle game of beauty bluff. Whether or not you are a little over-endowed around the bust or hipline can and should be entirely a matter between your foundation and yourself."

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Three Types of Foundations -- from ultralight to firm
There are three basic types of foundations that I suggest to my clients, depending on their figures and how much shaping they'd like to have: body liners, leotards, and shapewear (ie; girdles). I'll talk with you during your appointment or phone consultation about which may be best for you and the design you've selected.

The simplest foundation is a body-liner or body stocking, and is much like an ultra-light-weight leotard. It's the absolute minimum next to going naked. I recommend these for the slimmest of figures and those which don't require a bra for support. You'll protect your gown from body oils and perspiration, and your look will have only the lightest touch of smoothing. This is an excellent choice for clinging fabrics and close fitting design lines. These are offered in a unitard style (legs may be shortened) and a camisole-leotard style. (The styles show below are usually offered by dancewear retailers. I recommend River's Edge Dancewear.)

Body Liners, camisole and full-body styles. Leg length can be altered to suit.

A step up in weight and control power from a body-liner is a leotard. Today's styles are available in boy-leg and capri-leg lenghths, with spaghetti straps, low cut necklines, and even scoop backs. These provide about the same support as the leotards you remember from ballet or gymnastics class. With 1970's fashion back in vogue, you may even have one in your wardrobe today. These will provide the same protection from body oils, and in addition to soft smoothing, they also provide light support everywhere. I recommend these for slim to average figures, and those which can substitute the support of a leotard for a bra.

A new variety of leotards come in a range of cuts and colors. Leg length can be altered to suit.

Also in this category are micro-fiber camisoles and boy-leg briefs or "hot pants." These are offered by makers like Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein, Ralph Loren, DKNY, and so on. They are often marketed as seamless and are great every-day underwear for fitted clothing styles. Depending on the cut and fabric of your garment, either a one-piece leotard or a two-piece camisole and brief set may be more appropriate.

Microfiber camisole and boy shorts.

The third category of foundations--girdles--are often called "body shapers" or "contour garments". These products are offered by a variety of makers with which you may not be familiar: Rago, Goddess, Vabien, among many more. They are made with much more Lycra spandex than the 10% lycra / 90% cotton blend of most leotards, and they offer the best of shaping and support.

This is my favorite category of foundation garments because they are the truest for creating that glamorous vintage look. If you think Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe looked that curvaceous without any help from girdles, then you're in for a surprise...because you can have their hourglass looks too! I recommend these foundations for all figure types, and especially for the full figured ...
Open Bottom Girdle; Body Briefer or 'All-In-One'; Panty Girdle; Long Leg Panty Girdle digg digg this / delicious add to del.icio.us