Shapewear: Can clothes make the workout?

Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:01am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If you could slip into Scarlett O'Hara's wasp waist at will, would you still spend sweaty hours on that Pilates mat?

Shapewear, bodywear and shapers are figure flattering foundation garments that use the latest technology to smooth away those pesky love handles, tummy rolls and muffin tops.

Experts say while these very trendy undergarments may effectively eliminate the panty lines of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, they are not magic bullets for the rest of us.

"For some women it's the difference between size 8 and size 10," said Maggie Adams of Spanx, the U.S.-based shapewear giant that began with footless pantyhose in 2000. "It firms everything up."

But Adams said it is not your grandmother's girdle, referring to her company's line, which now includes slimming swimwear and men's T-shirts.

"Those had boning, metal and really uncomfortable, heavy stuff. Our newest collection is a single layer. We're trying to get it as thin as possible."

Certainly the science, and the sociology, of foundation wear has come a long way since the 1830's when the corset was considered a medical necessity because it was believed that women were so fragile they needed stays to hold themselves up.

Adams said Spanx is working on a line of active wear. "We're about helping women and now men to accentuate their assets."   Continued...