Living in Style: Shape up with Shapewear

Rachel Nania and Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – If the image of Bridget Jones wrestling with her larger-than-life, tummy-sucking knickers pops into your head when you hear the word “shapewear,” it’s time to approach the subject with a more open mind.

From slips to camisoles, and everything in between, many shapewear pieces are considered necessities in a woman’s wardrobe.

“It’s not just for if you’ve got a few lumps and bumps, it is for everybody,” says Style for Hire’s Lisa Tumbarello. “I have clients that are a size two, right up to a size 22 in them, and they really can help everybody with smoothing out.”

“I also think there are a lot of people who don’t consider (shapewear) an option because they think it is too uncomfortable or too cumbersome,” says Tumbarello, who adds that we’ve come a long way with more comfortable shapewear materials and designs.

Tumbarello met with WTOP at Sylene in Chevy Chase to offer tips for selecting comfortable and practical pieces of shapewear.

Tumbarello says to stick to four basic pieces for your shapewear collection.

A shaper tank

This helps to smooth the midsection. Opt for neutral colors, like nude or black. In addition to wearing a shaper tank with everyday clothes, Tumbarello says the tank is also great for low-cut dresses.

“(It) gives you a little bit of modesty if you are wearing something that is maybe a little too low cut, just to give you a little bit more coverage,” she says.

One-piece shaper

Great under dresses, the one-piece shaper comes in something as loose as a slip or as fitted as a bodysuit. “It is doing everything from bust to hip to shape underneath the dress,” Tumbarello says.


Even though some women rebel against pantyhose by refusing to wear them, they are still a wardrobe necessity. Tumbarello says pantyhose can still be worn in the summer, but make sure you abide by one of fashion’s biggest pet peeves.

“The biggest pet peeve of fashionistas is having the pantyhose toe cap showing if you are wearing an open toe shoe or sandal,” Tumbarello says. “There are pantyhose that have little individual toes cut out so that you can still wear pantyhose but your toes are out.”

And for those who don’t want to deal with pantyhose in the summer? Tumbarello says a spray tan, a nice lotion and a close shave is the way to go.


This time of year, especially, wearing pantyhose under slacks is not a comfortable option. But thigh-shapers offer some relief.

“These thigh shapers will have a piece on the thigh that will make sure it doesn’t ride up so you can get that smoothness under your pant,” Tumbarello says.

Shapewear pricing and brands

Over the years, many shapewear brands have surfaced, making it easier for consumers to find pieces in a price-range that works with their budgets.

“There are 1,001 out there that pretty much do the same thing in varying capacities, and you’ll find different quality throughout,” Tumbarello says.

Some brands include Donna Karan, Commando and Spanx, which makes a diffusion line available at Kohl’s and Target, called Assets.

“You are not going to go from a 10 to a two,” says Tumbarello on shapewear. “But it is going to make your clothes look a whole lot better.”

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