After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar Spanx you very much, but he'll take the Leonisa, instead

(L-r) Scenester Mike Litt and the Hot Dog King Sonny Horn with firefighter and bestselling <i>Engine 2 Diet</i> author Rip Esselstyn keep it weird at the fourth annual holiday weekend veggie hot dog eating contest.
(L-r) Scenester Mike Litt and the Hot Dog King Sonny Horn with firefighter and bestselling Engine 2 Diet author Rip Esselstyn keep it weird at the fourth annual holiday weekend veggie hot dog eating contest. (Photo by Seabrook Jones/

SHAPE UP My sister Margaret and I are well-versed in the flaws and foibles of foundation garments. Personally, I've been a devotee of foundation garments ever since I saw 1939's The Women with the model flitting around saying, "Our new one-piece lace foundation garment – zips up the back and no bones!" But Margaret and I were also born in an era when women (and some men, too) were girded to the gills in undergarments meant to shape and smooth an untoned body, offering support as well as slimming lines. We can remember women burning their bras in the streets (foolish creatures – bet they're sorry now), and men and women alike began forgoing underwear altogether. Um, that didn't work for me. Or for Margaret either. Having leaned toward excess weight in our adulthood, we both completely understood that it did not matter what anyone else thought or did, only that we wanted as much help as we could get in taking a seemingly shapeless body and nipping in a little here and lifting a little bit there. When anything worked, we would hold onto those gems for almost 20 years. For me, personally, especially with so much weight loss and gain, I was pleased when compression tank tops came out for men. The right kind can do wonders for slimming the torso, but finding the right kind was a nightmare. A couple of years ago, I bought this black power-mesh tank top online. I bought it in a considerably smaller size than I actually wore, and with its relatively ingenious design of using two layers of the strong power-mesh on the front, it slimmed me and trimmed me all during my great weight loss of 2007-2008. Recently, it was showing signs of wear and fraying (as was I), and I eagerly researched where to find another one just like it. No luck. I found all these single-layer tanks and even some that had an extra strip of mesh across the abdomen, but they made an unattractive line across the torso. Spanx of course, was the real trailblazer in modern body shaping. Even the size 2 women I knew were wearing Spanx (not to mention the size 22 women). Spanx cleverly offered a men's line. And believe me, I know more than one gentleman out there who wouldn't dream of going to the gym without wearing Spanx under his gym clothes. Ah, sweet vanity of life. But, artifice is a noble and revered human tradition. We spend fortunes every year wanting to look different or better than we already do (and if you're not doing that, shame on you). My search for the perfect body-slimming garment was a bust, so to speak. Then I received a press release from Leonisa ( touting its line of shapewear, including a men's design. Leonisa offered samples. Did I really want to discuss my underwear in my column? Absolutely. We've discussed practically everything else, right? I asked my sister Margaret if she wanted to try one of the women's shapers, and she agreed. We selected an outing, trussed up in our new Leonisa foundation garments, and felt faaabulous. The men's garment fit like a vest and zipped up the front. Its two layers of very strong stretch fabric seem difficult to pull together at first, but when you discover the handy little hooks and tabs underneath the zipper, all you have to do is suck it in and zip it up. And the results are stunning. It actually reshapes the body underneath, firming and compacting you into the smallest that you could be. And isn't that what you expect out of a foundation garment? Leonisa is superior in every way to anything else I've tried before. But why ask me? Ask my sister: "I couldn't get my Spanx off fast enough to zip this baby on. Those from the generation of lying on the floor to zip up jeans will find a bit of déjà vu by sucking it up and zipping up Leonisa. I tried the Brief Panty Compression Body Shaper and voilà, zipped off another dress size, almost literally. It's the two layers of netting that really do the trick. As a Spanx lover, I feel that Leonisa is a more serious step to creating the right figure for clothes, fitting under the bra of your choice and pulling the butt and belly in. Well-made and well-stitched, my only real complaint is that the straps are thin and therefore hard on the shoulders. I tucked them over my regular bra straps, and that seemed to help. A-."

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Austin style, Leonisa, Spanx, bodyshaper, undergarments, underwear, bra, girdle, The Women, foundation garments

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