Many blame Catherine de Medici, Queen of France in the 16th century for introducing the torturous contraption known as the corset. She banned thick waists from court and forced ladies to wear whale-bone corsets that cinched in waists to such an extent they were actually pronounced dangerous to health. In fact, the corset may be much older, dating back to ancient Greece.
At the beginning of the 20th century many women abandoned the corset as they became more independent and embraced life more fully. Enter the newer, more comfortable girdle.
A neater version of its predecessor, this piece of underwear was made from elastic, and yielded the cinching effect that women longed for. The style remained popular until around the ’50s when Playtex gave us The Living Girdle, which was made of rubber. Yes, RUBBER! That must have been the worst invention ever. Suspenders hung off the end to hold up nylons, and boy, did they cut into you!
At the risk of political incorrectness I’m sure these were designed by men: No woman would inflict such torture on a member of her tribe. Funny thing was, everyone seemed to wear them, even the skinnies. Can you imagine how the sweat would pour off on a hot day? I always remember a friend telling me she smelled like a balloon every night. She eventually discovered that talcum power sprinkled on the inside of the girdle allowed for more flexibility, thus allowing it to roll up easily.
Now, anyone born after the ’60s wont have a clue about them. But the quest for a flattering silhouette did not end there.
Years later, British fashionistas Trinny and Susannah popularised control pants in 2001 in their ‘What Not to Wear’ TV series. When they weren’t humiliating some half-naked woman in front of a 360 degree feedback mirror they were poking and prodding her fat while forcing her into ‘magic knickers’. Eliminating body bulges was their raison d’être. It all made for good telly back then. I doubt it would be tolerated today.
Nowadays, women have embraced the more modern, comfortable shapers that show off the figure by smoothing and lifting in all the right places, disguising all the lumps and bumps. If you have yet to discover the magic of shapewear, prepare to fall in love. Imagine all your lumps have been ironed out and the result is a firm, shapely body.
If you’ve already been there and never managed to find the right piece, then I’m thrilled to tell you about Atir Shaperz. The brand is the brainchild of Castlebar woman Rita Mylett who has steadily gained huge acclaim on TV and fashion events.
Why? Well for starters her shapewear has no nylon, making it breathable, so it’s really comfortable to wear. Secondly, it works! I have two pieces so I can vouch for it. I just got tired of buying pieces that rolled up and down and were a nightmare to get in and out of. The day I came across Atir I felt my world tilt on its axis! It is also well priced for the sheer quality of the products.
The large range includes the Atir Super strong midi slip (€89) has a double panel back and front and sits just under the bust, so you wear your own bra. It creates an instant thin look. Totally comfy. There is also a firm control slip for €75.
Atir Just4Jeans (€55) is a brilliant waist trainer that works magic on muffin tops. Super with jeans and trousers. And then there’s the Atir Bodysuit (€69.99) has a double panel with a hidden panel for extra support. It also has an openable (Velcro) gusset! Need I say more?
Atir shapers are available from numerous boutiques around Ireland or online at atir.ie. Call them on 094 9025787 or 087 0506463 to find your nearest boutique.
Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.