Shopping for undergarments is tricky. Plunge or strapless, bodysuit or shaping shorts, nude or black? You want to look your best, but you also want to feel your best when slipping into something special, whether it’s your wedding dress or a party dress. And as any woman who has ever worn an ill-fitting bra or unshapely shapewear knows, nothing kills your confidence like being squeezed in all the wrong places. So, we reached out to intimates expert Jenny Altman to get a better understanding of how to successfully shop for and use form-fitting undergarments.
Start with a good bra
Altman suggests going for a professional bra fitting before a big event. “If you don’t, you’ll regret it later on when you look back at pictures and see that you were clearly wearing the wrong bra size,” she says, referring to straps that fall, bands that bulge, and cups that pucker. “The band should be very fitted for support, but not to the point where it is hurting. It shouldn’t be riding up in the back and should be parallel to the floor, which means straight across, and you should not be able to stick more than two fingers under it.”
Also, be sure to try on the bra days before (not the day before) the event. “So many woman don’t realize how high in the back their bra comes up or that the plunge in the front is much deeper than the bra.” Wearing it beforehand will ensure that you are both comfortable and confident on the night of.
Seek out a seamstress
“If possible, have a seamstress sew undergarments into the dress,” suggests Altman. “Let’s say you don’t really need a bra, but you want a little padding or coverage if the dress is sheer, most seamstresses can sew pads in the front and then you don’t have to worry about a bra.” In many cases, a seamstress can also sew your bra into the dress if your breasts require the extra support. Another good reason to sew a bra into the dress is to avoid having it peek out, she adds: “There’s nothing worse than wearing a million dollar dress and all you see is a bra sticking out of the back or under your arms.”
Photo: c/o Triumph
Opt for shapewear bottoms
“No matter your size, everyone wants to look flat and smooth in the tummy and rear, so I always suggest a shaper bottom,” says Altman. She recommends the Triumph Perfect Sensation High Waist Shaping Panty ($60; amazon.com), which smooths the tummy and provides some shaping across the tush. Plus, the seamless edges sit flat so you won’t see any panty lines. If you’re looking for control down the thigh, too, go for a shaping short.
Stick to your size
You may be tempted to size down for extra firmness when shopping for shapewear, but this is what causes it to bulge or roll. “There’s no need to wear shapewear that cuts off your circulation or restricts you from eating and drinking—you’re certainly going to want to dance without getting indigestion from your undergarments,” says Altman. When ordering online, you are better off going with your normal panty size, but whenever possible, go to a store to shop for shapewear. Try it on under your dress, walk around, and sit down to make sure it stays in place.
“No matter your skin tone, you should always wear nude undergarments,” says Altman. “If you’re wearing a slightly sheer dress, white undergarments will show, and black always runs the risk of creating shadows.” Happily, these days, brands like Nudest and beingU are working to create true nudes for all skin tones.
Lay off the lotion
Another important tip to keep in mind, says Altman, is to minimize the amount of lotion you apply. “A lot of the reason undergarments like shapewear or strapless bras slip, other than wearing the wrong size, is that women often put on lotions, perfumes, or powders,” she explains. The oils in these products prevent the silicones in the garments from adhering to your skin.