Q & A: Readers ask about size and shapewear

Lorelei Dress
Lorelei Dress from Pinup Girl Clothing, worn over Spanx Slimcognitos and What Katie Did’s Morticia corset.

I don’t get a ton of email from readers, but I do get enough useful questions to merit an irregular feature on the subject. Since a large part of the blog involves fashion, fit is an obvious concern. To consider how an item or style might fit you, it’s important to know the circumstances of my photos and reviews. With that in mind, I’ll address my first two questions:

1. You look to be about the same size/shape/height I am. What size is that dress?

I totally get how helpful it is to see how certain items look on different body shapes. As a plus-sized “busty pear” (a term coined by my friend Grace), I love it when I can see great outfits modelled by girls with body shapes that are similar to mine! Don’t be fooled by appearances, though. While my shape is pretty obvious, size is harder to gauge from photos. Chances are I’m bigger/smaller/taller/shorter than I look to you.

When determining what size you should order, it’s always best to know your measurements and use size charts provided by manufacturers.  My basic measurements are 42-43″ bust, 32-33″ waist, and 48″ hips. My bra size is 36DDD (E in British sizing), and I’m over 5’8″ tall.

I usually wear US sizes 12-16 in dresses and skirts, depending on cut and fabric stretch. In Pinup GIrl Clothing items, I usually wear XL. In their pants and nonstretch wiggles, I’m in 2X. In vintage sizing, I tend to hover around size 18-20.

2. What kinds of shapewear do you use?

Under most swing-skirted outfits, I don’t bother with shapewear.

Wiggle skirts invariably need some sort of shapewear, however, and my usual choice is Spanx Slimcognito shorts (AKA “Shaping Mid-thigh Bodysuit”). These are smooth, seamless, and beefy enough to tame my icky hip pooch like nothing else can. They’re not cheap, but they do target lumps without obscuring the “good” waist curvature. They are also convertible inasmuch as they come with hook loops that attach to your bra to make a bodysuit. I usually forgo this option, though it’s nice for people who have issues with their shapewear rolling down their backs.

Very occasionally I’ll wear an underbust corset over my Spanx. My current favorite is the “Morticia” corset from What Katie Did, a piece designed for women with a waist-to-hip differential of ten inches or more. As recommended by most high-end corsetiers, I went with a waist size four inches less than my natural waist measurement (my natural waist is 32″, so I bought the 28″ corset). I don’t usually tight lace, though. In fact, unless I’m in the mood to really cinch it in, my over-corset waist measures almost the same as my natural waist.

Sometimes I’ll wear the famous Rago 1294 high-waisted girdle (Size 34) or “Body Briefer” slip (size 44B), as they’re legit vintage designs and they come equipped with garters for those who like to wear stockings. On the whole, though, I’m not as pleased with the hip-shaping they give as I am with the job the Spanx Slimcognito does. Additionally, my big waist-hip differential and the lesser stretchfactor means I’m going to have to buy a size that is too big for my waist in order to fit my hips. Something else to consider: the lace and boning in the Rago 1294 may show through particularly clingly clothes.

That brings me to these shapewear caveats:

Many people assume that shapewear will reduce your measurements. In most instances, that assumption is at best only half true.

Spanx and girdles are principally intended to smooth the body, which means that in most situations, your measurements will not change much. In some instances, they may actually add an inch or two. Rago girdles, for example, come equipped with boning and hooks which add a bit of bulk. And if you’re like me, with a waist that’s much smaller than your hips, the girdle may actually sit away from your body around the middle.

Real corsets can reduce your waist, but remember that the displaced tissue will likely manifest itself in bigger measurements elsewhere. As an old friend once said, “it has to go somewhere, and that’s usually north, south, or both!” So, keep in mind that corsetry will likely bump up your hip and bust/back measurements to some degree!

3 Replies to “Q & A: Readers ask about size and shapewear”

    1. Hi! you may not remeber me but I was a student in humanities class and I was curious of your vintage wardrobe. Also a beginner tight lacer.

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