Or, my approach to shapewear, especially with spandex costumes. I have a lot of spandex-intensive costumes and projects coming up over the next few months, so I thought I’d take a few posts to talk about shapewear–what it is and why and how I use it. I intended this to be one post a week ago, but it turns out I have a lot to say about underthings 😛
Before I start, this is just my approach. Some people don’t like shapewear. That’s completely fine. Remember, it’s a hobby and you should do what makes YOU feel comfortable and have an awesome time in your costume. Personally, I like the visual effect of shapewear (smaller waist, no visible belly button, taller posture), and the mental effect. I feel like I really get into character when I start putting everything on. If you do choose to use shapewear, it’s important to try it all on before creating your costume, as your measurements can be quite different. This is especially true of non-stretchy costumes.
Let’s work from the top to the bottom. Spandex in particular is horrible about flattening out the chest area, so you can counter this by wearing a push-up bra. How much push-up I go for depends on the character and what material I’m wearing. Korra, for example, doesn’t have a particularly *extreme* body, so I just wore one of my regular bras. Anytime I wear spandex, I go for the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, which adds two full cup sizes.
That said, VS is not the best place to get a proper bra measurement. Check out Reddit for more info.
Unfortunately, I haven’t done any cross-play, so I don’t have experience with bust-binding. If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience/tips in the comments!
Next, let’s talk corsets. I could write a whole post on this topic alone, but I’ll refrain.
I find underbust corsets really useful. Typically spandex will flatten my chest and widen my waistline, due to my height. Combining a push-up bra with an underbust corset gives me back my hourglass figure and also has the benefit of keeping any food babies from showing. Plus, I find that underbust corsets help me with lower back pain (years of dancing is not kind to one’s lower back) and improve my posture.
A few notes about corsets. First off, a well-made and properly sized corset should never, ever put you in pain! I can easily cinch off 3-4 inches (though I normally only go with 1-2) and still be quite comfortable. At Sci-Fi Expo, I wore an underbust corset all day and was climbing, bending, and jumping. No fainting spells whatsoever!
If you’re interested in trying out corsets, find one of the booths that makes and sells corsets at a con or ren faire. Have them measure you and teach you how to properly lace and wear a corset. I promise, they’ll be happy to help. Once you’ve figured out your sizing (which is typically 4″~ off of your natural waist), go for a simple yet solid piece. If you plan to wear your corset under spandex, go for one sans busk (that metal closure in the front of many corsets). I bought a nude underbust from Meshchantes for $99 (they have sales fairly often on eBay) a little over a year ago and it’s held up wonderfully through numerous cons and occasionally daily wear. If you want more information on corsets (wearing, sizing, brand reviews), check out Lucy’s Corsetry. This is the go-to place for corset information!
Pro-tip: Just like a pair of heels needs to be broken in for comfort, so do your corsets. Prior to a con, wear your new corset for a few (2-4) hours per day. This helps the corset conform to your body and lets you adjust to it. Again, check Lucy’s Corsetry for information. Because she’s amazing.
One more pro-tip: wear a barrier layer such as a tube top under your corset. Corsets can’t just be thrown in the wash (especially ones with steel bones), so this keeps your corset from horrid BO and protects your skin.
You’re probably familiar with the spandex style shapewear such as Spanx. This type of shapewear comes in a number of different styles, from full-body coverage, to briefs, to waist cinchers with boning. You can even get Spanx with extra booty cushion. To be honest, I prefer underbust corsets since my belly button tends to show through Spanx. Try both out and see what works for you!
That wraps up this post on underthings. In my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss about lower body wear and my process for putting everything together! Also, I want to give a shout-out to DJ Spider and xoMia, who’ve both posted great information on underthings recently!