logo 29 December 2019

Sounds great but beware. For, like most things over-hyped, not all shapewear has the ability to lend shape where it’s most needed. Famously epitomised by Scarlet O’ Hara with that 17” waist, thanks to her piercing corset in Gone with the Wind, shapewear today comes in a wide variety.

On the face of it – and especially in online images – they all look the same. It’s difficult for an untrained eye to see the difference even when touching and feeling shapewear. Further, a trial – generally not allowed by most brands – will also not easily reveal the tricky point: that of the shapewear item rolling down the abdomen after some use!

Once it rolls down on the abdomen, the shapewear is as good as useless. Because all the fat that it’s expected to compress and hide, reappears in all its layered glory. So, what exactly is the cause of this problem? It lies primarily, in a poor, flimsy quality of fabric and sometimes in the choice of a wrong, smaller, size.

Shapewear works by compressing the fat towards the body. It’s a bit like zipping up the fat. So, there are designs that start just below the bust line and those that start at the upper waist and carry all the way down.

There are those that end at the crotch area and some end at the thighs. Then of course there is a basic variety that is like a band around your waist – this one has no discomfort at the crotch area.

Whichever you choose please remember:

  • Shapewear, like bras, has to be chosen keeping in mind the requirement of your body. If you feel your thighs need compression but you never wear thigh exposing clothes like say, jeans, then what’s the need for that shapewear?
  • Be careful while choosing shapewear without a trial because compression equals discomfort. So while its perhaps possible for most women to tolerate compression on the waist, it may not be as easy to put the thighs through the same presser.
  • The more the area covered by shapewear, the more uncomfortable it is. So, those of you thinking that shapewear that covers you from under - bust till the thighs is the panacea you were searching for, please pause. Trust me, you’ll feel like you’re in a pressure cooker. Therefore, please try, and then buy.
  • The ones that come in a wide band like design are best suited for summers. They’re easier on the pocket too, can be worn under dresses, but not under jeans or pants since the band covers up till the mid-thigh area. The flip side of these is that they are more prone to rolling down on the on the abdomen.
  • Humidity increases the uneasiness. This is especially true of shapewear that covers the crotch area, so be careful. Whatever you choose, just remember that fashion need not be either escapism or imprisonment; you can always be your own kind of beautiful!

logo 16 January 2020

All those perfect cleavages ringed by shapely necklines that we are seeing around us, especially at this time of the year, make us wonder. Is this the real body? Or is it a surgical enhancement? How exactly does nothing go awry through all the partying, dancing, and much more?

Well this is the age of Tapes. Body tapes and Dressing Tapes are changing the way women look in revealing clothes.

Body Tape: This one is known by various names but I’m calling a spade a spade. So, a body tape is exactly what it sounds like: a sticky tape that tapes your breasts upwards on to your shoulders, creating a rounded globe like upper breast that gleams perfectly through your deepest neckline. This tape is usually almost 2 inches wide and its stretchy porous texture is somewhere between a crepe bandage and a micropore surgical tape.
Pros: You can tape yourself in whichever manner possible, to create whichever look possible, as explained in the graphic.

Cons: Can be very damaging for the skin and the delicate ligaments beneath. There are many ordinary tapes doing the rounds online, but use ONLY the tape that has a gentle stretch, combined with a firm strength and a good quality adhesive that shall not be abrasive on the skin. Constant use can have side effects as yet unknown, so be careful please.
Dressing Tape: This is used in in two ways. Firstly, to stick the neckline of a bra / garment to the body so that it does not slip or move with body movements. Secondly, to stick together the open ends of a shirt or a tunic a wee bit too tight. Basically, this is a new age safety pin. This tape is available packs of strips usually 1/2 inch wide and about 3 inches long.

Pro: Convenient.

Cons: Through its use we’re progressing firmly to a use and throw, consumerist way of life; safety pins were reusable, these strips are not. Second, if the adhesive on the strips is not good then both the skin and the clothing suffer. A word of caution. This looks like a double-sideded tape – which it technically is – but is vastly different from the double sided tape used for paper and craft.

Before buying online check product description and reviews. Check also the brand that you’re buying so that you don’t end up playing with the fire that skin burns can and will certainly cause. With all this new age silly sticky stuff, no wonder life feels like a mix tape!

logo 30 January 2020

That the vast majority of women wear the wrong-sized bras has been a constant refrain for decades now. Which makes one wonder whether this is a ploy by lingerie brands to make us buy more and more bras on a regular basis. Else, how can one explain the utter failure of bra makers – over the past one hundred years of the existence of bras - in devising a standard sizing chart for women?

It’s time for the simple truth

Most women wear the wrong size because there isn’t - and cannot be - one precise, correct size for a woman at any given period of her life.

What does this imply?

  • 1. This implies that each one of us fall within a spectrum of sizes.
  • 2. So, a woman could fit into any of three neighbouring sizes, viz, she could have her best fit in either imAGE and thereabouts. (Think of footwear for a better understanding.)
  • 3. Her best fit size would depend on the cut of the bra. And since there are many kinds of cuts that women wear, her size naturally varies.
  • 4. Presuming that a woman wears only one particular kind of bra, would her size still vary? Absolutely YES.
  • 5. That’s because human bodies don’t just change in weight, but also in shape and toning. What may be very comfortable in a particular size today may need a change even though her weight may be constant; instead her more/less toned body may need more/less support than before.
  • 6. Another reason is well-washed-bras-added-to-laziness. Women often come to me and say, look this is what I wear from your brand and I have no time for a trial so please can I buy an identical bra? My answer to them is this, that since the bra you are carrying has been washed hundreds of times, it has adapted itself to your body; a new identical bra may fit you very differently, so please will you step in for a trial?
  • 7. A further reason I have noticed is this. Let’s say you like wearing a particular cut of bras for optimum support. But because you’re bored of wearing the same type, you stick to the same cut, but in a different fabric. Voila! Your size changes because the two fabrics may not have the same stretch factor.
So, now that we’re faced with these simple facts, the three ways forward to wearing best fit bras are: trial, trial & trial. It is by investing a few extra minutes in a trial room while choosing our bras that we can save on discomfort in the months to come.

More importantly, just because a good bra lasts endlessly does not mean it shall fit you endlessly too. Learn when to gently pass on that bra. There is no hard and fast rule to it. Connect to your body and you will know when it’s time.

Till then, happy trying, happy wearing.

logo 13 February 2020

Penning this column around Saint Valentine’s Day has me deal with a cauldron full of thoughts about men and bras and men’s perception of bras.

Memories race through of how a most jovial gentleman used to accompany a chirpy girl who came looking for ‘nice’ bras. At the end of the visit she would go out to where the gentleman waited, to perhaps get his consent on her purchase. And then they would wave bye with a very nice energy.

Till the time when he desired to ‘have a word with me’. “My wife has heard about your brand and wishes to visit too, so can you please ensure that you don’t recognise me when I come by next?”

Soon after, for many reasons in addition to the one above, our Stores stopped admitting men into our space, reserved only for women to bra-browse in peace. But what kept recurring over time were requests from women to “please somehow alter these expensive bras that my husband has bought abroad…they are just not my size”.
This refrain is as old as bras are. Men think they are super experts on sizes and cuts, but daydreaming has never been the road to true knowledge. So, here are some tips for the wonderful gents:

  • First, don’t feel awkward. You are buying for someone special something that acknowledges your intimacy, like a beautiful perfume. Too much is made of men buying undergarments for women anyway. Women are not judged so much for buying men’s briefs, are they?
  • If you intend it to be a surprise, check her size. Remember that size has a number and a letter and both are critical. This size that you discover may be starkly different to what you have professed to have perceived all along as a desirable, sexy size. Junk all else and imprint on your mind the one that’s on her bra label please.
  • If possible observe the cut she wears. This is to ensure you buy a similar cut (think how you would feel if she gave you expensive boxers and expected you to parade joyously in them when you are briefs guy!).
  • Buying her favourite brand is safest since that’s closest to what fits her well. To minimise compromising on the surprise element, try to buy a different colour or fabric.
  • Observe her to see if she’s comfortable in what she wears and whether she tugs at her bra every now and then. If so, try to find out why she is uncomfortable. Memorise what she says, and repeat it at the lingerie store.
Hopefully, you’ll hit gold.

logo 27 FEBRUARY 2020

Isn’t it time that we learnt the full forms of our bra sizes too? The first part being a numeral, say 36, and the surname being an alphabet, say D, they together connote the size 36D.

And just like our first name alone is incapable of revealing our identity so it is with bra sizing: both the numeral and the alphabet have an equally important role to play.

  • 1. The numeral of a bra label tells you which approximate size the waist is. Why approximate? Because different cuts and different fabrics within the same cut, will fit differently, and it’s possible that your size varies from 36 to 34 or 36 to 38 depending on the bra being worn. This numeral is commonly denoted both in centimetres and inches. So 36 inches is 90 centimetres and 34 inches is 85 centimetres and so on.
  • 2.The letter is also very interesting and easy to follow. Bras are available in cup sizes ranging normally from A, B, C, D, E, F, and upwards till J. A is the smallest cup size, followed by B which is fuller and then C which is even fuller and then on till J which is obviously the most heavy.
  • 3.The numeral and the letter together denote the cup size in comparison to the waist size. Naturally so, because the cup size is not a fixed size measured in centimetres or inches and is spoken of in reference to the waist which is measured specifically in a number.
  • 4.Thus, to put it simply, the numeral and the letter denote a waist-bust ratio. So a very large-busted woman with an equally large waist may be a cup B, but the same bust size on a narrower waist becomes a cup D or E. Everything is relative.
  • 5.For clarity, you have a Kim Kardashian or our own Bindu from Bollywood, who would probably go up to an F or so with a generous bust and a narrow waist.
  • 6.The bottom line: the larger the ratio between a woman’s waist and bust, the greater the cup size. Think Khajuraho and you’ll know how E cups were trending in ancient times!