Now, these are not Nan Goldin photographs. They are in fact part of a serious sartorial experiment, but before we go any further I’d just like to point out that if there’s one thing you are never going to see on this blog, it’s my arse. So, when a parcel containing two pairs of control pants from tightsplease dropped through my letter box, I had to phone a friend. Caroline assured me that her need for support underwear was greater than mine and that her young male lodger really wouldn’t mind taking the photos. ‘Make sure you get before and after shots,’ I advised, not realising I needed to add the words… with your clothes on. Hence, the resulting pictures of my friend Caroline in her pants, and very little else. Though I’m pleased to see she made an effort to glam things up with a pair of peep toes. She’s a braver woman than I am, and here’s her verdict:

Spanx, eh? It’s a disarming name for what our mothers would call a girdle. Remember girdles? My own mother wore one every day because that was what women did then – hers was a white waist-to-thigh colossus that held in her stomach with the 60s version of whalebone. It was so tight that, once she’d struggled into it, she didn’t take it off for the rest of the day (luckily, it was constructed with a little opening that made it possible to pee without rolling it down). If she were still here, she’d chortle at the idea that girdles are back, rechristened Spanx Power Panties.

The success of Spanx, which celebrities have adopted in order to look (even) thinner under tight dresses, has spawned imitations by Wolford, Trinny & Susannah and others. Having spent my life with an ass that’s big – not bootylicious, just big – and a stomach I have to hold in, I’ve been fascinated with this new generation of support garments. If they could diminish my opulent haunches, happy days!

My Spanx were the Higher Power Brief (£32), which have a bikini panty and a waistband that goes up to just under your bosom. “Smoothes from bra-line to hip,” the packaging claims – and, well, it was certainly constricting. A corset would similarly impair breathing the way these did – sadly, though, they didn’t mould excess flab the way a corset would. The soft, stretchy material just wasn’t heavy enough. The panty section didn’t smooth the hip area at all; under leggings, I couldn’t see any difference.

I had more success with the Wolford Nature Control Panty (£27), a waist-to-thigh shaper with (I’m guessing, as there’s no information on the box) more Spandex in the material. They’re see-through, meaning you may want to wear drawers underneath – so much for the promise of no VPL – but they have a bit more horsepower than the Spanx, and my hips and thighs looked slimmer. They did nothing for my tum, which was as rounded as ever, but maybe that’s beyond the ability of anything available on the high street. . .

Readers, do you wear control pants? And if so which brand do you prefer?

23 thoughts on “Just Pants

  1. I have tried them,but have never really got along with them. I think they cane sometimes make you look bigger, also if you see the spanx under the hem line ..argggg. The only real answer is the gym, but its hard work and takes time .. You look great by the way xx

  2. May I say how brave your dear friend Caroline is appearing on the blog and how kind to test out these Spanx pants etc. for us!! Looking good though – does she really need them ? And loving the peep toes too.
    Have never tried Spanx (the name has always rather put me off – bit sort of seedy in a way!!) but have tried a make by Nancy Glanz which I found effective but uncomfortable.
    Have given up with controlling underwear – perhaps I should try the Wolford ones?
    Great post! x

  3. What a brave (and obviously good) friend you have! I haven't tried any control pants but the thought of them being so constricting puts me off a bit. Mind you, after the Christmas feasting that will be done over the next few weeks, I might just have to invest in some for the New Year.!!!

  4. I have tried them but they just made things look a whole lot worse! I just try and wear clothing that's more flattering for my shape rather than trying to constrict it. I found that the Spanx is so unflattering to look at that even if I had a gorgeous dress on top I still didn't feel attractive – or comfortable! You're friend was so brave showing us though, so great to hear someone elses opinion x

  5. Nope. They don't help; they just leave a roll wherever they stop anyway, and because I'm hourglass-shaped and shortwaisted, any of the high-waisted type spend all their time desperately trying to roll down into my waistline "notch". Besides, any kind of control garment – even control-top tights — makes me feel nauseated after more than an hour or two of wear.

  6. That's a great post.
    I once had to wear a LONG tight fitting velvet dress for a friends wedding so I thought Id try some control knickers.I found that whilst they held you in the line where your flesh bursts out looks far worse than any slight bulge elsewhere.And they are soo restricting I ditched them immediately.
    Your friend is brilliant.

  7. Caroline definitely doesn't look like she needs the pants! I wore spanx cycling shorts type things under my Grecian style draped wedding dress (and yes I did change out of them before the end of the night…) I bought them because when I was standing for 40 minutes staring at my reflection (in too many mirrors) as my satin drapey dress was being hemmed I realised that swooshy and graceful in cut as the fabric was, you could see every single bump and lump as it slid over my thighs.
    Reader – the Spanx did exactly what I needed – they just smoothed everything and gave a much better line under the dress. I have worn them a couple of times since and they work for that kind of thing.

    I wouldn't and didn't expect to look slimmer, but I definitely looked better…

  8. Just the thought fills me with terror. I'd start dressing like Fran Lebowitz before I'd succumb to the Spanx and its' ilk.

    On a more positive note – you're friend has gorgeous legs!

  9. Fair play to your friend – good styling loved it!

    I do rate Spanx, John Lewis's own and Scala. In fact most support wear is fab. I really like Charnos hour glass waist clincher it avoids that Bridget Jones moment and is more Joanie from Mad Men xx

  10. I tend to wear Flexees thigh slimmers (they look a bit like cycling shorts) they tend to slim my bum and thighs under trousers and also keep me warm in the winter. I have also just discovered the wear your own bra all in one. it really is light and comfortable.

  11. I have just one 'control' garment which is like a slip, I suppose, but tight. I wear it under dresses when I want to look particularly svelte, but I've always assumed the other types (pants, etc) would make me bulge in unusual spots!

  12. You don't look like you need them. I have one pair of Spanx which turn up periodically but I can never find them when I want them. I also have a skin coloured body which is so hard to get on I rarely bother. The Spanx do work when I'm having a fat day. I've not tried Wolford but I love their tights xx

  13. What a brave woman – and useful review – though I did read a very disturbing post by a blogger recently about how wearing spanx severely interfered with her digestive system due to the constrictive effects. I have a couple of spanx products but haven't tried them yet because I lost the weight. I would say my preference to control pants/tights/slips is the gym and pilates.

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