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None of us is made exactly the same. We don’t emerge into adulthood as though we were shaped by a cookie cutter. Unfortunately, while clothing manufacturers seem to ignore certain body shapes -- small-busted, athletic or well-endowed women, for example -- embracing and accepting our natural shapes is easier if we have clothes that flatter our bodies.
It can be difficult to know which panty shape, padded bra or supportive shape wear will best suit you. But with good advice and some shopping around, you can find the right lingerie for your type of figure and feel fabulous about your shape.
Most curvy-bottomed girls need support so their bum isn’t jiggling everywhere if they are wearing a skirt or dress.
- Keylee Sanders, stylist and owner of Style Studio in Los Angeles
Sir Mixalot's song “Baby Got Back” advises women to love their curvaceous booties, but finding the right underwear to flatter that bootie is another matter. For some women, thongs don’t offer enough support, leaving a feeling of bouncing flesh on display through the fabric of a dress or skirt. Regular panties present another set of problems, often cutting into the buttocks and creating a definite line for all to see.
Stylist Keylee Sanders believes the right underwear is vital for every client, no matter what her shape.
“Most curvy-bottomed girls need support so their bum isn’t jiggling everywhere if they are wearing a skirt or dress,” Sanders said. “If they are wearing pants, then a thong or cheeky brief underneath would be fine.”
Cheeky briefs, like small boy short-style panties, are cut wider in the leg and sit high and smooth on the buttocks, preventing leg-band elastic from digging into the wrong place.
Sanders also advises against plain cotton panties for fuller-figured, curvy-bottomed women, suggesting stretch fabric as a better solution.
“No matter what the style of the panty, cotton underwear should only be worn with jeans or workout clothing,” she said. “Even thin cotton will still tend to bunch and bulk under your clothing. If you’re not working out and sweating, wear a nylon panty with lots of stretch so that it hugs the body.”
Alicia Brockwell, director of marketing for Dreamgirl International, makers of lingerie, said a good solution for curvy women is to wear underwear and shape wear together.
“Embrace the thong and Spanx combination for fitted pants and knit or mesh dresses,” Brockwell said. “Both types of garments will accentuate a nice, full backside, but they can also enhance inconsistencies of skin texture, such as stretch marks and cellulite.
“Shape wear like Spanx will prevent this. A soft, modal thong with a cotton lining will be the best option against your skin when wearing a figure-enhancing garment. They can get hot, and modal with cotton will be the most comfortable and the least visible option underneath,” Brockwell said.
If a figure-controlling garment is not an option – under shorts or skirts, for example – Brockwell offered other suggestions.
“Couple shorts and skirts with boy short-style underwear that has spandex in it for a little bit of lift,” she said. “You can also add pantyhose that has body-shaping elements built in."
For curvy, fuller-figured women, Sanders said coverage, support and comfort are the keys.
“Nonbinding waistbands and full-bottom coverage are important in a panty,” she said. “Nothing is worse than a panty line that cuts the cheek in half because there wasn’t enough fabric to cover it all. If you are looking for support, tummy control or butt-lifting technology, you can find it in a lot of brands these days, so shop around in stores and online.”
Brockwell also championed full coverage and modal fabric for fuller figures.
“If you prefer full coverage, then boy shorts that have a smooth band along the hip, thigh and waist are a perfect choice for fuller figures,” Brockwell said. “Choose something in a modal fabric, as it’s more forgiving and doesn’t bind like traditional elastic that can create bulges. Visible panty lines and muffin tops are no one’s friend.”
Beyond the practical choices, it’s important to feel beautiful in lingerie. Every woman wants a few sexy undies in her drawer.
“For sexy, retro tap pants or cheeky boy shorts in a sheer mesh with spandex will accent a curvy bottom in a similar way to how black pantyhose adds sheen to legs. The key is strategic coverage so she looks and feels her best. Sheer babydolls and teddies also work really well,” Brockwell said.
Small-busted women may be tempted to go braless, but there are factors to bear in mind.
“Braless is fine, tasteless is not,” Sanders said. “Unless you are walking on a runway as a model, you should never go braless in a top or dress that is white or made of any type of see-through fabric. Also, any thin fabric of a light color will show nipple when stretched over the chest.
“The famous move of some trashy celebs is wearing black without a bra underneath. To the naked eye it looks fine, but when flashbulbs start going off you can see right through, so watch out for those photos.”
“The braless look is daring and sexy at night but has no place in broad daylight unless you’re in South Beach,” Brockwell said.
If you’re looking for bras that best flatter your figure, there are millions of options.
“Small-busted girls get all the pretty bras,” Sanders said. “They don’t have to concentrate on support but can instead choose a bra based on fabrics and appearance, and can even choose pretty lace without an underwire.”
If you choose an underwire style to emphasis a smaller bust, be careful not to overdo it, Brockwell warned.
“A balconette and demicup work well for an A-cup and can be lightly padded to give a little lift and a nice smoothing line under a shirt,” she said. “But smaller-busted women need to be careful not to go pushup crazy and use overly padded bras. These have a tendency to move or slip out of place due to the weight or position of the padding in the bra’s design versus how much of the breast actually sits in the cup.
“Also, if you are an A-cup or less and don’t fill the pushup cup completely, the gap between your bosom and the bra will only draw attention to the issue you are trying to hide. This cup gap should be seen in the same way as a VPL (visible panty line).”
If you have a straight up and down athletic figure, you may want to look for underwear to emphasize curves and give shape.
“Athletically shaped women can wear a bit of padding for sure,” Sanders said. “This will give them a bit more shape and curve. A smooth T-shirt bra with a bit of padding is an essential. A little lift can go a long way.”
The right underwear can bring curves to any shape, Brockwell said. “Waist-cinching shape wear used with a lightly padded bra will give the illusion of a small waist and curvy bustline and toned hips. This underwear gives a little curve and lets the garment drape nicely over the body.”
Athletic women can take their pick from most styles of panties.
“If you are really toned, then a thong is ideal because you don’t have the skin texture issues a fuller-figured woman would have to take into account,” Brockwell said.