YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


It's A Cinch

June 29, 2008|Erin Weinger

WELCOME back, summer. It's time to show off some skin in tiny tank tops and spaghetti-strap slip dresses. But summer skimpies are a flabby winter figure's worst nightmare. And you know what that means: body shapers to the rescue. Full-body slimming suits -- miraculous under jeans or a slinky skirt -- feel hot and binding when the temperature rises. Luckily, a slew of new sleeveless shaping tops promises to minimize, suck, tighten and lift torsos, love handles, breasts and backs -- no crunches or lipo required. We strapped ourselves into five modern-day corsets to see which could best mold our floppy flesh into a beachy body. Two actually created new bulges and left us with stomach rolls rivaling a Shar-Pei. But the best created a washboard-flat stomach and, more important, enough confidence to last through Labor Day.

*** Yummie Tummie Freedom T


Visibility: This seamless cotton tank top has a shiny spandex midsection, so it looks funny worn alone. But it can pass as a standard shirt (and protect against embarrassment) if what you're wearing over it rides up and exposes your slimming secret.

Wiggle room: Our morning routine was unhampered by the comfy, breathable tank. We cooked breakfast, tidied the kitchen, checked e-mail and even lounged in bed without giving our Yummie Tummie a second thought.

Taming the beast: Our stomach was somewhat compressed but the pesky belly pouch that plagues us was left to continue its wrath. The built-in shelf bra lifted and supported so well, we can't wait to wear it out on a date.

Final verdict: Not quite the body-shaping miracle touted on "Oprah," but the most comfortable style we tested.

* Spanx Slim Cognito


Visibility: The extra-wide, adjustable straps kept peeking out of the tank we wore to work -- which wouldn't be the worst thing if the fleshy color didn't remind us of grandma's girdle. The bottom also crept up considerably on a 30-second walk from restroom to desk, creating a massive hip and back bulge. Ick.

Wiggle room: We nearly poked an eye out trying to contort our way into the terribly tight top. Once on, it felt more like a medical compression device than an aesthetic tummy trimmer.

Taming the beast: We were so uncomfortable, we thought it had to be doing something. And it was. Rolling up, it created pooches of hip and back fat.

Final verdict: Many successful fat-free outfits are owed to Spanx's beloved body-shaping shorts. But Spanx misses the mark in upper-body sculpting.

***** Instant Shape by Dr. Robert Rey Convertible Strap Corset


Visibility: Removable bra straps made this heavy-duty shaper a cinch to wear underneath a black cotton tank top. Vertical support spines cemented the top firmly in place and kept it from riding up after an hour of sitting. Unlike other corsets we've worn, these spines curved when we sat -- but bounced back into their original shape as soon as we bounced up for lunch. The plain black style is sexy and doesn't look like a standard body shaper. Perfect under an open blazer or, for the daring, alone as a top.

Wiggle room: A Playmate-style padded bra and three rows of hook-and-eye closures make this style appear foreboding. But don't judge a corset by its cover. Despite its heavy structure, the shaper is surprisingly comfortable and easy to get on and off.

Taming the beast: Colleagues couldn't believe our dramatic transformation. Dr. Rey's corset trimmed our waist, banished our back fat and even created an hourglass silhouette under an otherwise frumpy cotton top.

Final verdict: The plastic surgeon turned E! reality show star knows a thing or two about reworking bodies. Dr. Rey's shaper lived up to its tag line and really did provide instant shape. For a mere $60, we'll take Rey's corset over his surgical knife any day. The winner, by a belly flop.

* Shape fx Secret Sculptor Cami


Visibility: It wasn't a sin when this camisole's adjustable bra straps peeked out of our shirt. A worse offense came when the seamless bodice -- yep, you guessed it -- rolled up and left us with a lumpy-looking gut.

Wiggle room: Tight without being unbearable.

Taming the beast: We felt tighter but couldn't actually see a difference in the love levers that hinge above our hips.

Final verdict: The built-in lace underwire bra is pretty but doesn't do much for bigger-than-B-cups. And, uncomfortable though it may be, the bodice doesn't minimize problem areas enough to become a body-shaping staple.

** Assets by Sara Blakely


Firmers Tank

$20 to $22

Visibility: Smooth as silk, this wide-strap tank didn't pinch our problem areas or create extra fat pockets. It doesn't look like a stodgy shaper and can be worn on its own for everyday.

Wiggle room: We felt at ease in our Assets and could have lasted longer than the five hours we spent in the tank. But after sitting for a bit, we met with a ring around the belly -- our top had rolled up toward the heavens.

Taming the beast: Our Assets didn't tame much. A colleague even asked if we were wearing a shaper. But the tank did reduce one spot: the bust line. Nevermind that it's the one place we're fine to leave alone.

Final verdict: It's a fine layering piece but we wouldn't rely on it for any tummy reduction.


Ratings: ***** A must have; **** A good addition; *** Take it or leave it; ** In a pinch; * Not even if you're desperate.

Los Angeles Times Articles