When we talk about underwear, shapewear and lingerie we could be referring to any of several garments. In conversation, we often know what we mean and so we tend to use the terms interchangeably. When you’re talking to other women, the hive mind does all the interpretation for you! Really, the difference between shapewear and lingerie matters most when you’re searching for the right garment to buy. So, what are the features that make shapewear and lingerie what they are?
Starting with the dictionary definitions of the terms, then. Lingerie: “women’s underwear and nightclothes”. Shapewear: “women’s tight-fitting underwear intended to control and shape the figure.” Both refer to underwear, so we must delve deeper into the features of the underwear to understand the difference between shapewear and lingerie.
Clearly, the priority of shapewear design is in its structure. Take shaping shorts, for example, structured panelling ensures that different parts of your body are supported in the right way. To smooth your tummy and hips, lift your buttocks and take the line down your thighs. Conversely, the structure of lingerie is traditionally considered minimal: to showcase the body rather than to form it.
This all takes us to the purpose of the garments. Lingerie encompasses bras, knickers and nightwear. You’d select the pieces based on how they adorn your body. So matching sets, patterns, textures and features all matter. Shapewear, on the other hand, is primarily designed to showcase your final outfit. To streamline your form so that your final outfit best exhibits your body. What both things have in common, though, is the confidence that they can give you through the way you look and feel.
This is where design features come in. Whether it’s colour, print, lacing or embroidery, a beautiful piece of clothing relies on attention to detail in its design. Lingerie is all about styling, and so you’ll find a lot more of these design features than you will in most shapewear. Design need not be elaborate, however. The clean lines and subtle seams that we find in shaping corsets have their own minimalist artistry.
Fabric technology is pivotal in both lingerie and shapewear. The fabrics selected by designers affect how the wearers not only look but feel. Softer fabrics are popular for much lingerie, especially for sleepwear garments. We find breathable and stretchy fabrics key for the performance of shapewear. In both cases, high-quality fabrics are worth the investment.
When to choose shapewear
So, when is shapewear the right thing to wear? For a complete and finished look, all women need a secure foundation. The way that our outfits sit on our bodies affects the image that we portray to the rest of the world and in turn, the confidence that we feel in ourselves. So, a shaping bodysuit underneath your outfit will provide support not only to your body but to your confidence.
When to choose lingerie
Pretty though it often is, lingerie isn’t only important when it’s on display. The feel of the fabric against your skin must be pleasant for you to feel at ease. The varied cut of lingerie is fabulous for special occasions such as weddings, when you may be wearing more structured clothes on top.
Best of both worlds
While lingerie need not be shapewear, and shapewear need not be lingerie, there are garments which qualify under both headings. An elaborately embroidered lace shaping cami is an excellent example. The structure of the shapewear will control your silhouette, while beautiful detailing makes you feel confident and attractive.
Feeling confident is the most important benefit of both shapewear and lingerie. And if you can combine the two, why wouldn’t you? Elle Courbee select high quality, beautiful garments to adorn our collection to keep you feeling confident in your shape and your look.