I ran to try it on. I put on a strapless bra and pulled on the dress. I was able to zip it with no problem. To my delight, it seemed to fit perfectly. I’ve not always been thrilled with my body but as an avid fan of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” I’ve learned many valuable lessons. One of them is, “Dress the body you have, not the one you used to have or want.” I’m happy with my body. I’ve always had a full figure – breasts, hips, thighs and butt. I think at this point, I’ve learned which shapes complement my configuration.

The dress was very flattering but I thought it would be good to get a body-shaper – a strapless under garment with shaping through the torso and thighs — kind of like a tight slip. I am not a fan of girdles and I’ve never purchased one. I do know that fabrics today are different. You can get a breathable garment with shape, hold, and still be able to move. Yes, a body-shaper would be the ideal support garment for the dress.

A-Shopping We Will Go

Shopping we went. My mother and I started the day in relaxed fashion, with mani-pedis and eyebrow waxing. Hey that rhymed. By the end of the day I was worn out and to my dismay, the last item on my list had not been purchased. I forgot to buy a body shaper. On the way back from Westchester, we stopped in Middletown for this final purchase. I like to shop in Filene’s or Macy’s for undergarments, so I started there. (Filene’s is part of the Macy’s family – different from Filene’s Basement).

My mother, ever so helpful, assisted me in finding the body-shapers in the lingerie shop. There were different brands and colors but they all do the same thing. Hold you in, slim you down – you know. They come in various bust sizes. I’m thinking the logic is, if you fit your bust, and you’re in proportion, the rest of the “slip” part will fit. Not true. I dropped a bust size with my weight loss last year but I still have a full figure. As I thumbed through the rack looking for my size and one larger to try on, my mother handed me two black shapers, a size apart. As I entered the fitting room, she said she was going to the ladies room. The store was about forty minutes from closing and I was alone.

Wearily, I made my way into a stall to undress. I held up the first shaper, a strapless bra with a slip that went to mid-thigh. On the bottom of the garment was a no-slip, rubberized strip to keep it from riding up. Cool. So I thought. Listen carefully ladies. For you slim chicks, pray to God you never have to endure a body-shaper. For ladies like me? Go a size bigger. The body-shaper is an evil piece of clothing when it is too small. How do I know? Because on that unfortunate night, I was stuck in one.

How It All Went Horribly Wrong

I couldn’t decide whether to step into the shaper or pull it over my head. I tried stepping into it first, but could not get it over my thighs. I said, “Okay, guess it goes over my head.” Should have been my first clue. I gathered the shaper and slid it over my head. As I tried to pull it down further, it became very tight. I am claustrophobic in some cases and I became slightly panicked. (I own NO knit turtlenecks.) I stopped, took a deep breath and strategically attempted to put one arm through. I felt muscles in my back pull in protest as I did this and then my shoulder cracked. One arm through, I was encouraged. So far, so good. Until I tried to put the other arm through. I couldn’t maneuver my arm underneath the material without getting a good grip to pull it away from my body. I couldn’t get a good grip because it was too tight. My arm was caught for a moment but finally, after wrestling with it, I was able to slide it completely through.

That’s when I stopped and looked in the mirror. The shaper was bunched underneath my arms. I was having trouble breathing because it was squeezing me. It scoffed at me, that evil incarnate band of synthetic wickedness! I noticed red marks and a few scratches across my upper chest from grabbing and pulling. That, and I was stuck. The cups of the strapless bra were twisted, so that one of the cups jutted out from under my arm, while the other was in the middle of my chest. No where near by boobs. I didn’t know what to do. If only I could reach my cell phone, I could call my mother and get the Jaws of Life up in here. Or at least a good pair of scissors. I tried to pull it down – no dice. Angered, I grabbed it with both hands and yanked it over my head. In doing so, I pulled out the earring in my right ear and my headband. I was FREE!

I didn’t dare try on the other – since it was a size smaller. My mother, having just arrived, called to me, “How is it? Do they fit?”

Mom to the Rescue

“Moooooom!” I wailed, “I was stuck in it for like, five minutes. Where were you?? It was horrible! These things are evil! Evil, I say!” And because I have the best mother in the world, she held her laughter and consoled me. She went back out and found a different style – same bust sizes – and handed them to me. I had to psyche myself up to try the next one but thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first. For one, the shape of the slip seemed to have an a-line. It was longer and the fabric was more flexible. Mom stood quietly outside the dressing room so I was not as fearful. I carefully pulled it over my head, realized I could pull it far enough away from my body to put my arms through and slid the rest of it down. Voila! I was in. Like a sausage. It’s what I wanted, needed, and I was tired, but happy. Was it worth $60? For that trauma, I really can’t say. I did wear it with the dress and it worked for me. Until I stood up too quickly and it rolled up my thigh. So what have I learned? Body shapers are ample incentive for strength-training, so I don’t need a shaper.

The point: *darkly* fashion can cost you in many ways. Many ways…