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The Ultimo brand, a Scottish brand that transcends borders

brand-ultimoMichelle Mone started the company MJM International Ltd. in the late 1996 with the intention of creating a more comfortable cleavage enhancing brassiere. A former model, she had ample opportunity to wear bras made by other manufacturers, which she claims were all incredibly uncomfortable. With a better design in mind, she opened her company and started production on her patented Ultimo bra. The huge start in the Selfridges department store established the new brand as the up and coming shapewear producing company, which only improved with time.

Currently Ultimo is available all over the world over the internet, but in store in the US at Saks Fifth Avenue department stores and in the UK and Ireland in over a dozen Ultimo stores and in most of the main department stores. The MJM business is one of the largest exporting companies in Scotland, with eight patented inventions. Ultimo Couture, a line of luxury evening dresses was just recently established and several Celebrities have actively competed to become the current face and body of Ultimo. Final choice fell on the actress and model Kelly Brook, who follows Mel B, Rachel Hunter and Helena Christensen, just to name a few. For her contribution to the lingerie industry and successful business entrepreneurship, the Queen recognised Michelle Mone with the OBE honour.

Latex, once again

latex-clothingI would like to return to the previously mentioned latex, which does have a rather bad publicity attached to it, despite being the most inventive clothing apparel material of late. People do tend to connect it with BDSM, which is not really without grounds, but there are possibilities there that go beyond mere shapewear. To be perfectly frank, a certain flair of fetish will always remain, even if you do wear it only underneath your clothing for shaping purposes. Latex can be very supportive of your shape, even more so than conventional shapewear, because rubber does not give in that easily like stretchable materials, notwithstanding the related synthetic nature.

As Simon O., the next big name in latex couture from Germany, likes to point out, latex is as taboo as we make it out to be. There is no need to actually advertise wearing of latex, like Lady Gaga likes to do, but to simply enjoy it underneath contemporary clothing as shapewear and perhaps at home with the partner of your choice. The only downside to latex is the special care it requires, but nowadays care products for latex are available almost everywhere. Simon O., for instance, provides a full range of care products for latex. Furthermore, adjustments to personal measurements are provided free of charge, as are small damages to latex outfits.

Wearing latex is something that should be experienced by every single woman at least once. Starting with latex gloves, a bra, leggings and/or panties and pantyhose are good introduction into the material, full body suits should be tried out only if you are not a complete novice. Down the line, the best solution is not to completely use one kind of material, but to combine several, whereby you should try out which material suits you best for which body part that needs support. There is no formula on what will work best; unfortunately every individual needs to find out their own recipe to success.

Do not make a sausage out of your body

Some women are very unrealistic about their look and shape. While most women tend to underestimate their beauty, there are women who apparently have no shame. Being overweight is no crime; curvature can be very appealing, even to that extent where Rubens would frown, but stuffing such a body into a shaping garment that is at least two sizes too small should be punishable by law. You can choose garments that are tight; moreover, it is preferable that women wear outfits that are complementing their shape, eye-catching sights are almost always the consequence. On the other hand, overly tight clothing does not look good even on perfectly shaped women.

Alas, the perception of beauty has been shaped by most inadequate individuals, thus providing for a few decades of undernourished role models, or rather images of not really existent beauty. Such misconceptions have driven many young women to exaggerated abstaining from food, making out of female beauty a rather flimsy copy of adolescent male handsomeness, completely obliterating the most important parts of the female anatomy. Of course, there was also the exaggerated enhancement of female attributes, mostly sexuality related, commonly paired with the anorexia previously mentioned, which completely obliterated any humanity in these women, making them rather a copy of the RealDoll, manufactured by the rather aptly named Abyss Creations LLC.

Which shapewear would be the best for you?

whihcbestAgain, I would prefer to address women, but if you, as a male, would also like to know about shapewear, most of the advice in this section may apply to you as well. The answer to the above question about shapewear will always stay the same. If you are desperately out of shape, which does not mean that you are morbidly obese, but also if you are not a sporty type, have never run properly, not even as a child – something that is unfortunately more common than we all admit to – have never engaged properly in training any sports – I exclude Golf, Chess and similar sports activities that do not include sweating, moving a lot and the use of muscles, then not even the best shapewear will make you look like a celebrity or a model.

Healthy living will always be a pre-requisite of looking good, even if you are overweight. You can be somewhat overweight, but if you are doing sports, the weight will be distributed over your body more appropriately, allowing for some assistance options by shapewear. A corset will always make your waist slimmer, but all the stuff you are removing from your waist will have to go somewhere, think about that. Similar problems will come from tight clothes that may or may not include some supporting features. If these are too small, it will show and not appear flattering, even if you manage to put them on.

The best advice would be to not lie to yourself about your current state and shape and then see if you can target the most apparent problems with adequately sized garments of shapewear for women. For instance, you may use a supporting bra and tummy hiding hose, pair that with a corset that will not squeeze you into a size 6, but complement the already used bra and hose. Some leggings will shape the legs additionally, again make sure that you do not choose a few sizes too small. The trick is to combine a whole outfit that will help your overall appearance. Keep a realistic overview of your visual appearance and you will be just fine.

If you are in a shape that is not requiring you to purchase two airline tickets if you are flying coach, then you can achieve stunning results by using the appropriate shapewear. Some celebrities do use full body shapewear, sometimes just to make sure that a wardrobe malfunction does not turn front page tabloid news. Most of the time, only particular perceived weaknesses are addressed, such as small breasts, age induced shape irregularities, gluteus support, leg shapers under long gowns, back braces and even micro-bras with support function.

Modern spin on shapewear

12Ever since the industrial revolution and the consequent boom of plastics, the creativity of the human population expanded the extent of undergarments that can be described as shapewear, with recent addition of synthetic fibers, such a nylon, polyester, acryl and polyolefin and elastane, just to name the most popular few. Elastane is also known as Spandex. In more recent history, synthetic rubber has become increasingly popular, most prominently in form of Latex, a largely fetish oriented apparel form, but nowadays often used as shapewear.

All these improvements led to the introduction of sculpting shapewear, which did not only use what was there by nature to put it in shape, but added missing curvature to the body, resulting into garments that went as far as providing a whole new body shape. Such apparel is now marketed, for instance, as Celebrity ‘Miracle’ Solutions – by Ultimo, or Celebrity promoted ResultWear by dMondaine, just to name a few.

In terms of Latex, the most popular products are within the sex und fetish industries, more precisely within the BDSM communities, but regular people have embraced such shapewear like latex leggings, latex bodices, latex stockings, latex pantyhose, latex underwear and so on. Generally such latex clothes are worn underneath conventional clothing. Some of most popular brands are Simon O., a relative newcomer, who gained popularity quickly; Armory, which is in business already since 1983, Denber Rubber, in business since 1973 and Skin Two, now owned by Honour of London, naming just a little fraction of popular latex manufacturers.

Spandex, perhaps even more widespread than latex, is definitely more acceptable by the broad public, mainly because of the BDSM connection. Spandex also started with the garment production earlier, mainly within sports, where many of the sports apparel manufacturers recognized the material for the perfect elasticity it provides. Nowadays it is everywhere, from spandex leggings in casual wear to swimsuits, exercise apparel, competitive swimwear, cycling apparel and similar. The most popular spandex application in shaping garment industry would include bra cups, support hose, women’s volleyballs shorts and most interestingly – superhero outfits. Superhero cosplay, a part of the recent popularity boom of superhero merchandise and movies, became a regular sight at comic conventions, but is nowadays a vital part of Halloween costume selections.

In recent times, the extensive popularity of exercise, aerobic, yoga and Pilates programmes, the so-called Yoga-Pants have become not only acceptable during the exercise, but as casual wear, being worn as regular shapewear, sometimes even without additional garments, like pants or skirts. The material used for these yoga pants vary, cotton is less popular because it retains sweat too much, so more sports-oriented fabrics are being used, like spandex or luon.

Foundation garments that will help you look your best

foun2It did start off as a necessity, really, the need for shaping underwear was overwhelming and the idea initially was not to enhance features, like the push-up bra would do, but to simply provide halt for natural curvature of women. The most popular such shapewear is not, as you may think, the corset, but the brassiere, or nowadays popularly known by the shorter version of the word, the bra. Yes, a bra is actually shaping underwear, which in recent times, not to say a few centuries already, became an outright dress code, something that obliges a woman to comply to the social norms as directed by self-proclaimed moral leaders, not necessarily of religious origin.

Nevertheless, many women really need a certain re-assurance that is provided by such foundation garments, without really getting into the whole niche of sexual enticement for men, who will always be interested in anything that goes on beyond the unrestrained visual access of the female appearance, or rather, what does the lady actually wear underneath her outfit. There the whole fun starts, to be honest, because most of the shapewear for women, despite doing the exact thing they are named after – shape the visual appearance of a woman, is actually enhancing the impression on the male world. Clearly speaking, men are much more likely to enjoy such shapewear, not really wearing them – although there is a widespread use of shapewear in the transsexual community –but on their female companions, love interests, partners, wives, lovers, girlfriends, even ending in the staggering realization that most shapewear – if you exclude common and necessary undergarments such as regular panties and the bra – are purchased by men for their significant other.

To take this discussion even further, the popularity of Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood and Maidenform, just to name a few, is mostly related to the garter belts and girdles, but also to the sexy underwear, all of the above shapewear, which is being offered with an undisguised sexual undertone.

To essentially glance at the history of shapewear, it is interesting to note that support garments for female breasts have apparently been known about already in Ancient Greece. Actually during the Bronze Age already, the Minoan civilization already noted the use of bra-like garments, some depictions have been preserved, but mostly show athletes in such shapewear. There is a fresco, which was discovered in the remains of Pompeii, portraying a young woman wearing a band, essentially being a simple version of a brassiere. Archaeologists have discovered pretty similar garments to the modern brassiere in clothes fragments dating back to the Fifteenth Century.

Corsets, on the other hand, became popular in Europe during the 16th Century, when it was decreed that people cannot be in court attendance with a thick waist. It just went viral from then on, to use a completely inappropriate modern word. The historical data in regards to corsets seems to go as far back as early Crete, with remnants of an image depicting a woman wearing a form of outer-wear bracing garment very similar to the corset. The French word “corset” has been traced back to the early 14th Century, but it was described literally as “a kind of laced bodice”.

You better shape up

Just like in that famous song from the movie “Grease”, it is a requirement nowadays to be in shape. Men need to show muscle, women need to show curvature. Luckily the age of coatracks and anorexic beauties is over, just like Isaac Mizrahi exclaimed just recently. But people will tend to try and look better than they actually do, partly because it is fashionable, partly because it is a requirement by the society we live in and partly just because they want to feel good about themselves. This is a blog for women, who want to shape their bodies, but I will not bother you with another dietary and exercising blog, no, I will bother you with the shapewear for women.

My name is Hannah Murray and I do feel strongly about fashion and health, but it is every person’s prerogative how much they will invest of their money, will, time, life and whatever else into their physique and appearance. Unless you are so completely out of shape, that if you wear any shapewear you would rather end up in a “Women of Walmart” kind of publication, you will try to use the modern wonders and capabilities of couture to enter into the world of eye-catching beauty. As usual with such garments, it is preferable if you constrict yourself to smartly aiding support, rather than go full overkill. It all may seem to you that it started with the push-up bra, but it started much, much sooner, with the use of corsets and even that is not the true beginning.

I will tell all about it some other time. Right now I would like to just hint at all that is expecting you in the coming weeks and months. Of course we will have to take a look at some specialized brands, but we will also find out how such contraptions work, what kind is out there, the technology behind this and even more interesting, we will take a look at latex, leather and other materials that have become increasingly popular. Besides the sexy part of the clothing, we shall explore the useful as well, like for instance the latest swimwear and other sportswear which not only shapes the body, but provides muscle support for athletes, has warming capabilities for divers and go wherever this interesting topic may take us. Thank you for joining the ride.