Shapewear You Don’t Need to Hide

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Often, the most important and utilized pieces of our wardrobe are the humblest and least celebrated. (When was the last time you heard someone rave about the perfect gym sock, no matter how comfortable?)

For me, the unsung clothes I wear most often are bicycle shorts and shapewear — and my affection for both tends to be under wraps, literally. Now there’s a new company on the scene that promises you can wear your shapewear AND flaunt it.

Observe:

Etoile Tank Top: Bar III (Macy's) | Leggings: Jewel Toned | Shoes: Nike | Bag: Be Brilliant
Etoile Tank Top: Bar III (Macy’s) | Shapewear Bicycle Shorts: c/o Jewel Toned | Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flynit | Bag: c/o Be Brilliant

Enter Jewel Toned, a fascinating woman-helmed entrepreneurial venture. (Read this article to get a look at the company’s corporate growth philosophy.)

The shapewear celebrates curves, so you won’t be suctioned to look a size smaller. Instead, this line focuses on comfort and versatility. All the shapewear comes in basic black and fun colors (no synthetic “nude”) — and everything has been designed to wear out in the open. (Like this blush-colored minidress and this high-waisted peaccock-colored skirt.)

The goal? To create wear-anywhere pieces that smooth without squeezing.

T-Shirt Dress: Carven (Goop) | Shapewear Bicyle Shorts Under Dress: Jewel Toned | Ballet Flats: Anthropologie
T-Shirt Dress: Carven (Goop) | Shapewear Bicyle Shorts Under Dress: c/o Jewel Toned | Ballet Flats: Anthropologie

The company contacted me to let me select an item of my choice to try. I chose the Street Smart Bike Shorts ($21). Bike shorts are a summer MUST-HAVE for three reasons:

  • Protect your legs from any sweat-induced chafing when you wear skirts and dresses.
  • Perfect safeguard when a subway grate blows your dress up. (It happened to me once in Chelsea, and I died of embarrassment. I never skip shorts now.)
  • Smooth out panty lines in pencil skirts without being too tight and cloying in warm weather.
Top: Express | Skirt: American Apparel | Belt: Donna Karan (Vintage) | Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell (Free People)
Top: Express | Skirt: American Apparel | Shapewear (Under Skirt): c/o Jewel Toned | Belt: Donna Karan (Vintage) | Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell (Free People)

But this was my first time wearing bike shorts in an extremely visible way. I wore the shorts to a yoga class and was pleased that the top portion was completely opaque, even in Extended Puppy Pose.

I also wore them underneath a Carven T-shirt dress that has the unfortunate feature of riding up whenever I walk for longer than a block. (Bike shorts are a lifesaver when a dress is just a little too short for your taste. Because the shorts are black like the dress, they add a couple inches to the hem with zero effort.)

And lastly, I wore the shorts in a strictly shapewear capacity — underneath a stretchy cotton pencil skirt. For those who are interested in strictly butt-boosting, I think it’s only fair to say that this shapewear is not going to make your butt feel skin-tight and sky-high like Spanx. This is a gentler, more fashion-focused approach to shapewear — it’s not meant to erase flaws in a punishing way.

For those who want to shower some love on the unsung heroes of their wardrobe, this is the best thing since the expulsion of ribcage-killing whalebone corsets. Would you wear shapewear in a visible way? I’d love to hear how you’d style it!