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F is for Fat Pants: Tummy-Taming Jeans

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These days we're all working harder than ever. Nice to know some of our clothes can work harder too. They can't take the place of healthy, active living (sheesh), but garments with tummy-taming job descriptions can help pick up a little workout slack, and camouflage bits we'd rather keep under wraps.

We're not talking underpinnings, although a pair of Spanx (the best-known name in shapewear) is a must for smooth lines under that favourite little dress. Instead, when we don't want to wriggle into an extra layer, we can turn to clothing brands such as Mark's Work Wearhouse, Melanie Lyne, Spanner and Old Navy for waist-whittling wearables that also slim the hips and lift the booty.

"Many women want to look 10 pounds thinner, no matter what size they are," comments freelance fashion stylist Ingrie Williams, whose work has appeared in many of Canada's top mags and on City TV. "Wardrobe items with tummy-control benefits can offer shaping without feeling like a girdle."

Generally constructed with variations of a built-in control panel across the inside front, and from denim with varying stretch from one to five per cent, jeans are the most popular figure-enhancing workhorse. In Williams' view, "they're a practical addition to any jean wardrobe." As well, their fit and for-comfort design make them a good try-again point for women who have found past jean experiences unsatisfactory.

If Not Your Daughter's Jeans sounds familiar, it's thanks to positive performance reviews from celebs such as Rachel Ray, Jane Seymour and Diane Sawyer. Part of the appeal is a patented denim weave that resists stretch in the front, and a size range that includes petites and plus.

Old Navy's The Dreamer classic-rise, curvy-silhouette jean (shown, $39.50 CAN) is new this season. In addition to shaping, it has a contoured waistband to help minimize waist bulge and gaping at the back. Sizes go from 0 to 20 regular.

Also making its debut is the Fit to Flatter jean from Canadian company Spanner, which makes regular, petite and plus sizes. Melanie Lyne's Off the Record classic-fit jean, also Canadian, launched this past spring and fits up to size 16; a contemporary fit with a slightly lower rise and slimmer, boot-cut leg just hit stores for Fall.

Mark's Work Wearhouse Curvetech collection (yes, Canadian too) now offers the widest variety of silhouette-enhancing garment styles -- 40 in all -- from jeans to capris to yoga-wear to dress pants, as well as a Total Control skirt. Sizing goes from 2 to 18 (up to 20 in denim), with 30, 32 and 34 inseams in some styles.

Originally published as "Waist-Whittler Wearables" in the Metro News, 10 September 2009. Image courtesy of Old Navy/Gap Inc.