A Good Foundation

6:23 pm

I have a slight obsession with underpinnings! Just take a look at my lingerie board on Pinterest!
As a dressmaker, I know only too well that no matter how beautifully I sew a garment, if I wear it over unsupportive, unflattering, poorly fitting underwear it's just not going to show that garment off at it's best.
Vintage or reproduction vintage garments especially need appropriate underpinnings!
This is something I never tire of reminding my clients when I am teaching.

I teach a bodice fitting class at Ministry of Craft and I always stress there, the importance of a well fitting bra, and how certain styles of bra will affect various bodice designs....for example I know that if I fit a bodice over a sports bra, that bodice will certainly not work over a balconette style, on the same woman!

As a woman of ample boobage since the age of 13, I've certainly made some terrible mistakes over the years; like the time when aged about 14, I was at a friends house on a hot summers day and she suggested we sunbathe in the garden. I hadn't got a bikini so she loaned me one of hers. I put it on and walked through her kitchen to meet her in the garden where her mother caught sight of me and thrust a tea towel at me in a crude attempt to offer me some modesty! I was, until that moment quite blissfully unaware of my curves and the bikini top only just covered my nipples!

Over the years, since that incident and, I'm sorry to say, several others I have gained a reputation amongst many of my closest friends as someone who knows a thing or two about bra fitting, and have accompanied several friends on bra shopping sprees, where they are usually surprised that their back size is considerably smaller than they thought, and their cup size considerably bigger!

A good fitting bra is only the beginning; an essential beginning, but certainly for me,  I can't sing the praises of shape wear enough! Six babies ( and honestly, too many biscuits!) have not been kind to my mid section! Now, I'm certainly not saying everyone with a bit of wobble in their tum should absolutely wear shape wear, seriously guys, wear what makes you comfortable...I'm all about the feeling good in your own skin, but that for me means shape wear, and I've tried them all, trust me!

I had a spell a few years ago of wearing steel boned corsets daily, and then I got gall stones, so my corsets got packed away....they still come out occasionally, just no longer daily.
I have tried latex sports corsets too, and they have their place, so long as you don't mind getting very sweaty!
My favourite everyday shape wear though is a "wear your own bra" type. These generally come in various strengths of support, and for everyday I have light support. The beauty of these is you can wear your own bra, and anyone who has a cup size over a D will understand this....please lingerie makers make pretty corselettes in bigger cup sizes!!!
They give a nice smooth line under any garment with a touch of tummy control. I even have a few that smooth out the dreaded back fat!
And, you can wear them under your most precious corsets to protect from sweat, but still be able to go to the loo, thanks to popper opening!! (Is that TMI?)

So, always wary of offering advice, I would say to anyone, but especially aspiring dressmakers, get the foundation right,( whatever that means for you) and your finished garments will be shown off to their very best.
Of course, there is always making your own.....that though is for another day!

Don't be shy, say hello!


  1. I'm a big believer in wearing a slip if my dress or skirt is not lined. Just love the way the garment floats over my body.

    1. Oh yes! A slip is a must under an unlined dress.

  2. All of this is so very true. Women as a whole have veered away from structured undergarments. They equate shapewear with inconvenience and discomfort. A Facebook plus sized sewing community recently had a barrage of negative comments regarding making and wearing shapewear. I couldn't believe some of the comments made against wearing a simple foundation. Timothy Snell, celebrity stylist says “There are three tenets that I tell every woman. You need shape, slim and smooth before you put on a garment. That’s my rule of thumb. The foundation garment is crucial. The foundation is the beginning for all greatness. ‘When the foundation is poured beautifully, the home will stand gracefully.'”

  3. Wow! This is so much info. I had no idea. I just wear t-shirt bras and get upset that my boobs are horrid. Perhaps if I knew where to start with proper underwear I'd like my shape a little more. Any suggestions as to where to start/where to go Jeanette please? Thanks

    1. Hi Rachel, start with a good bra. T shirt bras are fine, but not for everything. If you are in the UK I recommend John Lewis for fitting, or if over a D cup Bravissimo are fabulous! Rigby and Pellar if it's a treat. A good bra can make you look slimmer and feel so much better.Have a look at Bravissimo's website and Curvy Kates, both have excellent articles on fitting. :)


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