Underwire? In This Economy?

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Photo Credit:ELLE Magazine (US)

Even before social-distancing, constrictive fashion was on its way out. Will WFH culture sound the death knell?

Says Marisa Meltzer, whose book
This Is Big
juxtaposes the story of the founder of Weight Watchers with Meltzer’s own ambivalent feelings about body positivity, “There’s so much pressure societally to be body positive or to get real, especially via social media, that shapewear feels kind of antithetical to that.”
On the runway, too, the mood is changing—though more incrementally. At Chromat’s fall 2020 show, models of all sizes wore fitted neon workout clothes, flaunting cellulite, body hair, strong muscles, and curvaceous bellies. Chromat designer Becca McCharen Tran, whose shows have long been a bastion of body diversity, thinks that remote-work culture and quarantine will make people question the fashion status quo. “Once people experience truly being comfortable and being able to move however they want, they realize that some things they have done in the past were just to assimilate and it doesn’t have to be that way,” she says. “They can make their own rules.”
Chromat Fall 2020
Brian Ach
Getty Images
Of course, some argue that shapewear doesn’t have to be disempowering—that, when used in a certain way, it can actually be the reverse. One of those making the case is stylist Marko Monroe, who works with Lizzo. He incorporates shapewear to “emphasize curves, to emphasize parts of the body that didn’t used to be celebrated,” he says. For Lizzo’s VMA’s look, a bodacious Moschino gown, “the whole shape was achieved with this beautiful corset that was underneath,” he says, calling it a “swerve ‘n’ curve moment.

He feels that it’s all of a piece with the message of celebrating yourself: “Why not architect your body in a way you feel good about?”
Lizzo on the red carpet at the VMA Awards.
SOPA Images
Getty Images
Still, the majority of people are not going to rush back into confining silhouettes anytime soon. Asked if she’s approaching fashion differently right now, McCharen Tran laughs. “I don’t even know if I’m approaching
fashion
right now.”
Adds Meltzer, “Once you stop wearing shapewear I think you immediately wonder what the point is.” Though, she admits,”I do own one item of shapewear and wear it probably three times a year? I wore it in recent author photos to give my body a little bit of a smoother line under a jersey dress or in a thin sweater. No regrets!”
Véronique Hyland
Véronique Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director.
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