Style Isle

Undercover Agents

Every celebrity stylist that graces the airwaves is an advocate of this. Every woman who has experienced the benefits of this will also tell you how it changed their shape and ultimately created better fit of their outfit. I am also jumping on the bandwagon to tell you all about the importance of one simple thing - underwear. Whether you need it to function as suction (admit it, we all want a bit of this ) or you need comfortable support, then there is nothing else like it. Let me pose a question, when we are putting together outfits for an occasion, for arguments sake, how often do we consider the style of our undergarments to compliment the shape of our dress or trousers? The majority would answer very little. So we need to get back to basics, and start with the first layer.

The importance of fit

I will hand on heart say that for the last twenty years I have been wearing the wrong bra size. I only got fitted for the first time in May 2011 when a friend of mine instructed me to go and do it. I overcame the internal cringe which I felt at going through the experience and having spoken with a sales assistant who was so knowledgeable on bra fit and shape, she completely changed my opinion. She gave me some very good advice - every time you buy a new bra from a different brand, you must be measured as every label differs slightly in fit and each milimetre counts. Whether your current need is for a regular day to day bra or a strapless one for a particular outfit, it must give you support and be comfortable to a point where you don't feel like you are wearing one.

One myth to put to bed, is that choice and size are not aligned. Over the last week I have been researching this, and found so many brands that cater for every size in an array of gorgeous designs in fabrics like micromesh and lace. One such brand, which has a massive celeb following is Marlies Dekkers ( ), who has provided support to the likes of Nicole Scherzinger, Lady Gaga and many a model of editorials in some of the world's most famous fashion magazines. What makes this brand so popular is the finite detail that makes each piece perfect. Bras are made from corset material allowing maximum support with 100 per cent flexibility. The unique selling point of the brand is the strap detail across each piece to make the collection seen as part of your outfit and not just something you wear underneath. Plus the colours are to die for, the neon yellow in particular. These pieces are an investment but I would consider it prudent.

The genius

We have all heard of Spanx, right? How could we not, they're everywhere at this stage and despite the attempts to imitate the effects of what Spanz can do, no other brand seems to have achieved it. I first heard of Spanx when I was working in a shoe shop in Newport, Rhode Island on my J1 visa. At the time, Spanx were only coming to the fore as the best underwear solution known to woman and I lost count of how many pairs we sold that summer. Now, Spanx is a multi-billion dollar company whos brand management is something every business can learn from. They do everything they say on the tin, but in essence they give women a silhouette rivalling Marylin. A one stop shop for shapewear is Simply Yours ( ) which carry a great range of lingerie and swimwear. Having recently interviewed Gok Wan, he told me about the line he recently designed for the site, which are feminine but functional (floral bra, £34; pants, £15 and black and white bra, £28; pants £10 ). One thing to note when buying underwear online is to check their sizing chart and their returns policy before making the purchase!

A quick fix

If you are in a dash and need something quickly, then the lingerie departments of Marks and Spencer and Debenhams offer free fitting services and their collections won't break the bank. Also watch out for collections from the big names in the business, like Gossard. Triumph and Elle McPherson. If you want to take a trip, then pop up to Kildare Village where Calvin Klein and Wolford have outlet stores and house some super bargains! My top tip - when making your Spring/Summer purchase, especially dresses, always think about the right underwear solution!


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