Today's girdles pinch those inches gently

January 29, 1992|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

The model cliche that '60s and '70s woman with a figure like Macaulay Culkin's no longer slinks down fashion show runways or sashays through photo shoots. She's been dethroned by curvaceous '90s models like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Elle MacPherson.

And while these women are leaner, firmer and far more athletic than the hourglass goddesses of eras past Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Jane Russell there's no arguing that the femme fatale is back. With this new appreciation for cleavage and curves comes a renewed interest in what apparel manufacturers call "foundation garments." That means bras and girdles.

Women bought 225 million bras and 50 million girdles in 1990. We're buying so many more bras particularly because of new specialty styles such as underwire and push-up bras and backless or strapless versions.

Those foundations are a response to new clothes that demand new undergarments. All that decolletage on runways translates into greater sales for underwear that, um, helps create or enhance it.

But if girdles have come back in style, the word certainly hasn't. Perhaps fearing that "girdle" conjures up too many painful memories for too many aging baby boomers, designers are calling the '90s versions pantyshapers, Hipslips, Body Toners or bodyshapers. And thanks in large part to the wonders of Lycra, the new girdles are lighter-weight and far less restrictive than the heavy elastic garments many of us grew up hating.

But if Lycra makes control garments lightweight and more comfortable, the credit for inspiring the newly chic styles surely goes to Madonna.

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