Most women know what it feels like to squeeze into shapewear. Weâ€™ve been doing it since the time of the corset. Itâ€™s reviled and itâ€™s uncomfortable, but for many itâ€™s just the price of beauty. This diet-free solution to eliminating panty lines and looking 10 pounds thinner is just too good for most of us to pass up.Â
Tight zippers and unflattering bulges have had Americans reaching for anything with the words "control top" in the title for years; the industry rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Presumably, it's the women who are dropping the big bucks. Most brand name pieces are somewhat expensive â€“ and, well, they suck your fat in.Â Far in. It doesnâ€™t feel great. And how many of us know men who are willing to pay to be in pain? (Settle down, "Fifty Shades of Grey" fans, we donâ€™t mean it like that.)Â
It turns out, the folks at menâ€™s underwear label 2(x)ist have found some who are.Â
"Definitely within the last three years thereâ€™s been an interest in shapewear for men," said Jason Scarlatti, creative director and vice president of 2(x)ist, which offersÂ high-end menâ€™s underwear and has a solid celebrity following. Scarlatti said that Zac Efron, Ben Affleck and Channing Tatum have all been seen sporting the 2(x)ist brand.Â
But are the celebs going for the shapewear, too?Â
"We have sent shapewear to celebrities, but theyâ€™ve told us not to tell anyone," Scarlatti said.Â
It makes sense. Ultimately, there is a gender divide when it comes to issues that are perceived as having to do with personal vanity. Fat-controlling undergarments are widely regarded as a feminine solution to a feminine problem.Â
"Men are less vocal about it. Theyâ€™re self-conscious," said Scarlatti. "Women are very courageous about it, more willing to try new things."Â
2(x)ist isn't the only brand to have encouraged men to broaden their horizons while narrowing their backsides. Labels like Spanx and Faja also sell similar pieces. Underworks offers products like "gynecomastia shirts" and "compression girdles."
But it seems that most consumers don't want to be seen buying it.
Milwaukee men can buy 2(x)ist underwear at Macyâ€™s at Mayfair Mall, but to purchase shapewear pieces youâ€™ll have to go online. No retailer near Milwaukee carries it, and the staff at Macyâ€™s menâ€™s underwear department, when asked, was unsure as to what "shapewear" even meant.Â
So are fashion products with adjectives like "sculpting" and "enhancement" just too much for the Milwaukee consumer? Scarlatti said definitely not.Â
"I think itâ€™s really the offering of those department stores. It doesnâ€™t have to do with anything about how men feel about themselves in that area of the country.Â
"Our product and our brand is generally pinpointed to be in more high-traffic, fashion-forward locations," he explained. "But weâ€™ve noticed online sales of that product are very successful and we think that men are just shy about purchasing it. Itâ€™s intimidating for men to be seen in it or have a conversation about it." Â
OnMilwaukee.com was sent samples of the 2(x)ist Shape:Lift Dual Lifting Trunk, the Shape:FormÂ Slimming Contour Pouch Brief and the labelâ€™s Shape:Form Slimming Crew Neck Shirt. Our own Andy Tarnoff gamely volunteered to try on the samples.Â
He reported that the 6-inch waistband on the brief was somewhat "rolly" and said that trying to keep the shirt from coiling up around the waistline was "frustrating."Â
"Is this what women have to go through?" he asked.Â
Still, he said, the slimming effect and improved posture was a plus. "It would be good for something temporary â€“ if you had a photo shoot or a wedding, a special event. If youâ€™re going to be standing all day. I donâ€™t know how I would sit in this. I give it a solid C+."Â
His comments echo Scarlattiâ€™s observation that the shapewear pieces are "occasion underwear." After all, everyone has a wedding or high school reunion coming up that they swore they would lose weight for and then â€¦ just didnâ€™t.Â
"I think it just offers men confidence if theyâ€™re wearing a suit or a special occasion to feel a little bit more slim and trim."
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Colleen Jurkiewicz
Published Sept. 30, 2013
Everyone knows that Danny Gokey, Milwaukee's favorite idol, has faced his unfair share of adversity and loss. But some stories that Gokey shares in his new book, "Hope in Front of Me" (NavPress), will be new even to his biggest fans.
Published Sept. 24, 2013
October and September is high season for haunted houses, haunted corn mazes, haunted hikes...but if you prefer a little liquid courage while you get your spook on, check out Untapped Tours' Haunted Hops and Evil Spirits Pub Crawl.
Published Sept. 19, 2013
Waukesha author Kathie Giorgio is getting ready to debut her latest novel, a sequel to the award-winning "A Home for Wayward Clocks." She tells OnMilwaukee.com the secret to writing a good follow-up and shares her views on the publishing industry today.
Published Sept. 19, 2013
"I Left My Heart" is, as the title implies, a tribute to Tony Bennett's music. The young performers onstage didn't try to replicate anything else about 87-year-old Bennett. Instead, it was an evening of appreciation for the style of this unique performer whose career has essentially run laps on so many others.
Published Sept. 18, 2013
"Power Balladz" comes to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, hoping to re-introduce Milwaukee audiences to the decidedly awesome music of the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
Published Sept. 15, 2013
Award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear talks to OnMilwaukee.com about the logistical and emotional challenges of choreographing "Ragtime," the largest production ever to be staged on the Quadracci Powerhouse.
Published Sept. 12, 2013
Actors Bill Jackson and Marty McNamee, along with Boulevard Theatre's artistic director Mark Bucher, sat down with OnMilwaukee.com to talk about what has gone into staging and developing "Jerker," which premiered 1986 and follows the budding relationship between two men in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
Published Sept. 12, 2013
In the midst of rebranding efforts for Water Street, Milwaukee artist Patrice Procopio opened the area's latest fashion anchor, Third Coast Style, this past weekend. A by-Milwaukee-for-Milwaukee one-stop fashion shop, the new boutique features the handiwork of over 30 Cream City artists.
Published Sept. 10, 2013
John Gurda makes a splash with his new lecture tour, a history of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee's waterways.
Published Sept. 9, 2013
Ryan Braun probably won't be calling me. But if he did, he would probably regret it instantly. Not because I'm mad mat him (we all screw up, dude), but because these are the questions I would probably ask him.