Chuck out your control pants…there’s a new figure fixer in town!

Chuck out your control pants…there’s a new figure fixer in town! After years of wearing Spanx, Claudia Connell tried out Heist Studios underwear

  • Claudia Connell says she’s been squeesing into giant pants for about 15 years
  • She recalls how she once spent 25 minutes to change into Spanx on a date 
  • She tried out Heist – a new form of shapewear aimed at being comfortable

Sometimes I wonder what my specialist subject would be should I ever go on Mastermind. ‘The history of control underwear’ is a contender.

I’ve been squeezing my flesh into giant pants and girdles for about 15 years now. From bum-lifters and waist-whittlers to bingo wing-busters (yes, you can buy arm-slimming wear), I doubt there’s anything I haven’t tried.

Now I must add a new creation to my encyclopaedic knowledge: the Outer Body by Heist.

The brand started with tights that were guaranteed not to ride down and leave you with a gusset swinging between your legs. A few months ago, it launched a control bodysuit that it claims is effective without being hot and uncomfortable or a nightmare to put on.

Claudia Connell says she had found ‘a new creation’ to add to her ‘encyclopaedic knowledge’ of control pants: the Outer Body by Heist (pictured)

The idea of comfortable shapewear, frankly, sounds impossible. I don’t know how you can flatten blubber without pain — and I have the flesh wounds to prove it.

Just like my first kiss, job and car, the first time I wore control underwear is ingrained firmly in my mind.

I was in my late 30s and going on a second date with someone I liked very much and wanted to look as sleek as possible, even though I was a slim size 12 at the time. I purchased a full bodysuit from Spanx that looked like a wetsuit. It started at the knees and ended just under my bra. A friend told me that to get the best results I should buy a size too small as it would hold me in much more.

It did make me drop a dress size, but then I made a fatal, control underwear rookie mistake: I wore a jumpsuit over it.

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The date went swimmingly, but as the underwear made me so hot, I drank a lot of water. As a shapewear veteran I now know that lavatory breaks have to be planned well in advance and, therefore, liquid intake should be kept to a minimum.

I had to entirely remove my jumpsuit to access my Spanx bodysuit that was, by then, stuck to my sweaty skin.

After heaving it down and answering the call of nature, I couldn’t get the suit back on as my skin was too sticky. It took several minutes of blotting with paper towels before I could get redressed. Then I had to redo my hair and replace the make-up that had sweated off. The entire process took 25 minutes.

By the time I returned to the restaurant, my date had gone.

Heist called on the services of Fiona Fairhurst to help put its design together. She’s the inventor of the sharkskin swimsuit, worn by Olympic swimmers to help them go faster

Later he emailed to say he assumed I wasn’t interested and had escaped via a rear entrance, and he was appalled by my lack of manners. I had two choices: let him believe I had climbed out of a lavatory window to escape; or tell him I took so long because I was trapped in my own underwear.

I chose option one. Either way, I was never seeing him again.

After that I switched to the shorts-only version of Spanx.

While they slimmed my hips and thighs, they also pushed the flesh up to spill over the waistband, making my stomach look bigger than it was.

Shaping slips are a good solution to the waistband overspill you get with slimming shorts. But they work their way up as you walk and eventually gather round your middle, making it look like you’re wearing a rubber ring under your dress.

They also necessitate lowering yourself into a chair millimetre by millimetre because any swift movement will cause the slip to ping up.

Could the Outer Body be the answer I’m looking for?

At £95, it’s far from cheap. But if it can make me look slimmer without creating random rolls of flesh in places I didn’t previously have them, then I’ll happily pay double that.

Heist called on the services of Fiona Fairhurst to help put its design together. She’s the inventor of the sharkskin swimsuit, worn by Olympic swimmers to help them go faster.

At £95, Heist’s new offering it’s far from cheap. Yet Claudia says if they work she would pay double that

The Outer Body has seam-free edges and claims to use a ‘revolutionary film technology that mimics the fascia, the connective tissue beneath the skin that stabilises your muscles and internal organs’.

Each body features 20,000 perforations to keep you cool. But the biggest claim of all is that it can knock up to 5cm off your waist.

That’s all I care about. To hell with the seam-free edges and bionic fabric. My Outer Body arrived in a carrier bag emblazoned with the words ‘Goodbye digging, rolling gusset and seams’.

That’s one bag I won’t ever be re-using.

The body is made of 75 per cent polyamide and 25 per cent elastane and Heist say it shouldn’t take more than 15 seconds to put on.

If I count all the moving and rearranging of fistfuls of flab, then it took me more than a minute before I was good to go. Looking in the mirror, the first thing I noticed was that the body looks sleek and stylish and not obviously like shapewear — not something you’d be ashamed for the opposite sex to see you in, should a spontaneous moment of passion arise.

I think Bros were in the charts the last time I had a clearly defined waist, but standing in front of the mirror mine looked nipped in, as though I was wearing a corset. A quick check on the tape measure confirmed I had reduced my waistline by almost 4cm — and I could still breathe.

While my stomach was perfectly flat, the top half of the Outer Body was too flimsy and lacked support for my 36DD bust. As curvier women tend to have larger busts, it felt like a big design flaw in the product, but I was too busy admiring my waist to let it bother me.

My back fat had vanished and some size 14 trousers that haven’t fitted me for two years zipped up with ease. Despite my wobbly stomach being flattened, the Outer Body had managed to keep the fat contained without it popping up elsewhere.

The Outer Body has two hook-and-eye fasteners, which are fiddly to open and extremely hard to do up when wearing it

It is very comfortable, doesn’t feel as though you’re wearing control underwear, and you can forget all about it — well, until you need the loo.

Anybody who remembers the horror of body shapewear from the first time around will know those pesky crotch poppers had a habit of pinging open at the most inopportune times.

The Outer Body has two hook-and-eye fasteners, which are fiddly to open and extremely hard to do up when wearing it. However, after my third visit to the loo, I became more adept.

I put the body through its paces. I sat down, climbed stairs, ate a big meal and ran for a bus — and it stayed in place at all times, remaining comfy and non-sweaty all day.

Compared with the thick fabric that covers the stomach, the material that covers your bottom is pretty flimsy, meaning it has a tendency to ‘creep’ until it has worked its way into a thong.

But it’s a small price to pay for a flat stomach and shapewear that doesn’t leave you covered in welts. The Outer Body may not be perfect, but in my opinion, it certainly gives Spanx a spanking.


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