What is a Body Briefer?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 December 2019
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"I haven't left the house without Lycra on these thighs since I was 14," says Truvy in the movie "Steel Magnolias." So used to run the opinions of most women. Truvy, of course, was talking about a girdle, or a body briefer. Once the exclusive domain of the "mature" set, the body briefer and similar foundation garments are making a comeback. A body briefer is usually a Lycra and spandex garment covering a woman's body from the panty line to the shoulders, fitting like a swimsuit, to firm the woman's silhouette and to make her appear more slender.

The body briefer has its origins in the buskers of the 16th and 17th centuries and the corsets of the 18th and 19th centuries. No respectable lady ever went out without her proper undergarments on. Although corsets started going out of fashion in the late 19th century, it wasn't until the "Flapper Age" of the 1920s that saw their final demise. The slender, boy-like silhouette of the Jazz Age did necessitate undergarments that de-emphasized curves and flattened the tummy under the fringed dresses. A modified top, the forerunner to the bra, and the rubber girdle then put in an appearance.


Rubber girdles were common until the 1950s, when the space age fabrics of Lycra® and spandex revolutionized them. By the 1970s, girdles only had rubber grips at the thighs and were sold under names touting their comfort. Remember the I Can't Believe It's a Girdle® brand girdles?

The body briefer also came to the fore in the 1950s with the advent of Lycra® and spandex. The body briefer is usually found in several styles. It can be a high-rise girdle, stopping just beneath the bustline, or can fit with shoulder straps and an open bustline, so the wearer can use her own bra with it. It can have the bra built in to it, and can either have a leotard fit around the legs, or have legs that come down over the thighs.

Female celebrities who want a perfectly smooth silhouette under their designer frocks have re-energized the sale of the body briefer. The Spanx company makes several varieties, for women of all shapes and sizes. However, a woman should probably be measured for a body briefer, to ensure the best fit. She should also try on several, to find the one that is most comfortable.

A body briefer can be purchased in department stores, in catalogs or online. Their prices generally start at $30 US Dollars (USD) and go up from there.


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