In a scene that now lives in movie infamy, Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones in the eponymous rom-com, debates her choice of lingerie – tiny knickers or giant hold-you-in granny pants. She chooses the latter and the fashion faux pas is later revealed by the film's lothario, played by Hugh Grant. Bridget and those oversized nude knickers have rather a lot to answer for where the reputation of shape-wear is concerned.
It's no secret that many of us are familiar with shape-wear and increasingly are happy to embrace a helping hand when it comes to tackling unsightly lumps and bumps. This is no surprise given that control-wear has enjoyed something of a sexy makeover in recent years. Back in Bridget's day, the market was dominated by flesh-hued rubbery contraptions best left in the back of the lingerie drawer; nowadays it's all about Fifties-inspired long-line bras and high-waisted knickers with more than a passing reference to vintage-style pin-ups.
Getting on board with the resurgence in shape-wear, French lingerie brand Scandale, first established in the 1930s, re-launched earlier this year with a range of vintage-inspired pieces entirely devoted to the cause of enhancing the female shape.
The high street is also faring rather well in the great granny-pants revolution, most notably at Marks and Spencer, of course, where beautiful shape-wear has become something of a speciality with the sell-out success of the Waist Sculpt range and more recently a dedicated collection designed by Colette Dinnigan. Topshop too is getting in on the act for its younger customers who feel a bit of under-pinning is needed when approaching its skimpier offerings.
Forget outdated notions of control pants so tight you can barely breath, 21st-century design techniques are utilised to the advantage of the wearer. Shape-wear is no longer something to be ashamed of, not only is this lingerie fit to be seen, it's made to show-off.