Men at Spanx? No thanks. This has always been my reaction to belts that limit fat, sculpting tees, and high waisted shaping pants that redistribute your love handles to other, less invasive areas.
But now, after two lockdowns for overdoing the Pinot Grigio and Deliveroo dinners and being a mostly horizontal, gym-phobic guy looking for a quick fix, maybe it was time to rethink. With the end of WFH and the restart of professional and social life, I wanted to dress and ditch my loose H&M sweatpants in favor of a nicely tailored Brunello Cucinelli suit. No time for cardio or a Paleo crash diet: I needed an instant fat relocation solution.
My thinspiration came from an unlikely source Ned Rocknroll, Kate Winslets’ husband. Described by the actress as one of those impossible people you look at and think about, how can you really eat six meals a day and look like that? it turns out that young Ned keeps Jagger skinny himself by eating copious amounts of chia seeds and hanging out in the male Spanx.
So I ordered new Spanx Mens Ultra Sculpt clothes for myself. They were delivered by courier clearly tickled by the prominent logo on the bag. How does it hang? asked the blurb on the box, with the accompanying flyer promising superior control and ultimate crotch comfort.
Ten years ago a man like your reporter, middle aged and shy about the comfort of his crotch, a secret to personal things like his height, would have hesitated to receive a (sorry) package like this. On the Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2010, actor Rob Lowe accused the host of wearing Spanx, causing a look of horror on the face of his comrade, super buff guest Matthew McConaughey. Spanx? How can you?
Fast forward to today and chat show host James Corden openly admits he wears a Spanx bodysuit to look slimmer in the seam. He is joined by other celebrities proudly controlled by the crotch: mogul Richard Branson, actors Jason Biggs and Steve Carrell. And just like that, in much the same way that liposuction, fake tan, liner, feelings and therapy have been fluidized and not ashamed, shapewear has also undergone a very modern de-stigma. Supported by sales in the men’s market, the global shapewear market could be worth $ 6.4 billion by 2024. The founder of the Spanx brand, the American Sara Blakely, is now a billionaire.
My own Spanx trip consisted of donning myself in the toddler sized white Ultra Sculp Seamless Tank t-shirt, my girlfriend laughing uncontrollably as she tried to push my squeaky limbs into a garment from the the size of a chorizo sausage and the ruthless and frankly homoerotic, Cotton boxer shorts. I looked like a hernia patient in an expensive Swiss clinic.
But while a tight chest feeling isn’t normally a welcome sign for a man in his 50s, incredibly, the Spanx flattened my stomach, thinned my side flubber, and encouraged a straighter hold. A look in the mirror confirmed the real PhotoShopping effect. Suddenly I was Superman. OK that works. Maybe Mr Incredible.
I called my friend Teo van den Broeke, styling and grooming director at GQ magazine. Teo sometimes wears Spanx with tailors, because I’m aware of that annoying little bit of stomach that always manages to bulge out where the shirt meets the zipper of the pants. But there are rules of Spanxing, Teo warns: always buy a size or two smaller if you want to see the best results. Wear them only under costumes and for special occasions. And never be tempted to wave them if you’re hoping the evening will end with an intimate encounter. There is nothing less sexy and unworthy, he says wisely, (perhaps from experience) than a man to be prized out of a tight-fitting t-shirt by someone he just came from. meet.
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