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A foundation garment (also known as shapewear or shaping underwear) is an undergarment designed to impermanently alter the wearer's body shape, to achieve what some view as a more fashionable figure. The function of a foundation garment is not to enhance a bodily feature (as would, for example, a padded bra) but to make it look more presentable.
Foundation garments were patented by Marion M Chubby in 1965 (categorized in elastic corsets).
Foundation garments are worn to emphasize body shape. They usually require technological advances in garment design and light-weight fabrics to create different body figures. A foundation garment may be worn for a specific outfit. Being underwear, the foundation garment should not be visible under the outerwear.[according to whom?] A general purpose "all the way" shaper with clear straps that starts at the bust and ends at the knee or mid-calf is also available.[non sequitur]
Foundation garments may come with a built-in strapless bra for dresses and halters.
In a broader definition, a foundation garment is a piece of garment that provides body-redefining shapes such as a bra.
Garments may be categorized according to level or shape control offered, for instance, light, medium or firm. The simplest foundation is a body-liner or bodysuit, which is an ultra-light-weight leotard and offers a light touch of smoothing. These are available in a unitard style (shortened legs) or a camisole-leotard style. The leotard is better and is available in boy-leg and Capri-leg lengths, with spaghetti straps, low cut necklines, and even scoop backs, to cater to the outerwear under which the garments will be worn. These softly smooth the figure and provide light support. Micro-fiber camisoles and boy-leg briefs or "hot pants" are also available. Girdles are often called "body shapers" or "contour garments". These garments are made with more Lycra spandex as compared to the 10% Lycra / 90% cotton blend of most leotards, and they offer the highest level of shaping and support.