How bad is Shapewear for your health?

The phrase “ominous tingling” is certain to strike fear into the hearts of all the Spanx wearers among us. That the multi-million dollar ‘shapewear’ industry is uncomfortable comes with the territory (no pain no gain and so on) but now health experts are saying that restrictive clothing might be doing more damage to our health than previously thought.

According to a big feature in the Los Angeles Times, restrictive clothing such as shapewear and compression tights used by athletes (and also by paunchy middle-aged men to your local café on the weekend) could be playing havoc on your nerves, digestive system, skin and internal organs. Reflux is one particularly nasty side effect. As Jay Kuemmerle, a gastroenterologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond told the LA Times,

“It’s really just plumbing. For someone who has reflux disease or is prone to reflux, wearing tight garments may exacerbate those symptoms.” As for that “ominous tingling” that’s a condition called meralgia paresthetica which causes tingling in the thighs when there is too much pressure on the groin.

However not all in the medical community agree on the implications of restrictive clothing, with one of the experts in the LA Times story stating that not everyone who indulges in a little lycra having problems, and the problems generally disappearing once the garment has been removed. Other studies have suggested that compression clothing can have benefits for athletes post race such as reducing soreness.

Even still, with many calling shapewear the ‘corsets’ or girdles of our era, it might be worth opting for wearing them in moderation.

Karen Walker’s art of cool travel

Karen Walker is the queen of cool so naturally we wanted to know where she stayed when she was in the south of France working on her trio of fragrances A, B and C.

KW bottles

During the development of her new fragrances, which launched on April 15, Walker worked with French perfume house Charabot in Grasse, custodians of the craft of creating fragrances for hundreds of years.

Parfum web

“Years ago my friend Katie Lockhart told me that if I was ever near Nice I must go to St-Paul-de-Vence and stay at La Colombe d’Or so the choice of hotel was non-negotiable,” Walker says. “As soon as I knew we were going to Grasse I said we had to stay there.”

Hotel view for web

The small, family-owned hotel first opened in 1920 just outside the old city walls in the medieval town of St-Paul-de-Vence.

Hotel for web

“In the early 20th Century it was a favourite spot for many of the world’s greatest artists and they all paid in contra so the hotel’s overflowing with the most wonderful artwork by many of my favourites – a Miro above our table at dinner, a Picasso across the dining room, a Chagall just behind us, a Leger in the breakfast courtyard, a Calder by the pool. I could go on and on. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of works by my favourite artists there,” Walker says.

Below Karen Walker creative director Mikhail Gherman sits beside a portrait of Pablo Picasso.

Mikhail for web

“Add to that that the hotel is, of course, delightful and stunning, the food incredible, the setting unbeatable and the history and roll-call of the fabulous and famous who’ve stayed there beyond impressive,” says Walker. “What makes it all especially magical though is that it’s still family owned, intimate, non-corporate and completely genuine. The lady serving breakfast is also in a photograph, as a little girl, hanging out with Picasso around the family’s dining table. It’s not yet been knocked from its number one spot on my best hotels list. I’ll definitely be back there as soon as I can.”

Walker at hotel