In the 18th century women whittled their waists down using corsets so heavily tightened that the frame of a woman was reminiscence of the letter "S" with busts forward, a whittled waist and the backside pushed outward accentuated by a bustle. They called this look the wasp waist.
Jumping to the early 1900s, the bra was patented in 1914 and with the invention of Lastex which was latex made into fabric, metal boning and whale bone were discarded from bras and products like the girdle came into being which was used to hold up thigh high stockings and flatten the tummy. A girdle is an elastic undergarment designed to shape and smooth a woman's figure.
Today, most cutting edge girdles are made from a single item or mix of nylon, Lycra Spandex or Powernet. Garments made from these materials or a blend of them have proven to be some of the most comfortable and durable shapewear that's ever been manufactured. These materials are light and easier to wear and have the ability to contour and shape the body just as well as their predecessors.
Modern girdles are generally classified as "Light-Compression", "Medium-Compression", or "Strong-Compression". The difference in the degree of control usually indicates the weight or thickness of the girdle material, or the degree to which a girdle is paneled. A Strong -Compression girdle can have a greater number of panels in which the fabric has been doubled or tripled for a design that has more contour or "control" power. Most of the new girdles are pull-on garments but it is still popular to see girdles that have hooks, snaps and boning reminiscent of the older models. I guess the manufacturers figure if it's not broke... then don't fix it therefore some models have not changed over time due to customer demand and loyalty.
Women's shapewear has taken the world by storm especially since the introduction of Spanx in 1998. The use of compression fabrics consisting of Powernet, Lycra Spandex, and nylon has inspired brands such as Flexees, Body Wrap, Yummie Tummie, Slimpressions and more to carve out a niche for the specific needs of women in the form of shapewear that never existed before. Now there are items that can increase the appearance of breast size, decrease the appearance of breast size, slim the thighs and buttocks, slim the waistline, tame bra bulges and even reduce the appearance of excess skin on the arms. Women's shapewear is definitely a trend that is here to stay for some time especially since women are always looking for ways to look their best from the inside out.