I have traditionally had great posture, thanks to 14 years with an eternally disappointed Russian ballet teacher whose frequent refrain was "Ugh Lydia, [author's note: my name is decidedly not Lydia, but Tatiana didn't like 'Lacey'] when will you stop jumping like an elephant? Hmmm? YOU WILL NEVER DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV."
These days though, I'm not under monomaniacal pressure to stand up straight, and things have quite literally gone into a slump. A slump that's become much more pronounced over the past few months because I lost my beloved standing desk and had to get a chair. (RIP, Standy—you disappeared my cellulite and made my butt look awesome.)
I needed to do something about my back, but I'm not the kinda girl who functions on willpower alone. Which is how I ended up trawling Amazon for posture aides during a dessert wine-fueled shopping spree. I Prime'd myself a collection of trusses, bras, shapewear, and "compression garments" designed to straighten me out, and while there were many beige, marginally stretchy options, only a few really did the trick. Here are my favorites, ranked in order of actually-does-something-ness:
Oh God, the Squeem. This is the posture-correcting vest to end all posture-correcting vests. Wearing it, I looked like a Victorian lady and felt like a burrito rolled into its tortilla too tightly—which is exactly what you want.
I definitely couldn't hunch forward, and not only was I somehow slightly taller when I had it on, I looked waaaaay curvier. My hips don't lie unless you stretch a weapons-grade piece of rubber across them, apparently. I looked amazing as long as I had clothes on, but when I showed my Squeemed midsection to coworkers—totally a normal thing to do—one of them told me I looked like Dan Aykroyd. So...maybe not a date night thing unless you're trying to seduce someone who gets turned on by The Blues Brothers.
Efficacy Rating: 6 Spanx
If you want to sit up a little straighter but aren't really worried about your shoulders, a waist cincher will probably be more your jam. It's the same principle as a corset (and the Squeem), but it only covers from under your boobs to just below your hip bones, so there aren't industrial-strength shoulder straps.
This is also the sexiest-looking option of the lot; if you're into retro lingerie it'll be an absolute delight to wear, in addition to preventing you from slipping a disc.
Efficacy Rating: 4 old-fashioned corset stays
Way Cool, Bra
If shoulders are your main concern (or you just have bounce-prone mammaries and would like to find something you can jog in without wanting to die), allow me to introduce you to the IntelliSkin Empower Posture Cue sports bra. It looks like a cool zip-up bikini top Malibu Barbie would have worn in 1986, which is perhaps the highest compliment I have ever paid a piece of lingerie. It also really did push my shoulders back a little and made my whole chest area just look and feel exceptional, really.
A word of advice, though: It comes in front zip or pullover versions for your boob-justment convenience, and while I bought the zip for fashun-related reasons, I might recommend the pull-on instead. The Empower empowered itself to unzip a couple times while I had it on, and I prefer my foundation garments not make important cleavage visibility decisions without my consent.
Efficacy Rating: 2 jogs with Jessica Simpson
Photographed by Horst P. Horst for Vogue September 1939.