One day, fourteen years ago, Sara Blakely bought a pair of unlined cream-colored pants at Arden B. The trousers, which cost $89, at the time represented a sizable investment for Blakely, the founder and creator of Spanx, who was earning her living selling fax machines door to door. The pants infuriated her: Every undergarment showed through in most unglamorous fashion; the thick waistband caused a ripple, the ungainly leg band a rumple.
"Back then, shapers felt like workout clothes," Blakely says. So, like legions of visionaries before her, she invented a better way, and now, in Blakely's estimation, everyone from junior high school prom-goers to spry seniors in St. John trouser suits, along with 95 percent of red-carpet swans, is sporting Spanx under her ensemble.