How to Choose the Right Shapewear

If you haven’t yet explored the magic that is shapewear, you’re definitely missing out. Shapewear is one of the worst-kept fashion secrets out there. Celebrities and stylists everywhere swear by it and have made it both fashionable and more easily accessible to the everyday person. Shapewear smooths, lifts, controls, and does all the work of shaping your body so you don’t have to think about it. It helps with insecurities, can increase your personal comfort (anti-chaff shapewear shorts anyone?), and can sometimes even be worn out by itself. It’s great, and whether you’re looking to walk the red carpet (consider us jealous), are attending a formal event, or just looking for everyday support, there is shapewear available in every shape and design for every purpose you can imagine.

So, if shapewear is so great, why doesn’t everyone already wear it? Unfortunately, the word shapewear comes with negative stigma that has led to many to believe it’s uncomfortable and not worth putting on in the first place. But, if you look past the false rumors out there and focus on what the world of shapewear can offer you, you will be opening yourself to a whole new world of under garments that can make you a lot more comfortable and make parts of your life a whole lot easier.

Now that you know how great shapewear can be, it’s time to take the plunge and invest in some shapewear staples. Awesome, if only you knew what you were looking for. Luckily, we’ve taken all the hard work out of it for you and put everything you’ll need to know in this shapewear guide. By the end, you’ll be ready to purchase and know that you’re choosing the right shapewear for you.

Shapewear Levels of Control

It may come as no surprise to you, but shapewear comes in different levels of support and control. Depending on what you want your shapewear to accomplish, there’s something on the market for you. That world of options can get confusing, though; so, let’s break it down.

Light Control

Shapewear is a spectrum of compression that is very much the intimates apparel version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. The only difference is that the “just right” can be any of the options available. If you’re the person who has always felt that the compression of most shapewear you’ve tried on is too tight, options such as the Elomi Charles Hi-Cut Smoothing Brief which offer light control is the right choice for you. With verbiage such as “light,” “soothing,” “comfort,” and “ultra-light” the shapewear in this category offer smoothing, but don’t offer much extra support or figure-contouring. It’s the right choice if you want a barely-there feel or are looking for relaxed and casual shapewear during the warmer months.

Medium Control

A step above light control is medium control. This category of shapewear support is where you start to see a more intense smoothing effect as well as a bit of shaping. This is due to added smoothing parts of the garment such as a tummy control panel as well as more compression that comes with the use of fabrics like spandex. Medium control is where you start to feel the effects of what shapewear can really do for your body. Shapewear like the Wacoal Visual Effects Minimizing Medium Control Bodysuit offer shaping that comfortably smooths the body and can even minimize the bust up to a full inch.

Firm Control

Firm control is where you start to hit the big leagues of the shapewear game. This is where the breathable and flexible fabrics of shapewear form to our body and subtly sculpt and contour. With pieces such as Miraclesuit Tummy Tuck Firm Control Thigh Slimmer, the shapewear you wear gives you peace of mind to live freely and comfortably by taking on all the work to shape your body and smooth bumps and rolls so you know, no matter what you get up to, you’ll aways look as amazing as you feel.

Extra-Firm Control

If you’re looking for the maximum level of shapewear contour and shaping that the market has to offer, you want to look for wording like “extra firm control.” With extra firm control, the fabrics that make up your shapewear will be sturdier and can have support that is reinforced by plastic or steel boning. This level of control is also what is typically used for special occasions and can help to structure and support heavy gowns; think weddings, galas, and what most celebrities would be wearing under their red carpet looks.

The Best Shapewear for Every Outfit

Shapewear, as with most other intimate apparel options, is something that serves a purpose. Yeah, some shapewear is super cute and can be worn on its own like the Spanx Look At Me Now Seamless Leggings, but most of the time the shapewear you choose is worn to support you in a specific need in a specific outfit. So, to help you find the right shapewear options for you, here’s a list of the best types of shapewear available for every outfit.

Best Shapewear to Wear with Pants

If you’re looking for shapewear to wear under your pants, you need to get a firm idea of the type of pants you’re going to wear and how you’re going to style your looks. Shapewear should follow the silhouette of the clothing you want to wear on top of it. Because of this, the shapewear you’re wearing under a pair of pants will not be slips or dresses, but rather pieces that will form to the shape of your legs and waist.

There are options available for pretty much anything, but you’ll want to focus on items that would be convenient and comfortable while you’re wearing it. Shapewear options that will work seamlessly worn under a pair of pants are garments like a pair of slimming shorts such as these Spanx OnCore Firm Control High-Waist Thigh Shaper, shaping underwear like the Bali Smoothing Cotton Brief 2-Pack, or tummy control shapewear like the TC Fine Intimates Extra Firm Control Waist Cincher.

Best Shapewear Skirts

Much like with finding shapewear with pants, shapewear with skirts needs to follow the silhouette of the article of clothing you will be wearing. With skirts, shapewear will focus on the lower part of the body and includes shapewear that trims the waist, controls the tummy, smooths the back, shapes your rear, and also slims your hips and thighs.

What makes the shapewear you’d wear when wearing a skirt different from the shapewear you’d wear when wearing pants is the smoothing of both legs together as opposed to separately. With a skirt you are able to wear slip skirts like Miraclesuit’s Extra Firm Control Sheer Slip Shaper and slip dresses like the Maidenform Flexees Easy-Up Firm Control Convertible Slip which define your shape and provide additional modesty should you find yourself out and about on a particularly windy day.

Best Shapewear for Under Your Dresses

Most of the time, when you think of an occasion where you’d want to be wearing shapewear, it’s probably when you’re wearing a dress. This would make life easier if there weren’t so many different occasions with so many different kinds of dresses that drastically change the type of shapewear you’d like to wear. Thankfully, if you’re looking for some shapewear to wear under a dress, our article How to Wear Shapewear Under Dresses is a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the steps of finding the best shapewear to wear under a dress.

Best Shapewear to Wear Under Your Tops

As with pants and dresses, the shapewear that you’ll want to wear underneath a top won’t show through and controls the parts of your body that you’d like to smooth. With tops, there are many shaping camisoles like the Honeylove LiftWear Cami that can seamlessly be worn under almost any top.

However, if you have a top that is strapless, off-the-shoulder, or has a more complex silhouette, you might need shapewear that has accommodations for that. Items like a strapless bodysuit like the Wacoal Red Carpet Medium Control Convertible Bodysuit, a waist cincher like Maidenform’s Flexees Firm Control Waist Cincher, and open-bust options like TC Fine Intimates Firm Control Open Bust Camisole offer more dynamic shapes to fit within your personal style and wardrobe needs.

Best High Waisted Shapewear

A category of shapewear that deserves its own section is high waisted shapewear. This is perhaps one of the most common types just because the stomach is a common area that many wish to smooth out. This is awesome because that means there are so many options available, and all bring something a little different to the metaphorical shapewear table.

If you’re looking to sculpt your waist and get some support for your back, tummy, and sides, the types of shapewear that you’ll want to look for are shapewear shorts, shaping bodysuits, camisoles, and underwear.

Choosing the Right Size Shapewear

Now that you know what kinds of shapewear is available and the different types you should be looking for depending on your specific needs, it becomes time to find your right size. What’s great about this step in the process is that finding your right size is much easier than you might think.

Shapewear FAQs:

How to wear shapewear?

There are no hard and fast rules on how or when to wear shapewear. It really comes down to personal preference and the purpose behind the garment. If you’re looking for a bit of support from your undergarments, then simply find the area you’d like to target, follow this comprehensive guide, and go ahead and put it on! Shapewear is designed to make your life easier in any way you’d like support.

How do you wear shapewear with jeans?

Jeans are much like pants in that you determine what shapewear to put on based on the silhouette of the garment. As long as you’re not wearing a shapewear skirt or dress, you’re probably golden. Wear what you want, be mindful of the rise of the jean (you might not be comfortable wearing a high rise short with a low-rise jean), and make sure that you’re comfortable.

When you’re wearing shapewear with jeans, it’s a great time to try out padded rear options that will help shape your butt and counteract jeans that may have a flattening effect. Pieces like the Spanx’s Suit Your Fancy Booty Booster Mid-Thigh Shaper will lift your booty just as much as they slim your thighs.

How do you wear shapewear with tights?

You put your tights on first and then your shapewear. It’s as simple as that. Shapewear and pantyhose or tights can sometimes counteract each other (you don’t want a booty boost that’s going to be immediately flattened with a pair of tights do you?) so it’s best to put on the tights first. Doubly so because tights can fall down if they’re gripping onto the silky fabrics of shapewear.

Do you wear a bra with shapewear?

Sometimes, it depends on the type of shapewear you’re wearing, and the type of bra support you need. If you’re wearing open bust shapewear, then you probably want to wear a bra. If you’re wearing a camisole with cleavage support, then you probably don’t need to. Wearing a bra with shapewear can sometimes feel constricting so the best answer depends on how comfortable you feel and the level of support you usually need from a bra.

Do you wear underwear with shapewear?

Most of the time the answer is no. Most shapewear will come with a cotton gusset or panel which is intended to offer the breathable layer you need for your health and hygiene. Outside of that, shapewear is constricting so if you are wearing underwear beneath it, it can sometimes be uncomfortable. It comes down to personal preference, if you’re comfortable wearing underwear then go for it, but if you’d only wear it because you feel like you have to, there’s no real need.

What color shapewear should I wear?

Any one you want! Shapewear comes in a range of colors and the best color for you is whatever you want it to be. Feel free to match it to your outfit or to your skin tone, the world is your shapewear oyster, and we do whatever makes you happy!


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