Shapewear 101: A Guide to Shapewear (and Other Lingerie Solutions.)

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Today’s guest post is by Lauren. Lauren believes all you need in life are three things: great lingerie, good food, and fantastic friends. When she’s not putting pen to paper (or fingertip to keyboard) she enjoys reading, cooking (mainly desserts), and indulging in a little bit of retail therapy.


Remember that moment in Bridget Jones when Renee Zellweger had to make the decision between the scary, huge, pants and the sexy black ones? Those scary pants helped Bridget to bag Daniel Cleaver (against her better judgement, may I add) but nonetheless, she did look amazing in that gold dress.

If you’ve got a big event coming up and you want a little something extra to help you look and feel your best, there’s no harm in using high-tech fabrics and clothing design to give yourself a helping hand and a super sleek silhouette.

Whilst shapewear isn’t a requirement for dressing well, if you’re feeling bloated or not as firm as you’d like, a good bodysuit or pair of control pants can help boost your confidence and make you feel better while wearing your favourite dress. Here’s a quick overview of some various shapewear styles that might make an appearance in your closet:


Va Bien Shaping Bodysuit

Va Bien Shaping Bodysuit

For a quick lift, bodies and body shapers are the way forward. They may look a little like a swimsuit, but trust me when I say they’re very, very different! Bodies help to smooth out your stomach, lift your bosom, make your bum look perky and create a smooth silhouette — all in one! They are perfect for wearing under almost any outfit from trousers and tops, to shorts and tanks, to dresses and skirts. Many bodies have an integrated underwire bra to offer support, but if you prefer to wear your own, there are cupless styles available that often have matching separates, like this one from Gris Gris:

Prima Donna Twist 'Cache Cache' Body

Prima Donna Twist ‘Cache Cache’ Body


Triumph Amazing Sensation Bodysuit

There are so many gorgeous designs out there, you may find yourself wearing some bodysuits as outerwear!

Body Control Dresses

Resultwear Marilyn Slip

Resultwear Marilyn Slip

Cass Luxury Shapewear Cami Dress

Cass Luxury Shapewear Cami Dress

Wolford Tulle Forming Dress

Wolford Tulle Forming Dress

A good body control dress hugs your curves, making them look smooth and toned. If you want shapely thighs, a defined waist and a lifted bust, a control dress under your party dress is the way to go. If possible, get fitted for your shaping dress professionally, and be realistic about what it can do for you. A good shapewear dress, like the ones shown above, will give you a sleek, smooth silhouette, but it won’t make you a full dress size smaller. Trying to squeeze into a shaping dress that’s too small will have the opposite effect, in fact — giving you bulges in places you shouldn’t have them.



What Katie Did Glamour Corselette


Kiss Me Deadly Sirena Corselette


Charnos Corselette

Corselettes, or garter dresses, are an essential piece of shapewear I believe every woman should have in her wardrobe. They help create a smooth silhouette when worn under dresses and skirts. Most corselettes come with stocking clips to help keep them in place, and many styles are pretty enough to wear on their own in the bedroom or as part of a super-sultry boudoir photo shoot.

Shaping Camisoles


Sassybax Pretty Camisole


Cybele Seamless Shaping Camisole


Yummie Tummie ‘Serafina’ Shaping Camisole

Camisoles help smooth your upper body, flatten your tummy, and hide any “love handles.” They’re more comfortable to wear than a full body control dress and are a good choice if you’re wearing a dress that’s fitted at the top and flared at the bottom. They also work well for pairing with a show-stopping top with a pair of trousers, jeans, or a skirt.

Waist Cinchers


Chantelle ‘Paris Paris’ Waist Cincher

Gossard Retrolution Waist Cincher (right)

Gossard Retrolution Waist Cincher (right)


Rago Lacette Waist Cincher

Nipped-in waists and hourglass figures are still highly desirable for many women. If you want to add a little extra definition to your waist, a waist cincher or “waspie” will be your new best friend. A waist cincher is a bit like a wide belt that’s worn around the waist to helps smooth out the tummy and support your back whilst helping create a more defined hourglass shape. They are available in a wide range of styles that include front fastening, hook-and-eye closures as well as pull-on styles, and they range from more plain, everyday wear to lacy pieces (such as Chantelle’s), which you’ll have a hard time keeping under your clothes!

Longline Bras


Freya ‘Piper’ Cornflower Bra


Dirty Dolls Lingerie Longline Bra


Dottie’s Delights Chantilly Lace & Silk Longline Bra

Sometimes a bit of bra bulge can ruin the lines of an otherwise great outfit. Longline bras, like the beautiful Freya style pictured above, offer support for your chest and smooth your back so you don’t end up with a visible bra line. Longline bras are structured to extend a few inches lower than the band of normal bras and can also do double duty as a shaping bustier. Longline bras help give you a gorgeous silhouette and are frequently more comfortable to wear than normal, thinner bra bands because the wider band area offers more support across a larger space.

Shaping Shorts

know me seameless lace shaper

Know Me Seamless Lace Shaping Panty

figleaves scandale longleg shaper

Scandale ‘Sirene’ Long Leg Pant

flexees by maidenform

Flexees by Maidenform Thigh Slimmer

If you want a smooth line under a slim-fitting skirt or some skinny jeans, shaping shorts and mid-thigh shapers are a good option. They help lift your bum and smooth out your thighs at the same time. You can even get shaping pants that help keep your skin cool, so you don’t get all hot and bothered on the dance floor. Because who doesn’t want to look confident and comfortable in their party clothes?

Control Briefs

cosabella smooth sexy shaping brief

Cosabella Smooth, Sexy Shaper Contour Brief

dkny underslimmers control brief

DKNY Underslimmers Slimming Briefs

rhonda shear metallic lace shaping shorts

Rhonda Shear Pinup Girl Panties

Whether you’re slipping on your favourite pair of jeans or getting ready to paint the town red with your friends, you want to look gorgeous from all angles. Control briefs and boy shorts are perfect for lifting and rounding your bum to create a shapely derriere. Control briefs offer everything from light to firm support, and are perfect for those venturing into shapewear for the first time as they are much less intimidating than their full-body counterparts. Many control briefs also offer light stomach support and even a bit of thigh slimming too, making them an excellent all-arounder to wear under almost anything.

Arm Shapers

solidea slimming sleeves

Solidea Silver Wave Slimming Sleeves

slimpressions the havenots

Slimpressions “The Have Nots”

mary portas lace armery

Mary Portas Lace Armery

Shapewear isn’t just designed to slim tums and lift bums; there are even pieces to help out with your arms. If you’re wearing a tight top or a dress with long sleeves, you may want to invest in a back and arm shaper. These can even help with poor posture, a common complaint amongst office workers and those who spend a lot of time at a desk. Arm shapers that stretch across the back help to pull your shoulders into a more natural position can help unfurl you if you feel hunched over. With all this, what’s not to love?

Note: Shapers and support clothing can help you to feel more confident in your favourite outfits, but you must choose your support clothing carefully. If it is difficult to put on, restricts your movement, or causes discomfort, don’t wear it. Overly tight clothing can impair your circulation, which can be dangerous. The romantic Hollywood image of women fainting because they wore a corset that was laced too tightly has some grounding in truth. Don’t revive that image by wearing Spanx that are two sizes too small!

What is your favorite type of shapewear? Any brands you’d like to recommend?

Mad Mimi Form

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

16 Comments on this post

  1. Emily says:

    Great article… some really good advice :)

  2. Meg White says:

    Love this article so hard. Shapewear is my BFFF. I love my lacy body contouring dresses and I was rocking shaping briefs all week long during my Disney vacay so I’d look fab and trim in all the pictures! :D

  3. Lauren says:

    I’m really glad you enjoyed the articles ladies! I’m with you every step of the way Meg – there’s nothing like a little shapewear to keep you feeling confident and looking amazing in your holiday pics :)

  4. Natasha says:

    Great article, very interesting! However, I have major trouble with shape wear as I can never find one that actually helps smooth my tummy! I’ve tried everything from Spanx to KMD but nothing works. :( I do love my longline bras though!

  5. Karla says:

    I appreciate all the information I learn from you! I bought a strapless slip dress to wear under my satin one shoulder dress for my daughters wedding. It makes a much smoother nicer line & I’m going to feel awesome! Thanks Cora

  6. firelizard19 says:

    Hmm… this is a very informative post, but I wish it didn’t use the usual language that a woman “should” have shapewear or “needs” it, which seems to appear throughout, or that certain shapes are “desirable” because fashion right now says so. I know it’s a guest post, but I really wish that the tone of the whole thing fit better with TLAs usual body-image stance, in which shapewear is fine for all sorts of things- have fun with it!- , but not because you need to make your body into something someone else tells you it should be. Your body is not a problem that needs solutions. I loved the thorough information, but I wish it had been accompanied by some small discussion of the body-image issues Cora usually is very thoughtful about, or at least used more careful language around the whole “problem and solution” issue of shapewear.

  7. firelizard19 says:

    Oops- I just read the earlier post that Cora is on medical leave, and I feel awful that I might have been pretty harsh in the above comment. This is obviously a stressful time for everyone at TLA, so I’m sorry for any nit-picking above, and just wish Cora the best with her family’s health.

  8. Karen says:

    I need to know what is the best tummy flattening garment to wear under a fitted gown? Help

  9. Martine says:


    Wondered whether you could advise – I am looking for a pair of slimming shorts which ‘separate the behind’ – I have tried many types but all tend to ‘lump’ the cheeks together, which is not on when wearing jeans or shapely trousers.
    Let me know if you have any advice.

  10. David says:

    I’m surprised they weren’t mentioned but, I really like the open back style butt lifters or butt bras, they have great coverage in front to help with tummy problems & an open back to lift & shape the booty ! My favorite brands are Ardyss & Bubbles Bodywear .. additionally they kind of have a sexy look too :)

  11. Hellen says:

    HI Ladies,
    My BIG issue is I have a full bust and all my shapewear cami’s allow for my bust to slip under the knitted bra band. Am I buying wrong size ? Thanks

  12. Monica says:

    A great intro to the many types of shapewear out there! The one beef I have with this article, though, is the fact that all the photos are of incredibly thin women who, in my opinion, don’t even NEED shapewear. As a woman who is in between larger “regular” sizes and plus size, I often struggle to find shapewear that smooths me out without creating bulges elsewhere, like around the bottom of my bum or around my mid-thigh. Some photos of larger models wearing shapewear would go a lot further for what I’m betting is the majority of women who are actually LOOKING for shapewear for something other than a lingerie look.

  13. Lisa Abong says:

    I need help. I will be attending a wedding and the dress I bought is very “snug”….. I would like to find the perfect shapewear to flatten my belly. The problem is that the dress shows EVERYTHING……. What would be my best bet for inconspicuous shapewear under a stretchy velvet dress that goes below the knee??

  14. Shazza says:

    I really want to add to this list! I came across this amazing new shape wear brand online, I heard great feedback from my friends whom spotted it on TV recently. Its called ATIR Shapewear, I immediately invested for my wedding day, and I have to say I was not disappointed! It gave me an amazing silhouette and I didn’t feel restricted during the day.

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