Everything You Need to Know About Shapewear
Welcome to Shapewear 101! Today, you'll learn how to choose shapewear, how to wear it, how you can benefit from it and much more. Discover the best shapewear for contouring your curves or decide whether or not you want to wear the garment. Spoiler alert — you don't have to!
If you want to add this garment to your outfits, this guide to shapewear will walk you through how to find the right option and how to wear it. Just remember that you are fabulous and stylish without it, but there's nothing wrong with wanting a bit of help!
What Is Shapewear Used For?
Sometimes called a foundation garment, shapewear is an undergarment that smooths your figure. It can act as underwear on its own to prevent bunching fabric underneath, but some varieties do suggest you wear sleek undergarments under it.
Body shapers come in all sorts of styles meant to contour your body. Once you know the different varieties of these shapers and how to wear them, you can choose to slim and smooth these body parts:
Does Shapewear Change Your Body?
Shapewear isn't a permanent smoothing solution, meaning it won't alter your body like corsets will over time. It's also not the same as a waist trainer, which, over time, changes the appearance of your waist.
Wearing shapewear makes it look like you have a flatter stomach or trimmed waist, but when you take it off at the end of your day, you'll look like your lovely self again. For a night out or a professional fit at work, body shapers are a great — but not at all necessary — option that can give impermanent subtle changes or dramatic results.
Benefits of Shapewear
So why wear shapewear? It's not a necessity by any means, but if you choose to wear this undergarment, you'll be glad to know there are some advantages. Wearing shapewear can help you:
- Wear clothes you haven't in a while: We all have that one piece in our closets we want to wear, but it doesn't fit quite right. Maybe the material is a bit clingy, or the whole thing is a bit too snug. With shapewear, you can smooth yourself enough to slip into these forgotten pieces, so they can finally see the light of day.
- Wear specific styles: Some clothes are made with particular body shapes in mind. While that's great for women who can rock their natural form, others want to get in on the fun. Shapewear can bring in your waist for hourglass styles or keep everything smooth for fitted looks.
- Get a confidence boost: You don't need to wear shapewear to love your body and how you look in your clothes, but sometimes, it can give you a helping hand. Rock those fitted outfits and other fun looks with confidence to let your personality shine through in your appearance.
- Improve your posture: Certain types of shapewear can help you stand taller and straighter, giving you the look and feel of confidence. Standing tall can also reduce strain on your back and muscles, making you feel more comfortable overall.
- Reduce undergarment lines: Other undergarments can add lines and bumps to an outfit, and that doesn't make us feel stylish! Shapers reduce bumps from your body, and it won't add any lines itself. When you choose the right kind, you get a discreet smoothing solution.
- Prevent chafing: When you wear a dress or skirt without tights underneath, you can leave yourself vulnerable to dreaded chafing. Some shapewear styles can act as tights without being visible under your clothes. You stop the chafing without compromising the look of your outfit.
Even if these benefits are appealing, remember you don't have to wear these garments. But if you want to, it helps to know how to choose shapewear for you and what pieces you want to wear with it.
How to Choose Shapewear
If you decide to add shapewear to your outfit, you want the best options available. To get the perfect undergarment, consider the size, compression, style and material. You've got a lot of choices, so take your budget into account and know how to:
1. Pick the Right Size
When it comes to body shapers, the size has to be right. Consider the clothing sizes you wear and take your measurements into account when you pick a size. If you're between sizes, you can round up for a bit more breathing room or round down for more contour. Try to get the perfect fit, though, because different ones impact the look and feel of your shapewear:
- Too small: When your garments are too tight, you'll be uncomfortable. Worse than that, you risk issues with your nerves and circulation that can lead to more discomfort and swelling. Even if it's just a bit too small, you could notice rolling and bunching rather than a smoothed-out look.
- Too big: Shapewear that's too big doesn't come with the risks that tighter undergarments do. Instead, it won't do its job, meaning it could bunch up and create lines under your outfit. It'll essentially be just another layer of clothing under your clothing.
- Just right: Ah, the Goldilocks kind. Everything is silky smooth, but you aren't putting your nerves and circulation at risk — that's the ideal! Shapewear that fits just right feels comfortable, not too restricting, and almost acts as a second skin.
Don't be alarmed if your shapewear fits right but feels snug, especially with higher shaping levels. The first time you wear it, it will feel a bit different, but know that snug yet comfortable is where you want to be for effective results.
2. Pick the Right Shaping Level
The shaping level or compression refers to how fitted and smoothing the undergarment is. The fit varies from style to brand, but in general, you'll find compression levels in:
- Light: Looking for all-day comfort and a subtle change? Go light on the compression for the best shapewear — first-timers in particular. Wear light compression for a workday or with outfits that aren't very clingy, but could use a bit of smoothing.
- Medium: If you're used to shapewear, you may be able to wear medium compression all day, but first-timers may find that a bit uncomfortable. Wear medium compression garments on an evening out or for a special event for a more contoured look that still gives you comfort.
- Firm: If you're looking for extreme contour, firm compression shapewear is the way to go. Define your silhouette and show off your curves with an undergarment that gives support and smoothing where you want it.
You can even find options that smooth you out in some places without flattening your curves. In a full-body option, the waist, stomach and legs can have firmer bands while the shaping level on your backside is light to help you maintain your stunning curves.
3. Pick the Right Style
When most people think of shapewear, they think of the high-waisted shorts styles, but there are lots more out there. These types go with various clothing items and offer different effects, so choose based on what you want to contour and wear:
- Arm shapers: If your dress or shirt has fitted sleeves or you want to look smooth under a work blouse, an arm shaper can help. Some varieties are just fitted sleeves, while others sit under your bust for a style that will stay in place.
- Shorts: Shapewear shorts come in different lengths and heights. Longer varieties help contour your thighs, which is great to wear with fitted pants or shorts. With high-waisted options, you get tummy control and contour for your waist that won't ride down, thanks to the shorts.
- Strapless options: Sleeveless, strapless or off the shoulder outfits call for strapless shapewear. Strapless styles even have built-in bras, so you don't have to worry about tracking down your favorite strapless one for an elegant look.
- Tights, leggings and jeggings: Styles like these work great with dresses or tunic-style tops to contour your legs. You can find bottoms made for body contouring, but for light control, try regular tights, leggings and jeggings to get the sleek look without as tight of a fit.
- Full body options: Slips and bodysuits often cover from your bust to your backside. The bottoms can be shorts, panty or thong-style, so choose depending on how much you want to contour your backside and hips. Slips are open versions that fall under dresses and skirts and provide an extra layer, perfect for sheer outfits.
These styles come in all sorts of colors, from pure black to all shades of nude. Wear true black shapewear under dark outfits and a nude option under sheer or light-colored attire for a subtle to invisible look.
4. Pick the Right Material
Shapewear comes in various materials, from nylon to spandex and more, which all serve multiple purposes. Choose specific materials to:
- Have control: As long as you get the right fit, many fabrics will give you contouring control. Look for varieties with elastic bands through certain areas, like the thighs, for extra slimming power.
- Stay warm: During the winter in colder climates, layers go a long way to keeping you warm. Sometimes a style works best with fewer layers, though, and in that case, you want an invisible layer underneath your outfit. Luckily, shapewear features synthetic materials, like nylon and spandex, that hold you and the heat in, especially in firm compression styles.
- Keep it chill: Having heat-retaining fabrics in your garments is great if you live somewhere cold, but people in warmer climates want to contour, too. Fashion tech has come a long way, and if you need a breathable option or one that wicks moisture away, you've got options out there. Microfiber and cotton help your skin breathe but still streamline your look for a comfortable yet stylish result.
Think about how long you plan to wear your shapewear when deciding on a material as well. A full body style may call for breathable fabrics even if it's cold out because the all-over coverage could get too warm as you wear it.
How to Choose Shapewear for Your Body Type
We come in all sorts of fabulous shapes and sizes. If you buy shapewear based on your body type, you can flaunt your figure in a smooth and contoured way. While the outfit you have on ultimately determines what style you can choose, you can show off your body type or add balance to your look with the best shapewear for your form.
Remember that all these body types — and anything in between — are fabulous on their own. But if you want any of the benefits of shapewear we mentioned before, choose an option based on your figure to narrow down your choices.
Shapewear for an Hourglass Figure
You've got a defined waist between hips and shoulders that are the same width. Show off your hourglass figure with a high-waist style in a medium compression. You'll smooth and flatten the desired areas but keep your waist and curves defined.
Shapewear for a Pear Figure
You have full hips and more narrow shoulders. If you want to add balance to your look, wear contouring leggings or tights for a sleek appearance. Or, choose an option with a push-up bra built in to balance out the top and bottom. Shapewear doesn't have to be about dramatic changes to your appearance or body type, though. To display your fabulous pear shape, stick with camisole shapewear that smooths your stomach and waist without altering your hips.
Shapewear for an Apple Figure
You've got narrow hips and shoulders with a tummy. High-waisted shapewear that has a panty-or thong-style bottom instead of shorts won't diminish the size of your hips or thighs. Instead, it'll help bring in your waist and stomach.
Shapewear for a Rectangle Figure
Your figure is equal throughout your shoulders, waist and hips. If you want, you can add some curves to your look with push-up bra style shapewear and styles that give your backside a boost. You can also choose contouring garments that bring in your waist to add more curves to your look.
How to Wear Shapewear
There are a lot of possibilities out there. If you do decide to layer this garment under some of your outfits, we've got a few tips left to offer in this guide to shapewear, like:
- Wear an open bust option if you still want to wear your bra.
- Avoid sleeping in shapewear.
- Feel free to exercise in shapewear, but try to wear an active style for physical activities.
- Give your shapewear a break if you start noticing discomfort with daily wear.
Be smart and safe when selecting your options and wearing them. Discomfort could be a sign that your body needs a break or that the size isn't right. Listen to your body and get a new size or style, or give the garments a break and rock your natural curves.
Now that you know how to wear shapewear, what can you wear it with? Pretty much anything in your closet could benefit from a bit of contour, so if you want to wear body shapers, try them with:
Women most often wear shapewear under dresses, so don't feel like you have to wear it every day to look fabulous. Save it for a special occasion here and there or the occasional day when you want a bit of a confidence boost, but remember that it's never a necessity.
Shape Your Perfect Look With Perfectly Priscilla
At Perfectly Priscilla, we're firm believers in loving your body. But sometimes you want a bit of a boost. On those days, there's nothing wrong with slipping into contouring clothing to rock your favorite outfits. And now that you know everything you need to know about shapewear, you can decide whether or not it's for you!
Check out our shapewear today or browse our stunning clothing selection of dresses, skirts, tops, bottoms and much more. Try our striking styles with shapewear or flaunt an outfit without it — you'll be fabulous no matter what!