Bali Women's Lace 'N Smooth Shapewear

Look and feel your best in any outfit.

Collage of shapewear we recommend on a tan background

We know that shapewear is never a necessity — your body is your body and you don’t need to change it. But there’s just something about wearing it underneath our clothes, especially to formal events, that just dials the confidence meter up a few notches. It can make your favorite knit dresses look all the more sophisticated. That said, navigating the market — so many choices! — can be a challenge for sure. Stylist Lara Betiku turns to shapewear for herself and her clients not to alter the appearance of her body, but “mainly to smooth and enhance her natural shape.” So to give our delicious curves some enrichment, we set out to find the best shapewear you can buy, trying on 30 different pieces across 22 InStyle staffers with different heights and body types.

We paid close attention to how challenging it was to slip in and out, how compressing the garment was, and of course, how it made our bodies look and feel. We even took note of how easy it was to use the restroom, as not all options come with an easy access clasp at the bottom (and maneuvering in and out of a tight bodysuit at a public restroom is never fun). To see which reigned over the others, see our final selects of best shapewear, according to our testing.


Skims Seamless Sculpt Brief Bodysuit

What We Love: The lightweight fabric is nearly invisible underneath other clothes.

What We Don’t Love: The plus sizes don’t fit true to size.

We’ve discussed this sculpting bodysuit many times in the past, even naming it the best shapewear that Skims has to offer, which, for a shapewear-heavy brand, that’s a tough feat.

At a compression level of two, which describes how compressive the garment is, and goes up to level three (so, basically, this one has mid-range compression), the bodysuit smoothes the skin, without feeling too tight or sacrificing comfort. We wouldn’t turn to this bodysuit for exaggerated effects — it won’t take inches off your waist — but it does lightly cinch in our waist, give our chests a gentle push, and our bottoms a sweet little plump. The fabric is so kind on our skin, due to its soft touch, that it’s easy to forget it’s even on. The extremely lightweight material disappears under any clothes, even form-fitting ones, so we never have to worry about panty lines peeking through any skinny jeans or bodycon dresses.

During our dash to the restroom, we were relieved to find clasps at the crotch that allowed us to get to our business quicker. Once finished, we did have to perform a little wiggle dance in order to get back into the compressing shapewear — but it just took some shimming and adjusting, then we were good to go again.

However, we did notice that it doesn’t fit plus-size women particularly well. The straight sizes fit true-to-size, but it runs small once it reaches past an XL, especially for plus-size folks with particularly wide hips. Of course, it is supposed to fit tightly, due to the compression, it wouldn’t even slide on the plus-size editor who tested it out. Keep this in mind when choosing what size you think would fit you best.

Size: XXS-5XL | Colors: 10 | Material: Sherica, nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 2


Best Splurge

Wolford Forming Bodysuit

Wolford 3W Forming Bodysuit


What We Love: It has a barely-there effect that’s comfortable enough to sleep in.

What We Don’t Love: While the top portion is impossible to spot under clothes, you can see the seams of the bottoms if worn with leggings or very tight pants.

Everything about the Wolford 3W Stretch-Cotton Bodysuit impressed us from the stretch to the feel to the aesthetics. The ultra-soft cotton and elastane blend truly feels like a second skin, so much so that we felt like we could easily sleep in it and wake up with no markings. Much like the Skims option, it doesn’t feel too restrictive, but it does come with stronger compression in the midsection accentuating our curves and smoothing our tummy a little more. We still consider this to be a level two compression, though, because it does not fully alter your shape, but it feels firmer than a level one.

Pulling the shapewear on and off also felt like a breeze. We snapped ourselves in with the crotch closure (which never rode up uncomfortably), and at the end of the day, it simply rolled right off once we unsnapped the bottom. For our small chests, we noticed that the straps created a bit of a lift, giving our girls a nice look without the need to turn to push-up bras.

We couldn’t spot this shapewear underneath a dress or a top, but we noticed the linings of the full-coverage bottoms peek through when worn with leggings or tight pants. Thick, rigid jeans hid the lines well, but other form-fitting fabrics might give away what’s underneath.

Size: 34-44 | Color: | Material: Cotton, elastane | Compression Level: 2


Best Budget

Bali Women’s Lace ‘N Smooth Shapewear

Bali Women's Lace 'N Smooth Shapewear


What We Love: It doubles as a cute top for nights out.

What We Don’t Love: The bottom portion feels tight and leaves markings on your thighs.

This budget-friendly body shaper works double duty in smoothing out any bumps and acting as a cute lace top. While this bodysuit is not the least expensive piece of shapewear on this list, we wanted to highlight a bodysuit that can be an alternative to our more pricey best overall and best splurge pieces, rather than shorts. Structurally, this bodysuit works similarly to Skims and Wolford’s options, offering full torso, bust, and booty compression, but at a much lower price.

It feels much less firm than many other bodysuits on this list with only a compression level of one. But it did even out our skin enough to give us an overall sleek look, sans bumps and ripples. We found it very easy to slip in and out of, with a snap closure for easy access as well when going to the bathroom.

Because you select your size based on your bust, anyone with a fuller bottom will notice the fabric feels a bit too constrictive around the thigh openings. It left marks on our thighs and felt less comfortable than other bodysuits we tried. On the other hand, the lace portion never seemed to bother us and looked rather chic as a going-out shirt when combined with a nude bra. Otherwise, the bra portion is completely sheer, and while it does have an underwire for support, it does not provide coverage to the nipples.

Size: 34B-40DD | Colors: | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 1


Best Seamless

Commando Classic Control Short

Commando Classic Control Short


What We Love: It successfully smoothes out dimples and tucks in any ridges.

What We Don’t Love: It leaves a mild mark around the waist after a long day’s wear.

Shapewear should be an invisible layer that helps you feel like your best self, which is why we recommend adding a seamless piece to your collection. These shaping shorts from Commando focus on the lower half of your body by smoothing out the stomach, hips, butt, and thighs so that tighter-fitting garments feel more comfortable. From waist to thighs, you’ll find no seams closing out the ends, but rather raw-cut edges without elastic, trim, or taping to deliver a smooth finish.

When worn underneath a dress, it successfully blurs out any dimples, while also forming a clean line from our hips to our thighs, with nothing hinting at any garments underneath. It reached down to our mid-thigh level, but on petite women, this can feel a little longer. The silky-feeling fabric even feels great on the skin and doesn’t leave us ready to tear it off our bodies after a long day’s wear. And in the process of removing it, we found that the shorts roll off like butter in one swift movement. Once off, we did however notice some markings on the skin around the waist where the band was.

Size: XS-3XL | Colors: 4 | Material: Nylon, spandex, cotton | Compression Level: 1


Best Thong

Fleur du Mal Le Body Control Bodysuit

Fleur du Mal Le Body Control Bodysuit


What We Love: It pulls the body in elegantly.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have an opening around the crotch.

You can avoid worrying about seams all together by opting for a thong bodysuit. When wearing this bodysuit, we loved how the waist-cinching compression pulled the body in nicely — it sucked us in in all the right places without making us feel like a sausage. The wire-free ruched cups also supported the girls, enough not to wear a bra underneath on chest cups C and below. Higher cup sizes can go without a bra as well, but it depends on the comfort level of the individual. Luckily, the material isn’t see-through, which allowed us to wear it as a top, out and about in our daily life. We particularly love the high cutouts around the thighs, which instead of pressing your hip curves down, accentuate them and lengthen the legs. Overall, the seamless bodysuit is almost undetectable underneath clothes, even with the ribbed texture on it.

Unfortunately, trips to the restroom will require some extra effort because there are no clasps or openings at the gusset for easy access. You will be required to undress from the top down to use the bathroom.

Size: XS-XL | Colors: 2 | Material: Polyamide, elastane | Compression Level: 2


Best for Lower Belly

Honeylove Cami Bodysuit

Honeylove Cami Bodysuit


What We Love: The support around your chest is fantastic, and the crotch portion has a clasp closure, rather than a clip closure.

What We Don’t Love: If you have thicker thighs, it can cut in around your legs a little.

For days when we want a little extra support and discrete smoothing around the lower belly, we  turn to the Honeylove Cami Bodysuit. The semi-invisible criss-cross bandaging around the waist tucks in the belly nicely without constricting it. We would wear this bodysuit casually underneath our clothing, rather than waiting for a special occasion to pull it out. It makes your bust look its best, which is why we love it for regular wear, too — it lifts, giving our breasts a more perky appearance, but it’s not so much that larger busts feel uncomfortable.

The brand offers one of the widest size ranges going up to 4XL, as well as a petite and regular fit, which rivals Skims. We appreciate that it has multiple adjustable elements, too, to almost give you a customized fit: the shoulder straps and gusset can both be fixed to fit you how you’d like. Instead of buttons, the gusset actually has clasps similar to a bra band, making it significantly more secure, too.

The only con we noticed was that on thicker thighs, the leg portion cuts in a little. After a few hours this can get a little uncomfortable.

Size: XS-4XL | Colors: 5 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 1


Best Tummy Control

Honeylove SuperPower Short

Honeylove SuperPower Short


What We Love:  It truly sculpts your body into an hourglass shape.

What We Don’t Love: You have to size up if you have wider hips.

When we want something with a little more contouring power, we turn to the SuperPower Short from Honeylove. With targeted, level three compression around the waist , these tummy control shorts provide some intense shaping on the body. While wearing these shorts, we noticed suctioning just about everywhere, but the tummy-controlling properties were particularly brought to life through the criss-cross bandaging around our midsection. Combined with the side boning, it really created an hourglass figure and cinched in the waist. The mesh is also very strong on the legs, despite looking deceivingly sheer, and helped smooth out our hip dips impressively. Our entire torso, hips, and butt area were expertly sculpted.

These shorts embrace everything from your thigh up to your underboob in a tight grip, which we found a little restricting when sitting down or partaking in big movements. We did frequently fuss with the material, though, especially before sitting, in order to find its comfortable placement. This became quite uncomfortable on our wider hips, so we recommend sizing up. With that in mind, the tightness does help make it look completely undetectable under dresses – even the skin-tight Skims dress passed the invisibility test. Shorter dresses, however, revealed the shorts from underneath, so you can really only wear them with knee-length hems.

Size: XS-3XL | Colors: 5 | Material: Nylon, spandex, cotton | Compression Level: 3


Best Plus-Size

Lane Bryant Level 3 Contouring Open-Bust Thigh Shaper

Lane Bryant Level 3 Contouring Open-Bust Thigh Shaper


What We Love: Despite having a high-compression level, the material feels buttery soft.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have an opening on the bottom.

For shapewear with level three compression, this open-bust shaper feels surprisingly buttery soft and comfortable. It glides on like any other shorts, then can be pulled over the shoulders with adjustable straps. We never had to perform a wiggle dance to get these on — an appreciated detail for something so sculpting.

Once on, we were delighted to see what a remarkable job it did of smoothing our legs and waist. We tried on many shapewear, but this one provided one of the most noticeable visual changes to our bodies. We found no lumps or bumps while in this, and it really improved the way our clothing looked over it. As an added bonus, the opening under the chest worked hand-in-hand with our favorite bra to gently push the ladies up. The only thing we would change here is to add an opening around the bottom to make trips to the bathroom a little easier. While the garment doesn’t take a lot of work to slide off and on, it’s simply a hassle to first have to remove our top to get the straps down and perform our business.

Size: 14-36 | Colors: 2 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 3


Best Open-Bust

Maidenform Women’s Wear Your Own Bra Singlet Fajas Shapewear

Maidenform Women's Wear Your Own Bra Singlet Fajas Shapewear


What We Love: The fabric feels extremely comfortable and can easily be kept on an entire day without discomfort.

What We Don’t Love: The shorts are a little long and could show under mini dresses.

Dresses and tops with low-hanging fronts require shapewear with an open bust, if you plan to wear it underneath. With the bust portion uncovered on this piece, you have some more freedom to show a little cleavage, should you wish to do so.

We loved how this shapewear evened out our bodies to create a smooth figure, but more than that, we adored how near-invisible it felt once on. We practically forgot we had it on thanks to the extremely comfortable fabric. The only reminder of its existence was that the shorts tended to show from underneath a mini dress as they are a bit long. And going to the bathroom requires a bit of patience with this one;  the crotch does have two flaps that can be pushed aside when you have to go. But unless you are extremely skilled at maneuvering through this opening, you will be required to take the whole piece off to use the toilet, which can be a major hassle. We had rather mixed feelings about this, as it took some patience and practice to use the opening flaps. We almost preferred taking the whole thing off, however time-consuming, just to not ruin the shapewear in the process of using the toilet.

Size: S-XXL| Colors: 2 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 2


Best Bodysuit

Pinsy Shapewear Thong Bodysuit

Pinsy Scoop Tank Hourglass Shapewear Thong Bodysuit


What We Love: Even bigger busts can go braless thanks to the built-in, wire-free power mesh bra.

What We Don’t Love: The hook and eye closure at the crotch can be a little difficult to manage.

From the exterior, this bodysuit looks like any other seamless bodysuit. But while wearing it, you notice just how compressing it is. One look in the mirror will reveal a cinched-in waist and accented hips, thanks to the high-leg cut-outs. The girls are also supported through the built-in, wire-free power mesh bra to give you more of an hourglass figure. While the straps can’t be adjusted in length, the stretchy seamless material molds to your body and doesn’t dig into your shoulders — basically, you don’t have to worry about too-tight straps. With a luxe finish, the bodysuit successfully elevates your look, and can easily be worn as a top for evenings out as well.

The bottom is held together through three hook-and-eye closures. They make trips to the bathroom much easier, but they do require a bit of time and fidgeting to manage each time. On occasion, we found that one hook would undo itself by the time we got to the second hook, which left us attempting to hook all three at once. This left us awkwardly wiggling around in the bathroom stall before we could finally exit.

Size: S-3XL | Colors: 5 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 2


Best Smoothing

Shapermint High-Waisted Shaper Shorts

Shapermint Essentials All Day Every Day High-Waisted Shaper Shorts


What We Love: This option smoothes out any small bumps to create a singular line from waist to legs.

What We Don’t Love: The silicone strap left a few creases on the waist upon removal.

At a compression level of one, these high-waisted shorts are an excellent choice for smoothing, rather than tightening, and evening out the body to create one sleek line from waist to legs. Made of lightweight and breathable materials, like nylon and spandex, we felt comfortable keeping them on for an entire day without ever feeling restricted (or overheated, for that matter). They slide on like any other shorts, then remain in place throughout the whole day. The anti-slip silicone strip around the waist also helps the material stay put, but we noticed that it never rubbed or tugged at our skin. It did, however, leave a few creases on the waist after removal.

If you’re looking for a contouring effect, however, we recommend going for an option with a little more tightness around the stomach. This one simply guides the natural curve of your body but doesn’t do much tugging around your waist.

Size: XS-4XL | Colors: 5 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 1


Best Everyday

Spanx Fit to You Everyday Shorts

Spanx Ahhh-llelujah Fit to You Everyday Shorts


What We Love: These biker shorts are very gentle and lightweight, making them a perfect summer option.

What We Don’t Love: The size guide can be a little confusing.

It’s easy to forget that these biker shorts are even on once you pull them on. They come with a minimal compression level — we couldn’t decide if they were more a level one or two —making them inviting for everyday use. The fabric itself feels lightweight and breathable. And while the brand describes the pair as “non-shaping”, we were pleasantly surprised to find it kindly molds our body shape and held in our thighs and midsection with gentle support. It worked its magic discreetly, though, disappearing underneath our clothes, and it never left a mark on our body after we took it off for the day.

The shorts claim to have a 400 percent stretch to them that adapts to your body, and therefore only comes in one size that covers bodies from zero to twelve in regular and petite. When we tested this on different body types, we did find this claim to be quite true, but we could imagine some sizes at the end of the spectrum (double zero and twelve and up) might not find it to fit like a glove.

Size: One size in regular and petite | Colors: 3 | Material: Cotton, nylon, elastane | Compression Level: 2


Best Low Back

Spanx Suit Your Fancy Strapless Cupped Mid Thigh Bodysuit

Spanx Suit Your Fancy Strapless Cupped Mid Thigh Bodysuit


What We Love: The straps are removable, making this an ideal option for strapless dresses.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t fit larger busts well.

For something truly contouring, we recommend the Spanx Suit Your Fancy Bodysuit. While it takes some maneuvering and effort to slip into, once on, the fabric tightly hugs your body in a true shapewear fashion. Using the clasp around the upper back, we were able to adjust the tightness as well. And when it came time to use the bathroom, we were grateful to find an opening around the bottom. It did require some patience and practice to use – holding it open during the duration of our business – but it was much preferred over undressing completely.

We found, though, that this bodysuit does not properly fit large busts, especially those above a D cup size or who have a small back with a large cup size. Even with the removable straps, we found ourselves constantly adjusting the top throughout the day because it did not offer enough coverage or support. The cups gapped frequently, but those with smaller cup sizes did not experience this issue. We wish this came with an extended bra size offering, particularly ones with smaller bands yet bigger busts.

Size: XS-XL | Colors: 2 | Material: Elastane, nylon | Compression Level: 3


Best Waist Control

Squeem Firm Control Strapless Waist Cincher

Squeem Women's Firm Control Strapless Waist Cincher


What We Love: It tightly cinches in your waist for a curvy effect.

What We Don’t Love: You can definitely see it from underneath your clothes, so you can’t wear it with form-fitting pieces.

As a corset, this option functions more as a waist-trainer than shapewear, but it effectively cinches your body into an hourglass figure. Getting through the many tiny clasps at the front is a bit of a hassle, but once accomplished, we found the corset to sit snug along our stomachs and work exceptionally well in highlighting our waist and hips. We found that even our girls get a gentle push-up effect when combined with a bra.

Clothes like high-waisted jeans or flowy dresses with a band around the middle would function the best with this option. This option is far from seamless (consider the clasps and riffs) and would easily show when combined with form-fitting garments. On our short torso, we felt like the garment was half an inch too long, cutting into our butt and hips uncomfortably. At a compression level of three, it’s also quite tight and is not ideal for all-day wear. But if you want to show off your curves in all the best ways, this option helps you achieve that the best.

Size: XXS-3XL| Colors: 2 | Material: Rubber, cotton | Compression Level: 3


Best Extra Firm

Bare Necessities Extra Firm Control Convertible Bodysuit

Bare Necessities Extra Firm Control Convertible Bodysuit


What We Love: The corset portion blends into the bodysuit to cinch in the waist.

What We Don’t Love: The bra size runs large and makes the sizing a bit confusing.

Here to find something that will snatch your body into a tight grip? This bodysuit, with its built-in corset, can do just that. Similar to the low-back piece from Spanx, it offers an additional clasp to the built-in bra band for a more firming effect. It also has removable bra straps. But this one comes with additional details like caging around the waist to act more like a corset than a smoothing piece of shapewear.

We loved how it isn’t overly constricting even with the boning along the back, though. It remains flexible enough for us to move around and sit comfortably in. Rather than dramatically changing how we looked, it simply enhanced our existing shape and supported the natural curve of our bodies. We feared that we might be able to see the boning from underneath our clothes, but it looked invisible under everything, including tighter-fitting dresses. We think the bra runs a bit large, though, especially for those with small chests. We noticed gapping instead of the tight fit we expect from bras. We recommend measuring yourself and cross-checking with the size guide before purchasing.

Size: 32B-40DD | Colors: 2 | Material: Nylon, elastane | Compression Level: 3


Best Shorts

Yummie Curved Smoothing Short

Yummie Bria Comfortably Curved Smoothing Short


What We Love: They have very minimal contouring effect, and can be worn daily for some smoothing effect.

What We Don’t Love: The shorts were the tightest around the thighs, instead of the belly or waist.

Tight shapewear might not be comfortable enough for everyday wear, but shorts that simply work to smooth out bumps can be worn daily. Yummie’s smoothing shorts slip on like butter. Even with a mild compression level of one, we appreciate that the shorts still effectively flatten any bumps along the legs. The two-ply hem and waistband also keep them from rolling or moving around. Interestingly enough, we found the most compression around the thigh instead of on the waist or belly. If that’s your spot of concern, then these options are great for you. They don’t act unlike regular biker shorts, which are easy to slip on and off. Since they are shorts, you just pull them down when it’s time to visit the restroom. With so much comfort, we found it easy to turn to them for our daily activities.

Size: S-XL | Colors: 5 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression Level: 1


Best Shaping Tights

Spanx Tummy Shaping Tights

Spanx Tummy Shaping Tights


What We Love: This was our top pick for durable black tights with built-in shaping.

What We Don’t Love: These might be a tough fit for those who are tall or have long legs.

Finding the best black tights that are to your desired level of opacity, don’t stretch out or roll down throughout the day, and won’t snag at just the sight of your fingers, can be an annoying case of trial and error. For bonus points of a little extra support too, we turn to Spanx Tummy Shaping Tights. These mid-rise tights do go back the belly button, however they might be a tricky fit for our tall friends—the shaping means they have less stretch to accommodate different heights.

The support through the stomach band was an ideal amount—it had a nice smoothing appearance without feeling like we were wrapped in a sausage casing. The rip-resistant fabric also earned a 4.9/5 for durability. We tried nails, velcro, and jewelry and there wasn’t a tear in sight. A pair of these will last you many seasons, making the price tag worth it. The size chart is a little confusing at first but we found that it was accurate if you follow the height and weight guidelines.

Size: A-F | Colors: Black, Nude, Black Sheers | Material: Nylon, Spandex | Compression Level: 1


Best for Large Busts

Bare Necessities Extra-Firm-Control Bodysuit

Bare Necessities Miraclesuit Sheer Extra-Firm-Control Bodysuit


What We Love: The compression level was comfortable enough to wear for hours.

What We Don’t Love: It can be difficult to get into.

While not for everybody, this bodysuit works exceptionally well for women with larger chests. Our editor, who finds it near-impossible to find shapewear that accommodates her DD+ breasts, loved this piece the most out of all the ones she tested. The cup and band measurements make it easier to find your exact fit, too.

Not only was the cup size correct, but the extra strong compression made her figure look more toned. The tightness makes it a little difficult to slip in and out of at first, though, which initially turned us off a bit to the piece, but once we had it on, though, we found it to be surprisingly comfortable. It also stays in place all day, and we didn’t tug at it constantly. We also liked the elastic around the leg holes to keep the hemline in place, which helped the briefs fit to not ride up as we wore it.

Size: B-DD, 34-42 | Colors: Black, Nude | Material: Nylon, Spandex, Elastane | Compression Level: 3


Other Options You Might Like

Knix Shaper Bodysuit

The whittled waistline and ability to wear alone with jeans or leather pants was a win for our testers. However, the crotch situation was a sticking point: The hook and eye closures were difficult to do up and our tester who had curvier hips and butt found that the coverage on the bottoms was lacking, causing uncomfortable wedgies. The fabric creates a nice smoothing effect and isn’t too uncomfortable on the compression scale. The garment also held up well in the wash. We wish the hook and eye was easier to do and undo to use the restroom, but it is a good bodysuit option if you want something simple with minimal compression.

Spanx OnCore Open-Bust Mid-Thigh Shaper Bodysuit

This option comes with side and front panels for a more cinched-in look, but other than that, the compression level remains between a comfortable one and two. It provides some smoothing and a light hold but without any of the constricting feelings. We particularly love how thin the material is on the shorts as they never cause any chafing or the feeling of being sausaged. The only thing to note here is that it requires you to have a strapless bra, otherwise the straps on the bodysuit with bra straps and whatever shirt you are wearing become a little too much and can be seen from underneath your clothes.

Wacoal Visual Effects Bodysuit

This piece is designed for bigger busts, but not for bigger butts. If you have a particularly large chest, then the supportive cups feel like a dream, making them look perky while they feel completely supported. We noticed how from the waist up, this bodysuit created a smooth silhouette that allowed for your jeans to be fastened easier. Unfortunately, those with wider hips and a bigger butt will struggle to fit into this bodysuit.


Our Testing Process

After researching the top-rated shapewear, we handpicked 30 of the most well-rated items and 28 black tights, and shipped them to our team of beauty experts and editors. Each piece was worn by two to six women with different body types over the span of six weeks, who rated them based on comfort, compression level (one to three), ease of wear, and visual results. We noted the size and fit to ensure that size charts and buying online was a straightforward experience. We even paid attention to how easy it was to use the bathroom, and whether or not the shapewear came with any clasps at the crotch.

Once the data was collected, we picked the 18 best shapewear pieces that outperformed the others, and wrote about our experiences in this article. We consulted with three body positive influencers and one shapewear expert in order to accurately describe the garments and the most important things to know when shopping for shapewear.


What to Keep in Mind


Shapewear should stretch and mold along your body, so the two common materials you will find are nylon and elastane (sometimes referred to as spandex). These help to create a more “contoured or streamlined shape,” explains stylist Lara Betiku. Some brands add a little cotton into the fabrication for some additional softness, or replace the nylon with it completely, which you can see in the Wolford 3W Stretch-Cotton Bodysuit and the Commando Classic Control Short.


The shapewear you opt for will mostly depend on the occasion you hope to wear it to. If you’re looking for an everyday piece to wear to the office, run errands in, and meet your friends for brunch, then either shorts or bodysuits with a low compression level is ideal. The Yummie Bria Comfortably Curved Smoothing ShortSkims Sculpting Bodysuit With Snaps, and the Honeylove Cami Bodysuit are all lightweight pieces meant to be worn day-to-day. Special occasions that call for a more form-fitting dress might require something like the Maidenform Women’s Wear Your Own Bra Singlet Fajas Shapewear or the Spanx Suit Your Fancy Plunge Low-Back Mid-Thigh Bodysuit, as they have more unique shapes meant to maneuver around any cutouts or tricky necklines. A strapless option like the TC Fine Intimates Back Magic Strapless Bodybriefer will allow you to keep your shoulders bare for any strapless tops and dresses. Plus size fashion model Taren Denise reaches for “shapewear that also includes shorts,” like the Lane Bryant Shape By Cacique Open-Bust Thigh Shaper, for special occasions that require dresses just for the added security and smoothing effect.


Your Questions, Answered

How is shapewear supposed to fit?

Shapewear is more snug than wearing a slip undergarment, because it serves a different purpose. Sapna Palep, CEO of lingerie brand Journelle, explains that shapewear should “hold you in, add coverage and support or smooth you out. It is not really designed to make you several sizes smaller, but it can make you appear smoother.” For this reason, shapewear should never feel too tight, cut off your circulation, or feel highly uncomfortable. We wrote out the compression level on each of the options, but even with a high compression level of three, like the Spanx Ahhh-llelujah ‘Fit to You’ Everyday Short, you should still be able to move around and sit down easily. The aim of shapewear is to “make you feel more confident in whatever you wear,” says Palep, not restrict you in any way.

Can you wear shapewear while pregnant?

You can absolutely wear shapewear whilst pregnant. Content creator Caralyn Mirang Koch, who frequently wore shapewear throughout her pregnancy, explains that “shapewear while pregnant is a personal preference, just like it is while not pregnant.” The mild compression will not harm you or your child in any way, although you may find it to become uncomfortable the more the baby grows. Skims, for example, offers a maternity sculpting short, if you want shapewear specifically made for pregnancy.

How do you choose the right shapewear for you?

The number one rule in choosing the right shapewear for you, as Palep explains it, is to “not go tighter than your size in hope of ‘extra shaping.’” Shapewear will already come with sculpting effects, and sizing down will only cause discomfort. Instead, consider the occasion you hope to wear this to and choose whether you are in need of shorts, a bodysuit, or a bodysuit with shorts attached. Denise advises to consider the compression level, as you want to “be sure it’s holding you in at the right spots and letting you breathe everywhere else.” Not everyone wants the same level of compression, she continues, so decide whether you want to be cinched in or simply smoothed over, and shop accordingly.

Some shapewear, like the TC Fine Intimates Back Magic Strapless Bodybriefer or the Bali Lace ’n Smooth Firm-Control Body Shaper, make you choose your size via your cup size. This can prove tricky as cup sizes don’t always correspond with the rest of your body. Make sure to read our tested reviews of such pieces to know whether they fit proportionately on the rest of the body or not.

Can you wear shapewear every day?

Theoretically, you can wear shapewear every day. “Shapewear is like a bra. It can be worn every day but isn’t necessary. It’s just important to select a breathable, comfortable fabric,” explains Denise. However, while light compression leveled shapewear is close to harmless when worn every day, you should avoid wearing high compression levels every day. You are essentially squeezing your organs tightly together in the hours that the shapewear is worn. You want to give your body and your skin some time to breathe and enjoy their natural state before slipping into your shapewear again. If you absolutely need to wear shapewear back to back, opt for the Spanx Ahhh-llelujah ‘Fit to You’ Everyday Short or the Yummie Bria Comfortably Curved Smoothing Short, which comes with a compression level of one. Such shapewear can be worn every day, confirms Palep.


What is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it’s really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle picks are products we love, and we’ve put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content.


Why Shop With Us

Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer at InStyle with over two years of experience covering fashion and beauty products. Before writing this article, over 30 pieces of shapewear were tested on 22 staff members with different body types. By testing various garments over the course of six weeks, our personal insights were gathered and combined to deliver a list of the top-performing shapewear. Then, with the help of body-positive content creators Taren WalshCaralyn Mirand Koch, and Lara Betiku, as well as founder of lingerie brand JournelleSapna Palep, we were able to offer the best insights on how to shop for shapewear, what materials to look out for, and how best to style.