Shapewear has come a long way since corsets. Thanks in part to celebrity fans like the Kardashians, a range of innovative options have cropped up in the past few years to help you look and feel your best.
Designed to hold you in and accentuate your figure, good shapewear will support you without any discomfort. Whether you’re looking to smooth your stomach, enhance your waist or lift your bust, there’s no shortage of bodysuits, knickers, slips and tights to choose from.
To leave you comfortable throughout the Christmas party season and beyond, a few things need to be considered before choosing your shapewear.
Support ranges from light to intense, with the latter leaving you more uncomfortable by the end of the night (especially after a few drinks). You also want to make sure that the material is strong but not so thick that it leaves a visible line through your clothing.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking the smaller the size, the better the effect. High-quality shapewear will do the trick when worn in the correct size, and downsizing will only leave you feeling pinched in all the wrong places. You also risk inflicting stress on your organs, which doesn’t exactly scream “good night out”.
We’ve tested a range of shapewear in every shade and for every area imaginable, looking for pieces that would smooth out our body shape. While we wanted to feel confident in it, we didn’t want the shapewear to be a distraction under our clothes and shockingly we wanted to be able to breathe.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across.
Miraclesuit shape away extra firm body briefer: £72.95, John Lewis & Partners
If you’re looking for something that will control the whole body, Miraclesuit has got you covered. (Literally). Its body briefer contours your midriff, stomach, waist and hips. While we found that a lot of shapewear tends to smooth out one area at the expense of another, this suit did an impressive job of keeping everything where you want it to be. You have to wear your own bra beneath it, but this makes it easier to ensure you’re purchasing the right size as there’s no need to fuss over cups.
Matalan control cycling shorts: £10, Matalan
Cycling shorts are fashionable in their own right, but we were looking for this pair to smooth out our stomach, thighs and hips. With shape-enhancing panel technology, this was our top choice for thighs, preventing chafing under dresses and trousers alike. They’re made from a combination of polyamide and elastane, meaning that they show no visible line beneath even the tightest clothing, and they do a great job of sculpting your hips. Available in sizes 10-20, we were really impressed by how comfortable they felt even after a long day and by their cost effectiveness.
Spanx suit your fancy plunge low-back thong bodysuit: £132, Next
Spanx is synonymous with high quality shapewear and the price reflects its 20 years of expertise in the field. While the brand has options for every outfit, our tester loved the thong bodysuit, which eliminates the possibility of a visible pantyline. The unique combination of a plunge neckline and five-way convertible straps means it works for casual and glam outfits alike. The material feels very high quality and is particularly effective at targeting the stomach with its trademark “firm hug”.
John Lewis & Partners seamfree high waist brief: £22, John Lewis & Partners
If you find full body shapewear daunting, these briefs do all the work with none of the discomfort. Our tester was sceptical at first over how effective underwear could be as shapewear – particularly when the material is so thick – but thankfully they are seamfree and so high-waisted that they gently sculpt the body into an hourglass silhouette. They’re also available in nude.
Wolford tummy 66 control top tights: £39, Wolford
We love anything versatile and these tights are just that. Thicker at the top, they control your waist while also offering gentle compression and support for the whole leg. Forget having to awkwardly hitch up your tights as this pair stays in place for hours on end. They’re available in a range of deniers and from sizes extra small to extra large, but are quite pricey and no less rippable than regular tights, meaning they’re probably better off for a special occasion than daily wear.
Boux Avenue sculpting slip: £22, Boux Avenue
We love how easy slips are to wear and found that this Boux Avenue offering instantly improved the fit of most dresses. Not only does it smooth out your hips, stomach, back and chest, it also disguises any obvious underwear lines. As it’s also less constrictive in design, it’s perfect for long wear and doesn’t leave any red indentations in your skin. It also comes in nude, which is invisible under most light clothes. We recommend sizing up as it runs small and has a tendency to ride up after a few hours of use, but it’s a wardrobe staple once you’ve found the right size.
Triumph infinite sensation top with spaghetti straps: £36, Triumph
Triumph’s infinite sensation range is designed to give you a “whole new body sensation”. Our favourite option from its range wears exactly like any other vest – the straps are thin and easy to hide beneath your clothes, but are also adjustable to ensure you get the right shape. While it successfully targets your stomach and waist, we loved that it didn’t compress the bust, which is often the first area to protest shapewear. It’s also available in black and nude, making it even more wearable.
Next firm control wear your own bra shaping body: £28, Next
Who says shapewear can’t be pretty? This lace body is delicate but strong, cinching in your waist without trapping it in place. While you again have to wear your own bra, the spacing leaves you with ample room to wear one without bulking up under your clothes. Although the straps are adjustable, it does come up a bit short if you’re tall.
Wacoal sexy shaping tulle bra: £40, Harvey Nichols
Theoretically your bra should already be acting as shapewear for your chest, but in reality many are ill-fitting and prioritise aesthetic over shape. Combining both is tricky, but Wacoal has somehow succeeded with a soft-cup, partially-lined bra that subtly lifts and tones the chest area. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also quite pretty. However, it is sold by back size only, so may not be an ideal choice for larger cup sizes.
Commando butter stretch-micro modal thong bodysuit: £84.52, Net-a-Porter
Whether you plan on wearing it as underwear or outerwear, this bodysuit is soft and supportive. Unlike a lot of shapewear, it has a relatively low percentage of elastane material, but somehow still manages to smooth over the right places. Our tester was particularly impressed by the fit bodysuits can be dangerous territory for anyone tall or with a larger chest, but this is an ideal option for results and comfort.