How to Choose Quality Shapewear That's Worth the Money

  |   By Laurie Shapiro

Whether you want to lightly smooth your curves or seriously sculpt your shape, quality shapewear pieces are worth the investment.

Women of all sizes, ages, and body types can benefit from the body boost that quality shapewear provides. Even women in the best of shape feel better when they've got a smooth line under clingy fashions.

While modern shapewear makes it easier than ever to target our "problem" areas, the flood of products on the market can make it intimidating to choose. How can you tell if you're getting your money's worth? The most expensive option is not necessarily the best.

Quality is determined not only by construction and fit, but also by how much you'll actually wear it. Even the best shapewear isn't worth the investment if it sits in your drawer. But if it makes you feel like a million bucks, then it's worth every penny!

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1. Choose the right level of control.

Quality shapewear should feel fairly comfortable and allow the wearer to perform everyday activities with ease. If you're new to shapewear, you might want to start with the lowest level of support you're comfortable with and move up to more restrictive garments in time. As a general rule, light and medium control pieces work best for everyday.

If you're looking to smooth out a few bumps, light compression is the way to go, while medium compression can control some of those jiggly bits. Save the firm control for special occasions. While they can take you down a dress size, they are much more restrictive (and harder to get on and off).

This medium control underbust bodysuit is a great everyday option! It sits beneath your bra and smooths out the midriff. The high-cut back smooths out any bulges along your bra band, while the cheeky boyshort bottoms ensure there's no visible panty lines.

quality shapewear
DKNY Underbust Bodysuit
via Nordstrom

2. Stay true to your size.

Don't be tempted to go down a size in an attempt to whittle away inches. Shapewear that is too small will bunch up or roll down. Take measurements of your bust, waist, and hips, and use these measurements to order your true size. Properly fitting quality shapewear shouldn't bind, pinch, or dig into your curves.

A full body shaper provides medium to firm control that shapes the stomach, waist, and bottom while lifting the breasts with a built-in bra. Sized correctly, it will utilize hidden control panels to trim the torso. This sexy retro style sits lower on the hips with a full coverage bottom for a smooth look. Leg openings lined with a band of gripping silicone ensure it stays comfortably put.

quality shapewearVa Bien Firm Control Bodysuit
via HerRoom

3. Consider what you'll wear it under.

Got a clingy jersey wrap dress you're dying to wear? You'll want to look for seamless shapewear slip. Make sure the slip length is shorter than your skirt length. A full slip ensures a smooth look from bust to above the knee, whereas a half slip can sometimes ride up (especially if the fit is a bit tight). Look for shapewear slips with built-in cups to eliminate the need for an additional bra (the one below goes up to a G cup). Silicone gripping along the hem means no tugging happening either!

It's a good idea to do a test run with the outfit you're planning on wearing (either at home or in the dressing room). Try moving about, sitting, bending over, etc. to make sure you're comfortable and the shapewear stays put. Also, pieces in neutrals or black are the most versatile (though white has a delightful vintage-inspired appeal and works with darker clothing).

quality shapewearYummie Tummie Medium Control Shapewear Slip
via Bare Necessities

4. Pay attention to the details.

Make sure to inspect the stitching, especially on seams where there will be the most pressure. There should be no skipped stitches and stitches should give when stretched. Seams should also be flat sewn for comfort.

Shapewear comes in lots of different fabrics, from lighter weight, breathable fabrics to heavy-duty satins that will retain body heat. Quality fabrics will be smooth to the touch (to not only feel good against the body but to avoid garment snagging) and have great elasticity (returning to their original shape after being stretched).

Other quality details may include flexible spiral boning for additional support. Boning should be fully encased with no sharp edges threatening to break through the fabric on either end. Some retro-inspired pieces, such as the waist-cincher by Rago below, even offer detachable garter straps to wear with your favorite stockings (and get that great pin-up look).

shapewearRago Waist Cincher
via HerRoom

5. Make sure it's easy to get on and off.

The greater the compression, the harder it is to get shapewear on and off. Full body pieces can be especially challenging. Make sure bodysuits have a hook and eye or snap closure at the crotch for easy bathroom breaks!

If you're just looking to smooth out bumps around your torso, a shaping camisole might just do the trick! Choose one that is long enough to smooth the flare of your upper hip, along with any bulges around your bra band. Worn either on their own or over shapewear bottoms, these are easy to get on and off, making them a great choice for every day.

shapewearSPANX Slim-plicity Open Bust Cami
via HerRoom

Featured image via Nordstrom

Are you a fan of shapewear? If so, do you wear it regularly or for special occasions? Do you have a favorite brand or style of quality shapewear?

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