It has been around for centuries but the same adage is true- you either love it… or you despise it. Shapewear- why? Everyone’s reason may be a bit different. I know my own personal reasons have changed a bit over the years, so let’s explore the why before we really dig into the how. 

At a full size 28/30 and 360lbs, my goal for shapewear was to appear thinner and fit a bit better into my clothes while also smoothing out fat deposits- or “rolls” in tighter clothing. About 65 pounds down and a size 22/24, I still use it for those same reasons, but with the added benefit of wrangling a changing body. My skin isn’t quite as taut as it was before leaving me a bit more… jiggly. Shapewear now helps me keep everything where I’d like it and helps my skin rebuild its shape and elasticity as I continue to lose weight. 

Shapewear isn’t only for the plus size women of the world. In fact, the founder of Spanx is on the smaller end of straight size and if you exist anywhere in this world right now, you know that Kim Kardashian has developed her own line and wears the infamous SKIMS. Both have noted that they wear them for smoothing things like back fat created by bras or a tiny tummy bump in an extra tight dress creating the shape they want under their clothes while also limiting a jiggle or wardrobe malfunction. Kim takes it even a bit further and wears hers solo as a top- which I am absolutely in love with. Multifunction is one of my favorite fashion tools and if I need a sleek tank, I’d love it to also do a smoothing job. 

Now that you know why someone would seemingly torture herself- serious props for how far we’ve come since the actual boned corset days- let’s chat about how and what kind you should invest in. 

I use the term invest intentionally here. There are some cheap shapewear alternatives, but I’ve found that the best pieces are in the $50+ range. The right pair should last you years if you aren’t a daily wearer and at least a few months if you are. 

In a pinch, I grabbed a pair from Walmart that cost about $15- I’d forgotten to pack my good pair and I was wearing a tighter pencil skirt to an event. They worked for the evening, but here’s where a cheaper price tag may get you into trouble. The legs were a bit too short and didn’t have enough stretch to accommodate my thicker thighs so they created a strong dip in my thigh before rolling almost all the way up. Which was uncomfortable to say the least. Have you ever had a conversation with someone while the circulation was being cut off to your legs? I do not recommend it. 

Even though they were my usual size, they fit a bit smaller than others and I created a run in the tummy area- which also created a bulge where the fabric wasn’t quite as restrictive. Mostly though, I was just terribly uncomfortable and if I hadn’t ever worn a quality pair before, I would have abandoned all hope. They worked in a pinch, but I would have had to buy a new $15 pair every other wear at least- which would be a larger investment in the long run with a higher cost per wear. 

When buying a quality pair, buy your true size or even a size up if you’re a newbie. The spandex in these bad boys are not for the faint of heart and when you buy too small, if you ever get them on, they will crush your soul. You know you have the right pair if they go on pretty smoothly and then you get to your widest part (for me, its my hips/butt) and you start to question all of your life choices. Take a deep breath in, make sure they aren’t rolled at the waste band and then inch them up until they hit where you as intended. Sometimes I have to pull the front up, then get them over my blessed bum. As you break them in, it will get a bit easier each time- just like how a bra band tends to fit better over time.

There are different styles of shapewear and typically an average person can invest in just one or two and be set. Here is what I recommend: 

By type of use: 

For a special occasion only wearer– buy one; whichever gives you the most coverage for your outfit. 

If you wear it anytime you’ve got a night out or close fitting outfit: buy two; one pair of high waisted briefs and one full body.

If you wear it often and with everything: invest in a full style range to really customize your look day to day. 

By coverage: 

If you want more shape in your legs: Shorts or full body

Back smoothing: full body or tank top

Tummy only: briefs 

Once you find your perfect pair, you’ll be rocking those form fitting frocks with full confidence. Share with us in the comments your favorite sharewear tips. 


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