Fashion has come a long way from the painful shapewear of the past. Today, there are many modern shaping garments that can minimize or accentuate nearly any area of a person's body, all while being relatively comfortable to wear. From sheer to waist hosiery and briefs to full-on bodysuits, there's little that body-shapers can't do for anyone looking to improve their silhouette.
If you're looking into trying these garments out for yourself out, here are five types of shapewear and what they're best used for:
Types of Shapewear
Many fashion brands have created all sorts of shapewear designed to sculpt different parts of the body. That being said, most of these options can be categorized into five main types:
Shaping Camisoles and Tanks
Although they might look like normal undershirts at first, shaping tanks and camisoles (or cami shapers) cover the upper areas of the body. Both are designed to flatten the abdomen and the back while adding some shape to the bust. They can also offer back support for better posture which helps add some curve to your side profile.
The main difference between tanks and camisoles is that camisoles have spaghetti straps while tank tops have wider shoulder straps. These types of shapewear can be worn with a bra, though it's best to go with those featuring wider shoulder straps to conceal bra straps and bulges.
Shaping camisoles and tanks are perfect for everyday wear, and they look great when worn under t-shirts and tank tops. Women who naturally have an hourglass figure will find that these can further emphasize their shape.
Waist Cinchers and Corsetry
The goal of these two types of shapewear is to slim down the waist. They're functionally the same in that they are both worn around the waist right under the bust to compress that area, tucking in the abdomen to result in a slender figure. The main difference is that while both cinchers and corsetry can be worn under one's clothes, corsetry can sometimes be worn as a decorative outer garment.
Both waist cinchers and corsetry are best worn under a looser-fit top to avoid creating visible lines caused by the shapewear's seams pressing against the outfit. In case there's any bulging under the bust, it's a must to properly tuck in the skin above the abdomen to achieve a more seamless look.
Women who have apple- or rectangular-shaped bodies can emphasize the curves of their waist with these kinds of shapewear. That being said, there are many kinds of waist cinchers and corsetry out there designed for women of all shapes and sizes. If defining your waist is your main goal, then these may work well for sculpting your midsection.
Shaping Briefs and Shorts
Shaping briefs and shaping shorts are high-waist garments that reach up to just above the navel. They are both effective at shaping the lower abdomen where the tummy sags most, and they can do wonders to shape the butt. They can also help in contouring the body from the waist to the hips. Both are viable shapewear options for any outfit, from work outfits to jeans and a tee.
While both can serve as substitutes for normal underwear, they differ in how much of the lower body they cover. Shaping shorts, in particular, reach halfway between the hip and the knee, compared to shaping briefs which more closely emulate panties. This means that shaping shorts can help create the illusion of an even curvier figure all the way down to the thighs.
For women who still want to smoothen their tummies without creating any visible panty lines, shaping briefs and shorts may just do the trick. They can also keep your thighs from chafing against each other, making them perfect for wearing underneath dresses and skirts. Ladies who have a rectangular silhouette may want to consider wearing shaping briefs or shorts that can accentuate their butt, as this can create the illusion of a curvier body.
Shaping hosiery are designed to sculpt the lower half of the body. They go all the way up the torso to smoothen the curves from the waist down to the thighs. Those that come in higher compression levels can also slim down the legs. They can even enhance the volume of the butt for those who so desire such an effect.
Shaping hosiery is best worn under skirts and dresses, and they can be used for any event or occasion. However, they can also be worn underneath pants to further define the legs. They also come in a range of colors, from classic black to many different skin tones.
Those who want to tuck in the abdomen and prevent the dreaded muffin top may want to invest in hosiery that comes with control top features. Women with an apple-shaped silhouette may also benefit from wearing shaping hosiery. It can emphasize the curves of their butt and legs, helping to balance out the lower half of their body with their larger top half.
Bodysuits cover most of the shapable areas of the body above the thighs. These garments sculpt the waist to the hips and add contouring from the back to the butt. As such, bodysuits take care of the most common problem areas in one go.
Some shapewear bodysuits can either accentuate the chest or minimize it. Other types of bodysuits feature an open bust to push up the chest and further emphasize it. Because of their design, they usually don't cause any bulging under the bust.
Generally speaking, bodysuits are recommended for times when you'll be wearing tight-fitting outfits. They are also appropriate for many different body types. That said, women with an inverted triangle silhouette can greatly benefit from using bodysuits, as these garments can offer additional breast support and tummy control as well as create the illusion of a fuller waist and back.
Some Extra Tips for Choosing or Wearing Shapewear
Now that you know about the different types of shapewear, it's a good idea to learn more about shaping garments in general. To get a better idea of what to expect when shopping for your own, here are some things to keep in mind:
Shapewear can come in different compression levels which determines the amount of pressure that they exert on the body. Most shapewear brands usually offer four main compression levels: light, medium or moderate, firm, and extra-firm compression.
Light compression shapewear is designed to smoothen the lines of the body without slimming it down too much. Moderate compression starts to shape the body a bit, while firm and extra-firm exert a lot of pressure to sculpt the body to the ideal shape.
If you're a complete beginner to shapewear, most fashion experts recommend starting with light compression shapewear first. Once you've gotten comfortable with it, you can try experimenting with moderate compression shapewear. In most cases, firm and extra-firm compression are not advisable unless you've gotten used to wearing shaping garments daily.
While there's nothing particularly wrong about shapewear with seams, said seams may press against one's clothes, which may break the illusion of smooth contours. Fortunately, some types of shapewear come in seamless designs, which means that they can be worn under smaller, snug-fitting clothes for a more natural look.
Health and Safety Reminders
It's important to keep one's health and safety in mind when using shapewear. Putting on the right kind, or wearing it incorrectly, could lead to all sorts of potential health issues.
For one, wearing shapewear that's too tight for you may prevent the full expansion of the lungs, causing asphyxiation. Too much compression around the waist can excessively press on one's stomach, resulting in possible gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Too-tight shapewear can also prevent proper blood circulation in the body, which could result in numbness or even the formation of dangerous blood clots.
The good news is that all of these problems can be avoided by simply making sure that you're wearing the right size of shapewear for your body. Never try to go down a size or two smaller than what's recommended for your body type. Shapewear is meant to make you look and feel good, not cause you any pain for the sake of achieving an ideal figure.
Once you've found and tried the right shapewear, you may be surprised at how well it can bring out the best features of your body shape. Just keep all of the above information in mind, and you shouldn't have any problem choosing the shaping garments that work best for you.