Designer to the stars Oscar De La Renta, renowned for his beautiful black dresses, is famed for saying, “Walk like you have three men walking behind you.” Well, don some decent shapewear and we promise, you’ll be doing just that! Loved by Hollywood (even slender Gwyneth Paltrow raves that “they’re terrific and just squeeze you in that’s how all the Hollywood girls do it”) and tried-and-tested by Team LBD, the latest shapewear has an amazing effect, shaving off inches and creating a seriously svelte silhouette for those cocktail dresses.
And of course, never is underwear more important than when you’re wearing a fabulous dress on that special occasion. So read on for our guide to shapewear and shop our collection of fabulous dresses to wear over the top now. If you’re about to invest in shapewear, read this essential guide first. From what size to buy to how to put it on, and which products are best for you, we answer your most common questions to ensure you’ll be looking and feeling amazing in your special dress on your big night out.
Does shapewear really work?
Absolutely. We feel sorry for the women who spent decades breathless in corsets when shapewear does the job so much better and with no pain. Don’t think that shapewear is just about shaving off inches the real benefit is that it gives you an amazing silhouette.
Good underwear will cinch you in and define your waist, banish love handles and muffin tops and certain styles will even lift up your bottom. Perfect for red carpet Prom styles. 80% of wearers say they see a reduction in measurements too; up to 1 to 2 inches can be knocked off all over! You can even layer shapewear for a super-trimmed figure, something the celebrity clan seem to swear by. Adele admitted this was her secret to her svelte appearance at the Grammys in 2012.
Spanx certainly has its fans and is the most recognisable shapewear brand out there, however you can find the same attention to detail in a more purse-friendly established brands on the high street. We tried each piece underneath a bodycon dress (so we knew we were going to see the results), and found that you can still get the same benefits from shapewear which doesn’t cost more than your dress; with finishing touches such as sticky hems stopping seams showing through and shapewear riding up when we walked, bottom-lifting seams while waist-whittlers still certainly whittled off more than a few inches.
Is it true you should buy shapewear a size too small for best effect?
No this is an absolute fallacy. When buying shapewear to wear under your dinner date dress, never choose a size too small as apart from it being uncomfortable, it can cause bulges or ripples to appear instead of smooth lines. Some brands have a clever size chart that recommends the size for your height and weight proportions as opposed to a general dress size. Follow this to the dot and you’ll have your perfect fit.
Is shapewear uncomfortable?
Definitely not, but they are getting better. . .as long as you buy the right size. Shapewear will never be as comfortable as pyjamas, but then again most things aren’t! There are different levels of shapewear firm gives the most control and is perfect for wearing under your special occasion dress for maximum effect (although if you’re going for a fancy dinner you may have to give dessert a miss).
A light or moderate controlpiece is more for day-to-day use and for women who don’t need as much control, but want to disguise cellulite or keep VPLs at bay and ensure a smooth silhouette.
Does shapewear benefit slim people?
“Even if you’re a skinny girl, Spanx are a must,” said Kelly Osborne, and she’s right. The right under garments isn’t just about trimming off inches, it’s about creating the perfect silhouette.
It will banish any VPLs and smooth out the tiniest of lumps and bumps that might peek through a fitted dress and if you’re not as bootylicious as Beyonce, a good pair of shapewear pants will even go as far as lifting and shaping your bum too. Even Hollywood’s gorgeous Jessica Alba admitted wearing them underneath her Fantastic Four costume, while Spanx reported that their most popular sizes are a UK 8, 10 and 12. The beauty of shapewear is that it will highlight your slender waist, lift your bum and create an all-over glossy and polished figure perfect for those backless party dresses.
So where does all the fat go?
Shapewear designer and fitness expert Marianne Gimble sets us straight: “Fat can move into spaces where muscle is compressed, such as the abdominals (stomach area). It can also be moved directionally, towards more desirable places.”
Effectively, the fat is made more compact and the excess is funnelled into other areas to make you appear slimmer all over. Genius! Kim Kardashian is famous for loving her shapewear, which lends itself so well to her bombshell hourglass image.
Will it change my body shape?
Shapewear can go a long way to improving the parts you’re not keen on; if you’re an apple shape then a tummy-whittler could help to make a more noticeable waist. However, if you’re a pear and want narrower hips or have an athletic figure and want bigger hips, even shapewear won’t be able to dramatically change this.
If you’re looking to create the illusion of a different body shape, we have plenty of tricks to do just that – check out our Body Shapes Guide here. How do I put on shapewear? Feet up. If you’ve already attempted to put shapewear on over your head then you will know that this can be potentially fatal; arms akimbo, falling over and embarrassing liaisons with the changing room assistant are all reported hazards. So we must stress that every type of shapewear should be stepped into, camisoles included.
The easiest way to do this is to bunch it up as you would when putting on tights, gradually releasing the fabric as you pull it up over your body. Another tip is to leave the hook fastenings done up as it can be difficult to get these closed once they’re on.
Do I wear underwear – The Ultimate Shapewear Guide?
The majority of shapewear is made with a cotton crotch, often one that features an easy access-style fastening, which means shapewear is specifically designed to eliminate the need for underwear. It’s fine to wear tights underneath shapewear to hold them firmly in place.
Which product is right for me?
The right type of shapewear is individual to everyone and also depends on what sort of dress you’re wearing. With one in five women admitting their tummies were their least favourite body area, you can depend on a classic high-waisted brief to improve this problem zone.
Shift dresses are also a great style to opt for to disguise trouble tummy areas. Always go for Bridget Jones-style pants that reach up to just underneath your bra this means absolutely no muffin tops and a seamless silhouette. Conscious of your thighs? Our curve styles are perfect with lots of styles for a pear shaped body.
Then try a boy shorts cut, which will hide any cellulite and can go a long way to helping achieve the much-coveted thigh-gap (and is a much safer and healthier way of doing so!).
The full slip is specifically designed to be worn under dresses, even casual dresses more comfortable for longer day wear; it creates a sleek silhouette from your thighs up to your bust and smooths down lumps and bumps, while the open-bust slip allows you to wear whichever bra necessary to go with your dress.
For those who prefer to wear tights, you can skip the shapewear or tights-first malarkey and buy a pair of short-style briefs that also feature tights; these are great for shaping your legs as well as the glossy finish they provide for mini dresses.
- Always buy the right size for comfort and to create the best effect.
- Buying a new dress? Take your shapewear with you it may change the dress size you need.
- Different dresses may need different styles of shapewear, for example if you’re wearing a mini-dress, a pair of boy-shorts shapewear may peek out. Don’t make Kim Kardashian’s famous peek-a-boo faux pas!
- Always look at yourself in the dress, not just the underwear, it’s not meant to be sexy, it’s meant to be magic!
So now that you know everything there is to know about shapewear, what are you waiting for?
See our blog on Celebrity Body shape Style.