7 Tips When Shopping for Shapewear for the First Time

Woman in Nude Dress
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Good shapewear can make you look better in clothes you wouldn’t have otherwise. You may be able to look fitter, sleeker, and slimmer in your work outfit, cocktail dress, or jeans. But if you haven’t tried it before, picking one suitable for your needs and suits your body can be challenging. This is because shapewear comes in many sizes, types, designs, and compression levels.

Some are ultra-slimming, while some will smoothen bulges. But don’t fret. If you get the proper fitting and wear it correctly, there should be nothing to worry about, and it’ll be pretty comfortable. The good news is you can also choose the shapewear that targets specific body areas. You can pick one that slims your thighs, tummy, butt, or several areas at once.

However, if you pick the wrong one, there’s no telling how your day might go. This blog shares seven tips to help when you’re shopping for shapewear for the first time. 

1. Get the Right Size

The trickiest part of choosing shapewear for the first time is getting the size right. Although you can buy your shapewear in online stores, you should consider visiting a physical store for your first time shopping. There, you can try on as many brands, sizes, and styles as you can to get what fits and feels right. 

When buying shapewear to use with a particular outfit, carry it along when going shopping. Either way, having your hip, thigh, bust, and waist measurements can go a long way when you’re looking to get the right size. With that, you can count on it to smooth those bumps out and give a sleeker shape. 

Notably, picking a shapewear a size smaller doesn’t help much. You may think that a smaller size will hold everything together and give you an even slimmer look. However, instead of creating a firmer look, it ends up causing bulges that make you look bigger.

In addition, it can be pretty uncomfortable. Shapewear that’s too tight may also lead to health problems such as difficulty breathing or reduced lung capacity. (1) (2)

2. Buy for Your Target Area

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You’re the only one who knows your body best and the kind of outfits that you wear. No one besides you can tell you what will suit you best. That’s your decision to make. Check your body and identify which area you need to be smoothening to fit into your outfits better. You could be okay with your waistline and tummy but not the cellulite on your thighs.

In that case, your shapewear needs to focus on your thighs and not your waistline. When you identify a specific area, shopping becomes bliss. Retailers like Colombiana Boutique offer tips on purchasing styles for your problem areas. You’re able to pick the most suitable shapewear easily. Here’s how to pick shapewear for different spots:

  • Full-body shaping: When looking to have a smooth full-body look for that one outfit that you have to wear, full-body shapewear or bodysuit is the ideal pick. This type of shapewear is designed to give a flawless look and feel from your back, tummy, waistline, butt, and thighs. 
  • Waist slimmer: If you’re looking to attain a flat tummy look, try high-waist shapewear. It holds your stomach up to your bra while still holding those love handles and back fat to make your waist shapelier and smoother. 
  • Thigh slimmer: Much full-body shapewear extends to the thighs. But if you’re specifically looking for something to slim your thighs, you can pick those that focus on your thighs alone. They also give the waist and hips a smoother look.  
  • Smoothing: You may have your fat in all the right places but still have some cellulite going. To reduce dimples on the skin, go for the shapewear designed to minimize skin imperfections.

3. Know Your Body Shape

Plus Size Shapewear
Photo: Deposit Photos

Shapewear is an outfit like any other, and your body shape plays a role in your choice and how well it’ll fit you. Everyone has a body shape—triangle, pear, apple, rectangle, or the coveted hourglass shape. It’s crucial to shop for your specific body shape, even when picking shapewear.

For instance, you have an hourglass shape if you have a smaller waist and hips and shoulders almost the same size. The rectangle shape is where the shoulders and waist are nearly the exact size but without a defined waistline.

Choosing high-waist shapewear or waist cinchers is an excellent pick if you’re looking to accentuate your waistline. In addition, you also need to consider if you’re slim, medium, or plus size. Some shapewear will work well on one body type and not the other.  

4. Consider Why You Need the Shapewear

Woman Wearing Shapewear
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Another thing you need to consider seriously is why you need the shapewear. What occasion are you planning to wear it? Is it for a special event or an everyday accessory? Here are a few shapewear categories: 

  • Everyday wear: When you’re looking for shapewear to wear with your everyday outfits, you’re probably looking to reduce those bumps and lumps. For everyday wear, comfort should be your priority. You need to be able to sit, stand, eat, walk, and bend without restrictions. 
  • Special occasions: Depending on the event and the outfit, various types of shapewear can give you any look you want to achieve. You can opt for bodysuits, corsets, or any kind that’ll enhance or hide whichever spot you want at the time. If you’re looking for a more defined waistline, a high-level compressor can do that for you. Consider things like a bustier as an ideal pick for a bride or bridesmaid. (2)
  • Workout shapewear: There’s shapewear designed just for working out. Workout shapewear is made to make you sweat more and look better at the gym too. 

5. Check the Level of Control

As mentioned previously, shapewear has varying levels of compression control. Light slimming only offers minimal control, is comfortable, and is ideal for everyday use. Medium slimming levels are firmer than the light ones and may be suitable for casual events or evening outings. The ultra-slimming, on the other hand, offers the strongest control.

It would be best if you considered saving the ultra-slimming control shapewear for special occasions or particular outfits. While they may make you look better than the rest by reducing your body size, they can also lead to restricted breathing. They may not be very comfortable, that’s why you need to wear them for short periods and change to more comfortable wear afterward. (1) 

A pro tip: when the shapewear has no control level on the price tag, look at the label itself. If it contains a higher amount of nylon, it’s going to change your shape more. Another way to check the control level is by touching the fabric. A fabric that’s lightweight and easily slips through your hands has low-level control and is only meant to give you a smoother look.

A heavy piece is usually meant to give you a compressed look and secure your body more into shape. Go for low and medium levels for a smoother look and high control for a complete figure transformation. (3)

6. Pick a Color

Womens Shapewear
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The primary colors used in making shapewear are black, nude, beige, and white. But there are different shade variations between these colors. Getting the color right is essential in helping to make your look fit together. The color determines how concealable the shapewear is under your clothes.

When picking the perfect color for your shapewear, there are two things you need to consider: your complexion and your outfit. It’s advisable to go for colors that go well with most outfits or the one that matches your skin tone.

Black and beige go well with most outfits, including white. Or else, you can pick a shapewear color depending on the outfit you plan to wear with it. (3)

7. Shapewear Fabric & Comfort

Slimming Pieces
Photo: Deposit Photos

Shapewear comes in different fabrics but often comes in spandex and nylon. These fabrics don’t breathe and are excellent when you’re in colder climates when you need to keep the heat in. But when it gets warm, you’ll be sweating profusely. You need to ask yourself when you’re going to wear it. Take account of the seasons, whether colder or warmer. 

When buying shapewear, you need to keep the fabric’s breathability in mind. This is where you need to consider cotton-blend shapewear. Cotton is breathable, and it won’t retain as much heat as nylon or spandex.

It’s also smooth on your skin, making your shapewear more comfortable and the better fabric for shapewear. Otherwise, lightweight and soft fabrics are the better alternatives for warmer seasons, while thicker ones would be ideal for colder seasons.

Great Form

After finding the perfect shapewear for your needs and body type, you must learn to take good care of it. How you care for it will determine its longevity and capability to retain its shape and help you keep showing that smoother silhouette.

Always follow the cleaning instructions properly. Most come with hand washing instructions with no wringing to remove excess water. Also, remember that you’ll need to wear most shapewear from the bottom up and not the other way around.

Wearing them any other way could cause you harm or damage to the shapewear. So wear your outfits with pride using these practical undergarments.


  1. “Are Waist Trainers Dangerous?” Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/are-waist-trainers-dangerous#risks-and-side-effects 
  2. “Shapewear For Women: Expert Advice From Tomima Edmark,” Source: https://www.terijon.com/blogs/wedding-guide/shapewear-for-women-expert-advice-from-tomima-edmark
  3. “4 Rookie Shapewear Mistakes You Should Avoid”, Source: https://www.self.com/story/how-to-wear-shapewear 

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