The best shapewear to buy for support and control
14 May 2021
From curve-enhancing bodysuits to smoothing slips, we’ve uncovered the best shapewear to buy in 2021.
As our diaries get booked up with nights out, dinner dates and bigger social events like weddings and birthdays, a new post-pandemic wardrobe beckons! And if like us you reached for one too many chocolate digestives (or gins, crisps, lattes, whatever got you through) during lockdown, then you might be in the market for some confidence-boosting shapewear to wear underneath.
Shapewear – like corsets, waist-cinchers and thigh trimming shorts – may sound painful and uncomfortable but the latest shapewear solutions have really improved over the years. Designers now focus on comfortable cuts and manufacturers are using high-tech fabrics to make sure your under layers are breathable and flexible. Nasty red marks across your middle and muffin tops are a thing of the past!
Here’s our pick of the best shapewear to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall shapewear: Spanx Higher Power Pants
Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon
“Spanx have been the most effective shapewear I've tried. I know my flab won't magically disappear but these products do help me feel more confident. I'm a 16-18” – SteelRiver
“I wear Spanx knickers most of the time when I'm at work. They just make me look more streamlined” – managedmis
Smooth out all your lumps and bumps in these Higher Power Pants by the original shapewear brand, Spanx. Since launching in 1998, Spanx has created millions of metres of shapewear and taken on consumer feedback to produce the ultimate line of go-to curve-enhancing underwear. These everyday shorts are made from a silky smooth fabric engineered with quality, elasticated yarn to hold you in place comfortably. There’s no VPL either. There are four shades available and sizes range from 0 to 28. Spanx is definitely the favourite brand with Mumsnetters according to the forums.
- Material: 54% nylon, 46% spandex/elastane
- Size range: 0 to 28
2. Best budget shapewear: SURE YOU LIKE Women High Waist Tummy Control Shapewear
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
If your main problem area is your tummy, then try out this bargain buy. The carefully positioned mesh and polyester/spandex panels will smooth down your midsection to create an hourglass shape. The fabric is stretchy enough so you don’t feel like you’re squishing your internal organs. Reviewers noted that these don’t roll down during wear either, which is a bonus. They come in nude and black shades and in sizes from 6 to 18.
- Material: 92% polyamide and 8% elastane
- Size range: 6-18
3. Best maternity shapewear: Spanx Maternity Mama Shapewear Shorts in black
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
“Spanx, without a doubt. Surprisingly, they don't get hot. They're quite a breathable fabric and so ultra comfortable. And don't roll down” – winefairy
If you’re up for flaunting your pregnancy bump in some figure-hugging dresses, then try slipping these shapewear shorts on. Streamlining your silhouette will highlight your beautiful bump even more. On a practical note, these shorts also help to support your pregnancy belly to relieve you from any back pain you might be experiencing. The material is ‘quite fine’, according to one reviewer, so the shorts feel breathable and not too tight.
- Material: 81% nylon, 19% lycra elastane
- Size range: Small to XL
4. Best high waist girdle: SKIMS Sculpting Super High-Rise Stretch-Woven Briefs
Price: £39 | Buy now from Selfridges
When it comes to body contouring and accentuating curves, it’s fair to say A-lister Kim Kardashian knows a thing or two. Her mega brand, SKIMS, launched in the UK in 2020 and was an immediate sellout. Get a piece of the action with these high-rise briefs. The fitted style sits just under your bra strap and features a sculpting panel at the waist and full coverage at the back. They’re snug and won’t shift. According to Selfridges fashion buying department, they’re made from ‘whisper-weight’ fabric that’s soft on the skin and the construction is completely seamless to avoid VPL. They’re available in nine different hues and sizing ranges from XXS-XXXXXS (tip – size up for everyday wear). It’s safe to say, you’re unlikely to regret buying these.
- Material: 78% nylon, 22% elastane
- Size range: XXS to XXXXXS
5. Best tummy control shapewear: Miraclesuit Extra Firm Control High Waist Briefs
Price: £59 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners
These briefs are a tight fit but they do the job of flattening your tummy while also cinching in your waist. Clever double panels down the front and around the back help to hold you in place. This brand prides itself on ‘Back Magic’ technology which basically describes the firm structure and built-in silicone strip to ‘grip’ at the back to avoid roll down. Compression is strong, so you might want to size up if you’re a first timer.
- Material: Body: 82% nylon, 18% elastane; panel: 74% nylon, 26% elastane; gusset: 92% cotton, 8% elastane
- Size range: Small to XXL
6. Best shapewear for under a dress: Franato Women's Control Slip Body Shaper
Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon
This slip is an Amazon bestseller. It’s great value and comes highly recommended by reviewers mainly due to its comfortable fit. The spaghetti strap style means you can adjust the neckline and back to suit your dress or you can take the straps off if you’re wearing a strapless dress. It targets multiple areas – the tummy, hips, thighs and bum. It won’t roll down or pinch thanks to it’s stretchy elastane fabric. You’ll also find it easy to lift to go to the loo, an important thing to consider! One reviewer recommends sizing XL if you’re a UK 14-16.
- Material: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane
- Size range: Small to XXL
7. Best firm control shapewear: Firm Control Sheer Striped Wear Your Own Bra Body
Price: £25 | Buy now from Marks & Spencer
“Marks and Spencer’s is not the most glam but very effective” – middleagedspread
“I bought the firm control ones from M&S but I find them quite restrictive so would only wear for a very special occasion” – AngelsWithSilverWings
Looking for some firm support with a smooth silhouette for your date night dress? Your secret is safe in this bodysuit as it won’t show through your clothes. This wear-your-own-bra style of bodysuit is popular because it allows you to control your trouble areas like your middle, while also enhancing your curves up top. This particular design has sheer striped inserts which makes it a little sexier than other bodysuits. The front panel provides firm tummy control and there are poppers on the gusset for when duty calls. A popular purchase.
- Material: 61% polyamide, 39% elastane (exclusive of trimmings); gusset: 100% cotton
- Size range: 8-24
8. Best shapewear bodysuit: Heist Outer Body shaping Bodysuit
Price: £95 | Buy now from Next
“Heist really are in a different league. They are breathable and comfortable while still holding you in.”
“They've washed well so I think they will last and last” – RadioSilence
“Heist give me a smoother silhouette” – TheRealHousewifeofCheshire
If you’ve got the cash and are willing to spend on your undies, then opt for this Heist bodysuit. The Outer Body claims to shave up to 5cm off your waist and firm and flatten the tummy area. Heist uses advanced technical fabrics – what you’re paying for – to provide comfort but firm support at the same time. Some Mumsnetters swear by Heist for durability and results. Machine washing isn’t advised, but if you do pop it in the drum, run it on a gentle 30 degrees wash. If you want it to last though, handwashing is advised. If you sign up to their newsletter, you get £10 off your first purchase over £50. Easily done once you’ve viewed the rest of their collection (including their top-selling supportive tights).
- Material: 74% nylon, 26% elastane
- Size range: XS to XL
9. Best shapewear for a muffin top: Maidenform Easy Up Waist Nipper Brief
Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon
These briefs are great for first time shapewearers. You can wear them every day thanks to the ease in which you pull them on and off and also their medium compression. That said, you still get results when you look in the mirror. The high waist design means you can wave goodbye to the pesky muffin top.
- Material: 79% Polyamide, 21% Elastane
- Size range: Small to XX
10. Best plus size shapewear: Pour Moi? Women's Definitions High Waist Shaping Brief
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
As one reviewer put it, prepare yourself for ‘Jessica-rabbit-style curves’ in these shaping knickers. They provide some serious engineered support starting just under the bra line and down to the top of the thighs. Made from a combination of polyamide and elastane, these knickers feel silky smooth on the skin and have a decent amount of stretchiness. This is a better option for plus sized women as you can wear your usual supportive bra rather than having to squeeze everything into a tight fitting bodysuit. Try it and be amazed!
- Material: 72% polyamide, 28% elastane
- Size range: 10 to 20
How to buy the best shapewear
First think about your body shape and what curves you want to enhance and which areas you want to support or control. If you’re after a slimline, hourglass silhouette then try a slip or a bodysuit. If your midsection is a problem area for you and you’d rather create a flatter stomach, then invest in some firm control briefs with targeted panels at the front (some briefs now also come with supportive panels around the back to give your buttocks a cheeky ‘uplift’). The cycling short design is best if you want to control any unwanted wobble around the thighs and bum area.
What’s the best material for shapewear?
The key is to look at the elastane content in your shapewear. The better quality shapewear has a higher percentage of elastane which provides you with a good comfort factor. You will still get the control, but you’ll have flexibility in movement at the same time. This is usually in combination with nylon or polyamide, making your shapewear breathable and smooth.
Is shapewear uncomfortable to wear?
It shouldn’t be. Yes there is an element of compression, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re struggling to breathe or be left with painful red markings. Some shapewear has medium compression and others, firm. It’s a case of trying different brands to find the right fit and comfort level for you.
What’s the best shapewear?
Spanx is still definitely the market leader when it comes to Mumsnetters’ favourite shapewear styles. Its Higher Power Pants are a brilliant buy. But if you do have the extra pennies, then you won’t regret investing in Heist’s shapewear, like The Outer Body, recommended above.
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which styles and brands of shapewear discerning Mumsnet users had bought. We compiled a list of the best shapewear they recommended for being comfortable and giving results.
We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which shapewear brands had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customer reviews said about them.
Having collated all that information, we picked the best shapewear we thought would make the best buys.
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