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Best shapewear to buy for support, control and comfort

Smoothing, cinching and uplifting, the best shapewear garments will give you a beautiful silhouette and make every outfit you wear look better on you.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated May 11, 2023

Four smiling women wearing shapewear

As our diaries get booked up with nights out, dinner dates and weddings you’ll hopefully find yourself ditching the loungewear for something a little more glamorous. Whether you’re treating yourself to a new outfit or you're counting the pennies and just want to make an old faithful outfit look its very best, you may be in the market for some confidence-boosting shapewear to wear underneath your party outfits.

Whilst it isn’t for everyone, if you would like a little more support and control, the best shapewear can smooth, shape and enhance your body, while flattering your curves at the same time. Of course, we should embrace our body whatever size or shape, but shapewear can be a handy tool if you need a little help just to feel like the best version of yourself. It’s more to do with creating a smoother silhouette and making your outfit look really ‘put together’ than looking ‘slimmer’ than you are. In fact, some shapewear is now designed specifically to create curves, so if you’re looking for a more dramatic bustline or a more lifted derriere, shapewear can do that, too.

Shapewear, like firm control pants, waist cinchers and thigh trimming shorts, may sound painful and uncomfortable, but the latest undergarment solutions are actually very easy to wear. Gone are the days of getting stuck in your shapewear - designers now focus on comfortable cuts, using high-tech fabrics to make sure your underlayers are both flexible and breathable.

Whether it’s tummy control shapewear, firm control shapewear shorts or a smoothing bodysuit to wear under a dress, we’ve researched the best shapewear you can buy in 2023.

If you're still seeking comfortable clothing, check out our guides to the best lingerie for women, best loungewear for women, and if you're pregnant, we've got the best maternity tights for you too.

1. Best overall shapewear: Spanx Higher Power Shorts

Spanx Higher Power Short

RRP: From £35 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Size range: From 8-10 to 32-34 | Colours: Coffee, beige, black, cafe au lait or chestnut brown | Material: 75% Viscose, 20% Polyamide, 5% Elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Comfy once on
  • Light support but holds you in in all the right places
  • Machine washable

Reasons to avoid

  • Some reviews say they’re less durable than some
  • Can’t be tumble dried

What Mumsnet users say

“Spanx Higher Power Shorts are awesome and give a lovely smooth line from bra to mid-thigh. They don't roll up or down.” FantailsFly

Our verdict

When it comes to the best shapewear, Spanx is a brand that is praised time and time again. Popular with Mumsnet users, Spanx offers efficient shaping whilst being comfortable enough for everyday use, which has led to their great reputation for producing high-quality shapewear.

Thanks to their high-waisted design, the Spanx Higher Power Shorts target the tummy and prevent any visible ‘muffin top’, as well as shaping and smoothing across your thighs and bottom. Made from lightweight cotton, they’re really quite simple to pull on, creating a smooth and seamless silhouette with no visible panty line. With practicality in mind, Spanx Higher Power Shorts also have a non-slip waistband which won’t roll down no matter how much you dance the night away, whilst the opening at the crotch means you don’t need to fully remove them when you pay a visit to the loo. 

2. Best budget shapewear: Joyshaper High Waist Shapewear Shorts for Women

Joyshaper High Waist Shapewear Shorts for Women

RRP: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size range: Small to 3XL (UK size 10 to 20) | Colours: Black or beige | Material: Nylon/spandex

Reasons to buy

  • Firm tummy control
  • Good lift to bottom 
  • Excellent price

Reasons to avoid

  • Handwash only
  • Seam at gusset can give VPL under a tight dress

What Mumsnet users say

“I have recently discovered this little beauty! From Amazon of all places. Utterly brilliant, comfy and it ABSOLUTELY DOESN'T ROLL DOWN! For reference, I am a 16 and bought the XL. Try this one, it's brilliant (and cheap).” SweetNcrunchy

Our verdict

If you’re after some shaping underwear without a significant price tag, the Joyshaper High Waist Shapewear Shorts are an affordable, budget-friendly choice. With a high-waist design boned at the waist to prevent them from rolling down, these soft slip shorts are made from breathable cotton and are ideal for creating a smooth silhouette under dresses, skirts or fitted outfits. They come with anti-chafing benefits too, helping prevent uncomfortable rubbing or friction between your thighs in warmer weather.

The lace trim makes these shapewear shorts a little more visually pleasing than some traditional shapewear, but it is worth noting that they're not completely seamless. Due to their design, you may still see a subtle yet visible seam line at the brief when wearing very fitted clothing. Reviews suggest that if you’re between sizes it’s best to size up rather than down for comfort. 

3. Best shapewear bodysuit: SKIMS Sculpting V-Neck Stretch-Woven Bodysuit

SKIMS Sculpting Bodysuit

RRP: £74 | Buy now from Selfridges

Key specs

Size range: XXS (UK 2) to XXXL (UK 24-26) | Colours: Choice of six shades | Material: 78% nylon, 22% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Machine washes cold
  • Super-soft comfy fabric
  • Shaping for the whole body

Reasons to avoid

  • At the pricier end of the market

What Mumsnet users say

 “I have a sort of all-in-one number from SKIMS. It has a built-in bra and shorts. I love it as there’s no digging in and it's very smoothing." SarahJessicaParkin

Our verdict

When it comes to body contouring and accentuating curves, A-lister Kim Kardashian knows a thing or two and, as such, her shapewear brand SKIMS has been a huge hit since its launch in the UK in 2020. Whilst it certainly doesn’t come cheap, reviews rave about the SKIMS Sculpting Bodysuit which can help you create a perfectly smooth hourglass silhouette whilst preventing any lumps, bumps or visible panty lines (VPLs). 

With a stretchy woven body, a V-neck and adjustable shoulder straps to ensure the perfect fit, the sculpting body comes with a supportive panel at the chest and an effective sculpting detail to flatten and smooth across the waist. It’s also completely seamless with its ‘whisper weight’ fabric being almost invisible under your clothes. Of all the shapewear brands featured, SKIMS is also one of the most inclusive; it’s available in a choice of six different shades to match your skin tone. 

4. Best shapewear for dresses: M&S Firm Control Sheer Stripe Wear Your Own Bra Shaping Slip

M&S Firm Control Sheer Stripe Wear Your Own Bra Shaping Slip

RRP: £29.50 | Buy now from M&S

Key specs

Size range: UK 8 - 24 | Colours: Black and Rose Quartz (Nude) | Material: ​​61% polyamide, 39% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Cutaway shape at bust means you can wear any style bra
  • Cooling technology prevents you feeling sweaty
  • Can be machine washed and tumbled

Reasons to avoid

  • Some reviews say the bottom rolls up a bit
  • Can be tricky to get on

What Mumsnet users say

“It can be worn with or without your own bra (and knickers come to that) depending on the style of the dress. They are comfy and are far more practical when you go for a wee. In addition, if you get lucky it prevents a ‘Bridget moment’.”  StarlightLady

Our verdict

If you’re wearing a figure-hugging dress and looking to enhance your waist or ensure a smooth silhouette without a VPL, these firm control shaping slips from Marks & Spencer are ideal. Due to its firm control, getting it on does require a fair bit of wriggling, but once it’s on reviewers found that it was comfortable, offered full freedom during toilet trips, and was effective at smoothing away lumps and bumps. Some customer reviews suggest it rolls up a bit, though many did not report this so it might depend a little on your body shape. If you’re worried about that you could go for the bodysuit in the same M&S range instead. 

This figure-flattering slip is made with Cool Comfort technology to help keep you cool and comfortable under your clothes and, best of all, you can still wear your own bra thanks to the cut-away design at the bust.

5. Best tummy control shapewear: Miraclesuit Instant Tummy Tuck High Waist Thigh Slimmer

Miraclesuit Instant Tummy Tuck High Waist Thigh Slimmer

RRP: From £49.95 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Size range: 10 to 20 | Colours: Black and nude | Material: Nylon and spandex

Reasons to buy

  • Amazing control but still comfortable
  • Machine washable and can be tumbled

Reasons to avoid

  • Only available in nude or black

What Mumsnet users say

“Miraclesuit are amazing. Spanx doesn’t have enough hold for me. I got these bad boys for a wedding recently and they hid my awful belly away from sight. I also bought some straps to go with them to keep them up as the high-waisted stuff always rolls down on me.” Sparadrap

Our verdict

With quite a bold claim of creating an ‘instant tummy tuck’, this extra firm control shapewear is ideal for those who wish to target their middle, or simply find their confidence is being affected by a visible belly, muffin top or tummy overhang. 

Whilst getting them on (and off!) can be quite a challenge, the power mesh lining and triple-panelled front on the Miraclesuit Instant Tummy Tuck shapewear have an almost instant shaping effect, smoothing and flattening the tummy to create a more even and toned appearance under your clothes. The criss-cross style seam targets both your upper and lower abdomen, whilst the centre seam to the rear helps lift and tone your bottom too. The compression is strong, so you might want to size up if you’re new to tummy control shapewear but if you just want to flatten out your tum to look great under a new dress, this really is a miracle worker. 

6. Best investment shapewear: Heist The Outer Bodysuit

Heist Outer Body Shaping Suit

RRP: £95 | Buy now from Harrods

Key specs

Size range: XS to XL | Colours: Black, beige or brown | Material: 74% nylon, 26% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Great sculpting technology reduces waist size by up to 5cm

Reasons to avoid

  • Handwash only
  • Doesn’t tumble

What Mumsnet users say

“Heist is in a different league. They are breathable and comfortable while still holding you in. I think they are worth the money when you think in terms of cost per wear. They've washed well so I think they will last and last.” RadioSilence

Our verdict

If you’re willing to blow the budget, Heist shapewear certainly doesn’t come cheap, but the view amongst many Mumsnet users and reviewers is that you get what you pay for when compared to other shapewear brands. 

Known for their fab range of support and shapewear tights, The Outer Bodysuit from the brand uses advanced technical fabrics to smooth and support your body, claiming to shave up to 5cm off your waist whilst firming and flattening your tummy.  With an adjustable hook and eye fastening and breathable seam-free compression panels, the Heist Outer Body adjusts to your own unique shape to produce a flattering sculpted finish under your outfit of choice. 

7. Best firm control shapewear: John Lewis Rae Firm Control Support Body

John Lewis Rae Firm Control Support

RRP: £34 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Size range: UK size 8 - 18 | Colours: Black or almond | Material: Polyamide, 37% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Machine washable at 40
  • Can wear own bra (or no bra) with it
  • Good quality, comfy fabric

Reasons to avoid

  • Only available in two colours
  • Some reviews say the control wasn’t as strong as they’d hoped

What Mumsnet users say

“Think I'm going for one of those wear-your-own bra pants (not shorts). Not had one before. I've lots of Spanx shorts and thought about high waisted pants but don't want them to roll down. Also not keen on poppers in gusset for a body.” Whatever1980

Our verdict

If you’ve used shapewear before, you may find that the medium control pants are fine for everyday use, but aren’t quite cutting it for special occasions. 

The Rae Firm Control Body from the John Lewis & Partners shapewear collection has a more significant level of support, offering additional control and compression around the tummy area to help create a smooth and sleek silhouette. Designed to be worn with your own bra, this shapewear has a more modern design than most, and is probably the most aesthetically pleasing shapewear we’ve seen, with sheer detailing and a sleek design. 

8. Best shapewear for tummy and waist: Dorina Bridget Super High Waist Control Brief

Dorina Bridget Super High Waist Control Brief

RRP: From £14 | Buy now from New Look

Key specs

Size range: UK size 10 - 20 | Colours: Beige or black| Material: 78% polyamide, 22% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Great price
  • Good for everyday use
  • Machine washable

Reasons to avoid

  • Less control (but more comfort on the upside)

What Mumsnet users say

“If you truly want holding in, it has to be control pants!” DSGR

Our verdict

If you’re looking for inexpensive shapewear that is comfortable enough to wear every day, these high-rise waist control briefs by Donna Bridget are a great option. At just £16, they’re a really affordable choice too. 

With a traditional brief cut with a higher stretch waistband, these soft and stretchy control briefs are designed to shape and support your tummy and gently flatten muffin tops, while feeling just like regular pants – ideal when you want a little extra coverage to help you feel more comfortable under your clothes but don’t want to feel like you’re wearing scaffolding. Perfect for fans of Bridget Jones style Big Knickers. There are matching items available in the range and they are also available in black.

9. Best plus-size shapewear: Maidenform Take Inches Off Unitard Bodysuit

Maidenform Take Inches Off Unitard Bodysuit

RRP: From £37.50 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size range: S to XXL | Colours: Beige and black | Material: 81% polyamide, 19% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Gives a smooth, firm outline
  • Comes up high at the back so no lumps around your bra strap

Reasons to avoid

  • Handwash only
  • Tricky to take off when you need the loo

What Mumsnet users say

“Maidenform – the one like cycling shorts with shoulder straps and [you can] wear your own bra.” Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Stabbitha1

Our verdict

Available in sizes small to XXL (UK 20-22), this open bust shapewear bodysuit smooths your tummy, waist and back to create a smooth silhouette, whatever your dress size. 

Even in the most fitted of dresses, the Maidenform bodysuit creates a sleek and seam-free shape from bra line to mid-thigh, with firm control fabric supporting your tummy and waist. Thanks to the all-in-one design with straps, you don’t have to worry about it riding up and down as it will stay securely in place. The downside of an all-in-one like this is that, obviously, you have to completely take it off to go to the loo, which means taking off whatever you’ve got on top. But what price a beautiful silhouette? Maybe just think carefully if wearing it with a jump suit. Or hold it in if you need a pee! For complete flexibility, you can wear your own bra, but for a more comfortable fit, Maidenform recommends ordering the next size up.

10. Best shapewear corset: Miraclesuit Waist Cincher

Miraclesuit Waist Cincher

RRP: £42 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Size range: Small to XXL | Colours: Nude or black | Material: 77% nylon, 23% elastane

Reasons to buy

  • Promises to ‘take 10lb off you instantly’
  • Reviews say it stays put and doesn’t roll down

Reasons to avoid

  • May show seams and hooks under tight dresses
  • Handwash only

What Mumsnet users say

"I bought a Miraclesuit Waist Cincher to wear under a dress for a wedding I’m going to. It really does work but there is a line visible down the front where it fastens." Halfpint2017

Our verdict

If you’re less concerned about all-day comfort and are looking for something with a short-term powerful impact around your middle, these corset-style waist cinchers are boned at the waist to target and smooth across the entire waist and tummy. 

With extra firm control, the Miraclesuit Waist Cincher claims to take inches off your waist, with the brand promising you’ll look 10lb lighter in just 10 seconds. However, it’s worth noting that this style of shapewear with hook and eye fastening at the front is less ideal for bodycon or fitted dresses as the seams will still be visible.

11. Best shapewear briefs: Magic bodyfashion High Waist Invisible Contour Thong with Lace Detail

Magic bodyfashion High Waist Invisible Contour Thong with Lace Detail

RRP: £15 | Buy now from ASOS

Key specs

Size range: Small to XXL | Colours: Beige, white and black | Material: Lace: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane; Main: 80% polyamide, 20% elastane.

Reasons to buy

  • No VPL

Reasons to avoid

  • Less control in the tummy area than with Big Knickers

What Mumsnet users say

“I recently got these from ASOS. I bought one pair to see if they were comfy/controlled my tummy to a certain extent and they're lovely and comfy. I'm a size 14 and they fit perfect for reference.” Elm26

Our verdict

Most shapewear comes in brief or short designs, however, if you’re more used to wearing thongs, G-strings or dutch cuts, you may feel more comfortable with a contoured thong. 

These high-rise contoured thongs from Magic bodyfashion are comfortable enough for everyday use, with an elasticated waist and attractive lace trim. The thong cut ensures you have no VPL in tight clothing, whilst the soft fabric subtly smooths and shapes across your torso. If you’re after firm control pants, these aren’t the choice for you; there just isn’t the material in the design to give very firm control, but they are ideal for a seamless finish under a fitted outfit.

12. Best maternity shapewear: SUNNYBUY Women’s Maternity High Waist Underwear

SUNNYBUY Women’s Maternity High Waist Underwear

RRP: From £18.99 for two | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size range: M - 3XL | Colours: 1 black, 1 nude | Material: Spandex and nylon

Reasons to buy

  • Supportive when your bump is uncomfortable

Reasons to avoid

  • Reviews suggest maternity pads or san pro don’t stick well to the fabric

What Mumsnet users say

“In theory very restrictive or tight fitting clothing can cause poor blood circulation which could in turn pose a risk to baby. They make maternity shape wear that supports a bump or which holds in other areas (legs / bum) but non that aim to reduce or restrict the bump.” SquirtleSquad

Our verdict

Whilst maternity and shapewear aren’t necessarily two words you expect to hear together, many mums-to-be find that traditional underwear can be restrictive and uncomfortable as their bump starts to grow.

The SUNNYBUY High Waist Underwear provides extra support and growth room, whilst creating a smooth and seamless finish under maternity dresses or skirts. Made of a blend of nylon and spandex, they’re soft against your skin, moisture-wicking and breathable, so they’re comfortable to wear all day long. 

What does shapewear do?

Whilst you may automatically associate shapewear with attempting to look slimmer, that isn’t shapewear’s main purpose. Using compression style fabrics, shapewear can be used to smooth and enhance the body’s silhouette – whatever your size or body shape – creating a seam-free finish that is flattering under fitted dresses and outfits. 

What type of shapewear is best?

Shapewear comes in many different designs, but if you’re looking for shapewear that is both effective and comfortable you should pay attention to the amount of elastane they include.

Higher quality shapewear comes with a higher percentage of elastane (usually in combination with nylon or polyamide), which not only offers effective control and smoothing compression, but ensures comfort and flexibility of movement too.

Is shapewear uncomfortable to wear?

Whilst they can be a little tricky to get on, shapewear shouldn’t be uncomfy if you’re wearing the right size. Whilst there is an element of compression, they shouldn't feel restrictive or painful, nor should they leave painful marks on your skin. 

Some shapewear has medium compression which is ideal for everyday use, whereas others have a more firm control, better suited to event wear and special occasions. You may wish to try a few different brands to find the right fit and comfort level for you. 

What are the best shapewear brands?

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, as recommended above.

What brand of Spanx do the Kardashians wear?

We have it on good authority that the Kardashians love a high-leg shorts style of shapewear and were also big fans of the hourglass waist trainer type of Spanx product. However, since then Kim has launched her own shapewear brand, SKIMS, so if you’re a fan you might like to give that a go.

Does shapewear hide your belly?

Yes, it can but look for a product that is designed to target that specific area. The Miraclesuit Instant Tummy Tuck we’ve reviewed above is particularly good but all the best brands will have something in their arsenal for targeting tummies. 

What are the disadvantages of wearing shapewear?

Some shapewear can feel a little restrictive, particularly after a big meal so it’s worth shopping around to find products that are supportive but not ‘too’ firm and don’t dig in anywhere. Shapewear can also feel hot sometimes, because of the manmade fibres that are often used in them, so bear that in mind when choosing the rest of your outfit. Pieces that cover most of your body are often particularly hot as most of your core is covered - you’re essentially adding another layer of clothing. The heat can sometimes contribute to chafing, skin rashes and even UTIs if worn regularly so it’s best to keep your shapewear for high days and holidays. Worn occasionally it shouldn’t cause any problems. 

Should you buy shapewear a size smaller?

No. Not unless the brand says that the sizes run big so you need to size down. Buying a size smaller won’t ‘hold you in’ any more. In fact, it might make you spill over the top and just look worse so always buy the ‘right’ size for your body. 

Does shapewear actually change your shape?

Some shapewear claims to take inches off you but be wary of any outrageous claims. It all has to go somewhere, after all! Mostly what shapewear does is just smooth out your silhouette, getting rid of any lumps and bumps so that clothes ‘hang’ nicely on you. So it can really change the way you look in an outfit but it’s not going to help you fit in a dress two sizes smaller or anything like that. 

How tight should shapewear fit?

You’re looking for a fit that’s firm (or what’s the point) but not uncomfortable. If you find it’s leaving red marks on your skin or, worse, that it’s hard to breathe properly or eat, you’re in the wrong shapewear. What you want is firm support and a bit of lift maybe, not an iron cinch.

How to choose the best shapewear for you

  • What are you wearing? - When choosing your shapewear, consider the style of outfit you are planning to wear. All-in-one bodysuits and slips are ideal for under dresses, particularly ones that allow you to wear your own bra. If you’re wearing something particularly fitted, pay attention to any visible seams or waistband support that will prevent them from rolling down. 
  • How much control do you need? - From light to firm control, how much shaping and smoothing are you trying to achieve? Medium control pants will provide a smooth silhouette but may be less effective at flattening tummy fat. Firm control can feel quite fitted if you’re not used to them, so consider how long you intend to wear them. 
  • What areas do you want to focus on? - Is it your muffin tops, tummy overhang or thigh chafing that you’re aiming to support? Some shapewear is better suited to overall shaping and smoothing, whilst others specifically target the tummy or lower abdomen. 
  • Consider the fabrics - The fabrics will not only determine how stretchy, elastic and comfortable the shapewear will be, but also how breathable and moisture-wicking it is too. Look at the fabric make-up when making your choice – some feel significantly softer than others.
  • Size up, not down - Whilst it may be tempting to buy a size smaller to achieve maximum compression – don’t do it. Buying shapewear that is too small will simply make you feel uncomfortable and at its worst or squash and squeeze your body to the outer edges of the pants. Not a great look. Whilst most shapewear brands recommend buying your usual size, some specify sizing up if you’re not used to firm control. 
  • Colours - Consider the colour of your shapewear which you could match to compliment either the outfit or your skin tone. Some shapewear brands offer more variety of skin tone shades than others.
  • Price tag - Finally, how much do you want to spend? Whilst quite often you get what you pay for, you can still pick up some medium control shapewear at a relatively reasonable price. If you are someone who socialises regularly, enjoys dressing up and is confident they can get regular wear, you may be willing to justify a higher price tag when you consider the cost per wear. 

How we chose our recommendations 

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users 

Mumsnetters have certainly put shapewear brands through their paces when dressing up for nights out and special events, with many Mumsnet users sharing experiences (both good and bad) of the shapewear they’ve personally tried and tested. 

First up, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users to get their feedback on their favourite shapewear, as well as the brands that they have tried, rated, and would recommend to their friends.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, ineffective, rolled down or simply failed to create a smoothing effect. 

Expert opinions

We then cross-checked our recommendations with the shapewear praised by top stylists, fashion industry experts, and tastemakers, to ensure we were bringing you the best products that are rated across the board.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best shapewear, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, John Lewis, Next and independent sites to get broader consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.