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The ultimate guide to shapewear and what each one does

Slim and tuck all the right places with these shapewear options that will have you looking fabulous
 

Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

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We all have our favourite pieces in our wardrobe. But if you’re like most people, chances are some of them are too tight, especially with all that festive bingeing you’ve done over the holidays. So while these pieces spark so much joy, we also risk looking like the Michelin man.

That’s where shapewear comes in. These pieces work by using a tight, stretchy fabric to squeeze and smoothen all the rolls and lumps, creating a slimmer physique and enhancing your natural silhouette.

Kim Kardashian, who revealed to US Weekly that she layers her bodyshapers, is not the only fan of these foundation garments.

 

Shapewear is big business; in fact Allied Market Research estimates that the compression and shapewear business will grow to US$5,576 million by 2022. The most famous of them is of course, Spanx, whose founder Sara Blakely is estimated to have a net worth of one billion USD since creating the brand in 2000.

From bodyshapers to waist trainers and arm shapers, we give you the ultimate guide to nine different types of shapewear and what each one does. Time to bring sexy back.

 

1. Bodyshaper

Like what the name implies, bodyshapers help sculpt the body contours, more specifically, the torso area that includes the waist, hips and tummy. These bodysuits can also extend to mid thigh or end with a panty.

How to pick: While there are bodyshapers that hug the entire midsection, some might find them too restrictive. To mitigate that problem, pick those that have a panel that specifically pulls in the tummy if it is the only area you are targeting.

Best for: Bodycon dresses.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Next firm control shaping body, $46

If you’re dipping your toes into bodyshapers, start with something affordable like this one from Next. This features detachable adjustable straps that can be removed when you are wearing strapless dresses. It is also available in nude that can be hidden underneath light-coloured outfits. We love the sexy lace detail at the bum.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx spotlight on lace bodysuit, US$74-78 (S$99-105)

This sexy number from Spanx has just the right amount of sensuality and functionality. Boasting an overall soft compression and a panel that targets just the tummy, the lace detail adds a touch of femininity to the piece. Pair it with a cream drop neck blouse under your cream white blazer and trousers for the sharp yet foxy work look.

 

2. Open-bust bodysuit

Part of the bodyshaper family, the open-bust bodysuit is not built with a bra and is suitable for those who want to pair this with their own intimates, such as bralets or bras that have greater support. A great option for nursing mothers as well, who are using nursing bras.

Best for: People with bigger busts and V-neck tops and dresses

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx suit your fancy stretch bodysuit, US$99.75 from Net-a-Porter

This Spanx open-bust bodysuit extends to almost the ankles, so it can be worn underneath tight-fitting bottoms like leggings and leather pants. Also a great option if you’re going with a figure-hugging jumpsuit. Plus, its seamless design will prevent any VPL from showing.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

D’Elegance bodysuit, $588 – $608

Also available in nude and beige, this embroidered bodysuit from local luxury shapewear label, D’Elegance, is also marketed to help with post-delivery bodyshaping. Its back and hip smoothing qualities also make it great to wear underneath outfits with thin materials, like a satin slip dress.

 

3. Deep plunge bodysuit

Also part of the bodyshaper family, this iteration has a barely-there bust, which is best paired with deep V-necklines tops and dresses. Some designs are strapless and come with an adhesive bra that sticks to the bust — for such versions, we recommend investing in a reputable brand with quality adhesives so the piece can last through multiple washes.

Best for: Tops and dresses with deep, plunging cleavage and necklines.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Fashion Forms U-plunge self-adhesive backless thong bodysuit, US$31.77 from Net-a-Porter

Sporting self-adhesive bra cups and an open back, this bodysuit is great with low-neck, strapless dresses. The underwired construction also provides moderate support and lift to the bust to accentuate, but not suffocate, your assets.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx suit your fancy stretch-jersey bodysuit, US$151.84 from Net-a-Porter

The shoulder straps from this Spanx creation are adjustable and convertible, which means it can be worn linearly like a regular bra (as pictured) or worn as a crossback. The piece also comes with clear straps. The stretch-jersey material makes it invisible under the tightest of dresses, and the deep back plunge means it can be worn with super sexy backless dresses.

4. Corsets

Beauty standards have changed dramatically since the funnel-shaped corsets of the Victorian era, where the severe constriction of the torso can cause breathlessness and even organ damage. Corsets can come in two forms these days: One that just wraps around the waist (also called a waist cincher/trainer/slimmer) and another that is built with a bra top.

Best for: Blouse, tops and jumpers.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Impression lace corset, $12.90 from Zalora 

This impression corset is designed closer to a waist trainer. Not only will it tighten your tummy and lift your posture, its scoop neckline allows you to wear it with a lacy bra together with tops with plunging necklines to show off your décolletage.

Spend: 

Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

D’Elegance corset, $638

Combining a brassiere and a waist slimmer, this D’Elegance corset tucks in the tummy and smoothens the hips for an enviable waistline. The adjustable convertible straps allows this piece to be worn strapless as well.

 

5. Singlets and Camis

Unlike the previously mentioned categories of shapewear, singlets and camis are less effective in providing a well-defined figure, because they lack the structure afforded by bonings and panelings. However, singlets and camisoles are the most comfortable and easy to wear and you won’t feel as suffocated.

Best for: Outfits made from thinner and flowy material such as silk and satin.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx socialight cami, US$38-48

This smooth, basic piece evens out your torso, and its adjustable straps allow you to adjust the level of support you need. Plus, the single-layer microfibre construction means that this cami is breathable even in Singapore’s weather.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Commando whisper weight stretch camisole, US$52.10 from Net-a-Porter

This black number from Commando looks similar to a spaghetti top, which means you can either wear it underneath fitted tops or as a standalone piece that you can match with distressed denim for that model-off-duty look.

 

6. Slips

While bodysuits are great to cinch your midsections, they can be very troublesome especially when nature calls. Enter the slips. They work the same way as a bodysuit, except they are more convenient and comfortable. Similarly, they should be your top choice if you want to rock a skintight bodycon dress.

Best for: Dresses.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Next firm control wear your own bra shaping slip, $43 

As the name suggests, this scoop neck slip shapewear gives you the option to match with your own bra. The back of this slip goes up halfway, which allows you to go bare back with your clothing options. The panel around the tummy firms that region, while the lace at its hem add a delicate touch.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx haute contour nouveau stretch-mesh slip, US$167.73 from Net-a-Porter

Made with stretch mesh that ensure that this slip moulds and smooths to your body, the added panelling at the tummy helps to keep it in place as well. We love the flat seams that make this piece virtually undetectable.

 

7. High waist bottoms

Whether it’s made into a thong, a brief or a boxer, these high waist shapewears do three things: Cinch the waist, tuck the tummy and snatch the thighs.

Best for: High-waisted shorts and mini skirts.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Next firm control high waist thigh smoother, $34

This piece is made with 100 per cent power mesh which is used to shape the waist. The lace trimmings add sex appeal but have a functional use as well — they provide grip to ensure that this waist and thigh trimmer does not roll down, chaff nor dig in.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Wolford stretch-tulle thong, US$134.05 from Net-a-Porter

Made with lightweight, breathable tulle, this Wolford thong helps to cinch in the waist while velvet trims ensure that it stays in place and sculpts your shape.

 

8. Tights

Whether you’re wearing them under pants or under a short dress like Twiggy in the ’60s, tights can get your gams in shape and ready to slay. Bonus: Most are built with high-waist trainers as well.

Best for: Skinny jeans and leather pants.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Wolford miss W 30 denier support tights, US$41.93 from Net-a-Porter

These Wolford black sheer tights help keep your waistline in check while giving all-round compression on your gams to give you comfort and support. The shaped heel also means that you can ditch the sock as well. Can be worn with a mini skirt and booties to elevate your overall look.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx velvet leggings, US$115.63 from Net-a-Porter

The high-waisted silhouette helps smoothen your lower back and waist while the inner satin lining ensures that these tight leggings are easy to slip on and off. The plush velvet fabric is luxe enough to be worn alone, so you can pass them off as jeggings without fear of people judging. Wear with a slouchy sweater and sneakers for a preppy vibe.

 

9. Arm Shapers

Sometimes, no matter how much bicep and tricep curls we do, we just can’t get rid of those stubborn excess underarm flab. These arm shapers not only help to contour them, they also act as a physical barrier against the harmful UV rays from the sun. #Score!

Best for: Long-sleeve tops and jumpers.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Leonisa invisible slimming arm shaper, US$25

Made with the brand’s signature SkinFuse compression fabric, the adjustable hook back closure ensures that this arm shaper stays securely in place while slimming your arms.

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Your guide to the different types of shapewear and what to get for your needs

Spanx arm tights stretch top, US$36.85 from Net-a-Porter

This Spanx top can pass off as a sports top, so you can confidently wear it to the gym while you work those arms. This will look great underneath a cropped top, especially when paired with leg-toning tights.

ALSO READ: HOW TO: CARE FOR YOUR UNIQUE FABRICS

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