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The Very Best Shapewear Pieces, From Back-Smoothing Bras to Compression Leggings

Shapewear isn’t just about cinching your waist or eliminating a bit of back flab. While those are awesome perks, obviously, a high-quality, well-fit shaper can improve your posture and give you a big ol’ boost of confidence. Compression garments come in every shape, size, and silhouette, so it’s important to find the piece that best meets your needs. Whether you’re looking for something to wear with your office-friendly pencil skirts or you need a slip that will work with the special dress you’re wearing to a destination wedding, we’ve got options. Keep reading for all of our favorite picks from sculpting bodysuits and back-smoothing bras to compression leggings and supportive maternity tights.

Shapewear FAQs

How does shapewear work?

SPANX, the brand that’s near synonymous with shapewear, may have made its debut in 2000, but compression garments are nothing new. Ladies have been squeezing into (at the time, organ-crushing) girdles and lace-up corsets for centuries. Luckily, we’ve come a long way. Today, high-tech microfiber and mesh garments have replaced bone- and steel-enforced cinchers. Modern shapewear uses highly engineered fabrics that work to flatten out problem areas and enhance natural curves. In most cases, shapewear simply compresses fat for a smoother, sleeker appearance, but in some areas—like your abs—the garment actually repositions fat, moving it into areas of decompressed muscle. Torso garments, in particular, can also improve your posture—that alone can make a difference in your appearance as you stand and walk straighter.

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Is shapewear harmful?

As long as you’re wearing the correct size, shapewear shouldn’t pose a risk to your health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, you should use common sense when choosing your shapewear. Does it irritate your skin or leave marks? If so, those are indications you’re not wearing the right size. While many assume that wearing a smaller size can help achieve even better results, the truth is that too-tight garments can move your organs in dangerous ways. The habit can also exacerbate acid reflux and heartburn, pinch a nerve (leading to numbness and tingling), or even lead to UTIs if you put off going to the bathroom because you don’t want to wiggle out of your shaper. While shapewear does have the power to turn you red carpet-ready at a moment’s notice, it’s essential that you find the right fit because a temporarily flat tummy just isn’t worth the side effects of sprayed-on SPANX.

What are the benefits of shapewear?

We can all agree that the number one benefit of shapewear is a sleeker, smoother figure, right? Shapewear is an instant esteem booster, but the positives don’t stop there. Properly fitted shapewear can also help improve your posture by pulling in your core and aligning your spine. The added support helps you sit straighter and walk taller which is invariably a good thing! Specially designed maternity and postpartum shapewear can also offer much needed support—more on that below.

SPANX POWER CONCEAL-HER EXTENDED LENGTH THIGH SHAPER before and after.
Photo/Bare Necessities

Can I wear shapewear during or after pregnancy?

According to WebMD, which interviewed Laura E. Riley, MD, the medical director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital, shapewear can actually be particularly beneficial during pregnancy. Riley notes that as long as your compression wear is comfortable and you can eat, breathe, and use the bathroom like normal, you shouldn’t be worried. In fact, she says that it can actually help women with varicose veins and even ease pain by lifting your uterus off your cervix. Postpartum wear can also support your midsection while engaging your core muscles. If you’re considering maternity or postpartum shapewear, consult with your doctor over any concerns you have and make sure you buy specially made pieces. Brands like SPANX, Motherhood Maternity, and Blanqi offer maternity wear with stretchy stomach panels that can accommodate your growing belly.

What should I look for in shapewear?

Buying shapewear can be a little tricky at first but consider the following and you’ll have a much easier time. First and foremost, you need to buy the right size. Many people assume you need to size down in order to achieve maximum compression, but this can cause extreme discomfort and lumps and bumps that actually make you look larger, so stick with your actual size. Next, consider your desired “performance level.” A lightweight garment will help you smooth out targeted problem areas, while thicker, firmer fabrics (those with more nylon, spandex, and elastane) will most drastically alter your shape. Finally, think about what you’re trying to achieve. Do you just need to eliminate chub-rub and slenderize your thighs a bit? In that case, compression shorts will do the trick. Are you looking to eliminate underbust rolls, back flab, and minimize your muffin top? If so, a bodysuit is likely in order. Shapewear comes in every silhouette you can think of, so consider what you want to wear it with before looking into your options.

The Best Shapewear

Best Shapewear Bras and Underwear

1

Best Back-Smoothing Bra

Leonisa High Profile Push Up Bra with Full Coverage.

Leonisa High Profile Push Up Bra with Full Coverage

Finding the perfect bra is a near-impossible feat. We already struggle to find options that combine the right cup size, band size, and support level—forget expecting it to smooth out our back, too. If your everyday bra draws attention to back flab and just won’t cut it with tight-fitting tops and slinky silk dresses, give Leonisa’s High Profile Push Up Bra a go. The full coverage bra comes in four neutral shades and uses PowerSlim firm compression fabric to tuck away underbust rolls and back flab.

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2

Best Smoothing Panties

Bali Women's One Smooth U All Over Smoothing Hi Cut Panty.

One Smooth U All-Over Smoothing Hi Cut Brief Underwear

Sick of underwear that rolls down, rides up, and pinches your skin? Try out Bali’s One Smooth U high-cut briefs. Bali claims that the flattering cut acts like shapewear but delivers all-day comfort, too. The underwear is available in more than 15 colors from neutral hues like warm cocoa brown and nude to bolder colors and patterns like black and white polka dots and purple vista.

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3

Best Tummy-Control Briefs

Bali Women's Shapewear Double Support Coordinate Brief with Lace Tummy Panel Light Control 2-Pack.

Bali Light Tummy-Control Lace Support Brief Underwear

Curve-hugging skirts, dresses, and tops calls for one thing: tummy-control shapewear. Luckily, thanks to brands like Bali, such garments have come a long way in the comfort department. The brand’s Tummy-Control Lace Support Brief uses a lace panel to target your midsection while nylon sides smooth out your hips and back. According to reviewers, the positives don’t stop there. Many people noted that the waistband doesn’t roll, and the material is silky enough not to cling to your clothes.

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4

Best High-Waist Thong

Skims CORE CONTROL THONG.

SKIMS Core Control Thong

Kim Kardashian knows a thing or two about shapewear—just check out her anatomy-defying Met Gala corset if you don’t believe us. Now, in 2019, the multihyphenate has added shapewear magnate to her own resume, too. SKIMS’ line of solution-focused, shape-enhancing undergarments includes the High-Waisted Bonded Thong. The mid-rise undie uses nylon and spandex to compress problem areas and enhance your natural shape. Best of all, the thong is size and race inclusive with options available in XS through 5X and shades sand through onyx.

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Best Smoothing Bodysuits

5

Best Shapewear Bodysuit Overall

Skims SCULPTING BODYSUIT.

SKIMS Sculpting Bodysuit

Need support in a few key areas including your core, butt, and bust? SKIMS’ Sculpting Bodysuit uses spandex and nylon to temper dimples and rolls without flattening your assets. Not quite sold? The one-piece comes in nine neutral shades and sizes XS through 5X. You can even see what the bodysuit looks like on a model your size before you purchase.

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6

Best Strapless Bodysuit

WACOAL RED CARPET MEDIUM CONTROL CONVERTIBLE BODYSUIT.

Wacoal Red Carpet Medium Control Convertible Bodysuit 

A well-fitting strapless bra is one of the hardest garments to find. Now up the ante looking for a strapless bodysuit… and things get even trickier. Wacoal’s Red Carpet Medium Control Convertible Bodysuit keeps back and belly fat in check with “second-skin” stretch microfiber mesh. Meanwhile, up top, your bust is supported with underwire and seamless foam cups.

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7

Best Open-Bust Bodysuit

Skims OPEN BUST BODYSUIT.

SKIMS Open Bust Bodysuit

Not a fan of strapless shapewear? We hear you. If you just can’t find the right fit, try an open-bust cincher instead. Open-bust shapewear smoothes out problem areas while allowing you to wear your own bra. SKIMS’ sculpting option features a “whisper-soft” nylon and spandex mix that’s moisture wicking and quick drying. The mid-thigh cut helps rein in thighs (and eliminate chub rub) while the rest of the suit targets your back, belly, and underbust.

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8

Best Full-Body Shaper

JL Women's 3050 Bodyshaper.

Jackie London 3050 Long Body Shaper

In the market for some extreme tummy control shapewear? Jackie London’s 3050 Long Body Shaper is hard to beat. The high compression bodysuit nips your waist and lifts your butt with “PowerNet” mesh and smooth lycra. The front comes together with a series of hook and eyes (much like a bra) and with three levels of tightness, you can determine your best fit.

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9

Best Body Shaper for Plus Size

SPANX Women's Plus Size Oncore Shapesuit.

SPANX Plus Size OnCore Firm Bodysuit

The SPANX Plus Size OnCore Firm Bodysuit is an investment, but users swear by its ability to smooth out lumps and bumps. The shaper—which is rated SPANX’s Support Level 3—uses fully-bonded front panels to flatten your tummy while non-compression bust and butt pockets ensure your best assets won’t be lost in the mix. One Amazon user said the shapewear shaved off a few dress sizes while another admitted “I was skeptical, but it truly made me look at least 10 pounds thinner.”

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Best Shapewear Tops

10

Best Shaping Tank

Maidenform Flexees Women's Shapewear Comfort Devotion Cami.

Maidenform Flexees Comfort Devotion Cami

Is it a casual layering piece or is it a tummy-targeting control top? Well, it’s both! Maidenform’s slenderizing Flexees cami offers flexibility in the bust while two-ply elastane material simultaneously contours your core. Since it’s available in black, white, and nude, you can easily find one that works under all of your button downs, cardigans, and sheer blouses. Bye bye, muffin top!

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11

Best Shapewear Sleeves

Invisible Super Comfy Upper Arm Shaper Compression Vest.

Leonisa Invisible Super Comfy Upper Arm Shaper Compression Vest

If you’re self-conscious about your arms, Leonisa’s compression vest may just be your new best friend. The versatile garment’s special “SkinFuse” material seemingly eradicates arm flab while crisscrossing back seams work to improve your posture. Perhaps best of all, the vest is outfitted with four-position hook and eye closures (on the front) so you can easily adjust the fit.

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Best Shaping Shorts and Slips

12

Best Shaping Shorts Overall

Soma Smoothing Short.

Soma Smoothing Short

Afraid of flashing people in your favorite sundress? Looking to smooth out imperfections before slipping on your favorite silk skirt? Or just interested in eliminating thigh chafe? Soma’s Smoothing Short is ideal for all that and more. The no-show lightweight shorts are constructed from a mix of nylon and spandex that offers light compression without any pinching or digging.

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13

Best Long Shorts

SPANX POWER CONCEAL-HER EXTENDED LENGTH THIGH SHAPER.

SPANX Power Conceal-Her Extended Length Thigh Shaper

Ready to rock your favorite bodycon dress without worrying about your thighs? Slip into a pair of SPANX’s Power Conceal-Her Extended Length Thigh Shapers, and you won’t be able to resist checking yourself out in the mirror. The stretch microfiber shorts offer medium control compression while a built-in “booty lifter” gives your backside a little boost.

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14

Best Shaping Slip

Slimming Cami Slip with Rear Lifter.

Leonisa SkinFuse Slimming Camisole Slip

So you’re looking for something to slip on under your favorite form-fitting dress. That’s easy enough, right? While you can find plenty of compression slips, few can flatten your tummy without giving you a pancake butt in the process. Leonisa’s SkinFuse Slimming Camisole Slip makes sure your assets are emphasized with a mesh design that’s control-free around your bust and tush.

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15

Best Shaping Half Slip

Half Slip with Cool Comfort.

Maidenform Half Slip with Cool Comfort

Shapewear is usually no small investment, but Maidenform’s Half Slip is well-reviewed and just $36. The no-pinch slip, which is available in black and nude, helps you achieve an hour-glass figure while their signature Cool Comfort fabric also, as the name suggests, keeps you nice and cool.

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Best Shaping Leggings and Tights

16

Best Leggings

90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Tummy Control Shapewear.

90 Degree by Reflex High-Waist Tummy Control Flex Capri

Whether you reserve leggings for yoga classes and gym sessions, or you rock an athleisure look here, there, and everywhere, 90 Degree by Reflex’s High-Waist Tummy Control Flex Capri will certainly win your favor. The leggings feature four-way stretch material that both compresses and supports your bod. If you fall in love with them—4,500 five-star Amazon reviews tell us you likely will—you can grab another pair in one of the 30 on-trend colors.

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17

Best Shaping Tights

SPANX TIGHT-END TIGHTS SHAPING OPAQUE.

SPANX Tight-End Tights

Tights get a bad rep for a number of reasons. Some pull and snag, while others bag out after a few hours of wear. SPANX’s Tight-End Tights not only stay in place, but they sculpt your hips, thighs, tummy, and rear while a non-binding waistband makes sure you can breathe. Reinforced toe seams also make sure you don’t poke a hole in your tights as you hastily pull them on in a bid to make your dinner reservation on time.

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Best Shapewear for Maternity

18

Best Shaping Underwear for Maternity

Maternity Support Panty.

Leonisa Maternity Support Panty

Nobody wants to spend their day yanking up underwear that rolls and slides—and forget wedgies! Leonisa’s Maternity Support Panty offers a full coverage high-waisted design that utilizes an external reinforcement band to gently support your belly. The comfortable DuraFit panty can also help prevent back pain, which is a major win.

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19

Best Shaping Shorts for Maternity

Secret Fit Shaping Panty.

Motherhood Maternity Secret Fit Shaping Panty

Flowy sundresses are a pregnant woman’s best friend and Motherhood Maternity’s shaping panty will make sure you don’t flash anyone on your next outing. The no-show shaper features a mid-thigh cut and a soft, stretchy waistband that can accommodate your growing belly. While it’s lightweight and breathable, it does get to work smoothing your hips and thighs.

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20

Best Leggings for Maternity

Mama Look at Me Now Seamless Maternity Leggings SPANX.

SPANX Mama Look at Me Now Seamless Maternity Leggings

Everyone needs a pair of cozy leggings for padding around the house, running errands, and staying comfortable during long travel days. Throw a growing belly into the mix, and there’s even more excuse to lean into leggings and away from jeans. SPANX’s Mama Look at Me Now Seamless Maternity Leggings feature a high-waisted over-the-bump design that doesn’t compress your stomach. Instead, the nylon and spandex leggings focus on smoothing out your hips and thighs.

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21

Best Tights for Maternity

Mama Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights SPANX.

SPANX Mama Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights

SPANX’s Mama Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights deliver all-day comfort and support with a non-binding built-in shaper. Essentially, the low-compression design offers belly and back support while making sure your thighs and butt get a little extra love. One five-star reviewer noted that the tights felt supportive without crossing the line into dangerous, “sausage-like” territory. Another raved about being able to wear them comfortably in both her second and third trimesters.

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