Definitive Guide to the Best Shapewear Out There

What Lies Beneath was a very good movie title. Not for the film content, but for what the term implies in terms of fashion. We tend to focus on the outer layer, when it's actually the base layer that does the hard work.

When I got married, I wore the most unattractive pair of nude, sheer cycling shorts from Spanx. Honestly, you can't get more unsexy than these yokes. But, they did the trick. They did the smoothening that I wanted them to do while leaving the back of my dress seamless.

But asides from bridal wear, we can all do with the odd piece of shapewear in our wardrobes. There are a variety of styles, like the unattractive, man repelling, cycling shorts, as well as medium to film control pants and tops that create that silhouette under the cling-iest of fabrics. So I've done the research to the layer below, and have some tips to share.

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
  • Size and fit - we don't need to stress the importance

The two things that contribute to good suck-me-in-pants are size and fit. All good lingerie departments in most of the larger stores are full of shapewear, and allow you to try them on before you commit to purchase.

If you are choosing a piece to wear with a specific outfit, always bring it with you to make sure it does the job in the best possible way. Too big and it defeats the purpose, and too small and your breathing may become impaired. Both things to avoid.

  • Control

Marks and Spencer, €35 Marks and Spencer, €35

The main word in shapewear. Now there a various kinds of control with the most popular being medium and firm. If you want to invest in some pants, then a high waisted medium control pair are perfect.

Firm is better for "body" style pieces and tops where you need to add some extra smoothening to the sides of your torso.

  •  Styles, where to start

Marks and Spencer, €17 Marks and Spencer, €17

A good pair of large pants are an all encompassing solution. The mother of all pants seen in Bridget Jones projected a truth to us all. Yes, they are large, but boy do they do the trick.

It's not, contrary to belief, about sucking the life out of your stomach through elastane pants; nope. It's about levelling out our bodies with the assistance of extra strong fabrics. Look, that's what I think and I'm sticking to it.

If you are wearing a gown (this one is for brides), avoid the all in ones, they are a nightmare to get out of on bathroom breaks. Separates are easier, so a well fitted bra and a good set of pants are my key pieces.

  • Brands, brands and more brands

Marks and Spencer, €50 Marks and Spencer, €50

There are just too many to choose from! But thanks to a lot of experimentation, my favourites are Maidenform (available at Arnotts and House of Fraser) and Marks & Spencer. Both are inexpensive brands that do not compromise on quality or fit.

Yes, Spanx were there first but they tend to be fairly pricey. Maidenform's range of pieces is exceptional, and have light to firm control in most of their styles.

  • It ain't trendy, but....

Your dress will look smooth and well fitting. I do hate when I put on a dress and all I can see is the seam of my pants under it. So sometimes it can be as simple as wearing seamless underwear with no control features.

It may not be the sexiest thing to exist, but it works! Have you shapewear favourites, and where did you find them?

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