Shapewear: your questions answered!

Whether you’re plus size, curvy, petite, or mid-size; shapewear is revolutionizing the lingerie market and changing the way you look and feel in your special occasion (or everyday!) wardrobe.

We receive frequent questions about shapewear, so we decided to sit down and talk to Heather. She has worked in lingerie for over 15 years and at Brava for 5 years, so she is definitely an expert in this field!

In my opinion shapewear is an essential basic to have in your wardrobe; just like a raincoat or a pair of runners. Shapewear is a foundation garment that can be worn under all types of outfits for any occasion when you need that boost and added confidence to look and feel your best. Just like primer under makeup, it smooths your body line and helps hide your perceived imperfections. It can even perform tricks like an instant lift and tuck for soft tummies!

There are a variety of specific styles and shapes depending on the area of the body you wish to target and what outfit you're intending to wear your shapewear with. There has been ongoing development and improvements in these types of garments over recent years - the old fear of looking like Bridget Jones is definitely a thing of the past! Not only is it possible to feel sexy in shapewear, but it can also be the difference between wearing a beautiful dress and you beautifully wearing that dress.

However, there are some golden rules to achieving this and there is not a “does it all” option. The key is trying on a variety of shapewear to find what works best for you and your shape while still feeling comfortable (YES!! Feeling comfortable is possible!).

We have all had shapewear disasters; has your walk turned to a waddle like a penguin? Did you constantly keep hitching up a rolling down waist while on the dance floor? How do you avoid the terrors of the past negative experiences?

My five essential tips:

  • Never ever go  smaller than your regular size for “more control”! This totally doesn’t work as it causes the shapewear to roll down and you’ll end up spilling out of the hemlines. This can also force an epic muffin top or make your thighs look like a chain of sausage, because clearly the softer parts of your body have to go somewhere!
  • Try the shapewear on under your outfit BEFORE the event. Wear it around the house to break it in just like new shoes and make sure it does the job and fits comfortably.
  • Put shapewear on like you would a pair of pantyhose: gather it together and slip on the legs, then roll the waist up and put your bra on over the top to help anchor it. Can't rush this bit!
  • Boning is for corsetry not shapewear, avoid it at all costs! It adds bulk under your garments and shows through what you're wearing as well as being incredibly uncomfortable. (Don’t get me wrong it is suitable for a waist cincher but that type of garment was only appropriate for me to wear when I was between the sizes 6 – 10 and honestly would never put myself in one for a control garment or as a size 18!
  • All-in-one solutions are not going to be the best option. Our bodies all differ in shape and height let alone other proportions including bra size, so you’ll always benefit from a properly fitted bra and a piece of shapewear that really suits your outfit.

As tried and tested by me, here are my essential top picks that will cover you for anything in your wardrobe and any scenario

Light Control. Under summer dresses or high waisted jeans you can’t go past the Prima Donna Figuras Shapewear High Brief. These are by far the most comfortable I have ever tried; light, breathable and still gives really good control for tummies.

Firm control from your boobs to knees? Chantelle basic shaping high waist thigh slimmer is by far the best for control. They take a little extra effort to get on but are oh so worth it! Honestly gob smackingly good in the difference they made to how my dresses looked and for any special event.

A body suit. Going on a date and need a confidence boost? Let me introduce you to the Panache Envy body suit! No need to freak out being caught seen in these as you’ll feel sexy in a gorgeous shaping garment that smooths the waist and says bye bye to muffin top. (Hot tip: sizing is a little hard to get right in this piece, I suggest to go 1-2 sizes bigger in the body than your usual bra size. For example I am usually a 14FF/G and wear 18E in this style).

Your questions answered

Style your Panache Envy body suit with jeans! 

My jeans are a bit too tight – can shapewear help? Yes! A high waisted light control brief is perfect for this! It will smooth things out and help you avoid a belly flop backwards on your bed just to do the button up. Especially if we haven’t been exercising as much and you’re dreading putting on your favourite jeans from last season. The Chantelle light shaping briefs can be your best friend to avoid this struggle and easily zip your fave jeans up.

Do I wear anything underneath it? Nope! Shapewear is your base layer so there is no point in adding another base  as this will add awkward unsightly pantylines and it can ruin what you are trying to achieve with your shapewear.

How do I care for shapewear? Hand wash only with mild detergent (The Brava lingerie wash is perfect!) and line dry flat. Ladies NEVER use a washing machine! It stretches the fabric and will destroy the control in your shapewear.

I’m a bridesmaid; what do I wear under the dress? 

My suggestion is always selecting a colour that’s closest to your skin tone, get a good fitting bra and your shapewear FIRST. Take it with you for trying on dresses or a fitting with the dressmaker to achieve the best look. There are a few ways to get this right:

Firstly, what is your area of concern? Just your midsection? Go for a high waisted brief that finishes up at the bra line. Thighs and hips as well? A high waist control short. Make sure the shapewear always has a very fine hem. A laser cut finish around the leg is best to avoid VPL; after all shapewear is meant to make the dress fit in the best possible but to be concealed and not seen!

How is the dress cut? You don’t need to worry about hips or thighs if the dress isn’t figure hugging around this area. But beware if you are in a mini dress the brief is definitely a better option to a thigh short as sometimes, they can be a little too long on your leg and flash at the hem when walking. Is the wedding during summer? You don’t want to get too hot and sweat off your makeup because you’ve decided on the epic style shapewear that encases your entire body, lighter control may be more suitable in the heat of the day. Finally, there is also a nifty style of shapewear called an under bust dress slip which is much easier to go to the bathroom in! If your event is an all-day and your dress has covered shoulders this can be an ideal option for you instead of a brief or short.

Shop all shapewear here.