I need to caveat this feature by saying that if you’re ever looking for a quick, easy method to knock your body confidence down a peg or two, trying on a load of shapewear and taking pictures from every angle is a surefire way to do it. Demoralising though this exercise may have been, I do now feel well qualified to opine on the very best shapewear out there. Like most women, I have unwanted cellulite, rolls and general nasty areas which – when dressed, anyway – are easily solved with the help of these clever knickers. May I present to you my findings…
Best For: Stomachs
Miraclesuit Back Magic Waist Cincher, £41.50
To kick off proceedings, the Miraclesuit – available at John Lewis – promises to make you ‘look 10lbs lighter in ten seconds’. A corset-style waist-cincher, ten seconds is a bit of an understatement. The impossibly stretchy nylon/elastane/spandex body is so tight it was a serious struggle to get on. However, once fitted around my waist, it was easily the slimmest I’ve ever looked. The notes I jotted down while trying on this piece simply read, ‘Wow. Look tiny.’ A thick, elasticated panel guarantees it isn’t going anywhere (although I can’t promise it won’t make you a little sticky on the dancefloor) plus it actually claims to support your back too. Given the tightness, I can only imagine it will do wonders for your posture. Forget pilates and a tummy tuck, this is the £40 alternative.
At this point, M&S’s Magicwear Geometric Firm Control Low Leg Knickers deserve a shout out. A pleasant, tummy-tucking surprise given their conventional knickers fit, they have a little more stretch, making them much easier to get on, plus they offer great bum coverage as well as working wonders for your tummy. Where the Miraclesuit cinches in your waist, the M&S knickers pull in that unwanted spare tyre – great if you’ve indulged a little too much over the festive build-up. Mesh panelling makes them look a little more like lingerie than shapewear, which is always a plus.
Best for: Thighs & Bum
Spanx Power Conceal-Her Mid-Thigh Shorts, £63
The good news is that if you have a sudden urge to try the cycling-short trend, these Spanx shaping shorts can double up and help you get the look. The same thickness you’d expect from high-performance active wear, they’re not sexy, pretty or subtle, but golly do they do the trick. Whether it’s to smooth out cellulite or just create the illusion of smaller thighs, these shorts genuinely do tuck everything in – plus they’re the perfect balance of stretchy enough to pull on and off, and tight enough once on that you really feel them working. Compared to other high-street shorts, these were significantly more effective and worth the extra cash.
Best For: Comfort
Unfortunately, when it comes to shapewear, it’s often the more uncomfortable, the more effective. Aubade’s high-waisted briefs were easily the comfiest I tried – not counting the Spanx long shorts which won’t be for everyone – but they didn’t have quite the same suck-in impact as the rest. They were still successful in smoothing out rolls and were easy to pull on, plus their panelling detail makes them one of the more attractive in the bunch. But if you like that compression feeling, M&S’s Magicwear knickers strike the perfect balance.
Best For: Sexiness
Wolford Stretch-Tulle Thong, £52.50 (was £105)
Bridget Jones used to have to make a choice between flattering shapewear and knickers that would be more appropriate if she ended up ‘in flagrante’. These days, Wolford solves that dilemma with its stretch-tulle thong, which defies the laws of nature by being crafted from the thinnest material and still being incredibly good at sucking everything in. There are so many benefits to these: the tulle and velvet combo makes them actually attractive, plus they’re unexpectedly effective at pulling in the stomach area in particular. However, if you don’t already enjoy wearing thongs, you certainly won’t enjoy this more extreme version. Wolford isn’t cheap, but these are currently available in all sizes in the NET-A-PORTER sale, so if you’re after good-looking shapewear, act fast.
Best For: Upper Body
Heist does some of the best tights out there, so it’s no surprise its foray into shapewear has been a success. Slick, unfussy and also pretty good looking (imagine a really flattering lingerie-coloured swimsuit) the Outer Body uses all sorts of clever technology to firm, shape and compress, eliminating any unwanted backfat or love handles. If you’ve ever experienced the unpleasant roll of skin that can develop between high-rise shapewear knickers and a separate bra, you’ll recognise this subtle full-body design is a godsend. It’s also got a hook-and-eye clasp – no struggling in and out here.
Ed’s Personal Favourite...
M&S Geometric Firm Control Magicwear Low-Leg Waist Cincher, £29.50
Trying and testing a large selection of shapewear has certainly made me up my game – I’ll be investing in Heist’s Outer Body and Spanx’s shorts without a doubt. But the pair I always come back to, which I couldn’t not recommend, are M&S’s low-leg Waist Cinchers. I like a skimpy evening dress and these bad boys suck you in like nothing else, even beating the bloat from champagne and an excessive number of G&Ts. The cut is really sophisticated: a stretchy section that skims the top of your thighs means there are no seams to dig in and create new, unwanted rolls – ideal if, like me, your thighs are a problem area. Plus, they support your bum, and somehow they never make you too hot. Oh, and they’re high street. It doesn’t get much better than that.