3 Reasons Shapewear Deserves a Home in Your Wardrobe

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In my 11 Strategic Style Solutions guide, I highlight the top three shapewear pieces every woman should own: a shaping tank top or camisole, a pair of high-waisted Bermuda shorts, and a one-piece unitard or shaping slip. (As a brief aside, if my guide is news to you, join my mailing list at the very bottom of the page to claim your free copy. When it comes to building a flattering wardrobe, I believe education is everything. My 11 Strategic Solutions guide is a fantastic place for you to start learning the basics.)

If you’re thinking shapewear is only intended for the older crowd, think again. It’s a whole new day for shapewear. I know some delightful young women in their early 30s and they are asking plenty of questions about shapewear too.

You may also recall that not long ago, a certain Kim Kardashian announced her new product line: Kimono Solutionwear™. In her now controversial Instagram announcement, she stated she’s been passionate about developing the product since she was 24 years old. 

There was backlash around the culturally insensitive moniker⁠—the new name is still pending⁠—but her line is geared for every woman and will likely do very well. It includes a variety of styles available in nine shades, sizes XXS - 4XL. There’s even a short designed to be worn under garments with thigh-high slits. Clearly shapewear is not exclusively for those of us with plenty of grey hair.

The reality is shapewear benefits anyone with curves. If you fall into that category, regardless of your age, I believe my top 3 shapewear pieces deserve a place in your wardrobe. Here’s what you ought to know about overachieving undergarments.

1. Shapewear firms and provides supreme support

There’s this thing called gravity. It’s what keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground...and it’s also the culprit that causes every part of our ever-loving bodies to swing south.

Shapewear is the anti-gravity antidote. It supports like a dream and prevents bouncing. This is a boost for most women’s busts, bellies, and backsides. Expect a boost in self-confidence too.

2. Shapewear streamlines your form 

Some stylists call shapewear the hardest-working pieces in a wardrobe. It smooths and minimizes day in and day out. Some garments even take inches off a woman’s body. 

This is not to say that a slim, firm figure is the ultimate goal. Beauty is not one silhouette.  Shapewear is not solely designed to make you appear thinner. 

The point of shapewear is to smooth your curves so garments fall properly, the way they do on a mannequin or dress form. Think about it this way: If your dress is a bicycle, shapewear smoothes the pavement, so to speak. The dress can move freely with ease and not get caught on any dips and bumps.

So that form-fitting dress you weren’t so confident to wear last weekend? It might stand a fighting chance for making an appearance at your upcoming party once you slip into some shapewear.

3. Some shapewear is scientifically proven to do your body good

While our predecessors had to suck it up in painful corsets, we get to enjoy comfortable shapewear that moves with our bodies. Cutting-edge textile technology mean today’s shapewear does more than smooth and streamline.

A new breed of lightweight and high-performance fabrics actually improve circulation, reduce cellulite, boost collagen production, and reduce muscle fatigue. They literally can be worn all day and some product lines, like FIRMA, suggest wearing shapewear to bed to maximize its physiological benefits.

I personally wear my shapewear tank almost every day because I absolutely love the way it pulls everything in and smooths my upper body. The support is something I’ve come to love. I miss it if I don’t have it on.

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So, you’re convinced you need some shapewear. Now what? Here are a few things to consider before you rush out and stock up on shapewear.

1. Lean on a lingerie expert

I highly recommend you get the help of a seasoned professional, especially if you’ve never shopped for shapewear before. Begin your search at a specialty lingerie store that carries one or two lines of shapewear.

If you live in the greater Vancouver area, here are some other great places to get help.

Bare Basics Lingerie, Steveston, BC

Boutique Blanche, Tsawwassen, BC

Silhouette Fine Lingerie, South Surrey, BC

Forever Yours Lingerie, Langley City, BC

Diane’s Lingerie, Vancouver, BC

Romantique, West Vancouver, BC

2. Arrive prepared

If there is a specific garment you are looking to wear over your shapewear, bring it along. Doing so will help the salesperson know exactly what is necessary. You’ll leave the store confident that your purchase will meet your needs perfectly.

3. Shop alone

Shapewear is a personal purchase. A clerk’s advice is more valuable than that of a well-meaning friend. Save the social shopping spree for when you want to pick out some giggle-inducing sexy sleepwear. 

4. Allow yourself plenty of time

You’ll need to try on a number of styles. I recommend taking several hours so you don’t feel rushed. You won’t be replacing your shapewear anytime soon so take the time to make sure you find the perfect garment. If you take care of your shapewear and launder it appropriately, you’ll likely enjoy it for ages. I’ve had my unitard for at least seven years.  

5. Shop early or drop in before closing

Chances are the store will be quiet and you’ll get the kind of attention you need. (As an aside, I recommend using this shopping tactic whenever you’re in the market for some kind of speciality purchase, like a bra.)

6. Start with skin tones

I highly recommend purchasing skin-toned shapewear first. Once you’re ready to round out your collection, consider charcoal or black pieces next. While skin-tones are the most versatile overall, dark shapewear is most appropriate beneath black garments. 

7. Don’t settle

Comfort is key. Excellent shapewear allows you to move freely, almost forget you’re even wearing it. Nothing should ride up. There should be no squeezing or pinching. Once you are dressed, if you have to tug on it even once, it’s a piece to skip.

8. Be prepared to invest

Shapewear is not inexpensive but the investment is worth it. You get what you pay for. To extend its performance, always wash shapewear according to the manufacturer's instructions and never ever put in the dryer. It’s the kind of thing that dries quickly overnight anyway.

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If you don’t own any shapewear, now’s your chance to round out your wardrobe. Building a solid foundation with proper undergarments will enhance your appearance and confidence. Everything you wear will fall properly and your body will benefit from increased circulation.

If you’ve already got a shapewear collection, what condition is it in? Does it fit properly? Is it serving you well? If so, great. If not, maybe it’s time to revisit shopping.

By purchasing the appropriate undergarments, you can enjoy your wardrobe for all its worth. There’s something wonderful about slipping into shapewear and then zipping up dresses or pants you’ve been avoiding because you just don’t feel svelte in them. Quite literally, shapewear has you covered from stem to stern.