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Looking for the right shapewear? Experts share tips on finding the best fit

Because shapewear styles aren't one-size-fits-all.
Vivian Le / TODAY

If you're anything like us, the thought of wearing shapewear probably calls to mind a lot of squeezing and tugging. But not anymore, thanks to the dozens of shapeware options available on the market.

Still, you may run into pieces that are too long, restrictive, prone to rolling or size-exclusive. And even if they're good-quality, some are specifically designed to fit better under skirts or dresses, wick moisture, offer different compression levels — and so much more.

It's a lot to sift through. To help you find the best shapewear that's worth the price tag, Shop TODAY tapped style experts, as well as a bra-fitting pro and a board-certified OB/GYN, for their advice and favorite sculpting pieces. We also quizzed Kamari Stewart, Shop TODAY associate SEO editor and shapewear aficionado, on her firsthand experience and top picks.

What is shapewear? | Best shapewear | More top-rated picks | How we chose | Meet our experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best shapewear

Good shapewear "is simply meant to smooth your figure out underneath your clothing, minimizing any lumpiness," says Kristyn Polin, a bra fit expert at intimates brand Bare Necessities. Fashion stylist Micah McDonald echoes: "It just makes any piece of clothing that looks good then look great."

Style and wardrobe expert Lindsay Albanese adds that shapewear should not make you feel super constrained and uncomfortable. "I’ve worn shapewear that makes me feel like I might pass out because it is so sausage-casing and tight," she says.

But it is meant to be snug, says Dr. Kecia Gaither, a double board-certified physician based in New York City. This is why many body shapers come with a gusset an extra cloth panel sewn onto the crotch area of a garment, according to the gynecologist.

Best shapewear

Best overall shapewear

What we like
  • Stays in place
Something to note
  • Legs tend to roll up

Sizes: XS-4XL | Compression level: High (sculpting) | Colors: 5

Need proof that these high-waisted shaper shorts actually do the job? Stewart declares that she really ("really, really") loves this shapewear, which offers the perfect balance of fit and comfort thanks to its soft nylon fabric. The piece delivers high compression to enhance any outfit while also holding your tummy in place.

"They don't feel super compressive to the point of pain, but just kind of hold everything in place. It achieves the smoothing look that I want when I wear dresses," she details, adding, "Surprisingly, the top band doesn't roll down for me in the front, which never happens."

What's better: The brand offers a 60-day fit guarantee, and exchanges are free.

Best budget shapewear

What we like
  • Doesn't roll down
  • Has a panty liner
Something to note
  • A bit too supportive

Sizes: S-2X | Compression level: Low (smoothing) | Colors: 2

Looking for a versatile, affordable short that works for everyday wear? This smoothing pick by Yummie is on sale for just $10. It comes with a two-ply waistband and two-ply leg hems to prevent dreaded rolling. That same two-ply waist also adds smoothing definition to your tummy and the ruching at the back helps perk up your booty, too. Bonus: there are no side seams, so you'll also be comfortable.

One reviewer attests to the shorts' wearability: "Bought a few pairs and wore them on vacation sightseeing in boiling weather — stayed fresh and comfortable all day long and didn’t feel constrained after eating. Briefly considered sleeping in them a couple times even after wearing it all day."

Best shaping briefs

What we like
  • Great at smoothing shape
  • Stays in place
Something to note
  • Tends to run small

Sizes: S-2XL (dress sizes 4-20) | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 3

“The Maidenform Shapewear Firm Control High-Waist Briefs are really, really great,” says LA-based fashion stylist Micah McDonald. “What I love about it is it scoops out a little to glide along the natural lines of a woman’s ribcage and goes right under the bust. It has a front panel that [has] extra technology to hold the front down and contours the sides for that smooth hourglass figure,” he adds.

Best shapewear to use when pregnant

What we like
  • Has a smoothing effect
Something to note
  • Stomach area has light fabric

Sizes: A-D (95-220 lbs.) | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 3

“Yes, you can certainly wear shapewear during pregnancy,” assures Polin, as long as its not firm-control in the tummy area and is specifically designed as maternity. (Read our experts’ advice about wearing shapewear while pregnant in our FAQ section below.)

She recommends these maternity shaping shorts from tried-and-true Spanx. The mid-rise pair offers medium-level control, and they go down to the mid-thigh to help provide a slimming effect and minimize chafing. There’s also no band around the legs, so you can avoid the “sausage effect,” according to one Bare Necessities reviewer.

Best plus-size shapewear

What we like
  • Fabric is soft
Something to note
  • Leg area is a bit high

Sizes: XS-5X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 15

If you’re a fan of Skims or Spanx, you’ll probably also love the elasticity of these Yitty bodysuits, both of which also happens to be a favorite of Shop TODAY’s Stewart. The sculpting bodysuits, available in both mid-thigh and thong styles, will snatch in at your waist and enhance your hourglass figure. Many customers agree, raving about the ultimate comfort and support it gives — and several say it’s great if you have large breasts.

As for Stewart, she says, “[They’re] super comfy and really makes a difference when you put it on (even my mom was shocked when I tried it on).” She adds that the thong bodysuit, which she has in two colors, in particular can be worn with any bottom, “because it just looks like a plain tank bodysuit.”

More top-rated shapewear

Shapermint Truekind Seamless Racerback Sports Bra

What we like
  • Very comfortable and supportive
Something to note
  • Tend to run small

Sizes: S-3XL (32A-42H/I) | Compression level: Medium-to-light impact | Colors: 5

For a plus-size-friendly sculpting sports bra that’s both seamless and wallet-friendly, we like this new launch by Shapermint, now 45% off during their holiday sale.

This bra is both smoothing and stretchy, thanks to a lightweight blend of nylon and spandex. It offers light-to-medium impact support, a wide waistband and secure racerback straps.

MOVWIN Tummy Control Body Shaper Shorts

What we like
  • Doesn't roll at waist
Something to note
  • Not snug enough

Sizes: S-5X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 2

Reviewers say these shaping shorts actually work when it comes to hold and tummy control, likely due to the varying levels of compression in its panels that target different areas, such as the butt and thighs. There's also a silicone grip in the waistband to help minimize rolling.

Several shoppers were surprised at how well this budget pick performed. One reported, "I tried on this shapewear after coming home from eating burgers and drinking beer at a brewery. I was BLOATED and this shapewear smoothed it all out. It was so comfortable too. I did not feel like I was being squeezed to death and could sit easily. The gel tab at top is thick and didn't roll down."

Bali Tummy Panel Firm Control Shaping Briefs

Sizes: S-3XL | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 14

"Many options can be easily pulled up or down, just like your every day underwear, in order to use the bathroom. There is no right or wrong when choosing which style works best for you," Polin says. Her recommendation if you want to go for this style is Bali's tummy shaping underwear.

But just because you can easily pull these down doesn't mean they skimp on shaping. The briefs boast a smoothing, targeted tummy-shaping panel and they sit at one's natural waist, so any rolls will stay hidden and secured.

"[The] Bali Tummy Panel Firm Control Briefs are just right for giving me a smooth contour in my knit dresses," a Bare Necessities reviewer says.

Spanx Higher Power Short

What we like
  • Smooth out lines
  • Very snug and tight
Something to note
  • Top part rolls down

Sizes: S-3X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 4

If you’re looking for a high-waisted short that’ll smooth out your muffin top, but won’t feel too tight or compressive, Spanx’s Higher Power Short might just be the ticket. The lightweight short has no center seam for extra comfort, and the high waist features shaping zones that target your stomach but gradually releases so you can move more freely. Bonus? The waistband has a no-slip lining and there’s a double gusset so you can go to the bathroom easily.

Maidenform Bust Ultra-Firm Body Shapewear

What we like
  • Can be worn with a bra
  • Washes very well
Something to note
  • Light control

Sizes: S-2XL (Dress sizes 4-20) | Compression level: High (sculpting) | Colors: 2

If you’re in the market for a sculpting bodysuit, consider an open-bust design for more flexibility.

The Maidenform Open-Bust Bodysuit stands out because it “gives full-back technology that really conforms and holds the back in so there’s no bra indents and no spillage, which is really nice,” McDonald says.

It’s available in both beige and black, making it easy to pair with any outfit in your wardrobe.

Skims Sculpting Bralette

What we like
  • Very comfortable
Something to note
  • Can run small

Sizes: XXS-4X | Compression level: High impact | Colors: 10

“The Skims Cotton Bra is extremely comfortable, and I love the fact that the armhole is cut higher. So if you ever feel like a bra cuts you to where you have some spillage in the back or right under the arm because the armhole is cut so high, it smooths, controls and holds all that in,” McDonald says. “It shapes really nicely, and it’s also seamless.”

While the exact version recommended by McDonald is still unavailable, this sculpting bralette is lightweight and shapes well without adding extra bulk.

Miraclesuit Extra Firm Mid-Thigh Slimmer

What we like
  • Super breathable
Something to note
  • Provides medium control

Sizes: M-XXL | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 2

If you opt for a shaping piece with an open-crotch gusset, Polin recommends this extra-firm body shaper by Miraclesuit.

Not only does the open bust offer versatility when it comes to your outfits, but it also goes down to the mid-thigh, with the sheer legs supported by a silicone lining that helps them stay put. Plus, because it's made of super-stretchy microfiber and mesh, it'll be comfortable while still giving you the hold you need.

One reviewer said: "The suit fabric [is] very light and sheer but at the same time offers very good control. It gives enough room to move, eat and to be comfortable. I live in a very humid country and this suit doesn't make me feel as if I'm wearing an added garment that is covering my skin. The legs stay in place in the thigh area. The gusset is generous."

Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 High-Waisted Short

What we like
  • Lightweight material
  • Feels invisible
Something to note
  • Leg band can roll

Sizes: XS-3X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 4

“Sometimes shapewear can be so constricting...but [Spanx] really mastered the textile [for these],” says Albanese, who was a professional celebrity stylist for nearly two decades. "These truly feel like a second skin while also giving you that smoothing support that you need."

The Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 High-Waisted Shorts come in four different shades, including beige, tan, brown and black.

Spanx OnCore Mid-Thigh Short

What we like
  • Provides smooth fit
Something to note
  • Seams can show over clothes

Sizes: XS-XL | Compression level: Very high (ultra-sculpting) | Colors: 5

To avoid panty lines altogether, Albanese recommends going for these Spanx OnCore Mid-Thigh Shorts instead of traditional shapewear briefs.

Biker shorts will add additional smoothing, so you don’t have those lumps and lines that are caused by your underwear,” she tells us.

The OnCore shorts are a standby for Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach for days she knows she’ll be on air (she usually wears Spanx’s OnCore bodysuit).

Skims Sculpting Bodysuit

What we like
  • Can be worn as a bodysuit
Something to note
  • Material can shrink

Sizes: XXS-4X | Compression level: High (sculpting) | Colors: 10

McDonald loves Skims’ Sculpting Bodysuit because it promotes women’s natural shape instead of flattening it.

“It really focuses on that hip-to-waist ratio and really achieving the thinnest waist,” McDonald says. “We find with a lot of other shapewear that it just tends to kind of flatten everything, and we’re a big [proponent] of embracing your curves and molding and shaping your natural figure. We just believe that the Skims cut of the actual garments allows for that.”

Spanx Bra-Llelujah! Full-Coverage Bra

What we like
  • Great contouring
Something to note
  • Not very feminine

Sizes: 32A-40DD | Compression level: Medium impact | Colors: 9

Albanese calls the Spanx Bra-Llelujah Bra “the sweatpants of bras.”

“It’s the most comfortable bra that I’ve ever worn that isn’t a sports bra!” Albanese says. “The reason being that the band that goes around your bust is made out of hosiery material, so you’re getting that really comfortable fit that molds to your figure without digging into it.”

Lane Bryant Level 3 Contouring Shaper

What we like
  • Very snug fit
Something to note
  • Top straps a bit long

Sizes: 14-36 | Compression level: High (sculpting) | Colors: 2

This mid-thigh shaping bodysuit was designed for plus-size bodies in mind — it’s from Lane Bryant’s exclusive plus-size brand Cacique. It’ll smooth and sculpt from the top of your torso down to your thighs, and there’s a flattering sheer “illusion” mesh panel at the front as the cherry on top. Plus, the gusset is split for ease when going to the bathroom, and the straps are adjustable.

A reviewer noted, “I am somewhere between a 2x-3x with an apron belly. ... It smooths me in all the right places without being too tight. It’s definitely snug, but not uncomfortable. Actually, this is the most comfortable shapewear I’ve ever worn. I always have trouble with the legs rolling up but not these!”

Yitty Nearly Naked Shaping Mid-Thigh Bodysuit

What we like
  • Offers supportive fit
  • Breathable fabric
Something to note
  • Too snug

Sizes: XS/S-5X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 9

If you’re looking for a full bodysuit that’ll provide the perfect level of compression, look no further. This is one of Stewart’s favorite pieces from the brand. “It provides the perfect amount of shaping without leaving you gasping for air,” she laughs.

Honeylove SuperPower Brief

What we like
  • Doesn't roll up or down
  • Very comfortable
Something to note
  • Fabric not as soft

Sizes: XS-3X | Compression level: High (sculpting) | Colors: 7

This mesh brief is thoughtfully designed: Its high compression is targeted at the waist, and the boning gives enough contour and hold but is flexible enough not to be restrictive.

Stewart wore her first pair of high-waisted Honeylove shapewear while traveling. "It has a decent amount of compression, which meant it was a bit of a fight to get on without breaking my nails, but I didn’t find that it rolled at the top or anything like that. It was comfortable enough to wear for the roughly six to eight hours I had it on," she reports.

Zappos Classic Half Slip with Control Short

What we like
  • Soft and comfortable
Something to note
  • Not stable enough

Sizes: XS-XL | Compression level: Low (smoothing) | Colors: 4

For a high-quality slip that offers shaping without sacrificing breathability and optimal movement, you can't go wrong with Commando's half slip with a built-in short. It's made of premium European microfiber that's super lightweight, and it's equipped with four-way stretch to boot. It won't dig or cause any unwanted bulges, thanks to the raw-cut trims and you'll be able to throw this in the washing machine for ease of cleaning.

Honeylove InnerPower Sleeveless Dress

What we like
  • Flattering fit
  • Can be worn all day
Something to note
  • Runs small

Sizes: XS-3X | Compression level: Medium (shaping) | Colors: 1

Whether you're in search for the perfect smoothing LBD or dress for wedding season, Honeylove has you covered with its new InnerPower dress with built-in shaping panels.

The luxe-looking dress doesn't hold back on sculpting: Not only does it have interior shaping panels to accentuate your hourglass figure, but there's also a subtle shirring at the waist for extra tummy camouflaging. And you won't have to worry about wrinkles or creasing, thanks to its stretchy crepe outer fabric.

If you need more convincing, one reviewer noted, "Every time I have to go somewhere fancy, I wear this with heels and a blazer. Every time I have to go somewhere casual, I wear this with sneakers and a jean jacket. Is this dramatic to say? The dress has completely changed my life! It’s so much fun to wear and dress up and down."

How we chose

The Shop TODAY team selected the best shapewear based on customer reviews, performance and overall quality. Those that fit snugly and had a combination of cotton and elasticity, were selected. Also, expert tips were considered while choosing the best shapewear for specific needs like maternity.

Meet our experts

  • Lindsay Albanese is a style and wardrobe expert with 17 years of celebrity styling experience. She currently runs the curated marketplace the Fileist.
  • Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, FACOG, is a double board-certified physician in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine. She is also Director of Perinatal Services/Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx.
  • Micah McDonald is a fashion stylist based in Los Angeles who's been working with styling partner Wayman Bannerman to style celebrity clients since 2013.
  • Kristyn Polin is a Bra Fit Expert at intimates retailer Bare Necessities.
  • Avo Yermagyan is a Los Angeles-based celebrity stylist.