How to Buy Shapewear

Dear Budget Fashionista:

I’ve never worn body shapers ever. I always thought they were for old women, but as I get older I’m starting to reevaluate that. I don’t know much about them, how to size them, etc. Will you help me? Will you tell me what I need to look for? I can’t wear anything that is going to roll but worse—show a panty line.

Answer: What do Tyra Banks, Gwyneth Paltrow and Heidi Klum has in common (besides being gorgeous)? They all wear shapers, most notably Spanx. Look, the point of shapers are to help smooth out the lumps and bumps that all women have (yes, even supermodels). Unless your grandma looks like Tyra, no one will mistake it for granny underwear.

While I’m a big fan of “packaging,” I am NOT a fan of crushing one’s internal organs. If you are new to shapewear, your best bet is to start off with a kinder, gentler, shapewear like the Assets line available at Target. This line is made by the Spanx folks, but 50% cheaper (around $10-$15) than the expensive brand. Start off with a pair of Asset power panties, reading the back of the package, which gives you sizes according to your height and weight, to get an idea of the size you need. If you are a bit on the taller size (5ft 9inches and above), always go up a size. For your first time, I would advise purchasing two sizes to see what size is more comfortable for you.

One more thing . . . in terms of semantics, refer to shapewear like Spanx, which only cover a portion of your body, usually your lower half, as “shapewear”. The term “bodyshaper” is usually used to refer to shapewear that have built in bras and cover you from bust to bottom.