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How The Hell To Shop For Shapewear

I cannot stand VPL. The dreaded Visible Panty Line. Aside from the fact that this acronym contains the word ‘panty’, possibly the dirtiest word in the English language, VPL is just hideous to look at and should be avoided at all costs.

As a youngish woman, I’m often met with shock when I reveal to other women that I wear support unmentionables. I actually wear shapewear everyday, that’s how much I hate VPL. I don’t wear the hardcore, kidney crushing stuff on a daily basis but if you take a peek under my dress on any given day you’ll definitely find some sort of smoothing undergarment there. There’s a real Bridget Jones stigma associated with shapewear and I’d like to put a stop to it. Beyonce and Eva Longoria have been photographed wearing stomach suckers under their red carpet gowns. If it’s good enough for Miss B, it’s good enough for me.

If you’re not familiar with the old tummy suckers, it can be difficult to know where to start. I’m a seasoned shapewear buyer so follow me petal as I take you on a tour of my top 5 shapewear must haves.

1. A skin tone mini dress with removable straps

skin tone mini dress with removable straps

This is the single most useful item that I have in my wardrobe. I actually have two, one with a padded bra and extra support that provides additional cleavage when I’m going fancy and/or strapless, and an unpadded light support one that I wear more casually. I’m a huge Nancy Ganz fan, their pieces are expensive but worth it. Be sure to check online though before paying retail; I once scored one of their Sleek Slip Dresses (pictured above) for half the retail price on eBay. If you’re after older stock, then check out Zodee. They have a great range of shapewear, including Nancy Ganz, at reasonable prices. I also have a great one from Hush Hushthe black multiway slip. I like this one because it’s straight across the top and gives less cleavage for days when I want to keep the puppies covered up.

2. Skin tone high rise underwear

Skin tone high rise underwear

You want the underwear to go right up to your bra line to avoid your bra cutting you off across your back. I’m serious, it’s so unattractive but it works. If I’m wearing a really tight dress, I go to the power of two, layering high rise support underwear underneath my skin tone mini. It makes breathing a teeny bit more difficult but gives you smooth curves that would make Jessica Rabbit squirm. I’ve tried Spanx and honestly, they aren’t my favourite. I love Body Wrap High Waist Briefs (pictured above) from Freshpair. If you have thigh issues, I’ve heard that Assests thigh shapers are the bomb for mid-weight support and comfort.

3. A strapless singlet bra top

strapless singlet bra top

I don’t know when it became okay for young ladies to go walking around with their bra straps showing but Emily Post would roll over in her grave if she saw what we’ve become. You NEED a Sassybax Strapless Under Wire Torso Trim. I’m not fond of binding corsets so this relaxed yet supportive piece is perfect for wearing under tops where I don’t want bra straps showing.

4. A loose seamless slip

Loose seamless slipFor wearing under flowy dresses that cause static or stick to your skin. You won’t realise how much you need one of these until you own one. I like Soho modal slips. They sit beautifully under your clothing and they’re $25 from Myer. They’re also delicious to sleep in and little bit sexy too. Bonus.

5. A fitted black minidress slip

fitted black minidress slip

This needs to be less underwear and more clothing. I have a short black mini dress slip from the Nancy Ganz Dream Fit Cotton range  and I can’t even tell  you how useful it is. I wear it under too-short dresses to add a little length or under sheer pieces to give a little more coverage. Make sure you invest in quality. You’ll get so much wear out of this, it’ll be worth it.

Shapewear is an expensive but worthwhile investment. It’s the difference between a dress looking okay on you and looking spectacular on you. Keep an eye on eBay for bargain pieces and shop online for discounts. If you’re forking over big bucks for a gorgeous gown don’t upset the new dress by wearing her with terrible underwear. She deserves the best. As do you.

Do you wear shapewear? What pieces can’t you live without?

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.
P.P.S Don’t forget Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up!


  1. Nellie 10 years ago

    Thank you Lady Smaggle!! This was most enlightening. I have a weird “Am I just cheating?” thing about shape wear.. But it makes sense to smooth out what you got and make the clothes fit their best. I am going to go and spanx myself. That sounded weird didn’t it? I will take this post with me when I do.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Oh lord it’s not cheating at all! You’re supposed to buy shapewear in a size smaller than your are so I’m a large/14 so theoretically I should be an m/12 but I always buy my own size so I can breathe more comfortably and it smoothes more than sucks!

  2. Nessie 10 years ago

    Just wondering if you wear a bra under the shapewear? Or, is this overkill…

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      I do wear a bra under the cup-less slips and obviously under the under bust ones. Any that have cups and underwire, I don’t wear a bra.

  3. Erika 10 years ago

    Anything with silicon (non-slip) bands, and I come up in welts and blisters. I do have a pair of high waisted knickers for those clothes that cling a bit too much to the curves of living. But I’ve also got a proper corset (busk front, laced back) and will happily wear that. Currently thinking about a waist cincher (ie corset that doesn’t go over the breasts). I quite like that they can be worn either over or under garments. Well made ones are so comfortable!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Oh my goodness that’s awful! You must be allergic, poor thing. I quite like the silicone edges because it keeps everything in place. There are waist cinchers that I’ve heard are great, particularly for women who have had children.

  4. Vehs 10 years ago

    That skin tone high rise undewear pic you posted – how does that not cut into your bum cheeks and give you MAXIMUM VPL?

    I find if they are tight enough to hide my tum they cut into my kardashian sized bum.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      The don’t ride up at all! Particularly if I wear a slimming slip over the top. I have a fairly ghetto booty but if yours is Kardashian sized, try the little shorts. They’re the ones Kim wears. 🙂

  5. Nicole 10 years ago

    Write a comment…

  6. Nicole 10 years ago

    In the past the only shapewear I have worn have been the bike short style that goes to your lower thigh. I would use those for under skirts on a handful of times a year. I live in jeans and t-shirts.
    I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to pick up an all in one type piece for under dresses. Dresses that could look good, but I’m not gonna leave the house in them without shapewear. So they’re basically going to waste right now. I guess I’m unsure of brand because there are SO many here, and sizing.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Just give it a go and try something a little bit larger than usual so you don’t hurt your kidneys. It’s interesting though because I can’t wear jeans at all. I feel so uncomfortable in them. People’s wardrobe preferences are fascinating.

      • Nicole (@dorkabrain) 10 years ago

        Even more interesting because, during your 12 week workout routine, we realised we both have similar proportions. I dunno, I’ve just always been a jeans person. But I think my understanding of my own body and what looks good on me and what I feel good in has grown a lot over my life. I used to wear really baggy jeans, and then because I was a tomboy, I would push them down really low on my hips. The result was, jeans that would be too big worn properly, fit on my hips and were enormous on my legs. My GP used to point out that I needed to size down all the time. Then I got over that and started wearing slimmer fit, bootlegs. But they were low rise and gave crazy overhang and made me look fatter than I was. And then I moved on to higher waisted ones, that was really eye-opening. I probably look thinner now in those types of jeans than I did when I weighed less, but wore the trendy low-rise. And now I’m really into skinny jeans, always black, with some kind of spandex percentage. They’re really comfortable. Sorry for the wiki entry of my life as it pertains to denim pants : P
        I think preferences come down to what you’re comfortable in, and what you’re trying to project to the world. I am not a ultra feminine person naturally. I dress in all black because it makes me feel like a bit of a badass. And because when I don’t, my mood and self-esteem change. Along with that, I like stream-lined pieces, I don’t think I suit flowy, flouncy anything be it a dress, skirt, or my hair. And I think jeans are an easy way to keep with ideas. And I’m lazy haha!

        P.S. High Five on the new blog design. Looks great. Also, I was chuffed to see I could post through firefox again, but on the old site, my typing was light grey on white – hard to see! This is so much better.

  7. Steph 10 years ago

    I’m with Vehs – shapewear always cuts into my bum and gives the worst VPL ever! If I bought a big enough size that it wouldn’t do that it would be baggy everywhere else. The bike short type ones don’t cut in obviously but they are too long to wear under a lot of things… Is shapewear just not for me?!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Not necessarily… you can get short shorts and little boy leg shape wear too. If you wear a hardcore slip over your hardcore underwear there is NOTHING showing under your dress. Just try out a few combos and see what works for you. Honestly though, a pair of seamless skin coloured underwer, underneath a hardcore slip will be the best combo for a ghetto booty OR the little shorts version.

  8. Maz 10 years ago

    I’ve never had much luck with shape wear – my fat always ends up spewing out of the bike short type (even when I have gone up several sizes) and the high rise underwear always ends up rolling down so I end up exposing rolls fat. And I am not huge – size 14/16.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Bizarre, I’m a size 14 and I’ve never had any issues. Have you tried a full slip before? They’re my favourite. Also have you tried hi-rise underwear with silicone strip worn UNDERNEATH a full slip? It’s a killer combo as it stops the underneath shapewear from rolling down.

  9. Christine 10 years ago

    Such an informative post! I have been using suck in pants for a while now. Last year branched into under bust slips- but have never thought to wear them together! Going to try that for sure. Only trouble is you must allow plenty of time for visits to the ladies room. No quick pee and dash – those layers take some sorting and adjusting – especially if you’re also wearing tights. I’ve found ambra a good brand at reasonable price.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Totally! I also find that you need to be SUPER dry. If it’s humid and I’m feeling a bit sticky, I cannot get into shape wear to save my life. Shapewear is not my friend in Bali.

  10. Nellie 10 years ago

    Just checked out your new blog space. So chic, so fancy Lady Smags. Love it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Oh yay! I’m so glad someone noticed. We’re a doing a quiet ‘soft’ launch just to iron out the kinks but I’ll be doing a proper announcement soon! xxx

  11. TeeBee 10 years ago

    I love my shapewear – Trinny & Susannah All in one Body Shaper!!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      Are you kidding? Do Trinny and Susannah have shapewear? You JUST made my day!!!

      • TeeBee 10 years ago

        They sure do, I bought my first pair in Australia from David Jones about 5 years ago. Then when friends were visiting from the UK I had them bring me 5 pairs as it was much cheaper to buy over there!!!!

  12. Crystal 10 years ago

    Flexies by maidenform are my favourite

  13. Veronica 10 years ago

    Great post, it’s so good to get wearability tips especially for purchases that are usually time consuming in the first instance, and sometimes quite pricy! I’ve found target have a great range of seamless ( well one seam but it’s down the back!) full cut briefs that are a great everyday option. They are just a little firm on, not like shape wear, but have enough give to sit smooth across your bottom and don’t dig in at the waist, so you get a smooth tummy and bottom line in a light fabric.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

      I’m a huge advocate of the full brief. I love a cottontail. Anything full and firm is okay by me.

  14. Jess 10 years ago

    I love my high waisted shorts shapewear on the odd occasion I wear them but am not a fan of the high waisted skirt one I have as it seems to just roll up. Annoying!
    I also imagine the legless shapewear would give a bad VPL. That is my main reason for shorts & the only reason I really wear them. Although, they do still cut into the thighs a bit – even with my scrawny chicken legs! I don’t imagine they’d be great on larger thighs.
    With E cup boobs it has never crossed my mind to try the dress with cups in it. Never imagined it would give much support. Am I wrong??

  15. Author
    Carly Jacobs 10 years ago

    I’m a C cup occasionally B cup… I can just get away with strapless bras, not sure how E cups would go but I’m sure that they sell them! You could always try?

  16. eternalvoyageur 10 years ago

    How does that fitted black minidress slip work under too short dresses? Do you have any outfit photo where you’re doing that?

  17. Leigh Taylor 10 years ago

    Can I just add … beware of the ‘boyleg’ ..I have a drawer full of them ( various brands ) & they all ride up into your girly bits & bum.

  18. the Hills Are Alive 10 years ago

    Isn’t it ridiculously HOT wearing all that under your clothing

  19. Cooker and a Looker 10 years ago

    Shapewear squared? It had never occurred to me to wear one on top of the other. Pondering the possibilities…..

  20. Lisa Hayden 9 years ago

    Shapewear are a great way to hide the extra bulges around the tummy and thighs. I just love it.

  21. Kate West 9 years ago

    The fitted dress slip I have rides up.. and I mean bad. It starts about 5-6 inches above my knees and rides up to the end of my butt (guess it can’t climb up all those curves I have going on lol). Do I have the wrong size? I’m a large 14/16 and bought a large. I do have a very hourglass shape in the sense that my shoulders are very broad, I have a tiny mid section and enough hips and thighsn and a butt to share with a few others. I was hoping for a suggestion of what else I can buy to pair under my shorter more form fitting dresses?

    Thanks a bunch!

  22. Cassie Hargett 9 years ago

    That singlet bra is amazing! If I’d know about that before, I’d have lots of those! Though I think corsets offer more support than that, but still! Corsets are hard and all but that’s soft! That could be useful in so many ways! Glad I read this, I have a party to attend and I need to wear something that doesn’t have straps inside, and I’m trying not to use corsets this time. This is the answer!

  23. Annalise 9 years ago

    Great article! I have to say being a size 16 and with a figure hugging strapless wedding dress I found it really difficult to find shape wear that suited! I finally found the perfect one, it was comfortable, breathable, didn’t budge an inch (no rolling) and suited all my needs including most importantly smoothing out the dreaded rolls!! I wear it all the time since even on regular days out. This brand truly is amazing! They have a range of 10 different styles, I found mine here

  24. Colwear 8 years ago

    We sold a butt-lifter pant, XL size, to a customer that is now complaining saying that it looks too small and she doesn’t even want to try it, she wants to returned it. There isn’t way to make her understand that this type of stretching clothing is smaller than normal clothing, any advice? thanks.

  25. Juan Mrad 8 years ago

    Great Post and Great Images!!!

    Thanks for sharing information about the waist cincher.

    A waist cincher can add sexy curves to your body by smoothing out displeasing bulges to give you perfect hourglass figure. They compress outer body fat in order to shape the body to its desired form.

    In short, the waist cincher is all about taking care of mid-section challenges.One must try atleast once in their life.

    Take Care 🙂

  26. Brooke W 8 years ago

    Great post, it’s so good to get wearability tips especially for purchases that are usually time consuming in the first instance, and sometimes quite pricey!

  27. shazza 8 years ago

    I really want to add to this list! I came across this amazing new shape wear brand online, I heard great feedback from my friends whom spotted it on TV recently. Its called ATIR Shapewear, I immediately invested for my wedding day, and I have to say I was not disappointed! It gave me an amazing silhouette and I didn’t feel restricted during the day. I got free postage on this website

  28. Susan 8 years ago

    What is the best shapewear for a plus size woman (size 18) to wear under a long dress (mother of the bride dress)? Mainly concerned about lower stomach area and also wanting to not jiggle too much when dancing.

  29. Brian X Kiriba 8 years ago

    have helped my best friend with her three daughters with a lot of things through the years including info on shopping for lingerie. With the oldest, it was advice on fit and what to look out for with regards to proper fit. The 2nd and 3rd daughters had me take them shopping. Totally different experience from shopping with friends and girlfriends. Their trust and openness allowed me to help them find what they needed and wanted.

    At first it was basic color bras and fun prints for knickers. As they matured, talked with friends and influenced by what they saw; they requested different patterns, colors and fabrics. They still ask for advice and look forward to shopping trips.

    I have gotten used to the heart palpitations some of their request have caused but their respect and trust trumps all. Good luck to the single fathers, uncles and others who find themselves in this situation.

  30. Lisa Thompson 8 years ago

    Currently I have another choice. I use to wear Esbelt Shapewear. They suits me better and great fit for me. They offer different size of shapewear. I love all the shapewear you mentioned here. I would love to try it.

  31. Amanda reese 7 years ago

    I found out a long time ago that real super firm older open bottom girdles are a girls best friend. I have about six that are from the 60’s and they are heavy. One has laces that cinch you in until you can’t get your knees apart enough to get a dime in there, and a couple have zippers over hooks, and you are really unable to breathe much in them. I like the old playtex 18 hour open girdles and the whole body long versions of them. They are beyond hot if it’s going to be above 60 degrees your essentially feeling like your in a steam cabinet. I am 122 lb 5′ 6″ and the small and extra small are tight but make me look amazing. Worn under a bandage dress the 60 ‘S open long girdles can make you red carpet ready quickly.

    They all seem to be crazy tight at the knees so short steps ( really short steps ) is the reality of wearing a serious shaper. It does give you a sexy walk as long as you have a long time to get somewhere.

  32. Maria Johan 6 years ago

    This is one of the best article about shapewear for a women who have some different type of a problem to their waistline. I am always collect some informative information about shapewear. Those information help you to solve your all body problem. You can collect some information here:

  33. Make Vana 6 years ago

    Great post, it’s so good to get wearability tips.

  34. loverbeauty 5 years ago

    Thanks for recommending and I also wear shapewear. Keep updated.


  1. […] and strapless bodysuits are some of the best options for giving you lift where you need it most. As Carly Jacobs explains on Smaggle, nude, strapless shapewear dresses are essential items and will work with any piece in your […]

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