The 10 Best Body Shapers
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Control underwear has come a long way since the days of whalebone and petticoats, and you don't have to be troubled by a sagging bustline or overflowing waistband to want a more flattering look in the latest fashions. These modern body shapers are designed to strategically realign your natural curves and make you feel confident and comfortable whatever you wear. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 17, 2019:
When some people think of shapewear, they think of discomfort, but even at the highest level of compression we have found some brands have found a way to help suck things in without pain.
We added the Spanx Oncore Shapesuit because unlike earlier sculpting options from this brand, this shapesuit has less bulk that makes it a little easier to get into and provides more flexibility while still giving confidence.
We replaced the Roc Bodywear for men with the Esteem Apparel Original because the Roc brand material has gotten thinner over time and it never offered much in the way of slimming the tummy, just the chest. The Esteem actually offers some all-over compression and incorporates mesh shoulders so it isn't to difficult to get on and off.
Choosing A Body Shaper That Fits Your Life
Many options provide compression from mid thigh all the way up to the bust, and can be warm, constricting, and uncomfortable if worn for hours on end, day in and day out.
A piece of body shaping clothing is often referred to as a foundation garment. That terminology is apt, as these unique accessories alter the very appearance of your body, which is indeed at the foundation of any outfit you will ever wear. Whether you are looking for a body shaper comfortable enough for daily wear while you work or travel around town, or you need a foundation garment that can help you fit into that gown or those slender pants reserved for a special occasion, options abound will surely suit your needs.
In choosing a body shaper, first consider when and where you will likely use it. If the answer to "when" is "all the time," then you may want to opt for the less is more approach to your body shaper. Many options provide compression from mid thigh all the way up to the bust, and can be warm, constricting, and uncomfortable if worn for hours on end, day in and day out. A better approach to daily shaping is to choose a body shaper that focuses only on your upper legs, butt, hips, and belly. These are the areas where most unwanted body fat tends to deposit, and during your workday there's truly no need to be accentuating the chest anyway.
If you do want to achieve a sexier figure with your curves and chest looking their best, there are plenty of body shapers available that offer almost whole body enhancement. Many are designed to hide away beneath your clothes, made in flesh toned colors and without adornment. Still others embrace form and function together, coming in deep, bold colors, with decorative elements ranging from lace to frill to sheer, practically see through fabrics.
A body shaper can also be a great accessory for a woman who has recently given birth and is trying to reclaim the figure she had before her pregnancy. Not only can shape wear help you achieve the look of that pre-baby figure faster, but it can in fact help you to actually regain your figure. Body shapers may help tone and tighten abdominal muscles that were softened during gestation, and the few degrees of added heat they cause your core to retain are thought to help you shed weight more rapidly.
The Body Shaper And Active Wear
A body shaper helps you look your best by holding your body in its best possible shape, but contrary to popular misconception, these garments are not generally suitable for use as an exercise accessory.
In fact, most body shapers are not at all suitable for use during exercise; this is true partially because they can restrict motion, partially because they can make a wearer uncomfortable, and largely because they can preclude the use of other articles of clothing you might need, such as a sports bra.
While a sauna suit may create some of the same curves and support a person expects from a body shaper, that's where the similarities end.
Often people improperly conflate the use of slim, snugly fitting sauna suits with the use of a body shaper. While a sauna suit may create some of the same curves and support a person expects from a body shaper, that's where the similarities end. Sauna suits are purpose built to be worn during vigorous exercise, helping to improve weight loss through maximized perspiration.
So too are waist cinchers and body shapers sometimes confused. While there are several waist cinchers that are suitable for use during exercise -- and which might in fact help a woman gain her desired figure more rapidly, especially as part of a post-pregnancy workout routine -- these represent a small subset of a separate product category.
Overall, when exercising it's best to choose garments and accessories that offer you the support you need for safe, comfortable performance, and to worry about the way your body looks when you're away from the gym or the jogging trail. While a body shaper can offer little support during active exercise, it can certainly help your set personal goals for how you want your body to look as a result of diet and exercise.
Body Shapers Of A Time Gone By
If you thought Sara Blakely, the inventor of the now globally popular line of body shaping products known as Spanx, was the first person who ever came up with a body shaping product, you are in need of a quick history lesson.
In the 19th Century, the arguable zenith of corset popularity, these uncomfortable garments were occasionally worn by men as well.
Perhaps the first body shaping "device" that comes to mind is the semi-infamous corset. This undergarment can be dated to at least the 16th Century, though similar items likely predate it. Corsets are designed to create the almost universally desirable hourglass figure by forcing a woman's torso to adhere to its contours. Corsets are usually cinched in the mid section, rendering a woman's figure its narrowest near hear navel, and accentuating the hips and the bust, often to a ludicrous and even injurious degree.
In the 19th Century, the arguable zenith of corset popularity, these uncomfortable garments were occasionally worn by men as well. The intense pressure they could put on a torso paired with regular use over the course of many years could alter the shape of a person's body, often leading to health issues.
Even more extreme and permanent examples of body shaping included acts such as foot binding seen in parts of China well into the 20th Century and neck elongation, practiced in areas as divergent as South Africa and Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Fortunately, most severe and permanent forms of body shaping have faded into the history books. Today's body shapers are comfortable, safe, and easy to take off any time.