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10 best shapewear pieces that support and define your curves

From bodysuits to everyday undies, these figure-hugging styles look as good as they feel

Emily Dawes
Wednesday 10 April 2024 11:34
Thankfully, this bracket of the market is only getting more inclusive
Thankfully, this bracket of the market is only getting more inclusive (iStock/The Independent)
Our Top Picks

Shapewear isn’t for everyone – and it certainly doesn’t need to be used to conform your body to any kind of silhouette if you’re uncomfortable wearing it.

However, if you’re firmly in the “pro” category and love it for its confidence-boosting capacity – or you’ve never tried shapewear before and are looking to dip a toe to see what all the fuss is about – then you’ve come to the right place. After a lot of trial and error, we’ve brought together our favourite pieces to make the search for your next (or first) style a little easier.

Despite the recent meteoric success of Kim Kardashian’s sellout Skims brand, it’s not an effortless task to find the perfect piece to suit you. There are a lot of options out there – from full bodysuits to waist cinchers and everything in between – all with a variety of features such as plunge backs or no seams. But this abundance can be more than a little intimidating, not to mention time-consuming to scroll through.

This edit aims to help you feel a little less overwhelmed. All you need to do is pinpoint what your needs are and start from there. Do you want to focus on shaping a certain part of your body, for example? Or prioritise feeling sexy while supported? Perhaps you have a specific outfit in mind, or need a more versatile piece that works under everything?

The good thing is, shapewear is an area in fashion that’s only getting more inclusive; from the wide spectrum of skin tone hues to sizes ranging up to UK 30. No matter what you’re after, we hope you’ll find something here that works for you.

How we tested the best shapewear

Anyone who’s ever tried to squeeze themselves into a pair of Spanx knows trying on shapewear is not an easy task. But at IndyBest we take our role as reviewers seriously. We tried on more than 30 pieces of shapewear, across 15 different brands, to decipher which are the best shapewear items worth your money.

The pieces that did it for us after the first try made it to our second round of trials, which meant taking these pieces out on the town and seeing how they fared after a few hours – some stayed put, some didn’t. Some we forgot we were wearing (hello, Heist), and some we desperately wanted to rip off by the time we got back home (don’t worry, they didn’t make the cut).

We judged based on four factors: comfort, effectiveness, price and versatility. Some excelled in different areas and we’ve highlighted which pieces we think are the best shapewear for different circumstances.

The best shapewear for 2024:

  • Best high-waist shorts – Heist the highlight short: £68,
  • Best waist cincher – Miraclesuit waist cincher: £44,
  • Best everyday knickers – M&S firm control sheer stripe no VPL high leg knickers: £15,
  • Best investment shapewear – Spanx suit your fancy low back mid-thigh smoothing bodysuit: £132,
  • Best upper-body control – Skims essential crew neck thong bodysuit: £38,

Heist the highlight short

Heist the highlight short indybest.jpeg
  • Best: High waisted shorts
  • Size range: UK 6 - 22
  • Colourways: Black, almond
  • Materials: Polyamide, elastane
  • How to wash: Hand wash or machine wash at 30C
  • Why we love it
    • Easy to get into
    • Body contouring panels
    • No-slip waistband

Let’s all agree –trying on shapewear isn’t the most fun of activities, with all that writhing and wriggling and breathing in. But discovering Heist’s new highlight shorts during our trials almost made it all worth it. These glided on (compared to others we tried, anyway), and felt extremely secure once in place.

Firm but not too tight, you feel supported in all the right places while still being able to comfortably move – and breathe – which is always a plus. Body-contouring panels smooth thighs and hips, while flattening the lower stomach, cinching in the waist at the top and lifting the bottom. The second-skin material moulds to you, not the other way round, with a seamless free-cut edge for zero VPL, and certainly no thigh bulge. Plus, there’s a no-slip waistband to avoid any dreaded rolling.

There are two skintone colours as well as a useful black (which you could probably even wear as cycling shorts on the morning coffee run). Plus, they’re breathable, with 20,000 laser perforations in the fabric to stop you from getting all hot and bothered. They’re great all-rounders that you can throw on under a huge range of outfits whenever you need that extra little confidence boost.

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Miraclesuit waist cincher

Miraclesuit back magic waist cincher indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Waist cincher
  • Size: S-XXL
  • Colourways: Black, nude
  • Materials: Nylon, elastane
  • How to wash: Hand wash
  • Why we love it
    • Defines the waist
    • Perfect for high-waisted trousers
  • Take note
    • Some may want to size up
    • Could be easer to get into

Hate the faff of having to squeeze in and out of shapewear to go to the bathroom? If it’s a more defined silhouette you’re after, why not try a waist cincher? Miraclesuit’s version was the most effective we tried, and it was especially good under slim-fitting dresses or high-waisted trousers.

The clever panelling with firm control sucks you in in all the right places (maybe size up if you like breathing), and, as a bonus, it helps with posture too. Although it’s hard work stepping into it, the seamless design is much more invisible under clothing than a hook-and-eye corset. Waist supports do have a tendency to roll down or up (one of the cons you don’t get with a bodysuit), but this style has sticky panels that help to hold it in place, especially under tight clothes.

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Skims seamless sculpt sculpting mid waist briefs

Skims seamless sculpt sculpting mid waist briefs indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Mid-waist brief
  • Size: XXS-5XL
  • Colourways: Beige, black
  • Materials: Nylon, spandex
  • How to wash: Machine washable
  • Why we love it
    • Lightweight
    • Flexible
    • Nine shades
  • Take note
    • Enhances rather than alters your shape

OK, we get what all the hype is about now. We know we’ve already talked about the Skims bodies, but these mid-waist briefs were so good they deserved a mention too. They’re super light, flexible and, most importantly, comfortable. The wide size range is a huge plus, as well as the fact that there are nine different shades to choose from.

We tried these under everything during testing – from dresses to suits and jeans – and can vouch for how easily they slip into your wardrobe and make everything look just that little bit better. They’re more medium than firm control, we’d say and are designed to enhance your shape rather than dramatically change it, but if you’re looking for a great balance of comfort and support, they get our vote.

  1. £34 from
Prices may vary
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Magisculpt Ella lace firm control underbust black slip

Magisculpt Ella lace firm control underbust black slip indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Plus-size shapewear
  • Size: UK 12 - 30
  • Colourways: Black
  • Materials: Polyamide, elastane, polyester
  • How to wash: Hand wash
  • Why we love it
    • Panelling for a streamlined effect
    • Great value for money
  • Take note
    • Feels very tight

This pretty black slip is deceptively supportive. Despite looking effortlessly great when it’s on, the thick material and intelligent panelling mean you also get the desired streamlining effect. If you’re not a fan of shorts and bodies, it’s an excellent alternative option, with a sticky band around the bottom seam that keeps it in place. Plus it's excellent value given that it feels much more expensive when you’re wearing it.

They’re not lying when they say firm control, though. We tried a size up and even that felt very, very tight (although you get used to it after a few minutes). This is, however, the nature of the beast, and the key to its success – it seriously does the job, smoothing and defining all over. Perhaps not one for an all-day wedding, but you could probably get through a few hours of date night in comfort.

The underbust feature may seem awkward at first, but it means you can wear it with your own bra, which makes finding the right fit a lot easier. We loved how sexy it felt with the lace detailing too – perfect for impressing. Maybe just don’t let them watch you attempt to take it off…

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M&S firm control sheer stripe no VPL high leg knickers

Marks & Spencer & Partners firm control sheer stripe no VPL high leg knickers indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Everyday knickers
  • Size: UK 8 - 24
  • Colourways: Black, beige
  • Materials: Polyamide, elastane
  • How to wash: N/A
  • Why we love it
    • Affordable price
    • No VPL in sight
    • Highly supportive

We all know how dependable M&S is for lingerie (if not, where’ve you been hiding? And what underwear have you been wearing?!), so it’s hardly a surprise that it has made our top 10. These firm-control knickers are not only affordable – a great option if you want to try out the world of shapewear to see if it’s for you – but also do exactly what they say on the label.

There’s no VPL, so you can throw them on under anything, which makes them great for everyday wear. But, most importantly, the firm control panelling at the front does a great job of holding you in. They’re comfortable despite the high level of support and the high leg cut is figure-shaping enough to make them look really flattering with or without clothes on. Going up to a size 24, these make a great plus-size option and come in two skin tone shades and classic black. You can always count on M&S.

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Spanx suit your fancy low back mid-thigh smoothing bodysuit

Spanx suit your fancy low back mid-thigh smoothing bodysuit indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Investment shapewear
  • Size: UK 6 - 14
  • Colourways: Black
  • Materials: Elastane, nylon
  • How to wash: Machine washable, flat dry
  • Why we love it
    • Comfortable
    • Double-gusset design
    • Detachable straps
  • Take note
    • Pricey
    • Could be easier to get into
    • Consider the oncore mid-thigh super firm for a larger bust

After shapewear that does the job, still makes you feel sexy AND doesn’t get in the way of clothes? The answer is to invest in this piece of magic. Yes, it’s expensive, but for the feel-good factor it brings, we think it’s worth it. Of course, Spanx has a reputation for being the best and there’s a reason for it. Despite new kids on the block like Skims and Heist, the original shapewear brand has been perfecting its technology for more than 20 years, so it remains hard to beat.

You’ll have to squeeze into this one, but once it’s up, it’s incredibly smoothing all over, and very comfortable as shapewear goes. Features include a five way convertible and detachable straps for halter neck and racerback options, additional clear straps and a hook-and-eye back for extra support, and a thoughtfully designed double gusset opening (not to be under-appreciated in a restaurant or bar toilet situation).

The lightly padded cups provide excellent lift and support in place of a bra although – full disclosure – our tester is only an A-cup. From delving into online reviews it sounds like the oncore mid-thigh super firm shaping bodysuit (£92, may be better suited to larger busts (D and over), while still having impressive comfort and shaping features.

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Skims essential crew neck thong bodysuit

Skims essential crew neck thong bodysuit indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Upper-body control
  • Size: XXS-5XL
  • Colourways: Onyx black, ochre beige, umber neutral, mica beige, sienna neutral, cocoa neutral, oxide neutral, sand, clay beige
  • Materials: Nylon, spandex
  • How to wash: Hand wash cold
  • Why we love it
    • Long-sleeved silhouette
    • Inclusive sizing
  • Take note
    • No panelling

Self-conscious about your arms? In need of some upper-body streamlining? There’s no one that does bodies better than Skims (thanks Kim!). Acting like a second skin that hugs you in all the right places, this thong bodysuit is very comfortable. If you have a long-sleeved crew neck dress or top, it would sit invisibly underneath it. Need less coverage? Try the strappy seamless sculpt sculpting bodysuit (£60, instead. While testing we also loved wearing this as outerwear with a blazer and jeans – a look approved by Kim herself.

With a hugely inclusive size range, this style works for every body, moulding to your shape and, well, just making it look better – which is what we all want from our shapewear, right? Although there’s no panelling here and the fabric is quite light, the body feels surprisingly supportive and produces great slimming results, especially on the arms. The seamless design is super flattering, and unless you’re desperate for extra lift, you shouldn’t need to wear a bra with this – that’s how supported we felt.

  1. £40 from
Prices may vary
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Dorina Bridgitte high waist black control brief

Dorina bridget high waist black control brief indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Sexy shapewear
  • Size: UK 8 - 16
  • Colourways: Black
  • Materials: Polyamide, elastane
  • How to wash: Machine washable
  • Why we love it
    • Pretty lace detailing
    • Targeted support

Dorina first launched in 1968 and has since held onto its reputation for producing well-fitting and pretty lingerie. These simple (as shapewear goes) high-waisted black knickers are the perfect answer if you’re looking for some everyday tummy control that still passes as beautiful underwear, especially when undressed. With less restrictive fabric, and less overall coverage, they’re comfier than a lot of the firmer styles, but don’t be fooled into thinking you get less support because of this – it’s just more targeted. The lace is a pretty detail that doesn’t take away from the smoothing technology, and the high rise cinches you in nicely at the waist. The ideal style for when you want sexy knickers with a little more support.

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Spanx maternity mama shapewear shorts

Spanx maternity mama shapewear shorts indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Maternity shapewear
  • Size: Small, medium, large, extra large
  • Colourways: Biege
  • Materials: Nylon, elastane
  • How to wash: Hand wash and air dry
  • Why we love it
    • Supportive design to help with lower back pain

If you’re feeling like you need a little extra support for your bump, these Spanx maternity shapewear shorts offer just that, without any restrictive feeling. The high-rise waistline goes over and above the bump with a non-compression area at the front that grows with you, and nice firm support in the rear to help with any lower back pain. The shorts feel like a thick tights material, so there’s no sucking in needed, but they do give a great lift on the bum and smoothing support around the thighs – perfect for a pick-me-up if you’re ever feeling particularly self-conscious in an outfit.

  1. £30 from
Prices may vary
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Heist contour seamless body

heist .jpg
  • Best: Comfortable bodysuit
  • Size range: UK 8-22
  • Colourways: Black, almond
  • Materials: Polyamide, lycra elastane
  • How to wash: Machine wash at 40C
  • Why we love it
    • Adjustable straps
    • Cleavage-enhancing cups

Made from the same material as its super comfortable tights, Heist’s new contour bodysuit is a dream to wear. Designed to give medium, even compression in all the right places, it creates a flattering and seamless silhouette underneath clothes, with adjustable straps ensuring the perfect fit.

Subtly enhancing cleavage, thanks to the flexible knit cups that mould to your size (you could forgo a bra with this suit), it cinches you in at the waist while smoothing your torso. Supportive yet not constrictive, the sleek design will give you a layer of confidence underneath clothes.

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Shapewear FAQs

How to choose the best shapewear for your body?

The right shapewear also depends on what you’re wearing it for. According to Bravissimo, if you’re looking for something to wear every day, briefs are a great way to give a bit of tummy control and shape your bum for that sleek look. High-waist briefs are also ideal if you’re looking for that little bit more tummy control and a discreet cinch at the waist.

Bodysuits are a versatile option, if you don’t want to hide your shapewear, as they can be worn under outfits or with jeans for a stylish underwear-is-outerwear look. While you want to create a smooth silhouette by wearing your shapewear, you’re ultimately not going to be confident if you aren’t comfortable.

Should I get a smaller or bigger size for ultimate coverage?

According to Spanx, if you’re between sizes, for example, a size medium waist and a size large hips, it is recommended to choose a seamless product. The brand suggests sizing based on your largest measurement but if you prefer a more relaxed fit, to size up.

The verdict: Shapewear

It’s hard to select one overall winner when everything in this list leads within its own different category. However, if we were to purchase just one piece right now, whether as an introduction to shapewear or to bolster an existing collection, it would have to be Heist’s highlight shorts. Versatile, comfortable and extremely effective at streamlining and smoothing to provide that welcome confidence boost: what’s not to like?

For more underwear go-to pieces, try our edit of the best comfortable bras that are wireless and supportive

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