Madonna does it, Anne Hathaway does it and Oprah certainly does it.

From princesses to divas, heads of state to the girl next door, these days ‘mother’s little helper’ is not a pill it’s shapewear.

Shapewear has become an essential part of most contemporary woman’s wardrobe and why not when the right style ensures you have a streamlined silhouette? 


Girdles were the first piece of shapewear recorded in fashion history. Typically made with leather and linen, girdles were designed to support and accentuate the chest and were first worn by the Ancient Romans and Greeks.

During the Elizabethan and Victorian era, girdles made way for corsets, which were the most popular shapewear of the time. Most shapewear designs go with the fashion trends of the time, like always, shapewear is designed to complement prevailing fashion trends. As the 20th century approached, girdles became back in vogue while bras, panties, and camisoles also helped in enhancing one’s figure, and shapewear became a permanent part of women’s closets everywhere.

The fashion industry has progressed well beyond the traditional shapewear of yore. Now, you can find different levels of control and various types of coverage when it comes to shapewear. Other notable advancements are butt-lifting shapewear, multiple strap shapewear for versatility, a plethora of colors to match with your garment, and so on. Moreover, fashion and design technology has eliminated unsightly seam lines and better control panels too. Shapewear is now also made more fashion forward, and it has recently been designed to look sexier and designed to look more like lingerie.

PicMonkey Collage

Source: Image 1, Image 2

PicMonkey Collage

There’s something for every need

  • Body slimmer: These dress length body slimmers are designed to smooth and slim from the bustline to the knees. Made of comfortable, firm fabric that will not ride up. 
  • Bodysuit: This looks like a one-piece swimsuit. It has a built-in bra and tummy control all in one. Great when you want to trim the waist and control the tummy.
  • Cami Top or Cami Bra: A camisole-looking piece of shapewear that gives a seamless and toned look under knits and clingy tops. Perfect for eliminating bra bulge. Available as a cami or cami and bra.
  • Control Brief: A brief with a built-in front tummy panel. The solution when a flat tummy is desired. Very useful under straight skirts, knits, and flat-front pants. Also known as a tummy shaper.
  • Thigh Control Brief: Light to strong control brief that can firm the tummy, bottom and thighs. If large thighs are your problem, select style with light control at the leg hemline.
  • High-waisted Brief: A control brief with an extended waistband to give shaping and support to the waistline. Eliminates any line at the waist and gives a smooth shape to the sides.
  • Waist Control Bra: Similar to the high waisted Brief, this garment slims the waist but is connected to a bra. Often a better choice as it has less chance to roll when seated.
  • Footless Hose: A control brief with legs extending down the thigh. This smoothes the thigh-line and eliminates unwanted bulges and movement.


Shapewear 101

  • Shapewear is made to enhance your existing figure. Embrace your curves, and keep in mind that shapewear is made to reveal the best version of you.
  • Keep in mind the silhouette and type of garment you will be wearing your shapewear with. Choose control briefs or panties for midi skirts, full slip shapers for that little black dress and so on. Also, remember to think about exposed straps when wearing shapewear, there are strapless options available for that.


  • Don’t be tempted to buy shapewear larger or smaller than your real size, you can choose a higher level of control of your garment if you need more constriction.
  • Keep an eye out for cotton-blend options that makes shapewear more breathable and cool. 
  • Always step into shapewear, even camisoles, and pull the garment up over the hips to avoid trapping the head and arms in the shaper. Also, bunch up the shaper like pantyhose and pull it on while gradually releasing the fabric. Leave crotches hooked or snapped, as it can be difficult to get these fastened once the shaper is on. The trick is to go slowly and be patient. 
  • When fitting shapewear, bend, stretch, sit and walk around in it to ensure it fits well and doesn’t restrict your movements.
  • Buy the shapewear that suits the garment you’ll be wearing e.g., an all in one for a dress or cami top for under a light weight sweater.
  • Any shapewear that has even the slightly change of being seen should be in a color that becomes invisible with the garment. Nude works for light colored items while back is best for dark clothing. 

Notable brands

At the forefront of the shapewear revolution are two notable brands, Spanx and Nancy Ganz. Nancy Ganz revolutionized shapewear and introduced it into the Australian market in the 90s with its Hip Slip product. The Hip Slip is the modern version of the girdle and it cemented Nancy Ganz as a brand powerhouse when it comes to shapewear. Its new innovation, Nancy Ganz SLIMS, is 50% thinner than traditional shapewear. The brand also now offers swimwear with control options.

Spanx, on the other hand, is a brand and collection of shapewear created by Sara Blakely. With an almost cult following from celebs and regular women alike, Spanx has introduced the power that shapewear has to increase one’s confidence as well as one’s chicness. Spanx has a wide selection of shapewear, from jeans to undergarments to swimwear.


  1. With the high wasted brief I used in the past, I had trouble with the top part rolling down when I was seated…how do I prevent that?

    1. Hi Denise, That’s a problem I’ve experienced too but it does not happen to everyone. I tend to opt for full length and teddy styles.

  2. […] The right lingerie or shapewear will make an enormous difference. You may think that what you wear underneath doesn’t show or is irrelevant—that’s where you’re wrong. Your underwear affects how clothes sit or drape on your body. Shapewear is a worthy investment in this department since it provides an excellent foundation for your clothing. It will smooth any bulges and it will make sure your clothes fit perfectly. The right underwear has the same effect, so invest in your bras and panties, ladies. Trust me, it will pay off. The right shapewear and underwear will kill wobbles and perk up your chest area. It will make you look your best. If you want to know more, click this link for my in-depth feature on Shapewear.  […]

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