The Best Shapewear for Women of 2023
Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 Mid-Thigh Short is our top pick.
Amy Louise Bailey is a freelance content creator and media specialist. Her work has been published in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Condé Nast Traveler, Bloomberg Pursuits, and Robb Report.
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Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington
Once the domain of red carpets and occasion dressing, shapewear has become an everyday staple for a diverse range of customers. It’s no longer defined by discomfort and Bridget Jones-style aesthetics; there are wearable options for multiple wardrobe scenarios. And, according to a report published by Allied Market Research, the market is projected to reach $6.9 billion by 2030.
Commando founder Kerry O’Brien refers to it as “confidence-wear,” adding that the aim of shapewear is “not only to get that smoothing effect, but to feel good in what you’re wearing.” There is no doubt that the right undergarments can make an outfit, be it a backless top, a slinky slip dress, or a skin-tight pair of pants — having support in specific areas can be a sartorial game-changer.
Any garment that creates the illusion of a more sculpted form is a good thing to have on hand, whether you’re traveling or going about your daily routine. But Sapna Palep, CEO of leading lingerie retail destination Journelle, notes that it’s “not designed to make you several sizes smaller.” In her view, effective shapewear should “hold you in, add coverage, and support and smooth you out.”
Options range from full bodysuits and smoothing tanks to G-string underwear and ultra-thin shorts ideal for warmer climates and traveling with limited suitcase space. No matter what type of shapewear you’re looking for, here are our picks for the top options on the market today.
The thin, lightweight fabric is perfect for travel.
They are quite long, which is something to consider if you don’t want that “bike shorts” look peeking out from under your hemline.
Spanx pioneered the shapewear movement in the early aughts and has innovated in the space ever since. It offers solutions for multiple outfit situations, but our top pick overall is the Thinstincts 2.0 Mid-Thigh Short — a classic silhouette that is excellent for travel, as it’s made from a comfortable, ultra-lightweight fabric. It’s the most fundamental version of shapewear: slip it on and you’ll have guaranteed coverage and smoothing from the torso down to the mid-thigh, eliminating any VPL (visible panty lines). Many leading stylists love this product, including Shabdiece Esfahani from 11th House Agency, who has considered Spanx her go-to for a decade (and has an impressive client list, including Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang). “These shorts are the best because they eliminate the bulge that can happen around your waist as well as the panty line. It creates a seamless line around the curviest part of your body and flattens the stomach,” she adds.
Price at time of publish: $58
The Details: XS to 3X | Body: 55 percent nylon, 45 percent lycra elastane; gusset: 100 percent cotton
It’s dedicated to the plus-size market and is designed to fit comfortably.
Sizing only begins at 14/16.
Some brands offer inclusive sizing options, but that’s the entire focus of Shape by Cacique — a plus-size shapewear brand that offers three different levels of hold. This open-bust thigh shaper is designed to contour curves without flattening them, providing ample coverage from the bra-line down to the mid-thigh. It has a split gusset, adjustable straps, and you can pair it with your favorite bra since it has an open bust. “It’s an essential pack-worthy piece for those looking for a smoothing solution on vacation,” says Gill Heer, SVP Design of Intimate Apparel at Lane Bryant and Cacique.
Price at time of publish: $70
The Details: 14/16 to 26/28 | Nylon/spandex
Unlike many shapewear styles, this won’t roll down. It’s also available in three different variations: a short, a brief, and a thong.
It’s a bit pricey.
The distinguishing feature of Honeylove’s shapewear is that it’s designed to stay put, so you can rest assured it won’t roll down underneath your dress. For that reason, this is an excellent choice for weddings and formal occasions where you’ll have limited opportunities to excuse yourself for an outfit check. It’s available in five different colorways and bottom styles, so there is something to suit everyone.
Price at time of publish: $89
The Details: XS to 3X | Body: 75 percent nylon, 25 percent spandex; lining: 81 percent nylon, 19 percent spandex; gusset: 100 percent cotton
They cost less than a Sweetgreen salad and provide undetectable smoothing.
The compression is light — opt for something else if you’re looking for more of a sculpting effect.
If you’re seeking comfortable and affordable undergarments, Aerie is always a good first stop, and the brand’s new shapewear line, Smoothez, has gained a cult following for prioritizing practicality above all else. “It provides just enough support without holding you back for all your travel adventures!” says Andrea Jagaric, chief design officer for Aerie, Offline, and Unsubscribed. These seamless high-rise thongs sit flat against the skin and provide subtle support around the midsection.
Price at time of publish: $15
The Details: XXS to XL | 70 percent polyamide, 30 percent elastane
They fit like a glove and are comfortable enough to wear as regular underwear.
They can move around a bit and roll, so you may need to adjust while wearing them.
Renowned for creating intimates that women actually want to wear (like the revolutionary 24/7 T-Shirt Bra), ThirdLove’s shapewear hits all the right notes and is comfortable enough to wear every day. Our favorite item from the line is the Form Seamless Sculpt Thong, which has a good level of sculpting without being too constricting. Plus, the thong style and seamless finish means there are no unsightly panty lines on show. They’re perfect for wearing under yoga leggings and they’re available in black and taupe.
Price at time of publish: $20
The Details: XS to 3X | Nylon/spandex
It’s breathable and ideal for sheer white fabrics where your undergarments are otherwise likely to be visible.
It provides light smoothing, rather than targeted compression.
Nothing says summer quite like white linen, but it is a sheer fabric that often requires an extra layer of coverage underneath. That’s where this luxurious bodysuit from Hanro will come in handy. It’s perfect for warm destinations as it’s lightweight and not too restrictive. It has a sweetheart V-neck, a three-button snap gusset, and adjustable spaghetti straps with metal hardware. It’s the sort of undergarment you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have on show if you’re wearing something ultra-sheer over the top.
Price at time of publish: $98
The Details: XXS to XL | 92 percent cotton, 8 percent elastane
It eliminates the need to wear shapewear underneath and has two sizing options for the bust and overall to ensure a perfect fit.
It’s quite a splurge and it’s dry clean only.
Part Herve Leger, part Spanx, Dodiee blurs the boundaries between shapewear and outerwear with a patented knitwear technique that compresses targeted areas (stomach and hips) rather than pulling everything in all over. Think firming bustier tops, elongating pencil skirts, and this show-stopping halter neck dress. This would be a dream to travel with as it doesn’t crease, and you won’t need to pack any other shapewear to pair it with. Plus, it’s made to adapt to women’s bodies; there are two cup-size options available per size, so if you’re bigger in the chest and smaller in the waist or vice versa you don’t need to settle for a one-size-fits-all option.
Price at time of publish: $1,100
The Details: XS to L / A/B to C/D cup | 50 percent rayon, 24 percent nylon, 16 percent elastane, 10 percent polyester
The quality is unmatched, and they can be worn formally or as a day-to-day athleisure staple.
They are on the expensive side for leggings.
These are some of the most flattering leggings on the market, and with such a high quality, dense fabric, you could wear them for more formal occasions (not just your daily athleisure ensembles). They provide definition from the mid-waist down to the ankle and have enough stretch to wear comfortably all day long. Along with the expected legging colors, like black and navy, they’re available in a cherry red and olive green.
Price at time of publish: $205
The Details: XS to L | 93 percent polyamide, 3 percent elastane
It’s perfect for minidresses where you want your shapewear to be invisible.
The compression level is light-medium.
This simple strapless slip is perfect for shorter dresses where you want your shapewear to be invisible — think a classic mini dress with an exposed decolletage, aka a go-to outfit for summer in Europe. It’s covert, appearing as another layer of lining, which is ideal if you’re sitting for dinner and don’t want bike shorts peeking out from under the hemline. You could even wear it alone or under a linen duster for a chic look for aperitivo hour — the black version echoes the Posh Spice LBD of the ’90s.
Price at time of publish: $118
The Details: XS to XL | 47 percent nylon, 40 percent cotton, 13 percent elastane
It provides strong definition around the waist.
They’re not seamless, so they may show through on some fabrics.
For high-performance compression, look no further than these high-waisted briefs from Heist. They have expertly positioned panels that provide strong and even compression without being too suffocating. They’re available in black, beige, and brown and range from XS to XL.
Price at time of publish: $86
The Details: XS to XL | Body: 74 percent polyamide, 26 percent elastane; gusset: 100 percent cotton
It looks like a gorgeous lace thong but has the sculpting effects of regular shapewear.
The fit runs small, so it’s advised to size up.
From the front, you would never know that this Italian lace thong is shapewear — they could pass for any of the other elegant underwear from Cosabella. But don’t let that fool you, the compression provides effective sculpting around the midsection from the torso to just above the hip. The coverage in the back is minimal, so you won’t need to worry about any VPL.
Price at time of publish: $62
The Details: Petite to XL | Lace: 93 percent polyamide, 7 percent elastane; body: 83 percent polyamide, 17 percent elastane; gusset: 93 percent cotton, 7 percent elastane
They come in nine different shades and options for left or right-leg splits.
They’re not the highest quality and may not last for multiple years.
Appropriately named the Solution Short, these come in two variations for dress splits on the left or right side. And in true Skims fashion, they are all about inclusivity, with an extended size and shade range. They offer solid hold and are cut to go unnoticed under any one-leg outfit or side-slit dress.
Price at time of publish: $42
The Details: XXS to 5X | 78 percent nylon, 22 percent spandex
It’s made for a bombshell dress. We love that the straps are convertible and can be worn five different ways — experiment with them to ensure you’re getting the best fit for your outfit.
It’s rather expensive.
This was made for dresses with complicated cuts. It has a low-cut front all the way down to the torso that would go undetected with a plunge neck dress, plus the back is super low cut, so if you’re having a classic halter moment, this is the product for you. It has a built-in padded bra so there is adequate support around the bust, and it’s available in champagne beige and black.
Price at time of publish: $148
The Details: XS to XL | 51 percent elastane, 49 percent nylon; gusset: 80 percent nylon, 20 percent elastane
It’s stretchy and smoothing.
It has a “cheeky” cut around the derriere, which can show through on some pants.
Made from an ultralight microfiber, this is a great piece to travel with. The chic, minimal silhouette is perfect for wearing under dresses where you need some extra coverage and smoothing. The fabric is stretchy and fast-drying, and it could even double as swimwear if you want to switch it up (but you could really only do that with the black without raising eyebrows — the tan is a giveaway). It has bra cups with underwire and light padding, adjustable straps, and invisible panties with a discreet press-stud fastening. Another plus? It won’t crease in your suitcase.
Price at time of publish: $69
The Details: 34B to 38C | 87 percent polyamide, 13 percent elastane, 76 percent polyamide; inside cup: 58 percent polyester, 42 percent cotton; crotch: 100 percent cotton
While there are classic silhouettes, shapewear shouldn’t be thought of as a one-size-fits all solution; there are multiple options tailored to complicated cuts, different climates, and levels of hold. Figure out what you need for your outfit and weigh the pros and cons from there.
The idea is to seamlessly enhance your outfit, so it’s always best to go for a neutral tone like beige or black. These are the most versatile options that will pair with virtually any outfit and act as invisible wardrobe heroes.
“At Paris Fashion Week, we saw sheer dresses and skirts showing the bras and panties beneath (seen on Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Gal Gadot, and Dua Lipa),” Palep explains. “Innerwear as outerwear is the trend. From basics to lace styles, bodysuits to bustiers, your lingerie can become part of your outfit and can be shown off.” And then there are revolutionary brands like Dodiee, blurring the lines between shapewear and ready-to-wear.
“Effective shapewear should hold you in and smooth your natural shape without making you feel uncomfortable,” advises Ra’el Cohen, ThirdLove co-founder and lingerie expert. O’Brien agrees: “The idea is to smooth, not stuff!”
“It depends on what you are wearing it with and what you want it to do, says Palep. “Don’t get more coverage than you need, though, especially in the hot months. If you are just looking for tummy control, then you probably don’t need the full unitard shaper. Consider the season you are in — you can add more coverage easily in winter, but not as easily in summer, without being sweaty and uncomfortable. Also, consider the occasion — if this is a special occasion or a date night, consider some shapewear styles with lace.” O’Brien emphasizes the need for comfort. “If you’re thinking ‘I can’t wait to take this off,’ you are wearing the wrong shapewear. Women want shapewear that isn’t going to fight with their body, and for every day, not just for special occasions.”
“Never go tighter than your size in shapewear in hopes of ‘extra shaping,’” advises Palep. “Shapewear that is too tight can create problems and extreme discomfort and can give you a ‘stuffed sausage’ look. Stick with your usual size, and purchase items that are comfortable for you and try them on with the outfit you will wear them with to be sure it creates the look you want. Never buy uncomfortable shapewear If it doesn’t fit you well and feel good on, it isn’t going to help you make it through the day/event/evening with confidence.”
Travel + Leisure contributors are shopping, fashion, and lifestyle experts who draw on personal experience and market recommendations to curate the best products for shoppers. For this article, Amy Louise Bailey drew on her decade-plus career in the fashion industry and spoke with founders and designers of leading shapewear brands to get their expert insights on the category. She also interviewed Sapna Palep, the CEO of leading lingerie retail destination Journelle, and stylists including Shabdiece Esfahani from 11th House Agency, who regularly uses shapewear for high-profile fashion campaigns and projects.
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