May 30, 2023

I tried Primark and M&S shapewear and one pair of control pants did nothing for my figure

There was a big difference in price between the two stores

Shapewear isn't for everyone. You certainly don't need to be a certain body shape to show off your figure. Plus, they aren't always the most comfortable things to wear.

I haven't worn control pants in years. The last time I did, I spent the entire day yanking down the shorts from rolling up and dreading the next time I needed to peel them off to go to the loo.

But, I know a lot of people love them. For many, it's a matter of enhancing your figure, rather than hiding it. And if it makes you feel confident enough to wear that dress you're obsessed with, then I'm game.

Read more: I tried M&S and Primark period pants and preferred one to tampons

So, I decided to give shapewear another chance. I picked up a pair of control pants and a shaping bodysuit from both Primark and M&S to see which was best. Here's how I got on...

I walked into M&S expecting to find a few pairs of stretchy pants buried in the underwear section, but what I actually found was an entire wall and a few racks filled with shapewear knickers, shorts, thongs and bodysuits of varying shades of nude. I was impressed, but, as someone who hasn't worn the things in years, also a little overwhelmed.

In the end, I opted for a Light Control Secret Support Bodysuit for £25, and - put off by the memory of those constantly-rolling-up shorts - a Body Define Firm Control Thong, £12, both in my usual size, 14.

Intrigued by the concept of a 'control thong', I tried these out first. They took a bit of getting used to. Perhaps because of the 'firm control', they felt quite tight, but I could breathe, at least.

The waist was a little lower than I'd expected, although I am taller than average, which might explain it, but it meant my hips were bulging slightly at the top. The panel between the legs was also quite thick and noticeable when walking around, but the pants definitely flattened my tummy and, as promised on the packet, there was no visible panty line. Not bad for £12.

I had high hopes for the bodysuit because it looked like something you could wear comfortably day-to-day. I tried it on without a bra (something I'd never usually do) and was surprised to find the bodysuit was supportive enough on its own. The straps were adjustable and wide enough at the front that they didn't dig in, and there was a button fastening between the legs, meaning you don't have to strip off to go to the loo!

The bodysuit didn't have the same level of control as the pants, but it smoothed my lumps and bumps a little, at least. The problem was the double-lining at the bust, which cut in under my boobs and made it look like I was wearing an ill-fitting bra. I still liked the bodysuit overall, but it was enough of an issue to put me off spending the £25.

Primark's shapewear section was just as impressive as Marks'. I chose the closest things I could find to my M&S purchases - a black Shaping Bodysuit, £8, and a Seam-free Controlling High Waist Thong, £5, both in size large.

First up, the bodysuit. The fabric wasn't as soft-to-the-touch as M&S's but it was stretchier and more comfortable to wear. It had a similar button-up fastening between the legs and thick straps - not adjustable, but they fit me well anyway.

The overall fit was snug, but not too tight. Once again, I could get away without a bra (hurrah!) and this one didn't have the restrictive seam under the bust, resulting in a more seamless shape. This one had some subtle ruching around the bust, too, which gave a more flattering look.

The bodysuit didn't give me a perfectly-flat stomach, but the figure-hugging fit showed off my curves and I felt confident wearing it. It's probably meant to be worn as an undergarment, but I don't see why you couldn't wear it on its own with jeans.

The pants, on the other hand, were a bit of a let-down. They were comfy to wear, but did nothing for my figure. The waist was a little higher than the M&S pair, which I liked, but they didn't seem to be any more 'controlling' than a regular pair of knickers. The price was great, but they just didn't work.

Both M&S and Primark's shapewear had their flaws. M&S's control pants were undoubtedly more effective than Primark's for smoothing lumps and bumps - a slightly higher waist and I'd probably be a convert.

But my best purchase of the day was the Primark bodysuit. It was less than a third of the price of M&S's version, equally as comfortable and seamlessly enhanced my figure. For £8, I'll be buying it in every colour!