What is shapewear?
Shapewear is a foundation garment that people wear to smooth, sculpt, lift, control and “shape” the body. There are different reasons people use shapewear: to tighten the tummy, accentuate the waist, smooth out underwear lines and create contours in the body. It’s typically made from spandex and nylon, can be worn once a year or daily (depending on one’s preference) and while it's snug, it shouldn’t be restrictive or painful.
What styles of shapewear are there?
The modern generation of shapewear was launched by Spanx: shorts that cover the butt, stomach and upper thighs. Other styles include boy shorts, bodysuits, castsuits, bandeaus, leggings and thongs.
The best shapewear available in Canada
Canadian line Knix launched in 2013 with a crowdfunding campaign and a single pair of leak-proof underwear; since then it has became an undergarment empire with period underwear, bras, bathing suits, sports bras, sleep sets and nursing tank tops. It currently stocks four different kinds of shapewear: high-rise shorts, brief, shaper suit and a kit with all three. Sizes are 0-26 and in five shades of nude as well as black. Available directly at Knix.
Spanx is a household name in shapewear and is widely available through multiple retailers, making it a billion-dollar company. The invention-by-necessity first product (founder Sarah Blakely cut the feet off of her pantyhose before an event to create a smoothing undergarment) has grown into a whole fashion line. The categories are unique in that shoppers can choose a support level (smooth, shape, sculpt) from dozens of products from XS-3X. Available at Walmart, Simons, Amazon and Nordstrom.
Yitty by Fabletics
The breakout star in shapewear is Lizzo’s new-ish shapewear line called Yitty. There’s booty sling bottoms (to lift and define), wireless bras, high-waisted bike shorts with a Yitty monogram waistband, long-sleeve body suits and much, much more. The collection comes in several shades of nude as well as colours that pop (like bright yellow and pink), as well as prints. The only downside is that shoppers must create a Fabletics profile before browsing. Shop online at Yitty.fablectics.com.
George at Walmart
There can be some sticker shock when shopping for shapewear as it's not unusual to see prices top $100 for underwear. Walmart’s George line has some staples for under $50, including the Seamless Shaping Slimmer ($16.97) and Mesh Thigh Torsette Bodysuit ($38.97). Available at Walmart.
Bali is a solid department store brand that makes shapewear, with practical pieces like the Women's Comfort Revolution High Waist Shapewear Brief and some chic designs, like the Ultra Light Bodybriefer. Available at Amazon.
Wacaol was founded in Japan in 1946, expanding throughout Asia and then to North America in the mid-1980s. It’s a big name in lingerie but the manufacturing is still done largely by hand using Japanese sewing techniques. The price falls around the same as Spanx. On the downside, Wacoal has less size selection than other brands, with many designs only going up to DD. Available at Amazon.
Essentials by Tummy Tank
Essentials by Tummy Tank is on the lower end of the price scale for shapewear, with a pair of underwear coming in around $17. It’s a solid line of basics and has a few cotton options (instead of the standard spandex and nylon) and highly rated ponte knit legging. Available at Amazon.
Skims hit the market with one of the world’s biggest marketing machines behind it (the Kardashian family). It's constantly launching new products like velour leisure suits and maternity wear. Sizes range from XS-4X, but some reviews note that sizing runs small. Available directly at Skims and at Ssense.