The warmer months of spring mean that it’s the perfect time to show off all your cute dresses. If you’ve been avoiding wearing a dress because you feel like they don’t make you look your best, avoid them no more. Shapewear for dresses will help you look and feel confident in any outfit, from a loose shift dress to a tight bodycon dress. Read on to discover my top tips for choosing shapewear for dresses, as well as my recommendations for the best shapewear for different types of dresses.
How to Choose Shapewear for Dresses
No matter what type of dress you are wearing, the process is the same for choosing what type of shapewear to wear underneath it. Here are my top five tips for choosing the best shapewear for dresses:
1. Decide which dress you are wearing.
You should start with a dress and then choose the shapewear, not the other way around. Try on the dress to see how it fits and to identify any areas where you’d like a little more compression or support. Pay attention to the cut of the dress and what fabric it is made of, as these both affect how the dress fits and how much your underwear will show through. Some dresses are very forgiving and require little or no compression to look great, while others are very tight and show every little bulge, including shapewear seams. In the next section, I’ll offer more tips for what shapewear pairs best with different types of dresses.
2. Choose where you want support.
Where you want compression is completely up to you. For instance, if you just want a little boost for your booty, a butt enhancer shapewear panty might fit the bill exactly. If you want compression for your stomach, then a waist trainer will cover that area. When deciding what areas you’d like compression in, also think about whether you want a single piece of shapewear or a set. If you want shapewear from your chest to your mid-thigh, you could get a single-piece shapewear bodysuit, or you could get a top and bottom matching set. It’s all about what is most comfortable for you and what kind of shapewear you will look forward to wearing.
3. Select your level of compression.
At Leonisa, we offer four levels of compression: super comfy, moderate, firm and extra firm. How much compression you want depends on both the style of dress and your personal preferences. You might want extra firm compression shapewear for a body-hugging sheath dress, while you prefer moderate compression shapewear for a looser A-line style dress—or you might always choose firm compression body shapers regardless of the type of dress. The level of compression will help you narrow down your choices and make it easier to select the perfect shapewear for you. If you’re not sure which level of compression you want, feel free to schedule a consultation with me or one of the other Personal Shoppers and we can walk you through your options.
4. Consider material and color.
Not all types of shapewear work well underneath different types of dresses. The fastening of a waist trainer might show underneath a bodycon dress, while black shaper shorts might be visible through a lighter colored dress. When selecting colors and materials for your shapewear, keep these concerns in mind so you don’t accidentally select a type of shapewear that will show through. If you need to do a test run, you can put on underwear in the color of the shapewear to see if it will show through the dress before you click the “purchase” button.
5. Measure yourself before choosing a size.
This tip holds true whether you are wearing your shapewear beneath a dress or another kind of outfit entirely. Measuring yourself and selecting the correct shapewear size is key to getting the results you want. Too tight and the shapewear will create the very bulges and creases you’re trying to smooth out. Not only that, but shapewear that is too small will be uncomfortable to wear, and you’ll most likely just end up taking it off. Too loose and the shapewear won’t have compression effects at all. Be sure to consult the size chart for each piece of shapewear before you purchase it. Sizing varies from brand to brand and sometimes even product to product—plus your size can fluctuate over time, so you need to confirm your size before ordering a piece of shapewear every time.
The Best Shapewear for Each Type of Dress
Here is the best shapewear I recommend for different types of dresses:
A-line silhouettes aren’t just universally flattering. They are also very forgiving of shapewear. A-line dresses and skirts fit more closely at the waist while flaring out towards the knees and calves. This means that you can wear almost any type of shapewear underneath A-line dresses, from high waisted compression shaper shorts to full bodysuits. Some A-line dresses can be more fitted through the waist, so bear that in mind if you’re looking for tummy compression.
Sheath dresses hug the body, which can be a bit more revealing than some women like. This is why many like to put on shapewear underneath their sheath dresses. However, the same aspects of a sheath dress that make shapewear desirable in the first place also make it difficult to find pieces that won’t show through the dress. Look for thin material and seamless shapewear designs that won’t cause bulges or roll up beneath the dress. I generally recommend a full bodysuit beneath a sheath dress to minimize lines and create the best appearance possible.
Bodycon or Bandage Dress
Believe it or not, bodycon and bandage dresses are even more revealing than sheath dresses due to the thinner knit fabric. For these dresses, I also recommend a full bodysuit to minimize those lines beneath the outfit. Choose a bodysuit with either a thong bottom or one that ends mid-thigh so you don’t end up with visible panty lines (VPL) right across your booty cheeks.
Shift dresses are loose, forgiving silhouettes that allow you to wear pretty much whatever shapewear you want beneath them. For these dresses, I advise clients to think about what areas they want to feel supported in. Since shift dresses aren’t as revealing, it’s less about appearance and more about how comfortable and confident you feel. If you only prefer light to moderate compression, you can absolutely get away with it beneath a shift dress.
In addition to strapless dresses, I also include off the shoulder and halter dresses in this category—basically anything that would keep you from wearing regular bra straps. Lower body shapewear is ideal for this kind of dress, especially high waisted shaper shorts that cover you from the bottom of the bra line to mid-thigh. That way, you don’t have to worry about straps while still getting the smooth silhouette you desire. Additionally, you can wear a seamless strapless bra that won’t slip or show through your clothes.
The longer skirts on maxi dresses mean that you can wear full length shaper leggings without worrying about them showing through. These shapers make your legs and thighs look great and provide some extra insulation for the wintertime. If you want to smooth down the rest of your assets while giving your booty a boost, choose a butt lifting design for a bit of extra oomph.
For dresses with a very low neckline, I usually recommend either a high waisted shaper short or an open bust bodysuit, depending on the sleeve design of the dresses. That way, you can pair the shapewear with a plunge bra for the perfect neckline look. If you prefer for your bra cups to be integrated into the bodysuit, look for a design with plunging cups, such as the Underwire Shaping Lace Side Bodysuit, that will accommodate the neckline.
Low or Open Back
Low back dresses are another situation where lower body shapewear is ideal. Bear in mind that if the back of the dress is very low (below the bra line), then high waisted shaper shorts may actually be visible in the back. Try on the dress and figure out where the back falls above your waist and then use that as a guide for selecting your shapewear.
This is the perfect situation for a shapewear slip, such as our Slimming Cami Slip with Rear Lifter. The shapewear does double-duty as both a modesty slip and shapewear for a fantastic ensemble look. You might never go back to a regular slip after you realize how confident a shapewear slip makes you feel.
Find Shapewear for Dresses from Leonisa
Still unsure which shapewear to choose? I’m here to help! Reach out to me or one of Leonisa’s other Personal Shoppers. We’ll walk you through your options and help you find the perfect shapewear to go with each different dress.