Model wearing a black slip

Types of Shapewear: Beginner’s Guide

Written by: Commando



Time to read 4 min

Shapewear has the power to contour your curves, smooth your silhouette, and highlight your favorite sections of your body. Whether you’re a shapewear newbie or pro, finding the right type can help you feel your best in your favorite pieces. 

That’s why we’re sharing an in-depth overview of the different types of shapewear and the solutions each kind offers. Here is everything you need to know to find the perfect piece of Commando shapewear.  We believe you should feel smoothed – never stuffed!

What Is Shapewear?

Shapewear is a foundation garment or undergarment designed to be worn underneath your clothing. It is intended to smooth your figure to enhance the look and fit of your clothes while being comfortable enough to be worn daily. 

With shapewear, there is always some level of compression to ensure a secure and flattering fit. While some types have a slimming factor, other kinds can also smooth lines and seams, for example bra and panty lines. Another benefit of wearing shapewear is that it can add an opaque layer to any look, making it ideal for pairing with sheer clothing.


Types of Shapewear

There are many types of shapewear to address different styling concerns or to provide a seamless foundation for pairing with certain garments. Shapewear pieces are designed to smooth, highlight & support your body as a foundational layer. Different types of shapewear offer different levels of compression and often have specific “target areas” that they can help to address. In this guide, we’ll share everything you’ll need to know to pick out your ideal Commando shapewear piece.

Shaping Bodysuits

Shaping bodysuits are designed to support your chest, midsection, and bottom. They’re best suited for dresses or looks with longer or tucked-in tops. 

Shoulder straps help keep your shapewear in place while the full-length of the bodysuit smooths the bra-line and eliminates visible panty lines. Bodysuits can range from those with light bust support to those with built-in cups. If you’d rather opt to wear your favorite bra - explore options for slips, half-slips, shaping shorts or shaping thongs instead. 

Shaping Slips/Half-Slips

Slips offer half or full-length coverage making them ideal for pairing under your favorite dresses. They even come in strapless designs for added versatility. Slips can often provide that perfect opaque layer to pair with sheer or semi-sheer (think: white skirts & dresses!) designs. Slips also come in a variety of compression options to suit your every need. 

A half-slip is fashioned like a skirt, making it a great choice for those who want to wear their own bra or camisole or anyone trying to smooth the appearance of their stomach and waist. Slips are a magic solution to almost every dress; it always fits better with a slip and is a great way to extend the life of your dress.

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Shaping Shorts

With a longer inseam, shaping shorts are a great solution to avoid visible panty lines. Shaping shorts also come in a variety of rises to support & contour your midriff and waist as well. 

Bonus: shaping shorts also protect against thigh chafing! 

Shaping Briefs/Thongs

Suitable for shorter hemlines, shaping briefs and thongs can smooth your bottom, add a seamless look without visible panty lines, and lightly compress your waistline depending on the rise. 

The ideal fit sits comfortably on your waist with slight compression. It shouldn’t feel too restrictive or roll down. If shapewear is rolling down - you may need to consider a different size. 

If you’re in search of extra support, control styles provide moderate compression while smoothing styles aim to provide a seamless look.

Control Tights

Contour and smooth out your legs with a pair of control tights. Control tights can be worn under dresses and skirts while adding additional coverage to your legs. Depending on the rise, control leggings can also smooth out your midsection and bottom. With Commando’s patented waistband, a microfiber stretch-infused band provides a dig-free fit to ensure a comfortable all-day fit.

How To Choose Your Shapewear

Picking out the right shapewear can feel a bit daunting, but knowing your goal for wearing the shapewear, your body type, and your target areas can help you narrow it down. Dive into these key questions before you select the right shapewear piece for you.

What Is Your Goal?

Asking yourself what your shapewear objective is will help narrow down what type of compression is best for you. 

Use low compression if you want to:

  • Lightly smooth out the target area 
  • Add a light layer to your ensemble
  • Wear something that feels like a second-skin 

Use medium or firm compression if you want to:

  • Have more body contouring 
  • Accentuate your silhouette 

What Area Do You Want To Focus On?

The beauty of shapewear is that there are many different silhouettes that target different areas of the body. Identifying which part of the body you want to focus on can help you pick a shapewear style.

For full-body coverage: 

  • bodysuit 
  • slip 

If you’re looking to target the stomach, hips, waist, or general midline: 

  • slips 
  • briefs and thongs, depending on the rise 

For a toned look for your bottom:

  • briefs 
  • shorts 

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Accentuating Your Body Type

Your body type may determine the best shapewear for you and your wardrobe. Read about some different body types below to see which sounds like you and how shapewear can highlight your figure.

If your hips and shoulders are a similar width with a naturally contoured waist, high-waisted styles aid in accentuating your natural figure and enhancing your curves.

For bodies with a more equal shoulder, waist, and hip ratio, shapewear can aid in the illusion of curves. Styles that focus on your midsection create a more smoothing look. 

If you have wider shoulders with narrow hips, shapewear can balance out your proportions. A popular choice for this body type are bodysuits for added bust support.

Body types that have narrow hips and shoulders with a fuller mid-section may opt for upper body definition via bodysuits to create a more balanced silhouette.

If your figure is slim through the shoulder with fuller hips, opting to focus on adding balance through sculpted shorts or tights can create a figure-flattering look.

Ultimately, the type of shapewear you feel best in is up to you. Although it’s not necessary for every outfit, shapewear can enhance certain clothing styles, help you feel more confident, and accentuate the parts of your body that you love.