Finding the right wedding dress or wedding guest outfit is half the battle. Now you have to think about what you'll wear underneath. While you don't have to wear shapewear, those pieces can help give you a smooth base and extra confidence as you walk down the aisle. Today there are so many different styles of shapewear to flatter different body types, skin tones, and outfits.
To wade through the options and help you find the right piece for your ensemble, we spoke to Helen Mears, the chief design officer at Adore Me, and fashion blogger and creative director Rachel Parcell. Together, they chose the five most essential pieces of shapewear to go with different dress types. These pieces come in a broad range of sizes and shades, don't ride up or roll down, and are made from breathable, comfortable materials to make you feel and look your best.
Meet the Expert
- Helen Mears is the chief design officer at Adore Me, a lingerie and shapewear site. Prior to joining the brand, she worked as the design director of different lingerie brands like Victoria's Secret and Wacoal.
- Rachel Parcell is the CEO and creative director of her eponymous lifestyle brand. Parcell began her brand by starting a blog about her newlywed life in 2010.
Adore Me Analise Unlined Bodysuit gives you full body shaping that's ideal for a ball gown or an A-line dress. If you rather focus on your bottom-half, you can go with Honeylove SuperPower Short and celebrate your curves in a form-ftting mermaid or trumpet dress. A good bra, like Fashion Forms Plunge Backless Strapless Bra is a must if you are wearing a plunge or backless dress.
No matter if you are the bride or a guest, if you want to wear shapewear on the big day, these five essential pieces of shapewear will cover all your bases.
Most Versatile: Spanx Everyday Shaping Panties Thong
Compression Level: Low | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: 7
Regardless of your outfit, Parcell recommends wearing a shaping thong for extra confidence."Shapewear fits differently for everyone. However, I think you can’t go wrong with the Everyday Shaping Panties because they make you look slimmer and do it without bulging or discomfort," says Parcell. "Wearing these with a dress makes me feel more confident, and that's how you want to feel on your wedding day."
Mears agrees that shaping thongs are a shapewear staple, especially for tighter styles like a mermaid dress where you want to show off your curves without any panty lines. This style by Spanx offers extra support for your tummy and stays invisible under clothing thanks to minimal stitching. It comes in a range of seven shades to match different skin tones.
Best for a Ball Gown: Adore Me Analise Unlined Bodysuit
Compression Level: High | Size Range: XS-4X | Colors: 5
"For a ball gown, a full body shaper can help to give you a more streamlined appearance and prevent any lumps or bumps from showing through the dress," says Mears. We love that this bodysuit has a hole in the crotch to make bathroom breaks easier and that it comes in plus sizes up to 4X.
Best for a Mermaid or Trumpet Dress: Maidenform Easy Up Full Slip
Compression Level: Firm | Size Range: 34B-38D | Colors: Black, Beige
"If you're wearing a mermaid style dress, then a shaping slip or bodysuit can help to smooth out your silhouette and give you a more polished look," says Mears. With a built-in bra and removable, convertible straps, this slip works for all dresses, regardless of the neckline.
Best for a Slip Dress: Honeylove SuperPower Short
Compression Level: High | Size Range: XS-3X | Colors: 5
For brides and wedding guests alike, a slip dress is an elegant option, especially in warmer weather. Because of a the body-skimming fabric, it can be hard to find the right underwear though, so Mears recommends a shaping short. "If you're wearing a slip dress, then a slip with built-in shaping or a control short can help to give you a smoother look," says Mears. The breathable material in this design keeps you cool while flexible boning prevents any rolling.
Best for Revealing Dresses: Fashion Forms U Plunge Backless Strapless Bra
Sizes: 28A-40D | Colors: Nude, Black | Materials: Nylon, Elastane
Whether your dress is strapless, backless, or plunge, this bra has got you covered. The band-less design has clear adhesives on the side to hold everything up, and there's removable, convertible straps in case you need extra support.
"Some women may prefer to go braless and use boob tape or adhesive bra cups instead," says Mears. "However, for women with larger breasts, a backless bra is a better option as it provides additional support and lift without straps getting in the way."
What to Look for in Shapewear
While you might think that you should size down when selecting shapewear, that's actually a common misconception. Mears recommends going with your normal size, especially as shapewear is already made to be compressive.
"It may feel 'tight or restrictive' compared to your usual underwear or intimate items, and may need some getting used to, although it really shouldn't feel unbearably uncomfortable," says Mears.
Shapewear comes in different compression levels, ranging from low to high. Low compression is great if you want some smoothing and slight control. Spanx Everyday Shaping Thong gives you that extra assurance while being comfortable enough to wear beyond the wedding. High compression pieces like Adore Me Analise Unlined Bodysuit are ideal for form-fitting styles where you want to tone and sculpt your curves.
Should you go with nude or white? That really depends on your dress and what look you are going for, according to Mears. If you want the shapewear to be invisible, look for styles that come in a broad shade range, like Honeylove SuperPower Short, to find one that matches your skin tone. However, white can be useful when your dress is sheer and you want your shapewear to serve as a foundational garment.
What are the benefits of shapewear?
Whether you wear shapewear or not is a personal decision and it comes down to what you feel most comfortable in. When you know you'll have all eyes on you and/or you'll be taking plenty of photos, shapewear can give you extra confidence and ensure your outfit lays correctly throughout the event.
"Wearing the right shapewear helps to smooth out your silhouette and give you a more polished look," says Mears. "It can also help to prevent any unwanted bulges or lumps from showing through your dress."
How I can prevent shapewear from riding up?
One of the most common complaints we see about shapewear is that it can ride up or roll down. If this is happening to you, it's most likely because the shapewear is too small, according to Mears. Another way to prevent any movement is to go with styles that have straps, like Maidenform's Full Slip, if your outfit allows it. Mears says it's also important to put on your dress carefully and ensure it's not stuck on anything, as tugging can shift the shapewear out of place.
Why Trust Brides
Emily Cieslak is an Assistant Commerce editor and has covered bridal fashion for sites like The Knot. Before working at Brides, she was a bra and lingerie buyer for online retailers, and is familiar with the different types of shapewear. During her research, she spoke to Helen Mears, the chief design officer at Adore Me, and fashion blogger and creative director of her eponymous brand Rachel Parcell.