By Alissa Hicks

Derby and summer are going to sneak up on us — they always do! There is one thing that all women — yes, all — should invest in for any occasion where they might be wearing something a little extra fancy. Since awards season has begun, I’ve gotten a lot of reader questions about how celebrities seem to look flawless no matter their size.

The Answer: Shapewear…Spanx, control top panty-hose, any version you prefer. Here’s what you need to know about shapewear before you buy.

All Women Can Benefit
All women can benefit from shapewear. I repeat, all women. When it comes to shapewear, a lot of people have the misconception that it is for overweight people who want to fit into a smaller dress. Wrong. Way wrong. Shapewear is to smooth, tighten, lift, and conceal. Regardless of your size or weight, we all need a little help smoothing things out at times.

In these photos, our model isn’t wearing any shapewear.

Buy the Right Size
When buying shapewear, be sure to buy the right size. Different types vary, so it’s all trial and error. Do not buy shapewear that’s too big or too small. Many women think that the smaller the shapewear, the skinnier they will look. The truth is that when shapewear is too small, it will not provide much support and may not hold up. This will create more rolls and bulges than before. On the other hand, people might think that the larger the shapewear, the more comfy it will be. If you get shapewear bigger than your size, it won’t be effective in slimming and smoothing, defeating the whole purpose.

Shapewear that’s not the correct size won’t help you achieve a smooth look.

Know What You Want to Conceal

Ask a sales consultant questions if you need to, but definitely know which areas you wish to target. Most of us have a problem area we wish we could do something about, so know what you’re trying to conceal before you shop. Different shapewear styles are designed for different areas. For example, women who are busty can benefit from minimizer bras, while those who have problems with their hips and thighs could use a slip shaper or a thigh slimmer. If you wish for an overall slimmer, smoother, tightened-up look, a suit is your best bet. This is a one-piece covering from your bust to your thighs. Shapewear is like any other undergarment: Know which type to wear with certain fabrics and styles of clothing.

When you find shapewear that’s correctly sized and comfortable, the difference is striking. 

Keep it sexy
Shapewear is meant to help you feel more confident in what you are wearing. There are so many styles out there these days, so shop around and find something that makes you feel good. If it feels uncomfortable, you’ll look uncomfortable.

Strive to find shapewear that makes you want to wear it. You want it to flatter your body and meet your needs. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable or be seen through your clothes. It is meant to make you look seamless and flawless, so make sure you’ll be the only one knowing you’re wearing it.

Picture details here:

All from Von Maur, Oxmoor Center 7900 Shelbyville Rd, 502.425.7100.
Thong, $24; High-waisted brief, $62; High-waisted mid-thigh, $72; Super slimming slip, “84”; High-waisted half slip, $68; Strapless slip, $98”.