In this edition of Office Hours, we answer the question “Are there Do’s and Don’ts for Wearing Shapewear?” While no amount of Spandex can work miracles, there are times when a little smoothing goes a long way. Here are 6 tips for making shapewear less miserable. See below for links to some of my (and my clients’) favorite shapewear.

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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 27 Office Hours Shapewear Do’s and Don’ts

Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by you, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun. Today’s question was submitted by Naomi, who wrote. I need to get some shapewear to go under a formal dress. This will be my first time experiencing shapewear. Any do’s or don’ts?

First of all, Naomi, if you’re an adult woman and this is your first time experiencing shapewear, hats off to you! I know many of us, myself included, started at a young age trying to create magic with some elastane!

Before I answer your question, I want to say that it is perfectly ok to never wear shapewear. It is also perfectly ok to wear shapewear every single day of your life. I believe in doing what makes you feel good. Not because you feel you have to fit into some societal standard of what women’s bodies should look, or reject all societal standards just on principle—but because you like the way you look or feel while wearing shapewear…or not. Again, you do you boo. I’m just here to tell you how to do it if you want to.

With that said, here are a few do’s and don’ts for shapewear:

#1) DON’T expect miracles. Shapewear can only do so much–you should really be looking for smoothing, not actual shapeshifting.

After a talk I gave once, a woman came up to me and asked where to buy better shapewear. We chatted for a minute and, she told me she wanted to be more of an hourglass, so she was wearing Spanx every single day but didn’t feel like it was enough. The problem was, this woman was a very straight rectangle. In order to get that hourglass shape, she’d need a padded pushup bra, a corset, and hip pads. Spanx wasn’t going to get her there. If that’s the level of commitment you want to go to, rock on with your hourglass self..but have realistic expectations about regular shapewear

#2) DO go for the lightest shaping power you can. The higher the shaping power, the tighter and more uncomfortable the shapewear will be. I’d rather look a little lumpy at an event than be miserable all night long. Experiment with different shaping levels to find one that gives you the shaping you want, with the breathing ability you actually, literally, need.

I will never forget a Linda I worked with who needed a dress for a formal event. We found one that was on clearance–it had been almost $500 and it was under $50. It was stunning, perfect in every way–it even had pockets, which is like the holy grail, right? Like I said, It was perfect in every single way, except one-it was a size too small. I zipped and pulled, and she stood up straight and sucked it in, and we were super close to getting the dress on, but we came up a little short. She really wanted this dress though, and asked, can I just wear spanx? I was like–”We can try!”. We went to the lingerie department and I asked for their strongest shapewar and it took me and the salesgirl a few minutes to get Linda into this thing, but when we did, the dress zipped right up. I asked her if she could breathe. She nodded, which wasn’t a good sign, but she loved that dress, and brought it home, and wore it to the event. The pictures were gorgeous, but I guarantee she was a little light-headed all night! You have to decide if that’s the direction you want to go.

#3) DON’T be afraid to size up. These items have less stretch and flexibility than our usual undergarments, so don’t get caught up in the number or letter on the label–go with what fits you. You don’t want things digging in, causing other issues. Don’t just check the front and side view either–make sure your shapewear isn’t causing bra bulges or panty lines.

#4) This one is super important DO go past the “challenge spot”. What do I mean by challenge spot? Whatever it is you’re trying to shape. For example, as an apple, my tummy is my challenge spot. I need shapewear that goes all the way up to my bra for it to be effective and not roll down, or cut in. One of my Community members – shout out to my Capsule Girls!–said she struggled with bike short shapers always rolling up. I asked her what her least favorite body part was, and sure enough, it was her thighs. I told her to try a knee-length shaper and tell me what she thought. That solved the problem. Your shapewear has to extend past the part you’re trying to shape.

#5) DON’T get more than you need. If all you’re looking for is a little smoothing through your hips and thighs, don’t get a full-body suit shaper that will be complicated to deal with all evening. I really believe that when it comes to shapewear, less is more.

#6) Finally, DO bring the garment you’ll be wearing when you shop for shapewear. It’s easier to bring the dress with you so you can try different shaping levels, different styles and know exactly how it will look. I know it seems easier to buy things, bring them home and try them with your dress there, but in the store, you have access to different sizes, different styles, different brands, and if you go somewhere good, you’ll have access to a professional who can help. That’s invaluable.

Thank you to Naomi for the fabulous question.

If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to That’s all for today–see you next week!

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