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How to Choose and Use Shapewear

Building a Shapewear Wardrobe

"Start with the basics like a mid-thigh shaper, a slip dress, and then add something more specialized like underwear," Joy says. "You can build your shapewear wardrobe as you would build a regular wardrobe."

For the most flexibility, look for pieces in a shade that's close to your skin tone.

Some of Joy and Banks-Coloma's favorite pieces:

Tights. This is a great place to start with shapewear, Banks-Coloma says. You can choose options that slim the whole leg, or the thighs, rear, hips, and waist. They smooth out panty lines, and there are butt-boosting styles. In the past, waist bands might have rolled over, but that shouldn't be an issue anymore, Banks-Coloma says.

Full body suit with a chest cut-out. Body suits slim the hips and hold in the stomach, but they can also flatten your chest, like a sports bra. New styles have an open bust that actually lifts your breasts. (You wear it with a separate bra.) When you try on a body suit, make sure that the overall effect is smoothing and that it doesn't create bulges in new spots, like where the seam hits your thigh, Banks-Coloma says. If you're hoping to minimize a larger chest, choose a suit that covers it.

If you think that shapewear will flatten your behind, you could try a butt-boosting style. Some come with padding, some use panels that lift your rear, and others have cut-outs.

Camisole. "The number one spot women want to cover is their stomach," Joy says. If it looks like regular clothing, you can let it show. "A cami can also help smooth out muffin top (tuck it into your pants) and bra bulge on your back.

Panties. Shapewear panties can help eliminate panty lines and slim down your thighs, hips, rear, and even your stomach. If you're looking for sleeker thighs, you can choose a boy short cut -- just make sure that the leg bands don't cut into your skin. If you're not looking for help in the thigh region, a brief cut can create a more seamless look, says Joy. To tighten your abdomen, choose a high-waisted style with a panel that covers the stomach. You can look for rear-enhancing panties, too.

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