With all the varieties of shapewear out on the market, deciding what to invest in can be a challenge. Here are some tips to guide you in your shopping.

1. Remember the 4 Fs: fit, form, fabric, and fashion. Fit refers to the item of clothing’s general size, while form refers to what areas you want to nip and accentuate and what type of shapewear does the job. Here’s something to remember regarding form from The Brooklyn Stylist blogger Liz Teich: “Shapewear shouldn’t get rid of your curves. Instead, it should provide a slimming seamless line, and can smooth under clothes so you don’t see bumps like panty lines or bulges.”

You also need to consider the material or fabric of the shapewear you plan on buying. The most common is nylon and spandex, which are also among the cheapest. Some brands manufacture cotton and microfibre shapewear which are better at absorbing moisture and managing odour, but inferior to nylon-spandex in terms of stretchability and durability. The final F, fashion, pertains to your personal taste in terms of colour, design, tailoring, and other aesthetic elements.

2. Determine your preferred level of control. There are four different levels of control in most shapewear, which are light, medium, firm, and extra strong. Light control provides lightweight support and is often used to level underwear lines. Medium gives more cinching and compression for target areas as well as smoothing out underwear areas.

Shapewear with firm control levels often have reinforced panels that pull together the waist or any other target area. While considerably more imposing than the usual shapewear, it can be worn for up to 7 or 8 hours. Finally, extra strong levels have stronger panels and even reinforcements such as boning. Although it has the highest level of contouring, wearing shapewear of this control level can become uncomfortable after more than a few hours of use. Ultimately, you need to determine the level of control you need for a certain occasion.

3. Shop for your size. Many women think that if they are going to wear shapewear, they should go for something below their usual size. However, this is not advisable, because the whole point of shapewear is not to reduce your size, but to shape your figure. Therefore, you need to look for something that suits your body shape. Thankfully, more labels are coming up with solutions for a wide variety of sizes. Woman Within’s extensive range of shapewear covers plus sizes from 12-44. Choosing the proper size will not only make your shapewear look more flattering, it will make you feel more comfortable because it will be aligned with all the right areas of your body. Other brands such as Marks & Spencers also have their separate plus size collections, so you really do not have to settle for sizes that don’t fit properly.

4. Get to know the different types of shapewear. Each type of shapewear is made for different target areas. The most common is the full body/tank or camisole, which is often used to nip the waist and control the tummy. Shorts provide control for the tummy and the bum while also levelling panty lines. The all-in-one shaper or girdle goes from below the waist to the tummy up to the thighs. On The Curvy Fashionista’s plus size shapewear buying tips, they mention that these power shapers can also come in many variations. There’s the classic skirt style or a more generic style that smooth out the thighs and achieves a straighter silhouette. Finally, there is the waist cincher, which pulls in the waist and emphasises your curves. What you need ultimately depends on which parts of your body you want to accentuate.