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If there’s one outfit that has to be perfect, it’s your wedding dress. And while finding your dream gown is top priority, it’s as important to think about what you’re going to wear underneath it too - we’re talking specifically about the best wedding dress shapewear.
‘The foundations can often dictate the final “look” of the bridalwear,’ says Eloise Rusted, founder of specialist lingerie boutique, The Pantry Underwear. ‘For example, at what height the bust sits, or how low the back of the garment can be. It can also completely change how the wearer feels in their dress or outfit, providing confidence but also comfort.’
When first trying on dresses, it’s a good idea to take seamless, flesh-toned underwear with you to ensure general styles look as good as possible in the dressing room. However, as soon as you’ve found The One, you need to find the best shapewear for you - sharpish. ‘It’s very important you come to your first fitting with the right underwear, and that you don’t change it halfway through’, says Kate Halfpenny, founder of the eponymous luxury bridalwear brand.
To find your perfect underpinnings, follow the expert tips below.
Tips for picking the best wedding dress shapewear
1. Pinpoint where you need support
When it comes to shapewear, there isn’t a one-style fix. Once you’ve found your dress, the first step is to ascertain which areas require attention, then you can start finding the specific shapewear solutions to suit. In order to do this, Rusted recommends taking photographs of the front and back of your dress, as well as a video of you walking in it. To ensure you get a clear idea of everything that will be visible on your wedding day, make sure you do this in a well-lit room.
2. Choose a colour as close to your skin tone as possible
It’s tempting to reach for underwear to match the colour of your dress, however this is a mistake. White, cream or ivory underwear is likely to show through a garment of the same colour. Instead, Halfpenny recommends opting for underpinnings as close to your skin-tone as possible. Heist, Nubian Skin and Hanro offer a variety of sculpting and smoothing pieces in a range of ‘nude’ shades.
3. Bigger pants are almost always better than small ones
If your chosen dress style skims your bottom, Rusted explains that the best brief shape to choose is, in fact, a short; ‘your butt tissue is among the softest on your body, so even an “invisible” brief will press across your bottom when you walk’. Avoid VPL with John Lewis & Partner’s Tessa Light Control Thigh Slimmer Shorts, £22, which are seam-free and high-waisted for an ultra-smooth finish. If you’re looking for a subtle bottom-boost, try Heist’s The Highlight Short, £65, which has inbuilt contouring panels to lift and shape your derriere, as well smooth hips and flatten the lower stomach. Made from laser-perforated breathable fabric, they will also stay cool and comfortable, even on the dance floor.
4. Match your necklines
When choosing a bra, the most important thing is to make sure it compliments the neckline of your dress. Sexy, low-cut gowns will need a plunging bra to stay hidden from view, such as Wonderbra’s Ultimate Plunge Bra, £49, which has light padding for a sculpted shape and adjustable multiway straps. If you already have a favourite plunge-cut bra and are looking for extra smoothing, try Maidenfrom’s “Wear Your Own Bra” Slip Dress. The scoop neck accommodates your bra of choice, while a firm-control construction and smooth edgings give invisible sculpting from bust to thigh.
For backless, cross-strapped, halter-neck or racer-back dresses, you won’t find a shapewear piece more versatile that Spanx Suit Your Fancy Stretch Bodysuit, £132. While it’s at the pricier end of the spectrum, the customisable straps and extra-low back means it will work with almost every neckline going – so, wedding aside, is a versatile piece to have in your wardrobe. It comes in a choice of short and thong styles.
5. Going strapless? Consider a bodysuit
There’s nothing worse than feeling like your strapless bra is slipping down, and this is certainly something you don’t want to be dealing with on your wedding day. With this in mind, it’s wise to opt for a strapless bodysuit or basque that will stay put. Marks & Spencer’s Firm Control Magicwear Strapless Body, £39.50, can be adjusted at the back for the perfect fit, and comes with padded cups for extra shape. Multi-zone control panels sculpt stomach, hips and bottom for a smooth, hourglass silhouette.
When going strapless, remember to take your regular bra off a good few hours before you walk down the aisle to get rid of strap marks.
6. If opting for a slip dress, keep it minimal
While traditional full skirted gowns can handle more robust shapewear, if you’ve plumped for a Carolyn Bassette-Kennedy-esque silky number, you’ll need minimal underpinnings to match. Avoid lumps and bumps with a shaping slip dress that will be undetectable even under the lightest wisp of fabric. Chantelle’s stretch jersey slip, £40, comes with bonded seams for an ultra-smooth finish and offers gentle control for a streamline silhouette. If your dress is off the shoulder, try Next’s Firm Control Strapless Slip, which offers seam-free support for bust, tummy, bottom and hips.
7. Comfort is key
With all eyes on you, it can be tempting to reach for shapewear packed with compression to achieve the most svelte silhouette possible. However, the last thing you want is to feel constricted, uncomfortable and too hot throughout the day. Triumph’s Airy Sensation High Rise Panty, £40, is made from lightweight mesh that smooths and shapes the waist and stomach without compromising on comfort. Sateen trims add extra softness while stretchy Lycra allows freedom of movement. For full body streamlining, team with the matching Shape-Up bra, which features light and breathable spacer-cup technology padding.
8. Pick the right size
There’s a difference between support and squeeze, and while it’s good to feel held in, shapewear that’s too tight can make matters worse; ‘one of the biggest mistakes women make is to buy the wrong size,’ says Rusted who explains that the edges of your shapewear should never pinch and you shouldn’t have any lumps or bumps around the seams. Resist the urge to size down, instead opting for your usual dress size. Doing so will mean underpinnings are completely invisible, letting your dress take centre stage.
Frankie Graddon is a fashion and beauty journalist and co-founder of @thewingwoman (opens in new tab), a weekly podcast and newsletter about thirty-something life, honestly.
Frankie has over a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, podcaster and consultant. She has been a regular contributor to a number of high-profile publishers including The Telegraph, The Times, Grazia, You Magazine, Glamour and woman&home.
Frankie has interviewed numerous industry experts and celebrities, from Claudia Schiffer and Karlie Kloss to Sam McKnight and Trinny Woodall. She has also created content for numerous fashion and beauty brands including Liberty of London, Whistles, Kitri, Hush and more.
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