By Esther Newman published
SPANX vs Maidenform: which will come out on top? Maidenform pieces certainly come at a lower price point, but how do they measure up against the most iconic of shapewear brands, SPANX?
When you think about shapewear, chances are you think of SPANX. It is, after all, the brand that was responsible for kick-starting the shapewear revolution back in 1998, after introducing the world to the Footless Body-Shaping Pantyhose, the Power Panties and Control Top Fishnets. Each of those product launches signalled major developments for the industry, but also led to the development of wider cultural consciousness – heck, we would never have got that iconic Bridget Jones ‘big pants’ scene without SPANX.
Unfortunately, the best shapewear from a brand this iconic doesn’t come cheap. For example, the OnCore High-Waisted Mid-Thigh Short – one of SPANX’s bestsellers – will set you back a cool £60, while the Suit Your Fancy Plunge Low-Back Thong Bodysuit (a favourite of ours), will put a £114 dent in your bank account.
If this feels a bit steep, however, SPANX are far from the only shapewear brand on the market. Rather, the industry is home to a whole host of control-lingerie brands with competitive price points, exciting designs and a focus on comfort as well as control. One of the most exciting? Maidenform.
First established in 1922, Maidenform is best known for being one of America’s leading manufacturers of women’s underwear and pioneering the development of bra design. Although the brand is, perhaps, less well-known for its shapewear, Maidenform has in fact been producing shaping lingerie for the best part of 20 years. Now it has an impressive range of shapewear pieces, from leggings and shorts to cami tops, bodysuits and waist cinchers that are, most importantly in this shapewear comparison, priced at a fraction of the RRP of SPANX’s alternatives.
But does this reduction in price account for a lesser quality of control and comfort? Or is Maidenform the dark horse of the shapewear world? We’ve pitted these brands against each other to determine which one is truly the top shapewear brand.
- Price range: £15 to £50
- Size range: S (UK 8) to 2XL (UK 22)
- Colours available: Black, white, ivory, nude, grey, pink, blue, red and print
- Materials used: Nylon, spandex and cotton
- Price range: £20 to £195
- Size range: XS (UK size 8) - 3X (UK size 22)
- Colours available: White and black, with various shades of nude and brown
- Materials used: Nylon, elastane and cotton
What’s the difference between SPANX and Maidenform?
Honestly, on surface level, there isn’t much difference between the two brands; Maidenform appears to match SPANX design-wise, albeit at a markedly cheaper price, and both brands cover the shapewear basics. You’ll find both stock versatile pieces that form the backbone of any good lingerie drawer, such as high-waisted briefs, bodysuits, slip dresses, leggings and camisole tank tops. Both cover plus-size shapewear too. Beyond the classics, Maidenform matches SPANX for those more technical shapewear pieces, such as waist cinchers, wear-your-own-bra (WYOB) body briefers and plunge-neck body shapers for dresses with a daring neckline.
Like SPANX, Maidenform also categorises its shapewear pieces into three control levels.
Category one, the ‘Light’ category, is geared towards smoothing the body; category two, the ‘Firm’ category, is for shaping; and the third, ‘Ultra Firm’, is for sculpting.
Side-by-side, there’s not much between the two brands here.
Design and technical specs
Where you begin to see the difference between the two brands is when you look at the technical elements of their shapewear. Try comparing, for example, each brand’s most controlling garments – Maidenform’s Thigh Slimmer With Cool Comfort® & Lycra® FitSense™, £34 and SPANX’s OnCore Mid-Thigh Short, £50. It’s quickly clear that that extra cost of the SPANX piece is due to its use of a higher-quality nylon material, which in turn offers a greater level of control.
Further to this, SPANX’s designs are fitted with attractive extras, each geared towards a better fit and more comfortable feel. On the aforementioned shorts, fully-bonded front panels ensure the look of a flat, ‘tabletop’ stomach, ‘pockets’ on the rear enhance your bottom (rather than simply compressing it), and wide, edge-bonded waistbands and hemlines are added for extra comfort.
Our verdict: which is the best shapewear brand?
If you’re shopping for new shapewear, either brand is a viable option. However, SPANX does just edge ahead of Maidenform because of its functionality and technical quality – those stronger compression and shaping features do make a difference. Despite this, Maidenform did impress us; it almost matches SPANX with its range of designs, and has proven itself to be a popular budget alternative. Want evidence? On Amazon, Maidenform’s High Waisted Shaping Control Knickers, £13.69 - £54 have more than 3000 positive reviews, while the Comfort Devotion Tank Shapewear Top, £35.15 - £36 has racked up more than 2000 five-star accolades. That alone speaks to the brand’s success.
Esther is a features and fashion writer and stylist, who is particularly focused on the intersection between fashion and social issues and feminism. Her work has been featured in woman&home, Refinery29, ELLE, Stylist, Dazed, Grazia, HelloGiggles, and HuffPost.
She also founded The Activist, a fashion, arts, and culture magazine, dedicated to celebrating young women and non-binary people in politics and protest.
When she’s not writing and styling, Esther is an avid bookworm and usually devouring something from the latest Women’s Prize longlist, getting crafty with embroidery art, or enjoying a jaunt around the Suffolk countryside.
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