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Primark, Spanx, M&S and Boux – the best control pants and shapewear tried and tested


Whether you know them as suck-you-in-pants, Bridget Jones knickers or panty girdles – shapewear is never more in demand than in the festive party season.

And finding the perfect undergarment to keep things looking smooth under your favourite party dress or outfit can sometimes feel like an impossible quest.

While traditionally the materials used for control garments have been known to be on the restrictive side, in recent times designers have come up with clever new lingerie styles and fabrics to keep you feeling supported rather than trussed up like a turkey.

READ MORE:Cheap £12 supermarket champagne voted “better than £38 Moet or Tattinger”

Reporter Dianne Bourne, a mum-of-two and size 14, tested out some of the high street’s market leaders for shapewear to see which give the best effect and/or comfort while sucking you in.

M&S Invisible shaping slip £30



M&S Invisible shaping slip £30

As a mum-of-two and a serial yo-yo dieter, I have long been on the quest for the perfect suck-you-in undergarment to tame my womanly curves.

And for me, it’s things like this M&S slip that I find work the best as it offers a flattering fit while not feeling like it’s crushing your ribs and internal organs.

This design says it’s created “with infinity edges for no vpl” which means you can also wear your own favourite undies underneath as well.

Billed as flattening your tummy and smooth all over it certainly did the trick and for a decent price, so it gets top marks from me.

Best for: Giving a sleek form under figure-hugging dresses

Rating: 5/5

Available from: Marks and Spencer

Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 Open-Bust Mid-Thigh Bodysuit £79



Dianne wears the Spanx Thinstincts bodysuit £79

There’s a reason why “Spanx” has become a generic word for all shapewear – and that’s because they just get it so right.

But as a premium brand in the genre that means the downside is it doesn’t come cheap, and this one is a hefty £79.

When I pick up the Thinstincts bodysuit it looks a bit like a shrivelled skin, but thanks to the magic of Spanx when you put it on it’s like it becomes YOUR second skin.

The lightweight material makes you feel almost like you’re not wearing anything that restrictive at all, yet for me it gave the best streamlined look under my tight dress.

It’s designed so that you can wear your own bra underneath, while having comfortable straps at the top so the whole thing stays in place without any unsightly ridges.

And ladies will be pleased to hear this one comes with the Spanx trademark “flap” in the undercarriage to assist with toilet breaks without the need to take the whole thing off. Brilliant – and worth every penny as a long-term investment if you ask me.

Best for: Anything! It’s so comfy and works well under tight dresses as well as jumpsuits or trousers.

Rating: 5/5

Available from: Selfridges

Primark Waist shaper shorts £6



Primark waist shaper shorts £6

Now, these clearly do absolutely nothing for my bottom half, but in terms of waist cinching, these really bargainous shorts actually did the best job when I look back through the photos.

They gave me a real hour-glass shape, and while the shorts cut off my thighs in just about the worst possible place, these would be brilliant for skater style dresses. And are super comfy too.

Primark also do a waist shaping version in a thong brief as well, if that’s more your thing.

Best for: Those wanting a great waist shaper – perfect to wear under skater style dresses or tight tops.

Rating: 4/5

Available from: Primark

Spanx Suit Your Fancy Plunge Low-Back Thong Body £130



Spanx bodysuit £130

Well, this was certainly an eye-catching construction.

With a plunging front and what looked like an eye-wateringly high thong at the back I thought initially this one was probably not meant for the likes of 44-year-old me.

But slipping it on I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing – the thong in particular is made from some sophisticated fabric that kind of sticks to your buttocks rather than wedge itself up there, so it was actually really comfy.

And it somehow gave a booytlicious effect on my backside which I was not expecting.

Although obviously it was doing zero to tame my jiggling thighs.

It is, however, a really clever support garment if you have a pretty summer dress or ballgown with plunging front or back.

Best for: Perfect solution if you’ve got a low-back or slash front dress but still want some support underneath! And indeed for anyone wanting to make like J-Lo and show off their derriere.

Rating: 4/5

Available from: Selfridges

M&S – Invisible shaping waist cincher £22



M&S invisble shaper

Unfortunately not quite invisible enough for me this one.

For while the firm control pants did the trick while I was standing tall, as soon as I bent over there was a ridge where my fat started to bulge over, and I didn’t feel they would stay up all that well over the course of an evening.

Best for: Smoothing under trousers.

Rating: 3/5

Available from: Marks and Spencer

M&S Cotton rich full brief firm control (2 pack £10)



M&S control pants

These were great value and very comfortable but, again, left a ridge at the top of my thighs, so were no good under my tight fitting dress.

They’d be good if you needed to feel a bit of support in sucking you tum in though, in a comfy way.

Best for: If you want a basic suck-you-in pant

Rating: 3/5

Available from: Marks and Spencer

Primark shaping body £8



Primark’s bodysuit

Alas, this didn’t really do very much in the way of taming my figure – and it left the annoying ridge again on my thighs which means I wouldn’t be able to wear it under a tight dress.

But I really liked the style and I thought it would be a nice top for under low cut dresses and as a basic vest type piece – especially at this kind of price.

It also comes with conveniently placed poppers at the bottom so you wouldn’t have to take it all off when nature calls.

Best for: A good basic piece, would work well under tops.

Rating: 2/5

Available from: Primark

Boux Avenue – control waist black shorts £30



Boux Avenue shorts

Oh dear oh dear. This is when I really regretted not saying no to a few more mince pies.

I tried a size 14 but I’m not even sure a size 16 would have fitted me any better. The material was so tight and restrictive that I broke a nail and near put my back out trying to pull it over my womanly curves.

In fairness, once I’d winched myself into it, it did give a very smooth shape under my dress, but it was so tight I know I would not be able to enjoy any more mince pies while wearing this one.

I’ve noticed from the reviews on the Boux Avenue website that other women have experienced a similar thing with the sizing, so you’re definitely best to size up with this one.

Best for: Those who love really firm support – and I mean the feeling of every fat cell being squished into submission

Rating: 2/5

Available from: Boux Avenue

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