What Size Shapewear Do I Need (Guide)

One of the secrets to feeling comfortable and achieving the desired look you want with shapewear is choosing the proper shapewear for the proper occasion and getting the size right. You don’t have to be a lingerie expert to do this.

With our guide, you’ll finally have confidence in choosing a size and suitable shapewear for any occasion.

When measuring your waist using slimming shapewear such as a corset or cincher, the only measurement that matters is the measurement above your belly button using a tape measure and comparing it to what’s available in the size chart.

This guide comes in handy whether you love high waist shorts, briefs, thongs, camisole, or any other body shaper.

What Size Shapewear Do I Need and Why Does Size Matter?

The size determines the comfort level of shapewear and the general experience. You can’t obtain a good look with the wrong size shapewear. If you choose a smaller size high waist shapewear, and you don’t have a choice but deal with the constant and embarrassing roll downs. Choosing the wrong sized shapewear defeats the very reason for wearing body shapers in the first place.

So, How Do I Get the Right Size Shapewear? 

A couple of factors come into play when buying shapewear, the top of the list being the type of shapewear. Body shapers are mostly classified based on target areas. (1)

Here are tips for measuring different shapewear.

Waist Slimming Shapewear

When measuring waist slimming shapewear such as a corset or cincher, the only measurement that matters is the waist.  Measure above your belly button and compare it to what’s available in the size chart using a tape measure.

Are you unsure where your natural waist is? Face forward and bend to one side. Determine where your torso creases naturally, and measure that area upon straightening up. This approach works irrespective of your body size.

Compare the waist measurement you’ve taken to the size chart. If you realize you are between sizes on the chart, go for the larger size. A waist trainer that’s too small will be unflattering and completely uncomfortable.

woman showing her black shapewear
Video | Zoom Off


When buying a bodysuit, you need to take three body measurements: the bust, waist, and hips. A bodysuit usually focuses on slimming all the common target areas, including the upper thighs. It offers convenience that many women love – sculpting and lifting all the right places with a single garment.

You can rest assured that a good fit delivers firm compression from the bust to the upper thigh if made with good quality fabric. For best results, avoid the temptations to choose a smaller size. Again, if you find yourself between measurements, you are safe with the larger size. (2)

woman smiling in black shapewear inside her bedroom
Video | Zivame

Thigh Shapers

Are you shopping for thigh shapers? If you’ve never worn this garment, try wearing it underneath figure-hugging pants and mid-length skirts. You’ll fall in love with the consistent, smooth look it delivers.

To get the best-fit thigh shapers, take waist and hip measurements and choose the largest size (that matches your measurements) on the chart.

Butt Lifters

Butt lifters are incredible at shaping and lifting the butt. Their ability to slim the midsection and flatten the tummy is a bonus. Butt lifters are an all-occasion body shaper.

When measuring for butt lifters, you’ll want to focus on the hips while keeping the waist in mind. Again, choose a larger size in the absence of an exact match on the size chart. 

How to Measure Yourself for Shapewear

It is ideal to not wear too much clothing. You should wear something that’s very fitted to the body. Also, you should not measure yourself while wearing shapewear because depending on the type of shapewear you have on, it can cinch and it can cause your measurements to be a little off.

Here are a few things you need before measuring yourself.

Measurement Tape

The very first thing you must have is measuring tape made out of fabric. You want one made out of fabric because it needs to be able to bend over all your curves and everything so you can get an accurate measurement.

Don’t use the ones that are made of metal that you oftentimes see in a toolbox because those won’t be able to bend and you will not get an accurate measurement.

Pen & Paper

You want to make sure you have something to record your measurements whether that’s a pen and paper or you can open the notes app on your iPhone. Just make sure you have something there next to you to quickly put down your measurements.

How to Measure

For mostly any clothes including shapewear, you must know your measurement for the following parts. They are – bust, waist, hip, thigh, and torso. Here is how to measure them.


woman measuring her bust area using tape measure
Video | Chrissyb Styles

First, hold the measurement tape on the middle of your chest around the nipple area and take it all the way around your back till it meets again to the starting point. Make sure to measure the fullest part of your bust. Note the measurement and write it down.


woman measuring her waist area using tape measure
Video | Chrissyb Styles

Next, we are going to measure the waist. The first thing you are going to do when measuring your waist you have to find your waist first. Many people kind of get this mixed up and get confused when finding their waist.

Typically it’s right above your belly button and it’s the smallest part of your torso. So if you’re looking at yourself you’ll see just beneath your chest area, there is a natural curvature of your body. This is your waist area.

Now measure this part and write it down.


woman measuring her hip area using tape measure
Video | Chrissyb Styles

Typically by industry measurements, you are to measure yourself about eight inches from where you measured your waist but you do want to make sure that you are measuring your waist and the fullest part of your behinds around the fullest part of your thighs and that’s how you’re going to get that accurate measurement.

What you want to do is you’re going to find the fullest part of your behind and your hips and your upper thigh area. You are going to bring the tape around and there you have your hip measurement.


woman measuring her thigh using tape measure
Video | Chrissyb Styles

Stand in front of a mirror and your feet about hip-width apart. Take the tape around the upper part of your thigh and find the biggest part. Take the measurement and write it down.


woman measuring torso using tape measure
Video | Chrissyb Styles

For your torso measurement what you’re going to do is take the tape and start from your shoulder. Bring the tape down to your waist area and that is your torso measurement.

Body Type – Match It with Right Shapewear

You need to be aware of your body shape when buying shapewear. Here are the right shapewear types for different body types.

  • Straight Figure. Your primary focus should be to define your waist measurement, create curves, and smooth your whole figure. Go for waist cinchers and high waist shaping shorts and panties.
  • Round Figure. Your body needs shapewear that slims and defines your waistline. Bodysuits, waist cinchers, and shaping panties are a must-have in your wardrobe.
  • Curvy on the Bottom. Naturally, you have lovely curves. Your focus should be on smoothing them, besides emphasizing your magnificent waistline. High waist shorts and control slips will do the job.
  • Top-heavy Body. The goal should be to establish a balance. Getting a good bra is a great start. If possible, go for minimizing bras. To help balance your curves, go for any shapewear that enhances your rear, such as butt lifters.
    Hourglass. You have a desirable body type, the curves that every woman desires. There are no limitations for body shapers. Of the utmost importance is to get shapewear that smoothens out your natural curves.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) classified – https://theconversation.com/what-is-classified-information-and-who-gets-to-decide-77832
(2) fabric – https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-decor/decorating-styles-techniques/how-is-fabric-created.htm

Video References

Zoom Off


Chrissyb Styles

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Maggie Walker
Maggie Walker

Certifications: Fashion Design (BA)
Education: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Lives In: Chicago
Maggie has invaluable experience working in the fashion industry. Regarding fitting and clothing, only a select few can match up with her experience.
She oversees every aspect and has put her heart and soul into MadisonPlus.

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