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Does Shapewear Really Work?

It's not surprising that Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, just became the youngest female billionaire in the world. Tons of women buy shapewear to make them look skinnier. What can be surprising, though, is when it doesn't work.

But it's not necessarily the shapewear's fault: even the most ridiculously expensive, advanced-technology shaper isn't going to shave inches off hip bones or turn large thighs into Alexa Chung legs.

Instead of changing overall size, shapewear's main benefit is streamlining a silhouette. A good shaper will steamroll muffin tops and pave over cellulite lumps—which, yeah, is amazing—but it's not going to knock inches off a frame. A wide but evenly toned body isn't going to see much benefit.

On top of that—and perhaps this is part of how Sara Blakely made her billions—there isn't one uniform bodyshaper for every outfit. A shorts bodyshaper will work with a miniskirt, but underneath pants, the bulge where the compression shorts stop and meet the skin might show. For the best slimming effect, you've got to find the right shaper, pair it with an appropriate outfit and expect, realistically, to look smoothed out—not shrunk. Doing all that makes shapewear "work." Skipping a step can make it not.

To nail that equation, we've rounded up some of our favorite shapers below. Click through the slideshow to shop them all:

An ultra lightweight option for warmer weather.

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