NOT naturally blessed with a taut, toned physique? Thankfully, it's certainly not slim pickings when it comes to smoothing shapewear, says Katie Wright

Even if you've managed to stick to your newly-implemented, New Year body-honing regime, it can take a while to shift those pesky pounds, and with spring fashion collections rapidly arriving in shops, the incentive to get fit fast is even greater.

In the meantime, however, there are a few cheeky cheats you can use, to disguise those bumps and wobbly areas.

From smoothing underwear to accent accessories, here's the expert advice for figure-flattering fashion, whatever your size.


First up, shapewear; those slimming underpinnings that hide a multitude of sins. But where to start?

"The main thing to consider is the level of control you want, whether you want light control, medium or firm," says Sarah Stott, lingerie buyer at JD Williams. "Firm control is ideal for a few hours during an evening, but light to medium would be better when wearing shapewear for a full day, under work clothes, for example."

Suzanne Robinson, senior buyer at Aussie plus-size brand Taking Shape, advises: "The area that you want to smooth depends on what outer garments are being worn. Always buy to your correct size, as the garments are specially fitted to be true to size and will still smooth and control where needed."


So your size and support level's sorted, but how do you choose from the plethora of styles (some of which can be, frankly, a but scary looking...)? First, decide which area you want to focus on, and go from there.

"Thigh-shapers are the best to smooth out thighs," says Stott. "They look like a cycling short and extend to about midway between the hip and knee, pulling you in all the right places, without being uncomfortable."

A body-shaper is ideal if your hips are on your hit list: "Ideally, you need something with a high waistline or full body element, to ensure hips are smoothed, rather than just pushed up and inevitably out, defeating the object of shapewear!"

Look out, too, for 'wear your own bra' shapewear, which gives full-body benefits but allows for differing sizes on your top and bottom halves.

For tummy tightening without the sit-ups, high-waisted briefs are best, whether you want to smooth the lower or upper part of the abdomen, Stott advises: "A high-waisted control brief ensures all areas are covered yet comfort is guaranteed, as it's likely the waistband will sit at a woman's slimmest point, avoiding any pain from digging in."

Check out Maidenform Sleek Stripes WYOB Bodysuit, £30 (, M&S Collection Ultimate Shaping Magic Waist & Thigh Cincher, £35 ( and Bestform Beauty Perfect Waist Shaper High Rise Women's Briefs, from £7.99 (


A slim silhouette doesn't rely on shaping undergarments alone, however. There are lots of ways to accentuate your best bits (and disguise the less favourable ones), you just need a bit of styling know-how.

"Tunics are always a great 'go to' style when you're not feeling 100% confident, as these are flattering, loose styles," says Robinson. "The other way is to use layering. Try our Decorous Tees to cover arms, or layer tops to create extra length and cover the bottom."

"Anything with an empire line, or that is shaped so that it goes in slightly at the waist, is guaranteed to create the illusion of a smaller waist, and therefore a more slimming look overall," Stott advises. "Skater style midi skirts are a great spring staple, that can be worn higher up on the waist to create a similar effect."

See jewel skater dress (sizes 12-32), £49; block heel sandal, £25 (, Grazia PU layer top dress (sizes 12-32), £55 and sole diva mesh side court E Fit shoe, £30 ( see ray Of Light Top, £49 (


Are there any no-no's in terms of plus-size clothing that we should take heed of? Robinson doesn't think so.

"This is always down to personal taste, but I don't think anything should be out of bounds. Stripes always used to be a no-no, but we like to use stripes that are spliced to create a flattering look," she says. "One thing to watch out for is larger floral prints. We tend to splice these with a solid colour for a more flattering look."

Well-placed accessories can turn an average ensemble into a sartorial work of art, and give you the confidence to carry off a bold new look. "Scarves and necklaces are great for drawing attention off key areas, and also creating an elongated silhouette," says Robinson. See wavelength tunic, £39; jeans, £49 ( and blue multi chain long necklace, £12 (, and Accessorize birds in paradise silk square scarf, £25 (