What is Shapewear? Understanding Shapewear and Intimate Apparel Terminology

Shapers and intimate apparel are described with a range of technical terms that can be confusing at first glance. Use this guide to help decode what it all means and make your shopping even easier.



A shaping garment that provides coverage from the bust to the panty areas, providing uniform smoothing for various styles. Bodysuits come in a range of styles with various features, including seamless, strapless, thong back, and thigh and hip coverage. This type of shaper is also called a body brief or body girdle.


A strapless shaper that pushes up the breasts and gently shapes the waist. It as also known as a longline lingerie piece or an evening camisole. It's a popular choice for strapless formals like bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns.


A full-body garment, generally made of stretchy fabric. It covers the torso and legs, and sometimes the arms.

Control Cami

A shaping top that can come with or without a built-in bra. It helps create a smooth, bulk-free foundation under blouses, dresses and sweaters; some can even been worn alone. Camis provide moderate midsection control; those with built-in bras also smooth out the back.

Control Slip

A shaper you can wear under dresses and skirts that provides light control for your hips and thighs for a smooth foundation.


A highly structured, form-fitted support garment that extends from the bust to the hip. Most corsets have lace up details, flexible boning throughout the body of the garment for additional shaping, and a closure in the back with a long row of hooks and eyes.

Footless Pantyhose

The feet portion of the hose is cut out and a panty crotch is sewn in to replace wearing a panty for a seamless look. This gives control and a smooth shape under pants, longer dresses and skirts. Most footless pantyhose end at mid-calf


Classic styled shapewear that is normally very firmed and provides coverage from the waist to the knee.

Leg/Thigh Shapers

Shapers that are worn in place of panties and provide a smooth look under pants, dresses and skirts (be sure the leg opening isn't too tight!). These shapers provide comfort and control when you're sitting, walking and standing.

Longline Bra

A breast-support shaper that replaces the bra and provides slimming and smoothing for the waistline. Similar to a bustier but can have straps and may extend further down the hips.

Long Leg Brief

Shaper that replaces the panty for control and shaping under pants, longer dresses and skirts. The leg ends at about mid-calf.

Thong Shaper

Provides smooth look eliminating visible panty lines under slim pants.

Waist Cincher

Waist-slimming shaper designed to create an hourglass shape under snug or slim fitting garments. Use this if your tummy is larger in proportion to the bust and hips. Have you ever tried on a pair of pants and they fit except in the waist? This is the shapewear piece for you.  



The proper term for a woman's chest, also referred to as "bust," which is the part of a garment that covers a woman's breast – a key measurement for ensuring the right sizing for bras and tops.

Clear Straps

Transparent shoulder straps that offers extra support for revealing fashions.


This term usually refers to bra straps that can convert to five different styles including halter top, racer back, criss-cross, regular and strapless.

Demi Cup

This type of bra covers half the breast, giving the appearance of fuller cleavage.

Full Cup

A full cup bras completely covers the breast for full support.

Full Figure Bras

Refers to any styled bra specifically available for larger breasted women. These are cup sizes DD or above and often offer maximum support and comfort.


A bodice for women that ties behind the neck and across the back, leaving the arms, shoulders, and back bare.


Reduces the appearance of the bust by up to one cup size.


Lift and support the bust, creating a fuller look, sometimes comes with inserts such as removable cookies (air, bean or cushion insert). 

Maternity Bra

Offers extra support and comfort during pregnancy.


Molded bras have machine-molded cups, designed in the natural shape of a woman. They provide shape and comfort and are typically unlined.

Nursing Bra

Post-natal bra that has latch hooks on the straps to open the cup to make breastfeeding easier. 


A bra with a deep cut that reveals the top part of the breasts and lifts the bust for a fuller look. Straps are usually set wider apart. Ideal for low cut styles.


Maximizes cleavage and pushes breasts up and together, making the bust size appear larger. This look is achieved through removable inserts such as liquid and air bags or other cookies.

Racer Back

A bra strap style in which straps lie or cross in between the shoulder blades. Many sports bras are racer back style; most convertible bras can also be worn as racer back.

Seamless Bra

Light, smooth and without any outward-facing seams or ridges. The seam-free cups make the bra discreet under a tight-fitting shirt. There may be seams in other parts of the bra and still be considered seamless. Seamless bras are a great choice for pairing with clingy knits, t-shirts and lightweight fabrics.

Sleep Bra

Wireless supportive bra designed for sleeping in. Sleep bras are extremely comfortable after some bust surgical procedures, during pregnancy, and on larger breasted women.

Soft Cup

Bras that do not have underwires for a more comfortable fit, but may be padded or lined for extra support and shape.

Sports Bra

Designed to providethe appropriate amount of support during moderate to intense physical activity.

T-Shirt Bra

Designed to appear invisible under even the thinnest fabrics, t-shirt bras are seamless, generally made of micro-fiber with contour cups.


Metal wire built into bra cups. Gives shape to smaller busts and offers great support to larger busts, and lifts each breast and gives it definition.   



A garment constructed of hypoallergenic materials, to prevent skin irritation.


Revolutionary compression technology that uses tiny particles embedded in shapers. The crystals chemically react to body heat and generate small thermal waves when in contact with water and fat molecules. Regular use improves the skin's texture and reduces the appearance of cellulite.


A natural fiber that comes from the cotton plant. Cotton allows the skin to breathe and it wears and washes well.


A unit of weight per length, used to describe the fineness of rayon, nylon, and silk fibers. The lower the denier number, the finer the material. Deniers are typically used to describe the fineness of pantyhose and tights.

Faux Leather

Imitation leather-like fabric.


Rubber-based fabric that provides firm control.


A trademark of the spandex fiber owned and produced by DuPont. It is lightweight and soft, but stronger and more durable than rubber. It is often blended with other fabrics to produce a lightweight freedom of movement in foundation garments.


Material made from extra-fine manufactured fibers. Microfiber garments have superior smooth texture, a gentle drape, and incredible softness. It is comfortable and forms well with the body's shape.

Moisture Wicking

Fabric that draws moisture away from the skin. This is a great feature to look for in a sports bra and other workout apparel.


Refers to material through which the body cannot be seen (as opposed to sheer material). Leggings are typically opaque, while pantyhose are sheer.


Both the name of a fabric and a fiber, second in popularity only to cotton in worldwide use. Its ability to stretch and resist wrinkling makes it a popular fabric for lingerie. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fabric to dry quickly.


A synthetic, silk-like fabric, but less expensive than silk. Does not trap heat against the body and absorbs moisture. It is a comfortable fabric against skin, making it popular for lingerie.


A smooth fabric, such as silk or rayon, woven with a glossy face and a dull back.


With the same attributes as Lycra but not registered, spandex is often blended with other fabrics to give stretch and softness to a garment. The material is made from a polymer containing polyurethane.



Rises higher than a hipster and lower than a brief. Offers full back coverage with a waistline that falls below the navel, and rests on the hips. 

Boy Leg or Boy Cut

A panty cut that sits low on the waist and provides full rear coverage. It looks like a short pair of shorts similar to men's boxer briefs. It is sexy, stylish, and practical for providing a seamless look under form-fitting pants and skirts.


A panty cut that provides the most front, side and back coverage. The high-rise waistband rises to the naval or just above it. This cut is ideal for maximum coverage and tummy control.


A panty with a front panel and string back and sides, less than ¾-inch width. Often worn to prevent panty lines under tight-fitting garments. G-string provide less coverage than a basic thong back.


Panty shaper that replaces panty and provides tummy and derriere support and control. If too tight and bulges at the leg, do not wear under clingy knits. Choose a thigh slimmer instead.


A low-rise panty that sits on the hip, which works we


A panty that sits lower on the waist. It's an ideal cut underneath any navel-revealing styles.

String Panty

A style of panty that consists of less side coverage than a regular panty. Features a string of fabric at panty's sides and full back coverage. Available in thong, G-string, bikini or brief styles.


The most comfortable open-back panty. Features more side and back coverage than a G-string thong. Ideal for those seeking a smooth seamless silhouette beneath clothing. 


Baby Doll

A short gown that goes just past the hip, which often comes with a matching panty.


A loose, shirt-like gown that hangs straight/unfitted at the hips.

Garter Belt

Normally used with stockings and is worn around the waist and clipped or binded to the top of stockings to keep the stockings in place. Garter belts are often attachable with some bustiers and other lingerie styles.


Gown types include baby dolls, negligees, nightdresses, and peignoirs (long sheer outer garments). Used for night or loungewear.


A loose robe that falls to about mid-thigh with large arm openings.


A one-piece lingerie style that is a combination of a cami and panty. May vary in look and style, some styles offering more coverage, while others leaving little to the imagination. 



An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn onto the fabric to create a design.


A patterned cutout design on fabric, around which stitching or embroidery is applied to prevent the fabric from unraveling.

Front Closure

A bra or garment that closes in the front, instead of the back.

Hook and Eye Closure

An opening on a garment that closes shut using tiny metal hooks and "eyes," or small loops. Most standard bras use hook and eye closures. The eyes can come in several rows so the wearer can choose the best fit. Many shapers have hook and eye closures, including corsets, waist bands and bodysuits.


A hole in a garment in the shape of a teardrop, usually in the front near the top of the fabric.


Material sewn into the inside of a garment for added structure and comfort against the skin. Lining in bras adds extra support and creates a background for lacy or sheer fabrics.


Any design that covers the breasts.

Plus Size

A size range larger than 12; sizes 14-34+. Can also be described as full-figure sizes.


A decorative border on fabric or lace made up of a series or half circles.


U-shaped curve at the neckline. May be a variety of sizes or depths.


Garment with no seams or smooth ridges.


A decorative effect created by material being gathered into lines.

Anything below the bust/breast.