Support underwear, sometimes known as body-shaping underwear, is designed to create a more flattering silhouette and to make the wearer appear to be smaller than he or she actually is. The mechanism by which the support underwear accomplishes this depends on the fabric from which it is made as well as how it is constructed. In many cases, a major consideration in choosing underwear involves the ability of the underwear to provide adequate support and to make its wearer look slim.
In many cases, support underwear is made of a fabric that stretches but that also fits the body snugly so as to contain any folds of fat or flab. In some cases, the fabric is capable of significantly compressing the wearer's body such that the wearer can fit into clothing that he or she may otherwise not be able to wear. Some manufacturers of support underwear indicate on the product packaging the level of support and compression a purchaser can expect from that particular garment.
Many people choose support underwear that contains and supports one particular area of their body. For example, if a woman is concerned about a flabby stomach, she might select panties that are designed with a control panel in front to reduce the size of her tummy. Alternatively, she may choose panties that provide shape and control for both her tummy and backside. Some types of support underwear are considerably larger in size than other types of underwear because they are intended to compress and control large portions of a person's body. Some types incorporate support and control that extend from the rib cage down through a person's thighs.
Other types of support underwear include support pantyhose, which are often worn by individuals who are concerned about the development of varicose veins, and support tights, which can give an individual a very smooth look under skirts and slacks by providing support from the tummy down through the entire length of the leg. Other options include support slips, which are meant to be worn under skirts and dresses to provide some coverage when wearing sheer fabric as well as body shaping. These slips may come in a half-slip style, or they may be traditional slips that hang from the shoulders. Such garments may also incorporate a bra, providing an all-in-one underwear option for the women who wear them.