Just like that one accessory can make an outfit, so can shapewear. And thankfully what’s available now to smooth and flatten doesn’t come close to grandma’s girdles.

“Shapewear doesn’t have to be uncomfortable,” says Shannon McCormic, Dillard's regional lingerie manager. “You can still look and feel the way you want in your clothes.”

There are a few key things to remember when shopping for shapewear, she advises:

Try before you buy. “Just because a piece works really great for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you,” she adds. “Try it on first.”

When trying on, step into the piece — never pull it over your head. Step into the item as you would with pantyhose, slowly unrolling it as you get to the top and pulling and smoothing along the way.

Examine the smoothing panel on the inside of the piece. This panel should not show through in a good-quality item.

Buy your regular size in a piece of shapewear — not the size you want to be. A size too small won’t give you more shape, it will just cause lumps and discomfort.

Think about your target area and how much control you need. Spanx, one of the most well-known shapewear brands, has three levels of control: smooth, for light control; shape, for medium control; and sculpt, the brand’s highest level of support. Other brands have similar levels such as light, moderate and firm.

McCormic, who provides support to 20 Dillards stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, says the chain’s most popular shapewear style is the high-waisted thigh smoother. It works especially well for slim-fitting dresses, she says.

If your mid-section is the only area of concern, she suggests trying a high-waisted brief. Another new design, the torsette or “control camisole,” has an open bust ideal for any neckline. The wearer can dress in a bra of her choosing and still get smoothing through the tummy and back.