A guide to the best slimming underwear

Christmas is coming and with it the usual rounds of office parties, drinks and get-togethers. And if you just can't face a pre-Christmas diet but still want to look fabulous in your LBD slimming undies could be the way to go.

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Control underwear is no longer a Bridget Jones-style taboo - even the celebs have been spotted in Spanx - and you can now buy slimming garments in all shapes, sizes and styles.

Though a pair of control pants may seem expensive, it's worth remembering that a good quality pair will last much longer than your average skimpies and what you lose in cash, you'll gain in self-confidence.

Of course, now that slimming underwear is all the rage, the choice can be confusing. Firstly, you'll need a product that hides the lumps and bumps you're worried about - some act just on the stomach, some on tummy and thighs and some include bust support.

Be sure to buy the right size to avoid cutting off the circulation and opt for firm control for a dramatic tightening effect or medium or light control for a smoother contour.

Those that extend beyond the bottom tend to look best if you're squeezing into a slinky number for the party season as there will be no sign of the dreaded VPL. But many of the big shapewear brands now offer strapless slips, full body suits and high-waisted products so there's control for every occasion.

Spanx are the magic knickers of choice for the stars and they offer a variety of shapes - the Super Higher Power variety (£30) extend to just below the bust and smooth out hips, thighs and behind whilst giving you a slimmer silhouette around the middle. According to the makers these enable you to "drop a dress size" in an instant.

You won't be impressing anyone in the bedroom with these but they are comfortable and offer a good all-round slimming effect.

Similarly the Ultimo Extreme Makeover Control Short (£25) is excellent for smoothing your contours and flattening the mid-section without the tell-tale muffin top.

Muffin top and other unsightly bulges can be a problem with the M&S Ultimate Magic Body Define knickers (£20) but they do offer an all-in-one which avoids such troubles and they provide plenty of comfort.

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, don't be tempted by the Peacocks Closer Shapewear shorts (£5) which will leave you with bulges you never knew you had. On the other hand the Aldi Skin To Skin Body Shaping Briefs (£2.99) deliver a decidedly smoother result from waist to thigh.

For slimming that doesn't leave your chest hanging, the Debenhams' control body shaper (£30) does the trick for the middle but can leave a noticeable knicker line if you're donning a figure-hugging dress this year. It does have the advantage of straps, of course, so you won't experience any embarrassing roll-down.

However, Gok Wan's Super Slicker Knicker (£30) does a wonderful of job of cinching in the waist as well as holding in the belly bulge - but be warned... while effective, the Super Slicker Knicker does contain boning in the waist area and you could end up feeling the pinch if you're out for a sit-down do.

With so many choices, whatever your budget, there's no need to hide your figure under a shapeless maxi this Christmas so invest in some 'magic undies' and show off that fabulous frock.