Ever wonder why clothes look so great on a mannequin?

It’s not because they’re skinny — most are actually too small for the clothes. It’s because the “skin” of a mannequin is super smooth, so clothing always lies flat and drapes the way it was meant to.

No one wants to be a plastic person. The flesh-and-blood you lights up a room! But, when you’ve gone to all the trouble to pick out that perfect outfit to make a great impression, the right shapewear can give it that extra oomph. Here’s how:

Smooth and Shapely

Take five years off your look just by smoothing things out. The right shapewear hides cellulite and any little bumps and rolls (we all have them!) so your clothes look just the way they were meant to when you strut your stuff. I personally love Skinny Britches by Spanx. They do the job of slimming while still feeling lightweight under even a sheer dress — you’ll never feel like you’re wearing a girdle, I promise.

Even the best shapewear can get hot, though. No matter how thin, it’s still an extra layer. To stay cool, skip the underwear: Shapewear is the underwear. You’ll feel cooler and entirely avoid the dreaded VPL (visible panty lines) that can tank an outfit faster than a popped button.

The Perfect Fit

Did you know that a whopping 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra? This is a huge mistake. The wrong bra will be uncomfortable and will press your body in directions it’s just not meant to go. To look — and feel! — your best, you need a professional bra fitting.

No teenager at the mall is going to be able to help you with this. The experts are at Nordstrom’s, where they’ve been trained to measure and fit everyone and even know how to work with prosthetics. If you’ve never had a professional fitting, you’re long overdue — it’s life changing! You also should be re-fitted any time your weight fluctuates by more than 10 pounds, including when you have a baby or finish nursing. When your body changes, your bra should, too.

A Leg Up on the Competition

The final detail of a polished, dressy look? Hosiery. I know that lots of women have sworn off of pantyhose as an old-fashioned or uncomfortable wardrobe item, but choosing the right hose makes all the difference. It’s all about the quality of the yarn, and no one does it better than Donna Karan. They’re exquisite, slenderizing and utterly worth the price.

While Donna Karan is simply the best for sheer hose, Wolford is my favorite source for tights in fun colors and patterns. This German company is totally beloved across Europe, and their quality is hard to beat. You’ll find everything from solid colors to spangled tights worthy of any wintertime black-tie event.

From your bust to your boots, the right shapewear creates the best possible foundation for all of your favorite outfits. It’s a detail that makes everything come together to give you the best possible look, no matter what your style.