PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – From the first corsets dating back to the Middle Ages to present-day shapewear, women have been squeezing themselves into all sorts of contraptions to trim and firm.

A new Consumer Reports ShopSmart poll shows more than half of the women surveyed have purchased a “modern-day” body shaper. However, most gave it a thumbs down because it’s so darn uncomfortable. So, ShopSmart put several to the test.

They’re officially called shapewear, but they’re more often referred to as Spanx, the name of a hugely popular brand.

Meryl Lefkowitz, a Bloomingdale’s salesperson, says the right ones can make or break an outfit.

“Spanx are a great staple for any woman’s wardrobe – kind of pulls you in; makes all those bumps and other lumps, it smoothes them all out,” said Lefkowitz.

To see if they can really deliver, Consumer Reports ShopSmart wanted to put shapewear to the test.

Four staffers volunteered, wearing a dress they felt could look better on them.

“They let it all hang out for our ‘before’ pictures, then we put them in four different shapewear garments,” said Judy Rohlena, of Consumer Reports ShopSmart. “We had a fit professional come in and evaluate them.”

ShopSmart sized up four shapers.

There were two from Spanx: the $68 Hide & Sleek Hi-Rise Body Smoother and the $38 In-Power line Super Higher Power.

Also, the $20 Assets by Sara Blakely from Target, and an infomercial product, the Kymaro New Body Shaper, were included in the test.

It turns out the $38 Spanx worked the best for three of the women. However, the fourth panelist says she felt great in the $20 Assets shaper.

But that just goes to show, you don’t have to spend top dollar to look fabulous.

Just in case any men are feeling a little left out, there are Spanx for men. They’re like a t-shirt that acts as a girdle.

A male Consumer Reports employee gave it a try. It took an inch-and-a-half off his waist, but it was hard to put on and take off and it wasn’t very comfortable.

MORE INFORMATION: Featured Story | ShopSmart Magazine | Consumer Reports