12 Types of Underwear Every Woman Needs to Avoid Wardrobe Malfunctions

Need to restock your underwear drawer? Be sure to include these 12 key styles in your repertoire.

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Taylor Tobin1.84k
May 27, 2024 at 1:25AM UTC

A properly-stocked underwear drawer should appear at the top of the wish list of any fashion-conscious woman. But all too often, we only head to the store to replenish our undie supply when we put on a new dress or pants and notice visible panty lines (VPLs). To avoid last-minute shopping trips (or online orders), keep the following 12 underwear styles and materials on-hand at all times, and you’ll be prepared for your next sartorial emergency.

The Styles 

1. Bikini

Like the bathing-suit style that shares their name, bikini underwear involve mid-rise waistbands (a couple of inches below the waist) and leg holes with a high cut. The bikini is a flexible style that best suits casual looks of all sorts, and it's a particular favorite among regular wearers of jeans.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Moderate; a hint of bottom and side cheek, no upper cheek.

Wear them with: Jeans, skirts made from medium- and heavy-weight materials, shorts, dresses made from medium- and heavy-weight materials.

2. Hipster

Hipster underwear rest along the hips (as their name suggests) and feature low-cut leg holes. Like bikinis, they’re ideal for casual, everyday wear — and if the low-rise jean craze ever makes a comeback, the hipster’s lower waistband will make it a must-have for the trend-conscious among us. Hipsters can come in a wide array of fabrics, but comfy cotton hipsters tend to count among the most widely-sold.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Moderate, revealing about half of the cheeks.

Wear them with: Jeans (especially those with lower rises), slacks, skirts/dresses made from medium- and heavy-weight materials.

3. Brief

A panty style borrowed from the boys, the brief is a perfect fit for anyone who prefers her undergarments on the higher-rise side. They offer plenty of coverage at the front and at the back, medium-cut leg holes and a waistband typically sitting just below the natural waistline. They're excellent to wear under pants of all types, but those who prefer casual dresses will also find a harmonious pair of undies in the brief.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Low; you’ll see a bit of cheek, but no more than a hint.

Wear them with: Jeans, dress slacks, sweats, casual dresses and skirts.

4. Control Brief

The control brief includes the traditional attributes of a brief (higher waist, medium leg cuts, close-to-full coverage), but also brings the advantages of shape wear and foundation-wear. Control briefs are typically made from compression materials, which smooth out the body’s silhouette without leaving behind any VPLs. 

“Cheekiness” Factor: Low; you’ll see a bit of cheek, but no more than a hint.

Wear them with: Bodycon dresses, skirts/pants made from lightweight materials, fitted jumpsuits.

5. Boy Shorts

If you prize comfort above all other underwear characteristics, then the boy short is the style for you. Like briefs, boy shorts take major inspiration from men’s underwear (hence, the name). The waistline runs along the hipbones (like the hipster), and the legs fall lower than those of other underwear types. Ideal for casual wear, most comfortable when made with cotton.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Nonexistent; with the boy short, you get full cheek coverage.

Wear them with: High-rise pants and jeans, medium-rise pants and jeans, casual dresses and skirts, loungewear.

6. French Cut

With the higher waist of a brief and the very high-cut legs of a bikini, the French Cut (also known as the High Cut) offers both comfort and a streamlined look with minimal panty lines.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Low; you’ll still get full rear coverage, so the only hint of cheek will appear at the very bottoms of the leg holes.

Wear them with: Jeans, slacks, non-bodycon dresses, skirts, shorts, jumpsuits.

7. Seamless

Usually found in a hipster cut, seamless underwear provide shoppers with a wonderful blend of attributes: absolutely zero panty lines, but considerably more coverage than other no-VPL styles. These underwear typically come in light fabrics with a bit of stretch, making them ideal choices to wear under thin pants, skirts or dresses.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Moderate, revealing about half of the cheeks.

Wear them with: Lightweight or bodycon dresses and skirts, jumpsuits, flowy trousers.

8. Thong

Any conversation about avoiding VPLs will probably begin and end with the thong — and for good reason. These undies feature a bikini-like waistline slightly below the natural waist, very high-cut leg holes, and a thin T-shaped fabric band at the back. Their inherent skimpiness makes them perfect fits for clingy dresses, lightweight garments, and any other outfit that requires incognito undergarments.

“Cheekiness” Factor:  Complete; you’re getting full cheek exposure with the thong.

Wear them with: Bodycon dresses and skirts, pants, dresses and skirts made from lightweight materials, leggings.

9. G-String

If you find yourself in the peculiar territory of wanting less coverage than a thong but not quite feeling prepared to go commando, then the G-string is the underwear style for you. It’s identical to a thong, but the straps on either side are much thinner, as is the strap running up and down the rear. The VPL doesn’t stand a chance when you’ve got one of these on underneath your fitted dress or skirt.

“Cheekiness” Factor: Complete; there’s nowhere to hide here.

Wear them with: Bodycon dresses and skirts, very thin trousers, loungewear, Spandex. Avoid wearing jeans, wools or leathers with the G-string.

The Fabrics

10. Lace

When made out of lace, underwear transforms from a necessary, functional garment to one with great aesthetic appeal. There’s an unquestionable association between lace panties and sexy situations, so they’re a great move if you want to get yourself into a flirty frame of mind.

Commonly used for: Thongs, G-strings, bikinis.

11. Cotton

Looking for comfortable, breathable, all-purpose undies that can hold up to regular laundry cycles? Then keep an eye out for cotton underwear, which work perfectly as everyday foundation garments and come in a wide range of cuts and styles.

Commonly used for: Briefs, boy shorts, bikinis, hipsters.

12. Satin

An ideal middle ground between the super-femme appeal of lace underwear and the ease and comfort of cotton panties, satin underwear provide both functional advantages and visual beauty. Satin offers more compression capabilities than cotton, while also boasting a smooth texture that’s helpful for those trying to avoid the dreaded VPL. 

Commonly used for: French cuts, seamless panties, thongs, G-strings.


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