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Today, we’re talking about a subject I get asked about a lot… underwear.
So let’s get right into it.
You know I am so passionate about getting the right bra, making sure they fit right and getting professionally fit regularly, but I almost never talk about underwear. And there’s a reason for that.
Because it’s hard.
Bras are a lot easier to give advice about as there are fewer variables, so there can be more objective rules to follow.
But with underwear, you’ve got to take into account body shape, booty size, amount of coverage, fabric, desired level of smoothing and support, and of course…
What is it you want your underwear to do for you?
For me, bras feel a little more like a science, and underwear is a little more of an art. It takes a little more trial and error to get it right.
If you haven’t listened to our episodes about bras, check them out here: All About Bras Part 1 All About Bras Part 2
Today, I’m going to share my best underwear advice, and your job is to pick the pieces that resonate with you, and then go practice and just try. Remember, all the knowledge in the world won’t help you unless you put it into practice.
Let’s start with figuring out what you want your underwear to do for you. Not everyone has the same goals for their clothes or their undergarments, and that’s ok. But to find the best things for you, you have to know what you want those things to do. For example, do you want your underwear to be pretty and sexy? You may end up with a lingerie drawer that looks very different from someone who wants full coverage and comfort. Whatever’s most important to you, shop with that as your top priority.
There’s no wrong priority, either. If you’ve got a booty that has experienced some gravitational pull and a little extra fluff than you want, but your top priority is tiny, sexy undies, great, buy those. If you’ve got the booty of a lululemon model, but your top priorities are coverage and shaping, buy underwear that gives you that.
Today, I’m talking about underwear from the perspective that most people ask the question–what’s the best fitting underwear for my shape, and secondly, how to find underwear that is flattering under clothes–no lumps or bumps, and no weird lines.
The biggest thing you need to understand about buying the best underwear for your shape is that your underwear needs to stop before, or go past, your trouble spot. When I say trouble spot, I’m not trying to body shame anyone–there’s just no better term that’s concise. As an apple, I consider my tummy to be my trouble spot. It doesn’t mean my tummy keeps me locked in my house, crying, not living a full life. Just means that part of my body gives me a little trouble when getting dressed. Please don’t get hung up on the term, or on the trouble spot.
But again, your underwear shouldn’t stop in the middle of that spot, you should stop before you get there, or go past it. In general, if your trouble spot is nice and firm, stop before you get there. If your trouble spot is a little softer, go past it for some coverage and support.
Let me give you an example. Hourglass-shaped ladies often consider their booty to be a trouble spot. But then they choose bikini underwear that cuts right across it… A better choice would be a full coverage panty, like a brief or hipster..or a thong with no coverage. If you’re an hourglass with a full, firm booty, you might like the thong better. If you’re an hourglass with a full, not-so-firm booty, you might feel more comfortable in full-coverage underwear. Do what makes you comfortable.
The other universal rule is that you have to get the right size. Don’t worry about style unless you’re willing to get the right size. It’s not uncommon to have to go up a size in underwear, kind of like swimsuits.
Keep in mind though that size is kind of dependent on style. Some women choose to go up a size, while others tend to go down, depending on style. If you have NO idea where to start with size and style, go to a place like Soma, or Victoria’s Secret where you can try a bunch of different styles and sizes and experiment until you find the combination.
Don’t forget too, that the best underwear for your body shape is the kind that makes you feel fantastic. If you love cotton panties that come in a pack of 18 from Target, then they are best for you. If you like your itty-bitty-barely-theres, then those are best for you. My advice is no substitute for your personal preferences.
Basic Underwear Styles
Bikinis sit low on the hip and are high cut on the leg. They offer minimal to moderate coverage in the back. Some show the top of the rear, and plenty of cheek, and some give a little more coverage. You’ll also see string bikinis as well, where the sides are replaced by thin fabric or just elastic. Bikinis are the most common style of underwear, but they’re not best for most body shapes. Unless your body is firm, with no trouble spots, bikinis often don’t offer enough coverage or support and tend to cause lines and bumps where you probably don’t want them.
These are made for full coverage. They come up high on the belly, they have a full back and low leg openings. These are what we used to call Granny panties, but in recent years, they’ve kind of made a retro renaissance comeback.
A version of the classic brief with the same high waist, same full-back, but the leg opening is much higher.
Another version of the classic brief with the same low leg openings and full back as the classic, but with a lower rise–kind of bikini meets the classic brief.
Boyshorts look like the low-rise shorts that volleyball players wear. They have very low leg openings and are full coverage in the back, and are usually low to mid-rise
Last but not least, are thongs. These are low to high rise, have varying amounts of side coverage, and zero coverage in the back. I don’t really have to describe a thong, do I? You know what they are.
Common Issues With Underwear
If a woman has an issue with her underwear, it usually has to do with the fit or the style she’s choosing for her body shape.
The first issue is underwear creeping up your backside. This is usually a result of not enough coverage in the back. It could be because you’re wearing the right style, but the wrong size, or it could be you need a style with more coverage–like a hipster instead of a bikini.
The second issue is underwear rolling or falling down. When something rolls-either your underwear rolling down, or a cami or shapewear rolling up, it’s because it’s too small. If it’s falling down, your underwear is either too big for you, or not the right style. You either need to size down or look for a higher-rise style with wider elastic at the top.
The last big issue is muffin top. If your underwear is comfortable, not creeping, and not pinching anywhere else, it’s most likely not a size issue, but a rise issue. What’s happening here is that the underwear is hitting a soft spot, causing spillage. Go higher, or lower.
The Best Underwear Styles For Each Body Shape
Like all style advice, Rectangles are the hardest for me to give advice to because there’s so much variation in the shape. Of all the body shapes, bikinis work the best for you. Classic briefs tend to have too much fabric in the rear end and can feel bunchy. Highlegs or hipsters will help get rid of some of the extra fabric. Boyshorts can work really well for you, too, as can thongs in the right rise. I always feel like my advice to rectangles is kind of a cop-out, because I often can’t give specific advice like I can with the other shapes. With rectangles, it really is about knowing the principles and applying them to your unique body.
Remember when I said you have to go above or below the trouble spot? For most apples, especially those with a rounder midsection, a higher rise is better. If you’re comfortable going super low rise, go for it, but anything in the middle will likely just fall or roll down. So a higher rise brief is probably your best bet. The problem is though, full coverage in the front tends to equal full coverage in the back–and most apples have relatively flat bums, and can’t fill out full briefs. High leg briefs will help get rid of some of that extra fabric, and if you can find some with a wide elastic waistband, that’s probably your best bet. The other option is a high-rise thong. It solves the need for coverage in the front, but not in the back
Hourglasses and Pears
These two can often be grouped together, because really, the differences in the body shapes are up top, where underwear advice doesn’t apply. These two body shapes struggle mostly with underwear creeping up, aka the wedgie.
For these two, what you need to keep in mind is rear coverage and leg openings. Often you’ll see advice about boy shorts being great for women with rounder lower halves, and from working with thousands of women, I have to say I strongly disagree. Again, it’s about going above or below the trouble spot, and if you carry any weight at the top of your thighs, it’s going to give you a panty line on your leg, and probably not be super comfortable. You’re better off with a hipster, or a panty with a full-coverage back, but more room in the leg opening. Classic briefs are actually a great fit for most hourglasses and pears, but again, make sure the leg opening is generous.
I understand that a lot of women don’t want to go full coverage because it feels kind of unsexy and frumpy, and I do get it. If you’re rounder on the bottom but you like less coverage, try going up a size. That often helps get the coverage you need, with the style you want. Also, remember that briefs are everywhere right now–from Target to high-end lingerie stores.
Remember, the best underwear for your body are the ones that make you feel and look good. Some of you might say, I don’t care how they look under my white skinny jeans, I’m wearing string bikini underwear no matter what! Great–that’s the right answer. Others might say, I don’t care how unsexy these underwear are, they make the clothes I’m wearing look better, and you know what? That’s the right answer too. In my perfect world, you get a little of both–you learn which styles are better, or best, for you, and you buy them in versions that make you feel like the sexy goddess you are.
How Does Fabric Fit Into My Underwear Selection?
Before we get too far, I’m talking about fabric choice from the perspective of everyday underwear fitting and working underclothes–not from the perspective of workout fabrics, or what’s best for your lady parts. When it comes to your underwear fabrics, think about these three things: Slip and grip, comfort, and support.
Slip and Grip
What the heck is slip and grip? Well, it’s how two fabrics work together. Some underwear fabrics that are heavier microfiber, or even thicker cotton, have a lot of grip, and when they’re worn under bottoms of the same type of material, they grip even more. My favorite J Jill wearever pants are pretty fitted in the rear–one reason I love them, but I need to wear underwear underneath them with a little more slip so the pants don’t stick to them and bunch. Especially because, as an apple, I usually have too much fabric in the back to begin with. So a silkier nylon or modal blend works best because it makes the pants hang and drape better.
The best comparison I can make of this is how a few years ago, women were all wearing camis under their t-shirts, right? But the cotton cami, combined with the cotton tee caused wrinkles and bunching because the fabrics were sticking together. That’s grip. If that happens on your bottom half, you need to find undies with some slip.
Most women think that cotton underwear are the most comfortable, and maybe they are, but my issue with all cotton is that it gets stretched out pretty fast, and then it gets saggy and baggy, which for me, is not comfortable at all. I prefer a fabric blend with more stretch so they hold their shape. But since personal comfort is entirely subjective, you do you, my love.
Some women like underwear that holds them in a little and gives some smoothing and shaping. I am not a believer in full-on shapewear for your everyday life. I’m not sitting in my office on a random Tuesday wearing full control briefs, you know what I mean? Under dresses, or special occasions maybe, and you know I love my high- waist shaping tights, but for every day, I personally prefer comfort with a little bit of a gentle hug. The best fabric for that is a thicker microfiber.
If you’re shopping online, look for underwear that isn’t labeled shapewear–the word smoothing is ok–and look for a fabric blend with a higher spandex or elastane content. It’s important to remember how much shaping everyday underwear can do, and the answer is, not much. I read a lot of reviews of different brands and styles, and so many reviews were like “Didn’t get rid of my mommy belly” or “didn’t slim my waist”. Regular underwear isn’t supposed to. If that’s what you want, move into the shapewear category.
How Do I Avoid Visible Panty Lines?
Looking to avoid VPL? (visible panty lines) Finding the right size style for your body shape, that isn’t creating lines right on a trouble spot, is the first place to start. It used to be that wearing thongs was the only way to make sure to avoid those lines, but these days you’ve got a lot of other options. You can look for leg openings that are seamless or laser cut, or try brands that have a little bit of silicone gripping around the leg openings to keep them in place underneath your cheek.
Underwear Shopping Tips
Finally, I want to share a couple of tips for shopping for underwear. My rule of budgeting for your wardrobe is to splurge on underwear and outerwear, spend on the bottom, and save on the top. I know it’s not fun to spend a lot on things few people will see, but good underwear, just like good bras, will change the way your wardrobe looks and feels. Everything looks better with a good foundation, so it’s worth spending more on underwear to get the right style, size, and quality fabrics.
Make sure to keep your underwear collection in good condition, and replace the ones that have gotten worn out or lost their shape. Underwear wears out faster than any other item in your wardrobe, but over the years, I’ve noticed they get updated and upgraded less often. Do a quick edit of your collection, get rid of anything that’s past its prime, make a list of what you need, and then do a little shopping.
When you’re trying to find the right sizes and styles for underwear, a good place to start is a store that offers lots of different sizes and styles. Stores like soma, or victoria’s secret will allow you to try them on and will give you a pair of disposable panties so you can really see how they fit. If you’re shopping online, try them on at home like you would a swimsuit, over your underwear.
Finding the perfect size and style might take a little work, but it’s worth it to have good underwear that makes you feel and look fabulous.
Additional Links & Resources from the Episode:
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