Drawing The Line At Panty Problems

OK we know that a lot of men out there love a visible panty line; but for the most part, we girls hate ‘em. We don’t think they are sexy. VPLs look sloppy, detract from the lines of our outfits, and make us feel embarrassed. (In other words, no complaining about this post, guys!)

It’s no surprise that the VPL problems began in the 1960s, when the foundation garment business was bulldozed. Less underthings was supposed to be liberating in the “letting it all hang out” era, but many of us are not comfortable this way.

For many of us, the only way “less is more” is in the modest sense: Less skin, less straps and lines showing, is more sexy as it leaves delightful things to the imagination (at least until an invitation for more intimacies is offered). For others, we just prefer more support. Maybe it’s due to more ample breasts and figures; maybe it’s due to fashions which require a stronger foundation of support. And quite a number of us are shocked to find the increasing number of women who don’t even know how to select the proper lingerie pieces to make themselves feel better, their fashions fit better. (It’s likely no surprise that I fit into all three categories!)

In each of these cases, the proper foundation garments are as sorely missed as the knowledge of them. Here I will begin to educate you about the basics, starting with panties. (Though, as you shall see, other items of intimate apparel must be included along the way.)

To understand how panties ought to fit, you must first understand some basics about clothing construction and fit — at least in terms of what you yourself wear.

Once upon a time, women wore a lot of skirts and dresses. You’ll notice that in skirts, even of the pencil variety (though not necessarily of the skin-tight-hugging varieties which are more like body paint than apparel), that the skirt seat curves along the fullest parts of the wearer’s bottom — but does not cling to the underside of the seat. Unless, umm, pressed to do so *wink*

This is in stark contrast to jeans and other forms of pants, especially skinny jeans, leggings and jeggings, which are pasted to a person, again, rather like body paint. With your permission, I’ll be skipping over general fashion rules about such tight pants and just talk about the panties.

As you can see, the differences between skirts and pants, how they fit the female form, greatly affects just what sorts of panties may be worn and not give visible lines. But this is further complicated by the changes in panty styles themselves…

Once we had full-cut panties (now often called “grannie panties”) which covered a lady’s complete bottom — from the waist, at or just above the belly button, to leg openings at the thigh.

Now our panties have become much scantier. Even a relatively more modest bikini panty sits below the belly button (to better hide it while wearing hip-hugger jeans and other low-rise pants) and the leg openings ride up on the butt cheeks.

It’s where the leg openings now sit which causes such a problem. Not just with tight fitting shorts and pants either; where those leg openings now sit, they even cause a bump beneath the fabric of fitted skirts. In short, unless you only wear voluminously skirted ensembles, you risk VPLs.


Since jeans and pants are staples in our wardrobes, and voluminous skirts aren’t always appropriate for the occasion, here are some options for avoiding visible panty lines — without having to wear an icky thong:

1.) You can wear actual full-cut panties. If you are worried about the waistband of the panties peeping above the waistband of your jeans etc., you have options to hide it.

* Tuck your shirt in — over your panties.

* Belt your top over your jeans.

* If your top or blouse is sheer, wear an appropriately colored camisole beneath your blouse (which will also hide your bra, silly!). Tuck the camisole in over your panties — which may also mean you won’t need to tuck in or belt your top.

2.) You can opt for more contemporary full-cut panties which have lower waistbands that sit below your belly button, yet still have leg openings at the thigh, not sitting on top of the fullest part of your butt.

Beware the French knickers or panties with high-cut leg openings. These panties still have leg openings which sit on the fullest part of your bottom, which means they still give visible panty lines.


3.) If you love your bikini underpants etc., you can look for those with properly sewn leg openings. The elastic, panty fabric and trims should lay as flat and smooth as possible.

Once upon a time, finely finished lingerie pieces were far easier to find… Now, leg openings on panties are finished poorly because it’s cheaper to skimp on such details. *sigh* When combined with the fit of today’s jeans and fashions, these sloppily finished panties practically guarantees noticeable panty lines.

Remember, we could get away with lacy, rolled, ruffled and other fancy leg openings in past decades because they were worn beneath skirts — with slips and/or girdles, of course!

4.) Depending upon the cut of your pants, you may be able to wear tap pants. Tap pants, and teddies with similar bottoms, were quite popular in the 1970s and through the 1980s when dress pants especially had a fuller leg. The fullness started at the highest point of your seat, thereby seeming to “fall” and avoid most of the panty area, anyway. If you have pants in such a style, VPL isn’t much of a problem period. But

(Tap panties were also very popular beneath skirts and dresses then, as alternatives to slips.)

However, many modern made tap panties neither as loose nor as long as vintage tap pants — almost like boy shorts, really. These create visible lines as well as folds of the excess or loose panty fabric.

5.) Make sure you aren’t skimping on your panties — wear the proper size. Lines that pop out are caused by the trims or finishing of panty leg openings; lines that dig in are caused by panties too small or tight for the bottom of the wearer.

When wearing skirts, any of the above options will also work. And you can also wear a slip,and/or girdle to smooth the lines.

Image credits: Visible panty line photo via Visible Panty Line blog; vintage skirt and stockings photo from my collection; assorted vintage full-cut panties via Roseann’s Remember When Emporium; Cotton hip-hugger bikini panties shopping; vintage panty leg hole edge trim / elastic stitching close up (of a Vasserette Underneath-It-All panty) via cocomo931; contemporary blue tap pants with black lace via Sophie Hallette.

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