I talk a lot about the importance of good bras, but an area I've never covered is the other side of the foundation equation. Yep, underwear. Panties. Skivvies. Underpants. Call them what you will, it might be time to upgrade, update, or simply set fire to, your underwear drawer..
I have to be honest, writing this is a little awkward. I don't want to make my clients feel like I've been checking out their undies (which is creepy, and also untrue), but I've lost count of the times I've been with a client who's been trying on pants and has said to me "I'll wear better underwear, and these will look ok". I'm not talking about just VPL's (visible panty lines), but lumpy, saggy rears caused by underwear that's lost it's shape, thigh bulges caused by the wrong style, and more. Ladies, when I tell you I've seen everything...I mean I've seen everything. And a lot of it could have been avoided by better underwear.
Finding the right underwear for your body shape can be as challenging as finding the right jeans. Okay, maybe not that challenging, but it can be tough to find panties that fit, flatter, and feel good. Lots of women think they need to wear shapewear on a daily basis to get a smoother silhouette, but before you stuff yourself into those Spanx, spend a little extra time, money and effort on your everyday unmentionables--you might be surprised at how much difference they make!
Before we get to the Body Type specific advice, here are a few general guidelines for everyone to follow-
Fit- Most women should go up one size from their pant size when buying underwear. Your underwear should not be causing any indentation on your legs, hips or rear. If they are, size up, or try a different style. Also, buy with fit, not size, in mind. Just like with clothing, lingerie sizes can vary wildly from brand to brand, and from style to style. Don't shop with preconceived ideas.
Fabric- I get the appeal of cotton, I truly do. It's comfortable, and good for your lady parts. BUT, it stretches out and sags horribly, which makes your butt look sad. It can also look really lumpy under fitted clothing. Consider microfiber or a blend that gives a little more support/smoothing, and holds its shape better. At the very least, commit to replacing your cotton panties often, and making sure you've got the right fit.
Cost- Good underwear probably costs a lot more than you think it should. Remember, bras and underwear are the foundations of your wardrobe, and when you skimp on them, the rest of your clothes don't look as nice as they could. While I can't tell you how much you should be spending on your undies, I can tell you that good underwear doesn't come in a pack of 10 across the aisle from the cleaning supplies!
Lastly, I acknowledge in advance that most of the underwear I've linked to is a little more "full coverage" than what a lot of women go for. While it might feel a little unsexy to cover up a bit more, underwear that is ill-fitting and unflattering isn't sexy either. If you're still wearing the same underwear style you did 20 years ago, it might be time to change...after all, your body has probably changed a bit!
Oh, and if your'e thinking "this blog needs more pictures", I agree--but lots of you will be reading this at work, and in the interest of keeping you out of the HR office, I'm just linking instead. If you click on the links, you will find pictures of underwear. Consider yourself warned!
The Apple body type is characterized by an upper half that is bigger than the lower half, and often, a round tummy, small hips and a flat rear. Underwear challenges for Apples include waistbands that roll down, and extra fabric in the back, causing saggy butt syndrome.
To fix the challenges:
1) Choose higher-waisted styles that have a wide, flat waistband in a fabric with all-over stretch that will hug your body. High-leg briefs are usually a good choice. If you can, look for medium coverage in the rear to avoid extra fabric under pants. Soma's Vanishing Edge Hi-Leg Brief is a great choice for tummy coverage, and solves the VPL problem
2) If all of your underwear has too much fabric in the rear, consider a thong, but avoid low rise versions that will slip down. This Victoria's Secret high waist thong solves both issues!.
As an Apple, these are my personal favorite for a little everyday shapewear.
The Pear body is the opposite of the Apple--it's characterized by a lower half that is bigger than the upper half, with fuller hips and thighs. Underwear challenges for Pears include panties that "creep up" and noticeable lines around the leg openings if you're thicker in that area.
To solve your challenges:
1) Panties that ride up are most often caused by not enough fabric in the rear, allowing things to shift, and eventually work their way up into uncomfortable places! This can be caused by too-small sizing, or a style that doesn't provide enough back coverage. Boyshorts and hipsters are great full coverage options, and consider sizing up at least one size from your pant/dress size.
2) Look for styles with generous leg openings. While boyshorts and hipsters give you good back coverage, their low leg openings can sometimes cut into a fleshy part of the leg, which is not cute. Look for styles that don't have binding around the leg openings, or for high cut styles that give you more room, like these Natori French cut briefs.
The Hourglass Body is the sister of the Pear--both feature smaller waists and curvy hips and thighs. The difference between the Pear and the Hourglass is that Hourglass bodies have a more balanced upper half, with shoulders that are proportionate to the hips. But, given that we're talking about underwear, not bras, Hourglasses will do well following the suggestions for Pears.
As an alternative, Hourglasses (with their pin-up girl curves), can try a retro-inspired high-waist brief or thong.
The Rectangle Body is the sister of the Apple--both feature relatively undefined mid-sections, but Rectangles have hips/rears that are proportionate to their waists, making underwear a lot easier to fit. Unlike the Apple, they don't tend to get too much extra fabric in the back, and they don't need a rise that's quite as high to avoid the roll-down.
For most rectanges, the traditional bikini style is an easy choice. However, if you find yourself facing the challenges of the other body types (rolling down or creeping up) try the styles recommended in the Apple or Pear sections.
As with just about everything clothing related, Rectangles have to focus less on shape challenges, and more on finding the right fit/fabrics. In general, I find the Rectangle body easiest to dress, but it also has the most variation, which makes general advice tougher.
I hope these tips give you a little guidance to solve some of the annoying undie challenges lots of women face. Wondering where to shop? GapBody, Soma, Nordstrom, and Bare Necessities are a few of my favorites.
BTW, did you know I have a FREE 7 Day Style Challenge coming up? One week of mini challenges designed to help bust your style rut and banish the wardrobe blahs. Sign up here!