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5 Types of Panties and How to Wear Them

Ladies, your panties may be ruining your style. They’re called foundation garments for a reason, after all — the types of panties you choose can enhance your outfit or detract from it.

And that’s not solely related to fit. Sure, severe panty lines can direct all eyes to your bum. But comfort is as important. Have you ever slipped into a thong only to realize later that you’d rather show your VPLs on TV than survive another minute wearing those undies? Yeah. Wearing the wrong panties can be as bad as dancing the night away in shoes that don’t fit. You get home with rubs and abrasions in all the wrong places.

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To help spare you from that fate, here’s a list of five types of panties — and how you should wear each one.

A multiethnic group of five women wearing different types of panties.

1. Seamless hipster panties

These panties sit just on your hips, a bit below your waistline. The fabric that wraps around your hips — aka side wings — connecting the front of the panty to the back, is normally a few inches tall (vs. a bikini panty that has narrow side wings).

The hipster is less “cheeky” than other styles — meaning they cover more of your bum. This is because the leg holes are low-cut and the hipster generally sits lower on your waist.

Close-up of woman wearing white hipster panties.

Despite the conservative cut, hipster panties are among the most comfortable. A seamless underwear design (like these by EBY) will also be the most versatile foundation piece in your toolkit. You can wear seamless hipsters for dancing, nightwear, or leisure, underneath low-rise bottoms, sheer dresses, trousers, or fitted leggings. I even wear them underneath my equestrian breeches when riding my horse.

2. Cheeky panties

Cheeky panties offer a lovely blend of comfort, function, and sexy style. The right pair of cheeky underwear (check these) ensures a smooth finish underneath skin-tight clothing. In terms of shape, the cheeky panty is part-thong and part-hipster. They’re normally low-rise at the waist but higher cut across your bum than a bikini.

It is a misconception, too, that you need a rock-solid backside to wear a cheeky panty. This style is a actually quite flattering on a variety of body shapes — you just have to do the work to find a brand that fits you properly. See our blog post on cheeky swimwear for some tips, since the same concepts apply to your panties.

The right pair of cheeky panties shouldn’t bunch or roll under your clothes. You can buy cheekies in seamless styles (my preference) or styles with wider waistbands for your active days.

3. String bikini

String bikini panties have very narrow side wings — strings, really — and something less than full coverage on your backside. They’re often low-raise at the waist, too.

The string bikini, like the boy short, can be hard to wear. The string can easily dig into your sides or, worse, slide down, causing the fabric to bunch on your backside.

I *think* the point of a string bikini is to be sexier and more streamlined than a standard bikini panty, but this is a risky trade-off given that it adds some fit challenges. If you find a brand of string bikinis that fit you, great. You can wear them under jeans, shorts, dresses, skirts — anything that’s not skin tight. Otherwise, try bringing sexy back with a cheeky panty instead.

4. Boy shorts

Boy shorts are inspired by men’s boxer briefs. When they fit well, they can be incredibly comfortable and functional. The challenge is that they fit some shapes better than others. On me, boy shorts tend to dig into my backside with the waistband. It’s like I have more padding at the top of my bum than the designers accounted for.

Smiling woman wearing boy short panties.

But then, I see other women (granted in staged photoshoots mostly) who look amazing in boy shorts. You might be one of those women. If so, you’ll love the boy short style underneath dresses and skirts, especially the short ones. You can also wear boy shorts under your active wear. If they fit right, they won’t slide up and grab you in your sensitive areas.

If you find boy short panties are creating visible panty lines, see this post on ways to get rid of them.

5. Thong

You are probably familiar with the shape of the thong. The leg seams hide between your cheeks rather than stretching over or underneath your bum. As a result, you normally see no panty lines, even with tight clothes. (I say “normally” because a super clingy pair of leggings will show the world you’re wearing a thong. But with that type of pant, the only option is to wear no undies at all.)

Thongs are an acquired taste. You either love them and find them to very comfortable, or they drive you batty. If you’re committed to no panty lines but not quite used to wearing thongs, invest in a single pair and wear them a few times to see how they feel. You might end up being a convert.

The right foundation

When shopping for panties, pay attention to the material, construction, and seam weight as well as the cut. Also, stick with the brands you know and trust. If the bikini from your favorite brand fits you perfectly, for example, stick with the same brand when you branch out into new cuts like a cheeky or thong.

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