Visible panty lines, or “VPL,” aren’t necessarily a make-or-break when it comes to underwear, but they can be somewhat embarrassing. The term comes up again and again on the site (even amongst our editors) as a factor that separates the good pairs of underwear from the great: does VPL show up underneath a pair of workout leggings, a body-hugging gown, or a pair of dress pants? For Underwear Week, we polled seven women — from stylists to boutique owners to fitness instructors — to find the best seamless, VPL-proof underpants.
When you think VPL-free, you typically think “thongs,” which is why the style was an easy favorite amongst the experts. Commando is somewhat of the gold standard for preventing VPL (or so we’ve heard) and three of our experts were fans, too. Stylist Lara Backmender says panty lines are a pet peeve of hers when she’s working with models on shoots, and she often looks to Commando for creating a seamless, smooth look under clothes. Cindy Kahng — the owner of lingerie and swim boutique Azaleas — also calls Commando’s bikini styles and thongs a “no-brainer” for creating invisible panty lines, while MM.LaFleur’s Bryant Park showroom manager Liz Young says this thong is an everyday VPL-proof favorite.
If you want something seamless, but cheap enough to buy in bulk, L.A.-based stylist Lindsey Shores says you’re better off with undies from Target, and her clients often wear them on the red carpet. “Using higher-priced brands is nice, but I’ve found that Target underwear has pulled through for me just as much. Depending on the comfort of the client, I tend to go with nude, seamless thongs most often.”
Backmender and Tone House coach Roxie Jones also recommended Hanky Panky’s lacy thongs for a breathable, everyday option. Backmender says, “They don’t cut into your skin, they create a smooth line even though they are lace, come in fun colors, and also work for a variety of skin tones.”
Here’s a fancier lace thong that Kahng says you could easily wear underneath a dress or any summer outfit, really. “The lace back still adds some sensuality while the smooth edges will go undetected under any outfit.”
While there’s only one size option left in the “Charlotte” style, we found something similar from Fleur du Mal that’s the same material, but in black.
When Shores isn’t bee-lining to Target, she’s having her clients wear Cosabella on the red carpet (“Cosabella is a great go-to brand for quality and comfort”) and she recommends this style of high-rise thong, specifically.
For those who prefer an even skimpier style, here’s a Cosabella g-string that’s essentially elastic and lace, one that Bethany Lyons — co-founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga — says is her number one choice for wearing under dresses, rompers, and pants: “Zero VPL and it also has a sexy scalloped lace front. Plus the cotton gusset means it is breathable and comfy.”
The co-founder and brand director of pants-centric brand Pivotte, Evelyn Frison, thinks the best underwear to prevent VPL are hipsters. “I prefer the hipster style because I think it makes for a more VPL-resistant wear. Also, I feel good in it. Nothing digs in anywhere.” She wears them for everything from workout pants to body-skimming dresses. “They are truly seamless, weightless, and — despite being synthetic — breathable. Definitely the most comfortable underwear I own.”
If you’re a stickler for breathable, cotton fabrics, Frison also recommends Uniqlo’s thin cotton undies: “I wear these to sleep in and work out in.”
Another brand Backmender called out as being the best for a seamless look is — no surprise here — Spanx. She didn’t specify a style, but we recommend these “undie-tectable” Spanx briefs which do double duty as control-top underpants and don’t give themselves away under clothing.
And Lucky founding editor Kim France basically coined the term “VPL-resistant” with her description of On Gossamer’s mesh bikini (a Strat reader favorite, we might add): “It’s superlight, highly breathable, and — most importantly — hugely VPL-resistant. Seriously, it’s as VPL-resistant as a thong, but without the annoyingness of a thong.”
From my life as a former fashion assistant, I can share that I was always asked to request Calvin Klein nude undies for models to wear underneath filmy clothes: thongs or bikinis preferred. Here’s a pair of nude seamless bikini panties that you wouldn’t be able to spot underneath even the slinkiest slip dress.
Another pair of Commando underwear that’s a VPL-free favorite of ours (and every celebrity on the red carpet). Alison Freer loves them for working out, but says they’re also ideal for wearing under sheer, unforgiving gowns: “Commando’s boy shorts are both elastic and trim-free — which means they won’t dig in, bunch up, or cause lumpy, unflattering bulges under a flattering pair of pants. They don’t ever shift around, slide, twist, or reveal themselves once you start moving and sweating. Wearing the boy short truly feels like wearing nothing at all.”
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