Types of Women's Underwear
Women's underwear come in many shapes and sizes. Scroll through any catalogue, and you'll find dozens of fancy styles and names. However, most fall under the primary categories listed below:
Thong – Thong underwear uses minimal fabric to make an understated underwear style. The underwear is revealing, comfortable, and body and back-hugging, perfect for wearing under tight and form-fitting clothing. It's a smooth, sleek style of underwear that is highly comfortable.
Hipster – For everyday underwear, you can't beat the hipster! These underwear have a low rise in the front and back, with wider sides to cover the hips. They offer coverage ranging from minimal to moderate, making them a good choice whether you're going for professional, comfortable, or saucy.
Bikini – This style is inspired by bathing suit/bikini bottoms, with a higher cut leg, thin sides, and low rise to offer less coverage for your butt. It's a flattering style for most figures, and is very feminine with just a hint of flirtatious. The bikini style works perfect with most outfits.
Boy Shorts – Think of these as the feminine version of men's boxer briefs: comfortable, good coverage, close-fitting, and very ladylike. They have a longer cut that runs to the tops of the thighs. They can be worn under dresses and skirts or, if they're long enough, even on their own as loungewear and sleepwear.
Full Brief – Full brief is a modern variation on the classic brief underwear. They have both high rises and thick sides, offering complete coverage front, back, and side. They're ideal for using with high-waisted outfits or when you want a smooth, flat silhouette.
French Cut – French Cut underwear are designed to sit at your natural waistline, with a flatteringly high cut that offers moderate coverage to the front while following the leg's natural curvature to offer total coverage on the back. Think sexy in the front, professional in the back. Best of all, there's no elastic around the leg, so no risk of riding up.
Hi Cut Brief – These briefs offer full coverage on the front and back, but the high cut of the thigh means they end at the hip crease. The wider leg openings and minimal side coverage are great for wearing with form-fitting outfits.
G-Strings – Every woman ought to own at least a few of these, designed to offer only the barest amount of coverage on the front, back, and sides. The "barely there" underwear are definitely designed with hot and steamy in mind.
What are Aerie Underwear?
No, Aerie underwear aren't some new style of minimalist "barely there" underwear. (It would be a cool name, though.)
The term "Aerie underwear" refers to the Aerie line of clothing offered by American Eagle. It's an online-based line of underwear that is highly affordable (as low as 10 pairs of underwear for just $30). For women who know their sizes well and want inexpensive, comfortable, and stylish underwear, the Aerie underwear line is a convenient option.
Underwear Fabric Options
Underwear doesn't just come in many sizes, shapes, and colors; there's also a hefty range of fabrics to choose from! Here are the most common options:
Cotton – For healthy "lady bits", you can't beat cotton. It's lightweight, soft, breathable, and natural. You'll find it's also a very inexpensive material, and one that is ideal for use in your everyday life. The perfect material for using at the office, lounging at home, or sleeping.
On the downside, it can get soaked through easily, and it holds the moisture (sweat or water). Definitely not to wear while swimming or doing heavy exercise!
Nylon/Polyester – These two synthetic materials are ideal for activewear, making them the right fabric for underwear to use while exercising. They wick moisture away from the body, reducing the risk of rashes, chafing, and infections. They're also highly durable, comfortable, less prone to sagging than cotton, and ideal for bikinis and sports underwear. Best of all, they can help to slim down your form.
On the downside, nylon and polyester are both more likely to cause irritation, rashes, and infection. ONLY wear synthetic underwear when at the beach, swimming, or working out, and change back into cotton underwear as soon as possible.
Silk – Silk is a slippery fabric that slides all over the place. It's lightweight, traps heat near your body, and feels soft and luxurious against your skin. It's the ideal fabric to use for sleep wear, as it will feel "barely there".
However, silk is pricey and lacks durability. It also traps moisture against your skin and raises your risk of infections. You're better off owning a few pairs of silk underwear that you slip into when you want to feel sexy, then change back into regular cotton underwear when you're done.
Lace – Lace isn't as thick or bulky as it once was. Now you can find natural lace (made from cotton fibers) mixed with just enough nylon or polyester to have elasticity without increasing irritation or infection risk. Lace is soft, smooth, and sexy, even if it's just used as a trim for other underwear. High quality lace will also be more durable than other materials.
Be warned: lace offers you little protection against the cold, and the barely-there material isn't exactly the definition of modesty.
How to Choose the Right Underwear
When underwear shopping, here are the steps to finding the right underwear:
Step 1: Know your size. Not just your waist size, but also your hip size. Follow this guide to measure your waist and hip size, and have the numbers handy when you go shopping.
Step 2: Compare sizes. Every brand of clothing will have their own unique sizes. One brand's "Small" will be another brand's Medium or X-Small. Look over the list of sizes to find the one that matches your waist and hip size, rather than simply buying the size you always go with.
Step 3: Choose the right style. Think about what style suits your lifestyle, outfits, comfort, and hygiene needs best. Consider three or four styles so you'll be prepared for anything life will throw at you.
Step 4: Consider the factors. Fit is important, as you want underwear that isn't too tight or hangs too loose. The strength of the elastic waistband will determine how durable the underwear are. Choose the right fabrics according to your activity.
These four steps will help you to walk out of the store with those perfect pairs of underwear every time.
Underwear by Body Type
Not sure what type of underwear suits you best? Here is a list of underwear and their suitability according to your body type:
- Active body – For gym rats, CrossFitters, and lean women, bikini underwear are a sleek, understated, active choice. Hipster briefs are a minimalist choice that will combine well with Yoga pants and other activewear.
- Heavier in the midsection – High-waisted briefs can conceal a bit of extra bulk around the tummy, even helping to define your natural curves. If you wear dresses that cinch at the waist, these are your best friend.
- Women with full hips and butts – Boy shorts and boy short thongs are just the thing to emphasize your assets, without constricting a bit of extra around the belly and love handles. Bikini underwear can also show off your curves beautifully. To cover bigger butts, go for boy shorts or hipsters.
- Women with big legs – Thigh huggers are cut to mid-thigh, with a high waist that can help to contour your waist and stomach and slim down your legs. If you're wearing tight dresses, this is the perfect undergarment.
- Shorter torso – If you have a short torso, try wearing low-waist knickers or hipsters to make your midsection look longer.
- Flat booty – A pair of cheekies will give you a boost to your butt, drawing the attention to what curves are there.
Rules for Comfort and Hygiene
Finding the right pairs of underwear is SO important—not just for comfort, but for your health as well. The right underwear can protect your delicate parts, reduce infection risk, provide comfort and modesty, and still accentuate your femininity. Below, we've got a complete guide to choosing the right underwear for both comfort and hygiene:
Buy Active Underwear – You need at least 3-6 pairs of underwear to use when working out. Preferably something with nylon or polyester, and any style that ISN'T thong (too high risk of infection). Go for moisture-wicking, breathability, and comfort.
Be Wary of Thongs – Did you know that G-strings/thongs can increase your risk of vaginal infection? This is due to their unique shape, which increases the risk of bacteria traveling from the anus to the vagina. Thus, it's recommended that you only use G-Strings and Thongs when wearing body-con skirts and dresses. ONLY wear them in bed or under that Little Black Dress.
Have a Few Pairs of Briefs – While not the sexiest underwear, briefs are practical, comfortable, and suitable for everyday use. Modern briefs have left the "granny panties" style behind, offering better styles and cuts without sacrificing protection.
Ventilation Matters – When buying underwear, ALWAYS think about letting your downstairs parts breathe. A lack of ventilation can lead to a higher risk of infection, thanks to an increase in trapped heat and moisture. Anything that's too tight will also limit ventilation. Use cotton for comfort and breathability throughout the day, and change out of active underwear and bikinis as soon as you finish your workout. Find a size, cut, and style that allows plenty of airflow.
Change Regularly –This may seem like standard operating procedure, but it has to be said! Never sit too long in damp, sweaty underwear. If you're very hot or sweating, change your underwear more than once a day. ALWAYS change your underwear after a workout!
Get Rid of "Expired" Underwear – If the fabric is pilled or bunching, the elastic is loose, and the material has a permanent odor, it's time to throw out the underwear. Underwear that is old and worn out will rub more, increase the risk of infections, and shift around. Plus, underwear starts to look bad when it gets too old.
Go for Seamless – Not only will seamless underwear be more comfortable and less visible, but they'll reduce friction that could lead to irritation or infections.
Save Silk and Lace for Sexy Times – Silk and lace are both wonderfully sexy options, but they're not the most hygienic or durable. Save them for the moments when someone will be looking at your underwear. The rest of the time, wear cotton or cotton blends.
Find the Right Size – While it's tempting to keep undies that you USED to fit into, it's better to buy the right size even if it's larger than you'd like. Anything that's too tight will rub against your sensitive skin, increasing the risk of infections, rashes, and irritations. Plus, the too-tight elastic will give you a muffin top.
Use Cotton Under Shapewear – Shapewear can give your waist, hips, and butt a beautiful look, but the tight synthetic material can cause UTIs and other problems. Try to use shapewear no more than two or three times a week, and when you do, wear cotton underwear BENEATH it to provide a layer of protection.
Sleep Commando – At least a few times a week, skip the underwear overnight. This will give everything a chance to air out, keeping everything dry and reducing your risk of yeast infections. Under your loose-fitting, comfortable cloth pajamas, go commando!