Glossary of underwear styles—what they actually mean and how to choose the perfect underwear for any outfit

June 15, 2020

Glossary of underwear styles—what they actually mean and how to choose the perfect underwear for any outfit

Has all this extra time at home got you cleaning out your drawers and taking stock of what you’ve got? If you are throwing out some old, unflattering underwear and ready for a refresh, you might be overwhelmed by what’s on the market. It can be overwhelming with all the different names and combinations (plus trying to buy online), especially when there are literally hundreds of options all claiming to be de rigeur for your derrière.

Underwear has become as complicated as coffee orders, with Seamless high waisted cotton-poly hipster pants stepping in as the new decaf soy vanilla mocha, extra shot, with froth on the side.

Let’s go back to simple. Check out our handy guide below to see what these names actually mean.

(We can also save you time right upfront by suggesting you stop reading if anything advertises any kind of poly blend. All our undies are sustainable bamboo, and those natural fibres are really a must-have in any clothing you’re going to be that intimate with. Increased comfort, minimised irritation… just trust us here.)

So, here’s our simplified list of the types of everyday-woman undies you may actually need and can definitely pronounce.

What’s the difference between a bamboo G String or Thong?

OK, first of all, G String and thong really are pretty much the same thing. Two different names for essentially the same teeny little garment, though technically a G String is smaller and, well, stringier. A G String is as close as it gets to being commando. (That’s actually how they started… check out the History of the G String here).

Now there are slight variations, like a T back for example, or crotchless (both fairly self-explanatory, no?) but basically anything labelled as a thong or G String is going to go up there. They can be low, mid, or high rise.

A thong offers a bit more coverage (both front and back) than the G String, but it’s still teeny.

These are most commonly worn under tight-fitting clothes, and they’re the skimpiest option (and probably the most cringe-worthy to have lying around when your mother-in-law pops over for a visit).

What about bikini cut undies?

Bikini cut undies are always low-cut and offer just enough coverage to (mostly) conceal your bum. Often made out of cotton and a good choice if you like low-waisted styles. Good, comfy all-rounder.

If you want something higher cut though, have a look at briefs.

Bamboo briefs — what’s the difference between full briefs and Brazilian briefs?

Briefs have gotten a bad rep over the years as “granny panties” or Bridget Jones’ underwear (and some definitely are), but the truth is that even though this style is more modest, it can still be really cute. These are a go-to for comfort, and they work under a variety of outfits. They’re the ones you can trust to be there for you every day, and they will get a lot of use.

The full brief gives the most coverage of any of them and tons of support, while the Brazilian brief looks like a full brief from the front, then gets a bit cheeky when you turn around.

Boyleg undies go by many names: boy shorts, cheeky boyleg, and hipster. All pretty much the same thing.

They’re a cute, fitted, femme version of men’s briefs. They come in all different rises (hipsters are the low-cut ones) and offer ample coverage of bum, all the way to the top of the thigh, like tiny shorts. You can get lounge-around-the-house ones in bamboo or cotton, or you can go all lace too. Tons of options with this comfy style.

The only other real difference is how long the legs are, with some cheeky and some giving extra coverage down the top of the leg. The longer legs are great for anti-chafing and work well if you need the extra coverage for dresses or skirts.

Def the smartest choice on a windy day if you don’t want to have any Marilyn moments.

Also available in the higher-coverage category, we have shapewear undies, like tummy-control or Spanx.

These are very tight shorts (or sometimes skirts, though those can ride up) with specially-built panels that go up over your tummy and down your thighs to sort of flatten everything out. We don’t think they’re necessary, but we support anything that makes a woman feel great, so if they float your boat, then you rock them!

And before you ask, most women do not wear undies under their shapewear. The whole goal is to create a seamless silhouette, so the fewer lines, the better.

And there you go! See, really not all that complicated after all.

If you’re ready to do some online shopping and curious how the different styles will look on you, we’ve got you covered.

Did you know that on our site, if you select the type of undies you want and your size, you’ll see a model who wears the same size as you? So helpful.


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