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What Are Panty Lines + 7 Ways To Get Rid of Them

It’s morning. You’ve styled your hair and picked the perfect outfit, and you’re about to step out when you spot them in the mirror: panty lines. Sound familiar? It’s a struggle as old as time (or at least as old as underwear).

While panty lines are neither good nor bad, their presence can make your fancy dinner dress feel a little less classy. In this guide, we explain what panty lines are, how they become visible, and how to keep your panties discreet.

What Are Panty Lines?

Simply put, panty lines are the outlines of women’s underwear. When these lines can be seen through a woman’s clothing, they become — you guessed it — visible panty lines, or VPL for short.

Opinions about VPL vary from “cute and fun” to “total wardrobe malfunction,” and everything in between. While some women don’t mind the look of a little underwear showing under their clothing, others can’t stand the way these outlines distract from their outerwear.

Before we dive into strategies for hiding panty lines, you should first understand what causes them.

How Do Underwear Lines Form?

A woman stretching her leg before a workout while wearing black yoga pants that show panty lines

Panty lines are the result of the wrong underwear being paired with the wrong clothes. Most often, it’s the heavier and thicker seams on panties that like to say hello to the world.

That said, panty lines can be hard to avoid. Even panties with thinner seams can show under lightweight, see-through, or tight clothes. They can also leave pesky indentations that remain even after you change out of your underwear.

To better understand panty lines, imagine wearing a thick belt around your waist, with a lightweight top draped over it. Most people can still tell that you’re wearing a belt, even though it’s covered by clothing. If that shirt is both lightweight and partially transparent, everyone will surely see the belt underneath.

How To Hide Panty Lines: 7 Tips

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep your underwear outline concealed and take the “V” out of VPL. The following wardrobe tips will prove that you don’t have to sacrifice fashion (or go commando in your yoga pants) to avoid VPL.

1. Pair the Right Underwear With Your Bottoms

A view of a woman from the rear who is trying on blue jeans in the mirror

We want to keep your panties — gusset, band, and all — from making an unwanted appearance. Luckily, hiding your panty lines can be as simple as picking the right kind of underwear for your outfit. Let’s cover the basics:

  1. Loose skirts or flowing pants: Slip shorts contour your hips and prevent chaffing in flowing clothes, and the smoothing effect means no one will spot any panty lines. Better yet, slip shorts will give you peace no matter which way the wind is blowing, preventing skirt wedgies from ruining your look.
  2. Skinny jeans: Boyshorts offer full coverage for your hips and thighs so you can protect your skin from denim, and the leg openings sit right under your curves to minimize pantylines no matter how tight your jeans fit you. Boyshorts also happen to be the perfect defense against sweaty thighs and chaffing. 
  3. High-waisted bottoms: Whether you’re rocking high-waisted shorts, pants, or a skirt, if your clothing rides high, you want your waistband to follow suit. Low-rise panties are much more likely to create unwanted creases or lines, so you’ll want to bust out your favorite pair of high-rise briefs.
  4. Yoga pants and leggings: Here’s where things get tricky. It’s hard to hide anything under skin-tight clothing, for obvious reasons. Slip shorts can minimize the effect because the leg band is much lower, but a thong is much stealthier. In this situation, the key to banishing VPL is choosing ultralight, seamless underwear.

2. Wear Thicker Materials

A woman holding a pair of blue jeans in a clothing outlet, deciding whether to purchase them

As fun as it can be to pull up to the party in a thin, silky dress, outfits like these don’t do the best job of masking what’s underneath. If you notice panty outlines sticking out like a sore thumb in your lightweight outfits, it might be time to break out the thicker fabrics. 

For example, cotton and wool tend to be better options for covering up VPL than sheer, silk, and lace. A great gut-check is to hold your piece up to a light and see how much shows through. If it barely blocks out the light, there’s a decent chance you'll run into some VPL issues wearing it.

3. Opt for Slimmer Seams

While we all know that panty lines can make themselves known regardless of seam size, slimmer seams give you a fighting chance against them. Thicker seams tend to strikingly contrast with skin, making onlookers more likely to stare at your underwear outlines than your cute outfit.

4. Go Seamless

A view of a woman from the rear wearing a tan bra and boyshorts, with her arms lifted

With the right fabric and design, you can wear your favorite style of underwear regardless of the outfit you’re choosing. Seamless underwear is hem-free for a sleek, form-fitting style that will stay out of sight in nearly any outfit you choose. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your seamless skivvy collection, check out our Air Invisibles collection. It feels like you’re not wearing anything at all, and the seamless design is guaranteed to be invisible in leggings, shorts, skinny jeans, or dresses.

5. Consider a Thong

Okay, you don’t have to wear a thong to ditch unwanted underwear lines. But they can be useful! After all, a high-quality thong can boost your confidence and let you flaunt your natural curves with an absolute minimum of fabric. While thong lines can occur, they tend to be far less noticeable than other panty lines. 

We get why a thong might not be your first choice — many thongs are designed poorly and wear like a permanent wedgie. But Tommy John has crafted a thong that’s a dream to wear. It will stay in place where you need it to avoid whale tail and wedgies as you bend and move.

6. Conceal What’s Under With a Pattern

A smiling woman walking in a town center wearing sunglasses and a patterned skirt

When you’re sporting a hip and stylish print, who could possibly notice the panty lines underneath? Patterns provide excellent camouflage, keeping the risk of VPL at bay. If your favorite underwear makes panty lines unavoidable, consider choosing your favorite bottom with a bold pattern over a monochromatic option.

7. Layer With Tights or Pantyhose

Everybody loves a nice pair of leggings for the winter months, but how do you hide underwear lines in leggings? The answer: more layers! The next time you notice VPL in the mirror while wearing your favorite leggings, consider adding a layer of tights or pantyhose over your panties.

Granted, this isn’t the best option during hot summer months. But during the winter, it kills two birds with one stone: keeping you warm and concealing otherwise visible underwear lines. 

If your underwear produces panty line insecurity, why bother wearing it? Upgrade your top drawer with panties you’ll look forward to slipping into each day, like our silky soft Second Skin collection.

With styles and collections for every occasion — whether you’re hitting the gym or lazing around the house — you can lay a perfect foundation for every outfit, every day.