Women’s Underwear Style Guide


In 1924 knickers became known as panties and by 1930 they were called panty briefs.

Regardless what you call them, just like a bra, finding the right style of knicker can make or break an outfit. Muffin-tops, VPL’s (Visible Panty Lines) and scrunching – the fashion faux-pas list is endless. And gone are the days when your only choice in the morning was between your trusty old briefs and a “G-string.” Now we’ve got Cheekinis, Hip-Huggers and “V-strings”! A rainbow of colours greet us, skyscraper-style waist sizes from low to high-rise and sci-fi sounding material choices like “breathable synthetics.” Confused? Us too.

But fear not shoppers, Utility Bear is here to guide you through the basics of the modern woman’s undergarment essentials, with everything you need to know but were afraid to ask…

What To Consider Before You Choose Your Underwear

There are lots of things that will dictate your choice of smalls. How much movement you do during the day, the types of clothes you wear on the outside, your leg size, waist size and whether or not anyone else will be seeing you without clothes on – lucky bear!

Women’s Underwear Styles

Now you know what you want, you need to know what they’re called:


As per their namesake, these bottoms fit like a bikini swim suit. They look similar to a traditional brief but with a lower-rise and the leg cut slightly higher on the hip – bringing sexy back! With a little less coverage but the same amount of comfort as their seaside sister, they can also be found as “string bikinis” where the sides are replaced by thinner material straps to decrease visibility through the clothes.


Like borrowing your man-bear’s boxers, this style is based on the traditional trunk. Cut straight across the hips and legs, boy shorts are super comfy with full coverage, the material coming down below the crotch area. Despite their name, they’ll often be found in cute and feminine materials, cuts and designs.


A low-rise waistband boy short and bikini hybrid; the hipster (or hip-huggers) are cut lower on the leg with a moderate amount of coverage at the back. This style is more easily made seam-free, making it the perfect choice for smoother material and outer dress styles. Can also be seen cut higher around the thigh-to-cheek area and lower at the base of the back to form a “cheekini” or Tanga style!


Arguably offering the most coverage and the most comfort, the brief is the traditional female underwear silhouette. Choice is often offered in terms of waistband rise, leg cut, colour and material. More recently, technological advances have allowed for “shapewear” offering shape control, smoothing and support qualities for under even the tightest of fashion styles. Modern versions have a thicker branded waistband, which became a style status symbol in the 90s via Kate Moss and her cool clan.


Every girl’s sexy staple, these are a “G-string” with a little more material across the sides and back centre parting (called a “T-string” if the material is thinner). Too often accused of being uncomfortable – wedgie, anyone? – thongs remain the best undies for eliminating visible panty lines. Recently the design has been further developed into a “V-string” simply creating a smaller crotch area to allow for low-rise trousers and skirts. We have the 1980s to thank for thongs, g-strings and the bodysuit as infamously worn by Cher and still as popular as ever!

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