Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Underneath it all [Greatest Hits 2010]

[Greatest Hits 2010: Each day this week, I will be reposting a popular post from the past. This was first published August 18, 2010. See original post and comments here.]

A good foundation is key to a good end result. I'm not talking makeup today (although I guess it could apply), or construction (again, also true here), but I'm talking clothes and fit. 

My good friend and faithful reader T brought this up a while ago when she asked "Can you do a post on VPL?  Oy."  Or something along those lines.  And as someone for whom fit is often an issue, this topic is near to my heart.

Visible Panty Lines and their cousins Visible Bra Lines (VBL), Visible Bra Straps (VBS), and Visible Undergarments In General (VUIG), can take an outfit from fab to fugly.

So how do you lay a good foundation?  Well-constructed, well-fitting, and (for bottoms) lined clothes definitely help.  If you're stuffed into too-tight clothes your undergarments will show more often than not.  If the fabric is too thin or too clingy, everything underneath will show.  Here are some tips to minimize the dreaded acronyms...add your own tips in the comments!

If you're anything like me, any underwear with elastic openings will cause visible lumps and bumps (I may be slim, but I am soft).  Even the ones that say "seamless."  Lacey undies can create a not-so-smooth surface that makes their presence known.  So I go with these.  The edges laser-cut (or whatever you call it) instead of elastic, so no squeezing! Make sure you get the right size, though, because the lack of elastic sometimes results in rolling of the edges (resulting in visible lines).  They're a little pricey, but I've yet to find a cheaper brand that produces something similar (have you?). You could also go thong or G-string iff you so choose.  When I'm wearing an unlined skirt, I add a slip.

I hate bra shopping, and I don't know anyone who actually enjoys it.  Finding the right fit is the key to combatting VBL.  It should sit flat to your chest in between your girls, not ride up in back, and not create bulges across your back or under your arm.  The cups should not gape, nor should your goods spill over. If frippleage is a problem, the cup should be lined enough so that you won't show through when you're cold.  Oh, and let's try to avoid a line where the cup ends and your skin begins, okay?  It feels like way too much to ask.

While I haven't found the all around "perfect" bra yet, I have learned a few things along the way. Look for smooth fabrics and fewer seams.  The cup should thin out toward the edges so there is no visible bump.  Steer clear of lace and other embellishments (for some bras at least...I have no problem with having a few fun bras lying around that I won't be wearing to work).  I like these because of their smooth and seamless construction (although if you are naturally blessed in the bosom, you might not want to go with a push-up).

As for VBS, this is more of a clothing-fit issue.  Get yourself some wider straps or a convertible bra with more options.  Or sew in a secret bra strap holder (instructional video here).

I've heard it said that slips are a little old-fashioned, but I believe they were so popular because, hey, they work!  A lot of office skirts are already lined, and do not need a slip, but for the girl on a budget, you can't always cross an otherwise great item off the list because it's missing a lining, so I have quite a few unlined pieces in my closet (most of my pants, some of my skirts, and a lot of my dresses).  I recommend having at least one full slip for dresses and one half slip (or pettipant/pettileg) for skirts.  Admittedly, finding the shorts things are much harder (I've had mine since high school and have no idea where I found them). Things to look for: lace may cause bumps, make sure the neckline is slightly lower than your lowest cut work dress, and consider the shape of the skirt.  An a-line slip stuffed into a pencil skirt is going to cause bumps.

Valuable not only for their modesty-retaining capability when paired with low-cut shirts, wearing a cami under a button-up top can help reduce gaping between the buttons (I was going to take pics to demonstrate but I don't think I want to post that on the Internet. Let's just say, by stretching the fabric across the chest, the button-up shirt then has a smooth surface to lie against).  Look for a cami that doesn't have bulky seams or straps, or one that has wider straps so they don't dig.  Lacey camis, while cute in some looks, may cause bumps if worn as an undershirt. A thin stretchy fabric will be wearable in summer, too. 

At the very least, you should own one of each of the above in skin tone and in black.  That should cover your bases.  If you have to choose one, choose skin toned (ok, so that's the very least).  I was emotionally scarred by a white-bra-under-gray-dress-in-flash-photo incident in high school that drilled that into my head indefinitely.  I hope you don't have to suffer through any similar experiences.

I really don't have anything against lace (I mean, it is sooo popular in lingerie for a reason), but the truth is, lace isn't smooth.  Save it for days when you're wearing jeans and looser clothes.

What are your foundational secrets? 


  1. Great (re)post!!

    I found these underwear maybe a year ago and I LOVE them. They do not dig in - they do not show any lines. LOVE them!! They are even on sale right now! I sound like an ad, but I assure you - I am not, they are just that good!

    I am not a slip person - But, I have been wanting to try them (how hard can a slip be?), so thanks for the nudge!

    Sarah at Classroom Chic

  2. Great post! I think people highly undervalue the importance of camis in the workplace! Nothing is more unprofessional than having your goods on display!!

  3. I won't wear a thong, but would like to avoid panty lines. Unfortunately, the Victoria's Secret website seems to turn your direct link to a specific product into a link to their main page. :-(

    I've found the vanishing edge line at Soma to be helpful, and pretty affordable when you catch one of Soma's frequent sales--

    As for bras, I have found it helpful to get fitted. I discovered that I have a fairly small rib cage, and had been buying bras for years with bands that were too loose. I go to a high-end specialty store, but have heard good things about Nordstrom. Macy's uses some mathematical formula for their fittings that was useless in determining my bra size, and I've had similarly bad luck at...a Hanes outlet store, IIRC.

  4. @ sarah - Those are cute! Definitely try slips--I love them.

    @ jill - Seriously! Camis would avoid so many awkward situations.

    @ anonymous - Darn that link! It's sort of similar to this:

    Fittings definitely help! I've never been fitted at Nordstrom, but I do love their customer service and their lingerie department is one of the best, in my opinion. VS fitting is useful, but I've found it really only applies to their bras.


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