Women’s Underwear Guide

Cut, fit and coverage level affects how comfortable your underwear makes you feel. This women’s underwear guide outlines the different styles and provides buying and care tips.

Women’s Underwear 101

Like bras, women’s underwear is a wardrobe essential. You wear it daily for support, shape, coverage and to act as a protective layer between your body and clothes. Comfort is a top priority, especially for all-day wear, so it's best to choose soft, breathable fabrics and cuts that don't bunch. There are many types of women's panties, from briefs and bikinis to hipsters and shapewear. You'll want to have a good selection on hand to suit different outfits, moods and occasions. Just because underwear is meant to be worn under your clothes doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with fashion. When you pick the style you want in the right cut and the proper size, your underwear can make you feel comfortable and relaxed for whatever the day brings.

Types of Women’s Underwear


Women’s Briefs

Women’s briefs sit at the natural waistline and provide full coverage of the front, rear and sides. Like most women’s underwear, briefs are made from breathable stretch fabrics for a comfortable, snug fit. Women’s briefs can be plain, brightly coloured or covered in fun prints to suit your style. If you’re sensitive about your tummy, women’s briefs are a good choice because their high waistline provides support and control to your waist area. 


With their low hip-hugging waistband, women’s hipster underwear is ideal for wearing under low-rise pants and jeans to prevent your underwear from showing above your waistline. While this type of underwear doesn’t cover your tummy, hipsters fully cover your hips and rear in soft and stretchy material to keep you comfortable. 

Boy Shorts

Modelled after men’s boxer-briefs, boy shorts have a low-rise waist and a low leg cut that covers the upper part of your thigh. This style of women's underwear offers full coverage of the front, rear and hips, so you can feel fully covered and supported when wearing low-rise bottoms. With their longer length and full coverage, boy shorts can also be used as sleepwear or be worn when lounging around the house. 

Bikini Underwear

Bikinis sit below the natural waistline and have less side and rear coverage to prevent panty lines under clothes. Bikini underwear is more revealing and doesn’t provide as much control or support as other women’s underwear, but the skimpier cut also ensures that it won’t stick out over your waistline. Bikini underwear is one of the most popular women's underwear styles. It comes in a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, microfibre, lace, mesh and silk, so you can pick the one that you find the most comfy. 


Similar in cut to women’s briefs, shapewear has strong front, back and side panels to keep everything in place for a smooth silhouette. Some styles of women’s shapewear cover your body from under the breasts to the upper part of your thighs, eliminating any seams or bulges to keep you looking sleek. Because shapewear offers a very close fit, you may find it more suited to formal events and occasions than for every day, all-day wear. 


Romantic and sexy, lingerie underwear comes in skimpy cuts like thong, g-string and bikini. Choose lingerie underwear when you want to reveal your curves for a flirty look on special occasions. Lingerie can come in sets with a matching bra, corset, bustier or garter for a complete look. Lingerie is typically made from more specialty fabrics like satin, silk, lace to add flirty flair.

Waist Cincher

A waist cincher, or waist shaper, cinches your waist and tummy like a corset to give you a flatter, more contained look. A waist cincher is different from shapewear since it’s designed like a belt to just fit around the waist and tummy, not the hips. A waist shaper can be worn with the panties of your choice, so you can get the bottom coverage that you need based on your taste and outfit. 

Plus-Size Underwear

Plus-size underwear comes in larger sizes and is designed to accommodate women of every body type. You can get plus-sized women's underwear in all the different styles to satisfy both your comfort needs and fashion sense. Plus-size lingerie sets are also available for romantic evenings or if you like wearing matching bras and panties under your clothes.

Women’s Underwear Buying Tips:

• Measure your waist and hips and use a size guide to confirm your size
• Consider your wardrobe and outfits when buying underwear to get the coverage you need
• Buy underwear in different cuts and styles to suit different moods and occasions
• Replace your underwear when it loses its shape and the elastic has worn out

Women’s Underwear Features

Fabric +

Cotton is the most frequently used fabric for panties because it’s breathable and soft for dry, comfortable all-day wear. Seamless underwear is made from blended fabrics that contain some spandex or other stretchy microfibre for a snug, secure fit. Skimpier styles of underwear and lingerie are often made from specialty fabrics like lace and silk to help you look and feel sexy. The type of fabric you buy should suit your outfit and the occasion, while also helping you feel comfortable and confident.

Cut +

French-cut underwear has high-cut leg holes and less side coverage, so your briefs aren’t visible when you’re wearing short skirts or shorts. You may also prefer French-cut underwear for the lighter coverage they provide. Regular-cut panties offer more leg and hip coverage. A thong or g-string has a cut that reveals your buttocks to avoid a panty line under your clothes, or for use as lingerie.

Rise +

High-rise underwear comes up to about an inch below your belly button to provide more font and back coverage and tummy support. Low-rise panties sit below the natural waistline for wear with matching low-rise pants, or if you prefer the feeling of less coverage.

Seam vs. Seamless +

All women’s underwear has seams, but some are made without visible seams so your underwear line doesn’t show. This underwear feature is particularly helpful when you’re wearing light colours or fitted bottoms like tights and leggings. Seamless underwear also provides a sleek look with no bulges for light and comfortable wear.

Gym Underwear +

Some underwear is made specifically for use when exercising. This material has anti-bacterial properties and wicks moisture away from the skin to keep you dry and avoid sweat stains.

Sleep Underwear +

If you overheat when you sleep or find that full-bottom pajamas get tangled in your sheets, sleep underwear may be the solution. This style of underwear helps you stay cool, comfortable and covered as you doze.

Matching Sets +

When buying underwear like lingerie for special occasions, it can make sense to buy matching sets for a complete look. Matching sets are also an option if you simply like to coordinate your undergarments.

Padded Underwear +

Some women’s underwear comes with padding in the hips or rear to enhance these areas and add more curves to your shape. Padded underwear can also help make your clothes fit better if they’re sagging or too big in certain sections. This underwear is often full coverage because of the padding, and can also have leg openings that extended to the upper thigh to ensure a smooth form with no bunches.

Maternity Underwear +

As your belly grows with your pregnancy, you may need to purchase maternity underwear to get the right coverage, size and fit. Maternity underwear comes in different styles, so you can still wear the underwear that makes you feel the most comfortable. Maternity underwear can also be worn post birth to help make the healing process more comfortable.

Panty Liner +

All styles of women’s underwear have an extra piece of fabric in the crotch area to act as a liner and provide an additional barrier between your body and your clothes. The panty liner is built in to the underwear to prevent moisture from reaching your clothes. In addition, disposable panty liners can be worn inside your underwear for another layer of coverage on a temporary basis.

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Underwear Laundry Tips:

• Hand wash delicates
• Wash separately from other clothes
• Use a gentle detergent
• Wash in warm water
• Dry on low heat, or hang-dry delicates
• Iron as needed
• Do not dry clean unless the label instructs otherwise
• Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for care and cleaning
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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