Underwear is one of the most frequently worn clothing items and the first thing put on in the morning and the last to be taken off at night. The importance of it being supremely comfortable is on par with loungewear synonymous with comfort, like bathrobes and slippers. Not only must the material feel soft on sensitive skin, the best women’s underwear must fit well and stay in place—and it’s nice if there’s no visible panty line under clothes, and it washes well time and again, so you’re not having to replace it constantly.
While there are many options for fabrics and styles, some of which come down to personal preference, there’s no doubt that great materials and fit can make a huge difference in whether you want to live in your undies or can’t wait to take them off because they dig in, shift around, or are otherwise uncomfortable. That’s why we reviewed 54 pairs in cotton, microfiber, and fabric blends in styles such as bikinis, thongs, and hipsters.
After several months of testing, the overall best brand of women’s underwear, hands-down, is Aerie(available at American Eagle). But if you’re looking for specific styles or fabrics, we have plenty of other picks for you.
Here are the best underwear for women we tested:
Best Overall: Aerie Brand
Best Bikini: On Gossamer Mesh
Best Thong: Natori Bliss Perfection
Best Hipster: Chantelle Softstretch
Best Seamless: Commando Butter
Here are more of the best women’s underwear brands we tested:
Tommy John Second Skin
Hanky Panky Signature Lace
VS Pink Cotton
Victoria’s Secret Stretch Cotton
Skims Cotton Jersey Boyshort
Fruit of the Loom Beyond Soft
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
On Gossamer Mesh
Natori Bliss Perfection
How We Tested Underwear for Women
What You Should Know About Buying Women's Underwear
Aerie makes multiple pairs of underwear that scored very well in our tests. We tried three options from their Seamless, Cotton, and Real Me lines. While these were all different from each other, we were equally impressed with all of them for offering soft fabric with a great fit that emerged from our 10 laundry cycles looking as good as new. The waistbands are stretchy and move with your body so there’s no elastic digging into the side of your body, unlike some other brands we tested.
Though we didn’t get to try every single pair of underwear from Aerie, we’re confident recommending Aerie as the best brand, given the different styles we tested performed well. Aerie also offers a bigger variety in materials and styles than many of the other brands we tried, so you’ll be sure to find something that fits your personal preference. And unlike some brands that only come in small, medium, and large, Aerie carries women’s sizes XXS to XXL.
One of my favorite pairs was the seamless boybrief. Its waistline falls somewhere between a bikini and a high-waisted style with full coverage in the back. The modal, nylon, and elastane blend material is buttery soft on the skin, but if you're concerned about breathability or moisture absorption, you may want to skip these and opt for a cotton pair —there’s not even a cotton panel in the crotch area of this boybrief.
The good news is, Aerie also has a great option for cotton lovers: Its cotton boybrief snagged our top spot for best cotton underwear. The fabric is super-soft, not rough or scratchy like other cottons we tried, and the style has a wider-than-most waistband, so it stays in place with no bunching or rolling down. If a boybrief is not your style, we think you’ll be happy with Aerie’s other cotton pairs, which include thongs, bikinis, and cotton with lace accents.
If you like the feeling of wearing next to nothing, you’ll love this airy undergarment from On Gossamer. It is made of very light, sheer mesh with a gently hugging trim around the edges that does not cut into your body, making it enjoyable to wear all day.
When I first took these out of the packaging, I worried I would rip or snag them because the see-through mesh seemed like it would be delicate, but surprisingly that is not the case. They proved to be durable and I didn’t have to treat them with extreme care to avoid damaging the fabric. They also held up well in the wash when following the care instructions.
As far as most bikini-style underwear goes, these are less visible under clothing, but they will show a slight panty line if the edges are not laying perfectly flat. The fabric stretches a lot to accommodate different body shapes but one drawback to these is that they only come in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
If you’re looking for something with a smooth, sleek feel that is not mesh, the Chantelle Softstretch bikini is a great alternative. The Softstretch line is a standout for its slinky, stretchy, and lightweight nylon and elastic blend fabric that hugs your body. The seams do not have any stitching and instead are bonded together, with the hems around the edges glued rather than sewn. This makes the panties lay flat and nearly unseeable underneath clothes. It’s a good option if you don’t want to wear a thong but still want an invisible panty line. Unfortunately, this pair comes in one size, but the fabric stretches a lot, making it appropriate for sizes small through large.
This Natori undergarment took the top spot for thongs, edging out other competitors (yes, even Hanky Panky) with its superior materials and comfort. The nylon-and-spandex fabric, lace accents, and elastic seaming feel silky and sleek and have great elasticity, all of which make a huge difference in comfort. This pretty thong looks luxurious with a barely-there feel, unlike other lacy pairs made with scratchier materials.
The fabric in the back is cut wider than most other thongs, which I thought might be more noticeable and therefore uncomfortable, but it had the opposite effect. The wider piece helped keep the thong in place, i.e., it doesn’t feel like floss. This creates one small issue, which is that the panty line is more visible through tighter clothing, but it’s not enough to be a deal breaker. It’s recommended to hand-wash and line-dry these, but we put these in the washer on the delicate cycle and air-dried them; they wrinkled some after 10 washes but held up relatively well otherwise.
One thing to be aware of is that these only come in “one size.” I wear a small or medium and found them to fit well, like a size medium usually does, with plenty of stretch that I suspect they’d accommodate size large and possibly extra large. But anyone outside that middle range might not be suited by these Natoris.
Another consideration is the price, which is on the higher side. If you’re looking for an almost equally comfortable thong with a larger selection of sizing that’s more affordable for stocking up, try Aerie’s Real Me thong. The nylon and elastane blend fabric feels plush on the skin and the thong itself is narrow but not too string-like and feels like it’s barely there. Like all of Aerie’s offerings, it comes in the inclusive size range of XXS to XXL.
Chantelle may not be as much of a household name as some other brands, but its Softstretch line topped our tests with its outstanding comfort. The nylon-and-elastane fabric feels smooth against the skin: It’s extremely stretchy, lightweight, and conforms to your body like second skin. It also emerged from our wash tests looking great, with very little fading or shrinking after 10 washings.
One thing that sets these apart from the rest are the bonded (rather than sewn) seams, which creates a flat edge that’s virtually non-existent underneath clothes. This hipster pair of underwear have fuller coverage in the back and stayed in place well, a failing of some hipster styles as the extra material can sometimes bunch up, causing the dreaded wedgie.
One area these may fall short for some is the sizing. They only come in “one size” and while they worked well for me (a small/medium), and they stretch a lot, they may not fit someone who falls outside the small-to-large size range.
For a highly breathable pair of underwear that fits like a hipster with more specific sizing, reach for the On Gossamer Mesh Boyshort. It performed nearly as well as the Chantelle Softstretch on our tests, and thanks to the sheer nylon fabric construction, it feels like you’re wearing almost nothing. It comes in small, medium, and large sizes, so if you wear one of those, you can get a more custom fit than the Chantelles. These lost a few points in testing because they shrank in the wash a bit more than the Chantelle hipsters, though we didn’t find this to affect the fit.
The Butter Hipster is one of Commando’s top hipster styles and its modal-and-elastane fabric feels like a soft brushed cotton. The edges around the waist and leg holes are raw-cut, which means there are literally no seams (sewn or bonded) where the fabric is folded over or doubled-up. This makes the hipster practically invisible underneath clothing. What’s more, of the seamless raw-cut styles, I found that these stayed in place better than most because the material is not as slippery as others. Still, they will shift around some, so I wouldn’t recommend them for highly active days. Surprisingly, the raw cut edges did not fray in the wash, though they did curl a bit. They also come in sizes from extra small to 3X, a wider range than many of the underwear we tested.
For a seamless option that offers more tummy control, we like the Spanx Undie-tectable Brief or Lace Hi-Hipster. Both offer a little extra “hold” without feeling like serious shapewear. The brief offers rear coverage without compression and the Lace Hi-Hipster is all lace in the back. They both come in sizes XS to XL.
If you're looking to spend less, the Laser Cut line from Target’s label Auden, is worth a look. It's laser-cut, as the name suggests; like ones with raw-cut edges, these undies have no seams around the leg holes or waist, ensuring the panty line is nearly non-existent. The nylon-and-spandex material is smooth and slippery like silk. However, because of this, I found that all the undergarments I tested—bikini, hipster, and thong—shifted around and required a fair amount of readjustment to smooth out bunching. The fabric also had a tendency to stretch out during the day, which worsened the shifting. But if you can deal with these not-so-desirable qualities, the Audens are a worthwhile cheaper option for seamless panties.
Hi, I'm Jamie Ueda. After spending years working for various apparel and textile companies, I pride myself on helping Reviewed readers make smart purchasing decisions for clothing, shoes, and accessories. Because I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating fabrics and apparel, I’m a stickler for quality materials and good design, especially when it comes to apparel like underwear that’s such a staple. As someone who is always on the hunt for a pair of panties so comfortable I forget I’m wearing them, I took my clothing knowledge and went shopping to find the best underwear out there.
This will not come as a surprise, but there are many options available for women's underwear. To decide which pairs to test, I searched the internet for top-rated and highly reviewed styles. I looked at popular brands and retailers, but also sought out lesser-known lines that may contain hidden gems. I polled the Reviewed staff on their favorite pairs of underwear and their go-to brands. After leaving no underwear-stone unturned, I put many pairs of underwear—54 to be exact—to the test.
Working with Reviewed’s senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, we came up with both objective and subjective evaluations that put these pairs of underwear through a battery of tests. We tested these in our lab, washing each pair three times according to its care label, checked for loose seams or stitching after laundering, and measured if they shrank. Then we washed them an additional seven times, for a total of 10 washes for each pair of underwear, and checked them again for wrinkling, fraying, fading, or any other defects.
We wanted to know how the underwear performed on real people, not just in the lab. I wore every single pair of underwear for at least half a day. I also wore these while exercising to see if they were comfortable and if they shifted around. I answered questions such as: Is the underwear sized accurately? How would you describe the fit? Did you have to adjust the underwear during the day? Do these give you visible panty lines? How would you rate the comfort?
When all the testing was complete, we rated each attribute—comfort, fit, and so on—in order of importance and tabulated everything for final scores and rankings.
What You Should Know About Buying Women's Underwear
There are a variety of attributes that go into shopping for a new pair of panties, whether you’re the type who views every fashion purchase as an investment piece or waits for the stock-up sales offering bulk purchases for a reasonable price.
Different styles and materials can have a big impact on comfort and with new fabrics and cuts entering the market it can be tricky to navigate what’s right for you. Here are some things you might want to consider.
Women's Underwear Styles and Cuts
There are many styles, also called “cuts,” of underwear for women. There’s no one cut that fits everyone, or suits everyone’s aesthetic preferences. Some may like wearing bikini underwear, which typically has higher-cut leg holes and a full-coverage back. Others prefer thongs, with the back composed of a string, or a strip of fabric that’s not that much wider, for zero cheek coverage. And some may choose underwear based on their outfit that day to avoid the dreaded panty line.
The most common styles are bikinis, thongs, briefs (which are generally fuller coverage than bikinis, with less high-cut leg holes, but not always, and sometimes bikinis are called briefs and vice versa), and hipsters or hip huggers (which sit lower below the waist and may have still lower-cut legs, but not always). Within these categories, you can find variations related to where the waistband lands on the body relative to the hips and belly button, such as low-rise thongs (which sit on the hip bones), high-waist briefs (which may cover the navel, but sometimes not), and many more. There are also boyshorts, boybriefs, girls briefs, v-strings, cheekies, and the list goes on.
If you like more coverage, consider bikinis, briefs, or boyshorts. Just be sure to assess any individual pair thoroughly, as some may be cut smaller in the back for a “cheeky” look. For less coverage in the back, look for options like thongs or cheekies, and for less coverage at the waist, look for low-rise or hipster styles. There’s no set standard for styles of underwear, and brands can make up their own rules. To make sure a pair suits your needs, you’ll want to look at front and back views of the underwear online (or on your body, if you have the ability to try it on in-store, over your own undies).
Women's Underwear Fabric and Materials
Long gone are the days of underwear being generally made of cotton. In fact, it’s not very common anymore! Out of the 54 pairs we tested, only 14 pairs had a cotton content greater than 90%. Many pairs of underwear are either made with synthetic materials such as nylon, spandex, and various types of rayon, or cotton blended with synthetic materials, which provide stretch and “memory” so the cotton retains its shape.
When it comes to underwear fabric, there is no best for everyone, though there are some broad recommendations to consider. Cotton is breathable and absorbs moisture and is commonly recommended for those who are prone to infections, which thrive in moist environments. However, plenty of underwear made of synthetics or synthetic blends is outfitted with a cotton crotch or gusset, which may mitigate that concern.
Nylon is durable, stretchy, and silk, making it a top choice for undergarments and is often used for seamless underwear. Modal, a type of rayon, is becoming more popular for underwear because of its soft, buttery feel—often even softer than cotton. Spandex, Lycra, or elastane are generally blended into other materials for added stretch and comfort, or as part of the elastic trim on waistbands or leg holes.
Underwear Under Clothing: How to Avoid VPL
You may see underwear that is labeled seamless, no-show, laser cut, or raw cut. Generally all of these terms are referring to underwear that is supposed to be unseeable through clothing, i.e., won't show a visible panty line (a.k.a. VPL). These types of underwear are made in slightly different ways, but what they share in common is a lack of extra elastic or trim (or even the material itself doubled-up) around the leg holes and waist. This makes the edges lie flatter and less prone to digging into skin, which means clothing worn on top is less likely to cling and contour to it (depending on the texture and weight of the clothing, that is).
In most cases, the surest way to avoid VPL is to wear a thong, which has no seams below the butt cheeks, preventing any lines. However, bikini and hipster cuts of “no-show” undergarments can be a great no-VPL alternative, provided you find ones that fit you well. However, one downside we encountered during testing is that these types of underwear, which by design don’t have slightly stiffer edges or trim to keep it in place, tend to shift around and bunch more than other types of underwear.
Additionally, “seamless” sometimes refers to a specific type of knitting technique to make the undergarment, in which the whole thing is knit into its shape rather than sewn together from a few pieces. This means it won’t have seams or very little seaming. But these attributes are generally more for comfort—no raised stitching that might irritate skin or dig into sensitive areas—and the panties won’t necessarily be invisible underneath clothes. One way to tell what “seamless” means: If the pair of underwear has bulky trim, materials, or stitching around the leg holes and/or waist, then it most likely won’t be undetectable under clothing, despite being called “seamless.”
Other Underwear for Women We Tested
Tommy John Second Skin
Tommy John’s Second Skin brief scored well for this type in our tests. It’s made of a slightly see-through, cotton-like, modal-and-spandex blend that’s airy and breathable. The waistband is made of the same material, rather than the elasticized trim that’s common in briefs, and it doesn’t dig into the waist or legs at all, like some full-coverage pairs.
A few things held this pair back from being a top pick. One, it showed a noticeable panty line under my leggings—not as harsh a line as some I tested in the brief style, but still present. Also, in our wash tests, the color faded more than most other pairs of underwear.
We also tested the Tommy John Second Skin thong, which is made out of the same lightweight material. Its supple fabric felt just as comfortable against the skin, but what took this out as a top contender for Best Thong is that the elastic sewn around the thong portion itself is stiff, making it uncomfortable to wear for a long time.
Hanky Panky is well known for its lace thong, which has built a huge following over the years. It's easy to see why: Unlike other lace pairs that feel coarse on the skin, these are oh-so-soft with a good amount of stretch, making them pleasant to wear all day long.
The Signature Lace V-kini and Signature Lace Boyshort are made out of the same soft lace and are just as enjoyable to wear. I particularly loved that the boyshorts stayed in place under clothing and I didn’t have to tug or fuss to get them situated. If you don’t want your bottom exposed but prefer less coverage than a boyshort, the V-kini is cut to cover more of the behind with leg openings that cover less of the legs.
The one issue with this line is that the thong is “one size,” which according to Hanky Panky fits sizes 4 to 14. I found it fit me well, and I also usually wear a size 4 or 6. They stretch quite a bit, but the jury’s out on whether it would fit someone on the higher end of that range as well. Oddly (yet happily) enough, the Lace V-kini and Boyshort come in a range of sizes from XS to XL.
The Love By Gap Breathe bikini is light and airy, making them one of my favorite pairs to wear. It's made of a polyester, modal, and spandex blend, but it feels like and could easily pass for a high-quality cotton. The seams are soft and not bulky, though they did leave a visible panty line underneath my leggings.
The Love By Gap Lace thong is an obvious rival to Hanky Panky, and probably the most similar to that popular pair in terms of look and feel. It’s made of soft, pliable lace that stretches nicely with no roughness or digging in, making it comfortable to wear all day. It’s also considerably cheaper than Hanky Panky, at roughly a third of the price, but they may not last as long: After 10 washes, we noticed visible fraying and loose threads.
The stretch cotton hipster from Love By Gap is one of the better cotton options of the underwear we tested. The fabric of these panties is soft, stretchy, and breathable, made of spandex and cotton. I wanted to love them, but the substantial stitching around the legs and waist dug in uncomfortably by day’s end.
The Pima Cotton hipster from Third Love was one of my favorite cotton pairs and hugged my body without being too tight. They stayed in place for the most part during wear testing, although they did require a few adjustments under my leggings during the day. The sizing was pretty accurate and the fit was good, except the leg holes seemed tight when I first put them on but loosened up from wear.
The Third Love Comfort Stretch line reminded me of the Chantelle Softstretch line, with stretchy, sleek, and lightweight nylon-and-spandex fabric. Like the Softstretch styles, the Third Love Comfort Stretch has stitch free smooth seams that create a VPL-free look. Unfortunately, the Comfort Stretch bikini didn't stay put as well as Chantelle and the thong stretched out after a few hours, causing it to no longer fit right.
If you’re in the market for a pair of cotton boyshorts, you’ll like the ones from VS Pink. The cotton-and-elastane fabric feels nice against the skin and has enough elasticity to move with your body without being overly tight. These stayed put and were wedgie-free throughout the day.
The only potential issue is that the colors and patterns are “fun,” so if you just want some basic shades, you might have a hard time finding ones you like.
The No Show collection is one of Victoria’s Secret most popular lines. The nylon-and-elastane fabric feels smooth and the panties are designed with raw-cut edges around the waist and leg holes to prevent VPL. I tried the thong and hiphugger styles, which felt silky on my skin but, like most seamless underwear that lacks elastic around the waist and leg holes, they shifted around a lot and required many adjustments during the day I wore them. You also may also want to size up as I found the small I tried ran small.
Until this test, the Victoria’s Secret Stretch Cotton collection was my go-to (when they were on sale). They're comfortable enough to wear, made of a soft cotton, modal, and elastane blend material and gentle elastic, but I found that they don’t stay in place as well as other pairs. After 10 washes, there was fraying at the waistband, and I’ve also owned these personally long enough to know they don’t last as long as other pairs. I find myself throwing them out more frequently than I’d prefer, especially if I bought them at full price.
Skims started as a shapewear brand from none other than Kim Kardashian. Since the launch, Skims has expanded to bras, loungewear, and more, including underwear. The brand offers 19 styles (and probably counting), including the Cotton Jersey Boyshort, which is the one I tried.
At first glance, the boyshorts appeared extremely small despite being in my usual size small. However, the material stretches a lot, and once I put them on, they felt like the right size and were not squeezing me in. The fabric is stretchy enough that it moved with my body, but what kept these from earning a top spot is that the waistband cut into my skin and by the end of the day had left a mark.
One thing that makes MeUndies exceptional from most brands we tested is its broad, inclusive size range from XS to 4XL—most others came in only XS to XL or even just “one size.”
Both the elastic edges and modal-and-elastane blend fabric were soft to touch, but the elastic waistband is unique in that it is much thicker than most other pairs of underwear we tested, which depending on your preference could be a pro or a con. The thick elastic helped the underwear stay in place well while doing everyday activities, but it also felt like it was applying more pressure because it was so hefty. It was also very visible underneath tight clothing like leggings.
Specifically for the bikini underwear, the stitching around the leg holes felt coarse, making them uncomfortable to wear. The hipster style is cut so it covers your bottom, but if you want less coverage, MeUndies also has other styles, like a cheeky brief that exposes more skin. Also, in our wash testing, the color faded much more than other pairs.
This is one of Amazon’s most popular lines of women’s underwear and I had high hopes for them, based on the 4.6 score from 57,000+ of reviews. Unfortunately, they ended up as one of our lower scoring pairs. The sizing seemed accurate but the waistband has stiff stitching with less elastic stretch, which made them feel tight on my stomach. What’s more, the band on our wash-test pair frayed after just a few cycles, and the pair I tested at home had some stitches coming loose after only one wash. I’m not sure these would hold up long term. While the cotton-and-elastane material felt supple, it wasn’t enough to outweigh the other aspects I didn’t like.
Noticeable fraying and loose stitches after a few washes
Based on its name, you would think this would be the softest pair of undies you’ve ever worn, but alas: The cotton felt rougher than other pairs we tested. (A disappointment to the budget-minded, as it’s one of the least expensive styles we tested.)
These look like a dupe of the Victoria’s Secret Stretch Cotton panties, with similar-looking elastic and cotton-and-polyester blend material. However the fabric is rougher, does not have as much elasticity, and the bikini runs on the small side. Even worse, in wash tests, our pair shrank more than 10%, which is much more than an average pair of underwear.
The Amazon Iris and Lily line is made with a sheer and breezy cotton-and-elastane fabric, making them breathable. Unfortunately, the brief's elastic trim around the legs and waist is stiff, and the color faded a lot in our tests.
The stylish Parade Re:Play styles felt a little bulky on, with thick and wide waistbands in the brief and thong styles we tested. They also didn’t stay in place, with many adjustments needed throughout my day. They get points for a broad size range, though, coming in XS to 3XL.
Both the H&M Cotton and Microfiber collections are lower in price than many, but just not the most comfortable of the bunch. While the material used in both lines felt OK in terms of comfort, the Microfiber thong stretched out and didn’t fit well, and the lace trim on the cotton bikini and hipster panties was rough on the skin.
The Hanes Cool Comfort bikini panties didn’t seem to have any cooling properties, despite the name. The velvety lining under the waistband is a nice touch for added comfort, but the leg holes felt tight.
I adore the look of the celeb-beloved Calvin Klein Stretch Cotton Logo bikini underwear. But in testing, I couldn’t wait to take these off—the stiff, binding waistband left a dent in my skin after a few hours. What's more, the fabric lost more color than other pairs after 10 washes.
The Jockey Cotton Elance Breathe brief was one of the lowest scoring pairs of underwear for its baggy, diaper-like fit and cotton fabric that stretched out during the course of day.
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