Reader Request: The Perils of Undergarments

A frustrated reader e-mailed me this request:

Between visible panty lines and those funny back fat folds that my bra creates, I feel like my underwear often ruins my look. I’m not willing (or frankly able) to wear spanx all the time. I’m not comfortable in a thong. I often wear high-cut panties to match the waist on my pants and skirts even though on their own they look like granny panties. Cotton undies are good for health reasons, but I’ll do microfiber if the fabric on my pants or skirts is thin. How to balance comfort in one’s undergarments with a desire to keep a sleek line in clothing? I’m not terribly concerned that the undies look sexy on their own. I just want them to create a sleek line under my clothes without pinching me or compressing me too much.

Undergarments exist in tremendous variety, but most are designed to cover, support, or both. Panties, slips, and camis cover our parts and help create smoother lines. Bras and shapewear support and re-shape parts of our bodies that are naturally soft.

Personally, I believe that undergarments designed to COVER should never pull, pinch, or subdivide the body in any way: If your slip digs into your midsection, size up, move the seam to a less fleshy part of your abdomen, or choose a style that has a wider, stretchier waistband. (I just bought one with a lace waistband and it is a revelation!) If your panties dig into your buns, try a different size, style, or material. It’s easy to get stuck in a panty rut – find a style that’s comfy and just buy in bulk – but if you wear close-fitting clothing or fret about panty lines, bear in mind that different styles will work better with different skirts and pants. The main thing to remember is that base layers meant to provide coverage shouldn’t mess with your body, they should work with it easily and seamlessly.

Support undergarments, on the other hand, are eternally problematic. Even champion athletes who are covered entirely in hard muscle generally get dented a little by bras and shapewear. Why? Because garments designed to support soft body parts need to be stiff and tight in order to do their jobs, and stiff, tight garments dig. They just do. If you want to support your breasts in front, you likely need a fairly snug fit around your ribcage. And snug means subdivision. On nearly all bodies.

I’ve heard some experts say that if your bra subdivides your flesh in back it’s the wrong size or style. That may well be true, I suppose, and if ALL of your bras dig, it might be time to get a bra fitting. Especially since our bodies shift all the time, and getting fitted once per year is always best practice. However, I feel that the backlash against “back fat” has gotten a little ridiculous. In recent months, I’ve seen at least a half dozen products designed specifically to combat “back fat,” which fuels the now-widespread belief that this it is some horrendous stylistic faux pas to be combated at any cost to your pocketbook and comfort.

Should you do everything in your power to present a sleek, smooth silhouette at all times? Yes. Should you seek out undergarments that make this as easy as possible? Yes. Should you have a DEFCON-1-level meltdown if you catch a glimpse of some “back fat” as you pass an obliging mirror? No, no, NO, NOOOO. Additionally, no. Life is too short to waste your energy on such matters, and no one else will care about these things nearly as much as you will.

Since procuring a set of undergarments that works for every outfit, every bloat level, and every occasion is a long, difficult, and costly process, here are some ways you can dress around imperfect undergarments:

  • Blazers: Nearly all blazers are crafted from thick, stiff, structured fabrics that will trump any squeezy bra. If you live in a warm clime, opt for lined linen or tropical weight wool.
  • Dusters and long cardigans: Since pantylines are typically in the rear, an outer layer that goes past your bum can mask some pinching.
  • Shawls and wraps: Learn to swathe yourself in drapey, loose layers right around your bra area and no one will see if your bra is digging in a bit.
  • Slips: Not only do these layers prevent skirts from sticking to tights, they work wonders in the concealment department. A clingy jersey dress won’t cling to your butt nearly as much if you’re wearing a slip. If your midsection is getting pinched, you can also try hiking your slip up and tucking it into your bra band. It will create a slippery layer between bod and clothing, so long as the outer layer doesn’t fit too snugly.
  • Cut and fit: Some garments are designed to cling and reveal, and for those, undergarments must fit impeccably. But nobody can even IMAGINE how your butt looks when you’re wearing a full, pleated, circle skirt. Nobody will examine your “back fat” levels if you’re wearing a cropped jacket. Even if you prefer a more tailored look overall, make sure your wardrobe has enough variety in it to encompass some looser, less fitted items.

As you can see, most of these options involve layering … which means they won’t work as well in the dead of summer. And they really are no substitute for cultivating a set of undergarments that works with, not against, the natural lines of your figure. But if you’re in a hurry, or it’s laundry day, or something comes up and you end up in imperfect undies, try one of these solutions out.

In terms of comfort, that’s a balancing act. Undergarments that support and sleek down CAN be comfy, but generally aren’t. So you’ll just have to prioritize as you dress. If you want to wear a fitted ensemble and will be driven crazy by lumps, you may have to resign yourself to shapewear and a less-than-comfy day. If you want some middle ground, try a combination of fitted items and a few of the tricks listed above. If comfort is the priority, screw the confining undergarments and focus on bodily happiness. Undergarments should never be implements of torture, but the styles that support and shape are unlikely to feel like PJs. So some days will be comfier than others.

That’s my take, anyway. What are your views on undergarments and fit? Do you tolerate some pinching and subdivision? Live in fear of “back fat” and do everything you can to mitigate it? Can anyone recommend other ways to dress around lingerie lines?

Image via Amazon.com.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

  • http://sapotesews.dreamwidth.org sapotesews

    A combination of super-thin fabrics and very narrow cuts have, I think, made this more of an issue for many people recently – my shirts will definitely reveal a whole lot of my bra strap region if they’re just plain too narrow at the shoulder/ back armscye. There’s not a lot you can do about this if you don’t sew, but at least you can know it’s the shirt’s fault.

    Since I came of age in the era of stretchy, tiny knit everything, I wear a lot of tank tops under my clothes, which does create some modesty about how exactly your bra and torso interact.

  • GingerR

    I’m tired of people dissing “granny panties.” If you want to avoid a hip-level line and don’t like the dental-floss feel of thongs then full coverage panties are the way to go. You can get to-the-waist panties with high-cut legs and be a modern “granny.”

  • http://www.hourglassy.com Darlene

    Lately, I’ve been trying to deal with my own back flab. I thought it was an age thing because I never worried about it in my 20′s, and I’ve taken it as a sign that I’ve let myself go, which causes shame whenever I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror. However, like you, I’ve been noticing more and more products to deal with it. On the one hand, I welcome them because I consider it a problem that I want to solve. On the other hand, it feels like more marketing pressure to conform to the impossible, photoshopped ideal of magazines. I’ve begun to wonder–do the French care as much about back flab, or is it an American thing? It’s not like the French are the standard for beauty, but I’ve always admired the way French women adorn their bodies regardless of age and shape.

    Finally, I recently discovered Naomi & Nicole panties from Cupid Intimates at Macy’s. They lay flat AND have something at the edges to keep them from riding up AND they’re non-granny looking. I highly recommend, although I’ve only worn them under jeans, so I can’t vouch for their efficacy in eradicating VPL.

  • http://librarygirl9.blogspot.com/ Erin

    I totally support camisoles and slips/pettipants! Anything that is supposed to glide over your body glides easier if you have a slip on underneath. Back fat is not so apparent with a camisole under your top. (PS. get a proper bra fitting; it works wonders!) Slips obscure those panty lines, even from the panties that promise none! Of course, you can always go commando….

  • http://catspajamas-dogstuxedos.blogspot.com/ coffeeaddict

    It’s natural for your bra to create a bit of a ripple, same goes for pantyhose and demi camisoles.
    My personal favourite combination is a full cami over my undies to smooth out these ripples or a shapewear body with built in bra cups. I wear my pantyhose under the body and presto: no more worm effect and my pantyhose stay in place as well.

  • Katharine

    I wear plain microfibre bras with the minimum amount of padding/stiffening and wide back straps (currently the several Calvin Kleins I have are my favourite). I do find that “back fat” (and I am pudgy, so yes, I have fat on my back, along with everywhere else) shows more either in a bra that fits not so well, or a bra that is starting to lose its oomph and needs replacing (my several Calvin Kleins, sob).

    As for pantylines – seriously, pantyline people, SHUT UP. Wouldn’t you rather know that I wear panties than not? I wear boycut underpants that fit, so they don’t cut in, but yes, sometimes there will be a line, and NO, I am not buying some twenty-dollar seamless laser-cut microfibre panty to create the total illusion that I am Naked Under My Clothes.

    I agree with sapotesews — thin (cheap) garment fabrics are to blame for a lot of this, especially knits. I do reject clothes that feel to me as though they don’t have enough “body”, since a firmer weave or heavier knit also goes a long way to smoothing over general chub rolls.

  • http://bravocharliesierra.blogspot.com BrieCS

    On the back bump issue – SOMA has a bra out, I think it’s the Invisible Back bra, and it basically makes those bumps disappear! It’s incredible! It also helps reduce the amount of bumps when you wear other bras. A lot of the reason that shows up is because of badly fitted bras or just having worn bras that don’t fit right for a long time.

    I think it’s what you’re comfortable with. I hate bumps and such, so I am always trying to figure out a way to get a smooth look without Spanx!

    • Anonymous

      I just bought the SOMA vanishing back bra and it is amazing!!! It’s comfortable and truly works! I love that I can wear my tighter t-shirts and flimsy shirts and NO BACK FAT!!!! Thanks SOMA!

  • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

    I see that this topic has touched a nerve with some folks. Just a reminder to keep it civil and respectful.

  • http://findingmykd.blogspot.com/ Bridget

    I’m quite a fan of the lace v-kinis from Hanky Panky. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw what one single pair cost, but the lace covers well, does not dig, holds up well in the wash, and I feel gorgeous in them. …which means they’re worth it to me.

    • malevolent andrea

      I wear the knockoffs of the Hanky Panky lace boyshorts that the Gap sells, and they work pretty well too.

      • Carbon Girl

        I don’t know what it is about that stretchy lace but it works wonders. So comfy and no bumps. I wear the ones Cosabella makes when I am worried about panty lines and hip lines.

  • malevolent andrea

    I think it is possible to find bras that do not cause back fat or faux back fat, but it involves trying on approximately 163 styles in several sizes. Sigh. I have, however, found a couple that work for me.

    One thing that drives me crazy as a short person is that the camis and tank tops I wear under my sweaters are usually slighty-to-a-lot too long, so when I tuck them into my pants, I’m constantly fussing with them so they don’t cause lumps and lines. It’s worse than panty lines to me.

    • Claudia

      I shorten my tanks, so my serger gets an airing now and then.

      If you worry about back flab, it doesn’t mean you are fat or anything! I have hardly any flesh on my back (ribs are visible, all my body fat seems to sit in my saddlebags), but yet, as I am approaching 50 my skin has grown a dress size or two and the bra digs in, period. Best is to avoid flimsy spray-on lycra, I’d say.

      I remember, when I was a kid, I saw bras that went down to one’s waist like corsets, boning and all. They shaped your torso to a perfect, smooth cone but must have been horribly uncomfortable. So back flab is not a wholly new issue.

  • E

    It’s awesome that you decided to broach this subject, Sal, because I’m sure it’s something every woman thinks about at least some of the time. On the subject of “back fat,” I tend to wear tops that are clingy without being too tight, and I honestly don’t worry about it too much. I do have some bras, though, that do great things to my (small) boobs but horrible, horrible things to my back; I only pull those out when I know I’m going to keep on more than one layer all day.

    I do wear thongs, though. Not all the time, and certainly not if I’m wearing a loose, flowy skirt, but I like knowing that I won’t be plagued by surprise panty lines any time during the day. In my opinion, there are some really comfortable thong styles available, but I totally understand that it’s not everyone’s thing. I also have some panties that have lace at the edges instead of an elastic band, and those definitely don’t give any panty lines either.

    One thing we all need to keep in mind is that we’re going to notice our own perceived flaws a lot more than anyone else looking at us. Have I ever looked at a woman and thought, ‘what horrible back fat that bra gives her’? Absolutely not. And the only time another girl’s panties have crossed my mind is when I see people wearing leggings with nothing covering their ass. Even in that situation, there is so much wrong with what’s going on that panty lines are not at the top of my mind.

  • Anonymous

    I am SO with you on the backfat backlash. It’s out of control!

  • MsMolly

    I’ll tell you the secret to comfortable tights and pantyhose that I figured out recently: maternity tights. I’m not and never have been pregnant, but I’ve always had a problem with pantyhose digging into my stomach when I sit down. And this has happened no matter what weight I was. It used to make me think I was incredibly fat when, at 120 pounds, I bought a pair of tights that were supposed to fit someone my height and up to 140 pounds, and they’d STILL be so uncomfortable that I’d peel them off the moment I got home. I now have, um, quite a few more pounds than that, but the problem has been consistent no matter what weight I was or what size tights I bought. Then one day I was shopping for clothes to wear for several all-day job interviews, and thinking how much I wasn’t looking forward to the discomfort of pantyhose, when the maternity Assets tights at Target caught my eye. I thought, “well, these have extra give in the belly, and no one but me is going to have any idea I’m wearing maternity tights…” and I bought a pair.

    They are SO COMFORTABLE! I bought a size down from what the chart on the back said I should wear for my weight, because I figured they’d fit a bit bigger than usual tights, and I was right. I don’t wear anything else now. And now I can come home and wear my work outfit around for another couple of hours without wanting to get out of it immediately, and without a big elastic mark across my stomach. I honestly don’t know why all tights aren’t made this way. It doesn’t change the visible part of the tights at all, and it makes them so much more comfortable where it counts!

    • molly

      This is a good idea; thanks!

    • Lalalina

      Im totally going to buy a pair today, this is a constant issue for me.

  • http://departmentofcolor.blogspot.com Ms. M

    I’m with Katherine– I just don’t believe it’s necessary to hide the fact that I’m wearing underwear. As long as printed patterns etc. don’t show through my clothes (because I don’t necessarily want to “show off” my undies either!), I don’t worry about small indentations.

    Regarding bra indentations: I’ve found that my more expensive bra stays in place and lies flatter than my cheaper ones. It’s not invisible, but as I mentioned above, that’s not my goal anyway. But I do appreciate the visible difference.

    Likewise, when I started buying better quality panties, I noticed that they also stay in place better and the edges are flatter than the Hanes ones I’d been buying before.

  • - Tessa

    I am “large of bust” and have dealt with these and many other breast-related issues for years. Imagine my surprise when going DOWN a band size lessened my back fat issues. Brittany at Thin and Curvy has made these kinds of questions the subject of her personal style blog, and this is a link to her response to my frustrated cry for help. And help she did!!!! http://www.thinandcurvy.com/2011/02/reader-question-bra-fitting.html

    (Sal, I hope it’s ok to link this here since it’s her answer to my question. And I think her blog might be able to help others.)

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Of course! Always feel free to share resources!

    • Mona

      Thanks so much for the link, this webpage is indeed a great resource.

  • Diana

    Meh. Honestly, I think if you can see your entire panty line or your bra through your clothes, your clothes are too tight or too thin. I refuse to wear uncomfortable undergarments. Cotton underpants and bras that fit comfortably all the way – no spanx or anything like that, ever. I do wear slips on occasion but mostly to avoid skirts sticking to tights/leggings or to avoid having something scratchy touching my skin. That said, I don’t get fussed at all over an occasional glimpse of panty line or back fat, and I honestly don’t get why things like VPL are such a big deal. So what? Everyone wears underwear, and honestly it’s a lot grosser if you think that someone is NOT wearing any.

  • molly

    I’m with the people who won’t buy super-thin fabrics. I do have a lot of knits, but if they’re thin I layer them, and I won’t buy a skirt unless it’s lined or for whatever reason doesn’t show much of my (bikini) underwear. I guess I’m missing out on a lot of flimsy, filmy things, but when I try those on they don’t flatter me. But I totally support all of you who choose to wear them and don’t care what shows through!

  • spacegeek

    I’ve been obsessing over back fat recently. (Mine, not others’!) Thanks for the reality check.

    Also, I recently decided I needed an underwear update, and have been experimenting. I’ve been wearing Victoria’s Secret *V* thongs for 20 years. Okay, I think I’m personally not up to the butt floss anymore. LOL So anyway, I’ve tried SOMA’s Vanishing Edge panty line, and they really work!! I’m surprised, but I’m liking them! They have like silicon grippies on the leg part in the back, and that keeps ‘em in place. I bought a couple on sale, and am now wondering whether I should pull the trigger on a few more.
    I tried them on with ponte knit straight legged pants, and no VPL! Also jersey skirts okay too! (With a slip though–I’m a slip gal.)

    Anyway, enough PSA. :-)

  • http://animatedcardigan.blogspot.com/ Jess

    First of all, Sal, I think you read my mind! I was search this site a few days ago looking for information about undergarment annoyance and when I came I short I thought I’d email you but it went to the caverns of my mind. So thanks for this!

    I don’t really mind back fat (especially since I can’t see it but for the occasional window/mirror) but the thing that grates me is when I can see the edge of my bra cup through my shirt. The cheaper bras I own tend to roll out at the edge after a few washings (hand washings) and they are of course the ones that are comfortable and don’t create back fat. Even some of my “t-shirt” bras are visible under my shirt, though they don’t roll out. I’ve tried sizing down in the cup but that definitely doesn’t work–I overflow!–and sizing down/up in the band doesn’t help either. All I can do to combat it is to layer a ton, which doesn’t work in summer, or buy nicer/lace bras, which unfortunately isn’t always possible. It’s really frustrating because it isn’t something you can always detect in the fitting room.

  • Cat

    Sometimes I think “back fat” is just skin. Being smooshed by our bras. And thank goodness we have skin.
    And if it is fat – well, that doesn’t mean we are bad or dumb or less than.
    But I prefer to think of it as skin.

    Alos, I wear longer boy shorts… and sometimes I even steal boxer briefs from my partner. I guess if I was wearing super tight pants my panty line would be around my upper thighs. But sooo comfy and great with skirts and trousers (not skinny jeans).

    Thanks for Another great post Sal. I agree with Spacegeek that it was a great reality check. Back fat is another mostly made up phenomenon to shame women… or maybe not made up exactly, but the meaning we ascribe to it has definitely shifted.

    • http://enbouton.blogspot.com Frankincensy

      I appreciate this: “Even champion athletes who are covered entirely in hard muscle generally get dented a little by bras and shapewear … garments designed to support soft body parts need to be stiff and tight in order to do their jobs, and stiff, tight garments dig.”

      I won’t lie, I prefer the fit of garments that don’t dig in and so on, but expecting women not to have any “back fat” (whether it’s actual fat or skin or whatever) kind of steps into the realm of unrealistic. I have pretty scrawny forearms – visible veins, defined muscles – but if I tie a tight string or elastic band around my forearm, it’ll subdivide the flesh there. That’s not a sign of excess fat, that’s just physics.

  • http://thisisrosie.ca Rosie

    I try my best to not worry about it too much. My number one way to combat panty lines though is to wear light weight leggings instead of tights. They look almost the same, but the extra weight makes it so much warmer and smoother.

  • http://sidewalkchic.com joann, sidewalk chic

    Thanks for this post, Sal. I didn’t know what a bra was supposed to look like on me until I got a bra fitting. It turns out I was a whole cup size more than I thought. It’s kind of changed how I view my body underneath my clothes.

    As someone mentioned above, I really dislike the term “granny panties.” I don’t know why even just full-covered panties get lumped into that association. Some of us need a break from shapewear underwear and thongs all the time!

  • LQ

    >Honestly, I think if you can see your entire panty line or your bra through your clothes, your clothes are too tight or too thin.

    This. If I see back bulge, I don’t think “that woman needs a different bra,” I think “that woman needs a shirt one size bigger.” I blame the “shrunken” looks of the last several years — all the models in catalogs being put into clothes a size smaller than would actually fit them, cardigans pulling for life at the single button they’re fastened by, tiny little stretch blazers cut for a 10-year-old, “whiskers” on jeans, satin dresses that wrinkle horizontally over the hips on the red carpet. Fie on all of it. There’s a difference between fitted and too damned small.

    If you have big enough breasts to require significant support, your bra band is going to have to be tight enough to make a dent. It just is. I loathe and resent this fact, because my bra band always digs into my sides, but there’s nothing to be done about it. Going up in band size will just throw the weight onto the shoulder straps where it doesn’t belong.

    All of that said, the best bra I know for relieving the side digging and minimizing back bulge is the Lilyette 921, a smooth t shirt style with a wonderfully comfortable band. It’s not the longest lasting (I probably replace them every six months, wearing twice a week, and being hard on my bras) but you can get them very cheaply indeed from the maidenform.com website’s frequent sales. I can particularly encourage people in the moderate band/moderately large cup, say 34-40 D-DDD, range to check it out, as that’s the area of my expertise. It doesn’t go above a DDD, and I live in fear of the day.

  • denise

    oh, ouch.

    “Should you do everything in your power to present a sleek, smooth silhouette at all times? Yes.”

    speaking as a fat woman – I’m NEVER going to achieve sleek and smooth, because no matter how well-fitting my undergarments might be, the rest of my body is lumpy and bumpy and stick-out-y.

    :(

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Not meant as a criticism or dig, denise, as I hope it quite clear. Just encouraging women to do what they can, assuming that a smooth silhouette is a figure flattery priority. And, as the rest of the post points out, a completely sleek silhouette is virtually impossible for all of us!

  • emmy

    Ill-fitting underwear are the bane of my existence! I can’t seem to find any underwear that don’t ride up and not show through my clothes. Are they out there? Maybe it’s my calling in life to create the perfect pair of underwear. Ah, what a difficult life I have. ;)

  • Jak

    My personal experience with bras and back fat is to make sure that I find a band that is wide enough. It helps the band do the supporting that it needs to without needing to cut into me as much. This specifically means looking for bands that have at least 3 clasps. It won’t necessarily get rid of it completely, but it should help.

    As for the underwear problem, I prefer lace boyshorts for the times I wear thinner pants or skirts that I know show the dreaded line. They lay flat and don’t bunch. It’s not that I want to give the impression that I am going commando, it’s just that I dislike knowing that people are looking at my ass and seeing exactly where my underwear is cutting across my butt.

  • Kelli

    I guess I have never thought that “back fat” was really fat. I’m a very busty person, and I always have assumed it went with the territory. It has never really bothered me. I could be thinner but I consider myself to be a healthy weight, and it seems that even extremely thin people have bra-back-squish.

    I go commando if I have something that shows panty lines, & I don’t really think that is gross, I just wash said garment each time I wear it. I guess it all comes down to personal comfort level with different things.

  • http://rubiatonta.wordpress.com Rubiatonta

    A good, properly-fitted bra is a joy forever. I have become a total convert to Wacoal, and though they are expensive, they more than make up for it in the comfort, support, and wear departments. I had a bra fitting at Nordstrom, which helped me find the style and size that work best for me. And here’s a hint — once you’ve got a style/size that you love from a department store, you can buy more from eBay at about half price.

    Many, many thanks to the commenter who posted about maternity tights. I’ve got ulcerative colitis, and so can’t wear anything remotely squeezy around my middle. Living in a cold-winter climate, that means that I barely get to wear dresses anymore, since I can’t stand tights for more than about 20 minutes. (If they’re non-control tights, I may make it for an hour, but not much more than that.) I’m so pleased that I’ll be able to wear the parts of my wardrobe that need tights now!

    • Jaye

      I have the same problem – can’t wear anything remotely constricting at the waist. So when I first put on the Target maternity tights I bought in desperation I was in heaven, which lasted 20 minutes. Then they started sagging. Then they just sort of fell down! So try it, but give it a test run at home. If I’d been in public it would have been ugly.

      • Lil

        One trick with maternity tights (or any other tights for that matter) if you have issues with them falling down (who has a waist anymore when pregnant?) is to be like superman and wear your panties OVER your tights (or a second pair if you’d rather that way).

  • http://wikidaily.tumblr.com M.

    If your bra is giving you little back rolls, it means it’s too small. Go to an underwear shop like Victoria’s Secret (the underwear departments in some department stores will also do this) and get fitted. I got fitted a couple of years ago and found out I was a 36B/C, not a 34D. My bras fit now, without weird lumps or lines. It is awesome.

  • Nadine

    Slips and singlets! Full slips, the ones like a sleeveless dress, and you know, tank top camisole thingies. My latest trick is two singlets at once (while exercising) – makes SUCH a difference to the smoothness of the line.

  • rb

    I live for Spanx (and in Spanx!) and I love them for the primary issues I wear them for (belly and chafing control), but I do notice that they create a line across my thighs where they end at the bottom, which is more noticeable when I’m wearing certain slim cuts and thin fabrics. Hence I’d never wear them with pants – only footless tights with those. I do wish there were a perfect solution.

  • Susan

    I tried the vanishing back bra at Soma (the front closing one) and found that the padding in the front made me look way more voluptuous than I already am–not the look I wanted to get in exchange for not having the “back fat’ look. I am going to try Soma’s new back closing bra of this type to see if it looks better on me.

  • Courtney

    Awesome thoughts, Sal! As I’ve gained weight, I’ve shied away from bikini style underwear because it always cuts across my stomach in a horrifically unflattering way. But I HATE cotton “granny panties” so I’ve fallen in love with lace or mesh granny panties. The shape fits my figure better, and the material gives a nice retro sexy look. DH loves it :)

  • http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/ Trystan

    Another thing to look for is garments that are lined — obviously, not great for summer, but good for office wear. Structued clothing with a lining, such as jackets, skirts, even trousers, will not show any underwear lines & will keep you looking sleek & polished. Nothing like a lined pencil skirt for giving a great rear view ;-)

  • http://www.cohabitatingcloset.blogger.com Rad

    Interesting discussion! I have one pair of pants that I worry about in terms of underwear lines. They’re not snug, but they’re thin. Thank goodness my partner is there to tell me if my microfiber briefs are working. Otherwise, I ‘m a health-oriented underwear girl, all the way.

  • Lydia

    Great topic! I have a theory on back fat that I have gleaned from personal observation (based on my own back), I buy all my bras from bravissimo (a UK store that changed my bra buying forever — they have the best fitting bras for my H cup).

    Anyway, back to the back fat issue, (which is only an issue when I catch a fleeting glance at my back!), and here is my theory (long winded, I am sorry, but here goes). To fit well, the back of the bra has to support the ‘girls’ the most. The straps do some extra and minimal work. If the back of your bra is too loose — it will ride up, if it is too tight, it will pinch — if it is just right, it will form exactly the same line around the front as it does in the back — in other words, you want a bra that is moderately tight, but does not ride up. Hope that makes sense.

    I do agree however, that we make back fat and vpl more of an issue that it really is.

  • http://wheelsamsara.blogspot.com LK

    Camis are the greatest addition to fashion ever created. But not those silk ones, the t-shirt fabric ones. Not only do they combat low necklines that are impossible to keep in place they hide weird bra lines that sometimes pop up depending on how your bra fits at the moment. That is the hard thing for women. Throughout the month your size can change, it may only be a half size at most but it makes a difference on how things fit. Making sure you have a bra specifically for that time of the month really helps in avoiding that issue. I also found that if you can the wireless are far more seamless than the wired bras but many women need wires. Playtex makes some great smooth wired bras while Victorias Secret has a lovely wireless that looks great under pretty much anything. I use to get playtex before but they no longer make bras under size C :(.

    But in general, women are taught to worry too much about this. But its because we are often presented with skin hugging clothes which will, no matter what we do, cause all these issues.

  • Laura

    I am quite slim and had the back fat issue when I wore bras with a 32 band size. I went down to a 28 (and up two cup sizes) and I stopped having that issue. As for VPL….I wear hanky panky thongs, and sometimes I go commando.

  • Cara

    I’m a UK 8 (US 4 I believe), with the scrawniest shoulders ever seen, and somehow even I manage to get back fat from bras… so is this just all bras? :S

  • http://cupofchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea

    I’m in somewhat of an opposite boat, I don’t have a problem with subdivision so much as bras always sliding off in the wrong spots. There’s either a giant gap between the cup and me, or the straps get worn down fast and I’m constantly tugging to pull them up, or the band gets stretched and too loose. I love my body, and I love the sports I’ve picked up the past year and I’ve never felt better when I’m doing them, but when I get out of my comfy sports bra and into a “real bra”, I’m uncomfortable! If I go down a size smaller, it crushes me and rides up and its just frustrating!

  • Lalalina

    I am an employee at a well known lingerie store. Many of you have touched on the back fat issue. It is possible to eliminate the issue with a proper fitting and properly styled bra. The style of the bra plays a huge role in the fit. Full coverage, demi, push-up and racerback will all fit and cut your body differently. These styles with also vary across brands. You need to be aware that if you where one size in one brand, that may not be true for others. The material the bra is made of will also impact who the bra will cut your body. Do not give up on eliminating back fat, it can be done!

    I also agree with those of you that said visible bra and panty lines are the result of excessively tight clothes.

  • ReaderRita

    I never used to have “back fat” issues, but after I had a bra fitting about a year ago, and purchased the recommended bra- I had back fat! And I’m an A-B cup with an incredibly bony torso! So I believe that it’s the bras, not our bodies; and how tightly the “industry recommendations” want them to fit us.
    In a related problem, it’s certainly not like I NEED an underwire or an intense support system- not even remotely- but I find I end up with that type of bra because finding a soft cup bra in a size A or B that fits and/or looks decent has proved completely impossible. (I don’t want to look like my bra is too big/baggy; nor do I want to be all smooshed down, like I’m wearing a sports bra to work- I’m small enough as it is!) What are the bra manufacturers thinking? Hummm, I wonder how many bra designers are men, and how many are women? Hummmm….

  • Carbon Girl

    The back fat thing just got on my radar. Oftentimes its not even fat. I have been working out a lot lately and my back has gotten more muscular thus giving me “Back fat”. It is mostly a problem in sports bras.