Lingerie Terminology and Definitions - With Pictures

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Underwear, or innerwear, is any garment that lays directly against the body and that is always covered by an outer layer. The main focus is functionality. Underwear has precisely the function of protecting the outer layer of clothes from getting soiled by the wearers body. This allows clothes such as pants and dresses to be worn multiple times between washes. Historically, this stems from fancy, elaborate clothes being problematic to clean, which created a need for an inner layer that could be changed often. Often in opaque materials, with cotton being the most popular for its breathability characteristics. Garments sometimes have "underwear" in their name to emphasise their usage, e.g. "underwear romper".


Lingerie can be considered a subgroup of underwear, not intended to be worn in public. Although lingerie can be functional in a similar way as underwear, the focus lays more on presentation. Lingerie is primarily meant as romantic, intimate wear and includes many product types such as nighties, lace panties and more racy items such as bodystockings - basically, all items that are more "exciting" than plain underwear. Whereas underwear tends to be opaque, lingerie is often made in delicate and sheer materials such as satin, tulle, lace and fishnet. Garments sometimes have "lingerie" in their name to emphasis their usage, e.g. "lingerie waist cincher".

Bra components and sizes

Bras are probably the most iconic but also complicated lingerie garment we wear with details that require careful and accurate definitions.


Band is a component of a bra goes around the torso, parallell to the ground. It connects all the bra parts together and can be considered to be the "foundation" of a bra. Bra band is sometimes called circumference, however, this term should not be used as it refers to a measurement while band refers to bra component.


Cup is the part of a bra that holds, covers and/or encapsulates the bust to a varying degree. Bra cups come in many shapes and styles.

Bra size

Bra size is the cup size and band size written together, for example, 70D. There are different bra size conventions that label similar bra sizes in different ways, for clarify, the convention abbreviation is often written together with bra size. For example, EU 70H and UK 30F are European and British bra size conventions that refer to the same actual size of a bra.

Band size

Band size is the numerical part of a bra size, for example 70 (for EU) or 32 (for UK). Band size is a "label" or "name" of the band size. These designations differ between bra size conventions. A band size is NOT synonymous with a measurement. For example, EU 70, AU 10 and UK 32 all refer to the same circumference measurement.

Cup size

Cup size is the alphabetical part of a bra size, for example D-cup.


Underwires is attached to the bottom size of a bra cup to give them shape and stability. Underwires are optional. If a bra has underwire it's usually one per cup. Some bras, however, have a monowire one single underwire for both cups.

Shoulder strap

Shoulders straps are attached to the cup, go over the shoulders, and attach to the band on the back. They are often referred to only as "straps".


A closure is the mechanism for how the bra band connects around the torso. The most common closures are hook-and-eye on the back and front closure hook.

Bridge / Center gore

The part between the cups.


The upper part of cups.


The side of the band, below the armpit.

Side bone / boning

Plastic och metal "bone" sewn into the wing which prevent the wing to roll and instead helps the wing to lay flat on the skin.


Padding, or more specifically, cup padding refers to an additional layer in the cup, usually made of foam. The padding is a like a thick lining. The padding smoothes out the cup shape and, depending on the padding thickness, can enhance the fullness of the bust. Push-up is a padding type that is intentionally extra think to increase the appearance of the bust by one or two cup sizes. Cups can be unpadded or padded. Padding and insert/inlay are not the same thing.


Cups often have a lining on the inside made of cotton. This lining is the fabric that touches the skin and has the function to keep the skin dry and comfortable. Lining and padding is not the same thing. Lining is normally just a thin layer of fabric, while padding is intentionally thicker.

Insert / Inlay

Some cups have a pocket on the inside to accomodate an insert/inlay made from foam or silicone that is meant to enhance the size of the bust. An insert/inlay differs from cup padding in the sense that it is removable and almost always shaped similar to a chicken breast.

Garment with bra cups

Any underwear or lingerie garment that have distinctive bra cups. This attribute is mentioned only if the garment traditionally lacks distinctive bra cups. Compared to a garment with real bra cups, garments with bra cups (not that the word "real" is omitted) don't specify the size with traditional bra sizes but rather use general clothing sizes S, M, L etc.

Garment with real bra cups

Garment that have an integrated bra that offer bust support equivalent to a real bra. These garments almost always come in bra sizes (e.g. "EU 80D / UK 36D" instead of "Medium"). This terminology is used for items that normally don't offer real bust support. Lingerie with real bra cups is particularly popular among women with larger bust. For example, chemise with real bra cups.

Nursing or maternity + garment

Any garment that is especially adapted for breast feeding (or pregnant) women. For example, nursing bra and maternity pantyhose.

Easy open cups

Any garment with bra cups that are easy to open and reveal the bust without taking the garment off. They are normally found in underwear for nursing moms to help with breast feeding.

High waist + garment

Any garment that have a higher waist than the garment type in question traditionally is. For example, high waist panties.

Shapewear, shaping, control or slimming + garment

Any garment that are specifically created to changes the form of the body. For example, shapewear waist cincher and panty with tummy control.

Lightly shaping

Also called lightly slimming. Lightly shaping garments offer a very light shaping, slimming but mainly smoothing effect. It is quite common that a relatively "normal" garment has a lightly shaping effect as a secondary function, e.g. lightly shaping pantyhose.


Also called slimming. Shaping garments offer a moderate shaping, slimming and strong smoothing effect, e.g. high waist shaping panty. Shaping garments are a balance where the esthetical look of the garment is equally important to the shaping effect.


Shapewear garments offer a strong shaping, slimming and smoothing effect, e.g. shapewear waist cincher. They focus primarily on the shaping effect, meaning the esthetical style becomes of secondary importance.

Body part + control

Control refers to which body part is shaped or slimmed, e.g. panties with tummy control.

Faux + attribute

Also called imitation. The word faux is used for attributes, especially fabrics, that are made to resemble the original but without the intention to deceive. Some examples are faux fur and faux leather. Compared to the word "fake", "faux" does not imply any negativity. Faux fabrics usually have the intention to be a more environment or animal friendly alternative, especially when it comes to animal furs and leathers.

Mock + attribute

Some garments have patterns that are made to resemble an attribute but does not have its actual functionality. E.g. mock suspender pantyhose means that the pantyhose has a pattern that looks like suspenders but the suspenders are merely a print.

Garment with built-in / integrated + item

The terms built-in or integrated refers to garments consisting of multiple merged together items that are normally separate. E.g. pantyhose with integrated panties, dress with built-in bra and bustier with built-in garter belt straps.


Garments that are intentionally made to reveal parts of the body than what is normal for that garment type, e.g. revealing bra that don't cover nipples.


Garments that cover substantially less than what is normal for that garment type, e.g. minimal panties that offer minimal coverage in the front.


Garments that are particularly sexy (or even vulgar), e.g. sexy mini dress.


Garments made in fabric that are partially see-through, but not fully transparent, e.g. sheer dress.


Garments with one or several parts made more resilient to wear and tear, e.g. pantyhose with reinforced toes.


Garments suitable for both women and men, e.g. unisex socks.


Garments that are particularly shorter or less covering than normal for that type of item, e.g. mini dress or mini shorts.


Garments that are of medium length coverage for that type of item, e.g. midi briefs. The term is normally only used to emphasis that a garment is neither maxi nor mini.


Garments that are particularly longer or more covering than normal for that type of item, e.g. maxi dress or maxi briefs.


Although not actually a lingerie item, handcuffs are seen as a playful accessory for romantic occasions. Either made from rigid materials or made in fabrics, often lace.

Arm wraps

Arm wraps cover the forearms but not the hands like gloves. Thermal arm wraps are often used in sports. In fashion they are used as aesthetical accessory.


More specific, fake eyelashes or false eyelashes. Eyelashes are a make-up accessory that are temporarily glued on the wearers existing eyelashes or eyelids to create a longer and fuller appearance.

Sleep mask

Sleep masks cover the eyes to shield them from disturbing light but also to warm and soothe the eye area, leading to relaxation. Both these functions are meant to help sleeping, hence the name. Sleep masks are also used as playful lingerie accessory, in which case they are decorated with lace. Compared to face masks, sleep masks cover only the eyes while face masks cover primarily the month and nose area.


Also spelled baby doll. A badydoll is a short night shirt that usually end at the hips. It always has a characteristic slip opening in the front that starts from the bust. This slit is the specific attribute that separates it from a nightie. Badydolls are solely intended as a romantic item and are therefore usually made in sheer materials.


Also called body, which is just a commonly used abbreviation. A bodysuit is a form-fitting top with integrated panty part specifically without legs. It's always opaque and can therefore be used both as a (visible) top together with pants or skirt or as underwear under a sweater or shirt. Bodysuits come with and without sleeves. The cut is similar to a teddy, but teddies are lingerie items made in revealing fabrics and are not suitable to be worn in public. A simplified but important distinction is that a bodysuit is opaque while a teddy is sheer.

Maternity bodysuit

A bodysuit adapted for pregnant or nursing moms.


A bodystocking is stockings that extends to cover the torso. The distinctive characteristic is that it's made of fabrics normally used to make stockings or pantyhose, meaning it has at least some degree of sheerness. Common fabrics are sheer nylon, lace and fishnet. Bodystockings come with or without sleeves but almost always cover the entire legs and feet. It's meant solely as intimate wear for romantic occasions. As part of the aim to make it racy, bodystockings often have an open crotch.

Suspender bodystocking

Suspender bodystocking is a popular style of bodystockings where the upper and lower part are joint with suspenders or garter bands. Alternatively, the bodystocking has cut-outs in the crotch and on the hips to give the impression of suspenders. In both cases, both the upper and lower parts are permanently joint, making it one single item.


The word bra is an abbreviation of brassiere, originating from French. A bra is a tight-fitting underwear top intended to support the breasts. A typical bra consists of cups, that the breast rest in; band that goes around the torso; and shoulder straps. Bras come in a wide variety of styles and functions. They can be both plain and serve as everyday underwear, but also be designed primary as sexy lingerie with intricate fabrics and details. In the latter case, the supporting ability can become secondary to give way to esthetics. Bras are arguably the most complex of all everyday garments.


The name is derived from the French meaning "little balcony", which is why it is also known as "balcony bra". This bra type has horizontally cut cups, making the breast rest in the cups, as if on a "small balcony". Balconettes are considered to create a natural looking bust.

Band extender

Bra band extenders are functional accessories that allows for the enlargement of the bra band size (circumference).

Band shortener

Bra band shorteners are functional accessories that allows for the reduction of the bra band size (circumference).

Big cup bra

Any type of bra that is primarily made and adapted for big bust. Normally, big cup bras use stronger materials and have designs that allow for better stability and weight distribution than their small cup counterparts. If these adaptation for big bust are not made, the bras would lose its shape and become very uncomfortable. Note that big cup bras and big size bras are not necessarily synonymous as a bra can have big band size but small cups.

Bra band converter

Bra band converters are accessories that allow for different placement and wrapping around the torso than what the bra was originally designed for.

Bra for backless dresses

Bras for backless dresses have their band and/or shoulder strap adapted to minimize their visibility when wearing backless garments.

Bra pad

Bra pads are accessories that can be put on the inside of the bra cups with the goal to create a bigger looking bust. Often made of silicone for natural feel.

Bra strap clip

Bra strap clips are used to pull shoulder straps towards the center of the back, which is often needed if you wear a sleeveless top and you don't want the straps to be visible.

Bra strap cushions

Cushions are placed on the shoulders, under the shoulder straps to protect the shoulders from pressure and pain. The cushions achieve this by distribute the pressure making it less noticeable. Popular among women with large bust.

Bra straps

Also called bra shoulder straps. Straps that go from the back, over the shoulders and to the front of the bra. Most bras have straps that may or may not be removable and adjustable.


Bralettes are tops with limited coverage and support with a mostly open back. They are shaped like a triangle cup bra. While they arguably look like a bra, they offer marginal or no support for the breast and should probably not be considered real bras. Traditionally, they were used a "first" bra by girls that started to develop breasts. In recent years, bralettes have become a fashion item.

Cage bra

Used for its esthetics, cage bras consist fully or partially of crossing straps giving the appearance of a "cage".

Full cup bra

Bras that cover the breast fully, and not partially. The advantage is that the breasts are kept in place even when you move a lot or bend down. Popular among women with big bust.

Longline bra

Bras that are elongated below the cups but to so much so it would be considered a bustier (that usually elongated until the hips).

Maternity bra

Maternity bras are adapted for pregnant or breast-feeding moms. The adaptation usually concerns fluctuating breast size and may or may not have flap cups that make it easy to breastfeed without taking the bra off.

Minimizer bra

Minimizer bras make the breast less prominent. This is useful for women with large breast that want to wear garments that won’t fit their bust.

Multi-functional bra

Multi-functional bras are highly adaptable. They are intended to solve multiple issues and can be adjusted to the needs in question. Usually this means that they have very versatile shoulder straps and band.

Nipple cover / patch

Small patches, often self-adhesive to help make nipples less visible wearing tight clothing. They are usually used when not wearing a bra but can be useful when wearing thin, unpadded bras. Can be used as racy lingerie accessory, in which has they will be decorated.

Open cup bra

Open cup bras cups are fully open, meaning they don't cover the bust at all. Always with underwire. Open cup bras cups are normally only indented to be used as "playful" lingerie.

Plunge bra / U bra

Bras with very low bridge (the part between the cups) are specifically made to be used with deep neckline dresses and tops. The "U" refers to the characteristic U-shape between the cups.

Push-up bra

Also called only push-up, without "bra". Push-up bras intend to make the bust more prominent, have a more attractive shape and look bigger in general. The cups have pads that may or may not be removable. This push the breasts "up", hence the name. Usually the breasts are also slightly pushed together for an enhanced cleavage. Push-up bras are especially popular among women with smaller or medium sized bust. Arguably the most popular bra type.

Self-adhesive bra

Any type of bra that is self-adhesive. Usually this means that the bra has no shoulder straps or band going around the torso. The breast support ability is very limited and usually only usable for women with smaller bust.

Self-adhesive bra patch

Self-adhesive bras patches cover more than nipple covers but less than self-adhesive bras. Depending on type, they can have some lifting ability.

Shelf bra

Shelf bras have minimal cups that do not cover the nipples. However, they are not entirely "open cups". Shelf bras offer some support. Primarily suitable as "playful" lingerie. Always with underwire.

Soft bra

Soft bras have no padding in the cups and no cup underwire.

Soft cup bra

Soft cup bras have cup underwire but no padding in the cups. Usually the cup fabric is particularly thin and sheer.

Spacer bra

Spacer bras are made of special foam material called "spacer". The term "spacer" is used in internationally as a loan word.

Sports bra

Any bra that is specifically adapted to be used for sports or rigorous physical activity.

T-shirt bra

T-shirt bras have smooth cups which make the bra less prominent when wearing tight clothing.

Unpadded bra

Bra without padding in the cups.


Also spelled bustiere. Bustiers are tops with distinctive bra cups and bottom part that cover the midriff. They are always form-fitted. Traditionally only used as underwear or lingerie, they are now also used as outerwear tops. The type of cups, underwire and shoulder straps can differ meaning that the level of breast support differ. Any of these parts can also be absent. Depending on bustier type, they can be slightly shaping or soft and stretchy, and sometimes with garter straps. Bustiers can look very similar to corsets. Corsets squeeze and shape the torso, which bustiers don't. Bustier are form-fitting, but not shaping.

Soft bustier

A bustier with unpadded cups and without underwire. This aspect changes the amount of breast support the garment offers and can be crucial for some.


Chemises are lingerie tops with characteristic form-fitted, covering hips or partially covering buttocks. They are arguably a tighter and shorter version of a nightie. Chemises are not dress long. They tend to be sleeveless and with shoulder straps, like camisoles. Chemises are primarily intended as seductive lingerie.


Corsets are form-fitted tops used to hold or train the waist. They cover the torso including the bust. Corsets are used for esthetics, often with the goal to make the waist looks slimmer. To achieve this, they are made or stronger and stiff (non-elastic) fabrics, usually with lacing on the back that are used to tighten the corset into the desired shape. Depending on model, they will often have thin, flexible rods sewn in vertically. These rods, called corset boning, help to create a smoother silhouette. The difference between corsets and the similarly looking bustiers is that the latter does not hold and shape the waist, burstiers also lack corsetry boning. (Medical corsets exist and are used to support the torso, usually after trauma or surgery.)


Costumes are popular both for dress-up parties but also as themed lingerie for playful, intimate occasions. Costumes can consist of any outerwear and lingerie, e.g. bra and panty sets, babydolls etc. French maid, nurses and Alice in Wonderland are just some examples of popular themes.


Dresses are the most classical of women's outerwear. A dress cover both the upper and lower body without leg separation, to a varying degree depending on style.

Mini dress

Also spelled mini-dress and minidress. A dress with the hemline (the lower edge of a garment) reaching approximately to the middle of the thighs.

Midi dress

Also spelled midi-dress and mididress. A dress with the hemline reaching to the knees or just above.

Maxi dress / Long dress

Also spelled maxi-dress and maxidress. A dress with the hemline reaching to the feet or longer. Usually called long dress.

Bodycon dress

Bodycon dresses are tight-fitting and made of heavier and somewhat elastic fabric. This allows for the dress to hug your body and smooth out any lumps, including the tummy. Bodycon dresses are never loose. The name derives from "body conscious".

Skater dress

Skater dresses have a distinctive skirt part that start high above the waist with a snugger fit which then become looser as it elongates downwards. This allows the skirt to flow easily in the wind or even when walking. The hemline usually reaches just above the knees. The name derives from the lightly flowing figure skating dresses. It's also known as A-dress due to the shape of the skirt part that is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, like an (capital) "A".

Tank dress

Tank dresses has the characteristic look of a tank top that reach at least as far down as a mini dress.

Tube dress

Tube dresses are usually above-knee long and have a clean, horizontal cut on top that don't cover the shoulders or have thin or sheer shoulder straps, making the dress look like a "tube".

Wrap dress

Wrap dresses have characteristical layers overlapping each other as if having been wrapped around the body, similarly to a robe. They are not necessarily put on by actual wrapping, but rather styled and sewn as if they had been wrapped.


Garters are narrow bands that fit snugly over the thigh and over the top of stockings to prevent the stockings from sliding down. With the advent of modern materials, mainly nylon, garters are no longer needed but are still used as a stylish accessory, most commonly as bridal-wear and playful lingerie.

Garter belt

Also called [garter] suspender belt. Garter belts are worn around the waist with attached straps. These straps hang down and have clips on the bottom end that are attached on stockings or garters to prevent them from slipping down. The straps are either permanently attached or removable. Garter belts almost always include straps which is why the straps are not mentioned but are simply assumed, similarly to bras and bra straps.

Garter belt strap

Also called garter straps, suspender or stocking suspender. Straps that connect a garter belt with garter or stockings. Garter belt straps are almost always included with the garter belt. Some lingerie tops, e.g. bustiers and corsets, sometimes have removable garter belt straps.


Gloves are garments covering the wrist, hands and the lower arm; or only some of these. In lingerie, gloves are primarily decorative and made of lace or satin.

Finger loop gloves



Jumpsuits are one-piece garments that cover the torso, arms and separated legs, usually loose fitting or at least not skin-tight. The distinctive characteristic is that it must be one-piece. The name derives from suits used by parachuters (that make jumps). Jumpsuits are not to be confused with unitards (distinctively skin-tight with or without sleeves) or rompers (legless). Depending on style, jumpsuits exist as outerwear or lingerie. Compared to bodystockings, lingerie jumpsuits are footless.


Catsuits are shiny, skin-tight one-piece garments that cover the torso, arms and separated legs. They are normally made of elastic materials such as Spandex or less elastic materials such as PVC or leather. Catsuits are always characteristically shiny or "wet-look" to some degree, and traditionally black. The word is thought to derive from either the "slinkiness" of a cat due to its form-fitting, or as a reference to the garment worn by the movie character Catwoman.


Unitards are skin-tight one-piece garments that cover the torso and separated legs but without sleeves. The distinctive characteristic is that it has to be skin-tight.


Leggings are skin-tight leg garments that can be worn as outerwear on its own as (as a form-fitting alternative to pants), or in combination with skirt or shorts. They are not to be confused with sheer, footless pantyhose which would never be worn on its own as outerwear.

Stirrup leggings

Stirrup leggings are identical to leggings with the addition of stirrups (bands) that stretches over the side of the ankles and around the bottom of the foot. This helps the leg part of the leggings to stay in place.

Face mask / Mouth cover

Any mask that covers mouth and nose, with an unspecified special functionality (if any). Normally, however, it refers to non-medical breathing masks.

Men's briefs

Classical underpant briefs for men, without legs. With or without a fly. The name derives from "brief", meaning "short".

Men's boxer briefs

Boxer briefs for men are popular men's underwear with 1/4 legs or shorter and are characteristically form-fitting. Men's boxer briefs will normally have an anatomically shaped pouch in the front, which women's boxer briefs don't have. The name derives from the style of garment popular among boxers. Due to its fit, the fabric will always be at least somewhat elastic. The difference between boxer briefs and boxer shorts is the fit, the first is form-fitted while the latter is loose.

Men's boxer shorts

Boxers shorts for men are loose fitting men's underwear, normally with 1/4-1/3 leg length. The loose fit allows for non-elastic fabrics such as satin or silk; and, for the same reason, there is also no anatomical pouch (found in boxer briefs) as the loose fit makes it redundant. The name derives for shorts popular worm by boxers. The difference between boxer shorts and boxer briefs is the fit; the first is loose while the latter is form-fitting.

Men's midway briefs

Midway briefs are long boxer briefs that cover at least 1/2 of the thigh. They are sometimes referred to as bike short. However, bike shorts are outerwear sports garment while midway briefs are typically underwear. Midway briefs are mainly intended to prevent inner thigh chafing.

Men's tanga briefs

Called tanga briefs or just tanga. Men's tanga briefs have slimmer sides than regular men's briefs. Often, the sides consist only of a wide elastic band that go around the hips. As a result, tangas cover less than briefs. Compared to women's tangas, the men's version has a front pouch that is anatomically adapted for men.

Men's thong

Men's thong doesn’t cover the buttocks. The back side consists of a thin strip of fabric that goes between the buttocks. Usually, the front looks like tanga briefs, with slim elastic bands on the side. Compared to women's thongs, the men's version has a front that is adapted for male anatomy.

Men's tank top

Men's tank tops are sleeveless with cut-out shoulders, making the remaining part covering the shoulders look like shoulder straps. They are normally worn as underwear under shirts or as a very informal outerwear. Tank tops are usually form fitted and made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or modal.

Muscle shirt

Muscle shirts are form-fitting, sleeveless tops. This style of men's tops are particularly popular as gym-wear. Compared to tank tops, muscle shirts do not have cut-out shoulders.

Men's waist cincher

Men's waist cinchers are worn around the waist to give an instant slimming effect. Usually, they cover the torso from just under the chest and down to the hips. Waist cinchers are used for esthetical reasons when a slimmer silhouette is desired. Men's cinchers differ from women's mainly in size and with body shape adaptation. (Medical cinchers exist and have the purpose to support or compress after surgery or trauma.)

Men's pajamas

Men's pajamas are traditional sleepwear that usually consist of a sleep shirt or t-shirt and pants or shorts. The difference between women's and men's pajamas is that the latter tend to have a fly on the pants/shorts.

Men's training tights

Training tights are form-fitted, elastic and opaque legwear. They fit on the leg the same way as women's pantyhose or tights, hence the name. Training tights are not slim fit pants. Depending on style, they can also be used as thermal underpants worn under full length pants or shorts. The combination of training tights and shorts are particularly popular among runners in colder climates. Because if the snug fit, training tights are a great way to prevent chafing on the inner side of the legs.

Men's T-shirt

T-shirts are arguably the most common of men's upper body garment with short sleeves and no buttons. They can be used both as underwear and outerwear. As outerwear, various patterns and prints have made the T-shirt an icon fashion item. The name comes from "T-shaped shirt", which is an argument for the "T" always being written in uppercase.


Also spelled night dress and night-dress. Nightdresses is the lingerie equivalent of a outerwear dress. They are often made in satin or lace. Nightdresses are not see-through. A sheer, see-through night dress is called a negligee or long negligee, depending on length. They are not to be confused with evening dresses which are outerwear. Compared to nighties, nightdresses are knee-long or longer, or has an upper part that looks more like a dress top and less like thin shoulder strap camisole.

Night mini dress

Also called mini nightdress. Night mini dresses are the lingerie equivalent to outerwear mini dresses. They have revealing styles or sheer fabrics such as lace or net. Night mini dresses are intended as seductive lingerie. Compared to nighties or chemises, night mini dresses are intentionally made to resemble normal mini dresses with, for example but not limited to, halterneck, sleeves, V-neckline etc.


Nightgowns are ankle-long, or longer, nightdresses. They are normally opaque or semi-sheer and often elegantly designed. Nightgowns can have a train (the portion of the gown that trails on the ground behind the wearer), which is arguably an archetypical attribute of gowns in general. Nightgowns are often equated to nightdresses, even though the latter are not necessarily long. To mitigate potential confusion, a nightgown can be called long nightgown, to clarify the garment is particularly long.

Long negligee

Long negligees are characteristically sheer, loosely fitted nightdresses or nightgowns, often with multiple overlapping layers.


Nighties are medium long, loosely fitted nightdresses. A nightie is shorter than a nightgown but always cover the hips and buttocks entirely. Compared to a plain nightshirt, nighties are the lingerie equivalent, made of satin and lace.


Negligees are hip to knee-long, loosely fitted nightdresses, often with multiple overlapping and sheer layers. They can be considered equivalent to nighties with the specific difference that negligees are made in sheer fabrics. Due to this, a negligees can arguably be called "sheer nightie".


Pajamas are loosely fitted sleepwear that are characteristically not lingerie. Focusing on comfort over style, the most common fabrics are cotton, satin and various smooth and elastic materials. Pajamas can both refer to a set of sleepwear garments, normally top and bottom, or in conjunction with a particular garment, e.g. pajamas shirt.

Top and pants pajamas

The most common pajamas set is a top and pants. The top is normally a camisole, T-shirt or a shirt. The pants are either long or shorts.

Women's pants

Women's pants are outerwear, covering each leg separately. Pants specifically made for women will be adapted to the female anatomy, which often means comparably wider at the hips, slimmer at the calves and without extra room for in the groin (which men need). Called women's trousers in British English.

Bike shorts

Women's bike shorts are form-fitted outerwear shorts that are usually with at least 1/3 thigh length. They are sometimes worn under short dresses with the purpose to provide extra coverage in case of accidental exposure. The name is a reference to the look of the classical skin-tight Spandex shorts used in professional bicycling. Compared to slip shorts, bike shorts can be worn as outerwear while slip shorts are specifically underwear.


Jeans or jeans pants are pants specifically made from denim. Pants made of non-denim fabrics with denim-like pattern are not real jeans. Jeans is a unisex term.

Skinny pants

Also called skin-fit pants. Skinny pants have characteristically very form-fitted legs. To attain this effect, skinny pants are usually made in at least somewhat elastic fabric. Compared to leggings, skinny pants have all the customary attributes of pants; including thicker fabrics (than leggings), pockets, belt loops and fly. Although less common, they are used by men as well.

Bell bottom pants

Bell bottom pants have distinctive legs that widen at the bottom, giving them a bell-shaped appearance. This style of pants was particularly popular in the 1960s and 1970s among both men and women.

Men's pants

Men's pants are outerwear, covering each leg separately. Pants specifically made for women will be adapted to the male anatomy, which most notably means extra room in the groin area. Called men's trousers in British English.


Panties are the innermost of women's underwear covering the hips, groin and crotch, with separated legs. Panties is the most general of names for this type of garments. The term means exactly little pants, derived from pantaloons. Panties are also called undies that refers to underpants. Called knickers or pants in British English.

Boxer panties

Also called [women's] boxers. Any panties with short legs no more than 1/3 thigh length. Boxers panties can be loose or form-fitted. The name is a reference to shorts used in the sport of boxing.

Boxer briefs

More specific, women's boxer briefs. Boxer briefs are same as boxer panties but specifically form-fitted.

Boxer shorts

More specific, women's boxer shorts. Boxer shorts are same as boxer panties but specifically loose.

Boyshort panties

Also called [women's] boyshorts. Boyshort panties have neither legs nor cutouts with straight, horizontal lines which makes them look like form-fitted shorts without legs. The name is a reference to the style of underwear worn by younger boys.

Brazilian panties

Also called brazilian briefs or only brazilians. Brazilian panties look like "sassy" bikini panties but shows off more bum. Additionally, the waistband sit higher on the hips, higher leg cut and lower belly cut. All this creates a somewhat V-shaped front with a more revealed tummy. The term is a reference to a bikini panty style that originated in Brazil.


More specific, women's briefs. Briefs are "normal" panties with traditional cuts, resembling a triangle pointing down. They cover the front and buttocks moderately. Briefs are sometimes referred to as classic briefs to emphasis their archetypical look. The name derives from "brief", meaning "short" and is a reference to "short underpants" or "short pants". The words panties and briefs are not synonymous. Panties is a category of garments that cover hips and groin, while briefs are a style of panties (the same way thong is a style). A less common name for briefs is slip, which is a loan word used in French, Italian and other languages. Using the term in English causes confusion as slip in English also refers to underdress.

High cut panties

Also called high leg panties or high leg cut panties. High cut refers to the leg opening stretching high up, forcing the sides of the waistband high up on the hips or just above the hips. It does not refer to the panties having a high waistband that goes around the body.

Cheeky panties

Also called cheekies, cheekini or cheeksters. Cheeky panties have wide waistband like hipster panties but with more revealed bottom part of the buttocks. The name refers to the style revealing the buttock cheeks.

Crotchless panties

Also called open crotch panties. Crotchless panties have a crotch area that is uncovered or openable (like a fly), opposite to how normal panties are supposed to function. They are intended solely as daring, playful lingerie.


More precise, G-string panties. G-strings are panties with a string (not band or strip) that fit between the buttocks, leaving the back exposed. The waistband is a slim strip of fabric. Alternatively, the waistband can be a string that connects at the back with V-shaped patch just above the buttocks. Compared to a thong, a G-string have only a string between the buttocks while a thong uses a narrow strip of fabric. Compared to a T-string, a G-string can have either string or strip as waistband and a patch above the buttocks while a T-string uses solely strings everywhere except in the front.

High waist panties

Any panties that have a waistband that stretches upwards higher than is common for its related products. A high waist can be purely esthetical or have a slimming effect, which is why high waist panties are not automatically shapewear.

Hipster panties

Also called hipsters. Hipster panties have a waistband that is wider than classic briefs and sit only at the hips, not reaching the waist, hence the name. Compared to cheekies, hipster panties cover the buttock more.

Maternity panties

Any panties that are adapted for the growing belly of pregnant mothers.

Maxi briefs

Maxi-briefs offer extra (or "maximum") coverage of the waist and buttocks with the purpose of keeping everything "in place". They are not shapewear or slimming; they merely cover more than regular briefs.

Midi briefs

The term midi-briefs is used about briefs to emphasize that the panties in question offer average (or "medium") coverage.

Padded panties

Any panty that have some kind of padding. The most common padding is made at the back to give the impression of larger and more well-former buttocks, which makes it the buttocks equivalent of a push-up bra.


Also called tanga panties. Tangas are a cross between briefs and thongs. They are not as revealing as thongs, but not as covering as classic briefs.


Thongs are panties with a strip of fabric (not string) that fit between the buttocks, leaving the backside largely exposed. The waistband is a slim strip of fabric that connects at the back with V-shaped patch just above the buttocks. Compared to a G-string, a thong uses a narrow strip of fabric while a G-string has only a string between the buttocks. Compared to a T-string, a thong has only strips of fabric as waistband and between the buttocks while T-string has, strictly, only strings. Thongs are arguably the most iconic of modern underwear.


Also called T-string panties. T-strings consist only of strings (not strips of fabric) as waistband and between the buttock, and a covering patch in the front. No other patches or strips of fabrics are used. Compared to G-strings, T-strings do not have a patch above the buttocks, giving it a characteristical T-shape.


Also called V-string panties. V-strings have a waistband made of a string, not a band. The covering patches in the front and back and characteristically V-shaped. The name refers to both of the mentioned attributes. The string-waistband is more delicate than classic briefs which makes V-strings suitable as lingerie but less suitable as everyday underwear.


Also called legwear. Hosiery is a group name for all innerwear garments covering legs and feet or part of these. These include pantyhose, stockings, stay-ups, garters and garter belts, socks. Hosiery refer to the innermost layer of garments, it does not include pants or skirts.


Also called sheer tights or sheers. Pantyhose are form-fitting innerwear garments covering specifically the hips, legs and feet. Hosiery not covering all these body parts have their own distinctive names. The fabric is characteristically very thin and sheer or in fishnet. The sheerness varies from appearing almost completely transparent to being nearly, but not fully, opaque. Due to the sheerness, pantyhose are always worn with other garments on top, such as pants, shorts or skirts; or as lingerie, often with patterns and decorations. Compared to tights, pantyhose are sheer to some degree, while tights are opaque.

Mock suspender pantyhose

Also called mock garter belt pantyhose. Mock suspender pantyhose covers the hips, legs and feet just like normal pantyhose but have a print that simulate the appearance of stockings and a garter belt with suspenders. The name refers to the suspenders not being real, but rather a mock-up. The purpose is to achieve the esthetics of stockings and garter belt without actually having to wear these items as a set, which can be cumbersome and more expensive. Mock suspender pantyhose and suspender pantyhose are not the same type of garment. Suspender pantyhose have cutouts around the hips, while mock suspender pantyhose merely simulate these cutouts.

Footless pantyhose

Footless pantyhose are sheer to some degree and do not cover the feet. Compared to leggings, footless pantyhose are sheer and worn with other garments on top while leggings are opaque and can be worn as a form-fitted substitute to pants. These differences and similarities make it arguably acceptable to use the term sheer leggings as an alternative name to footless pantyhose.

Suspender pantyhose

Also called garter belt pantyhose. Suspender pantyhose have cutouts on the side of the hips, in the groin and at the back. This makes them look like a set of stockings, garter belt and suspenders while still being one single garment.


Tights are specifically opaque legwear that cover hips, legs and feet. They are usually plain in one color and focus more on functionality, meaning they are more an underwear garment than lingerie. Compared to pantyhose, tights are opaque and thicker making them popular in colder climates as innerwear. Compared to leggings, tights cover the feet.

Semi opaque tights

Also called semi opaque pantyhose. The thickness of tights (and pantyhose) is not always clearly sheer or opaque. Using the term semi opaque tights (or pantyhose) helps to clarify that the thickness is somewhere between sheer and opaque.

Thick tights

Thick tights have of heavier fabrics, often thick cotton with patterns. They are mainly used in cold climates. Thick tights are not necessarily thermal tights, as thickness does not guarantee heat isolation.


Petticoats are a specific type of underskirt that is has the purpose to add volume to a dress or skirt. They are not technically underwear as they are also meant to peek out from under the hemline, and because of this they are almost always rich in lace.


Bathrobes are unisex garments made in fabrics similar or identical to towels, often terrycloth. Bathrobes have the specific function to cover and absorb water from the wearers skin. Traditionally, they have a sash (belt) with optional hood and pockets.


Kimonos are traditional Japanese robes, often made i satin-like fabrics. They have characteristical square sleeves. Although being traditional outerwear in Japan, in other countries, kimonos are used more as elegant lounge or lingerie robes.

Robe (lounge, not bath)

More precise, lounge robe. Robes are night dresses that can be opened in the front, with matching sash. They are mainly intended as glamorous lingerie nightwear. The word lounge is often added to avoid the garment being mistaken for a bath robe. Compared to bathrobes, lounge robes are mean to cover, but not to absorb water.

Dressing gown

Also called long [lounge] robe, housecoat or morning gown. Dressing gowns are long robes intended to be used at home as alternative to normal clothes. Compared to bath robes, dressing gowns are thinner, usually more elegant and do not absorb water. Lounge robes and dressing gowns are similar types of garments, but the latter is usually ankle-long or longer.


Rompers are one-piece garments combining top and shorts specifically without legs, used as outerwear. The sleeves can be long or short. Rompers are usually loose-fitting and can have short or long sleeves. Compared to a jumpsuit, rompers don't have legs, while a jumpsuit always has legs.

Underwear / Lingerie romper

Underwear or lingerie rompers are one-piece garments combining top and shorts specifically without legs, used as innerwear or lingerie. As innerwear, they are usually opaque and form-fitted. As lingerie they are usually made of sheer fabrics or lace.

Thigh bands

Also called anti-chafing thigh bands. Thigh bands are protective wraps for the thighs used to avoid inner thigh chafing.


More specific, women's shorts. Shorts are short outerwear pants.

Mini shorts

More specific, women's mini shorts. Mini shorts are short outerwear pants with very short or non-existent legs.

Slip shorts

Slip shorts are form-fitted underwear shorts that are usually worn on top of other panties but under outerwear with at least 1/3 thigh length. They are often made to offer a shaping effect or are worn under short dresses with the purpose to provide extra coverage in case of accidental exposure.


Skirts are women's outerwear covering the hips and legs to a varying degree. Compared to pants, skirts do not have separated legs. Compared to a dress, skirts do not cover the upper body.

Long skirt

Any skirt that is longer than knee-long.

Maxi skirt

Any skirt that is ankle long or longer.

Midi skirt

Any skirts that is approximately 2/3 thigh long to 1/2 calf-long.

Mini skirt

Any skirt that is approximately 1/2 thigh long or shorter.

Wrap skirt

Wrap skirts have a characteristically look of layers overlapping each other as if having been wrapped around the hips, similarly to a towel. They are not necessarily put on by actual wrapping, but rather styled and sewn as if they had been wrapped.

Pencil skirt

Pencil skirts are characteristically slim-fitted without a narrowing, rather than widening, at the bottom, making them look narrow and elongated, like the tip of a pencil. They often have a slit to enable leg movement and prevent tearing the fabric. Compared to a tube skirt, pencil skirts get narrower at the bottom while tube skirts are equally wide from top to bottom.

Pleated skirt

Pleated skirts have overlapping gathered layers of fabric (pleats). The pleats are sewn together at the top of the skirt, making it form-fitted at the waist. At the hemline, the pleats are not sewn together making the skirt airy and voluminous, giving the skirt a characteristical free-flowing behavior.


Underskirts are innerwear skirts, usually form-fitted. Compared to petticoats, underskirts are not meant to be visible at all and are therefore almost always plain looking.

Skater skirt

Skater skirts start high above the waist with a snugger fit which then become looser as it elongates downwards. The hemline usually ends just above the knees. The name derives from the lightly flowing figure skating skirts. It's also known as A-skirt due to the narrow fit at the top and wide at the bottom, like an (capital) "A". Compared to a skater dress, skater skirts consist of a skirt part only.

Tube skirt

Tube skirts are equally wide from top to bottom, making the proportions look like a piece of a a tube.

Tutu skirt

Also called only tutu. Tutu skirts are short and voluminous skirt traditionally worn by ballet dancers. Compared to petticoats, tutus are worn on the outside.

Slip (underdress)

More precise, full slip. Also called underdress. A slip is a sleeveless dress worn as an inner layer under a robe or an outerwear dress. They are usually at least somewhat form-fitted but not necessarily snug. The word "slip" has several meanings and it is therefore recommended to use the term "full slip", to avoid misunderstanding.

Ankle socks

Also called anklets. Ankle socks are short socks reach up to the foot ankles. The name does not signify fabric type or particular decorations, it only refers to the length of the socks.

Comfort socks

Comfort socks have at least one but often several attributes that make them particularly more comfortable than average socks. Examples of such attributes are, but not limited to; flat seams, extra gentle cuffs, extra soft fabric, extra breathable fabric (that prevents sweating) etc. Compared to health socks, comfort socks do not necessarily have anti-microbial properties.

Knee socks

Also called knee highs. Knee socks reach just under the knees, but do not cover the knees. The name refers only to the length, allowing for any type of fabric. Most knee socks are made for women, when referring to men's version, the term men's knee socks is recommended.

Leg warmers

Leg warmers are long socks without a foot part, covering the calves from the ankles up to under the knee or just above. Originally, leg warmers were used dancers to between dance sessions to keep the legs warm and thus preventing cramping. Today, leg warmers are used either as thermal outerwear or as a fashion accessory.

Leg wraps

Also spelled legwraps. Alternatively know as leg bindings and puttee. Leg wraps are long and narrow straps wound tightly around the leg to provide support and protection, or as a fashion accessory.

Men's socks

Men's socks are garments covering the feet, ankles and at least some part of the calves, depending on the style. Men's socks are almost exclusively made in opaque fabrics. The styles are often more conservative than women's socks, often just a subtle pattern on the cuffs. Although, in later years, colorful men's socks have become popular. Many styles, especially plain in smaller sizes, are often considered to be unisex.

Women's socks

Women's socks are garments covering the feet, ankles and at least some part of the calves, depending on the style. Compared to men's socks, women's socks include sheer fabrics and a wider variety of decorations.

Unisex socks

Socks without styles, patterns and attributes that are seen as specifically male or female only can be considered to be unisex if they are available in both women's and men's sizes (EU size 36 and up). These socks tend to be intentionally one colored without any patterns or decorative details whatsoever.

Over-knee socks

Over-knee socks reach just above the knees. The name refers only to the length, allowing for any type of fabric being used.

Slouch socks

Slouch socks longer socks that can be intentionally pushed down to create folds, giving the appearance that the socks are falling down and slouching. The material used is often thicker and heavier allowing the folds to get bigger.


Also called hold-ups and stay-up stockings. Stay-ups are form-fitting, over-knee or longer socks made of thin, highly elastic material. The styles differ but they are almost always made of a synthetic material and sheer to some degree. Stay-ups are almost identical to stockings but differ in one respect, they don't need garters or suspenders, they are able to "stay up" or "hold up" on by themselves without sliding or rolling down. They have strips of silicone on the inside of the top, alternatively effective elastics.

Knee high stay-ups

Knee high stay-ups are a less common type of stay-ups that extends to just below the knees, instead of above the knees like traditional stay-ups. Just like normal stay-ups, knee-high stay-ups have strips of silicone on the inside of the top, alternatively effective elastics that helps them to stay in place.

Stirrups stay-ups

Stirrup stay-ups have stirrups (bands) instead of covering the entire foot. The stirrups stretch over the side of the ankles and around the bottom of the foot.

Thigh high stay-ups

Thigh high stay-ups are extra long stay-ups that cover at least 1/2 of the thighs.


Also called nylon socks. Stockings are form-fitting, over-knee or longer socks made of thin, highly elastic material. Almost all stockings are made of synthetics which is why they are also called "nylon socks". The styles differ but they are almost always sheer to some degree with an accentuated top. Stockings are used as lingerie or as fashion outerwear in combinations with a mini dress or mini skirt. In both use cases, they are meant to be visible. Depending on style, stockings might need garters or suspenders to hold them up and are therefore often shown together with a garter belt and suspenders.

Thigh high stockings

Also called thigh highs, omitting stockings. Thigh high stockings are extra long stockings that cover at least 1/2 of the thighs.

Ribbed stockings

Also called rib-knit stockings. Ribbed stockings are made in rib-knitted materials, which gives them a particular look. The material is considerably thicker and warmer. Ribbed stockings are used as outerwear.


Also called bikini set. Bikinis are two-piece swimwear consisting of a bra-like top, often with halterneck, and a panties shaped bottom part. These parts are often sold separately. Bikinis differ from a normal bra and panty by using durable materials that do not become translucent when wet.

Bikini top

Also called bikini bra. Bikini tops are bra-like tops with style and fabrics adapted to function as swimwear. Since the women's bust differ, a bikini top is often sold separately. This is especially common for large cup sizes.

Bandeau bikini top

Also called bandeau bikini bras. Bandeau swimwear tops look like wrapped around the torso, without shoulder straps. The name is originates from the French word "bande", meaning "strip".

Tankini top

Also called tank bikini top. Tankini tops are swimwear tops shaped like a tank top or camisole, with built-in bra cups. Tankinis are great alternatives to the much less covering bikini tops. Just like with bikini tops, tankinis are made of fabrics that do not become translucent when wet.

Bikini panties

Also called bikini bottom. Bikini panties are swimwear bottoms shaped like underwear panties but are made from fabric that will keep their shape when wet and will not become translucent.

One-piece swimsuit

Also called just swimsuit. One-piece swimsuits are swimwear combining top and panties as one single garment, similar to an underwear bodysuit.


Also called teddy suit. A teddy is a form-fitting lingerie top with integrated panty part, without legs. Sleeves are optional. Teddies are mainly intended as romantic lingerie and are therefore made in sheer fabrics or lace. Compared to a bodysuit, a teddy is a revealing lingerie item not suitable to be worn in public as outerwear. A simplified but important distinction is that a bodysuit is opaque underwear while a teddy is sheer lingerie.


More specific, clothing top, fashion top or apparel top. Top is an ambiguous and general term for upper body wear that cover at least the chest. The term tends to be used for items that are not archetypical upper body garments, such as shirts, sweaters or T-shirts. The ambiguity makes "top" a useful fallback term, similar to how "pants" can be used for most types of leg covering garments (e.g. shorts, khakis, jeans etc).

Bandeau top

Bandeau tops are minimal tops that look like being wrapped around the chest, without shoulder straps.


Camisoles are completely sleeveless tops, usually with very slim strip or string as shoulder straps, extending to the waist or hips. The collar bone and neckline are left fairly exposed. Camisoles are traditionally used as underwear or as a very informal top. Compared to tank tops, camisoles have more open shoulders and collar bone.

Crop top

Crop tops are cut or "cropped" at the bottom, exposing the waist.

Cropped jacket

Cropped jackets are cut or "cropped" at the bottom, exposing the waist. The cropping is done purely for aesthetical reasons.

Peplum top

Peplum tops have a gathered fabric around the waist giving it a "skirt-like" effect.

Polo top

Also called polo shirt, especially in reference to men's polo tops. Polo tops are characteristically short sleeved, with buttoned neckline and collar.

Tank top

Also called singlet. Tank tops are sleeveless tops used as underwear or an informal top. Compared to camisoles, tank tops have more fabric covering the shoulders and collar bone, while camisoles have only thin straps or strings across the shoulders.


Tunics are very loose-fitting tops with characteristically loose sleeves. The sleeves are sometimes merged with the torso, making them more of opening on the sides rather than actual sleeves. The length is usually between the hips and knees.

Waist cincher

Waist cinchers are compressing, belt-like wraps that cover the waist from just under the chest to the hips. Depending on style, they look either like a stylish corset without cups, or a wide belt. The corset-like styles are meant to be seen and can even be worn on top of a other garments, e.g. a shirt.

Shapewear waist cincher

Waist cinchers that are specifically shapewear are plain looking and always worn as innerwear. Their primary function is to compress the waist area to create a more appealing looking shape. Waist cinchers are popular among both women and men. They are some

Waist cincher with panties

Waist cincher with panties have integrated panties that offers additional coverage and shaping, and that helps the garment to stay in place. Compared to panties with high waist, waist cincher with panties covers the torso much more and offers much stronger shaping effect.


Wigs are headwear made from real or synthetic strands of hair, used to either cover baldness or as fashion accessory.

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