Of the macro trends that have dominated the 2020s so far, a few stand out from the rest. There’s maximalism–embodied by the likes of Dopamine Dressing and the divisive wardrobe of everyone’s favorite lovable loser, Portia in The White Lotus. And Y2K, of course, has had a chokehold on all things aesthetics for the past three years, with everything from hot pink halters, low-rise jeans, and digital cameras popping up at Fashion Weeks and For You pages. There’s also a third, less visible trend that’s coursed through this decade’s fashionscape, evolving alongside micro trends and changes in taste as we enter the mid-20s: Underwear as Outerwear.
First, the whale tails emerged. Somewhere around 2019, cool girls ahead of their time started channeling their inner Manny Santos, wearing their jeans with a thong peaking out above their waistbands. Next, designers started incorporating them into red carpet creations, mimicking the shape of a visible thong with cutouts and backless silhouettes appearing on their floor-length gowns. Hailey Bieber, Saweetie, and Keke Palmer have all worn some iteration of the style to the Met Gala, and Dua Lipa has opted for a casual visible thong moment more times than we can count.
Next, a sheer wave hit the fashion industry. Designers like Acne Studios, Alaïa, and Bottega Veneta debuted sheer gowns, slips, and skirts in 2022, and celebrities quickly caught on. Among the many (many) fashion faves who have gotten in on the “naked dress” are Salma Hayek, Megan Fox, Jenna Ortega, and Lori Harvey. And while visible underwear isn’t a necessity of sheer dressing, it’s definitely part of the fun. Whether you opt for a cotton thong under your sheer dress (a la Dua Lipa) or a cute pair of boy shorts like Olivia Rodrigo at this year’s Grammys, the trend is pretty versatile. And, if the FW23 collections of Rodarte and Sandy Liang are any indication, transparent lace, and see-through silhouettes aren’t going anywhere soon.
Equally trendy among celebs this year is going “pant-less” in public, a surprisingly easy-to-copy style that involves wearing tights... and nothing else. Kendall Jenner quickly went viral when she donned a pair of opaque black pantyhose with cool, pointy-toed pumps and a baggy black sweater. It’s a daring look, sure, but as Bella Hadid can attest, attention-grabbing, too. Those photos (you’ve definitely seen them) of Hadid wearing tighty whiteys with Uggs and a Moto jacket in September are still circulating in group chats and explore pages everywhere.
With all the ways of wearing underwear as fashion seemingly exhausted, it’s hard to see where we could go from here. But, as always, Miu Miu had the answer. It feels like the brainchild of Miuccia Prada is responsible for most, if not all, of this year’s biggest trends (ballet flats, micro-minis, and leg warmers come to mind), so when the brand showcased silk “granny panties” with visible waistbands styled under skirts, shorts, and pants in their Fall/Winter 2023 collection, it was clear we’d be seeing them on influencers and street style stars alike in the coming months.
Plus, it’s pretty easy to style. All you need are a cute pair of underwear (go for cotton, silk, or pointelle) and the bottoms you already own (we love a tennis skirt for girly vibes or baggy jeans for some contrast) to try it out. And while it may seem intimidating to show off your underwear outdoors, It Girls like Rosalia, Yoona Lim, and Sydney Sweeney have proven it can be styled down for a more demure look with sweaters and layering. Plus, if that’s not your vibe, the sheer dress trend is still going strong. Throw a slinky, see-through number over your granny panties like Zendaya and Pamela Anderson for a more glam take on the trend.
More than anything else, this trend is about playfulness and fun, so consider incorporating the humble granny panty the next time you get dressed. You (probably) won’t regret it.