How to choose undergarments for maxi dresses: A complete guide

undergarments for maxi dress

Whether to avoid infections, leakage, zipper accidents or add confidence and support, undergarments are a functional layer of clothing for every garment we wear, especially a maxi dress. The main reason why you should choose the right underwear for maxi dresses is to make sure that your dress fits you perfectly and you don’t feel uncomfortable throughout the day.

Choosing the wrong undergarments means you could end up with protruding arm fat, bulging areas, four cheek panty lines, and/or peeking under layers. This is the last thing you want so make sure you do proper layering of lingerie depending on your maxi types.

For example, if you have a dress that’s strapless or has spaghetti straps, choose a strapless bra that also offers proper support. Similarly, for a high-slit dress, wear high-waisted shorts or pantyhose if you wish to avoid thongs.

Just like a good pair of jeans, a good pair of undergarments make all the difference. So, here’s a complete guide for the correct pairing of maxi dresses with undergarments, their alternatives, and shapewear. Leverage it and save it because there’s a bonus at the end regarding solutions for common undergarment issues.

How to layer a maxi dresses

Proper layering is vital when styling a maxi dress. If done right it can add versatility to your outfit, accentuate your curves in all the right areas, and protect you from odd situations like the wicking, wardrobe malfunction, and harsh weather.

Now, the layers you add to your outfit depend on multiple factors: weather, occasion, comfort, dress type, and whether it’s a base layer, mid layer, or top layer of the outfit.

When we speak of different layers, first and foremost is the base layer or your undergarments.

The mid layer includes anything from under tees, tops, and leggings, to slips, camisoles, and shorts. This layer could also be termed as undergarments for maxi dresses because they provide additional support to the base layer.

Top layers are often your jackets, waistcoats, shrugs, longline tops, wrap skirts, etc. And of course, in between your base layer/mid layer and the top layer comes the main outfit.

Since we are here to guide you on a wide range of undergarments to wear under a maxi dress, here’s a breakdown of the most common yet functional undergarments to have in your wardrobe for layering.

Types of undergarments

Undergarments are useful as they add to your confidence and they are your first layer of protection. So they should be comfortable – not too loose or too tight. If a piece of undergarment is too heavy, it will be visible on your face and spoil your mood. Especially for maxi dresses, you should wear undergarments that are light, comfy, and supportive because the whole point of choosing a maxi for the event was a hassle-free outfit. So let’s talk about the different types of underclothes to give a perfect lift to your long dresses.

Based on your need and comfort, you can select from a gamut of undergarments as mentioned below:
Bra – Long dresses are very popular these days. If you are going to wear one, wear the right bra for support. For your breast to look perky and non-droopy, the bra must provide support but shouldn’t be too tight.
Panty – The right design, fit, fabric, and size of underpants play a vital role in the seamless layering of maxi dresses. Below I have mentioned what panties type is best for your dress type and fabric so issues like skin-clinging, VPL, and sliding seem like things of the past.
Slip & camisole – Slip and camisoles are mostly used for layering semi-sheer and sheer maxi dresses. Besides, some women also wear to ditch rashes and discomfort caused by dress material.
Shapewear – As the name suggests, shapewear is your best friend that accentuates your figure without discomfort because it is smooth and seamless in design.
Slip skirt – Slip is like a half slip and you can wear it like a petticoat or shapewear.
Shorts – A pair of shorts makes you feel more comfortable under your flared and high low maxis. Besides, it makes you feel less exposed. But shorts are more functional than just that; they prevent thigh friction, sculpt the lower body, and tuck excess fat.
Bodysuit – From sporty to chic, there’s a bodysuit for every maxi dress. It is a flattering layering option that supports your curves while providing a base frame for your dresses.
Pantyhose – When you wear a maxi dress, you are drawing attention to your legs. This means that you need a pair of good-looking, neat stockings. You need something cute, comfortable, and will fit whatever your shoes will be.
Corset – Corsets are all the rage now, needs no introduction. Wearing a lightweight corset for tight dresses prevents belly pooch from sabotaging the look

Upper undergarments based on the neckline of maxi dresses

It is not surprising to know that your stunning maxi dresses haven’t seen the day of the light because of inappropriate undergarments. It could be the bulging areas, uncomfortable bra shape, poor support, or sneaking straps that prevented you from fashioning the most gorgeous necklines. Fret not, and take note of these upper body undergarment recommendations for different necklines to style any maxi dress with confidence:

Sphagetti or strapless dress

It’s time to take out those strapless or spaghetti strap dresses you have always loved but avoided. To confidently yet comfortably fashion your favorite strapless or slip dresses, try underwired strapless bras, and bras with invisible or detachable straps.
However, there are some decorative, fancy strap options too if you like to show off the straps. On the other hand, if you need extra support or have a large bust, a bodysuit or a bustier is just what you are looking for. Bodysuits are apt for situations like sliding bra bands and provide a smooth shape to accentuate your natural curves.

Halterneck dresses

A halterneck dress is held at the back of the neck or waist while elegantly revealing your shoulders and upper back. Obviously, ordinary bras won’t do here. To look like your fashion sense is commendable when it comes to undergarment pairing, pick a multiway bra. Such bras are convertible, come with detachable sleeves, and can be styled multiple ways – criss-cross, halterneck, one shoulder, strapless.

Besides, a halter bra is also comfortable. It’s okay if you don’t like experimenting a lot with lingerie. Simply use bra strap clips to tuck straps together at the back.

There’s also a backless option: Wing bra is a balconette style bra, but strapless and completely open at the back. It has soft seamless adhesive cups and wings that provide additional support with a slight push-up.

Low back and low cut dresses

One of the most asked questions when it comes to backless dresses is what should I wear under my open back/low back/backless dress. You shouldn’t let go of that gorgeous open-back outfit just because you didn’t find the perfect bra.

Low-back bras are your best bet, especially if you are curvy. As they provide both support and coverage, pulling the bra band lower won’t be an issue. Try plunging or low-back bodysuits if support is your prime concern.

Nevertheless, bra extender hooks also let you define a low-back look without letting go of your regular bra’s comfort.

Also, plunging bras with convertible straps are a good option if you have multiple backless/low-back outfits in different shapes and sizes.

Wrap dress and V neck dresses

Wrap dresses are usually bohemian style lightweight maxis with a flowy silhouette. Depending on your body shape and dress fabric, it could be revealing around the cleavage as a wrap dress forms a V. So, you’ll need to layer it with a bra that has a thin band and plunging neckline.

Collared dresses

Collared maxi dresses with pockets are undoubtedly the most hassle-free outfits for any formal event. From camisoles and slips to bralettes and t-shirt bras, the neckline perfectly aligns with almost all underlayers.

However, whether your undergarments would be covert, depends on the color, print and fabric of the dress. So, I recommend seamless bralette and camisoles that go with your skin shade.

Toga and off shoulder dresses

A Greek-style toga dress resembles an off-shoulder dress and brings out the Aphrodite in you. Well, Greek style lover or not, you’ll agree off shoulder/one-shoulder maxi dresses have their charm. And you don’t want to sabotage the chic look with the wrong undergarments.

Without a second thought, go for a multiway or convertible bra. For large-breasted women, bustiers are a great companion for off-shoulder dresses.

If you are looking for a more lightweight, strapless option, slide a bandeau with light padding. But watch out for band size – opt for a large band or it will slide.

Lower undergarments based on the fit of maxi dresses

What you wear under your maxi dress depends on the fit and silhouette of your dress. For body-hugging dresses, you can have shape-enhancing, seamless undies. While for flared ones, slips, underskirts, and shorts can save you from sweat, dress malfunction due to wind, and rubbing thighs. In the case of slit dresses, however, pantyhose is necessary. So, let’s explore the best lower undergarment options for different fits.

A line and flared maxi dresses

While A-line dresses don’t show visible panty lines or bulges as other maxi outlines, undergarments here still need some consideration. A very good reason is the fabric of the dress; the poor fabric could reveal brief lines and sweat if your undergarments are not sweat resistant.
Flared dresses often highlight bulges from tummy areas due to strong winds, making them look shabbier than a bodycon dress. Be careful of your body requirements when choosing undies for flare dresses because they could bunch in all the wrong places.
Or you could end up feeling warm due to extra flare.
Pick a boy shorts/leggings to prevent rashes and chafing, breathable thongs/midi slips if you feel warm underneath due to restricting briefs, or full body shapewear for a defining figure.

Bodycon, fish cut and ribbed maxi dresses

To state the obvious, thongs reduce the embarrassment that comes with visible panty lines. Look for an immaculate size and fit because tight thongs too reveal exactly what you are trying to avoid.
I, personally, love seamless panties and Spanx shorts as they are more comfortable. When shopping for seamless shorts under a fitted dress, ensure that the fabric is lightweight and breathable. Also, it should not slide down because that’s often an issue when pairing shorts with body-hugging silhouettes.
Conversely, if rubbing thighs is not an issue, give slip skirts a try, they sit well with ribbed maxi dresses.
Panty requirement for fish cut maxis might look similar but you can level up the game with buttock enhancers or padded knickers. Such undergarments hit a home run for fish-cut silhouettes with a smooth, defining curve. But check for a firm yet non-restricting waistband.

Maxi dress with pockets

Regardless of your profession and style preferences, a maxi dress with pockets is a must-have. When I say profession, I mean pockets come in handy with a comfortable, loose maxi whether you are in the office, kitchen, or traveling for work. But you still need appropriate briefs for a loose-fit dress with pockets. If there are bulkier things in pockets, go for lightweight slips that run beneath the dress smoothly to prevent pocket contents from irritating the skin. Maxi dress with pockets also adds a little volume around the hips if you are looking for a curvy look around that area. However, if you are curvier or someone with uneven bulges, these are great options: a tummy tucking, high waist panty, thigh slimming shorts, and hipster briefs.

Asymmetric and slit dresses

Asymmetric and slit maxi dresses have one primary goal – to show off sexy legs. The best way to carry a slit maxi like a pro is by pairing it with undergarments that won’t peak from cuts and slits. High-waisted panties, shorts, and bodysuits are the most functional undies for high slits and irregular hemlines. For extra warmth, try pantyhose under a slit dress. But if your slit is cut to the waist or has cutouts around the waistline, go for thongs with embellished straps.

Undergarment combinations for different fabrics of maxi dresses

There are always exceptions to an outfit’s styling and design based on its fabric. A fabric influence of a maxi dress influences the undergarments as well. Visualize celebs on the red carpet. How perfectly their underlayers align with their dresses. A lot goes into matching a sheer or lace dress with lingerie that amplifies the look. Since we don’t have designers like those celebrities, we can still create jaw-dropping looks with see-through maxis. Pick lingeries that complement such fabrics.

White dresses

Undergarments for maxi dresses in white need special attention. You are ready to ditch heat pangs with a gorgeous, lightweight, white maxi, but how to avoid the hassles to find no-show undies? These tips got you covered! When choosing underwear for white dresses, color is of utmost importance. Pick a shade that matches your skin tone. White and black would show unless you deliberately decide to show off your sexy, black, lace lingerie. Seamless lingerie is a good match for white clothes. Ensure that you pick the right size and nude colors. Wear shorts or a thong that matches your skin tone so there are no visible panty lines. If you are going for contrasting undergarments, pick a bra and panty set in pink or light grey shade. Red color also blends well for a tan or darker complexion as it shows less than neutrals.

See through/ sheer/ lace dress

For those ravishing see-through, lace dresses, it’s best to wear Beyonce-style shapewear bodysuits. There are sculpting shapewear for dresses when you want to show off your booty but not the skin. High-waisted briefs with strapless bras of the same shade also create a stunning effect under sheer dresses. It’s up to you what shade complements your see-through dress best. Thongs with embellished straps under open back and mesh dresses are also grabbing much attention, thanks to Bella Hadid and Hailey Beiber. To look extra special in a see-through dress, pair these thongs with lace or a padded bra with embellishments like rhinestones. For a completely nude look for lace dresses, go for nipple covers and seamless panties that match your skin tone.

Satin/Silk dress

With silk or satin dresses, you need underclothes that won’t show contours from the outside. Wear an invisible slip, and stick on a bra in nude or black shades. But if you need a push-up effect in your silk dress, choose a seamless push-up bra to create a stunning cleavage.

Shapewear styles for maxi dresses

Shapewear are meant to be your second skin. Something you can wear under any type of dress to enhance your shape while eliminating the uneasiness of regular bras and briefs.

They are easy-going undergarments that hide your tummy, sculpt your booty, and make your thighs look slimmer.

If you have a pair of Spanx shorts, you know how effective shapewear is.

Shapewear comes in different forms, such as tummy tuckers, corsets, waist cinchers, body and thigh slimmers, shorts, body shapers, buttock enhancers, open crotch shapewear, open bust slips, and more.

Based on the desired effect, you can either pick a full body shaper or individual shapewear that targets a particular bulging area.

Comfort is the key to picking the best shapewear. It must be snug and form-fitting. And sizing makes all the difference. Don’t try to pick small sizes to tone down because it will cause discomfort. Pick the right cup size for a full body with a built-in bra.

Each of these shapewear garments is made of material that doesn’t irritate your skin – latex, spandex, and nylon, to name a few.

Full body/bodysuit shapewear

Full body shapewear is similar to a bodysuit with shorts. It provides the perfect foundation for your torso by tucking the irregular bumps. A strapless shapewear bodysuit goes with several necklines and is ideal for trumpet, ribbed, and straight dresses.

High waisted shapewear

High-waisted shapewear is a half slip or full coverage shapewear panty that acts as a tummy tucker. It is made of stretchable microfiber with wide inner bands to prevent sliding or rolling.

Shaping camisoles

Cami shapewear lets you conceal back fat bulges from shoulders to waist as compared to uncomfortable whalebone corsets. Just like regular cami, they are the epitome of comfort for all four seasons.

Waist cinchers

As flaunting a narrow waist has never been out of style, a modern-day girdle is used like a waist cincher or a waist shaper. Accentuating an hourglass figure is comfortable with a waist cincher because it is easy to get into and out of.

Shapewear Slip

Shapewear slip offers coverage for a sheer maxi dress for a more polished look. It’s a body-compliant version of an original slip that doesn’t curl up or bunch up mid-stride.

Hip enhancers

A strategically designed booty enhancer for women who need an extra lift in the rear. Back appears fuller and in shape for body hugging ribbed dresses.

Open bust shapewear

Open bust shapewear is ideal for women who want to wear the regular bra with a shaper. It provides support without squishing your breast by slimming your waist, thighs, and hips.

Thigh slimmers/shapewear shorts

Thigh slimmers banish thigh jiggles making your thighs look toned and in shape. It smoothes out thighs in a way that snug dresses appear seductive.

Alternatives to maxi dress underclothes

Minimalism in layering is also an art when it comes to maxi dresses. Sometimes we feel like completely avoiding the concept of wearing bras, panties, and other layers.

For breastfeeding or pregnant women, comfort could mean a loose maxi dress with pockets and no undergarments. Or for road trips and extended journeys, you could benefit a lot from lightweight maxis with lingerie that is enough to cover our privates and avoid outfit malfunction.

For situations like these, we have some recommendations for alternatives to undergarments. Not to mention, you could tog out your sexy, cut-out maxi dresses effortlessly with these alternatives.

Breast tape or Nipple covers

If you wish to create an illusion of wearing undergarments like red carpet ladies, breast tape and nipple covers are your buddies.

While breast tape is versatile and used to style different outfits, nipple covers are functional and available in various sizes, shapes, colors, and designs.


Slips are not only comfortable but beneficial too. They smoothen out the bulges, add a sense of protection in case your dress slides, and blend with all types of fabrics.

C-string invisible panties

The design justifies the name “invisible panties” as it only covers the main area. To put it simply, a C-string is a G-string devoid of a waistband. It is usually made of cloth and comes with a silicone adhesive.

Great for sheer maxi dresses, lace dresses, and cut-out dresses.

Double sided tape

When you are going commando, the double-sided tape is a smart move to prevent your dress from sliding. It sticks the garment directly to your skin and can be used in combination with any of the above alternatives or lingeries.

A double-sided tape is also great to prevent sleeves falling from shoulders and high slits from swaying at the slightest blow of wind. It also helps keep cutouts of a cut-out dress in place.

How to avoid issues related to undergarments

  • When you are wearing a stick-on, adhesive bra, don’t apply body lotion. Such bras are best worn on dry skin so it stays stuck. Similarly, when wearing invisible stick-on panties, ensure the area is dry. Use a deodorant spray if going commando.
  • Full body shapewear is not ideal for long events. So either wear them only on special occasions to slim down your entire torso or choose individual shapewear to target a specific area. To ensure it fits you flawlessly, be in a seated position and roll the shapewear slowly upwards.
  • Wear a pantyhose first if you are layering it with a shaper as it prevents pantyhose from rolling down.
  • Tuck your high waisted shapewear/shorts/leggings in a bra so it doesn’t slide after you had a meal.
  • Wash shapewear with hands as it loses elasticity or shrinks because of high tumble drying. Same goes for your other delicate, stretchy undergarments.
  • The bra cups – whether underwired or regular – must completely follow your natural crease without causing spilling or gaps.
  • To find your bra cup size: measure around the fullest bust area, measure around ribcage just below bust and round up by an inch, now subtract it from the bust measurement to get cup size. If one cup is bigger than other – very common – pick the size for bigger one and use a pad to fill the smaller cup.
  • To pick the right panty size: measure fullest part of your hips, measure 5 cm below your natural waistline to find the waistband size. Compare waist and hip measurement with the size guide and choose bigger size if you fall in between sizes.
  • You should be able to slide two fingers under the bra band to ensure it is a perfect match to your bust.

Lior Shapiro

I love clothes with pockets and dresses, and I think any woman can pull off a good maxi dress.
I believe women's clothes with pockets make the world a better place.