“Maybe you don’t hate the thong; you just haven’t met the one you love yet”
Silly phrasing, but friends of mine who vouch for the thong see the initial love-hate relationship with the provocative panty a little like, well, a relationship. “You just haven’t met the right thong yet.”
Maybe they’re on to something. Because even with the dwindling demand for the cheek-baring underwear, those who take their undergarment game seriously still swear by it. Panties that promise a no-visible-panty-line effect are a fantastic compromise, sure, but they’re still a hit or miss (slight emphasis on “miss” and you can check out what I mean by that here).
Like much else, it all boils down to personal preference. If you feel you’ve struck gold with your current arsenal of no-VPL undies, that’s great news. If pulling an Alexa Chung and saying “fuck it––panty lines are fine” is more your style, that’s even greater. All we are saying is give the thong a chance. (When you’re through meeting the top contenders of our thong showdown below, you will want to.)
The Test Drive Diary entry ahead is dedicated to those who want to take a hack at the purist’s version of the no-VPL underwear. After rounding up the most recommended thongs and narrowing them down to just five, we begin the hunt: which one of these have managed to make the thong comfortable, bearable and, dare I say it, lovable?
LA SENZA Ultra-Soft Modal Panty, ?595
I admit to presuming this was going to be a case of function giving way for fashion (since everything in La Senza is sexy, very va-va-voom with not a neutral-hued granny panty in sight). It’s an expectation planted by the displays of colorful, flirty undergarments that seem to exist for more performative reasons than practical ones. At La Senza, as it turns out, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
The Ultra-Soft Modal Thong gets a nine out of 10 in my book. It’s silky (verging on slippery!) to the touch so it’s gentle on skin, comes in a low-rise fit and hugs the body just right; it doesn’t ride up but doesn’t slide down either.
What makes this panty truly worthy of praise, though, is the thong panel itself. It’s about an inch thick, which does feel like fabric between the buttocks, as expected, but fabric that doesn’t feel wedged in. It’s a feeling (not necessarily that of discomfort) that takes a bit of getting used to, but considering how comfortable the pair is overall, it’s a small non-hurdle hurdle to get over. This gets plus points for crotch coverage, too.
Once more with feeling, comfort score: 9/10
Tap here to shop La Senza online or visit any of the La Senza stores in Bonifacio High Street, Alabang Town Center, Power Plant Mall, TriNoma Mall, Eastwood, Newport Mall, Abreeza Mall Davao, and SM Megamall.
SPANX Undie-tectable® Thong, ?2,150
Here’s a reminder that not all thongs are made the same (read: teeny-tiny). With the Undie-tectable® Thong, SPANX goes in the other direction, making a case for the wide waistband and the full-brief look. This means you get ample coverage in front and a comfortable fit at the back since that sturdy waistband keeps everything in place; there’s absolutely no sliding up or around for this thong.
Playing to its strengths, SPANX also mimics the key features of its shapewear for these next-to-nothing panties. That thick, bonded waistband smoothens out the abdomen and follows the natural curves of the body perfectly. In SPANX lingo, it provides a support level of one, which is the equivalent of a light hug. And true enough, it feels like a body glove that’s snug but comfortable. True to its promise, the Undie-tectable® Thong is completely invisible underneath clothing, too.
Comfort score: 10/10
SPANX is available in all Rustan’s Department Stores nationwide and Debenhams Shangri-la.
MARKS & SPENCER 5-Pack No-VPL Thongs, ?1,150
The great thing about panty bundles is they instantly grant you a set to put on rotation. One-and-done. And with a five-pack of the same item, consider yourself committed. It’s either you wind up with a steal or end up with four extra items you don’t feel great in.
In the case of Marks & Spencer’s five-pack no-VPL thongs, value for money is a guarantee. The set comes with two nude thongs, two black ones and one in white, which means you cover the wardrobe basics instantly. Comfort, unfortunately, takes a bit of a backseat. Since this is a high-rise panty, it’s designed to be hiked up so the side wings sit right on the hip. And it’s this underwear silhouette that makes the wedgie sensation hard to ignore: like a mild but consistent tension between your buttocks to occasionally remind you throughout the day that, yes, you’re in a thong.
So are they comfortable? Somewhat (but then again, “comfortable enough” is not what we’re looking for today). Bothersome? A little. Can I live with it? Well, since I’ve bought the pack of five, I don’t really have a choice. Perhaps I’d have better luck with a low-rise version of the thong knicker. I’ll give that a go next year.
Comfort score: 6/10
Tap here for the complete Marks & Spencer store list in the Philippines.
CALVIN KLEIN UNDERWEAR Flirty Micro Thong, ?1,150
Here are two things Calvin Klein Underwear has consistently delivered over the years: an effortlessly sexy brand of cool and a playful-meets-practical selection of undergarments. Its flirty micro thong is proof of this. From afar, it looks like a no-fuss piece of “solutionwear” (excuse me while I borrow from Kim K.), designed to forgo the frills and deliver what it’s supposed to: minimal rear coverage, minimal seaming details, a smooth finish and exceptional performance. Up close, it's a subtle tease, designed with cute scallop trimming.
The Flirty Micro Thong slips on effortlessly, requires little to no adjusting to get all the parts in place and looks smooth all over. Because it’s made of lightweight and luxurious microfiber, the thong panel at the back is non-irritating and hardly feels like a wedgie riding up. The only qualm with this mostly comfortable thong? The coverage of the gusset (or the portion covering the crotch) could be better.
Comfort score: 8/10
Tap here for the complete Calvin Klein Underwear store list.
ETAM invisible Microfiber Thong, ?890
What is probably the perfect beginner’s introduction to thongs is ETAM’s Invisible Microfiber Thong. It's simple, straight to the point and a perfect example of function being fundamental. Granted it’s all business in the front, this ultra-comfortable thong gets the fit right, sitting about two inches below the belly button so it hugs the lower abdomen in all the right places (no disruptive lines cutting across the belly to create bulges).
Made of lightweight microfiber comparable to swim material, Etam’s version of the no-VPL thong employs a raw seam finish to make sure it’s invisible underneath clothing—a faux commando moment if you will. That said, the thong strip itself is quite narrow, so the riding-up feel becomes evident during light activity. A minor tradeoff all things considered.
Comfort score: 9/10
Shop Etam in Ayala Center Cebu, SM Aura Premier, and SM Megamall.
NATORI Cotton Cheeky Thong, ?895
“Microfiber equals no-VPL” seems to be the direction a lot of brands are taking their everyday underwear in. Then there are labels like Natori that are more concerned with what else they can achieve with the ever-reliable, classic cotton. Natori’s Cotton Cheeky Thong, at ?895, is a surprising find and instant win in my hunt for the most comfortable thong. Coverage, all around, is amazing with fabric that glides on skin and hugs the curves of the body without clinging on them. The panel at the back is thicker than most thongs, which means you’re 100% safe from the permanent wedgie feel. Add the fact that it’s made of super-soft, luxurious cotton and you get underwear that feels like it’s barely there.
Here’s a plus: if feeling sexy in casual, everyday-wear ready fabric happens to be one of the search requirements, Natori’s Cotton Cheeky Thong wins that category, too.
Comfort score: 10/10
Shop Natori in Rustan’s Department Stores nationwide.
So there you have it: Natori’s cotton thong and SPANX’s Undie-tectable® Thong both reign supreme with Etam’s Invisible Microfiber Thong coming in a close second. It works out perfectly, come to think of it, to find two versions of the comfortable thong: a synthetic microfiber blend and a cotton blend for your choosing and your potential first thong love.
Art Alexandra Lara and Matthew Fetalver