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A visible panty line is the situation when the outline of a person's underwear is visible through the clothing. The underpants may be seen as a ridge or depression in the clothes, or as a result of the clothing material being sufficiently clingy or transparent.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2010)|
Many cultures disapprove of the display of underwear, and a visible panty line is generally considered undesirable and embarrassing. The problem arises especially with tight-fitting clothing and the use of thin materials for the outer clothing. Underwear manufacturers try to reduce the creation of a panty line by the use of thin materials in the underwear and avoiding use of elastic or other bulky seams. Lace edges can help also. The colour of the outer garment against the undergarment may also enhance the visibility of the undergarment. A teddy, bodystocking or similar garment may be worn to avoid creating a visible panty line.
At the same time, a visible panty line is at times deliberately created for its erotic impact.
This phenomenon is seen much less frequently in men; however, it can happen when briefs or boxer briefs are worn under thin or tight pants. Regardless of the underwear style, it is often referred to as visible panty line, or VPL for short.
The origin of the term is probably traced to barracks humor, the term VPL for 'visible panty line' as a mockery of overused bureaucratic initialisms, coined in an analogy with water line. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English claims that the phrase was popularized by Woody Allen's 1977 comedy film Annie Hall.
- Valerie Steele (2005) Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion vol. 2, ISBN 0-684-31396-0, p.121
- David Halberstam, a reporter, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reports on the Vietnam War, in his 1967 novel about the war One Very Hot Day (ISBN 978-9997410597) writes: "They all wore white dresses, that was the prescribed legal uniform, but they wore them so short and tight, that was almost obscene. (So tight that the panty lines could always be seen, and the helicopter pilots, who were insane for military abbreviations, had invented the phrase VPL, for Visible Panty Line)."
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