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A visible panty line (VPL) 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. It's particularly common in Asia where most women wear full back panties and tight garments like skirts and pants.
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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