What to Wear Under Dresses, Skirts, and Shorts in the Summer

There are a few pieces in my closet that I know I just can’t get by wearing with just my traditional undergarments…especially ones that are clingy, pale-colored, or made of thin materials. After suffering from one too many lingerie mishaps over the years, I started to do a deep dive into the world of undergarments. I shied away from the idea of anything related to shapewear for years. But, after trying on what seems like every brand on the market, I found that I actually love how the right pair can smooth everything out without adding any discomfort. I recently asked AWSL readers for their favorite tried and true products, and boy, did they deliver! If you’re wondering what to wear under dresses, skirts, and shorts in the summer, this list of undergarments has everything you need.

While we’re on the topic of undergarments, you may want to check out these posts if you’re looking for a new bra to wear this summer:

I’m wearing the Spanx Thinsticts 2.0 Mid-Thigh Short under these white pants to help smooth things out!

What to Wear Under Dresses, Skirts, and Shorts in the Summer

The weather gets hot, fabrics get thinner, and the chafing can be real. Sometimes adding a slip short or slip under your dresses, skirts, and shorts can make all the difference in the world. The best part about the shorts? They can act as your underwear as well, so you aren’t having to double-layer, which makes you even hotter. I’m sharing some of my favorite products below.

Spanx Thinsticts 2.0 Mid-Thigh Short

Now, if you’re looking for a pair of shorts to smooth things out or even just to avoid chafing, this is the undergarment that finally converted me. I love how they even everything out, are comfy and are practically invisible under any type of garment.

Commando Half-Slip

If you are looking for something to wear under your dresses or skirts that lightly smooths and shapes without any uncomfortable binding, check out this half slip. It won’t ride up due to a weighted hem and can be machine washed, which is a huge perk.

Commando Fitted Slip

This buttery soft slip is the perfect thing to wear under your summer dresses. It won’t add any bulk, and the deep neckline and back allows it to be worn under many different styles of dress. Read the reviews on this, though, to make sure it’s what you’re looking for.

Jockey Skimmies Cooling Slipshort

Bette (an AWSL reader) gave the best review of these, so I think I need to try them next. She says, “I don’t wear shapewear, per se, but love Jockey Skimmies as a first layer under dresses or skirts. They don’t compress — they smooth. I have a large abdominal scar and can’t stand anything tight — the Skimmies are the best I’ve tried (and I’ve tried many). Comfortable, good price, long-lasting, easy wash.” You sold me Bette! Thank you for sharing!

Half Slip Dress Extender

If you don’t want any slimming or shaping qualities in your undergarments, a loose half slip like this helps to conceal panty lines and ensure your dress isn’t see-through. This piece can also be used as a dress extender if you have a dress that shows too much leg for your comfort level.

Honeylove Cami

Several ladies recommended products by Honeylove. This camisole would be great if you have a fit-and-flare dress that only requires you to add shaping or smoothing to your torso or under any of your favorite tops. Cathy says, “I love my Honeylove Cami. It’s perfect to smooth out my lumps and bumps!” and Tamara says, “Another vote for Honeylove! I really like the crossover bra, the silhouette bra, and the silhouette brief. I find that I can wear this shapewear as comfortable underwear for everyday activities, not just special occasions. It’s more smoothing than shaping underwear.”

Maidenform Cover Your Bases Smoothing Shapewear

I know many of the name brands of shapewear can be a little costly, so this undergarment is a great option if you’re looking for an affordable pair of smoothing shorts to put under your summer dresses at under $15. Maidenform has a lot of other great undergarment options. Another reader, Virginia, mentioned that she really likes their Tame Your Tummy Shaping Brief.

Spanx Socialite Slip

If you are looking for a full slip to provide a little extra hold, this slip is classified as level 2 shaping by Spanx, which they define as a firm hug. This would be great to wear under a form-fitting dress, like to a wedding, but also could be used every day to conceal any lumps or bumps you’d like to hide.

Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Friction Stick

While this isn’t an undergarment per se, it is something you can wear under your dresses, skirts, and shorts this summer. Mary, an AWSL reader, says she uses Megababe Thigh Rescue to stop chafing in the summer because she dislikes wearing extra clothing when it’s hot.

Shop More Garments to Wear Under Dresses, Skirts, and Shorts in the Summer:

Gone are the days when I would actually layer shapewear to shoehorn my body into a dress for a special event. I vividly remember the time I wore a shaping cami, plus shaping shorts, and topped it with a shaping slip! I’m surprised I could even sit down or breathe. With age comes wisdom and acceptance of what I will and won’t tolerate for a garment 🤓.

Have I missed any great undergarments we should be looking at?


  1. I like Flexees shapewear, my tap group performs in multiple shapewear pieces to stop bounce as we dance. We all bought different brands to accommodate our different shapes. I have a long torso.
    We did notice issues with some brands rolling up or rolling down in the softer versions.
    Our tights have elastic waists ( Danskin) they don’t roll. Non rolling would be my preference.

  2. I never wear shapewear. I live in Florida where it is so hot you only want to wear one layer! The only time I would wear something like this is if I was attending a wedding and needed something under a dress. Otherwise, never!

  3. Do cotton half slips exist anymore? Sometimes cotton is cooler than synthetic fabrics.

    1. I think you can still find them on Etsy.

    2. April Cornell has cotton slips.

      1. Awesome, thank you.

    3. I’m a bit late to this discussion but check out Vermont Country Store. They have a variety of slips….full, half, cotton, nylon…and even pettipants! Some of us might remember those!😂😂

  4. I haven’t actually needed shapewear. I guess I just don’t buy too tight pants, tops, or dresses. I look for a style that has some ease, but not baggy.
    I agree it is hard to find slips. Slips are needed with skirts that are sheer, and you can see between your legs.
    I think the mid thigh pants would be helpful for me when I wear my swing dress. I get a little nervous when the wind blows, lol.

    Thanks for showing what’s out there, in case I decide I need anything to smooth me. I don’t think I could wear them in summer here in Texas though.

  5. Well, Ladies….guess I’m old-fashioned because I still have a drawer-full from half-slips to full-slips – all lengths/colors. I wish those gals on TV would wear something to cover their lumps/bumps because there are various panty-lines appearing and, to me, does not look professional.

    1. I have quite a collection myself. 😀 When I need one, I’m happy to have a comfortable one that works.

  6. Here’s another vote for the Jockey skimmers. Super comfortable under a dress when you don’t like a slip that rides up. I’ve found them to be cooler than regular undies, go figure. I also find them to be more comfortable if you size up so they don’t fit tight. It almost feels like you’re not wearing underwear at all.

  7. Thanks, Jennifer, for this post! As all here will be aware, what you wear under the top layer can make or break an outfit. Nice to get some fresh ideas on what is available to wear under.

  8. Just a comment about panties vs skimmers. Especially in hot weather. With the skimmers I’m thinking that not having the extra layer of fabric covered elastic that panties have—that can dig into the crotch and feel sweaty—would be a big comfort advantage of the skimmer type underwear—I’m thinking the jockey men’s-styled underwear with the longer leg, one smooth line. Trimmer than the bloomers of old! but less binding than regular panties. And may I say, that sometimes garments that hold and support the abdominal area provide increased comfort. Each to her own.

    1. I think so too. I often wear a longline shorts version of my regular panties because they’re more comfy through the crotch.

  9. Theresa Rose says:

    I like my Shapermint. I have a few camisoles in different colours that go down to the crotch to cover the tummy, and the panties that come up the torso with a silicone grip y thingy to deal with that pesky muffin top. I do not apologise for wearing shape wear when needed! I like to look my best, and sometimes that means shape wear.

    1. I’m with you! I want to look my best too.

  10. Very helpful for those times when a dress is just too sheer. At 71, there is no way I would go out in a dress where my legs can be seen, underneath, to the top of my legs. I’d be way too self-conscious. I’ve rejected several dresses in stores, because I’ve not even seen a slip for sale in the store that is selling the sheer dresses. It’s hard to find a good slip, nowadays. Thank you!

    1. I agree, good slips are harder to find these days.

  11. I totally agree with the Jockey Slipshort/Skimmies. Smooths, perfect under dresses or skirts. Comfy too

    1. I agree. Love the Jockey cooling shorts!

  12. Claudette says:

    Thank you for this information. I have been over whelmed by all the choices and this really helps me find a garment to wear under dresses.

  13. I need shape wear for the dreaded muffin top above the waist. i wear pants most of the time. Any ideas? I love reading your posts!

    1. I find a smoothing cami works best because the don’t roll.

  14. I really appreciate this article. Some of my slips and shorts are up for replacement due to age. Thanks much.

  15. I am sorry and don’t mean to be rude, because I really enjoy your blog, but I was shocked to read this post about shape wear. It is 2023 and women have been liberated (I thought) from the restrictive corsets and underwear of the past, especially during summer when it is hot. Of course, a woman has the choice to don shapewear (under clothes), but it depresses me to think she needs to ‘smooth out lumps and bumps’. Perhaps it is a cultural thing.

    1. Hi Susan, well said and I agree with you. I avoid wearing clothes that I’m not comfortable in and that would require shapewear.

    2. HI, Susan, I’m Bette, the recommender of Jockey Skimmies. These are NOT shapewear. They’re simply long underwear. I find them far more comfortable than traditional underwear with its elastic leg openings and scratchy seams. The Skimmies are seamfree, lightweight, and essentially you forget you’re wearing them. There is nothing tight or compressive about them. And, FWIW, I prefer the original. I found the “cooling version” to slide down my waist a little.

      1. Hi Bette, I am afraid I am at a loss as to why anyone would want to mid thigh underwear and how they could be more comfortable than ordinary knickers. But, this is simply my opinion only

      2. I think thigh chaffing could be a number one reason and they also don’t dig in anywear to leave panty lines.

      3. I’m going to have to try these, Bette. They sound so easy in warm weather.

    3. We sure have been “liberated” from corsets and girdles etc. These are strictly worn by choice to help our clothes hang better and look smoother. I’ve never been a “let it all hang out” person.

    4. Another Susan here, another vote for avoiding shape wear. I just don’t wear clothing that requires it. In 90% humidity, with temps in the mid 90’s in summer, I have tried this. I just felt miserable, silicone strips irritate, everything runs with sweat. I will never do it again.
      I have used a glide type stick between legs to prevent chafing, (and I am not overweight) much much easier. And it works well. If I wear white jeans I wear the closest no panty line color to my skin, and maybe a breezy top, and forget about it. I never wear sheer white tops in summer without a shelf bra cami under, and not a shaping one-a cotton one by Hanes. If you live in a climate where you can do this, and you want to, more power to you, but here it just is a recipe for misery and a rash!

      1. Hi Susan, I live in the Southern part of Australia where we have long, hot summers. Not overly humid though, but even when I holiday in humid climates, I must be lucky, because I have never had thigh chafing nor a rash. I live in summer dresses, either linen or cotton as they are cool and comfortable. As for underwear, that consists of Jockey high cut, no visible panty line knickers and a bra from Simone Perele – both winter and summer. I am afraid, that no-one will convince me that mid thigh knickers are not a form of shape wear, formerly known as corsets – as ultimately, they both serve the same purpose

      2. Hi Susans! I so agree with you! When I was 18 and about to go to college I went shopping with my mother. I was 5’ 8” and weighed 105 pounds (it was a long time ago.). Even though I looked skeletal, I had and still have a little pooch under my belly button. I remember the sales lady telling my mom that I needed to wear a girdle to smooth it out. My mother was very polite and suggested that we look for skirts that skimmed over that area. I’ve always looked for clothing that camouflaged any areas that I was uncomfortable about. As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’m just more accepting of myself in general. That said, I don’t think that avoiding shapewear means we are letting it all hang out, that we look sloppy or that we don’t give a darn about our appearance. I just don’t wear clothing that doesn’t suit my shape.

        No judgment from me towards women that wear shapewear. But even though It’s not for me, I’m definitely not letting it all hang out. I always try to look as good as possible in any given day.

    5. To each his own. I CHOOSE to wear shapewear/smoothwear (another vote for Jockey Skimmies!)– not because I feel that I must conform to societal pressure to have a lump-bump-free body. But because I am happier with the way I look and feel when I wear them. And I appreciate Jennifer addressing this issue with those of us who wear this type of undergarment.

  16. Shari Heberton says:

    To echo what Kim said, this is very timely information. I recently discovered that I can no longer wear thin or light-colored pants anymore unless I wear smoothing undergarments. I do have Wacoal’s shaper & it is lightweight & not too tight. I think the one I have is the Body Base Shorty Panty & the legs don’t roll up! It’s great seeing the other options you provide here, too!

  17. I’d love opinions and readers experiences about “comfy” bras such as Shapermjnt or Underoutfit or other brands. Looking for comfort, support and definition for the smaller bust.

  18. Very informative Jennifer and with some that can act as a lining for garments that lack such, IMHO is a plus.

    1. Agreed. That’s why I wear them under white jeans.

  19. Thanks, Jennifer.
    Am wondering about adding another layer to an outfit on a hot day. Do these breathe, are they lightweight?

    1. They’re very lightweight.

  20. Question as someone who runs ‘hot’ year round, and especially in the summer… don’t these extra layers make you hotter and therefore sweatier?

    1. They are warmer but if it’s a good temp for wearing jeans, mine aren’t too hot.

  21. This post was a great help. The only shapewear I’ve ever owned is Spanx. I think they are great but I’ve seen so many different kinds and this really helped determine what they all do. Nordstrom has a great selection to choose from.

  22. Marilyn Kay says:

    I’ve tried a couple of mid-thigh shapewear pants. My problem always seems to be the very bottom elastic on my thighs. They always seem to cut into the skin instead of laying flat. It is very obvious underneath pants. Any ideas?

    1. Marilyn, hi from Bette. Jockey Skimmies do not have that bottom of the thigh elastic. That was my first inkling they might be superior to others, and IMO, they are the best.

      1. Marilyn Kay says:

        Thank you!

    2. Mine seem to lay flat. I think ones with silicone strips grip best.

      1. Marilyn Kay says:

        Thanks so much!

  23. This is good info and timely! I have been wondering what it might be like to wear a dress (gasp!) and then what to do about thigh chafing in hot weather. Thanks1

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