This Is Not a Drill: The Pantless Trend Really Is Happening

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Despite its modern roots among the Kar-Jenners and Co., the trend can be traced back to the 1950s, starting off as a form of dancewear, and lasting through the mod era. Many dancers wore leotards over their tights in order to create an elongated, more elegant line. But sometimes, they would layer with shirts or sweaters, oftentimes belted to help clarify their waistlines. “Cyd Charisse and some of the Old Hollywood vixens and ingenue used to dance in things like that,” says image architect Law Roach. The look has become particularly associated with Edie Sedgwick, the socialite and Andy Warhol muse. In one especially memorable photograph, Sedgwick balances on a leather rhinoceros, her black stocking-clad leg extended into an arabesque, a T-shirt covering her leotard, save for the bottom. 

The look picked back up—again in an exercise capacity—in the 1980s with the aerobics craze. Between Jane Fonda’s workout wear and Jamie Lee Curtis’s electric chemistry with John Travolta in 1985’s Perfect, high-cut leotards with belts were all the rage in the athletic scene. In the ’90s, the no-pants look appeared several times on the Chanel runway, as well as Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier. And through the early aughts, Christian Dior and Miu Miu took up the mantle as well. 

Jane Fonda posing for her 1981 book the “Jane Fonda Workout Book.

Jane Fonda, 1981

Photo: Steve Schapiro / Courtesy of HBO

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Coat Jacket and Hat

Chanel, fall 1991

Photo: Victor Virgile / Getty Images

But the pantless trend didn’t move away from the athletic associations until fairly recently. In 2022, Kendall Jenner stepped out in a look from Bottega Veneta’s spring 2023 collection—a navy blue knit sweater with white cuffs, black briefs over sheer black tights, and a pair of black slingback heels. Bottega wasn’t the only one to send the look down the runway: Valentino couture, Victoria Beckham, and Raf Simons all employed pantlessness in their collections. For fall 2023, Maison Margiela and LaQuan Smith manufactured such styles, as did Miu Miu, who made a splash with their controversial embellished panties, worn by Emma Corrin, among others. (The actor and fashion plate quickly adopted the trend, wearing Miu Miu’s take to the Venice Film Festival as well as to the premiere of My Policeman.)

Since then, the trend has only gained more fans. Adwoa Aboah, Cara Delevingne, and Jodie Turner-Smith all took the look for a spin at Vogue World: London in September 2023. Lori Harvey broke out the undies for a party, while Law Roach wore Calvin Klein briefs over fishnet tights with his Luar look at the CFDA Awards. Even Taylor Swift offered her take on the pantless look. 

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