Why do girls feel exposed in a lingerie but not in a bikini? After all, bikinis and lingeries basically look similar. They both cover the female parts, they have just about the same amount of fabric, and the designs aren’t all that different. Yet, ironically, wearing a lingerie in a pool is perceived to be a bad idea and even promiscuous.

Girls feel uncomfortable being seen in a lingerie but not in a bikini because of social context. Bikinis are meant for swimming and being seen in the public. Lingeries are meant for intimate moments and being seen only by oneself or one’s significant other. One is for getting wet, the other is for getting laid. One is for open doors, the other is for closed doors.

“But don’t they just look the same?”, you might ask. The answer is no. Here are more of the differences between bikini and lingerie and why girls feel more exposed and uncomfortable being seen in lingerie but not in bikini.

The fabric

why girls feel exposed in lingerie but not in bikini

Swimsuits’ main purpose is to allow easy movement in the water and to dry faster. Hence, designers use fabrics that meet these qualities like spandex and nylon which are stretchable; and polyester that’s chlorine and saltwater resistant. They’re also built to be opaque so whatever’s going on underneath are hidden from public view.

It’s a completely different story with lingeries. Lingeries are transparent and lightweight as much as swimsuits are opaque and thick. Sexy lingeries, especially the ones women wear to get intimate with their lovers are sheer and smooth. They’re lacy and see-through, designed to sexually tease, arouse and seduce the senses. You just can’t have that much effect with polyester and spandex.

why girls feel exposed in lingerie but not in bikini

For this reason, silk, satin, chiffon, and charmeuse are used. If lingeries are intended to be seen only by herself and she’s not into the lacy ones, cotton is the best fabric as it’s the comfiest.

why girls feel exposed in lingerie but not in bikini
A cotton lingerie. Very basic, no bling, no lace, and primarily made for comfort and practicality.

Can a woman wear a swimsuit as her underwear or as a sexy lingerie for her lover? Why not? Swimsuits, after all, are sexy.

The same cannot be said for wearing a lacy thong in public pool though. Not because it’s less sexy but because it’s way too sexy that it crosses the line. The lacy thongs will have to remain in the bedroom (foreva).

So lingeries are more revealing and swimsuits are more modest?

Not quite. This pic begs to disagree.

why girls feel exposed in lingerie but not in bikini

The explanation, in this case, isn’t black and white:

First, note that the bikini here isn’t see-through. See-through is like the equivalent of naked, but sexy. But naked nonetheless. Technically, this still qualifies as a swimsuit.

Social context

Second, you’ll have to factor in the social context. Understand that when wearing a bikini, a woman is mentally prepared to be seen in public. She shaves, and do crunches and squats to look presentable, if not sexy, in public. Whereas, when wearing a lingerie, there are only two people she’s prepared to be seen in it by— herself and her lover. But mostly: just herself.

There’s a private connotation attached to bras and panties. If a man sees a woman’s panties, it’s because he’s looking up her skirt or doing devious tactics to gain access. But at the pool, she’s wearing just about the same garment as the other women. Nothing scandalous there.

The symbolic meaning

Just because lingeries may offer more coverage than swimsuits doesn’t mean they’re always wearable in public. There’s more to it than skin coverage.

The lingerie at the right of the photo above, no doubt, offers more coverage than the bikini at the left. But, take a look at the fabric. It’s lacy and silky. And lacy and silky are automatically perceived in a woman’s mind as fabrics reserved for lingeries, not bikinis—especially if that lace material is intended to cover her female parts.

The strangers around, especially men, may not care or even be aware of this. But a woman isn’t likely gonna be able to shake this off her head. To her, wearing a lace when at the pool or beach just doesn’t feel right. It’s more about how she feels about the message behind the fabric type and less about how much it covers.

Remember, humans don’t wear the clothes we wear just to keep warm; otherwise, suits and ties wouldn’t have seen the light of day. You don’t wear pajamas at work (unless you’re the boss) and you don’t wear a suit at home.

But what about those lingeries that can pass as swimsuits? Can you wear them in the pool?

Like this pic:

why girls feel exposed in lingerie but not in bikini

The bra at the right is a bit lacy but it’s black and highly opaque. Most importantly, the panty looks as thick and offer even more coverage than the red bikini. Can this lingerie at the right be worn as a swimsuit in public?

Absolutely. Not all lingeries are created equal. Some are overwhelmingly revealing, in which case, they stay in the bedroom or as undergarments. Some are designed as simple and basic possible and can even pass as regular swimsuits like this example.

Therefore, if a lingerie happens to have similar characteristics as a swimsuit: opaque, thick and which style can pass as a swimsuit, like the picture above, then wearing it in public won’t make a woman feel uncomfortable. It’s just like any other swimsuit.

The setting

Okay, so let’s say a woman is seen in a public pool wearing underwear as her swimsuit. As long as that swimsuit isn’t a lacy thong and not see-through, nobody would even notice.

Now change the setting. Instead of a public pool, let’s say a grocery store. Whether she’s wearing her modest lingerie or her typical swimsuit, she’s gonna feel uncomfortable, either way. It’s because she’s in a damn grocery store where everyone is expected to be fully clothed.

Now, if you’re still confused why a woman would feel uncomfortable being seen in a lingerie but not in a bikini, it’s because she wasn’t at the beach or pool when you saw her. And that makes a lot of difference. The context changes big time depending on the setting.

When she’s donning a swimsuit or a modest underwear in the public pool, it’s because she’s going for a swim. But if she’s in a grocery, she’s being promiscuous. Big difference.


Women’s logic is actually NOT twisted. There really is a considerable difference between bikinis and lingeries. And it isn’t just the amount of skin both garments cover. Contrary to popular belief, women actually don’t mind wearing lingeries as their swimwear in public as long as they aren’t lacy and see-through.

Mind you, that’s as a last resort though. For who would want to wear their cotton underwear in a pool? Cotton is impractical as it absorbs a lot of water and is particularly dragging during swims. Why soak her expensive silk lingeries in saltwater and chlorine when she has the cheaper spandex and polyester ones that can withstand better?

Clothing has meanings and messages. Underwear and lingerie are for intimacy. Swimsuits are for swimming. Contrary to meme generalizations, women’s lingeries and swimsuits don’t always look similar.

Men probably don’t get this question a lot since their underwear and swimming trunks generally look the same. Women have far more design choices in garments than men, hence they’re getting bugged with this question a lot.

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