Perhaps strangely for being a parenting blog, one of my most enduring and popular posts is the one I wrote bemoaning "chub rub" or inner thigh chafing in skirts. Apparently we are not alone, sisters (and/or brethren), in having our thighs touch!
If you're irritated by your bare thighs rubbing together and producing a rash while you walk, be irritated no more. Do not mourn your lack of the elusive thigh gap: Just figure out the best thing to wear to stop the rub. Here is my best roundup of (now) tried-and-tested ideas for preventing and treating the dreaded thigh chafe.
Best thigh-rub solutions for SKIRTS and DRESSES, knee-length or longer:My current favorite under-skirt solution (I'm wearing it while writing this post!) is cheap and comfy and available in a large range of sizes. Good on all counts, right?
They're Danskin Now Women's Bike Shorts from Walmart. I'd resisted bike shorts because I was imagining sweaty, shiny spandex horrors (no offense, biking folks — that's just not what I want encasing my nethers every day), but these are cotton jersey so they're breathable. They're just compressing enough to feel smoothing, but they don't press on my folds or make me feel like I'm being sausage-rolled. The cuffs are just tight enough not to roll up, and the length is great to prevent all thigh rash.
I bought the basic black, and they've held up well over more than a year and lots of machine washing and drying. (I'm not precious with how I treat my clothes.) I like that even if they show a bit if my skirt flips up in my own adorable Marilyn moment, they're not embarrassing looking. They just look like bike shorts, so who cares. Similarly, though they're not "sexy," they're not horrifying. They're functional but not granny.
And the price is right, with a 2-pack a mere $13. They're cheapest at Walmart but available at Amazon as well if you're a Prime fan.
Sizing on the regular pack is S to XXL (I'm a 16-18 and wear an XL, so they're sized accurately), and plus sizes are also available.
The only cons of these Danskin shorts is the length under certain skirts or shorts: Coming to mid-thigh, they'll show with skirts or shorts that are much shorter than knee length. For swimming or water sports, they're not the best bet since the cotton will get wet and soggy. So, for those scenarios, read on!
Bonus budget option: Short on cash? I hear you. If you have or can procure a pair of pantyhose, leggings, or tights that fit you well — even better if the legs have some runs in them! — chop off the legs at mid-thigh, and there you are.
plenty of pettipants and bloomers, such as Under Moments Women's Cotton Pettipants and Underworks Snip-A-Length Pettipants.
Bonus crafty option: Sew your own pettipants or bloomers! Major pros: You can use quality cotton or linen for maximum breathability and coolness, even in hot climates, and you can make them to your size specifications. Here's a free PDF pattern.
Best thigh-rub solutions for SHORT SKIRTS, SHORTS, or SKORTS:
My sultriest solution is Bandelettes, and they work perfectly under knee-length and higher bottoms. I did a full review on them awhile back (product sent to me for free), and I still love them.
If you like a loose and breezy feel under any length skirt, Bandelettes are your friend. I find that, over time and with use, I have to adjust them more to keep them from rolling out of the prime thigh-rub territory, so I prefer my Danskin bike shorts if my skirt length accommodates. But Bandelettes are the best bet for feeling and looking slinky and confident in thigh-baring styles, particularly shorts and skorts or scooters.
The current price is one pair for $15.99, which is not bad at all. They'll last you awhile. They now have a range of shades to choose from in a multitude of skintones (jasmine to caramel to chocolate) as well as brighter-contrast colors if you're feeling saucy, and they've added a lace-less unisex style, which is nice. There are resources on the site to help you measure to get the right size — once you do, Bandelettes are very comfortable and fit snugly but not constrictingly over the widest part of your thighs. I highly recommend them! Available at their site or Amazon.
But … you want to get wet this summer? Keep going!
Best thigh-rub solutions for SWIMSUITS:I can't be the only one who finds swimsuit season uncomfortable when it comes to walking in my swimsuit. I firmly believe that every body is a beach body, but some of us have beach bodies that do better lying out or swimming than moving on land! (Raise your hand if you're a selkie!)
I've found the perfect options, if you don't mind a little coverage! If you do, you can grin and bear the chafing, or you can use these as coverups and reveal your suit underneath for when you're in the water or staying still.
This Coolibar Swim Skort is the best I've found, because it's (a) cute, (b), sun protective (UPF 50+), and (c) thigh protective: the trifecta!
If you're concerned that the inseam might be a bit too short, there's a mid-thigh-length version that would be more certain, and a capri version that I think is really adorable though maybe a bit too modest looking (?).
However, these Coolibar dealios do run with (imo) a hefty price tag of $60+, so for a more affordable option at around $20-$30, I'd look at plain swim rashguard leggings. Note that most don't have a gusset crotch, so you'll likely want a bikini bottom underneath for camel-toe coverage.
They come in lengths that range from bike-short to capris to ankles, but I dig the knee-length look here. You lose the cuteness of a skirt overlay, but you now look more like a surfer chick, and it's never a bad thing to embrace your inner Gidget! (I think….)
Bonus budget option: Do you already have a running skirt, running shorts, or bike shorts that are made of synthetic exercise-y material (nylon, polyester, spandex, lycra, etc.)? Then they're probably water-friendly and fast-drying. Throw that on over your swimsuit bottoms, and, depending on length, that may be enough to protect your thighs.
Best thigh-rub solutions for VERY HOT CLIMATES or for those who are ANTI-LAYERS:
Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm is designed for applying onto chafe-prone wobbly bits. The ingredients seem unobjectionable and are considered safe for children. The line scores a 1-2 (safe) rating on EWG. You can rub Bodyglide on inner thighs as well as other areas that might chafe, such as blister spots on feet.
Bonus budget option: Try some ingredients you already have at home: lanolin, Aquaphor, Vaseline, Un-Petroleum Jelly, antiperspirant, or body powder. Whether they work or not seems to be dependent on the person wearing them (body chemistry? sweat?) and the weather, but it's worth a try.
What are your best bets to beat chub rub?