Short skirts are feminine and sexy, but if you move too much, it's very hard to avoid Panty Shots while wearing one. This is where Modesty Shorts come in. They let a woman jump, tumble, fight, or even fly without anyone catching a glimpse of her underwear. Other common variations are large puffy bloomers in non-period pieces which are used as a bit of a fancier version normally on more gothic characters. In Western works, spankies are worn for this purpose under cheerleading outfits.
This trope is common in anime, as SchoolUniforms are almost always extremely short. It is often worn by Kick Chicks, Cheerleaders, Action Girls, Tomboys or anyone else with an active lifestyle.
Compare Skirt over Slacks, which are visible when a woman walks normally and used as a fashion statement, though sometimes they can overlap. May be combined with Zettai Ryouiki.
An alternative solution for this problem is the Magic Skirt.
A male version is found in this Lycos seach engine ad here (It's in French with English Sub). A man in a kilt is having a hard time keeping his kilt down while playing the bagpipes. The dog in the commercial brings him some of these shorts so all is safe from being seen.
Anime & Manga
Mikoto Misaka of the A Certain Magical Index franchise has this trope as her fashion calling card, much to Kuroko Shirai's dismay. Also, Shizuri Mugino does it once. Mikoto's clones wear striped panties instead, which often helps Touma determine when he's speaking with one of them, rather than with the original.
Bakemonogatari: Suruga Kanbaru wears this, in conjunction with her school uniform. Of course it's left unclear whether or not she's actually wearing anything underneath them.
Setsuna wears cycling shorts under her skirt, and has a bit of both shyness and tomboyish traits. Akamatsu did this to show that she was a less sexual character than the other girls. She later ditches these, but wears long-boyish underwear instead.
Asuna dons in later chapters, too. Although in her case it's less about tomboyishness and more about not wanting to flash people whenever she fights in a miniskirt after a certain Going Commando incident in the Kyoto arc...
Katsura Hinagiku wears a skirt over her bicycle shorts.
Izumi also wears these in the first season of the anime for a quick joke/censorship reasons, but in the manga she is shown not to, at least on some occasions. She was wearing them when Hayate needed to use his special attack on Yukiji and feared the side effect would lift Izumi's skirt.
Suzuna of Eyeshield 21 wears biker shorts under her cheer uniform. This is partially because she's the Token Mini-Moe of the cheerleading team and partially to reflect her Short Tank personality.
A common Running Gag in How to Read Manga is "don't you dare wear bloomers/shorts": basically, a man gets so angry when the Panty Shot he anticipated is ruined by the girl in question wearing shorts or covering bloomers that he slaps her.
Crystal, when she's introduced in Pokémon Special, drops her skirt to take on some Slugma, revealing that she's wearing bike shorts underneath.
With all of Sapphire's impressive physical feats, it was really quite thoughtful of Ruby to make her bike shorts along with the skirt.
An episode of Pokémon where we see May changing into a swimsuit confirms that that strip of white cloth over her shorts is indeed a skirt, rather than an extension of her undershirt.
Plotpoint in Ultimate Teacher where the resident Cute Bruiser Hinako can only fight when she's wearing Lucky Kitty-gym bloomers, brand that she's worn constantly since childhood so that she could fight without getting teased about showing her panties.
The extras in one volume of Fruits Basket examined the school uniforms. It notes that if your skirt is as short as Tohru's, it's a good idea to wear shorts underneath.
Bleach: During Renji's flashback to how he and Rukia met, he is wearing a very short kosode, but clearly visible underneath are the skin-tight shorts he's wearing, which come further down his legs than his kosode does.
In the manga version of Azumanga Daioh, the girls hang Chiyo upside down from a window as a good-weather charm. She's wearing shorts under her skirt.
Fabiola from Black Lagoon Roberta's Blood Trail wears a pair of these under her maid outfit.
Added to Supergirl's costume from late 2009 until her costume change for the New 52 reboot. According to the artist Jamal Igle, “At the first meeting I had with [Matt Idleson, the editor] after I got the book, he said, ‘I never want to see Supergirl’s panties again'."
In the semi-genderbent Sword Art Online story, The Kirita Chronicles, Kirigaya Kazuta wears shorts underneath her skirt in the real world prior to the beginning of the Death Game.
In the first Resident Evil film, Alice wears black shorts underneath her red dress.
In A League of Their Own the female baseball players uniform includes skirts and shorts. Also in the Real Life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League upon which the film is based.
The players originally wanted to wear slacks, as they had always done when playing baseball. They are at first horrified and disgusted to find that their uniforms will include skirts, with the catcher muttering: "I have to squat in that thing."
In The Poseidon Adventure, all of the women except Stella Stevens were wearing shorts under their evening gowns, for some reason.
Tori from Power Rangers Ninja Storm goes the extra step of wearing shorts while morphed. However, in comparison to other female Rangers with contrasting leggings in the franchise, it actually gives the allusion of a Panty Shot rather than actual modesty shorts.
Austin and Ally has Ally wearing short dresses in almost every episode, and she usually has black shorts on if she does something that flips her dress up. It's usually just a shadow, since it IS a Disney show.
Shake It Up had Rocky wear this at least once. She wore biker shorts during a spotlight dance, and for good reason since the skirt spent almost as much time up as it did down.
That's Just Me had an episode where Elizabeth wears a jumper-dress to gym class because it's the last week of school and they won't be doing anything. Her mom doubts this, however, and makes her put gym shorts on under it.
In the first episode of the sixth season, ''Do I HAVE to Go to High School?!', she's been told her class will be active, so instead of dressing nicely but casually, she shows up in a super fancy 50's style outfit with shorts under the skirt. The activity was later revealed to be dancing, so she never needed shorts, but her feet hurt from her diamond flipflops.
Kpop idols wear safety shorts under their skirts and dress and be seen in music videos while dancing and twirling like in f(x)'s "Electric Shock" and "Rum Pum Pum Pum" as well as Girls Gerneration's "Visual Dream".
This was Macaela Mercede's backup when she was placed in an evening gown match, in case she lost(she did).
Persona 4: Chie wears shorts under her skirt, perfectly justificable because she is a Kick Chick.
Bloomers are prevalent in Touhou fanart due to the Lolita-style outfits and highly-acrobatic depiction of the game's Bullet Hell fighting. Also canonical for at least some of the characters in the spin-off fighting games.
Ling Xiaoyu◊ from Tekken commonly wears a qipao with shorts underneath; if not for these, she'd be bare all the way from the hips downward. And for extra modesty points, when wearing her bonus schoolgirl uniform in Tekken 3, one of her victory poses note where she does the splits during a handstand is disabled to prevent her from blatantly flashing her panties.
In a male example, classic depictions of Castlevania's Simon Belmont had him wearing small shorts under the "skirt" plates of his armor.
Almost all of the Cartoon Doll Emporoium dress-up dolls, since they're made for kids, will have shorts when you strip them instead of normal panties, although while a few games have normal panties, they are usually black. The Dress Up Dream dolls, which usually share ties with CDE, do this same thing.
Unless they are wearing a full-body costume, female Miis in Mario Tennis Open wear shorts under their skirts.
In Worm, Glory Girl's superhero costume (a white dress with cape, boots, and tiara) includes a pair of these.
Called "activity shorts" by Cat Davis from Cat on the Prowl.
On Recess, Upside-Down Girl wears shorts under her jumper to avoid any panty shots when she's hanging from the monkey bars.
Subverted on King of the Hill. Hank sees Luanne wearing an oversized T-shirt and apparently nothing else. When he asks her to Please Put Some Clothes On, she raises her arms to reveal "I'm wearing shorts." Hank is disturbed by just how scanty the shorts are.
Another subversion occurs moments later, when Bobby enters the kitchen wearing an oversized shirt of his own. Without lifting its hem, he removes the underwear he has on underneath it and puts on another pair fresh from the laundry, eliciting the following response:
Junior high school girls in Japan typically wear their gym shorts (knee-length) under their (calf-length) uniform skirts. This is a practical necessity when they have to switch to their P.E. clothes two or three times a day, in schools which lack changing rooms. Most boys wear their shorts under their uniform slacks for the same reason.
This also applies to elementary school girls: many of them, especially in the older grades, wear shorts to keep their modesty.
The majority of schoolgirls around the world wear shorts under their school skirts, whether it's for warmth or modesty.
Cosplayers dressing as sexy/scantly dressed characters can choose to wear underwear underneath the costume to prevent breaking city codes or harassment.
Cheerleaders typically wear a type of shorts that are a bit of a cross between large panties and tight shorts. They would basically have to since most routines seem at least partly designed to flip up their skirts as much as possible.
Medieval Icelandic women wore pants — women's pants — under their skirts.
Many idols wear them in performances, to keep their pants from showing in dancing numbers.
At Scottish cultural festivals, male athletes and dancers are required to wear black shorts under their kilts.
The dread gym knickers. Old-fashioned (still current into this millenium in some private schools) British school uniforms kept girls in short, pleated skirts for sports. For modesty, there were matching knickers which you wore over your normal cotton pair, in the same heavy fabric as the skirts. They were as sweaty and abrasive as they sound, and you still ended up with muscle injuries from bare legs in freezing temperatures.