As much as we love swapping tips and tricks to solve our biggest fashion and beauty dilemmas, there are some questions we may not feel comfortable asking our friends about, let alone Google without going incognito. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. In this series, we’re tackling those embarrassing queries by turning to experts in the field to get you the answers you need — minus any awkward feelings.

In recent years, the resurgence of retro trends like ’90s-era mom jeans, bike shorts, and everyday athleisure has been a welcome departure from fussy styles. But all that throwback fashion may have caused the dramatic and very disappointing return of one rather unfortunate side effect: camel toe. Lanky, tiny, or curvy — no matter our body type, it seems we’re never completely free from this unwelcome wardrobe malfunction. So what exactly causes it? And most importantly, how can we avoid it forever?

What causes camel toe?

“Pants are one of the hardest pieces to get the fit right,” says Helena Young, head designer at Anine Bing. “Every body is different and, like bras, if they don’t fit perfectly, you see all the lumps and bumps.” No matter what kind of bottoms we choose — jeans, leggings, or trousers — camel toe doesn’t discriminate, and it awkwardly emerges when we least expect it.

No, it doesn’t feed off of our vulnerability. “It’s a combination of fit and fabric type,” explains Lee Jeans’ designer Noni Mantaque. “Sometimes when women wear a lower rise or smaller fit they try to compensate by pulling them further up on their hips, causing the fabric to wedge in the wrong places.” She recommends opting for a high rise and heavier weight when it comes to picking the right pants.

Conversely, trousers that are too tight or too high rise can also cause the dreaded camel toe. “High-waisted pants definitely maximize [the camel toe],” says Zoë Garrett, stylist, and founder of Roam Vintage. “However, those are the only kind of pants worth wearing in my opinion.” And she’s not alone in this thought. The last few years we’ve seen increasing popularity in trendy retro denim styles that are rigid and offer very little stretch. So our challenge boils down to finding fashionable, high-rise cuts that fit perfectly in all the right places — sans toe.

How do I avoid it?

No matter whether you’re going vintage or shopping new designers riffing on retro styles, take your time trying on options. “Make sure you’re seeking out high-quality brands with well-tested fits,” says Hillary Justin, owner, and designer of Bliss And Mischief. “Go for the style you want and try to see the fit on a variety of ladies by checking out the tagged pics of the brand on Instagram. This will give you a good indication of the fit quality on a variety of body types.”

Still not quite right? Garrett suggests finding a good tailor to make your new pants hit all the correct curves. “I usually go a size up and then get them tailored in the waist,” she says. “That helps release the tightness around the crotch while still being snug around your midsection.”

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(Photos via Getty; Illustrations by Casey Callahan)

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