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Panties 101

Panties Throughout History

Recently, at an auction held in Edinburgh, a pair of Queen Victoria’s voluminous knickers was sold at auction for 9,375 pounds. ($14,500 in American dollars.) Say what? The knickers, which came down to the knee, were made from yards (and yards) of white cream silk fabric and were embroidered with her initials (VR), which stand for Victoria Regina. The buyer remains anonymous, but apparently owning this piece of underclothing was important enough to pay some big money for it. (Perhaps the ‘real’ Victoria’s secret is in there somewhere!) The fascination with undergarments is undeniable and apparently even the large basic under drawers worn by a Queen are alluring enough fork out some serious dough.

Panties 101

Victorian Era
Victorian era

Around the 1800’s, during the very prim and proper Victorian era, women ironically wore a pair of knickers with two separate legs--which were then tied together at the waist, leaving the entire crotch area open and exposed.

 

 

 

Open Crotch Victorian
Open Crotch Victorian

The thinking at the time was that an open crotch was more hygienic and would keep a woman fresher having more air flow to the area. Underwear changes could be infrequent and this was the norm in this day in age.

 

 

 

The Flapper
The Flapper

In the 1920’s the advent of the dance-loving Flapper created a new more masculine fashion for women.

 

 

 

1960's Ad for Panties
1960's Ad for Panties

by the 1960’s women demanded that a more flattering and comfortable undergarment be created that was more figure flattering as well as fashionable.

 

 

 

French Cut or High-Cut
French Cut or High-Cut

Lingerie popularity reached a pinnacle in the 1970’s and the 1980’s.

 

 

 

Butterfly G-String Pantie
Open Crotch Butterfly Thong

This is an example of today's more sexy panties. It's an open crotch butterfly thong which features sequin embroidered butterfly with an open crotch.

 

 

 

Shapewear
Shapewear

For many women today, shapewear is an important component of their wardrobe. The high waist typically incorporates some control which acts as a waist chincer to help create an hourglass figure.

 

 

Crotchless G-String Panty
Crotchless G-String Panty

For the more adventuresome, this is an example of a crotchless g-string panty with decorative bows. Certainly not for the modest.

 

 

Crotchless Panties
Crotchless Panties

Crotchless panties are increasingly popular. Typically offered in a g-string style with lace or some other decoration on the front.

 

 

Bra & Panty Sets
Bra & Panty Sets

An increasing number of intimate apparel manufacturers are offering bra and panty sets. This is an example of a bra and g-string set which includes a mesh underwire bra and a gathered mesh g-string panty.

A Fairly Recent Invention

Panties Throughout HistoryPanties as we know them today are a fairly recent invention. The underwear of yesteryear was far more practical and functional and was designed primarily for durability, long before it became important to also be comfortable and pretty. Women needed something for modesty as well as to absorb any bodily secretions that might be around. Catherine de Medici is often credited with the earliest form of panties, as she needed an undergarment that she could wear while she rode her horse sidesaddle and when she looped her leg around the neck of the horse, she was a bit reticent to expose all her girlie goodies; thus a form of rudimentary undergarments were fashioned to cover her up. Around the 1800’s, during the very prim and proper Victorian era, women ironically wore a pair of knickers with two separate legs--which were then tied together at the waist, leaving the entire crotch area open and exposed. Say what? The thinking at the time was that an open crotch was more hygienic and would keep a woman fresher having more air flow to the area. Underwear changes could be infrequent and this was the norm in this day in age.

Parisian Can Can dancers can ironically get some of the credit for the eventual sewing up of the crotch area to form a completely covered up pair of knickers.  The length of the knickers did rise, however as the Can Can dancers enjoyed showing off a little more thigh during their high kicking dance numbers. 

During the Industrial Age, toward the end of the 18th century, the invention of the Spinning Jenny and the Cotton Gin made cotton fabrics widely available.  Over time, factories began cranking out manufactured underwear and for the first time customers could buy their undergarments in a store rather than having to make them at home. 

During the latter part of the 19th century, very long drawers (like Queen Vicky’s) were the fashion and were called cutely enough, “pantalettes.”  These pantalettes were worn on the bottom half of a woman’s body with a lightweight, shift-like garment that was worn on the top.  The shift was just a thin garment which was worn underneath the dreaded corset…but that’s another story altogether.   Over time, as skirt lengths began to rise, pantalettes became shorter as well, out of necessity.  The pantalettes did a good job, however of keeping a woman’s legs out of sight as in those days, seeing a leg was considered to be immodest.  (Unless you are a Can Can dancer, or some other type of  ‘loose’ woman, of course.) 

Early 1900's

By the early 1900’s, women were becoming more active and a trend toward athleticism in women was becoming popular along with the day of the “Gibson Girl”.  Pantalettes evolved into a shorter version of underwear that became known as bloomers, which were very popular for active endeavors such as tennis, gymnastics or other sports.  These bloomers still were long, hung like trousers on the body and fastened just below the knee. 

The 1920's

In the 1920’s the advent of the dance-loving Flapper created a new more masculine fashion for women.  Skirt lengths went up, which required undergarments to change as well.  During the Flapper era, stockings and garter belts began to be very popular and for the first time, women’s undergarments began to be designed to be pretty and as well as just functional.  The Flappers wore a type of almost panty known as a ‘step-in’.  These ‘step-in’s’ very much resembled a panty, as we know it today.  Because of the dancing enjoyed by the Flappers and the social climate of the era, a new sexual awareness was happening that flowed through into the undergarments of the day.  For the first time underwear was made to be sexier and many attribute the ushering in of the era of lingerie to the Flapper girl.

The 1950's

Before the 1950’s panties were primarily made of plain white, basic fabrics and had an elastic waistband.  Panty girdles were popular in the 1950’s and helped to create a silhouette that conformed a woman’s body to the small waistline fashions popular during this time period. As time went on, by the 1960’s women demanded that a more flattering and comfortable undergarment be created that was more figure flattering as well as fashionable.  Prints and colorful fabrics were used to make panties, and different styles were invented, including popular hip huggers and bikinis. 

Lingerie Popularity

Lingerie popularity reached a pinnacle in the 1970’s and the 1980’s.  Perhaps it was all those Jane Fonda aerobics classes, but women wanted more figure flattering and sexy panties than were available before.  During this time, a high cut leg became very popular as it elongated the leg visually and created a very sexy look that women loved.  Comfort and function were lost somewhere in the fashionable desire to have sexy underwear that also had erotic appeal.  Sexy panties were popular with the masses and ‘granny panties’ began to become somewhat extinct amongst fashion forward individuals.

Late 90's

Sometime around the late 90’s, the Brazilian g-string that had been popular in South America and amongst exotic dancers, made its way into the general population.  Women embraced this undergarment, popularly known as the thong, because it eliminated VPL (visible panty lines) and was virtually invisible underneath clothing.  It also had a very sexy appeal on it’s own and by this time, women were very familiar with using many types of underwear for its erotic and sexual appeal.  Today the thong is one of the fastest selling types of panties sold in the lingerie marketplace.

 

How to Choose a Pair of Panties

 

 

Types of Panties

There are many types of panties available to the lingerie consumer today. Most women have several types of panties in her underwear drawer because they can serve different functions and purposes and depending on what a woman is wearing, her panty needs may vary somewhat. Here are the essentials about the most common kinds of panties on the market today:

 

Classic Briefs Classic Briefs

This is a full coverage panty often affectionately known as the “Granny Panty”.  This undergarment has a waistband that sits at or near the waistline and has full coverage in the rear end.  Leg openings are most often elasticized and extend to just below the hip

Control Briefs

Control Briefs 

Control briefs are designed to give shape to a woman’s body and usually contain some form of spandex or control fabric to offer support.  These types of garments can have varying shapes or designs, depending on a woman’s various wardrobe needs.

High-Cut Briefs

High-Cut Briefs 

This brief is similar to the classic brief except the leg openings are cut up high on the leg in order to give the leg an elongated, sexier appearance.  This also creates a more slender silhouette on the rear end as a result.  These panties are sometimes referred to as “French Cut.” 

Hipster

Hipster 

These panties, also known as Hip Huggers are very similar in coverage to a brief except that the waistline is a few inches lower on the midriff, hitting a couple of inches below the navel. 

Bikini

Bikini 

The bikini has a fairly full coverage rear end but is very low cut at the waistband, and is very narrow on the sides.  A string bikini is the most narrow at the sides and the front and rear attaches to a “string waistband” that encircles the body.  The bikini is arguably one of the most popular panty styles worn by women today.   

Boy Shorts

Boy Shorts 

Boy shorts are worn low on the hips like a hipster, but the leg is slightly elongated to extend just a bit beyond the buttocks, almost like an extremely short pair of shorts.  Because of the lack of elastic in the leg openings, sometimes boy shorts are effective at eliminating visible panty lines.

   

Tanga Panty

Tanga 

Tanga panties are very similar to hip huggers but are cut very high on the leg and are narrow on the sides.  The high cut leg effect dissects the coverage on the rear end so that a flattering look is often created that is comfortable to the wearer and can also help to eliminate visible panty lines.   

Thong Panties

Thong 

Thongs have a similar waistband to Tangas, but the rear coverage is much more minimal, the fabric starting out a bit wider at the top but eventually becoming nothing more than a strip of fabric that eventually disappears between the buttocks.  Thongs are popular for their very sexy look as well as their virtual elimination of visible panty lines underneath clothing. 

G-String Panties

G-String 

The most minimal panty available, the G-string is very similar to a thong in the front, but has virtually no coverage in the rear, having just a string that mostly disappears in between the buttocks in the back.

   

Today’s panties are made from many different fabrics, such as cotton, silk, satin, leather, vinyl, latex, mesh and polyester--but it is usually considered good hygienic protocol to have the crotch lined in a cotton fabric that breathes. Panties serve a wide range of purposes that vary from control and shapewear garments all the way to those that are designed primarily for sexual titillation and erotic purposes. The modern woman has much to choose from when it comes to assembling her panty wardrobe. We’ve progressed light years when it comes to the comfort, function as well as styling of these beautiful and sexy garments that we playfully call panties. Next time you reach into your underwear drawer, you may be thankful for the pretty, sexy things you get to wear next to your skin that make you feel confident, beautiful as well as sexy. And thankfully, there’s probably not a pantaloon or bloomer in sight!

 


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