Fashion. Panties, bloomers and knickers A Brief History of Ladies Underwear

Ladies Underwear Miscellany

Discarded Panty showing Economy of Raw Materials used these Days.
Discarded Panty showing Economy of Raw Materials used these Days.

What's in a Name?

Long ago the only underwear was a loincloth, in fact the only clothing was a loincloth, but over time things changed. Now the choice of ladies underwear is legion. We have bloomers, directoire knickers, pantaloons, briefs, tap pants, french knickers, Brazilian knickers and last and very least, the Thong. The word Knicker has different connotations in British English where it always means ladies underwear than in the USA where it has several meanings referring to men's outer wear. Other expressions for ladies underwear in Britain are britches and very commonly, drawers. (Thank you to my readers for the update!)

In the late eighteenth century, women started to wear divided petticoats which developed into long pantaloons. This was because the shorter skirt allowed a lascivious peep at the ankle. The invention of the bicycle caused a new undergarment to be worn, The bloomers, worn by a socialite Mrs Bloomer in the late nineteenth century. These brought decency and obvious ease when riding the bicycle.

After WW 1 cotton spinning was perfected and underwear could be manufactured very easily. The Flapper era ushered in shorter skirts than ever and the pantaloon was shortened and the elasticated legs disappeared to produce the panty brief. Brazil,meanwhile was experimenting with the Gee string beloved of exotic dancers and started producing more erotic underwear, the tap and Brazilian briefs. It did not take long for the Thong to develop. The thong is today's most popular underwear and has also been adopted by men. The thong does away with the dreaded Visible Panty Line, the VPL, a fashion No No!

Today so many different styles are available with mostly an emphasis on fashion and appeal with only a nod to comfort. Cotton has been superseded by silk and similar feeling, man made fabrics such as nylon and rayon, although the gusset is invariably cotton for hygienic reasons. Today it is also possible to buy panties with a padded rear to "enhance the booty", mind you not every one has that problem. Panties are also produced from elasticated fabric like Lycra, to help keep the tummy and booty controlled.

Sometimes women forgo their underwear when wearing a tight fitting dress to avoid the dreaded VPL or any other bump caused by elastic. This is called " going commando" ,which conjures up interesting pictures of the elite arm of the armed forces!

Pretty underwear is here to stay. It is interesting that although the materials used are minimal, they don't get any cheaper. Whole stores are devoted to underwear, the most famous being Victoria's Secret and Frederick's of Hollywood. Women these days are spoilt for choice.


Pretty Underwear

Knickers come in all Varieties

Victoria's Secrets Angel with Diamond Underwear
Victoria's Secrets Angel with Diamond Underwear
Sexy French knickers complete with buttons
Sexy French knickers complete with buttons
Knickers need not be expensive!
Knickers need not be expensive!
Red is a hot favorite color.........All Photos courtesy Flickr.
Red is a hot favorite color.........All Photos courtesy Flickr.

More by this Author


Comments 40 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Well, that really was informative. Thank you.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Ha ha Hello hello, change from my usual hubs eh? Thanks for the comment!


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

What an unusual hub!! Really enjoyed it. Whatever will you think of next.?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Dim, I really don't know! I enjoyed writing this one. Thanks for dropping by.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

I think women's undergarments are fantastic, and the lack thereof even better. Thanks for a fine Hub. I enjoyed it. :D


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi James, thought you'd like it. Thanks for dropping by!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I thought it was high time to visit another one of your hubs since you've been pumping out so many lately, imagine my surprise when I discovered the topic on this one! I wonder how many hits you'll get. Definitely an interesting subject, er, actually what the subject sits around is interesting he he.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Naughty Alexander! it is an article about history. Glad you enjoyed it!


reddog1027 6 years ago

Well, if this hub didn't give me my laugh for the day, nothing will. Enjoyed this walk through history.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi reddog1027, glad you had a good laugh, I had a laugh while writing it! Thanks for commenting.


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

Very interesting, and great pictures. Thumbs up. :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Glad you enjoyed it hypnodude. I enjoyed researching it, Thank you for visiting.


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

What a load of Knickers !

And why was I not invited to help you with your research pray tell me ?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Well as I've been wearing the said garments for approximately 50% of my life I thought I could manage. Several males offered before you and I amended my prose accordingly! I still am glad you dropped by. I wanted this to be top drawer, so kept it brief. Tom Jones may have some interesting input!


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

I'll just settle for Fortune! If fame means women throwing their underwear at me... at my age I could get buried under Granny's passion killers ! Which I notice were not included in your Hub...


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I meant to mention Directoire knickers in passing. My granny always wore them. I was playing hide and seek under the dining table and was horrified to see that her knickers ended with elastic round the knee! They had five kids so it obviously wasn't that great a barrier as I assumed at six years old. Well spotted!


Bambino 6 years ago

Very interesting ..at 62 I still resist the calling of the Bridget Jones's,still like to look as good underneath as on top,never know who might be looking !!!

Anyone going to do a Hubb on mens undies then ?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

That is coming next! Thanks for coming by Bambino. My Mother always used to warn us that you never know if you might end up in hospital if we got run over on the way to school Glad you have a young attitude, good for you.


Bambino 6 years ago

Heaven help any ambulance driver that sees mine..he would need oxygen..they aint exactly frumpy or large !!!Look forward to seeing the Hub about mens undies ....theirs isn't so interesting though is it !!What you got..Long johns,combinations,Y fronts,Boxers,thongs...cant think of any more ..lol !!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Or mine! Just working on the men's ones. Quite interesting! Wait and see!


Jamiehousehusband profile image

Jamiehousehusband 6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

I've been lingering on this page far too long! But before I go I'll just say I await the mens underwear hub with interest-I wonder how many men would admit to having worn, or wanted to wear women's panties? Make an interesting poll...but you'd never get to the bottom of it...


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Jamiehousehusband. Thanks for dropping by. Lingering is the way to go! There is a hubber who writes almost solely about men wearing ladies undergear. Perhaps if you enter something like "Bras for men" she will come up. Gotta love a man with a sense of humor!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

those are totally beautiful when it wear by a woman. thanks for share about this topic.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Totally agree prasetio! Glad you enjoyed it.


Bambino 6 years ago

Jamiehousehusband....Men just DO NOT look good in womens undies...!! Unlike women who can look so sexy in boxers ..lol !!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Quite agree Bambino. Boxers are probably the best unisex garment. Thanks for stopping by.


Jamiehousehusband profile image

Jamiehousehusband 6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

Hi Gypsy, think I stumbled across her today. Hope you don't think I'm forward but why no fan mail? Anyway talking about gsoh- I note that!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Very enlightening isn't it? Check your fan mail Jamie


guy_h51 profile image

guy_h51 6 years ago from jabalpur

nice information about panty.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Glad you found it informative guy-h51. Thanks for dropping by.


Bambino 6 years ago

Has the mens underwear hub started yet ?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

http://hubpages.com/style/Jocks-Boxers-and-Whitie-... Check it out! Not nearly as popular as the Ladies' one!!


Bambino 6 years ago

Thanks..Ive read it and left a comment !!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Bambino!


guy_h51 profile image

guy_h51 6 years ago from jabalpur

soo hot n sexy.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for yor comment guy h51


Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 5 years ago from Southern California

I loved this hub. I can say that back in the olden days... I would have gone commando.. Way to much hassle!!!!

Beautifully written, very informative and I really enjoyed it


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi again! I bet a lot of women did especially in France. May have been a little too cool in the UK.


Fluffy77 profile image

Fluffy77 5 years ago from Enterprise, OR

Great history of these under clothes, I always find the different ways that American's were there under clothes compared with other countries. This is interesting. I do believe we have come a long way with all of this though. We are much more similar today more than ever.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I think Victoria's Secrets has had a lot to do with the evening out! Thanks for the visit.

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