Fashion. Panties, bloomers and knickers A Brief History of Ladies Underwear
Ladies Underwear Miscellany
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 Cotton has been superseded by silk and similar feeling, man made fabrics such as nylon and rayon, although the gusset is invariably cotton for hygienic reasons.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.