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Stabroek News

Up-close and personal with panties
published: Sunday | March 9, 2008

Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor

Panties are female undergarments which have drawn mixed reactions and have been the centre of embarrassment for men and women alike, whether used as a token of promiscuous sex, worn as a sign of luxury or given as a gift to a lover. Panties are items for fetish because of the belief that they have magical powers. Panties are also associated with obeah practices to 'tie a woman to man' to seal a permanent union. Panties are also common in comedian lines.

The original design of panties was to contort or hold the female's body in shape. In the 1940s Fredericks of Hollywood popularised the fashionable corsets. During the 1960s, feminists created a controversy that these undergarments were changing the shapes of women. Of course, this view did not sit well with older women who loved the restrictions provided by the corsets to give them the perfect figure.


Today, the basic form of the panty still remains the same with a waistband that rests just below the navel and covers the bottom in full, or parts thereof. However, panties today are cut close to the body and are almost like a second skin. The revolution in panty design came with the introduction of the bikini and the thong for men and women. A thong was described as 'a likkle piece of cloth' by a disgusted grand-mother as she watched her granddaughter hang 'dem tings pon de line'.

One of the most popular styles for panties is the bikini cut which has a rear and a high cut at the thigh. As the name suggests, bikini panties are cut low and match the popular trendy, low-rise trousers. Some designers make bikinis with strings to the sides and decorate them with lace.


Panties, designed to create a feel-good factor while covering the female genitals, have been given several names during their history and evolution to small, sleeker units. Names include pantaloons, pantalets, bloomers, knickers, drawers, knickerbockers, smalls, camis, briefs, thongs and tap panties. In earlier times, panties were made with plenty fabric, as in pantaloons and bloomers, with the intention of keeping females chaste to protect their virginity and to keep wives faithful when their husbands were travelling.


In keeping with the fast pace and convenient lifestyle, disposable panties are now available. Disposable panties are used in several settings, especially in professional spas where they are provided for clients during a massage. Clients may wear their own underwear, but many opt for the one-time-only underwear which is sanitary and hygienic even if it comes in contact with massage oils or lotions.

Current fashion trends dictate that no panties be worn. When females or males go without underwear, it is referred to as 'going commando'. Short skirts that come up high enough for panties to be seen are called 'panty shots' and are common in pornographic websites on the Internet. The 'no panty day' on the bus is now a common practice by our schoolgirls as part of the sexual revolution to provide easier access to the genitals for petting and lap sex. The 'no panty' practice may well be the demise of the panty industry. Time will tell.

Granny panties

Boy shorts or hipsters have a full rear and a sporty look like tight shorts with a low-rise cut which will not show when worn with trousers or shirts. They also eliminate the visible panty line. High-rise or granny panties provide full coverage of the buttocks and are the most comfortable. High-rise panties are cut at the thigh and often hit at the belly button or higher. Granny panties are a popular choice at bedtime or during the menstrual cycle. However, granny panties, also known as 'bingo bags', are a sexual turn-off for men.

A range of fabric is used in the manufacture of panties. Cotton, as a natural fabric, is the best choice for health reasons and for athletic activity. Cotton panties which now come decorated in colours and patterns are lasting as they can take laundry wear and tear, especially from the washing machine and dryer. For health reasons, resist the temptation to wear silk or satin designs even when these are more popular for their expensive, sexy look and feel. Sometimes, a cotton crotch is added as a compromise. Lycra provides a stretch fit and may prevent panty lines while offering good support. Lycra may be combined with cotton or nylon.


Thongs are usually scoffed at by women who have not tried them because they look uncomfortable. However, well-made thongs are comfortable. Thongs do not have a rear and, as such, they are the perfect answer to the dreaded panty line when wearing tight pants, skirts and dresses. One limitation with thongs is their tendency to increase the risk of yeast infection since the fabric rides close to the perineum. Cotton thongs are best to prevent this problem.

Thongs are made of different fabrics and come in sexy styles and may be part of baby doll or lingerie sets. There are g-string thongs which are made almost entirely of string, providing very little support and coverage of the buttocks. T-string thongs form a perfect T in the back. These thongs have a little more fabric and are more comfortable than G-strings. Rio thongs do ride on the sides rather than straight across and tend to be most popular and comfortable.

Lace and pearls

Panties have become a fashion item being sold in stores exclusive for lingerie, taking different shapes, fabric and decorations. Lace has had a mysterious appeal for men and women throughout history. Store descriptions for panties are meant to titillate the consumer - an Anita Rosa Isabella Panty is described as beautiful, sexy and fun. Light tattoo effect. Beautiful floral embroidery. Satin ribbon with pearls. Comfort and style all in one beautiful panty. Comfort and fit. Freedom of movement. Light and silky soft material …

Other descriptors include invisible hipster; 'sexy sheer tricot and lace panty with open front'; 'lace cheeky'; 'crotch less', 'very risqué', 'all lace'; 'see-through sheer vintage'; 'body wrap'; 'sculpt'; and 'embroidered crotchless'. Sexy panties have now become a major fashion item in the dancehall where panties are worn as outerwear with skimpy lingerie tops.

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