Ohmigod, black surgical tights season is past and we're back in the bare-legged
land of the visible panty line. No more buttock smoothing lycra. No more
opaque, hide it all under 60 denier, camouflage. It's out there - the
line that divides our bottom into dimpled segments like a Terry's Chocolate
Orange, and - yes, unfortunately, it's not Terry's, it's mine.
Aesthetics apart, I don't know why the visible panty line should matter.
I mean, it's not as if it's exactly a secret that we all wear knickers
- it's just that the first cardinal sin of summer seems to be that no-one
should see them through your clothes. Especially tight clothes. I wonder
- is the Michelin man really a male, or is he merely a fat woman wearing
white leggings and very snug underwear?
Men, the lucky things, don't seem to worry about the visibility of their
underpants. As shown by a recent Mintel survey, British blokes still favour
comfortable boxer shorts and Y-fronts over the more slinky, sexy styles;
and you never hear a chap with a pair of outsized baggy boxers beneath
his chinos asking: does my bum look big in this? Their preoccupation is
usually more anterior than posterior.
So why do we women get sucked into wearing g-strings which make us look
like the great continental divide and feel like a magician's assistant.
Wearability wasn't in the changing room when these things were invented
- it was over in the men's department picking out the piping for their
thermal Y-fronts. The very word 'string' defies even the most basic knowledge
of the female anatomy. Women are not wheels of cheddar - so why do we
need to wear a cheese wire with a bit of nylon frill at the top?
There seems to be no end of the torture we inflict on ourselves. Apart
from the G-string there's also the mini-slip; two circles of pain etched
around your hips like the tropic of cancer and the tropic of Capricorn,
and which only a good wedge of flesh stops from collapsing in a heap on
the South Pole. Then there's the garter, summed up in one word - elastic.
And the high-leg - fine if you have high legs, but up to your chest like
a bustier if you don't. Somehow the gangsta look with the underpants showing
above your droopy jeans doesn't really suit a petite, portly woman pushing
her trolley round Sainsbury's.
It's no wonder then that women are also throwing out the thong and choosing
comfort when shopping for underwear. You have to. There comes a day when
you look through your smalls and realise they are exactly that - too bloody
small. Nothing feels confortable any more - they dig into your body with
the vigour of a squad of Irish navvies and they don't even wolf whistle
at you as you walk past.
You start to dream about those old cotton gym knickers with enough space
to tuck your vest into. You hang around Marks and Spencer like a dirty
old man in a raincoat swooning over the white cotton briefs, a size too
big, in multipacks of five. You wish that your mother would once again
start buying you sensible knickers for Christmas instead of pink, prickly
lace with a 100% polyester trim - not that I've ever seen anything that
was - say - 97% polyester.
But still there's the taboo that thou shalt not show your panty line,
and I admit - I keep the faith. The other night I was walking past the
Berkeley Hotel in London with a work colleague who said to me, quite vociferously:
I really don't like that thong.
Oh, I gulped, somewhat nonplussed -well - em - I know they're ugly but
the great thing about them is no VPL - you don't see them underneath your
He looked at me with a huge, bemused smile spreading across his face.
What are you talking about? he asked.
The thong. You said you didn't like it.
No - I really don't like that Vong. He replied.
It seems we had just walked past the restaurant of the same name. Obviously
I need a hearing aid as well as a full set of old lady underwear.