I was going through some of the boxes of my Mum’s things the other day. It’s well over a year now since she passed away and I’ve only just felt able to bring myself to do this. She wrote a regular column for a Lincolnshire magazine and although I knew this, I just never got around to asking her about them, or even reading many. I have found one of her articles though, and I am re-writing it here on my blog as a very special guest post.
The article is about buying knickers and it didn’t half make me smile. A tad self-indulgent perhaps, but I just love the thought of bringing her words to a new audience. Here you go:
“Write something amusing” was the instruction. Well, as this was my brief what else could I write about but briefs, lingerie, panties etc; call them what you will, but I prefer to call a spade a spade or, in this case, knickers, like good old Bridget Jones. Normally I don’t take too much notice of these garments that are worn to cover my nether regions, but the more I thought about them the more intriguing the subject of underwear became.
Historically speaking, under garments are a relatively new phenomena. Knickers were not worn until the Victorians introduced them. Legend has it that the French Emperor, Napolean III, was visiting the court of Queen Victoria when one of her ladies in waiting, wearing her voluminous crinoline, tripped and the ‘lamp-shade’ effect caused by this gown exposed her rear and prompted the Emperor to exclaim “ah Madam, the Gates of Heaven are always open!”
Shortly after this alleged incident the wearing of under garments became vogue. Initially they consisted of two large, separate legs gathered together at the waist with a drawstring. Hence the name, ‘drawers’ was introduced.
As time progressed and women became more active they began to enjoy activities such as bicycling and tennis, so they stitched the crutch together and the fore-runner of the modern pair of knickers was born. I wonder why they are always referred to in the plural. Why refer to them as a pair? Why not just wear a knicker? We don’t wear a pair of bras and yet that would make much more sense wouldn’t it?
Anyway, I sailed forth to replenish my stock of undies. This time I was determined to study the articles before I purchased them, and was astounded by the sheer diversity of choice.
Should I get a mini, a midi or a maxi. In the sixties these three words took on completely different meanings which had nothing whatsoever to do with underwear but were all about the length of skirts. For a moment or two I did wonder if the wording could possibly relate to the length of knicker leg but then realised this style went out with the Victorian bathing costumes.
Maybe if we all had Kylie’s coveted, cute buttocks then a mini would be just the thing, or should I say just the thong! Sadly being more Rubinesque than Antipodean
I decided to purchase the midi and the maxi!
I then noticed the thongs, which looked quite uncomfortable and impractical for those with more than kitten hips. Unfortunately I am not one of those blessed with the sylph-like shape that’s able to wear figure hugging trousers and not suffer from the dreaded V.P.L
If the though of wearing a thong makes you feel that your eyes might water and your mascara run, then how about panties with ultra flat seams or side seam-free or even seamless.
It seems to me that the varieties of seams are endless! There was also a selection of French knickers to choose from, and as I deliberated which colour to buy I couldn’t help but wonder if the Parisian stores sold English knickers, and if they did what on earth would they be like? Visions of school style navy with elasticated legs spring to mind. I then had to decide whether or not I wanted hipster high cut or maxi regular cut.
I was beginning to teeter on the brink of a nervous breakdown. My indecision was agony. So much so, that at one point I seriously considered joining the local Naturalists’ Society. As if my confusion was not complete I was confronted by a rail of tangas which, prior to my underwear quest, I’d always though was a canned drink. It was then that I noticed the boxers and the crutchless knickers. I was surprised that this style of Victorian under garment is enjoying resurgence of popularity. ‘Can my choice get any more difficult?’ I though and immediately my question was answered bt rows of combinations of the afore-mentioned garments. Not the sort of combinations your great grand-mother would have been familiar with, but I could choose from a French/thong or a mini/tanga with transparent strings and detachable sides. Now my grasp of physics leaves a lot to be desired but even I realise that if drawers have no sides the contents spill out!
I was spoilt for choice. How on earth could I decide which ones to buy?
Finally, I decided to abort my mission, abandon my quest and return my hipster-hugging-hi-cut-knickers to their rightful place in the store and go to my usual chain store (favoured by prime ministers of the past, well, only the female ones) to buy my regular pack of three. I call them my ever faithful large Harvest knickers.
Yes, you’ve guessed . . . all is safely gathered in!
By Denise F King x
Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by predecessors. Join in every Thursday and read about other little legacies over at The Alexander Residence.