There’s a difference between women’s underwear and sexy panties. Underwear is functional. It is worn for sanitary purposes. Sexy panties are about femininity, self-expression, and style. Sexy panties are perhaps the only item of clothing that can influence the mood of both women and men.
While panties may have evolved over the years as the embodiment of female sexuality, they did not start out that way. Their original purpose was to cover-up and minimize a woman’s feminine features.
The first “panties” were the brainchild of Elizabeth Miller, but Amelia Bloomer revised them during the 1850’s. They were essentially long, baggy pants ending at the ankles (a.k.a. “bloomers”). In the late 18th century bloomers got two other nametags – knickers and knickerbockers.
When the roaring 20s arrived, signaling the cueca boxer end of World War I, young women began wearing shorter skirts for greater comfort while dancing. With all of the high leg kicking that was taking place, undergarments went from being a private article of clothing, to potentially being a public display of intimate fashion apparel.
As a result the first pastel panties were designed and the word “lingerie” first appeared in public. The term lingerie derives from the French word ‘lin’ which means linen. During the beginning of the 20th century it was still being called underwear and was worn mainly for hygienic purposes. It was at this time that bloomers began to shrink in size.
FREDERICK’S Of HOLLYWOOD
In the 1940s, Frederick’s of Hollywood opened shop in Hollywood. They began turning out prettier undergarments, lingerie, and corsets. Many viewed these more fashionable undergarments as “hooker” attire. After all, why would a respectable woman need raunchy panties?
Thus, any pretty and/or fashionable garments worn under clothing were deemed as lingerie; which was associated with bad girls who did bad things…that men liked. Frederick’s of Hollywood still carries this stigma today and as a result, has been overshadowed by Victoria’s Secret as a more “respectable” undergarment retailer.
Colorful, bright, sexy, and flashier fashions of women’s lingerie were becoming available. More fabrics such as cotton, satin, lace and silk began to be incorporated into the makeup of women’s lingerie, making them more desired by females and more sensual to males.
This is perhaps the great turning point when panties became more than simple hygiene products and were viewed as a symbol for sexuality and eroticism worldwide.
During the 1960s, there was a stir about the old, traditional views of women’s undergarments, which some people wanted to look more like females’ anatomies. Female anatomy was largely misunderstood due to censorship of the subject. Some feminist women were complaining that traditional women’s undergarments were created to impose control and distort the appearance of women’s figures (which it originally did).
This movement caused many females to have a new outlook on their undergarments. The underpants began to be made more like women’s anatomy, as designers experimented with different cuts and fabrics. The underpants got smaller and skinnier and began to be more openly sexualized.
Then the 70s and sexual liberation arrived. Inhibitions diminished and so did the tolerance for grandma panties (which is what bloomers were now called).