Underwear

As a commuter in London I’m bombarded every day with thousands of adverts. Normally it all passes me by in a blur but this week one craftily snuck by my mental filters. The advert in question features the unbelievably gorgeous Bar Refaeli posing for Passionata in their latest lingerie range. The images are, of course, extraordinarily provocative. Bar poses casually on a swing in a tutu, much like I do after a long hard day at the office. The underwear in the advert is, frankly, secondary to her beauty.

The problem I’ve got is that as a woman, I’m supposed to look at those adverts, ignore the ludicrous staging/perfect hair/perfect make up/and…well, not so much ‘come to bed eyes’ as ‘I hope you’re going to wipe that up’ eyes and think ‘By jove, that underwear’s great. If I buy that, I too will look as amazing as that twenty five year old Israli siren.’

I don’t think this.

What I think is more along the lines of: ‘Oh for God’s sake look at that smug cow, I haven’t even had coffee, my cheap bra is digging into my side boob and that bint’s being forced through my retinas. Must lose weight! Oh bugger, look at the queue for the escalator…’ I don’t think this response was Passionata’s aim.

I understand, of course, that the average woman isn’t suitable for underwear modelling. You have to be tall, curvy yet inexplicably thin and photogenic. By contrast, I don’t want to look at some pale, round-shouldered girl who’s been shoe-horned into a peach bra and knickers set and plonked on a swing in a draughty studio in Basildon. I do appreciate that the inherent sexiness of the model displays the underwear in its best light but my point is, how many women actually look at that advert and think ‘Them’s the undercrackers for me!’ Not many, I’ll wager.

I have one friend who exclusively owns ‘sets’ of underwear. Each bra has a matching pair of knickers and she never interchanges them. To her, underwear is a joy. She feels great if she knows she looks great underneath it all. The rest of us can only dream of being so perfectly coordinated and groomed.

If you’re anything like me (not you blokes obviously, although I’m sure the images of David Beckham displaying his ‘golden bulge’ in jockey shorts for Emporio Armarni didn’t exactly make you feel good about last night’s curry), then you’ll own underwear in the following categories:

Possible Shag: Yes that’s right, a man is probably going to see your underwear. He may not actually identify it as underwear at the crucial moment, rather as a scratchy, fiddly hinderance that needs to be disposed of sharpish. Unless of course you go in for the strip ‘n’ prowl move but if you do you’re probably wearing a set of underwear so flammable that if you get within ten feet of a Bic lighter it will be welded to you for all eternity. I think men appreciate underwear but only really as a challenge. No man has ever paused in the throes of passion and said ‘Good lord! Is that the new Agent Provocateur half padded plunge with the crown elastic trims?’ It’s probably more like ‘Pink and black stuff! Must…remove…must…aaahhhh boobs.’ Women do feel more confident in a nice set of underwear though and so we keep two or three sets of fancy stuff with lace for just such an occasion. Obviously if the relationship progresses, you’ll probably never see that underwear again.

Work Underwear: If you do an office job, you inevitably spend most of the day sitting about and while this doesn’t sound like much of a challenge for your average high street underwear set, achieving comfort for 8 hours in a chair is fraught with difficulty. VPL is hideous, we all know this and so to avoid the ‘four bum cheek’ look in your smart work trousers, you wear a thong. Unless you’ve discovered a thong made from kitten fur and silk, the chances are that bit of lace-edged cotton up your crack is going to start chafing and not just at the back. Every girl has, at some time or another, popped to the loo to pull the thong out of their intimate regions for five blessed seconds before wearily letting it ping back into place to rub for another hour or so. Bras are another challenge. Most people have appalling posture so unless you sit like with a back like a ramrod then you’ll probably spend a large amount of time with a small portion of underwire digging in. Giant pants and miraculously supportive wire-free bras in seamless cotton would be best but high street retailers have yet to bring out the ‘Desk Job’ lingerie range.

Time Of The Month: (Men – skip this bit. Honestly, you don’t want to know.) So Flo’s in town and we’re feeling several thousand degrees below terrific. All we want to do is lie on the sofa shouting abuse at Come Dine With Me while drinking tea by the gallon. We do not (and I really can’t stress this enough) want to go rollerblading. No woman has ever, EVER worn white jeans on her period. The nineties tampon adverts were designed to make us believe we could but most women would rather play chicken on the M25 than attempt something so dangerous. Of course, advances in sanitary product technology mean you can now wear a thong during your period but most women I know have a greying, holey, limp collection of knickers that once a month at the peak of the discomfort are guiltily put on underneath our otherwise fabulous outfits. They’re Period Pants and by God, they’re wonderful.

Every Day: Most women, most of the time wear pretty boring underwear. There is nothing exciting about a white cotton set but it’s comfortable and practical. We don’t expect anyone to see it, bar an impromptu liaison or freak accident involving the office shredder and we wear it in the knowledge that it’s supporting where it should, isn’t showing and is generally inoffensive to the world at large. M&S are the masters of this and their underwear adverts are far more realistic (even though hardly anyone looks like Ana Beatriz Barros).

You may also own a couple of pairs of stockings, bought on a whim and either never worn, worn once on a date or laddered before you’d got one over your knee and shoved them angrily back in the drawer. Stockings are one thing but I don’t know anyone who wears suspenders, seriously I don’t. It’s hard enough stopping most pairs of knickers rolling up at the sides without then having to strap yourself into the lingerie equivalent of a safety harness.

Underwear choice is of course, deeply personal but I honestly don’t think the over-sexed adverts are aimed at women. I think they’re aimed at men and in turn women think ‘Oh blimey, I bet he’s expecting all that frou-frou nonsense, I’d best nip down La Senza and see what’s on sale.’ I’m sure I don’t speak for all women but on the whole, comfort is paramount and this has never involved wearing a tutu on a swing.

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19 thoughts on “Underwear

  1. Great blog. In my experience (long long ago) attractive underwear is only appreciated by men when the woman is getting dressed again.

  2. My favorite part about casual Fridays (the one day a week we’re allowed to wear jeans in the office) is that I don’t have to wear a thong. True story.

  3. Absolutely hit the nail in the head there. I have a few out of each category. You have missed one though. The ‘I tried and failed miserably’ collection. I have several pairs of knickers that look lovely and I stupidly imagined that I would look the part in them ( in the bedroom) only to find that they were not capable of containing an arse or saggy post pregnancy belly like mine ( not a nice thought I know) they now sit in my top drawer anticipating the day I have the long awaited tummy tuck! I may also buy a tutu and a swing for this very occasion :0)

    • Excellent response! Thanks for that, you’re right I did miss that section out. I have ‘tried and failed miserably’ purchases lurking away. Or as I’d call them, the ‘one day I’ll be thin enough’ underwear.

  4. I think I may be the man that is, as always, the exception. I have always, since I can remember, found frilly/lace-covered nonsense a turn off. For me the sexiest thing is when woman feels confortable and at ease. A simple pair of pants and bra look far more appealing than something that looks scrapped together from the left-over place settings at a 1988 wedding. And the fact that the other person wants it off just as much as you do doesn’t add to the romance of themoment.

    But that is, literally, just me.

    Seems I’m easily pleased.

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s great knowing what blokes think because, as much time as men and women spend together, they may not often discuss things like this! Love your honesty.

  5. I agree completely with OxfordCookie. I like to see a girl wearing plain underwear. Whatever she finds comfortable. Any frills or fiddly bits just look silly to me. What are they for? I also don’t think they feel very nice when getting touchy-feely under the covers. I think thongs also look ugly. Granted, they show more of the bum (and that’s always a good thing) but they look uncomfortable and (dare I say it) a bit slutty. I also read the ‘period pants’ bit with great interest. Nothing about that subject scares me off. I find it all quite intriguing! So basically, wear what the fuck you want 🙂

    (In fact I don’t even go for the ‘slim model’ type. I prefer girls with curves, so those ads do nothing for me)

  6. I’m far more bemused by perfume ads which sell on the strength of how hot Keira Knightley (for example) looks whilst wearing it. Because God knows once you’re wearing new Whatever It’s Called from Chanel, you would be physically unable to go outside wearing tracksuit bottoms, slippers and a bin bag?

    Maybe. Anyway, yes, that seems even stupider. Great post, also, I had no idea this was so complicated.

  7. I never wear a thong to work, but I have a very stretchy cotton one for yoga class, as nothing else will stay put under those clothes. For work I wear granny pants that do not creep and do not give me quadrisection. Highly recommend.

  8. Great post. My missus has the exact same selection.

    I think nice underwear says more about a woman than you’d think. It says that she cares about herself, she’s confident and proud of her body and she wants to be sexy – all good to me (as a bloke). I love buying underwear for my wife because even though I may know what the present is, it makes the unwrapping more fun.

    Love the blog – great to find another list maker!

  9. I’m with mrshev above – I love buying Myla, AP, Aubade, etc for my wife, knowing that she feels good about what she has on, and so do I!

    Yes, she has the safe M&S pieces for when that’s more appropriate, but nothing nicer than ‘discovering’ what was selected that morning, later on 🙂

  10. I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I have about a million pairs of Primark plain black cotton thongs. They are the comfiest pants I have ever worn in my life. Perfect for every occasion (apart from when Flo’s in town – nothing beats decade old period pants!).

    When I first got together with the BF I had to inform him that I have several dozen pairs of these pants and I wasn’t actually just wearing the same pair day, after day, after day, after day….

    • I see your Primark and raise you Asda… The most comfortable pants I own (not-loose cotton boxers with buttons) are a 3-for-£5 set from Asda bought about 6 years ago. My girlfriend can’t even hear the A-word without getting angry, but recently she found a very similar design in Uniqlo and immediately bought me some. But I’m wearing my Asdas right now (I don’t think they’re even George-branded) and they’re as perfect as ever.

  11. Some of my everyday wear falls into the “just a tad childish and obnoxious” collection. For example, my personal favorite is a pair of navy blue boyshorts adorned with tiny whales. You know, in case I happen to be feeling fat and nautical at the same time.

  12. This truly made me laugh altough I m beyond menopause thexwrll is truly dry and don’t need the big period knickers now I laughed out loud.

  13. Almost ruined a good pair of ‘apple packers’ laughing at the silliness of how we buy, own and categorise undies and was reminded of a recent conversation with a purveyor of very swanky ladies smalls

    Undie retailer of all things scrummy “We have a particular shade of nasty orange-red for men to buy and for their other halves to bring back and replace for a nicer shade of red or more often cream.”

    Me”Uck yes! Why not a nice blue-red that actually makes us look less pasty for Gawd’s sake?!?”

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