An Ode to Granny Pants
Yeah, Dita's wearing granny pants. Photo: Sheryl Nields
For all the money I spend on clothes, only a wee portion is directed towards my top drawer. Like Liz Lemon, who rejoices in packing underwear that “isn’t grey” when going on a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, I value comfort and practicality above all else when it comes to clothing my bony behind. And it appears I’m not alone in this sentiment.
Upon launching his first lingerie collection, Isaac Mizrahi has leapt to the defence of the long bagged-out granny pant. He says, "It's hard for it not to have a je ne sais quoi — I mean that for real. Little panties can be sexy but so can big [granny] panties."
And last week, a pair of generously-sized underwear – okay, nana knickers – once belonging to Queen Elizabeth II was sold on eBay for the generous sum of US$18, 101 Alas, it appears they’re making a comeback, and this devoted wearer of the plain-cotton, wide-elastic-waistband variety couldn’t be happier.
Bridget Jones always knew the power of granny pants.
Often regarded as mental chastity belts for first dates, granny panties have been given a bad rap over the years. Eclipsed (figuratively speaking) by its slimmer “sexier” sister Ms G in the nineties and early noughties, the undergarment has been dealt an unfair stereotype, propagated by its lack of coverage in fashion magazines, Bridget Jones, ads about “period days”, and the large array of YouTube tutorials showing us how to fold them, as though they were pieces of cumbersome camping equipment.
The rhetoric around “granny panties” is itself problematic. Like “mum jeans”, it is ageist and loaded with patriarchal notions associating a woman’s comfort with her lack of attractiveness. This has led to the proliferation of terms such as “retro bloomers” and “high-waisted briefs” making the rounds on Etsy, all of which refer to more or less the same thing.
However, despite the daggy connotations, granny panties have experienced a spike in popularity as of late. As tough times see consumers turn from conspicuous consumption to considered consumption, and with accidental butt cleavage at an all-time high, more women are buying underwear with maximum cheek coverage in mind.
As well as promises to banish bulges, VPLs, and save face come unexpected gusts of wind, its enduring appeal comes down to one thing – comfort. We simply don’t have the time and patience to deal with skimpy unmentionables. A piece of cloth or string the width of dental floss riding up between our cheeks does not equate to fun sexy times.
And bear in mind, not all styles resemble flesh-coloured incontinence underwear. A number of designer labels, including Lonely by Lonely Hearts and The Loved One, have prettied up the granny pant with some strategically-placed lace insets and ultra-sheer fabrics. Avoid itchy synthetic materials - a breeding ground for nasties - and opt for a breathable cotton style instead, like these full-seat pastel briefs by Ten.
When next shopping for intimates, we urge you to eschew wedgie-inducing underthings and embrace granny pants, in all their practical superiority. Everyone from Dita Von Teese and Beyonce to Beth Ditto and Taylor Swift favour fuller coverage and you can bet your bottom buck that Joan Harris is a fan, too. Here is one case in which less certainly isn’t more. Don’t let your bedmate tell you otherwise.