real life

An undie-current of angst


You know what’s tearing apart relationships across this great land? Underpants. In short, it’s fraught. Men are alarmed by the way women of all ages are suddenly wearing nanna-knickers and women are jack of blokes who wear underwear held together by two molecules and some air.

I never realised there was such a hot-bed of undie angst out there until I found myself among a group of women discussing it. I love this about women. The way that even in a group who barely know each other, you can get right down to the business of discussing sex and underwear.

Men’s first. “Does anyone else’s husband wear horrible thread-bare undies with the arse half hanging out?” ventured one woman apropos of I-can’t-remember-what. Much nodding ensued among those in long-term relationships.

“My husband wears his undies until they’re merely a collection of holes hanging on by a withered piece of elastic. I’ve been known to literally rip them off his body in disgust – NOT lust –  and shred them so that he can’t ever wear them again.” More nodding. “My boyfriend is the same,” interjected a third woman. “He’s wearing the exact same pairs of undies he owned when we met 11 years ago. Is it because men hate shopping for new ones?”

That’s a good question. Here’s another good question: how do they GET them like that? As the wife of Withered Elastic Man pointed out, “I mean, my undies get a bit faded or misshapen but I’ve never had a pair that’s become so tattered in such a short period of time. Do they lie down and rub themselves on gravel or something?”

The only 20-something in the group looked astonished. “The guys I know would rather die than wear holey undies. They all wear Calvin Kleins or at least really nice Bonds ones. Then they pull the waistbands above their jeans and relish any opportunity to take off their shirts so they can flash the brand.”


To prove it, she whipped out her phone and showed us photos of a 21st she’d been to on the weekend where the boys decided to have a shirtless push-up competition. Now it was our turn to be astonished. Or something. Cough.

Meanwhile, her 20-something girlfriends all chose their underwear (always cotton, never lacy) “based entirely on what works best with our outfits. VPL is a more pressing issue than what boys think.”

Ah, so it seems this philosophy unites all generations of women. Fashion or feel-good trumps frisky. And what is a 20-something guy’s definition of sexy undies for a girl? “Anything that can be removed,” she laughed. Ah, so men are united on that too.

“Seriously! I’ve never heard any of my male friends say anything about girls’ undies. It’s probably more of an issue in long-term relationships when you live together and have to see the other person’s variety of daggy undies all the time.” All the women nodded sagely, remembering a time when simply seeing someone in a state of undress was a thrill. For most of us, sexy underwear is now about as high on our priority list as making a dental appointment. We know we probably should but somehow we just……don’t.

Bridget Jones and her nanna knickers

Women may bitch about men’s underwear but if given a chance, I’d venture men have a couple of complaints of their own to lodge with the umpire. Yes, the chasm between the undies that men want us to wear and those we choose endures. However, in many households, things have reached a particularly dire point from those halcyon days in the 90s when we reclaimed the G-string from strippers and widely made them our underwear staple. These were good times for many a bloke. But they’re mostly gone now.


“WHAT WERE WE THINKING?” shrieked one woman in the group. “We were sold a total lie with that one.” True. However in a double whammy to the male libido, G-strings have been widely replaced with hipster, seamless and boy-leg underwear.

Understandably, there are few heterosexual men who have welcomed the rise of boy-legs (the name is a hint). That goes double for high-waisted undies. Combine the two and you have NANNA-KNICKERS, the sworn enemy of erections everywhere.

Is it any wonder men keep trying to buy underwear for the women they want to have sex with? Quick advice: don’t. Cut to the chase instead and stick a fork in your arm. Less painful.

One woman’s partner buys her lacy knickers. Push-up bras. Proper lingerie. ” I never wear any of it” she cringed. “It causes many fights but it make me feel fat.”  Another woman chimed in: “All those suspenders and frilly shit…’s all a bit 70s prostitute to me. Who can be bothered to hoik their bits into it for the sole purpose of turning him on so you then have to get OUT of it? Jeez, monogamy has made me lazy……”

Finally, one woman at the table distilled the entire lingerie argument down to this simple equation: “Sexy underwear = greater chance husband will want sex. Hence I’m currently fond of beige Bonds knickers,” she concluded wryly. “After all, why wrap a present you’re not actually prepared to give?”