Alyx Gorman: In defence of Kendall Jenner going commando.


Kendall Jenner goes commando with a split dress.




Forget paparazzi catching your cooch as you exit the limo. Those days are over.

Now, not wearing underwear isn’t a secret surprise revealed by an untimely bulb flash. It’s a full-blown statement.

It’s a sheer panel from the ankle to the upper hip, a gap in your embellishment from hem to underarm, a pair of twin-slits that go right up to your waist. Gwyneth has done it. Jennifer Lawrence has done it.

And now? Kendall Jenner has done it.

The new no-knickers look has all the subtlety of a statement tee that says “I’m not wearing underwear!” Judging by the headlines those dresses are getting, people are absolutely scandalised by this idea. As if free-buffing breaks some unspoken standard of decency.

Now, I’m not saying Kendall’s very visible front flap met the utmost standards of taste – but really? Are we so amazed that people might choose not to wear clothes under their clothes?

Not wearing underwear isn’t some shocking or edgy or off-the wall thing. It’s something that millions of normal people do every single day, without concern or consequence. Sure, announcing it is new. But doing it? That’s been happening literally since pre-history. Going commando isn’t a weird, crazy, oh-so-modern thing to do – wearing knickers is.

While there are historical records of women wearing drawers in 16th century Italy, for most women, slips and petticoats did the trick well into the later half of the 18th century. Until that time it was all out in the open under your skirt. Then, as we got better at making fabric, we started using more of it, adding under layers of bloomers or britches or pantaloons to women’s wardrobes.

Modern women’s underwear has its genesis in the 1920s, when flappers would wear step-ins. These looked sort of like boy shorts, but with wider leg holes. Given all the fancy legwork involved in dancing the Charleston, you can understand why those girls had a need for knickers – it was a sure-fire way to avoid indecent exposure.


With a few limited exceptions – like getting involved in a dance craze while wearing an above-the-knee skirt – there is actually no need to wear underwear. If you’re wearing a tampon, it does give your vaginal entrance an extra layer of protection from germs, but the rest of the time you lady parts can do that just fine on their own. In many settings underwear can be detrimental to your health. Pulling on polyester panties that don’t have a cotton gusset to let your bits breathe, or wearing underpants all day every day, even to bed, is like hopping on an express train to Yeast Infection City.

Your vulva wasn’t made to be locked away under layers of fabric; it was made to live free, the wind whistling through its beard. And as anyone who has ever broken a serious sweat in cottontails can attest, sometimes just picking natural fibres isn’t enough to make underwear work. It can still wad and bunch and chaff in a way that your drop-crotch yoga pants or running shorts with a built-in sweat wicking gusset probably won’t when worn alone.

Wearing underwear every day is also annoying laundry-wise. Think about how much less washing you’d have to do if running out of knickers was no longer an issue.

Sure, underwear has its place if you’re planning to pull on a short skirt on a windy day, wear a pair of tight pants, or it’s that time of the month. I’d also never underplay the pleasure that comes from truly excellent lingerie. But that doesn’t mean that underwear is an every day compulsory. It’s a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have.

So next time you see someone on the red carpet without visible panty lines, don’t get your knickers in a twist.

Alyx Gorman is the Editor of the Mamamia Network’s new health and beauty website The Glow.  For more of this sort of content, follow The Glow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter