Briefs, knickers or pants, call them what you will - we all wear them - but only for the last 160 years!


1. Both Roman men and women wore a loincloth or shorts called subligaculum.

2.  After the fall of Rome, women didn’t usually wear panties until the 19th Century!

3.  Until the mid-1800s, it was considered improper for a woman to wear anything between her legs, which is why women rode sidesaddle!

4. The word knickers comes from knickerbockers – the name of men’s loose sports trousers. By the late 19th Century, the word was shortened to knickers. And we still say ‘a pair’ of knickers because women’s underwear used to consist of two separate legs joined at the waist but open between the legs. They really were a ‘pair’.

5. In the 19th Century, women’s underwear was also called ‘bloomers’. These loose trousers were named after Amelia Bloomer, who promoted them.

6.  Queen Victoria started wearing knickers – so every other woman did too!  By 1901, only the poorest women went without underwear – and that’s because they just couldn’t afford it.

7. By 1920, knickers were becoming shorter – down to mid-calf. Oooh, racy!

8. During the Second World War, women often wore home-knitted knickers or, if they were lucky enough, they were made from parachute silk.

9. Bikini pants became popular in the 60s, when knickers needed to be figure-hugging to fit with the new short skirts and unisex trousers.

10. By the 1990s, as we became obsessed with VPL – visible panty line – knickers had shrunk to G-strings, Brazilian knickers, and the smallest of all, the thong – a triangle of fabric at the front with a string that disappeared between your bum cheeks at the back.


Tiny thong, sensible briefs, or all encompassing passion-killers, what sort of knickers do you wear?