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Panties, Styles and their History


Panties have evolved over time from the knee or ankle-length pantaloons of the early 1800s, through the drawers and bloomers of the late 1800s, to the forerunner of modern panties, the step-ins worn by free-spirited flappers in the 1920s.

Today`s women have a dazzling array of panty styles from which to choose, all in an infinite variety of fabrics and colors.  With so many varieties, it is no wonder that some of us are baffled by boxer shorts and tangas or are confused by thongs and g-strings.  This panty guide will clear it all up for you with an explanation about the various styles of panties found on the market.


Tap pants are the closest things modern women have to flapper step-ins and plus size tap pants are a more feminine version of boxer shorts. Usually made of soft, floaty fabrics such as satin and silk, they feature an elastic waist and loose, short, full legs.

Boy shorts are tap pants for the active set. Plus size boy shorts are like stretchy, tight-fitting boxers. They offer full coverage from your waist to just below the crotch, so they are longer than regular panties, but not as long as bike shorts or workout shorts. 

Briefs are generally known by those who don`t appreciate them being called "granny panties." Plus size briefs offer coverage from your waist to the natural crease where your legs meet your torso. They are excellent for sleeping in, especially when made of white cotton, which lets your skin breathe.

French cut panties also offer full coverage from the waist in the back, but the leg holes in front are cut very high up toward the hip. Plus size French cut panties are preferred by women who do not like tight elastic around their legs. They also elongate the appearance of your legs, which is why this cut if so often used in bathing suit bottoms.

High cut panties are slightly skimpier versions of a French cut. While the leg holes are the same, plus size high cut panties sit approximately 1 1/2 inch below your natural waist. This gives you full coverage that many women find more comfortable than having a waistband right at their waist.


Hipsters are cut even lower on the waist than high cut panties. Plus size hipsters sit 2 inches below the natural waist and offer full coverage in the back, with the leg holes cut as low as they are on briefs.

Bikini panties are the most popular style today. Plus size bikini panties sit a full 3 inches below your waist in the front and in the back and they usually have French cut leg holes. They offer less coverage than other types of panty but are also less visible under clothing when they fit properly. Bikini panties that are too tight are the most likely to cause visible panty lines to show through your clothes.

Cheeky panties are cut very much like hipsters or bikinis, with one big difference. Plus size cheekies sit low on the waist, but the back is cut very high, exposing a bit of cheek.

Tonga panties take a slightly different direction than cheekies. Plus size tongas offer full coverage in the front and back, but they leave you bare on the sides. The front and back pieces are attached directly to the waistband, which offers you protection and coverage when wearing cut-out fashions.

Thongs were introduced to the world by dancers in Brazil. Plus size thongs come in several different cuts as far as where they sit on your waist, but the main idea is that they provide full coverage in the front while offering only a thin strip of cloth in the back. This makes thongs virtually invisible under clothing and many women find them much more comfortable than full-coverage panties because there is no fabric to bunch or ride up. 

G-strings are basically very small thongs. Plus size G-strings resemble thongs, but the strip in the back is merely a string. They offer varying coverage in the front, though they are most often cut as low as bikini panties at the waist. 

Garter belts are not technically panties, though some panties do come with garters attached. Garter belts can be as thin as an actual belt, or can offer almost full coverage in front and back, but with no crotch piece. A pair of decorative straps hang down in front and back of each leg with clips for attaching stockings.

The lingerie lovers at Lingerie for Plus Size know that the right style, fabric and fit make all the difference between feeling frumpy or fabulous. They highly recommend checking out the gorgeous selection of plus size panties available in your perfect size at FranBlass that you can wear under your gorgeous jeans and clothing.



Eleanor Laing writes about fashion and issues affecting full figured women for FranBlass Plus Size Lingerie

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