Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Defense of Granny Panties

In all my research and ramblings about foundation garments, I've come to expect that some people will have prejudices against certain items, like corsets or girdles. But it seems that there's no unmentionable more reviled or ridiculed than the humble granny panty. (Just ask Bridget Jones.)

And yet! Give these knickers some lace insets and call them "retro high-waisted panties" and suddenly everyone loves them. (And will pay upwards of $20-38 a pair as well.)

{source}
Now, the pair above is obviously adorable and I don't wish to malign them. I just wonder if people know these are essentially the same nylon Vanity Fair briefs that you can buy in any Target, with a little lace slapped on them. You know, the ones that people snicker at!

So, as promised in my title, here is my defense of the granny pant. Which, yes, I do kind of think we should all start calling "high-waisted retro panties," thank you very much.

1. You'll get a smooth line. If you're looking for an hourglass figure, you can't do much better than a longline bra with some high-waisted undergarment on bottom. You don't want a strip of exposed flesh between your bra and your knickers, ruining your nice shapely curves, do you? Goodness no!

2. They work beautifully with retro and vintage clothes, like high-waisted trousers and skirts. And we all know how important the foundation garment is to the ensemble.

3. Tummy control. Nothing's better than a high-waisted undergarment for a smooth midsection.

4. No muffin top.  They end where your waist is!

5. They're not as frumpy as you think. In my advice, I'd say ditch the nylon varieties, which can be weirdly baggy in all the wrong places. Get a nice microfiber, like these. (Love the pink color!) For more shaping, go with a classic Rago Lacette.

6. Bettie Page. Enough said.


7.. You can customize them. I've been known to sew stretch lace insets onto the front of my unmentionables and top them off with a cute little bow. (Tutorial, anyone?)

8. They're perfect with full skirts. No unexpected breezes! Snug pencil skirts will require a long leg girdle or Spanx to avoid panty lines, however.

9. Duh, they're comfortable.

All right, I've said my piece. I hope you will join me in my anti-defamation mission for the much-maligned granny panty. Join the cause, sisters!

102 comments:

  1. Here, here! Others may tug at their skimpy unmentionables as they will, but I love my full-coverage, self-made granny panties!

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  2. Yep I love granny pants too! lol I also have a couple of pairs of Luvees which my OH always snickers at. He gets a good slap round the head whenever he snickers at them. Though he strongly disagrees with the 'less is more' camp when it comes to unmentionables.
    Ashley x

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  3. I've been contemplating adding a couple "granny panties" back into my lingerie drawer. It may surprise people who know I like to wear vintage-inspired looks and things that sit at my waist, but I really hate the feeling of wearing full briefs. Partly because of the climate I live in and rebellion from all those years I had no choice. lol. But you can't beat the smooth line they provide, that is true! After looking at the Rago one, they seem like something one could whip up in a jiffy... A little lingerie book I have from the 70s shows a variation on a girdle/brief that could be tempting to try making!

    ♥ Casey

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  4. I am wearing a pair today and I just love how it makes me look in my 50's inspired jersey dress!

    I look so much thinner and firmer, I cannot not love them ;)

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  5. I prefer cotton, just for the airiness. Hot flashes suck. :) Even thinking about the older, tap pants. Talk about airy!

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  6. Yes please for the tutorial! :)

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  7. Totally agree. Live on, granny panty! Though I agree with Casey, when it gets really hot and humid out they're best reserved for special occasions because ugh, that's a lot of added fabric.

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  8. A tutorial would be great. I've been considering some of these to come up over my lovely has had 2 kids belly.

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  9. A definite yay for granny pants! No more running to the bathroom to pull panties up, down or *akhem* out of your buttocks.
    They stay in place, offer support and are the best kind of slimming, streamlining support a girl can hope for.
    And as for the Bridget Jones moment we all dread: that a man might see us wearing these? I think women still look better in a granny pant than in a "cutting into the flesh" stringy thong which accidentally does nothing to flatter the feminine figure.

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  10. I wholeheartedly agree!! Huzzah for a great post indeed! Its wonderful to see a little love for the high waisted knickers out there, poor things don't get enough of it at all these days.

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  11. Although my hubby considers them "cotton armor," I love the microfiber versions. They are just comfy.

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  12. I am really short-waisted. The granny panty is just too much fabric! They come to WAY above my waist. A tutorial would be great, then I could make them to fit correctly.

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  13. TUTORIALS! Don't forget the ones on Colette Patterns Blog too. :D

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  14. Tutorial! Do it!

    In spite of your excellent argument, the link you posted to the microfiber ones still just shows an unexciting pair of high-waisted, low-cut undies. But with a bit of lace or a bow? Could be the game changer.

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  15. Isn't the difference between those of then and those of now, the cut of the leg- that which is termed a french cut leg?

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  16. I love this post! If only tights were more commonly found to be high waisted. I remember reading an interview with Beth Ditto when she did a fuller-figured fashion line for a UK retailer. She talked about how bigger girls need tights that go up to the base of their bras. And I thought, "hey, what about me? We ALL want that sleek, smooth look."

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  17. I have a purple pair in the VERY back of my underwear drawer that serve as my motivation to do the laundry for fear I be seen in THOSE. However my man, and the few men before him, that saw this pair of cotton grannies LOVED THEM. Every time I wear them I get complements. Maybe they are more flattering, or maybe he is just so used to seeing me in other styles that's it's nice to see something different, but I am starting to come around to the idea. Learning to add some lace embellishments would definitely turn the tables.

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  18. Speaking of vpl, there is one sewer/blogger who doesn't hem or put elastic in her jersey fabric undies. You can be certain, as she is, that no ridges show...who cares about ridges showing anyhow? Men don't, so should we? I've honestly haven't worried a whole lot about this..and I do to take to wear slips under skirts and dresses. Don't want any see through!

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  19. I LOVE me some higher-waisted panties. And I would ABSOLUTELY love a tutorial on adding some lacy elements to some good ol'fashion ones, because the ones without the lace are way cheaper, and prettying them up for less would be a win.

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  20. I love my microfiber full briefs. I feel super secure in them, like they are superhero panties or something. I also just scored a vintage Kwik Sew brief pattern at the Salvation Army, but turns out it's missing the crotch gusset. Boo.

    I also really like Hanes low rise briefs because they sit a little lower, but do not pinch at all.

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  21. The full-size panties work really well under slinky knits. No lines.

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  22. One hundred percent love. Somehow along the way, I started calling them Spanky Pants. There's just something a little naughty about them when they fit right.

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  23. Sorry, but I can't join this bandwagon. My undies of choice aren't remotely chic either, but they're not that bad - good old Jockey hip huggers. Low enough to not cause muffin tops & high enough for full coverage.

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  24. Tutorial please! That would be awesome. :)

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  25. First of all, I don't care for the term.

    I don't like the words "panty" and "panties." They're extremely silly sounding words that make people snicker and think of sex. Why should an everyday item of clothing have a ridiculous name? I do not believe it is an accident that the names for male undergarments, "boxers" and "briefs," are not as undignified.

    "Granny panty" adds ageism and stereotypes.

    Beyond that, yes, I think that high-waisted foundation garments made with spandex are helpful. For women with lumps and bumps or over a certain age, they're essential if one is to wear revealing clothes.

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  26. Funny you write about this as I've been thinking about pettipants or similar style for the summer to wear under skirts to keep cooler and more comfortable in the hotter weather. How about a tutorial for both!! p.s. Gotta Love the Granny Pantie thanks for noting how pretty they can be!!

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  27. Cotton. Cotton briefs. Comfy, snug and tidy. And when you've worn them threadbare, you can turn them into rag yarn and make cushy, absorbent rugs for the bathroom. I grew up wearing garments that fit at the waist -- and when the difference between one's waist and hip measurement was what kept your pants up.
    Lived through the horrible 1970s, as a teenager. Wept when those awful, awful, unflattering hipster trousers came back in style. Am glad that "normal" clothing is now available for us who are "of a certain age."

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  28. I remain a devoted wearer of plain old cotton with wide elastic waists. I have a waist/hip ratio problem (proportional waist, big hips) so the low-rise styles work best. I like my undies full-coverage, since the point is to have something between you and your clothes. I don't see full-coverage in hot, humid, climates as a problem since I'd rather that than stick to my good dress or have seams chafing.

    I've become a fan of "granny bras", too, since I hit 30 and, even though I'm not exactly buxom, have found I have a, um, containment problem when demi-cups are in play.

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  29. I'm a big fan of big knickers and would love a tutorial on how to give cheaper, plain ones a big more pizazz! Great post. x

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  30. You have made some very good points here. I can see why I should add at least a few of these back in my wardrobe, but doll them up; so, yes, tutorial, please.

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  31. Yes! to a tutorial and to granny knickers!

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  32. Finally some love for the granny panties! I admit wihout shame that I have been wearing the high waisted knickers since my first pregnancy seven years ago. Comfortable, a little control and no VPL! While the ones in my drawer may not be as sexy as they could be, that lacy addition tutorial would sure change that! Thanks for today's post!

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  33. I have to say, I respectfully disagree. Large underwear do not make me feel sexy. Nor do I feel that they provide smooth lines. My experience as been that "smaller" underwear that FITS correctly and are in my size are the best for achieving a slimming look with no lines. Granny Panties always leave that line around your butt, and just don't feel sexy at all. I feel like I'm in a diaper. Sorry!

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  34. thank you for this post! I need to buy some new panties and was considering going granny. I have one pair from Wacoal that I love but wasn't sure if it was the brand's quality or the granniness that made them so great.

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  35. I would love a tutorial!!! I have a pair of high waitsted trousers that just look lumpy with my normal panties :(

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  36. Have been wearing full coverage cotton briefs for years but just purchased two 3 packs of Nicole Miller New York microfiber seamless briefs (in 6 colors!). Very comfortable. I am wearing the deep purple right now. Love them.

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  37. i love big knickers! they are comfy, practical and pretty!
    and it just makes sense that if your gonna wear high-waisted clothes then your underwear should be high-waited too!

    i really would love to make my own, I've been looking recently and trying to figure it out.
    a tutorial on how to jazz up some ordinary underwear would be fab!

    Lx

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  38. It seems I'm in the minority here, but personally, I very much disagree with point #4 (no muffin top). This is the problem I have with wearing pantyhose, as well - even when not too tight, there's inevitably at least a small dig/visible line when an undergarment ends at my natural waist. I'd be far more likely to wear a full undergarment if it went all the way up to my bra band (and was somehow secured there), or if a longline bra went all the way down to my hips (rather than ending at my natural waist). Which I guess means I also disagree with point #1 (smooth line). Why bust up the smooth waist curve with a seam in the middle of it?

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  39. I love high waist underwear with skirts. Panty line take a great looking girl and makes her butt look awful! And I see it everywhere, so sad. When you really get sown to it though, I hate wearing underwear! I only ever do in skirts.

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  40. Best blog post title ever. And now I'm off to buy some granny panties.

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  41. I'm totally in for High Waisted undergarments. My "2 children belly" makes it difficult to avoid the rollover of the top waist band if they don't come up high enough, or go under!

    Nat

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  42. Okay, I was JUST having that thought about putting a lace inset in a pair of panties the other day. Seriously. I'd love to know how you do that.

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  43. Personally, I think there is a difference between the granny panty and the retro high waisted panty, and that is cut and fit. Maybe they fit some people the same way, but I tend to think they are saggy and the waist digs in too much, because the elastic is usually too tight. I have a very hard time finding bikini bottoms that aren't baggy on me, either. When there's too much fabric edged with elastic, I inevitably get wedgies and VPL that's not just excess fabric, but the underwear moving my body around in all the wrong ways. I guess, like other things in sewing, it's just about finding things that fit you correctly and flatter your body type. Also, I don't like the feel of underwear that comes up really high. Tights usually come up to the bottom of my bra, so I haven't bought any in ages because I hated the way it felt. Where are you guys finding low slung tights?

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  44. Oooh, great discussion! I'm definitely in favour of comfort and smooth lines. It's pretty cool to see so many people saying 'yes!' to granny panties, never mind what men and fashion mags say. Just about anything can look sexy if you're comfortable and confident in it! :)

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  45. Hello, I've just recently come across your blog and I love it! And I totally agree with the wearing of "granny panties". The best part about them, is when you wear them with nice business slacks, no panty line. Win!

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  46. My goodness, I'd never heard ladies' briefs referred to as "Granny Panties" before. (The things one learns on sewing blogs!) To those who worry that so much coverage will feel warm, may I recommend cotton ones? They breathe wonderfully.

    I'm older than the rest of you, I think, so thong underwear seems a recent invention to me. I really don't know how you ladies can bear wearing them. They look like instruments of torture to me. (But I'm all about comfort and have been ever since my teen years.)

    I have never been inclined to attempt sewing underwear before, but you make it sound interesting, and I adore learning new techniques. So I hope you'll end up doing a tutorial. It would be nice to have some pretty cotton underwear -- the ones to be found in the stores are pretty utilitarian looking.

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  47. Yes - tutorial!!!!!

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  48. I just had to laugh - I love granny panties, even the not-cute ones with no lace at all. I have the straight up cotton ones, IN WHITE no less, with no lace or anything. I love them. It's like being swathed in comfort.

    In my house, we've dubbed them "Giganties", short for "gigantic panties".

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  49. I couldn't agree more, I love how comfy these are and they don't ride up into the bum, which is nice. Also, I don't have a super defined back end and these are the only ones that don't slide down throughout the day!

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  50. Patrice in RiversideApril 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    I have been a granny pants fan for years. Barely There microfibers are great.
    But...there is nothing more comfortable under a skirt than compression shorts that are used for exercise. They hold in the jiggles, stop the thighs from rubbing together, and if you can find them in a slippery fabric, your clothes glide over them. Don't wear anything under them-they are your underwear.

    Patrice

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  51. thank you! and yes, tutorial please!

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  52. I vote yea for granny panties and a tutorial! Also this look is majorly coming back in swimwear this summer and I've been trying to find a pattern because I can't rationalize paying $155-195 for the adorable nanette lepore or fifi chachnil versions :(

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  53. Thank you, thank you! And yes to a tutorial!

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  54. I bought some briefs recently. The Fruit of the Loom were as pictured on the package: slightly below waist which is my preference.

    The Hanes six-pack of briefs? Practically to my armpits (maybe that's an exageration, but even with my poochy belly, they were about an inch above my natural waist.

    So, if you want super high waist panties for cheap: HANES BRIEFS from Target!

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  55. I totally agree with you.
    nothing is more discusting to me as seeing someone's thong and behind sticking out above their pants or skirt for that matter.
    You go Gertie.

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  56. All I care about is that they're not super low cute and that they are one hundred percent COTTON!! I stay as far away from nylon anything as possible!

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  57. Colletepatterns.com has a lovely french knicker patterns,as well as instructions for lace insets.
    I recently purchased the pattern but have not had a chance to make them.

    http://www.colettepatterns.com/shop/nutmeg

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  58. Do a tutorial. Most definatly. I have been working on perfecting a nice panty for so long, and can't seem to get it just right. This would be so helpful.

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  59. haha what an entertaining read down through the comments! great post as usual gertie and i would join in the voting for a tutorial.
    i don't currently wear bridget jones knickers as they're called in these parts but it would make sense as unlike quite a few people who've already commented my tights (pantyhose) waist sits on my natural waist and i like it! that said don't think anyone else i know actually pulls their tights all the way up like i do - but thats what accentuates the muffin tops i think!

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  60. Yes, please! I need a "pimp my knickers" tutorial!

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  61. I recently realized how much I hate that line I get on my hips from the hipster panties and have a few high waisted ones in the drawer now. It isn't just about getting ones that "fit" 'cause even my old stretched out elastic jockeys still leave a line. If the elastic isn't somewhat tight, what's keeping them up? I do adore the wide stretch lace waistbands because they also eliminate the waistband line.
    Just this month I purchased a basic black bathing suit bottom with a high waist. I was going to make one this year too, but thought I try this one to see how I like it. I feel so much more confident in a two piece suit when I'm not concerned about the muffin top problem. BTW, is it still muffin top when just the sides are squished?

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  62. Great article! Thanks for writing it.

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  63. I just don't like anything that'll bunch under my clothes. I like the look of the Bettie Page panties, but if I want to avoid panty lines I go for the Hanky Panky stretch lace thong. Incidentally, they make a "retro" high waist version now... http://www.hankypanky.com/Retro-Thong

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  64. Oh man, I agree with coffeeaddict. Pulling some underwear out of your....wherever.... is not sexy. or comfortable. I usually don't want my tights coming up to my bra though. And if you put on panthose and you STILL have a lump on your hips....you've been wearing lowcut-cutting in panties for too long. I've swtiched in between low rise and waisted for the last two years (depending on what I'm wearing) and there is a difference. You gotta put your body back in order.

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  65. I love this topic! I'm with you 100%. I live in west central Florida, where it was close to 90 today and lots of humidity, and I'm extremely short-waisted, but I love regular, normal full-cut undies.

    The trick, for me, is to get some that are nylon with spandex and that fit super well, so you don't feel like you have an extra layer of fabric bunching around your hips. Also, I tend to avoid the ones that say high-waisted because those do come up nearly to my armpits. Well above my bra band, anyway. If there's a picture on the tag and it looks like it hits around the bellybutton of the model or drawing, it will fit my short waist exactly right.

    I buy mine at Ross and Marshall's on clearance and love love love them. I recommend them to everybody! Enough of these little knickers that don't do the job! Bring back the real thing! :)

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  66. thanks Gertie! we wear them a lot-so its important to get it right. I'm in vigorous agreement about the larger undies . I say yes to the comfort and the smoother line over the belly. It would be fun to fancy them up with a bit of lace.

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  67. love the grannies, good fit, no lumps or bulges or bumps. vanity fair, here I come!

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  68. those aren't grannies. too smooth and tight. grannies are baggy, yo.

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  69. I'm in for the fancying up your underwear tutorial!
    And I feel like trying a bunch of different underwear styles now...

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  70. I'd love the tutorial in this I have attempted to make my own underwear but got stuck at full briefs. I was ok on thongs but getting the seat of the briefs right, for me, was difficult.

    I never thought of customising some pre made ones tbh!

    BTW I love my granny pants xD

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  71. Well said, darling. I completely agree! Sure, thongs can be sexy, and boyshorts can be cute, but nothing covers up an unsightly buldge like a good "granny panty". Grandmother's can teach you anything from how to bake pie to how to remove stubborn bathroom stains... who says they don't know a few dressing tricks, too ;)

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  72. You had me at Bettie Page...

    I think there was a tutorial on adding lace to RTW panties in a recent Burda Whatever We're Calling It... Maybe 3 months ago or so. Does this sounds familiar to anyone else?

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  73. @Stephanie - my hashadthreekids belly agrees with yours!

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  74. Go COMMANDO!

    ;)

    No lines of any kind.

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  75. Yay for the granny panties! I recently found that they are also great for jeans. After wearing for several hours, my jeans with spandex in the fabric sometimes slide down a bit and pull the lower cut undies with them. The grannies don't stop the jeans from sliding, but at least I only have to pull up the jeans!

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  76. I firmly agree with wearing granny-pants. I love how they fit and lay under clothes. Thanks for posting!:D

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  77. Best. Post. EVER!
    Going shopping for granny panties tomorrow!

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  78. I love my big knickers! Problem is, the type I like with a little bit of smoothing paneling are difficult to get in a smaller size where I live. I'm a size 10 Australian and they either sell out really fast leaving only size 14 up or they just don't stock them. I feel naked now if I wear anything more brief under a dress or skirt.

    I normally pair them with a half slip or crinoline under my day to day vintage wear. Some people think I'm nuts because the skirts/dresses go below my knees but 1. it gets windy where I live (hello sailor) and 2. my dresses move so much more nicely with a little bit of 'foofing' underneath.

    Go the granny panty!

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  79. Yes, here's another advocate of high-waisted panties. As almost everything I wear sits on my waist, it feels stupid if the panties do not. I like my panties really high-waisted and made of cotton. American apparel has a great, flattering model http://www.americanapparel.com/rsa8365.html?cid=220 (I think they even look better in real life than on the model) - but they're pricey...and american apparel.

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  80. ..and I want to add that I think they really look better (sexy if you like) than thongs or low cut panties. Boyfriend thinks so too.

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  81. I am a BIG supporter of the cause for big pants! Granny pants are amazing, so slimming and so comfy. I'm with you there! xx

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  82. I've always wanted something longer in the leg rather than high in the waist. Like spanx but lighter weight for the hot weather so I can wear dresses without my thighs getting sticky. The vintage granny panties are cute, but not everyday practical. While chasing the little ones I'd reaf they would peek out from my pants which I hate.

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  83. i totally agree. everyone does hate on them and yet they really do flatter any shape. i wish i could find more high waisted bathingsuits!

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  84. i can't believe i missed this post. i love granny panties. i only have a few and am so glad that stores are updating the fabric choices. my favorites are a pair of satin and lace grannies with garters and a sheer butt panel. oo yeah. these aren't your grannie's panties.

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  85. The phrase every granny-panty-curious girl should know is this: "modern brief." I consider, anything labeled a modern brief, particularly Bali stuff, a godsend. They are cut just s hair below the belly button, but full in the back. Comfortable, flattering, and you don't end up with the feeling of elastic under your armpits. Most of mine are black, and I don't see anything unsexy about them. I wish I could find a bathing suit cut the same way.

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  86. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  87. I just made some summer granny panties out of stretch lace and I'm super excited about them! I found a tutorial online for making a pattern based on your old favorites, tweaked it to "retro" proportions, bought some great stretch lace for around $6/yd and elastic lace trim for 28¢/yd, and stitched them up last night. I plan to make many more, and spend way less dough on fancy underpants!

    This was all inspired by your post here, so I came back to say thank you thank you thank you. :)

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  88. I hate the term "granny panties" to describe the traditional brief that fits correctly on the natural waist. This term was no doubt coined by some uninformed young person, or fashion writer, without a sense of historical perspective. The traditional brief looks fabulous on the right kind of body (check out the Secrets in Lace web site), and actually looks better on most bodies than the thong or most micro briefs that show too much. The micro styles simply try too hard and, in so doing, give away too much to the observer. Sex appeal is based on mystery. A woman in beautiful lingerie is far sexier than a naked woman, or one in lingerie that barely conceals. Sure, most grannies would not look sexy in anything, but the beautiful woman looks fabulous in traditional style briefs. Young people, as exemplified by Bridget Jones boyfriend, have no sense of romance and historical perspective that will allow them to appreciate the romantic styles of decades past. The panties of the 1930s and 40s, including side-buttoned, and later elastic waist, tap panties, sweet little bloomers and cuff-leg briefs, were the most glamorous of all, utilizing sensuous silks, satins, and rayon fabrics and adding delicate touches of lace, embroidery, ribbons and bows. French-inspired from the start, lingerie makers really knew how to get it right. Since then, we have fallen into a more utilitarian periods of functional and sexless underwear than tries too hard to be "sexy," but often falls short. In a strained effort to avoid the natural waist, for example, we get the awkward looking “boy short” that comes down lower down on the leg but looks, and no doubt feels, unnatural. Lingerie is best when it is innocent and demure, leaving much to the imagination, but doing it with style and femininity. Even the simple white, or pastel, cuff-leg Lollipop brief, in cotton or nylon, is far sexier than the thong because of the sense of innocence that it conveys. More guys than you think appreciate the traditional styles that look like undergarments rather than athletic wear.

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  89. The barely there panties is just too much fabric! They come to way above my waist. A tutorial would be awesome, then I could make them to fit correctly.

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  90. Cheap Panties is best when it is innocent and demure, leaving much to the imagination, but doing it with style and femininity.

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  91. I hate the term "granny panties." It displays a total lack of historical perspective. Most women wore high-waisted panties for most of the 20th century, not just grannies. Marilyn Monrow wore high wased briefs, and she was no "granny." Besides, the undergarments of the 20s to the 50s were the sexiest, including high waisted briefs, tap pants, shorty bloomers, cuff leg briefs which were often adorned with feminine touches of lace and ribbon detailing. Lingerie which gives away too much is not particularly sexy, because it destroys the mystery and sense of innocence that is integral to romance. The appellation "granny pants" is an arrogant imposition of an ill-informed modernist mindset on what perfectly normal and sexy in its day.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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