Buying knickers is getting complicated. Gone are the days when you had a choice of either knickers, french knickers (trés exotique), or - gasp - a g-string. Gradually new styles of knicks have been introduced, much to everyone's delight. However, when the description of the knickers you want must be deconstructed in a similar fashion to an if-statement, things can get tricky.

The last pair of knickers that I bought were called: ruby lace-up front extra hipster demi thongboy.

Now that's a mouthful - if you'll excuse the pun. I was baffled. It was the longest and strangest knicker name I'd ever heard. For that reason alone I had to have them.

I had received a letter from my bank saying they had increased my credit card limit - even though I was well over it in the first place - so, naturally, I leapt onto the internet and began to shop. I'm a sucker for temptation, Satan loves me. I had just added a beautiful red corset style bustier to my basket and wanted the matching knickers. The matching knickers were the ruby lace-up front extra hipster demi thongboy.1

The picture didn't tell me much, so I began to decipher the knickers...

Ruby - ok that's easy, it's red. Dark red from the look of it in the picture.

Lace-up front - I can see there are two lace-up bits on either side of the knickers at the front. But still there is ambiguity - are these lace-up bits decorative, or are they the variety of extra kinky knickers that are flimsily held together by the lacings, that can be removed with the merest tug on the satin ribbons, and more than merit the description 'briefs'?2 I'm going to buy the knickers anyway, but I like to know these things.

Extra hipster - well, hipster is an extra low waisted garment that sits on your hips. There's already an extra there so just how low are these bloody knickers? Are we talking Ellen Ripley, half-way down your arse low? This is deadly important information. Low can be good, but arse crack peekaboo is a look which flatters very few women.

Demi - half.

Thong - buttock-baring briefs.

Boy - boy knickers, also known as shorties or boy shorts are knickers that completely cover the whole pelvic area but usually sit low on the waist. Like shorts, but knickers.

Having given it a bit of thought, I had an idea of what the knickers were like. It seemed I would get a pair of knickers which were red, had lace-up bits at the front, sat low to very very low on my hips and half covered my arse. I still wasn't sure, but I had an idea and the element of surprise was added to my cybershopping trip. I was looking forward with much anticipation to receiving these knickers that needed 7 words - including the fusion of two - to describe them. I knew they were going to be dynamite.

So they arrived. They are dark red. The lace-up bits are decorative. They are hipster but not too hipster. It is indeed a demi-thong, so think Kylie's hotpants in the 'spinning around' video... now think higher, no a bit more bum cheek... there you go. I don't think the boy bit is necessary, but thongboy is such a great word that I'm glad it's in there.

They are indeed dynamite knickers. And are most definitely for special occasions. They don't really need a 7 word description... but they deserve it.

So returning to the subject of the cornucopian variety of knickers available, here's a glossary to make your shopping trip a little bit easier or in case whoever named your knickers was suffering from logorrhea.

  • Bikini - see Tanga.
  • Bottom cleavage - a new range of knickers from Wonderbra, extra low cut and ruched at the back shorties which show off the top of your bum. Apparently bum cleavage is the new black.
  • Boxsie - these are boxer shorts made for women. A cross between boxers and shorties. They're smaller, much shorter and don't have the hole bit at the front that boxer shorts do.
  • Boy shorts - low-waisted shorts.
  • Briefs - another word for knickers. Briefs usually mean the basic, simple complete coverage comfy ones.
  • Cami knickers - french knickers.
  • Crotchless - knickers with an opening for who knows what.
  • Culottes - boy shorts with longer, looser legs.
  • French knickers - ultra-sexy and comfortable loose shorts-shaped knickers.
  • Granny pants - seriously big and frumpy - but comfortable - knickers.
  • G-string - knickers with a very thin strip of material at the front and a string at the back. This term can be used interchangeably with thong.
  • Hipster - knickers with a very low waist.
  • Hugger - a hugger is a pair of knickers with a large band that goes around your waist. Like you're wearing a big thick belt rather than a pair of knickers.
  • Knickers - an umbrella term for the women's undergarment that covers the bum and front bum.
  • Longjohns - longjohns are a men's garment really, the exception being thermal undies. They're like leggings, but they're your knickers...
  • Low-rise - see hipster.
  • Pants - see knickers. Short for pantaloons, this is a UK/Ireland term for knickers - in the US, pants means trousers, much to our amusement.
  • Panties - an American term for knickers.
  • Shorties - see boy shorts.
  • Tai - a U.S. only term for briefs.
  • Tanga - the sides and the waistband of the knickers are one thin piece of fabric or elastic. However, this seems to be something completely different Stateside. A look through Victoria's Secret suggests that in the States a tanga is knickers with a v-shaped front called a bikini. Curiouser and curiouser...
  • Tap pant - like boy shorts, but usually have a higher waist.
  • Thermal - thermal knickers can be any style of brief, but are usually longjohns. Made from a soft warm fabric mix for extra comfort and heat retention.
  • Thong - knickers with a thin strip of material at the back. Can be called a g-string.
  • V-string - same as a g-string. This seems to be Victoria's Secret term.
  • VPL - visible panty line. Although not a knicker style, wertperch has reminded me that this does deserve a mention. It was the inspiration for many of the styles above.

1The ruby lace-up front extra hipster demi thongboy really exists, I have not made the name up. You can see the ruby lace-up front extra hipster demi thongboy knickers for yourself at http://www.figleaves.com/uk/product.asp?product_id=AN-6396

2This special variety of lingerie is made by a company called Beau Bra. The knickers are tied together at the sides with ribbons, and the cups of the bras are held together at the front with ribbons. No need for passion-killing fumbles at bra hooks, simply tug to undo the bows and you can be unwrapped like a present... http://www.figleaves.com/uk/brand.asp?brand=92&node_id=109

Thanks to RalphyK who said "logorrhea" when I said "what's that word that sounds like diarrhoea and means using too many words?"

Thank you to wertperch for very kind words about my writing, and for reminding me to put VPL in here.

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