In praise of the secret knickers at the back of the drawer

3 min read

Be honest: of all the pants you own, which pair gives you the most pleasure – real, sensual, skin-soothing pleasure – to wear? Is it the lacy partners of a push-up bra you bought when newly in love to make yourself look like as much like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as (im)possible? Or is it the greying, fraying briefs your mum got you for Christmas 10 years ago and that you’ve held on to for dear life ever since? If it’s the latter, you’re in good company.

When it comes to underwear, most of us have a divided drawer. First there are the knickers for the person we want to be. Matching sets covered in delicate lace, maybe with a trim of broderie anglaise or a discreet velvet bow. They so flattered the model on the poster in the shop as she gazed through gauzy curtains at a bright spring day outside, her peachy bottom gently hugged by their soft-focus elastic. (Shame they didn’t look quite the same back home as you dashed around your shared flat the next morning, trying to find a clean top while hooking them out of your bum every 30 seconds.)

They so flattered the model on the poster in the shop as she gazed through gauzy curtains at a bright spring day outside, her peachy bottom gently hugged by their soft-focus elastic.

Then there are the knickers for the person we actually are. Ancient, seamfree not-quite-blue-not-quite-grey shreds of lycra balled up into corners of your knicker drawer like an abandoned party of burst balloons. Gussets constellated with holes like tiny crotch-Orions in a knickery night sky. Boy shorts whose legs frilled and unravelled years ago, stuck in an endless karmic cycle between the top of the laundry basket and the bottom of the pant drawer.

Of the two categories, it’s the Rosie H‑Ws and not the Bridget Joneses who lie untouched. “But those are my best knickers!” you might say. “They’re the ones I save for special occasions.” To which I say: “Really? Really?” Because in my experience the day you put on your new jumpsuit and biggest earrings in preparation for a friend’s wedding is the day you absolutely do not reach for a swanky new pair of knickers and matching bra. What you want is the pair whose semi-perished waistband you know you’ll be able whip down and up with one hand later, leaving room in the other hand for a glass of something from the free bar.

Callaly pink underwear knickers

And it’s not just special occasions when the secret knickers shine; it’s pretty much any occasion. You can yank them on under yoga leggings, safe in the knowledge they won’t turn your Downward Dog into Upturned Plumber. They won’t suddenly get too tight a week before your period and put you off your pizza. They won’t guilt trip you when you forget to buy more pantyliners and end up leaking into them, stuffing a makeshift wad of toilet roll into the crotch in the office loos.

You can yank them on under yoga leggings, safe in the knowledge they won’t turn your Downward Dog into Upturned Plumber.

These pants are nothing new. They’ve been with you since school, or uni, or your first job. Maybe they’ve had your back(side) since childbirth when you bought two sizes up to make room for maternity pads and then never quite weaned yourself off them as your baby turned into a toddler. And they’ll never be replaced, not until they literally crumble off your thighs and self-combust, because that’s impossible.

You can’t go into a shop, no matter how expensive or how enthusiastically recommended by your friends, and just buy another pair of secret pants. You will never know for sure whether this new pair is truly “VPL-free” as its packet so confidently declares. How many times have we bought a three-pack of basic knickers that promised so much, only to leave them languishing in the shadows for the next seven years because they’re just not quite as comfy as the old pair?

And let’s be clear on one thing: it doesn’t matter if they’re ugly, because they’re not meant for seduction. They’re not supposed to be the penultimate feature in a striptease and nobody said they were just the thing to arrange in a #hygge flatlay on top of your new linen bedding next to a designer book and a mug of cocoa. They’re not meant for anyone else. They’re just, purely and truly and utterly without fanfare, in service of you.

So thank you, secret knickers. May your shredded fibres and fraying elastane hold together just long enough to see us through another day.

Feature image: photo courtesy of Individual Medley. You can buy the card from the People I’ve Loved shop.
“Tampon adverts used to make me feel like I was dying inside”
First Person Periods

Tampon adverts used to make me feel like I was dying inside”

Ellamae writes about the experience of MRKH (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser), what the term ‘invisible period’ means to her, and why she’s passionate about shaking the stigma around periods and health conditions.

Read more 5 min read
“This is a trans thing and it doesn’t make me less of a man”
First Person Periods

This is a trans thing and it doesn’t make me less of a man”

Vic writes about the experience of his gender dysphoria, the connection he made early on with menstruation and his sense of self, and what reprogramming his thoughts around menstruation and societal norms has meant for him as a trans man.

Read more 3 min read
How exactly should you clean your vulva and vagina?

How exactly should you clean your vulva and vagina?

We don't spend enough time talking about vulvas, let alone how to keep them clean. So, in the name of spreading useful information and not harmful bacteria, here's what you need to know.

Read more 3 min read
Why we’re telling The Whole Bloody Truth

Why we’re telling The Whole Bloody Truth

We’re setting out our specific commitments to improve inclusivity and representation, and we’re calling on the rest of the period care industry to join us in making this change.

Read more 2 min read
Would you use a vibrator, razor or tampon that was designed 90 years ago?

Would you use a vibrator, razor or tampon that was designed 90 years ago?

We asked seven women to unbox products from the 1930s and guess what they were used for. Most were unrecognisable, but one had barely changed at all...

Read more 2 min read

Currents is a place where interested people with periods come to get the real lowdown on menstruation and bodies. We explain the things nobody else does, normalising every experience of periods no matter how weird it might feel. We’ll leave you informed, unashamed and ready to expect more for yourself.

We’re now on Amazon!

Order your tampliners along with the rest of your shopping. Easy!

 
Ask an expert! 👇

Like all websites everywhere, we use cookies. Check out our privacy policy to learn more.

Got it