Woman’s underwear is a tricky business, which is probably why I nearly had a panic attack in Ann Summers last week. Caitlin Moran has already written a whole chapter ruminating on why pants- traditionally made with enough fabric to power a small sailboat- are shrinking in inverse proportion to their price. It’s true that if you’re spending that much on something, which, let’s face it, is necessary more for reasons of hygiene than aesthetics, then you should at least be getting your money’s worth in terms of sheer volume. Not so.
It’s not just the size that’s the problem though, although obv. having a constant wedgie is never enjoyable. It’s also the look of the things. It’s pretty much a given that, in the run up to Valentine’s Day, you’ll be worrying about your lady area and that which sheaths it a lot more than usual. What are women’s magazines for, after all, except to make you feel neurotic about having a vagina?
So, not only are we supposed to remove every trace of hair from the pubic area, we’re also supposed to decorate it with cheap lace and sparkly bits. OOOOOOOH SPARKLES! I’m not even talking about Vejazzling, which opens a whole new Pandora’s box. No, I’m talking about the clear gap (pun intended) in the market when it comes to underwear. Your options are essentially:
1. Cheaply made, reasonably priced, ‘slut’ pants- usually decorated with some kind of diamante design, tiresome slogan (SEXY!) or gauzy, polyester frills. Often hot pink, leapord print, or jewel coloured cheap satin.
2. Prohibitively expensive, but infinitely desirable, French knickers sewn by blind Tibetan nuns, which look divine on Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and are, to be honest, so perfectly crafted that they make your whole body look fucking awesome. If only you could afford them.
3. M&S period pants, usually part of a set.
Ann Summers, which thinks it’s got the middle market covered, almost made me come out in hives because, while prudish I am not, I prefer to do my underwear shopping in a tranquil environment that is not in any way disrupted by the presence of neon coloured dildos. I was almost co-erced into trying on a £50 negligee and, had got as far as the fitting rooms before being confronted with a changing room door that had a giant peephole in it, bearing the legend “Peep Show.” I get that your boyfriend is supposed to join in with the excitement of lingerie buying and engage in a bit of mild voyerism while you try and squeeze yourself into a polyester nurse’s outfit that feels like a vinyl seat in a 1970s doctors’ surgery, but I prefer not to feel like an Amsterdam hooker when I’m trying on some pants. Just sayin’.
Don’t think that the above means that I lack enthusiasm for lingerie. Indeed, if I could waltz around my flat in La Perla and a Silk Kimono it would make for probably the best Sunday ever. I’ve even been known to don a pair of stockings once in a while- on one occasion with nothing but a trenchcoat for cover (SEE. THIS IS WHAT ENDLESS PROSTITUTION BOOK MEMOIRES TO DO A GIRL) It’s just that the hold ups inevitably fall down and curl around the ankles like flaccid caterpillars while a ladder that is, after four hours in uncomfortably tight pants, less of a stairway to heaven and more a stairway to a yeast infection snakes up your cold, February dimpled thigh. That’s without the pain of trying to negotiate a suspender belt mid-fumble (do they go over your pants? If so, how can you take your pants off and leave your stockings on? Surely the whole point of stockings is that you are penetrated while wearing them, right?) It’s just an out and out NIGHTMARE.
I’m not even talking about the lingerie market as a tool of the patriarchy here, because surely the patriarchy would have come up with something a little easier for men themselves to manoeuvre around? Basically, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means you’re probably desperately trying to tug cheap lace out of your bum crack as you’re reading this, and wondering why the hell you bothered. The solution? Don’t bother. The only way to do Valentine’s Day this year is NAKED. Yes, ladies. Commando is your friend. Just don’t forget your cystitis medicine.