Life Relationships The bottom line on undies and romance
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The bottom line on undies and romance

Women's choice of underwear may be more tied up with their identity than pleasing men. Photo: Getty
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Are lacy knickers merely a baby-making trap? That is to say, are women in their prime breeding years blindly driven by a biological imperative to wear sexy panties to please their partners?

These questions arise out of a new retailer’s survey on what guides a woman’s choice in what she wears under her clothes. US online undies retailer Tommy John (which markets itself more as a comfort line than a saucy one) asked a thousand women a single question:

Is the type of underwear you put on influenced by what your love interest finds attractive?

The results, weighted by age and region, were:

  • 9.24 per cent said yes.
  • 67.71 per cent said no.
  • 23.05 per cent said sometimes.

This suggests more than two thirds of women either have no sexy thoughts at all about their snug briefs or saggy baggies – or they confine those sexy thoughts to whatever thrill those undies give them privately, in the mirror or by virtue of their feel.

And that’s okay

This falls into line with a 2011 academic study from the University of Leicester – 315 pages long, with pictures – which found underwear is closely tied to a woman’s sense of identity, and no one else’s business.

The two instructive finds from the Tommy John survey were that women aged 18 to 34 – what we might indelicately call the prime breeding years – were the most concerned about their partner’s opinion of their underwear.

And then, the survey found, that as women get older, they care less about what their love interest thinks of their underwear.

A coldly animal analysis could reasonably interpret the findings this way: the day-glo g-strings, the alluring snug-cut black panties (and the hint of cheek-muffin), the pretty-much see-through fine gauzy linen with delicate Victorian lace, and so forth, are worn as a semi-conscious ploy to facilitate a conception event.

Do babies kill cute knickers?

After which, with baby in hand – followed by a million years of lunch-making and child-crisis mending, together with the gradual fattening of one’s partner – women may well adopt the full brief or even the granny off-white pantaloons to send a message to their sort-of loved ones: forget about it.

Oh dear, poor chaps, right?

Maybe not. Their own underwear habits could be working against them.

Surveys in the UK and the US have found that men are doing a smelly U-turn and taking themselves back to Victorian times when one rarely bathed and everybody carried the stale tang of a sports-day skid mark.

Up to one in ten American men are wearing the same pair of underpants for more than a week. Could this affect women’s attitudes? Photo: Getty

They achieve this by wearing the same pair of undies for days at a time.

In fact, the brand this week found almost half of the US are wearing the same undies for two or more days at a time, while 13 per cent of Americans are wearing the same underpants for more than a week!

Not all of these grots were men, but men were 2.5 times more likely than women to wear their smalls for days at a time.

Men can’t change after all

In 2008, market intelligence agency Mintel found that one in five British men aren’t changing their undies – or socks! – daily.

Whether this was the beginning of an upward trend in the UK of sad-sack hygiene isn’t clear.

A 2016 Mintel report found: growth in the underwear sector was being driven by men “as they take a greater interest in their appearance and are now more inclined than women to see the latest fashion as an important factor when buying underwear.”

It’s possible the boys are spending big on one pair of designer sluggos that they love so much … they can’t bear to take them off.

And they’re not being invited to anyway.

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