Thursday, November 30, 2006

Unmentionables


Fragonard's The Swing.
Otherwise known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing.

Time to get intime again.
I shall blame the happy accident of this post entirely on Steve, who suggested it.
The topic is lingerie.
A nice word. Smooth. Suggestive in a soft, silky way.
Unfortunately some people sound affected when pronouncing it, others mangle it in a horrible, twisted and, well, knotty manner.
I am seriously annoyed by the paucity of appropriate words for underpinnings.
The area covered, or uncovered, has inspired artists, launched ships, toppled dynasties and fomented revolutions.
Look at what we've got.
Knickers. Bloomers. Underpants. Briefs. Drawers. Step-ins.
So functional. Utilitarian. Ugly.
And then we have bum- bags - which is about as elegant as crotch-covers.
Crude.
Undies, scanties and panties aren't quite as offensively servicable, but rather arch, giggly and adolescent. And commonplace.
We need exotic, erotic, sexy words for our undersilkies(TM), not cotton, loose-elastic, K-mart words.
Wonder what the guy's choice of names would be - besides removables?
What words do you use in your prose, or do you avoid uglies by employing descriptives such as scrap of lace?

31 comments:

anna said...

haha! my old gals wear girdles
(ain't that an ugly one)
or Marks & Spensers cotton underpants
The young wear none.

Jaye Wells said...

I have an aversion for the word "panties." You're correct about the giggle factor there. Underpants is serviceable but mainly used in discussions with the kiddo.

What about delicates? That's the term lingerie detergents use.

Ric said...

Removables. I like that. but, of course, you expected to hear from me with such a topic.
I prefer to go with something silky, as opposed to utilitarian cotton. But, generally, when we get to the point of undressing, things are moving along quickly and mundane detailing of lingerie would be so much filler.
Perhaps I should revisit that idea?

Bernita said...

Anna, I am aghast!

"Delicates" has potential, Jaye.

Bet you were a greedy brat at birthday parties, Ric.
I'm a believer that the wrapping is part of the charm - and certainly not "mundane." No?

Ric said...

Pretty packages hold surprises - always in a hurry to see what's inside.
AND, I was not a greedy brat.

Dave said...

Men wear tighty-whities - skin tight jockey shorts that reveal thick bulges.
American men wear baggy, unkempt boxers that reveal nothing and expose skinny, hairy pasty-white legs.
Hot men wear jockstaps in colors with firm buns exposed and flexed.
Rough Trade wears worn jeans or greasy green cotton work pants that tide just below their appendix scars and just above the little patch of short and curly hair. Of course these ride low in back and reveal not a male slot, but a firm muscular back.

Then there are T-Shirts with the sleeves cut off, sleeveless "wife-beaters" ... Nothing is sexier than a 5'6" mechanic of solid muscle, with grease up to his elbows, sun glasses stuck on his head, short hair, stubbly beard, and firm buns revealed by threadbare green pants and he's obviously wearing a green jockstrap - that bulges.


Now if you want me to do women, I will. But the last time I sat in front of Victoria's Secret with a laptop typing for five or six hours, they threatened me with arrest.

Steve said...

I have to admit the only word I have used is panties. I know there has to be a couple that sound better. I'll give it some thought and get back later.

Bernita said...

Bins, excuse me, buns of steel...
That's...um...very enthusiastic , Dave.
But the topic was women's underclothing. Really.
Yes, your thoughts on female undersilkies(TM) would be instructive.
Yes.

Bernita said...

Un-huh, Ric.
By your own words..."in a hurry."

The male perspective is appreciated, Steve.

Steve said...

I'm throwing these in to liven the discussion.

Camiknickers (dated, but still being made)
Teddies
Tangas
Frilly knicks

I'll be back when I think of some more.

MissWrite said...

Over the shoulder boulder holder.


No, really. LOL

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...actually ROFLOL...I'm hiding behind my fan!

Unmentionables are for the most part unmentionable in christian fiction...ROFLOL!

That's one bridge I don't have to cross!

December Quinn said...

I usually use "panties". I modify it with "silky" or "lacy" as required. Since I tend to mention such things more than once, I'll use "scrap of silk" or whatever later, after the reader knows I mean panties. (I actually kind of like the word panties. I think it imparts a sort of sexy vulnerability.)

My men rarely wear underwear, but when they do they wear boxer briefs.

Dave, you must be joking. I can think of quite a few things much, much sexier than a short guy in a revolting green bikini/jockstrap thing that actually matches his pants. Men should never, ever wear bikinis. Never. That's just gross.

Put the same sweaty mechanic in a t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, though (armipits? Not sexy), with boxer briefs beneath, and get rid of the sunglasses and the horrible stubbly beard--beard burn isn't fun--and you might have something. Make him at least three inches taller and you definitely have something.

Funny how differently the sexes see sexy, isn't it?

EA Monroe said...

Hi Bernita. Interesting post and something I hadn't consciously "thought" about before since unmentionables usually flows into whatever I'm writing with words like corset, camisole/chemise, bustier, thong. Fabrics add the details to give a little extra depth to the character's pov -- lace, satin, velvet, leather -- texture, touch, coolness, warmth, skin, etc. With a little visual/sensory detail I can avoid using telling words like sexy or erotic. Does that many any sense?

Bernita said...

"Camiknickers" while a composite garment sounds rather nice, Steve.
Never heard of tangas.

AKA a "flopper-stopper," Tami.
The nether article we are concerned with today was named companionably a "hinder-binder."

Not even on a clotheline, Bonnie?
I suppose not. Impure thoughts and all that, as well as irrelevant to the story.

Probably "panties" is the best we can hope for, December, with appropriate adjectives.
Dave's descriptions might work well with gay fiction, but they might have a strong yuck factor ( beards, dirt, stink, etc.) for females.

Bernita said...

Yup, Liz, makes sense.
I am just surprised at how negligent the language has been about underwear.

raine said...

I confess--normally, I just use 'panties' or 'undies'.

I have drifted to the extreme when trying to be ludicrous, of course...had a guy in one of my recent mss call them "beaver baggies". :-O

And I've just realized that, for some reason, most of my heroes don't seem to wear underwear. Hmmm...

Bernita said...

Doesn't seem anyway around it, Raine.
Panties and undies don't carry negatives, at least.
Whoops on the dialogue!
No zipper incidents, I take it.

Dave said...

I like scarlet-red lace panties that just barely hide what they cover. They are always high at the side and show the length of a well-shaped leg. They leave hints at what's beneath. Men can stand nearly naked on Abercrombie billboards, but women must not. They are much more modest and coy -- not delicate creatures, mind you, but alluring (that's a good word). It's like unwrapping a box of chocolates at Christmas - only with your eyes and in your mind.

Women must remain mysteries, unplumbed depths of character and strength. Their underwear speaks in two voices - one says, are you happy to see me - the other says, no you may not touch.

I like bras with lace as fringe that just barely hold neat, pert (uh, what's the word) breasts. I like the 30's glamour. I like what is now called Timeless - Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Ginger Rogers.

Underwear should be elegant and sophisticated, not utilitarian and cotton.

raine said...

...No zipper incidents, I take it.

Yes, there was one.
Hilarious, I thought.
But probably not to a guy. ;-)

Bernita said...

Seems guys do not care about the words. Their minds leap immediately to weaving images.Visuals.
Colour may be more important to them than terms.
Interesting.

Thank you, Raine. You did not disappoint me. Who could resist at least one zipper incident - in the circumstances?
~hiding grin~

archer said...

British women call panties "knickers." I always thought that was excellent.

Bernita said...

Sounds exotic to you, Archer?

Jen said...

I'm afraid I use many of the "uglies". *sigh* It's like "other" things that require various words to avoid repetition.
My trip up? "Felt". My editor is constantly looking for my overuse of "felt".
I also notice I get hung up on certain words. Other authors do it too. In front of me is a synonym dictionary for just this problem. LOL.
"Crotch covers" LOL. Delicates sounds like laundry to me.

spyscribbler said...

Wow! Until you brought it up, I didn't realize what a problem our English language has with this item of clothing. I do always sigh when I write it, sad that I can think of no sexier words.

I kinda like having them wear a thong. Thong doesn't make me giggle, and it doesn't sound purple prose-y. Damned if I'll ever wear one of those uncomfortable things again, though.

I like granny-whites. :-)

writtenwyrdd said...

You ever notice how our language taboos in English (namely sex, in this case) are reflected in our language? In the matter of lingerie the words used to describe it, at least the older ones, are all rather prudish. bloomers? It's as bad as the need to call a woman's legs limbs and shudder while you said it.

The funniest term for lack of undies I have heard was "going commando" but that's not really sexy or romantic.

Bernita said...

Seems we ALL have the tendency to over-work certain words, Jen.
I can see "felt" if one is telling too much and not showing, but dammit, sometimes(one of my repetitions - on the blog)one should not avoid telling, and "felt" can be one of those invisibles like "said."

Ah well, Spy, interesting adjectives can cover the plainess of the garment-word, as Dave, December, etc. described.

Frequently, Written. Further, the tone about nether garments(!!) seems to be one of distaste or derision.
"Panties," at least doesn't carry much attitude.
I agree, that euphemism is rather blank, but then "bare-assed" while accurate isn't all that attractive either.

Ballpoint Wren said...

What's this prohibition against 100% cotton?

Real women wear cotton! Don't they?

Bernita said...

But we're not really speaking of Real Women, Bonnie. ...Just fancy-assed frou-frous.

M.E Ellis said...

I hate the word panties but have used it in my prose. Makes me ill.

:o)

Bernita said...

Apparently, Britney Spears has dispensed with the article entirely, Michelle!