We’ve all ventured into the world of skimpy, permanent wedgie underwear in an attempt to get rid of those VPLs (visible pantie lines). With new high tech undies now on the market, like the laser cut seamless underwear, we wonder if this is the end our much loved and hated whale tail thongs.
Types of Thongs
The word thong is term used for a variety of tiny, zero coverage underwear styles, all of which involve little to no cloth covering your butt cheeks. I’m listing the three types of thongs here for you to also understand that each one is different than the other.
A classic thong is a simple piece of clothing. It has cloth on the rear that runs in a gradual triangle from the back edge of the hips to the center of the rear. The bottom point of this triangle then converts into a string like look and runs to the front of the body. Despite its name, this is one of the less popular choices for women when it comes to thongs.
The g-string is perhaps the most famous of the thongs. Most people use the two names interchangeably, but the g-string is in fact a subset of the general thong category. The average g-string is tiny. It has a band around the hips and a tiny triangle patch of cloth on the back where the band meets the vertical string that runs between the buttocks.. This string is snug, which leads to an uncomfortable sensation for more than a few women.
The t-string is the most aggressive form of the thong. It is a classic example of less is more. In this case, we are talking less coverage. The t-string is essentially a string that runs horizontally around the body at hip level. In the front we find a triangle of clothing covering the pubic area with a string running from it under the buttocks and up to the horizontal band circling the hips. There is no cloth at all in the rear area, which gives the piece its name.
History of the Whale Tail
If you haven’t heard Sisqo’s ” Thong Song” then either your radio is broken or you are truly out of the pop culture loop. This catchy pop song has had people of all ages singing about the most popular and skimpy piece of clothing of the past couple of years… the thong, th- thong, thong thong.
Although the Thong has been extremely popular in Brazil for ages, in the US and Canada, it only seemed to be exotic Dancers who first caught on to the trend. Tourists would go to Brazil, buy a thong bathing suit there, and only wear it on the gorgeous beaches of Brazil because this article of clothing was a bit too scandalous for North America. It drove men wild that women in Brazil were so unashamed of their bodies that they would wear thongs as bathing suits and this kind of explained why it was so popular with exotic dancers here, who drove the men even crazier by being some of the only American women to sport the sexy little piece of cloth.
The lead-up to the thong’s run began more than three decades ago. In the ’80s, Jane Fonda became a leotard-clad fitness guru, inspiring women to strip down and get fit. “This built a momentum,” says Jill Fields, PhD, author of An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie, and Sexuality. “In a few years, the idea of fitness became normal, and the everyday woman wanted to show off her aerobicized body.” As a result, women started dressing in clingier, more revealing clothing to accentuate the tight backsides they had earned in step class. Not only did this call for an undergarment that would eliminate the dreaded visible pantie line (VPL), but a skimpy thong was also in keeping with the supersexy sensibility (i.e., casual sex) that dominated the era.
The thong made its way into more and more women’s wardrobes and, in 1995, truly had its coming-out party. That’s when Victoria’s Secret put on its first-ever public runway show, and lingerie became visible in a way it never had been before. “Underwear fashion shows have been around since the 1930s,” says Fields, “but back then, it was a private trade show that only undergarment buyers could attend.” After the whole world saw that, yes, Heidi and Tyra were flossing, demand for the thong skyrocketed. “Retailers responded by turning them out in an array of fabrics and colors,” says Fields. “And denim brands like Juicy Couture and Frankie B began to cut jeans superlow for the sole purpose of exposing the cute new designs.”
Two highly publicized events helped grant the thong its iconic status. First, frisky President Bill Clinton was busted for fooling around with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and one of the juiciest tidbits Monica confessed was that she had seduced him by flashing her thong. Soon after, Britney Spears solidified her status as pop’s steamiest act by performing in a rhinestone thong under sheer pants at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. The hot factor of the T-shaped undie had reached an all-time high.
How Low Can You Go?
Flash-forward about five years. The power coupling of the thong and the low-cut jean came down with a severe case of overexposure. In keeping with the backlash that most big trends experience, fickle designers got sick of seeing everyone’s straps. “Jeans had been cut all the way down to the pubic bone,” says Gillian Proctor, program leader for contour fashion at De Montfort University in the United Kingdom and coauthor of A Century of Style: Lingerie. “There was no place for the waistband to go but up.” Suddenly, if your thong was showing, it meant it was time for you to update your denim to one of the new higher-rise styles.
And for those of us whose thong addiction had more to do with banishing VPLs than keeping up with fashion, an alternative popped up: NVPLs, the industry-wide acronym for undies with no visible pantie lines. Available in styles ranging from standard briefs to boy shorts, NVPLs are made with ultrathin fabric (usually mesh) and cut with a laser, a technique that melts the material so that the edge has a smooth, seamless finish. This ensures that it’s invisible under even your tightest pencil skirts or bandage dresses.
The fact that the one advantage the thong had over all other styles of underwear has now been completely eliminated puts a major, er, crack in the thong’s appeal.
Unleash Those Cheeks
Like Monica and Britney, a huge contingent of thong fans loved that the minimalist look was considered so sexy. But another saucy style is gaining ground as the undie with the most erotic allure: The butt-hugging boy short (with or without NVPL technology) is the new craze. “Sales of our boy shorts are more than double our thong sales,” says Ali Mejia, creative director and cofounder of Eberjey, a lingerie line sold at Shopbop and Saks Fifth Avenue. Guido Campello, vice president of branding and innovation for lingerie line Cosabella, confirms the trend: “Our boy short is our fastest-selling item,” he says, “and women have told us guys absolutely love it.”
No doubt, male fans appreciate the fact that boy shorts make our asses look so amazing. Let’s face it, unless you’re blessed with Gisele–like DNA, it’s likely that a string bisecting your backside wasn’t doing your figure any favors. Most boy shorts have a seam running down the middle of the butt, which accentuates the curvature of the bum for any body, giving the illusion of a Kardashian–style keister, says Campello. And even seamless boy shorts enhance your bootyliciousness by exposing the very bottoms of your cheeks. “For a man, seeing that part of the buttocks is a great turn-on,” says Daniel G. Amen, MD, author of Sex on the Brain. “His mind wants to fill in the rest of the picture.”
The final thing the boy short has going on that the thong doesn’t? It doesn’t give you a permanent wedgie — it’s actually comfortable. And can we just say boo-yah to that?