“The power of orange knickers under my petticoat!”
Knickers is the real English word for panties. It refers to many kinds of women's undergarments (on the bottom half and not the top), but particularly refers to the large variety of undergarment that extends from the waist to the top of the thigh and has elasticated openings decorated with a small frill.
History of Knickers
1215 - 2003
Knickers have been worn in Britain since the signing of the Magna Carta, because they represented the Monarch's loyalty to his female subjects. For the first time in British history, women were free to cover themselves with decorum and dignity. Knickers took off, and became the source of much female cultural and national pride. In England, knickers sporting the Union Jack became especially popular. There were knickers emblazoned with dragons in Wales, and in Scotland knickers decorated with a haggis were worn by most members of the Scottish aristocrarcy. As British culture spread throughout the colonies, colonists spread their knickers. The most famous colonial knickers include the white nappies of India, elk fur knickers in Canada and the especially lovely red knickers decorated with two golden arches from the USA.
Bloomers as Knickers
Bloomers were invented in 1851 by Elizabeth Smith Miller. In those days the clothes ladies wore were very restrictive. Women, a 150 years ago, wore long poofy dresses with petticoats, red satin and lacy bits. Ladies often wore stockings then too. As a woman's rights activist, Amelia Bloomer had her own newspaper called The Lily. Bloomer wrote about the new dress reformatioin. Amelia was said to be the inventor of the pants from writing about them and that is how the pants became bloomers.
The bloomers are baggy, long, white pants. They are elasticated around the ankle, and the hem is decorated with a severe and serious length of black bias binding. It wasn't long before bloomers were the accepted as women's clothing in most civilised countrys. By 1867 most women wore them.
The Knickers Ban
The right and proper English speaking world all knew women's undergarments (on the bottom half and not the top) as knickers. However, this came to a crashing halt with the advent of the Falkland Islands's war. As sympathies for the Argentinians grew, most English speaking countries banned the word knickers, and replaced it with the silly made-up word panties. Argentina expressed their deepest sympathy, but Britain retaliated with the Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice song Don't Cry for Me, Argentina. Unfortunately, despite winning the war, Britain never fully recovered ground, and the knickers ban remained in place throughout most English speaking countries. This ban continues to cause confusion and chaos, especially for fans of Tom Jones who do not understand why they've been forced to remove their undergarments since 1987.
Supporters of the Knickers Ban:
Construction of knickers
Knickers are generally made of cloth. However, recent international interest in sustainability has seen experimentation in knickers materials. German environmentalists have recently created plastic bag knickers, made out of 100% bio-degradable shopping bag plastic. These knickers have a maximum wear life of 18 months. In Turkey scientists have experimented with camel dung as a knickers material. They've proved particularly popular with the faecally incontinent.
Knickers in Popular Culture
In the last year or two, resistance to the knickers ban has cropped up in popular culture. For example, American country music stars the Dixie Chicks have introduced knickers into their performances. Martie Maguire was recently seen baring a pair of knickers featuring the grinning face of US president George W. Bush. Tori Amos and Damien Rice made a hit duet together called "The Power of Orange Knickers" on her album Wasps Are Like Men; They Want to Penetrate You. Who could forget that wonderful novel by Salman Rushdie, The Knickers around her Feet?