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French knickers: Wikis


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French Knickers are a type of lingerie and are sometimes called "tap pants", i.e. tap-dancing pants. The term is predominantly used in the UK to describe a type of underwear worn from the hip. They cover the hip, most of the upper thigh and all of the buttocks, and are denominated by the 'open leg' style, or loose fitting leg. They do not have elasticated leg cuffs, but allow a pleated, more comfortable fit. The style may have straight cut leg cuffs with or without trimming, or the leg cuffs may be bias cut to a degree.

They are not to be confused with "hipsters' or "briefs", or "bikini bottoms" and "boyshorts", all of which feature elasticated leg openings and much snugger fit to the body.

The french knickers should only be worn with A-Line type skirts and free-flowing dresses, which require freedom of movement without the visible panty line (VPL) showing, because the french knickers would give a smooth appearance underneath the fabric of the clothing aforementioned, therefore suitable for day wear or evening outfits for this reason.


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French knickers may have been so called since they were mimicry of the 'visible' underwear associated with Parisienne dancing, notably the Can-Can. The French themselves do not use this term for this style. The English began to associate the term with naughty or risque activity due to the connection to Montmartre and Pigalle, but in reality these knickers evolved into their final form from bloomers, the baggy, shapeless long-legged underwear of the Victorian era. By the 1950s French knickers were almost the standard for British women and by the sixties this style was mass-produced in the 'new' nylon and other synthetic fabrics. A more practical design of French knickers had arrived, and proved very popular.

In the mid to late 1970s French Knickers, designed by Janet Reger and others, brought erotic and exotic style to lingerie. Of course major manufacturers through the 1980s to present day latched on to the trends.

Since the nineties, this style of lingerie has given ground in the marketplace to more aggressive styles for younger consumers. It becomes harder for major manufacturers to justify annual production, so they do not appear in shops at all often. They continue to hold the affection and attention of the generation who grew up with them, and as a result have transitioned back into the 'naughty' side of lingerie.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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French knickers (plural only)

  1. (British) A type of full-fitting women's underwear.


  • French: culotte-short f.

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