posted in Journal
By Ian Ashman
It’s all in the expectation of what words actually mean. ‘What’s in a name?’ asks Shakespeare. ‘That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ Hmm; well, maybe. The difference is all in the mind and the imagination. Try calling knickers – those wonderful garments that adorn your beloved’s rear – bloomers, drawers or smalls and the magic fades.
Bloomers, for instance, are officially knickers, but loose and tied at the knees. What’s more, the idea goes way back to the mid-1800s, when Mrs Amelia Bloomer, an American social reformer, advocated their use. Precisely why is unclear, though the description ‘social reformer’ perhaps offers a clue. I doubt she was a good-time gal! Pantaloons are even worse than bloomers, basically baggy trousers gathered in at the ankles
The term ‘drawers’ is also something of a turn-off, suggesting something truly vast, probably beige and the subject of some humour. The pantomime dame, a traditional figure in English theatre, wears drawers and the part is usually taken by a man – which should tell you all you need to know. As for ‘smalls’, this is a perfectly acceptable, informal term, often used by one woman talking to another, as in ‘Do you mind if I drape my smalls over the radiator?’ In short, another no-go area for men.
‘Panties’ is American for knickers, which is fine. The word comes to us via pantalettes, a frilly version of pantaloons. Many’s the pack of panties that’s been designed to provoke and entice. Yet somehow panties lacks the allure of knickers. Knickers are fashioned to fulfil a practical need, while also managing to attract, lure, tempt and indeed seduce.
If seduction is the order of the day, it has to be knickers. Like all the words for rear cossetting clothes, knickers has form. Some of the original Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, now New York, wore loose breeches, gathered in at the knee. These breeches were knickerbockers, being derived from an old Dutch surname, Knickerbakker, which meant a baker of knickers. Are you following this?
So who were these people who baked knickers? Sounds unusual to say the least. But then it all makes sense when you discover that knickers in this context were baked clay spheres used in children’s games – think ‘fivestones’. The term ‘knickerbocker’ eventually grew to describe all things New York.
At Scrumpies of Mayfair, knickers is our business and we know all there is to know about these deliciously enticing garments and how and why they work. To see what we mean, scroll through some of the wonderful Scrumpies creations shown on this site, beautifully photographed ‘in situ’. Each is pitch-perfect: vital and exciting but never vulgar. These are not drawers, bloomers or smalls. These are knickers: powerful, classy, lustrous.