Panties in American English (typically called knickers in British English) are a form of underwear worn by women. Panties are most often form-fitting, but may also be loose. Typical components include an elastic waistband, a crotch panel to cover the genital area (usually lined with absorbent material such as cotton), and a pair of leg openings that, like the waistband, are often made of elastic. Various materials are used, but are usually chosen to be breathable.
Panties were originally designed to cover the entire lower half of the female torso since the 1970s panties have had either no legs or, in some cases, very short ones, and have become increasingly briefer over time.
Various styles of panties (Thong & G-string: back view)
Panties are classified into various styles based on criteria such as the amount of rear coverage, width at the sides and height at which they are worn. These categories are not necessarily distinct and usage may vary somewhat among brands:
Briefs rise to the waist, or just below the navel, and have full coverage in the rear.
Classic briefs feature sides that extend below the hip. Sometimes these are called «granny panties» by young women.
High-cut briefs are designed with sides that are somewhat narrower.
Control briefs are designed to offer support while giving a slimmer appearance. This type usually contains a stretch material such as spandex and may extend above the waist.
Hipsters are worn lower down on the body, with the waistband around the hips.
Boyleg (or boyshorts) are styled after men’s boxer briefs and have short legs extending below the crotch.
Bikinis, like hipsters, sit at hip level, but the fabric of the side sections is narrower. With the string bikini type, the side sections disappear altogether and the waistband consists of only string-like material; also, the rear coverage of the bikini is more revealing than that of the brief.
Tangas provide a moderate to minimal coverage with back coverage that is less than a bikini, and the waistband is reduced to a narrow strip at the sides.
Thongs have a waistband similar to tangas, but the rear coverage is mostly cut away. The crotch is extended to the back of the wearer and a narrow strip of fabric fits between the buttocks, becoming wider towards the top.
The G-string has a vertical string at the back, which connects the crotch to the waistband, sometimes featuring a triangle of fabric.