The Truth About “Granny Panties”

When we set out to write a story on how to shop for granny panties, we thought it'd be as simple as asking a few stylish grandmas what they look for in a pair of underwear. Boy, were we mistaken. Turns out, the term "granny panties" carries a lot more weight than you might think. To us fashionable, young folk, it's become the colloquial term we use to describe the higher-waisted, full-backed drawers that are suddenly popular: According to the New York Times, thong sales dropped 7% in the past year, while sales of high-waist briefs and other fuller-coverage styles have grown by 17%. Though granny panties have been popping up in the media left and right, to many older women, the name feels offensive and ageist. We reached out to a few of our favorite Advanced Style ladies to get their take on the trend — and the results were mixed, to say the least.
"Thongs are out. The thong is dated and I think women have finally come to grips with the fact that it's really uncomfortable," Alice Carey explained, which isn't news to us. However, the stylish and opinionated redhead had a bone to pick with our query about the granny panty trend: "I don't want to be too rough about what I say here, but honest to God, the use of 'granny' sucks. It's demeaning," she explained. She went on to describe her swimming classes here in NYC, and how when she changes in the locker rooms, none of the older women around her are wearing so-called "granny panties." Instead, they're just wearing normal, pretty briefs that hit below the belly button. Not high-waisted, saggy, or covered in the faded-pastel floral print we typically ascribe to this particular undergarment. "We don't think in terms like 'granny' or 'old.' We just don't. We think 'chic,' we think 'style,'" she declared. "At the very least, we think 'pretty.'" While Debra Rapoport agrees — "The term is definitely kind of yucky to me" — she shared with us her thoughts on undies. For her, they're somewhat of an afterthought. Underwear is just not something she's ever focused on. What's more important to Rapoport is her clothing, hats, and makeup. Underpants, when she does wear them, simply have to be functional. "I always like cotton and elastic. I have a few sexy silk ones, and while I like the colors, they're not particularly comfortable," she explained. But the panties older women prefer don't just have to be comfortable, they want them to look good, too. Joyce Carpati didn't seem to have much of an issue with the term itself, but preached the importance of underwear looking good, both under clothing and on its own. "My thoughts on the 'granny panties' trend is that these never left. I think with real fashion returning — and it is! — we really need panties and garments that leave no lines, are smooth, and make the body look better both under and above what we wear," she said. So, wait, let us get this straight: Even grandmas aren't wearing granny panties? With all of this in mind, we've broken down the three types of full-coverage panties you should know about, with some help from Laura Hall, co-founder of For Love & Lemons. Whether you're a long-time thong wearer who's ready to dabble in a fuller-coverage option, or you're trying to find comfortable lingerie that's still sexy, read on for our picks and tips.
The Wear-Every-Day Granny Panties
That's right, guys — thongs are a thing of the past. And all of our Advanced Style ladies agree that when it comes to full-backed panties for everyday wear, they should be four things: soft, well-fitting, comfortable, and easily washable. "It's very hard to find cotton these days (and it can be a bit bulky) so I like any fabric that feels smooth and silky and sits well under clothes," Rapoport explained. In fact, Hall from For Love & Lemons says that its best-selling high-waisted panty is actually made from a thicker fabric that's similar to a gymnast's leotard. "Customers are wearing those as an everyday high-waisted undie, and we do them in basic nudes and blacks. They're super comfortable, you feel held in, and nothing rides up," Hall adds. So, look for a soft, smooth fabric that works for you and your wardrobe, and opt for basic colors to get your granny panty wardrobe going. That's not to say you can't have fun with prints and color, but you'll get the most wear out of a pair that's more on the neutral side.
The Beginner's Granny Panty
If you're not quite sold on this trend, but want to test the waters, try what we call the beginner's granny panty — it's not a thong, but it's not full-on "grandma" either. This option has thinner straps and a bit less coverage on the back side, yet is likely still much more comfortable than a thong or G-string. Look for thin lace or seamless versions to be sure that there are no visible bumps under tight pants or dresses. "To look smooth under clothes, it doesn't have to be a thong — it just has to be a nicely fitted piece of underwear that washes well. Something fairly minimal and hitting under the belly button will do," Rapoport says. Carpati believes they should be as pretty as the rest of your outfit. "Lovely and well-fitting panties are a part of the whole look, and in my opinion, the thong is just not pretty to look at." These ones are so attractive you won't even want to cover them up.

The Sexy Granny Panty
From all-over lace to mesh panels, cutouts, and strappy ties that wrap around the body, there's no limit to just how creative you can get with sexy high-waisted underwear. To make it look and feel extra sexy, lingerie designers use intricate embellishments and trims, specialty fabrics, and other details. Look for things like metallic hardware, small ribbons or bows, keyholes and satin or lace to make them feel that much more special. You'd be surprised just how easy to wear even the sexiest pairs can be. "Sometimes thongs and G-strings aren't the most comfortable, but when you put on full-coverage underwear, you're not so worried about something showing that you don't want to be shown. You can relax a little bit and feel comfortable with what you're wearing," says Hall. That confidence is sexy in and of itself. Maybe "granny panty" isn't the proper term here after all. If grandmas don't think of these panties that way, and the lingerie designers who make them don't either, then why should we? How about we start just calling them "panties?" Sound off with your thoughts on the term and share your favorites in the comments.