Ah, the thong. The simple showgirl’s garment that became a wardrobe staple for paranoid women in too-small trousers. At one point, it seemed like every woman in hipster jeans had the signature T-shape sticking out the back of her waistband, acting like a little arrow pointing at her bum cleavage. Recently, however, women have realised that there’s nothing comfortable or elegant about a garment that’s named after a type of flip-flop. Countless chilly bottoms on countless chilly bus stop benches later, women are turning away from thongs and going back to more substantial undergarments. The brief and shorty style of knicker (briefs having been redesigned to prevent VPL) are now outselling thongs once more.
But the thong’s not dead – it’s merely gone to the Other Side. Men are now the fastest growing market for thongs, according to online lingerie specialist Figleaves.com. A recent poll revealed that, along with a predictably cavalier attitude toward clean pants and going commando if required, men are getting into g-strings with the zeal of a convert.
Metrosexual trendsetters like David Beckham, Robbie Williams and Jude Law, have showed straight men that being groomed and stylish doesn’t mean you’re gay, and the metrosexual’s tight trousers (to show off your yoga-toned bottom) have presumably led to the male thong boom.
Unlike women’s briefs, which have always been somewhat low-profile under clothes, traditional male underwear can be quite voluminous. The traditional woven boxer short – the sort of thing your mother buys you for Christmas – simply won’t sit nicely under those pricey, close-fitting Paper Denim and Cloth jeans. Calvin Klein style fitted boxers run the risk of leaving a visible line around your thighs, and the clumsy construction of most male briefs does nothing to prevent VPL. The thong appears to solve all these problems in one skimpy swoop.
I’ve never found thongs particularly comfortable or flattering – the wedgie is never a good look, I think – so I asked some men to try a thong and tell me what they thought. How did I talk them into it? None of your business. “It’s not uncomfortable,” was the consensus, “but it probably would be if I wore it all day. Is it supposed to go up your bum like that?” In addition, some men have raised concerns about how they might be perceived in a public lavatory if their choice of underwear were revealed. It was suggested that the overall look isn’t particularly dignified even on a male model and can be positively hilarious on the average pale hairy British backside.
Exotic men’s underwear brand Hom make a rather fetching style of g-string with a little embroidered design on the back. Whilst it’s not quite in the league of Gossard’s diamante t-backs, it raises another issue. Builder’s bum is bad enough, but what if the cavernous arse-crack has a jewelled thong riding high above it?
An important question does arise, though, one which I will delicately refer to as leakage. The male anatomy is not quite as streamlined as the female, and men certainly have to squeeze more into a thong than women. The male thong’s potential for bollock-throttling might be its downfall.
So what’s the answer to male VPL? There are two I can think of: most men will do as they have always done and wear whatever pants they find first in the morning, and the other is to go commando. To be quite honest, I’m not sure if most men think VPL’s a problem at all.