by Hayley Doyle
Once upon a time, I was a thong girl.
And when I say, thong, I mean a few drips of elastic that were too flimsy to be called anything. I could roll up a pair into a ball and manage a disappearing magic trick with ease, the garment was that minimal. I only owned three colours, too; nude, white and black. Needless to say, the black ones lasted the longest because once the elastic started to give, the white and nude really did look like a battered old bit of string.
But, oh! Those thongs! It was like being naked but knowing you definitely weren’t naked all at once. I felt free and flexible and never worried about a dreaded knicker line in any of my outfits. If my laundry was piling up and I was out of thongs, my other pants were such a drag. So restricting. Like having to wear a whole extra item of clothing. Ugh, what a faff.
Then, bam. Something happened to me.
I want to say, I flipped.
But the truth is, I transitioned…uncomfortably. When I fell pregnant, I believed my love of teeny-weeny thongs would be a blessing. They’d just carry on doing their thong (sorry, not sorry), taking care of delicately keeping below “covered”, and even though I knew I was going to expand in shape, the stretchy material would deal with that. It wasn’t as if my thongs went anywhere near my belly, was it? Well, how wrong I was. Once my body started to change, so did the feeling of the thong. It felt…wrong. The back bit sagged down and the front part creased over. I was far too aware of the actual thong, which, let’s face it, ain’t the point of going down the thong route in the first place.
So I got some midi-type Lycra stretchy pants, a few sizes bigger than usual, and accepted that this was another temporary change I’d have to go through while pregnant. But, oh jeez. These were even worse. And because I’d bought them, I had to wear them. I can’t just discard stuff. Maybe I was determined to figure it out, and make them work. But they either sagged, dug in, or managed to do both simultaneously. In a state of knicker-despair (and we all know, that when our knickers feel odd, everything feels odd), I browsed BIG knickers. Realistically, none of the others were going to give me any comfort, so reluctantly, I went for it. I got the big pregnancy pants that completely cover your tummy, the material stretching all the way to below my bra. Basically, a body suit…eek.
Although, actually, not eek. It was, ahhhh! Any itch, any dig, any roll, any sag…eliminated. Gone. All that remained was sheer comfort. I barely knew I was wearing any knickers (a nice l’il reminder of the mini-thong days), but something better was happening. I felt neat. Tucked in. Safe. Warm. My clothes fell elegantly over the giant pants and I didn’t have to pick, pull, tug or swivel them around every time I stood up. I vowed never to go back!
A few months after my baby was born I had to ditch my beloved maternity knicks, for obvious reasons. In purchasing newbies, I made a few mistakes along the way. I was so used to the miniature scale of thongs that I thought bikini cut or midi shorts were massive, opting to give them a whirl. The tummy digs made a most unwelcome return. The rolling below my soft belly pouch occurred every time I sat or bent down. These pants made me feel SO aware of the parts of my middle that I was most self-conscious about. So I got a pack of high-waisted full briefs. Hmm. Not so brief. This was a major garment. A whole chunk of fabric. It was Bridget Jones-esque in all its glory. And I got cold feet. I couldn’t possibly… Maybe I should go back to the thong.
But I’d bought the damn things. Might as well try ‘em on.
I swear, as soon as the fabric covered my belly button and tucked gently around my waist, I heard the choirs sing, “Hallelujah!” I sat, I stood, I got down into a sumo squat and did a bit of downward dog. The pants stayed put. My tummy was intact. It was lovely to slip my clothes on over my underwear and not have an under-annoyance chipping away at me all day long. And forget the old nude, white and black that used to dominate my knicker drawer. The high-waisted BIG pants were welcomed in a rainbow of delights, polka dots, flowers, stripes, lacy trims and hot pink. Granny pants they are NOT. Sure, I got nude for light summer dresses and who doesn’t love their black staples? But my thongs just didn’t have enough thong to be anything but thong!
Okay, look. I’m more than aware that although I’ve admitted a great many positive feelings attached to my epiphany of big pants, I haven’t described myself as feeling sexy or sensual. But don’t think that’s because I feel encompassed with middle age, or worse, settling into being a frump. My transition into big pants really does make me feel more desirable. Whilst feeling “neat” and “tucked in” and “safe” might have you sprinting to buy a diamanté encrusted g-string, I genuinely feel so much more attractive in my everyday clothes now. To be clear, my pants are not Spanx. They don’t hold me in or mould me into shape. They’re a second skin, a soft layer, that simply sits on the right parts of my body to make me feel comfortable, and therefore confident.
High-waisted fashion has been successfully on the up for a few years now, to many’s relief. Think about how stressful it was trying to keep up with the trends in the 90s when low-waist jeans and combat trousers were all the go, channelling our inner Steps and All Saints, along with belly button piercings and (a-hem) dolphin tattoos. Gossip magazines were forever demoralising female celebrities by circling their “muffin tops” and pointing out any inch of skin with a massive arrow, yet, we were all expected to buy the very clothes that exploited this.
A global pandemic and being forced into lockdown gave us a new appreciation for comfort, making it an ongoing priority. In 2021, Global fashion shopping platform Lyst noted searches for “comfy” and “high-waisted” underwear increased 46 per cent in a matter of weeks. You can even get stylish high-waisted bikini bottoms now, giving you a 60s siren beach babe look that brings your beautiful curves to life. So whether you’re singing the thong song or having a dance in big pants, do what makes you happy. Be comfortable. Be confident. Be you.