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“This has been an industry trend for probably half a decade by now,” says lingerie industry expert Quinne Myers, who consults for brands looking to create the next big thing in underwear.But from women wearing trousers to the birth of the string bikini, some changes to the fashion world aren’t just trendy or cyclical. The rise of the granny panty might be one of those changes, although it’ll take hindsight to know.They’re comfortable full coverage and require no adjustment throughout the day. In 2016, at the same time Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, granny panties were receiving a round of complimentary media coverage.In 2017, while everyone was donning their pussy hats for the Women’s March and the #Me Too movement kicked off in earnest, sales of granny panties had risen 129 percent on Lyst.By the ’90s, the thong dominated the culture wars, and the granny panty, as it was starting to be called, was officially reserved for seniors and the hopelessly unstylish.The power of the thong disintegrated with the invention of the seamless brief.But there’s been a sea change in the public perception of the granny panty.
In 2001, during pre-date preparation, Bridget Jones holds a pink pair of underwear aloft, declaring them “very popular with grannies the world over.” Later that night, Hugh Grant’s character laughs while pulling up her skirt. (Her face reddens, but the night is saved when Grant adds that he is wearing something similar himself.) Granny panties weren’t always the domain of Rihanna and her fans.Now it rakes in Instagram likes and sells out online.The Platonic ideal of underwear changed from the barely-there thong to an oversize brief with a navel-hugging elastic waistband and a silhouette designed to hold in paunch.She says they are associated “with being old, and old is seen as ugly.” By means of cultural osmosis, even younger women have absorbed the negative implications of wearing granny panties.“People tend to associate granny panties with periods and periods with uncleanliness and shame,” Rayne Schroeder, 20, wrote in an email.