The Thong: What They Are and How to Wear, Tolerate and Even Love Them

Jul 21, 2004

The Bottom Line Don't say "NO" to the thong until you've tried it for a week. It also helps to go up a size.

The Thong - who the hell invented this contraption? There is little middle ground in America concerning the thong - either you love it or you hate it. Never in my memory has a garment generated such passion in the marketplace. I'm here to get to the bottom of the thong and let you know that almost anyone can wear a thong, perhaps even if they shouldn’t.

Apparently its origins lie in the sultry swimwear of Rio. At some point someone decided that women living in cooler climates might also want to take advantage of the overtly sexual feeling of assless underwear. However, the American market needed a less sexual reason for wearing such racy panties.

Part of the genteel, nonsexual reason for wearing a thong is to eliminate panty lines. Modern fabrics can be quite clingy, and at some point, a committee somewhere decided that the panty line was a scourge on society and must be wiped out at any cost. Hence the rationale for wearing a thong - no panty lines at the bottom of your bottom. However, those geniuses perhaps didn't count on there now being a thong line that announces to the world (well at least to anyone looking at your butt) that you are wearing racy undies.

Originally available only in exotic boutiques on the coasts, the thong is now ubiquitous across America. From department stores to Old Navy, they are everywhere. For Pete’s sake, you can find a very wide assortment in sizes from XXS to XXL at Wal-Mart, the bastion of wholesome American discount retailing. Thongs were also given a marketing boost with the summer 2000 release of rapper Sisqo's, "Thong Song". While most anyone over 35 was probably not running out to buy Sisqo's CD, the media buzz generated through radio airplay, magazine articles and a scandalous MTV video at least helped make anyone who had not yet heard of the thong to get in the know.

At one point, Limited, Too stores sold thongs for girls at the upper end of its market, the almost-teens and early teens. Apparently, while most of America is comfortable having the checkers at Wal-Mart scan their own thongs along with boxes of Triscuits, and Coca-Cola, we Americans collectively drew the line at thongs for girls. The Limited, Too stores pulled their thongs off the market after a very brief run.

In case anyone reading this STILL isn't quite sure what we’re talking about, here's the skinny. Thongs are similar to traditional underwear in that they have a waistband and generally the same coverage in front as standard bikini underwear. There the similarities end. Just behind where the gusset (the cross seam, usually found near where your labia begin) would be on traditional panties, the thong narrows so that there is just enough material to cover the outer labia. The material continues to narrow, often down to .25 inches wide. Of course this means that narrow strip of material, sometimes casually referred to as "floss", must ride deep between your butt cheeks, as the fabric reaches up in back to meet up with the waistband.

There are many variants. Technically, a thong never narrows beyond about .25 inches. If the fabric narrows beyond that you've got a G-string, not a thong. Some models narrow to a string in back, then widen out again as you go up the back. Other models just have the string run all the way up to the waistband. Victoria's Secret, perhaps the biggest seller of thongs in America, has several styles: high waist, thong, low-rise thong, their version of the g-string (the V-string), the Extreme T-string. A newer style is the "boythong". This is a pair of panties that do not fully cover your rear, but they have substantially more fabric in back than a thong. These new hybrid panties usually are about 3 inches from top to bottom when laid out. Thongs and their cousins come in a wide variety of fabrics, cotton, polyester, lycra etc.

They can be solid, mesh, in any color or pattern. Other lingerie items such as bodysuits now come with thong bottoms as well. They even make crotchless models for the more adventurous, but you will not find those at Wal-Mart or even Victoria's Secret. Prices are similar to standard underwear, ranging from $3.00 to $15.00 a pair, depending mostly on where you buy them. Occasionally Victoria's Secret runs a clearance sale offering their $12-$15 dollar thongs for as little as $3.

I resisted the thong movement until very recently. While I purchased a few over the last few years, (supplemented by hubby's internet and mall shopping sprees) I usually only wore them for romantic interludes and rarely otherwise, except when wearing pants prone to showing panty lines. One of my best friends (still in her 20s) challenged me and another friend to give the thong a serious effort before deciding to abandon them and relegate ourselves to boring old bikini bottoms.

My friend insisted that we both wear a thong for at least seven days in a row. She swore that it takes several days to get used to the feel, but once we were over the hump it would be smooth sailing and we would be thanking her (as would our husbands!). So we sucked it up and agreed to get cracking on the Great 2004 Thong Challenge.

Days 1-2 Not really happy I was taking part in the challenge. I wore a black Calvin Klein mesh g-string/thong. The band of fabric narrows to a string, and has a small mesh triangle at the top in the back. The string was about three millimeters wide, and wedged tight against my skin between my cheeks. This means it tended to roll across my back door, especially when I sat down. While I do not mind a certain amount of stimulation there, it is easy to get too much of a good thing. I had the continual urge to dig it out, but I could resist for about 45 minutes at a time before I gave in and had to adjust it. This is not a procedure you can perform just anywhere, but by the end of the day I learned subtle ways of adjusting the string. Day 2 was more of the same, this time with my white Calvin Klein thong. These were the first two thongs I bought, way back in 1994 at Water Tower Place on Chicago's Michigan Avenue.

Day 3 - Getting better. The thong was a low rise Cosabella Soire, cobalt blue. Cosabella thongs have rave reviews from celebrities such as Jennifer Anniston and Gwyneth Paltrow in InStyle Magazine, declaring Cosabella the World's Most Comfortable Thong, You will not find these at Target or Wal-Mart. They are imported from Italy and can be found at better department stores, such as Nordstrom's. They are also widely available from boutiques and at many web sites. I can’t really figure out what the secret is…but the Soire thong was much more comfortable than the CK. I even forgot I had on a thong at several points in the afternoon.

Day 4 – Making Progress. Having found the Cosabella model tolerable, I went with another Cosabella offering on day four, a low rise Talco model. The Talco has a more substantial fabric than the Soire, but it was still very soft and comfortable. By the end of day four I thought I had it licked.

Day 5 – Hmmmmn. I discovered that all thongs are NOT created equal. I tried a Tommy Hilfiger cotton model. This one gave me fits. It really dug in, both in back and front. I found the fabric tended to gather between my labia. It is not fun to walk around like that. The problem was compounded by the fabric rubbing me in just the wrong (or right) place in front. I found that by moving my hips slightly I could generate a really exciting friction. The down side was that I then had a wet thong to deal with. Again, not a lot of fun.

Day 6 – Breakthrough. For day six, I went with a Victoria's Secret low rise thong. I made the breakthrough that will allow most anyone to try a thong without pulling out your hair. I sized up to a Medium from my usual Small. This made all the difference in the world! No tugging, no pulling, no gathering, no folding. Looking back, I noticed the Cosabella models were size S/M, I assume Small/Medium, not Sadist/Masochist.

Day 7 – Thong Nirvana. For the last day of the challenge, I opted for the Victoria’s Secret Extreme T-string, also in a Medium. This was very comfortable. While I did have to reach back and adjust the string once, for the most part I totally forgot I had it on. As the name suggests, this model had a string that met the waistband in a T. It doesn't look at that comfortable laid out, but it was really wonderful while on.

So there. I passed the challenge! I also discovered the secret to adapting to thongs, order one size larger. I will continue to wear these, and gradually try to work in a size small to see if I can wear them without going nuts. The other key is to keep at it for several days in a row. Like anything, doing something new takes a bit of getting used to.

I found that not only did I learn to feel comfortable in the right thong, but I also felt very sexy while wearing them. Hubby insisted on walking behind me when we did the weekly grocery run. I also caught a few guys trying to sneak a look. While I am certainly NOT on the market, it made me feel really good to know that I might still “have it going on”. I probably won’t wear them 100 percent of the time, especially while menstruating. But now they even have thong panty liners on the market, so who knows, maybe it will be all thongs, all the time before I know it.

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