Are you hiding your valuables in your crotch?
June 12, 2008 10:56 AM   Subscribe

What are the "pockets" on the inside of women's panties for?

In some of my panties (similar to these) there is this pocket-like thing inside the crotch area that opens from the front (not like a fly on men's briefs which opens to the outside world; it only opens to the inside). It's like there is a dual layer of fabric in the crotch area that is not sewed down in the front. My best guess is that it's for a sanitary pad or a vibrator, but it seems too small for a pad, and odd that a major brand would sell something specifically for a vibrator. That seems like something you'd buy at a sex shop. Hanes brand panties don't have these in my experience, and the cotton Jockeys mostly don't either. (these definitely don't). If it's functional, why don't all panties have them? I feel horribly naive asking this, but not knowing is driving me crazy.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I always assumed it was extra lining and wasn't sewed down in front b/c who wants a seam running across their lady parts?
posted by leesh at 11:04 AM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

It's not really a feature. It's just an artifact of how they are constructed, sewing-wise. If the open part of the pocket were sewn in then part of the lining would be visible on the outside of the panties. I know this because I occasionally sew my own underwear.
posted by Alison at 11:04 AM on June 12, 2008

It's just for absorbency I think, and I don't know why it's not sewed down in the front. A lot of panties have a double layer of fabric in the crotch that's sewn down all around, and in synthetic panties the extra layer is often cotton.
posted by padraigin at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think it's just a lining for the crotch (especially because they're almost invariably cotton, even if the rest of the panties are not); the fact that it's open on one end presumably makes for better airflow. It all helps to keep the ladyparts happy.
posted by scody at 11:06 AM on June 12, 2008

I *think* the extra fabric is just there to, uh, help keep things a bit dryer down there. LOL.
posted by at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2008

My feeling was that if you were making a zillion pairs of panties, the savings on thread for not sewing up the part in the front that didn't need sewing up would save you cash. Classier brands of panties are sewn through, I've heard.
posted by jessamyn at 11:13 AM on June 12, 2008

Yep—dual lining means better absorbency, open means better airflow. And newer Hanes women's underwear does have this "feature"—the super-cheap ones in plastic packages don't, but the slightly more expensive ones that come in open-to-the-air packs do.
posted by limeonaire at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2008

It's just a breathable cotton layer to aid with ventilation and prevent bacteria growth, infection, or ruining of panties from moisture and/or discharge.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:15 AM on June 12, 2008

I'm sort of confused about some of these arguments. It seems like panties are snug enough while being worn that there's not a lot of airflow happening between the two layers of fabric. And if the top layer of the crotch area is "ruined" by whatever, I personally would throw the whole pair of panties away for being ruined rather than . . . replacing that inner layer of fabric? I don't even know. I guess it could be an extra layer of absorbency to avoid ruining a pair of pants or skirt or something.

I had always assumed this was just a semi-cheating way of having cotton next to the important bits as recommended for health and hygiene, even when the outside of the underwear is made of something else. It's just now occurring to me that I've seen all-cotton underwear with the same feature.
posted by vytae at 11:25 AM on June 12, 2008

Classier brands of panties are sewn through, I've heard.

Indeed they are.
posted by rokusan at 11:46 AM on June 12, 2008

It's called a gusset lining. I've got some lace tangas that have a diamond-shaped one with no seams on the vertices at all. It bunches something crazy. The world of women's underthings is indeed a deep and abiding well of mysterious frippery. In googling around for gusset data, I found this interesting guide.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Okay, I know panties better than I know geometry. I meant other than on the vertices. So now you know.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:11 PM on June 12, 2008

It's just a bit of extra fabric for the crotch area to keep things dryer. I imagine they don't sew down the front of the little pocket because the seam placement might be uncomfortable. It's always seemed kind of evident to me... how long have you been a girl, again? :P
posted by MadamM at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2008

I guess it could be an extra layer of absorbency to avoid ruining a pair of pants or skirt or something.

This is what I have always assumed it was for.
posted by chowflap at 2:12 PM on June 12, 2008

I always thought the cotton lining was for health reasons.

[Oh good grief, I never thought I'd link to teenwire, especially not from here]
posted by moonshine at 2:19 PM on June 12, 2008

Extra absorbancy. Also, vaginal secretions are caustic, and eventually burn holes through the first layer of fragile cotton.
posted by Phalene at 2:59 PM on June 12, 2008

I assumed it was a camel-toe preventative.
posted by pmbuko at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2008

agree with those who echo this. i have a friend who works in fashion but as a female it's just a given / more intuitive (or i thought so). men’s and women’s underwear is constructed differently with the extra panel on women's panties in the crotch as women 'need drainage' (exact term used, although it makes me feel a bit icky as a woman to think it's referred this way). vaginas often produce a minimal amount of moisture at various intervals during the day, due to heat, excitement (not necessarily THAT kind), etc - not urine, just lubrication and this extra ‘cotton’ panel absorbs it from the skin to prohibit collection and promote drying. it's supposed to be cotton to allow better ventilation but today that isn't always true.
posted by eatdonuts at 6:20 PM on June 12, 2008

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