Let’s rummage, deep; into textures humble and whorish, colours wanton and wan; into spandex and silk, lycra and lace, black and blue and red and ecru and sweetest, shyest blushing tea-rose. Let’s rummage, deep; into the talismans and lures, into the crumpled cotton workhorses and shining chiffon show ponies. Let’s rummage. Mind the dagger. Oh, but all our old favourites are here. Here are the Commonplace Pants: those fraying boyfriend briefs we buy by the bucket-load and sling on in the quietly crushing certainty that none but the mirror will see what lies beneath. Over in the corner skulk the sinister, curled, flesh-coloured worms we call Martyr Strings; bum cheek slicing cilices with which we daily sacrifice our comfort on the altar of VPL. And here we have carefully folded our Superstitious Shorts: outgrown, yellowing, baggy rags that first worked their magic on our Physics GCSE and have been indispensible ever since. Our Controlling Kecks need a drawer all of their own, so bulky are their bulwarks and rigid their support; a shining pile of stiff-gussetted governesses just waiting to enfold us in their admonishing iron grip. And stuffed at the back we discover a Divorced Bottom: once resplendent helpmeet to a long-lost bra, now uselessly gaudy and alone, this pair’s buttons and ribbons and pearls ominously promise to landscape a whole whorled, raised and ridged Elizabethan garden beneath our new cigarette-cut Earls.
Familiarity breeds comfort, but also contempt. To get that perfect knicker hit, you need to go new – and the best place to go new right now is Sexy Panties and Naughty Knickers, the quirky skivvies sanctum beloved of just the right breed of sleb. Ordinarily, the use of the infantile Americanism ‘panties’ would rid this cult site of any credibility in The Perfectionist’s eyes; but its online smorgasbord of bare-faced, smooth-cheeked sirens sporting the very fiercest fripperies that womankind can contrive is simply too Liv-Taylor-louging-on-dirty-silk-sheets-in-a-Meatpacking-District-warehouse-with-a-puppy-and-some-postmodern-literature to resist.
And the queen of this well-curated little knicker kingdom is the Milo women’s boxer (ignore the disturbingly anorexic and distinctly arseless model used for the photo – they look much sexier on). Vintage nod to knickerbockers, check. Modern androgynous edginess, check. Faintest pale pink tint, check. Softest stretch cotton, check. Subtlest hint of lace and ribbon, check. And ambiguity, check, check, check – because the essence of the perfect knickers is surprise: daring, defamiliarising design that turns this most invisible of everyday items back into a thrill. Reveal these little gems to some lucky suitor, and he won’t know quite where to look, or where to start. Gain the upper hand with your underthings. Start the way you mean to go on.
Because these aren’t just knickers. These aren’t just M&S knickers. This, ladies and gentlemen, is lingerie.