Panties . Undergarment generally worn by women and young children. They cover from the waist to the boot of the legs and have two openings for them to pass through. Over time and with different fashions and uses, panties have evolved in shape and also in name, in addition to the different names that this garment may have in various Spanish-speaking countries. There are many euphemisms that are currently used to replace the term panty. Today, the equivalent of this men’s garment is underpants.


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  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Origin of the word Braga
  • 3 History
    • 1 Ancient and classical period
      • 1.1 Uses in different activities of your life
    • 2 Greeks
    • 3 Galia Braccata
    • 4 Middle Ages and Renaissance
    • 5 Industrial era and the 20th century
  • 4 types
  • 5 Curiosities
  • 6 Sources


It is believed that the voice “braga” comes from the Celts , who in turn would take it from the Germans. The original word is bracca, the sound of which kk becomes voiced and becomes g. In this way bracca gives panty.

Origin of the word Braga

Male panty

Formerly the word “panties” referred to a masculine garment; the phrase “he is a well-braced man” is still used, to mean that he is brave, with a clear reference to what the panties cover. And there is still another trace of the masculine use of this garment in the noun fly (zipper or zipper).

In southern South America, the “screening brief” was the typical gaucho attire of the early 19th century . They were creole panties with decorative lace that were a proud garment, since they could reach the ankle and were visible under the chiripá (a kind of external canvas that was passed between the legs over the panties, adjusting them, and that it was supported by fastening it at the waist with a sash or belt). Today the gaucho or country pawn does not wear those typical Creole panties but rather very wide country pants called field pants, which are not undergarments. Only an artist shows off those showy underpants that are screened when the Argentine tradition is recalled in folk performances.


Ancient and classical period

The loincloth is the simplest type of undergarment and was probably the first underwear worn by humans. A loincloth can have two main shapes. The first consists of a long triangular piece of fabric, with cords or ribbons sewn to the corners. The ribbons are tied around the waist and the rag or leather is passed between the legs, tucking it into the resulting band to hold it. The alternative shape is more similar to a skirt: a rag wound several times around the hips and then fastened with a girdle or belt.

In most ancient civilizations this was the only underwear available, and even today loincloths continue to be used as the only clothing by tribes living in tropical regions, it is even the traditional undergarment in many Asian societies. It is known through the descriptions of the Greek and Roman writers that they used a garment equivalent to what we know as panties.

Uses in different activities of your life

  • To cover modestly in public toilets.
  • In the fights in which the men who participated did so naked.
  • In swimming exercises carried out as training of soldiers for battles.
  • The criers wore this garment well adjusted to protect the gut from the effort they made with the expulsion of the voice, which could herniate them. For this same reason it was also used by comedians, singers and trumpeters.


The Greeks had made contact with this article of clothing through the eastern peoples and especially in Asia Minor. They distinguished each particular form by giving it different names, which the Romans later renamed using the word that they knew and was more familiar to them: bracca or bracae.

The Greeks called αναξυριδες a kind of tight pants worn by the Persians and the Amazons, as seen in their representations (according to Ovid in his writings). The θυλακoι were baggy pants worn by Phrygians and Asians. According to legend, it was the usual Paris garment. Examples can be seen in the mosaics of the Roman city of Pompeii . The Romans called this clothing brácae laxae. The Greeks also knew what the Romans called brácae virgatae or brácae pictatae, striped pants, highly mottled with embroidery. It was very common in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey ).

Galia Braccata

This is how the Romans called the region included in Gaul and which later would take the name of Gaul Narbonense. They called this region that way because the Gauls who lived in it wore special clothing called bracca. They were tight-fitting pants made of animal skin.

When the Romans came into contact with these people, they had never seen pants, and it caught their attention so much that they even baptized the territory with this name. Over time, the Romans would copy this type of garment for their soldiers, changing even the material of the skin for a wool one, more comfortable and adaptable.

But the word bracca or the Gallo-Latin plural bracae would henceforth be used for all variants, it is even the word that has come down to the present day to refer to a feminine garment whose design is already very far from that used by the Gauls.

In the north of Portugal , near Galicia , there is a city called Braga. This place name comes from the one given by the Romans in the time of Augustus. They called the city Augusta Braccarum, because it was populated by galli braccate (‘Galos bragados’), that is, Celts who wore the pants described above.

Later, when the Romans copied and adopted the bracca of the Gauls, they began to use two well differentiated forms:

Bracatus totum corpus, that is to say ‘bragado the whole body’. It was a special suit that covered the person from head to toe.

Bracatus miles (‘military bragado’). Before adopting the garment, the Romans called that the foreign soldiers who wore it. But from the Roman emperor Alexander Severus (222-235 AD), this garment was copied and made for the Roman army, in imitation of the Gauls. It can be seen in the figures that are sculpted in the Arch of Constantine in Rome.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

From the Middle Ages on, lingerie became looser, made from softer materials, such as cotton or linen. The loincloth was replaced by a loose garment similar to pants or as the now called pololos or culotes, which were tied at the waist and legs (at calf height). The culotes have persisted until the 20th century .

It seems that during this period chastity belts also appeared, invented by the crusaders, very concerned about the fidelity of their wives in their long absences (at least that’s the legend). Modern researchers doubt that these gadgets were used frequently.

Industrial era and the 20th century

The invention of spinning machines and ginning machines, towards the second half of the 18th century , facilitated the production of cotton fabrics. Factories were producing underwear on a massive scale, and for the first time, people were starting to buy it instead of doing it at home. The current model of the 19th century , for both men, women and children, were suits made of this woven cotton, which covered from the wrists to the ankles. This “second skin” included at the back a skirt that was unbuttoned, to facilitate the visit to the toilet. Towards the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the entire costume was divided and women began to elaborate this basic two-piece lace.

As the decades passed, women’s underwear shortened to keep up with the skirts, which dwindled and waned. And already in the present, the comfort and durability of underwear has given way to fashion and sophistication, more aimed at showcasing than the shelter or protection of that part of the female anatomy.


Braga : it is the most conventional. It covers more than thongs and less than culottes.

Thong : leaves the back almost exposed.

Culotte or culottes : they cover the back, almost like a brief.

Before and until the middle of the 20th century , a garment that reached the knees was called that; At this height the legs could be loose or gathered with a rubber that got into a hem. In French they currently call culotte (XX and XXI centuries) the Spanish equivalent “panties”. Nowadays (XXI century) it is not in use, however, the word persists and they call the panties that are like an almost legless brief.


Current panty (thong)

Before the liturgical unification decreed in the 7th century by Pope Gregory I, also known as Saint Gregory the Great, who promoted the exclusive use of the Latin or Roman rite throughout the Catholic Church , the various communities of the faithful had their own ways of celebrating mass. One of them, precisely, is known as the Bragan rite, typical of the Portuguese town of Braga (see above). The Bragan rite is one of the few that survived the great disposition, like the Mozarabic rite in Andalusia , and in the 16th century it formally obtained the license of Pius V to celebrate it on very special occasions and only in the diocese of Braga, as it is done until today.

The Italian painter Michelangelo painted the frescoes on the dome of the Sistine Chapel in 1508 (the work ended in 1512). Years later, Pope Pius V (1504–1572), the same one who excommunicated Elizabeth I of England, commissioned the painter Daniele da Volterra to cover the nudes of the Last Judgment, which he did by painting veils and robes on the bodies. For this fact, the painter was nicknamed Il Braghettone.

In the town of La Granja de San Ildefonso, in Segovia (Spain), a camp of University Militias existed in the second half of the 20th century. In the same town and not far from this camp there was also a three-story country house (misnamed chalet) surrounded by a garden where the university students from Madrid who were complying with the Social Service of the Women’s Section did the internship month. The clothes were put to dry on the clotheslines of said garden, which was surrounded by a fence and was visible from the road. The young university students of the IPS baptized the house as Villa Bragas and with that nickname it remained, at least among the successive inhabitants of the military camp.


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