Panty Raid

Men get a chance to consider the female under-world.

Whoever said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach was obviously looking for a more maternal, PG kind of love. Baking just like his mom may be acesdressing like her, though, means all cookies, no nookie.

It's a given, of course, that any man who truly loves a woman is happy with whatever makes her happy; if she likes her day-of-the-week panties and any old bra that comes two-for-one at the Bon White Sale, so be it. But that doesn't mean men don't have ideas when it comes to their lady friends' undergarments. When Seattle Weekly took a few furtive XY representatives to Victoria's Secret and Nordstrom, we found they had even stronger opinions than an episode of CNN's Crossfireeven if they had to whisper them across tables overflowing with pink thongs.

Some things were obvious: Overly ambitious, architecturally complex padded bras in the bedroom are just plain false advertising. As E., a 30-year-old graphic designer and part of our secret task force, noted, "Working with what you have is good; faking it entirely is bad." He also objected to their polar opposite, the Voluminous Nightshirta.k.a., "the visual equivalent of cold water." But stay away from the Little Bo Peep frills, too: Says 26-year-old barista/musician B., "Frilly stuff makes me think about classy ladies, and it sounds bad, but we want dirty girls." R., 31, a systems administrator, added sweetly, "It may sound cheesy, but too much 'fanciness' takes away from the beauty of a girl." J., meanwhile, a 23-year-old publicist, wants something even easier: "Girls who look pretty much like me"which probably explains why he gravitates toward the plain cotton items.

Diverse though they may be, the men seem to share one thing in common: a love of the boy short. When sent to fetch their favorite under outfit in the store, all of our spies came back with a variation on the square-cut themesome racy peekaboo lace, others stretchy, functional Lycra, but all cut across the thigh and made to showcase the butt in a way the boys all seem to find extremely sexy. Plus, the guys concede they like the fact that girls don't seem to suffer in them; a comfortable lady, in other words, is a hot lady. E. and J. find the idea of discovering that their wife-beaters and boxers have been appropriated to be very erotic (R., however, responds to that with a big "ick"). And no one seems particularly enamored of thongslots of empathetic noises of discomfort on this onethough they all recognize the necessity of the product in today's low-rise, high-cut clothing world.

Um, not so much, thanks

Taken out of the context of the backroom sex shop, today's guys seem more comfortable perusing in mainstream lingerie outlets for their significant othersor themselves. R. has his own Victoria's Secret credit card and wears the signature classic bikini style himself (in black, blue, or tiger stripe "for special occasions").

Nordstrom Downtown lingerie department manager Misty Aamodt is accustomed to seeing men come in on behalf of their better half. "A lot of times, they maybe have an idea of what they're looking for," she says demurely. "Others can come in and really, you know, take their time looking for just the right thing." She's far too diplomatic to say how many items get exchanged; she notes only that the store has a generous return policy.

However much men and women may both love a pretty piece of lace or a seductively sheer brassiere, remember this: No man ever objects to a girl going commando. Sometimes the best enticement is nothing at all.

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