While many today think that the word “scanties” means thongs and g-strings, that isn’t necessarily so. According to Merriam-Webster, the word “scanties” is a combination of “scant” and “panties,” meaning “abbreviated panties for women.” So on the surface, it does mean the briefest of briefs. But Merriam-Webster also states that the word originated in 1929, which means you have to look at the context of that and consider that in terms of flapper fashions compared to the other underpinnings of the time.
To help you actually look at the context, I did some research and found this vintage ad for Scanties — actually from 1929! This silk jersey and Skinners Satin undergarment by the Model Brassiere Company was “new luxurious freedom” in a “Scant eight-ounce figure moulding garment combining the brassiere, the vest, the girdle, the panties All-In One!” The name Scanties was even registered in the U.S. Patent Office. (Perhaps the term then fell into general use, like Kleenex.)
Just Enough – No More! now flung into Fashion’s discard are all excess underthings — along with the petticoat, high boots and the bustle. To be dressed smartly today — one wears less — just enough — no more. A dress and Scanties — that’s all! How little it takes to banish all bulges! But one pair of shoulder straps. A single garment of silken nothingness — that is on — or off — in one short second — and bobs in and out of the washtub like a pair of sheer stockings. Every smart woman should have at least one Scanties in her wardrobe… Haven’t you often wished to appear your charming self and yet veil all so subtly… it’s in Scanties, this new luxurious freedom.
Certainly less than corsets, under corsets, shifts, bustles, etc., yet Scanties were hardly thongs. True, they were scant compared to what came before… And language being as alive as the culture it lives in, certainly thongs can be called scanties. But I prefer to keep the term in the original context.
I prefer use the term scanties to refer to the undergarments which help me appear my charming self yet veiling all so subtly (or not so subtly). And you?