9 Reasons Why Tap Pants Will Change Your Life

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Recently I bought a pair of 1930s tap pants from Honeytalk Vintage on Etsy (which I will post about at a later date).  I've wanted some for a while now, so when I ran across a pair in my size with a very affordable price, I decided to splurge and go for it!

Some of you may be asking, "What are tap pants?"
Basically, they're lingerie shorts that were popular, especially from the 1920s-40s.  They're also known as French knickers or dance shorts (because a similar short was worn for dancing, which is the origin of the term "tap pants" to begin with).

other 1930s tap pants
Now you may be asking, "So now that I know they're lingerie shorts..... Why would you want them?  What do you do with them?"

While I wouldn't be seen wearing them out in public on their own (they tend to be a bit too flowy and sheer for my comfort), there are a lot of wonderful uses for vintage  or vintage-style tap pants, and I don't know why the modern world has forsaken them!

So read the following reasons why tap pants are amazing, and see if you could use a pair (vintage or repro!) in your wardrobe these days!

1. Tap pants are sexy.
Yes, they go up to your bellybutton.  Yes, they are long.  But there's truly something sexy about them!  Some of them are clingy because they're cut on the bias, and most of the time they're made out of light, delicate fabrics that come in pretty, feminine colors and patterns.  I'm telling you, they really do feel pretty to wear.

2. Tap pants provide a little more coverage.
Obviously, tap pants cover more than most modern underwear styles.  This can be great if you'd like to hide a bit of your tummy, butt, or thighs.

3. Tap pants go up to your natural waist.
You know what this means for vintage ladies?  No awkward modern underwear lines running horizontally five inches below the waistband of your vintage pencil skirt!  Huzzah!

4. Tap pants are flowy.
They're comfortable.  'Nuff said.

5. Tap pants are longer than most normal underwear.
This means no panty lines in form-fitting or thin-fabric dresses!  Tap pant lengths tend to go past the curve of the bum, eliminating a lot of panty lines that would be obvious if wearing modern underwear.

6.  Tap pants are long and flowy.
No, this is not the same point as the two above.  This means that tap pants can also act as fabulous short slips.  They'll add another layer and defeat awkward see-through-to-the-leg-lines moments.

7.  Tap pants have legs.
Unlike other slips, tap pants have legs in them.  This makes them much more wind-proof and activity-proof than a normal legless slip.

8.  They're fairly simple to make.
There are plenty of patterns out there to reproduce your own tap pants.  They don't require a lot of material or difficult sewing techniques (generally), so if you find yourself loving them, you can whip a bunch out!

9.  They're fairly plentiful in the vintage world.
Tap pants were worn by nearly every woman back in the day, so there is *comparatively* an abundance of them.  Hence, there are affordable options for everyone, if you really want a vintage pair.  Or, if you're like me, you may want a vintage pair to use as a template/inspiration for the hardier everyday ones you want to make.


Check out some fab examples!  What are your thoughts on tap pants?
1920s French tap pants 
1940s tap pants

15 comments

  1. Now after reading this article, I really NEED one ;D
    Thanks for sharing

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  2. I adore tap pants! I have 3 pairs but can only really wear one of them comfortably. The other two are a touch small in the waist. I wear them whenever I dress in full vintage for living history events and such. Sometimes I wear them as lounge wear or to sleep in. They are super comfortable as you say. I know there are lots of patterns out there but I plan to draft one from my pairs as they are all very similar. I have noticed that there is a big difference in the cost of vintage tap pants which seems to depend largely on the amount of trim or lace inserts. As much as I love them, tap pants are one of those items I will not spend more then a certain amount for.
    On a side note, I have to say that I really like Honeytalk Vintage. She had an amazing 50% off sale recently and I splurged big time and bought some new shoes! I was eying her tap pants too. Probably the same pair you bought, lol!
    -Emily

    Emily's Vintage Visions

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  3. I love this list! I made some french knickers earlier this year (thinking they were lounge shorts) and when I realized I could wear them as underwear it's like my whole world changed for all the reasons you mentioned above. I've been meaning to make some more and I appreciate you reminding me of that. :-)

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    1. I'm also planning on making some! I wore them for the first time the other day... and dang, you are so right, world changed. I need to make some more!

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  4. I used to wear french knickers all of the time as a teenager, they were very comfortable and glamorous. I'm not sure why I stopped wearing them...although there was one moment when I found out why some of the boys would always sit opposite me in the sixth form common room...french knickers and short skirts don't go so well together!! I was young and silly. I'm 44 now, and keep meaning to make myself some.I have a lovely 1940's patter too, so should get on with it!

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    1. Haha, oh my! True story, better save the tap pants for longer dresses and skirts! I hope you get to make some more soon!

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  5. You could get an award for most smile-inducingly fun blog post title of the month for this delightful piece. I've never wanted tap pants more before in my life than I do now that I've read your highly convincing list. :)

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Oh good! I'm glad you like it, and that the title made you smile! I won't lie, I kinda giggled myself when I thought of it.

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  6. My thoughts are, "I want to make a slew of 'em". I'm large and hope to find these "many" patterns that I may make on my own as you state, LOL.

    Thank you for this delightful post.

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  7. I am late to the game on commenting on this. Things have been a little crazy for me this year and I have missed some great blog posts, so I am really glad this was in your favorites and I got to come back and read it. I keep looking at tap pants patterns (I have even bought a couple) and I purchased a modern equivalent just to test out the waters, but they didn't work out for me. I still haven't given up on the patterns and in better fabric than the modern ones, but when wearing these with vintage skirts and stockings do they fit well under girdles or are you going girdleless? perhaps a garter belt or are you going stockingless? Sorry if these questions are a little too personal, don't feel obligated to answer by any means.

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    1. Typically the garter belt goes under the tap pants. Just think of it as a bifurcated slip - it hides your garter belt lines. Modern ones aren't always as good because they're not made of real silk. That makes a big difference.

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  8. I love my tap pants! When I can afford more silk yardage, I will be making more. I think the best thing about them is they don't get sweat drenched in summer the way knit briefs do. No one likes sitting in dampness.

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  9. I don't sew. Where can I buy some good ones? I like to wear them under sheer skirts, instead of a slip. help?

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    1. Etsy has quite a lot of vintage ones, and I know this company reproduces them exactly like they were back in the day: http://www.andedna.com/

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