Underwear fetishism is a sexual fetishism relating to undergarments, and refers to the sexual excitement which some people experience from observing or handling certain types of underwear, including panties, stockings, pantyhose, bras, or other items. Some people experience sexual excitement from wearing certain types of underwear. Other people experience sexual excitement when observing or handling certain types of underwear worn by another, or watching somebody putting underwear on, or taking it off. Some may steal used underwear to get satisfaction. Not only does this include physical contact with the garment(s), or their wearers, but also includes arousal by printed material or electronic material that includes depictions of underwear.
Underwear fetishism is not considered as paraphilia unless it causes distress or serious problems for the person or those associated with them.
Panty fetishism is a fetish in which one eroticizes panties (or similar styles of underwear).
Fetishistic behavior can involve sharing printed or electronic material depicting exposure of panties, usually of a softcore nature, or direct sight and physical contact with the panties.
Some individuals have a paraphilia for a specific type of panty. For example, a common subclass of panty fetishism are panties that show the exposed buttocks (i.e. thongs and g-strings). Further, some individuals have the opposite preference, and are attracted to panties that cover the buttocks.
One of the most common types of panty fetishes involves used panties. In this fetish, panties or other intimate clothing that have previously been worn are eroticized. With the advent of the Internet, a "used panty" industry has sprung up to cater to this fetish, consisting primarily of women selling their used undergarments through independent websites or panty seller groups. Sellers tend to charge for the number of days for which the panties or other garment are worn, and prices generally increase with time worn. In Japan, this industry has a long-established brick-and-mortar presence, known as burusera shops.  Outside of Japan, such shops exist only on the internet and are generally run by individual women, as opposed to registered businesses.
To determine relative prevalences of different fetishes, Italian researchers obtained an international sample of 5,000 individuals from 381 fetish-themed discussion groups. The relative prevalences were estimated based on (a) the number of groups devoted to a particular fetish, (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups and (c) the number of messages exchanged. Within the sample population (a population of adults online involved in sexual discussion), 12 percent indicated a fetish related to an "object associated with the body + external event" . This includes, but is not limited to, objects such as underwear, socks, shoes, etc. (see Table 1 in the .pdf of the first article cited).
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Pantyhose fetishism is a very common fetish involving women's pantyhose (known as "tights" in the UK). It has been related numerous times on tv/cd websites, in press articles, on tv, in low-key surveys, in blogs and various other sources that for many it becomes present during very early childhood when a boy will for whatever reason naively become aware of and via simple curiosity start to 'play' with an item of female clothing. 
Often a pantyhose fetishist may also engage in stocking fetishism, the unique silky sheer aspect and allure of both items being the common denominator. Many current day males' fetishistic preferences for pantyhose over stockings may be related to the fact that pantyhose are, unlike stockings, in virtual direct contact with female genitalia and/or perhaps even more important are the preferred hosiery for most women when skirts and dresses are worn.
In very basic simple terms pantyhose fetishism most commonly manifests itself in one or more of the following ways:
- Tearing or cutting holes in pantyhose to modify the garment or gain access to the wearer's body.
- Wearing of pantyhose by either or both partners during sexual activity.
- A male wearing pantyhose alone or in front of others who may praise or humiliate him.
- Using pantyhose as bondage restraints.
- Interacting with pantyhose in any other way or form during sexual activity.
- Simply observing/admiring and experiencing heightened arousal/interest of females or males who are wearing pantyhose.
- Viewing material from store catalogues to pornography of models and actors wearing pantyhose.
- A man or woman in pantyhose encasement.
Specifically during the lone activity of a young fetishist in his early formative years it is sometimes preferable for the pair of pantyhose to have been seen to be worn by a specific 'role model', be it a family member such as their Mother, sister, an aunt or Grandmother; or others such as a close friend or a neighbor, family friend or teacher.
The sub-categories and degrees of pantyhose fetishism are too many to list and is in many cases combined with other fetishes or paraphilias of the fetishist (and often his partner too) so as to make an individual's preferences as with many other popular fetishes unique.
A few typical examples of sub-categories perhaps would be:
- a focus on certain areas of the body while wearing pantyhose, e.g. feet a variation of the very common foot fetishism,
- wearing pantyhose with other specific garments, e.g. shoes, boots, or skirts, uniforms that usually include pantyhose (girl at work, secretary, flight attendant, policewoman, Hooters waitress, girl next door etc.,)
- certain styles e.g. sheer-to-waist, sandalfoot, reinforced toe, opaque, patterned or specific deniers; certain brands or shades,
- simply admiring women who wear pantyhose (a mild form of voyeurism),
- finding the wearing of them to be a primarily sensual comforting experience, rather than sexual.
The pantyhose covered foot can be extremely arousing to men. Some find arousal in sniffing the sour and pungent smell of soles made by excessive sweat when in pantyhose, due to poor ventilation of air especially when wearing pantyhose for long hours in closed toe shoes. Others often find satisfaction in just looking at or more in that of rubbing, sucking/licking, and even massage of the penis (see Footjob) with the nylon clad feet. Foot-jobs can be very intense and stimulating and covering a woman's pantyhose feet in semen is a common fantasy with some men. Pantyhose fetish can also be linked to that of the women dressing as the schoolgirl where stockings, knee high socks and pantyhose can be worn with a short skirt.
The act of purchasing pantyhose, especially when aided by a female assistant wearing it herself, can also generate a degree of arousal.
There are several reasons for women to wear pantyhose, each a possible reason for the allure of pantyhose fetishism:
- Thighs and buttocks encased in pantyhose appear firm and fit, flaws such as cellulite and blemishes are not visible.
- The reflectiveness of the material, coupled with the way they appear less transparent at the edges, often gives legs more contrast and definition, as though lit by dramatic lighting. This accentuates the curves of the legs, making them less “flat”, and can also make legs appear slimmer (with dark pantyhose).
- They often have a silky texture which is pleasing to both the wearer and her partner.
- They enhance the pleasure (and anticipation) associated with the removal of a woman’s clothes. Not only serving as an additional item to be removed; they allow the exciting moment of exposure to be drawn out much longer than other clothing items, as the pantyhose are slowly pulled down the legs. In addition to this, they do not actually hide what they cover.
- The slipperiness and smoothness of sheer pantyhose and stockings also makes women's low cut court shoes slip off more easily. This vulnerability is often sexually attractive, and can often result in the women engaging in shoe dangling or shoe play which is also greatly appealing to shoe and foot fetishists.
Men wearing pantyhose
Some males with a pantyhose fetish may wear them for some of the reasons mentioned above. Men who are discovered wearing women's pantyhose for fetishistic purposes may be labeled as transvestites by their partners, families, workmates and society.
A man who likes to wear pantyhose may be deeply anxious and worried about being associated with homosexuality or transvestism, and as such most will endeavour to keep the fetish totally private, commonly hiding it from their wives/partners (though some do have the ultimate trust and understanding of their partners) due to such enormous fears that are invariably completely out of context with such relatively mild desires.
The wearing of pantyhose by men can then become a strong, and much reinforced fetish aided and abetted by this 'pressure' which can consume some as it serves to expand the already highly charged fetish in itself.
Typically, a man who shares his pantyhose fetish with his partner wants to believe that the fetish generates as much arousal for them as it does for him. He may like his partner to encourage him in his fetish to the extent of them buying him pantyhose to wear and encouraging him to wear them. Sexual activity with his partner will likely be heightened if both parties are wearing pantyhose. Any feeling that his fetish is amusing to his partner or that they are only grudgingly accepting of it is likely to cause the wearer to stop and return to wearing his pantyhose in private.
There is a small number of women, perhaps due to the nature of the garment who will also find them stimulating.
For most men with a pantyhose fetish, the simple sensual feel of the material against their body is amply sufficient and they have no intention of wearing any other items of female attire and in this instance these men will take offense at being labeled as 'transvestite'. In recent years with the access to the internet an increasing amount of men have shared their fetish for pantyhose/tights with other male wearers, with online chat rooms and webcam to webcam masturbation in pantyhose/tights and real meets through the online chat rooms and crossdressing websites.
It is recommended to tell the women about this fetish right away before getting into a serious relationship and for sure before marriage. Forums are full of men who sadly admit that their wives do not share their interest in hosiery and sometimes refuse to wear it all together. Such negative reactions from partners may not be caused by the fetish itself, rather than by the fact that their partner was not completely honest about his sexual preferences and expectations before marriage.
Some people experience sexual excitement from the look or feel of women's stockings. The attraction may be to the look or feel of the material, such as sheer nylon or silk, to the use of a garter belt, or to the act of a person donning or removing stockings. The attraction of stockings may include the perception that stockings, and the associated use of garters, lace, high fashion, appliqué and the exposure of the thigh, are aesthetically pleasing or erotic.
Stocking fetishism may include other feminine clothing which contributes to enhance the fantasy. Some men find it arousing to collect and wear stockings, panties and suspender belts. In some cases, this is done for the purpose of momentary sexual stimulation. Others wear such a complete combination under a pair of trousers or beneath a business suit on a regular daily basis.
A survey completed by over one thousand British males during July and August 1995, as well as some other authorities related to this matter, suggest quite a sizable percentage – perhaps 5 to 10% – of the adult male population in various western European developed countries have sampled the experience of wearing different lingerie items and combinations. These trials have ranged from a single garment to a complete intimate set, at least once in their lifetimes. And, the study concludes based upon an especially designed questionnaire, a significant majority of these lingerie users are heterosexual individuals who apparently lead normal lives and are very likely married, with children.
According to these findings, stocking fetishists highly favor the visual and tactile feedback provided by the smoothness, sheerness and resiliency, characteristic of nylon and nylon/spandex items, as compared to the roughness and lack of appeal typical of male underwear. The responses given by such males, who regularly wear lingerie and other assorted feminine items, usually refer to sensual, rather than sexual, stimulus, with an overall feeling of relaxation and well-being.
The increasing acceptance with which modern societies have viewed this particular subject since the middle of the 1950s decade enabled many men to indulge in this practice to such an extent that it has been branded as a 20th-century social phenomenon.
In contrast to conventional face-to-face purchasing, the growth of internet purchasing has enabled men to browse through many different assorted underwear offerings anonymously. Presently, many manufacturers and retailers specializing in lingerie and associated women’s apparel throughout the world cater to the need of an ever growing population of men who usually invest significant amounts of effort and expense in order to acquire whatever intimate garments may suit their particular needs.
Such fetishists may also be divided into many sub-categories relative to their attraction to certain types of stockings. Some find fishnet stockings more arousing compared to other forms of stockings, for example. Other preferences include fully fashioned (seamed) stockings, seamless stockings, designer stockings, luxury stockings, reinforced heel and toe stockings (RHT), stay-ups, etc.
Garter belts can be very tricky to attach to a lace welt, therefore it is much easier to start wearing garter belts with old-fashioned regular stockings that have a plain welt without any lace, designs, or silicon lining. Usually garter belt fits around the waist or just a little lower, but it is not a good idea to have a garter belt too low on the hips because it may begin to slide down when walking as stockings tug on the straps.
In the Anime and Manga subculture Zettai Ryouiki (絶対領域) (lit. Absolute Area/Domain/Region/Territory) refers to the bare skin between thigh-high stockings or socks and the skirt (though in some cases shorts also).
Some people experience sexual excitement from the look or feel of a women's bra. The attraction may be to the look or feel of the material, such as lace, or how it looks on a person. Some people get excitement from removing a bra.
Silk and satin
Some people experience sexual excitement from the look or feel of articles made of silk or satin fabric. Such interest is usually directed towards the person wearing silk or satin, but it can also be directed towards the garment itself, or to the feel of the garment when worn.
The principal materials which are considered erotic are charmeuse silk (silk woven so that it has a sheen) and satins (such as acetate satin and rayon satin), but other materials with similar properties, such as spandex and polyester are also admired.
Jockstrap fetishism is the term applied to the sexual arousal from handling, wearing a jockstrap, watching another put one on, or sniffing a jockstrap. To quote on jockstrap sniffing, "jock[strap] sniffing specifically refers to the practice of inhaling odors from unlaundered jockstraps for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Practitioners, (usually male) are known as 'jock sniffers' and acquire unlaundered jockstraps either by swapping such garments with like-minded individuals or by swiping them from locker rooms, lockers, or unattended gym bags". Sexual arousal generally concerns the jockstrap itself and is why it is regarded as a paraphilia rather than a fetish. It is also regarded as a homosexual exclusive fetish even though straight males do often do this as well. Most Jockstraps are made out of cotton and polyester though leather jocks are often used as well.
- "140 pairs of stolen lingerie found in bizarre condition". GABDIG (in en-US). Retrieved 2015-11-04.
- "The economics of pricing used panties." http://aprilsbody.com/used-panties-prices-explained/ (Retrieved on Feb. 16, 2014).
- Telegraph news report
- Sydney Morning Herald news report
- Scorolli C, Ghirlanda S, Enquist M, Zattoni S, Jannini EA (2007). "Relative prevalence of different fetishes". Int. J. Impot. Res. 19 (4): 432–7. doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3901547. PMID 17304204.
- Dobson, Roger (2007). Heels are the world's No 1 fetish. The Independent Online Edition, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2303022.ece, accessed February 2007.
- Again as related by numerous minor sources most of which may be found on the Internet the high incidence of pantyhose (and nylon stockings) occurring as two of the most prolific items of a 'first encounter' or 'trigger' is perhaps not unsurprising as they are (were particularly for previous generations) a uniquely tactile feminine item on constant daily display whilst being readily available around the home in washing baskets, on lines, in waste bins in a Mothers or sisters room etc. Sadly whilst many tv's/cd's derive great pleasure from cross dressing a child's earliest encounter and the often ensuing if erratic progression/obsession can often lead to him to becoming a *transvestite, the seeds of which were possibly sown via an innocent, naive encounter. As any transvestite would admit once triggered the urge is extremely potent and powerful. (*It is broadly understood that a transvestite derives sexual pleasure from wearing women's clothing whilst a cross dresser simply prefers them). The arguments about these terms and the whole subject matter is riddled with complex reasoning and counter reasoning with widely varying opinions and interpretations, the truth being quite simple in that we still don't really know 'why'? Lothstein, L.M. (1997), "Pantyhose Fetishism and Self Cohesion: A Paraphilic Solution?", Gender and Psychoanalysis 2: 103–121, retrieved 2008-09-25
- Jeanette, Doris, PsyD. (2011). Sexual Empowerment for Men: Love and Understanding for Men Who Wear Panties. http://www.drjeanette.com/galstuff.html (retrieved on December 31, 2012)
- Coleman, Vernon (1996). Men in Dresses: a study of Transvestism and Cross-dressing. ISBN 1-898947-99-6. (retrieved on July 26, 2007)
- HerRoom: Lingerie we buy for ourselves... and more (2012). Lingerie Tips for Men. http://www.herroom.com/lingerie-for-men.aspx (retrieved on December 31, 2012)
- The Stocking Passion: Imagination and beyond (retrieved on May 9, 2007)
- Steele, Valerie (1985). Fashion and Eroticism: Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 0-19-503530-5.
- Browne, Ray B. (1982). Objects of special devotion: fetishism in popular culture. Bowling Green University Popular Press. ISBN 0-87972-191-X.
- Pronger, Brian (May 15, 1992). The Arena of Masculinity. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0312062934.