A woman in fiction-land showing black lingerie is doing it for a reason. She's doing it because she wants to show it off. Because she wants to give someone else a thrill. These are the underwear she wears for someone else. It can be sexual, it can be sensual, but it's not something she wants to keep hidden.
The sight of black lingerie is an instant alarm bell for bad news. If a woman is seen wearing it or admits to wearing it, she's The Vamp for sure; if someone else finds it snooping through her drawer, it's a sure sign she's loose. What other women must wear as a substitute under their black clothing is never explained. Lingerie is Color-Coded for Your Convenience, and as with most other things, black = bad/hot. In other words, this is the Hotter and Sexier version of the Woman in Black.
Of course in Real Life, it doesn't work that way. Sometimes it can happen, but most of the time, it's because it fits with a woman's black clothes, the same as white lingerie fits with her white clothes, and blue fits with her blue clothes, etc.
Compare Fur Bikini, Seashell Bra, Of Corsets Sexy, Bare Your Midriff, Sexy Coat Flashing and Slip into Something More Comfortable.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Lelouch from Code Geass, with his obsession for black stuff, wears a black banana hammock underneath his Zero costume as depicted in official linearts. As a result, fan art frequently depicts him wearing Black Bra and Panties on the inevitable Gender Bender fanarts. It's the rule 63 of the internet.
In the penultimate volume of Great Teacher Onizuka, while a nurse is attending Uchiyamada and Onizuka and two of his students are under the bed making bets in which color the nurses panties are, Onizuka is betting purple, one student bets black and the last one bets white, the trope is mentioned. The result purple with a Garter belt.
Spoofed in an early chapter of the Sgt. Frog manga, where Keroro rushes into the room with a pair of black panties belonging to Natsumi, saying they're far too racy for a teenager to be wearing. Natsumi promptly kicks him across the room.
Subverted with Fate Testarossa who wears this after she's grown up in the third season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Merely a reminder of her Dark Magical Girl past, she's one of the most motherly characters in the show now.
Although the Lingerie Scene had been around in comics since (at least) the 1930s, black underwear was virtually unseen until the war, and then only in certain kinds of male publications. All this changed during the late 50s, when the British press decided that nice girls could wear black after all.
A prime example of this changing attitude was Pat Tourret's Tiffany Jones. Essentially a single-girl romance set in Swinging London, the strip featured regular fanservice as the title character modelled the latest in sixties underfashions (usually accomplished via a perfectly normal domestic activity, such as ironing a dress in her bra and panties). The ongoing stripteases were vaguely surprising, given that the artist and writer were both female. Maybe it was meant to be a proto-feminist statement on the exploitation of women's bodies. Or maybe the Daily Sketch just wanted to sell more papers; who knows?
Veronica Chase wears this when she "rewards" Deadpool in Merc With A Mouth #9.
During Howard Chaykin's run as artist on Hawkgirl, Shayra was shown to be wearing a black lace brace under her costume. Various female commentators remarked on how this black lace bra appeared to have the same support qualities as a good sports bra and wondered where they could purchase one.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, when the younger sister is snooping through her older sister's room with some guy, she finds a pair of black underwear and immediately uses it as evidence that she wants to have sex eventually.
Angela Hayes wears black panties in American Beauty, probably as part of her effort to seem as sexual and experienced as possible.
In Black Swan, virginal and repressed Nina wears white underwear, while sensual and free-spirited Lily wears black.
To demoralize a children's book writer in Closetland, Alan Rickman dresses an unconscious Madeline Stowe in these and wakes her with a blaring repetition of "Women who wear black underwear are closet whores!"
Dick Tracy: Breathless Mahoney wears black underwear to mourn for her ex. And to flirt with Tracy a day later.
Horrible Bosses: Julia deliberately undresses in front of window and then parades around the house in nothing but black bra, panties, suspenders and stockings while Kurt watches in amazement.
In Love and Death, Woody Allen's character hooks up with a gorgeous countess - at a rendezvous, she walks in in very erotic black underthings; Allen deadpans "I...would have preferred something sexy, but..."
The villain of Men in Black II, a shapeshifting Alien, chooses a supermodel ad wearing a Black Bra and Panties to imitate and uses it to seduce other characters.
In the porno film Nipples, the narrator has a fantasy about two women: one in red lingerie and one in black. His comment is "Woman in red, trouble ahead. Woman in black... trouble ahead".
Used with purpose in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho, where Janet Leigh's character, Marion Crane (Mary Crane in the original novel), starts the film wearing a white bra and slip. When she decides to make off with stolen cash, she changes to a black bra and slip to symbolize her fall from grace. After a discussion with another character, she then goes into a cleansing shower. She doesn't come out under her own power.
In Cameron Crowe's Singles, Kyra Sedgwick's character strips down to these prior to having sex with Campbell Scott's character for the first time.
The striptease in True Lies involves black underwear after the character had been told to "dress sexy".
While You Were Sleeping has a slight Level Breaker scene that gets a callback later involving the universal appeal of black underwear. Sandra Bullock's character is feeling vulnerable, and her sleazy Joisey neighbour (who, the script implies, has spent months if not years trying to flirt his way into her pants) shows concern for her. She ends up giving him a hug...to which he says, "Are you wearing a black bra?" She promptly leaves, even as he protests, "I love black underwears!" Later, a knock at the door, which she assumes is him, drives her to storm towards the door shouting several refutations of his crush on her, including "No, I am not wearing black underwear!"...and Bill Pullman's character is at the door. He responds to her comments, including noting that he wouldn't mind seeing her in black underwear, but that he certainly isn't expecting it.
In X-Men: First Class, FBI Agent Moira MacTaggart strips down to reveal her black lingerie in order to go undercover at the Hellfire Club.
In DOA Dead Or Alive, Christie escapes from the police wearing nothing but a black bra, panties and high heels.
In the film adaptation of Rent, Mimi takes off her silver robe for these at the beginning of "Out Tonight".
In Mordechai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Duddy mistakenly comes to the conclusion that a married woman is extremely promiscuous based solely on this trope.
In the James Patterson novel Sail, it is stated that a lawyer likes it best when his mistress is wearing black underwear.
Used in a rather questionable leap of logic in the first Inspector Morse novel, in which Morse deduces that 1) the murdered girl only had black bras, 2) she was wearing a white blouse when she was murdered, 3) girls would never wear a black bra under a white blouse, so 4) she wasn't wearing a bra, therefore 5) she was putting out for sex.
In the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter'' series by Laurell K. Hamilton the heroine wears them in the novels "Blue Moon" (they are a matched set) and "Obsidian Butterfly". In the latter work she dons them in two separate instances, when Edward, her male vampire hunting colleague with whom she has a totally platonic relationship brings her a change of clothes to wear after she checks out of hospital stays. In both books the panties are said to be satin. On another occasion, however, Anita (of all people!) actually references the pragmatic reason for wearing black undies in so many words: "Flashing a white bra strap from under a black dress is tacky".
Lara Raith wears this in her first conversation with Harry, because it takes place in a porn studio where she's acting. She later has a gun fight in same outfit. Her Dad lampshades it later on.
Mild subversion in Alias when Sydney comes out seductively in sexy black lingerie and is told by her mark to go back and put on 'the red one'. She doesn't take kindly to this.
In The Lakes, philandering bully Gary Alcock makes his wife's life a misery with violence, the threat of violence, and frequent undisguised affairs. After he is knocked down and temporarily paralysed, Ruth Alcock gets her own back by dressing in the sexiest underwear possible for a night out and an equally undisguised affair, and as she dresses in the classic black set, tells her bedridden husband in explicit detail what she intends to do that night, and for him not to wait up for her. She blows him a kiss on the way out of the bedroom door.
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veruca walks around like this while looking for clothes to steal from the campus's laundry room. She's in no hurry to get dressed, and would much rather try to seduce Oz and convince him to live as she does.
Lila Archer in "Somebody's Watching" wears a black bikini and black bottoms for precisely the same effect- trying to seduce her security detail, Spencer Reid.
Megan Kane in "Pleasure Is My Business" works as a call girl for high-paying, usually executive-class, clients. She would walk in with businesslike attire only for her to immediately strip it off to her underwear (described by this trope) when she would start her "service".
In Mass Effect 3 Fem!Shep is shown in these during the romance scenes. It's not just Fem!Shep, either. She, Ashley, and Traynor seem to wear identical sets of lacy black lingerie.
Shizune Hakamichi from Katawa Shoujo. Doubled by how her Panty Shot in Act 1 shows white knickers... yet she wears black and lacy lingerie in her sex scenes.
Fridge Brilliance: The panty-shot scene occurs before Hisao has established any sort of real relationship with her. Her change in lingerie demonstrates that she knows their relationship is developing and shows just how far she wants to take it.
The titular sissified star of The Adventures Of Aryan Boy, Aryan Boy, is rumored on the streets of London to wear a black bra and panties at all times under his casual clothing, to seek "thrills." When he arrives in New York, the rumor shifts to that of him wearing pink thongs.