"softness of her French knickers"

White silk and lace French knickers
GNU Free Documentation LicenseWhite silk and lace French knickers - Credit: Tender Rosebud
 French knickers are a style of women’s underwear, usually made from silk, which developed in the early 20th century. Based on the long, looser undergarments of the Victorian era and the frilled underwear worn by can-can dancers in Paris (which was made to be seen beneath the dancers’ skirts), the knickers are styled like shorts and have non-elasticated legs, meaning that they hang away from the body.

French knickers were popular in the 1920s and 1930s beneath full skirts, and revived again in the 1970s and 80s. By the 21st century they had become unpopular again because of their bulk and are now more of a speciality underwear, often found in vintage shops.