A remarkable artist from the 1950s, Art Frahm, had a recurrent motif in his artwork: ladies in distress due to the unexpected loss of their panties while ogling men enjoy their predicament! You can Google this artist's name to see some examples of his style and works; one of these is posted below:
Very clearly, she is dismayed. But her unsympathetic onlookers are not. But what is the reason for this motif? There are several possibilities that I would like to discuss.
1) It is an antifeminist statement. It is intended as a cautionary lesson against intruding into what were male perserves because of the possibility of panty mortification! However, this argument seems invalid in that many of his pictures depict women doing typically female activity such as grocery shopping.
2) It is a mild risqué artistic work; a substitute for the lush 19th century nudes that a pre-Puritan time permitted. After all, porn and irony did not come into being until the 1990s. By putting the heroine in a ridulous situation, it disarms the viewer and causes him to see it as amusing. Furthermore, the typical male did not usually have any experience with prurient garments as granny panties unless they had been married for a substantial amount of time.
3) Ultimately, this is simply an expression of the short life span that the elastic of the time had, a then-developing technology in which Art Frahm revealed its imprefections! To cite as support for this I cite the easy acceptance of blue jeans as feminine garb. Wearing jeans took a lot of the existential worry out of appearing in public!
4) Finally, the type of panties of the 1950s might have been part of the problem. Grannies, because of their weight, result in more downward stress on the elastic. However, by the use of lighter material and briefer panties, the incidence of panty failures diminished dramatically. Therefore, the progression from granny panties to panties, to bikini briefs to thongs represents superior technological developments as well as social more change.