Aw fur coat an nae knickers
(All fur coat and no knickers)
“Aw fur coat an nae knickers” is a popular jibe levelled by
Glaswegians in the west at those in Edinburgh in the east. The
insinuation is that while Edinburgh residents appear cultured,
dignified and steeped in class, this is purely superficial and that
underneath the facade they are no classier than their local
rivals…Also implied in the insult is a reference to the dress worn by
the high-class prostitutes that once plied their trade on the
Capital’s Danube Street under the employment of famous “Madam” Dora
The Scotsman, 29th January 2014
@Anton has provided an abbreviated version of this very British (primarily Scottish) saying, with “drawers” replacing “knickers”, although the latter was subsequently added as an alternative. However there is ample evidence that the delightfully alliterative “knickers” version (with or without the “aw” and “an”) is the most common — I would say authentic — version, and “drawers” is the very rare alternative. I therefore feel obliged to post a separate answer, with supporting evidence. (I’m a scientist — I would, wouldn’t I.)
First, The Scotsman is a Scottish national newspaper based in Edinburgh, so the quotation and explanation can be regarded as having some authority.
Second, an internet search for “fur coat, no drawers” brings up a top hit in Word Histories with “drawers” only as an alternative, but a page of other hits with “no knickers” — certainly no drawers. (Try it yourself.)
Third, Google Books ngram comparisons of “and nae knickers/drawers”, “fur coat and nae knickers/drawers”, “fur coat and no knickers/drawers” fail to find any examples with “drawers”. (I’ve included one of them below). “And no drawers” scores about a tenth of “And no knickers”, but all the examples of the former occur in other contexts, as far as I could see.
It is of some interest that books retrieved by the ngram search that include this expression date from no earlier than 1975, although the Word Histories article has a quotation from 1966. By this time the pre-war term “drawers” had completely gone out of use in Britain — my wife laughed when she heard the suggestion. (Oh, and we have lived in Glasgow for half a century.)