StyleThe Essentials

The Essentials: Rehabbing Your Underwear Drawer

Next week, I get to publish one of my favorite posts of the year: the Valentine’s Day lingerie guide.  But working on that got me thinking about everyday underwear.  When was the last time you cleaned out your lingerie drawer, and started fresh?

Undergarments are the foundation of your wardrobe.  They help your clothes look their best, but they should also be comfortable.  Here are the pieces that are essential to me.

Five Pairs of No-Show Underwear. These are my go-to work underwear for workdays.  I like the Hanky Panky ‘Bare’ Thong.  They also make a boyshort style of these seamless, no-show underwear.  For something less expensive, these Gilligan & O’Malley hipsters are $5 a pair.

Four Pairs of “Weekend” Underwear. These are the every day underwear that can be any color or pattern you want because you’re probably just wearing them under jeans.  I usually pick these Hanky Panky lace thongs up at one of the Shopbop 20% off sales that they run twice per year.  The Rack has Felina lace thongs (which are similar) for $10 in a 2-pack.

Two Pairs for That Time of the Month. I wrote about my experience with Thinx Period Underwear last summer.  I like the product (which absorbs 1-2 tampons worth of blood) as a backup option to prevent emergency bathroom trips or embarrassing leaks.

Three Pairs of Workout Underwear. When I started working out again, I started getting redness and chafing along my inner thighs.  It turns out I was wearing the wrong underwear.  For working out you need undies that breathe and wick away moisture without being too snug.

I buy these New Balance Breathe hipsters.  I like that they’re really lightweight and thin.  They don’t show panty lines, even under leggings, and don’t restrict movement.

Three Basic Bras. My favorite bras come from Third Love.  I found them on Facebook, and fell in love the first time I put them on.  Their 24/7 T-Shirt Bra is my favorite.  They also make other styles, like full coverage bras, maternity bras, and strapless bras.  They also let you try on the bras before you buy them.

Two Weekend Bras. On the weekend, I like to wear wire-free bras.  I was so glad to find these True & Co. True Body bras, which are comfortable, supportive and lightweight.  For something less simple, I love these Aerie racerback lace bralettes; they’re affordable and pretty.

One Push-Up Bra (Optional).  I long ago gave up the fiction that I need to have larger breasts to suit some ideal.  But when wearing a blazer, I find a little extra cleavage helps balance out the extra bulk of a jacket.  This Spanx Pillow Cup Bra is my favorite.

Two Pairs of Shapewear (Optional). I wear Spanx infrequently, but I own a few pieces of clothing that don’t look their best without a little smoothing.  I like their Haute Contour mid-thigh shorts and their UndieTectable hipster brief that gives a little bit of belly smoothing.

Care and Maintenance. Lastly, keep your undergarments looking their best by washing them properly.  I don’t believe in hand washing, because no one has time for that.  But I do believe in picking up some gentle detergent and a few mesh intimates’ bags.  Then, just toss them in with the rest of your laundry.

And if you need help storing your undergarments so it doesn’t look like your lingerie just exploded, these honeycomb drawer organizers are great.  They keep everything separated and easy to find.

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  1. Cat says:

    FWIW, I don’t recommend Gilligan O’Malley. They used to hold up really well, but I picked up a few pairs last year, and the cotton liners are all peeling away from the synthetic body. They’ve been demoted to period use since my thin pantyliner subs in for the cotton.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Nicole says:

      I second this. The quality used to be so much better, especially for the price. Now I will only buy if on clearance.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
  2. MOnica T says:

    I really like Aerie underwear, although apart from one type, I haven’t been a big fan of their bras. They have lace thongs and seamless thongs that are a great deal and have held up well. For bras I like the Body by Wacoal bras. I don’t like a lot of structure in my bras and for some reason that has been really hard to find. I just like them to lay naturally, is that so much to ask?!

    January 17, 2018/Reply
  3. anna says:

    As long as leggings have a gusset or a built in brief, I freeball when I work out. So much more comfortable.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Sara says:

      I second this. I used to be super anti-commando when working out but with the right kind of leggings (Girlfriend Collective) it’s fantastic.

      I went back to aerie undies because they’re some of the only panties I can find that are 100% cotton (certain styles, at least). I found that lacy underwear contributed to a lot of ingrown hairs, so I’ve pretty much abandoned that look.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Sarah says:

      Yes! I don’t understand the wearing underwear to workout phenomenon. I wear a thicker, performance legging/bottom (aka not the ones I’d wear lounging around the house) and I find that it does a good enough job absorbing sweat, without having underwear lines or weird bunching.

      Also, I really really do not understand the thong love here. Am I missing something? It always feels like a perma-wedgie. I like simple, bikini briefs that look smooth under clothing and has cotton in it. I find the “no-show” material usually doesn’t stay in place.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
      • Shelley says:

        I never wear underwear when I work out, it’s so much more comfortable to go commando.

        January 19, 2018/Reply
  4. Susan says:

    I don’t love their bras but I do love Soma lacy thongs. They are almost identical to Hanky Panky lace thong, but come in sizes and last forever (not to mention more affordable and always on sale).

    For every day bras I struggle. The best line I’ve found for consistency these days is Chantelle.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
  5. E says:

    Quick question on the lingerie bags – do you just wash as normal with them in the bags? I picked mine up recently and found when it came to drying, they were still damp once the cycle was up. Should I be removing them for the drying cycle?

    January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Cat says:

      I don’t wash my underwear in a lingerie bag because it feels like it doesn’t get as clean! I’m all for preserving nice garments but not at the expense of having them feel less than thoroughly washed. I hang my nicer pairs (LOVE Natori) to dry on a drying rack I keep next to the dryer – only takes an extra minute.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Air dry your bras outside the mesh.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
  6. Jenn S. says:

    I wear primarily Aerie bras and underwear. For bras, their Sunnie style (both Demi and full cup, lightly lined and push-up) work on my small 32B frame fairly well. I’d like to try Natori at some point but don’t really have a need to replace/upgrade right now.

    Aerie’s cotton-based underwear are nice, too; they have some lace-trim waists for enough of a, “pretty,” factor.

    I’ve seen some confusion about thongs – a well-fitting thong should not really be something you feel. But, then again, some women feel tampons too (when in theory you shouldn’t be able to when they’re placed properly). I wear more thongs than briefs/hipsters.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
    • Monica T says:

      Just want to second you on the thong input. If it’s the right thong for you it should be more comfortable than other underwear. My shape makes other types a challenge under form-fitting pants, thongs are the only truly invisible panty for me.

      January 17, 2018/Reply
      • Jenn S. says:

        Yes – me too on the shape front. I’m a pear shape with very freaking wide hips. For the most part briefs flat out just don’t work on me. When I want more coverage I typically go for hipster styles.

        January 17, 2018/Reply
  7. Maia says:

    I haven’t worn a thong since college. I find them way too uncomfortable and just asking for an infection. For everyday underwear my go-to is Soma. Their Vanishing Edge line is the tits. “Eliminate panty lines for good with a sleek microfiber bikini with patented silicone edge that eliminates ride up and is invisible under clothes.” This all holds true. They are comfortable, don’t ride up and invisible. I wash them on delicate in a mesh bag (in hot water) and hang them to dry. I do this for my bras as well. I like Calvin Klein t-shirt bras for everyday wear and their lace panties for the weekend.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
  8. Jenn S. says:

    Commented earlier but forgot to share my entire thought!

    – Mesh wash bags for everything. There are a few different types out there. There’s fine mesh, which I use for bras and hosiery, and then there are more open, fishnet-style mesh bags – which I use for underwear. That may help mitigate one commenter’s concern about underwear getting *reeally* clean in a bag. They clean up just fine!
    – I also do not believe in hand washing. I tried it for a stint before I had my own washer and dryer in my apartment but it was SO labor intensive for such small items. I do, however, air dry all delicates.
    – LingerieMate and HosieryMate make some nice, no-rinse cleansers for bras and tights/stockings/etc. The fragrance is a little strong (not bad, just strong!), but its a basically a cleansing conditioner for your intimates. Their whole schtick is that the product helps condition items and improve their longevity. I’ve been using them for about a year and I’ve definitely noticed my bras and hosiery show less wear than the previous year with previous methods/detergents.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
  9. K says:

    I so have to do a clean out. Got some help from Nordstrom and invested in bras last spring, but I lost momentum before doing a major clean out of everything I should have. Oops.

    January 17, 2018/Reply
  10. Jen says:

    Alternatives to Thinx (I’m not a big fan of the founder): Dear Kate – LOVE their thongs and briefs. They also carry workout gear designed to go commando. LunaPads – Briefs and boyshorts are the best. Some styles also accommodate an additional cloth liner for more absorbency. I am 100% waste free during my period now thanks to period underwear and a cup. Thank you to your readers and their comments on your Thinx post for getting me on a cup. I LOVE LOVE using a cup – cramps have disappeared and I actually forget I’m on my period! And thank you for recommending Third Love for bras! Postpartum bra shopping has been frustrating so I’m excited to try them out.

    January 18, 2018/Reply