And now a pubic service announcement from everybody’s favorite bra bitch, Brianna! Happy Friday from Pantyland! Mine started in a bunch after reading a tweet that contained my two favorite things: Rob Kardashian and underwear. Even though he looks like an overgrown 10-year-old who’s allowed to drink beer, I have a soft spot in my, um, heart for the only Kardashian with a Y chromosome. And I needn’t even elaborate on my love for all things intimate. Mr. K, as he’s known in most of my fantasies, tweeted: “So u girls are only allowed to wear undies … good thing u can get them here” and the “here” led to Freshpair, where it’s National Underwear Day. Like, now. Today. But the cool part is that they’re “celebrating” by giving away 5,000 “fresh pairs” for free. Angels, I tell you. Angels. My squeals of glee, however, quickly turned to disgust when I read WHY they’re giving it away: A recent Freshpair poll told the sick tale that 73 percent of the American population wears old “expired” underwear that’s been ruined by stains, holes and more runs than your granny’s panty hose. I had heard enough.
All this time I’ve been doling out wisdom on everything from crack-hungry thongs to deflated D-cups, and completely overlooking the basic concept of housekeeping. The more you wash, the more wear and tear they endure, and soon you’re wearing two rags joined together by elastic and calling it a bra. Something must be done immediately. Ladies, it’s time to clean house.
Think of your underwear drawer as the vegetable drawer in your fridge. The longer things are in there, the older they are and the longer you’ve worn and washed them. Bras and panties, like fruits and veggies, don’t last forever. You know fruit is rotten because it gets soft and moldy, but how do you tell when it’s time to chuck out underthings that have passed their expiration? Let’s start with bras. Almost every bra uses elastic to provide a snug fit, but the stretch doesn’t last forever. Wearing a bra all day reduces the longevity of the elastic. Bra experts recommend spacing out when you wear your bras by at least two days to allow the elastic time to regain its shape. A brand new bra that fits you correctly should fasten on the outermost column of hooks, so as the elastic weakens over time, you can fasten it inward and still have a snug fit. Once you’ve reached the innermost column of hooks, it’s time to start looking for a new bra. If you’re not wearing your bra in that systematic way, you can try the “skin test” to see how much time your bra has left. Simply hold the bra up and pull. If the elastic feels fresh and vigorously bounces back like the skin of a 20-year-old, you’ve got a fresh one. If it feels limp and with little give, like the sun-damaged, leathery hide of our grandmothers, off to the grave it goes. If it’s in between, use your discretion and be smart about it. Keep in mind that if you’re wearing the same bra regularly–say two to three times per week–you’ve reached the “sell-by” date at three months, and by six, you better have a replacement ready because that bra is finished.
Onto panties. Your bra and panties may have come as a set, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to last the same amount of time. Panties are also more roughly handled, enduring a constant cycle of sitting, standing, stretching, sweating, and rubbing up against your clothing. The rate at which a panty ages depends highly on the fabric of which it’s made. Cotton and microfiber will obviously last longer than lace and mesh, which is why “everyday underwear” is typically made from the former. Delicate fabrics show their wear and tear up front, as tiny holes tear their way into bigger holes pretty easily. When it comes to the more enduring fabrics, however, the aging process is usually slower and more subtle. At first, the elastic waistband loses its tenseness and gets frilly on the edges. Then the fabric starts to fade, and eventually pill. (That, by the way, is gross. Pills belong in my pocketbook, not on my panties). Certain areas begin to wear through, eventually tearing into holes. The leg openings lose their snug fit and the whole panty starts to droop in the back. At this point, which generally occurs around the sixth month of wear, your panties are “in a bunch” and not in the good way.
I know what some of you may say. “But Brianna, wise and powerful, who sees our bra and panties? Unless we have a hot date and plan on showing off our stuff, we don’t mind wearing worn out bras and panties underneath our clothes.” To which I say, “It’s all nice that you don’t mind wearing a saggy bra, but let’s ask your breasts what they think!” A saggy bra doesn’t support, so why bother to wear one at all? And while most of our mothers’ advice is now outdated, the one rule that sticks is “always wear clean underwear.” It just feels better. Slipping on panties that look and feel good will make you smile every morning, and you owe it to yourself to be happy. And say a date of the unplanned sort happens—you don’t want to be known as “Raggedy pANNty” when he tells his friends about the hot chick who wore old Swiffer sheets as underwear.
So in the spirit of National Underwear Day, crank up some empowering Aretha and take a quick inventory of your underthings. Then head to Freshpair and enter to win some for free! The contest lasts through August, so you’ve got plenty of time. And while you’re at it, inspire the men in your life to do the same. I won’t even start on the state of men’s underwear atrocities.