In Brief Praise Of Your Crappy Underwear

I have a drawer full of underwear that probably shouldn’t see the light of day. There are ancient relics in there from college, stretched out, saggy bags of faded cotton that do little more than assure me I’m not completely bare down there. There’s a clutch of underwear reserved for the great blood moon, set aside mostly to wear during my lady time, but grabbed more often than not when I want to just cover my vagina with some cloth and go about my day.

There’s a corner of optimistically lacy briefs, purchased on sale at a Nordstrom Rack many years ago, and slipped on for those occasion when I want to present myself as the kind of person who always wears the good shit. They pinch at the waist and leave deep grooves in my flesh. They are the least worn, the ones always left at the bottom of the drawer. I’ve given up on maintaining the illusion that underneath my clothes lies underpants that are in decent shape.

Underwear is important — I am a huge supporter of underwear! — but I refuse to be ashamed about not really caring what mine looks like. This is less a calculated act of not giving a fuck, like the granny panty defenders in last month’s New York Times Style section piece, and more about literally not actually  caring. It’s not seeing the point of discussing the pros and cons of sacrificing comfort for “style” when it comes to covering my vagina.

Speaking from personal experience, walking through the day worrying about my underwear, feeling it dig into my flesh, removing it from places it does not belong, is a nightmare. Underwear should be something you don’t even think about, and the sexiest, skimpiest, tiniest things are, generally speaking, not comfortable. And you know what? Being comfortable looks good because it feels good. This isn’t a trend, it’s just facts. If you can leave the house in the morning knowing that the clothes you’ve put on your body are going to stay on your body, in the way you want them to, you can live your life with one less thing to worry about. In that sense, there is a certain power in wearing shitty underwear. The stretched out waistbands feel good on your body. The shitty underwear is the underwear you’re most reluctant to give up. So why do it?

Everyone’s different in what they like. I know some women who feel their best in the kind of lacy slips of fabric that I would buy maybe once in a blue moon. Personally, I like to have the extra security of a high waist. When you’re in possession of a stomach that loudly announces itself by poking through your shirts and bubbling over the waistband of pants, nothing feels more vulnerable than underwear that sits right below that mass. My stomach is fine, but sometimes a pair of underwear that comes up and over my flesh is the one thing I need to feel secure. I’ve outgrown the 5-for $25 Victoria’s Secret deal that was my bread and butter on laundry days in college, and have discovered a new outlet. My perfect underwear, my desert island underpinnings, come three in a pack and are available at the Duane Reade down the street from my house.

They’re granny panties. There’s no way around it. High-waisted and sensible and made of a shiny polyester, I have them in white, black, bright pink and a lilac that is surprisingly pretty for something found in a drugstore next to the pantyhose and adjacent to the maxi pads. They are $10 a package, and I have just now gotten over the initial embarrassment of purchasing them alongside cat food, a new mascara and a magazine. They fulfill my needs, fit me the way I want them to fit and would not embarrass me if I were to suddenly find myself pants-less in front of a group of people. For me, they are perfect.

So, because it is “National Underwear Day,” go through your shit and clean out what makes you feel bad and keep what makes you feel good, even if that means tossing that practically unworn lace thong and keeping the cotton boy briefs with the big hole near the elastic. There are enough things to worry about in this world. Your underwear should not be one of them.