Underwear is often overlooked when it comes to discussions about clothing. Still, they are used everyday so let’s take a look to our ‘nearest and dearest’. We are talking about quality, quantity and what kind of underclothes one may need. Undergarments are a very personal thing but here is a handful of basic knowledge you can use to get the most out of the least.
Quality is the starting point
Undergarments are the closest garments that go on your body. Keeping that in mind you should pay careful attention to the materials and care. Those usually go hand in hand meaning that the better the material the easier it is to take care of and the more washing it can take. As you change your undies at least once a day you know that there is going to be lots of washing. We’ll talk more about proper washing later.
Good materials also mean comfort. Make sure that the fabric isn’t scratchy and that the seams are well-sewn. No thick structures! If you need close fitting undies then pay attention that the materials are over all elastic and that there isn’t any weird non-stretching panels (exclude some shaping vintage style underwear). I would advice you to buy comfortable underwear made from cotton and elastan (also known as lycra) blends because they can be washed in hot water. Polyamid microfibres are also very comfortable option.
Silk is often considered as a luxury material and by all means that’s what it is. It may be used with slip-ons and also some undies. Just remember silk requires a lot of washing as dirt makes the fabric brittle and leads to breaking. It might not be the best material for everyday use, but for special occasions – perfect! Keep your eyes open when buying silk undergarments as not everything that looks and feels like silk is silk. Polyester can nowadays be made to very much like silk but even if it feels and looks nice not all the features are the same. Polyester still has very poor breathing abilities and it makes you sweaty. That’s a disadvantage for undergarments.
What kind of undies?
As with all your clothes, to answer the question one needs to know their needs. What kind of lifestyle you live? What kind of job you have? If you work while sitting five days a week I think comfortable and breathing is the key. If there’s lot of fancy meetings which include formal wear, shaping and seamless work well especially with dresses and skirts. Always use well fitting bras or a corset under an evening gown!
Most often we would like to keep our underwear from showing, so nude coloured, seamless underwear is the most versatile. Trousers and suit jackets are generally more forgiving with underwear seams and are more likely to keep them from showing. It’s good to try to mach the colour of your underwear to your other garments in case the waistband slips or seam starts to ravel middle of the day. Me and Janina have been in a situation when skinny jeans ripped and the yellow boxer briefs were screaming from underneath.
The important thing is that the underwear fits you and is comfortable to wear. If you are too conscious about your underwear then there is something wrong. Good confidence comes when you don’t even notice your underwear and especially don’t need to fix them in every ten minutes.
There’s also the sexy and playful side of underwears. When you find a good brand you can have the sexy alongside the comfortable. Never underestimate the power of clothing to make you feel great. Use that knowledge. There’s always those days when your Iron Man boxers give good start to the day or you might want to wear that hot-as-hell lace combo. Clothes should make us feel good and having a well organized wardrobe should mean you feel good whenever you dress yourself. There’s always room for those geeky and fun pieces of clothing if you really use them.
The very special ones
Usually when talking about undergarments people only remember undies and bras. But the case doesn’t end there and most people need special undergarments every once in a while. Basically everything that is used to give your outfit the right shape and surface is considered underwear. We are not going to talk about socks and stockings here nor are we talking about garter belts (which are all important undergarments in certain cases). I want to draw your attention to slip-ons, petticoats and shapewear which are all important if you enjoy wearing feminine clothes.
As mentioned earlier Janina likes to wear 1950’s women’s clothes and is still struggling to get the right balance between feminine and masculine clothes. But one thing that she is certain with is the undergarment section. Yes, there is still something to work on but the base is great.
She isn’t mixing feminine and masculine with bras and sport bras or binders. There is no point on getting gender neutral bras if bras only go on during feminine days. Then on the other hand why should the sport bra and binder section be feminine if it is used during masculine or gender neutral days.
So, as mentioned there are outfits that don’t require special undergarments but equally there is those which do. Undergarments create the silhouette. Do you need a puffy petticoat with a flare skirt? Or a simple underskirt with unlined dress? Does a certain dress require shapewear to draw attention to waist or is there a special kind of bra that is needed for a specific neckline?
Stocking specific undergarments can easily get out of hand, to keep things simple get versatile pieces. These ones are to create a good surface for the actual outfit and to ensure that you are still comfortable so there isn’t any need to start playing with details and colours. What the undergarments DO is the most important so basic colours are enough. If you wear light coloured skirts then a white petticoat is better than black, pink or green. A nude slip-on is unnoticeable with most clothes. The less lace and details the less it will show under fine materials. Of course, go for styles you like but remember the function.
When it’s enough?
This is what I have been pondering quite much. I actually had to count mine and while counting I realized there were several pair of underpants I don’t use any more (ripped, old or uncomfortable) and tossed those away. Can you believe I still had one pair my mother had bought me ten years ago? They were really comfortable but also they used to be wine red, now they look more like dirty grey. It’s their time to go! I haven’t missed single one of those yet.
After that the headcount for everyday underwear was eight pairs. Then there is four cotton shorts to go as sleepwear or for lounging at home. Eight pairs isn’t that much in my mind and I figured I could really use few more. After all eight is one weeks worth of underwear plus one to spare, bit tight for our laundry timetable. I think my maximum amount will be 16 pieces. I can’t really imagine I would need any more than that in any case because I don’t travel very much and we have our own washing machine so doing the laundry is fairly easy. (Even thought we are still working on it, haha.)
Taking care of your best buddies
We use underwear daily and they are closest to our skin and that’s why they should be clean. By clean I mean that when you buy new underwear it’s important to wash them at least in 40°C degree before using. That is to get rid of all the chemicals from the garments. Manufacturers use different kind of chemicals to ease the proses along right from the spinning of the yarn to pressing and packaging the products. You don’t want those chemicals near your softest parts.
It’s a sad truth that anything that human body produces does not wash off without at least 65°C degree wash. That’s why it’s important to wash your underwear and exercise gear in hotter water once in a month or so. That keeps the clothes fresh and prevents whites from yellowing. Most likely the care instruction labels say the right washing cycle is 30°C degree hand washing. That is to protect the polyamid and elastan (lycra) which keeps the garment from losing it’s shape. Simplified elastan and polyamid are made of one form of plastic and plastics do not survive in hot alas the 30 degree.
Still, once a month in a hotter wash does not harm your clothes that much and underwear, socks, gym clothes and t-shirts are anyway the clothes which become worn out fairly quickly compared to other pieces of clothing. For designers and manufacturers it’s always easier to write more gentle care instructions just in case but often most garments made from cotton and synthetic fiber can take a bit rougher handling. Keep your clothes fresh smelling and ward off those sweat and other stains by washing them over 65°C degree from time to time.
Ready for revising your undergarments?
When going through your current underwear or going to shop for new ones think about quality and versatility. Keep things to the minimum so you don’t end up with drawers overflowing with undies but give yourself just enough space to breath so that you don’t need to wash every day. Thinking undergarments as the surface for your outfit takes your thoughts to the right direction. Get the basics right and the rest will follow. Don’t forget to have some fun also. The Iron Man boxers are welcome if you really like them!