Decluttering the elusive underwear drawer
In between travel and personal development, I write about fashion, clothes, and minimalism, and the topic of this blog post is a little bit of the latter three. I’ve been wanting to write more about my minimalist lifestyle for some time now, and somehow revive my Live simply posts – the last of which was in 2017. I’m not too sure I like “Live simply” anymore, I’m leaning more towards intentional living, but let’s see where this takes us.
I’m not sure why people cringe or shy away when it comes to talking about underwear – we all (at least I’d like to believe most of us!) wear underwear and it’s quite a necessary thing to have, not to mention, is essential to one’s wardrobe. Just because it’s worn under our clothes doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about. Just recently, I did a very serious declutter of my undergarments, and I thought I’d share some of my experiences in doing so.
Having too many undergarments is a very real thing.
Like regular clothes, having too many pairs of underpants, socks, and bras (if you wear them) is a thing that can happen too, which you don’t often notice until you realise you’re reaching for the same things, and there are some items up the back or some that you pick up and never wear because they look or feel awful. But you continue to keep them.
I used to own probably fifty pairs of underpants and half as many bras, which one might be inclined to say is too many or is a lot more than necessary. I’ve been a minimalist for years, but it somehow didn’t occur to me that I had too many undergarments, many of which I didn’t like, or were well worn out.
Underpants are easy and super cheap to buy in a 3-pack or a 5-pack from a cheap department store (in Australia I’m talking something like Target, or Kmart, or Big W; in America you probably have something like Walmart), even if you particularly hate one of the designs or colours. You’ll probably never end up reaching for that fluorescent green pair that just makes you feel really gross or shows through any light coloured bottoms. Yet you keep them. Because you’ll probably wear them “at home”, “to bed”, or – if you’re a woman – when you’re menstruating, which just makes you feel twice as gross. Effectively, buying packs of underpants becomes an easy way to add more to your collection than you need.
We probably don’t replace underpants as much we should
You should apparently replace your underpants once a year to reduce risk of infections. Although most of us have the common sense to change our underpants at least once a day, these garments are close to areas of our body where bacteria thrive. If you have a dozen pairs of underpants, you can imagine having worn each of them at least thirty times in a year, for most of the day – which is quite a lot.
Thinking about this made me declutter a lot of pairs I’d worn quite a lot over the last year that I had worn primarily for working out, and others that had worn out.
And yeah, the internet is a wondrous place, and I will admit to my search history having “how often should you replace your underpants” in it.
We complain that underwear is expensive
I don’t need to go into detail about this. 😅 I get it. It doesn’t make sense to “pay $30 for 14 centimetres of fabric” (in the style of my dear friend Monica who made a similar comment about $200 swimsuits). But I learned to bite the bullet and do it, because if you think about it:
- You wear these things every day, for a long period of time. You’re wearing them a lot.
- A pair of cheap underwear often feels cheap, and they won’t go the distance.
- Better underwear is priced higher, and we deserve to wear good, comfortable underwear even if it doesn’t get seen.
- You spend money on your clothes to look and feel good and comfortable, so it should be the same for underwear.
So I would recommend not buying those cheap 3-packs and 5-packs we were talking about earlier… go and suss out some better quality ones! 😊
Now let’s talk about what isn’t comfortable – get rid of it
Because underwear is expensive, I had the tendency to hold onto a lot of underpants that were not worth how much I paid for them. I might have spent $15 on a single pair which turned out to be incredibly disappointing, gave me a wedgie, or stretched out after washing them once. It was just the cost of the item that made me want to keep it, yet every time I put them on I felt terrible, or I just didn’t bother reaching for them anymore. But I still let them have the space.
Get rid of them! Life is too short for crap, uncomfortable underwear that makes you feel bad. It was tough doing this because wasting money can often make us feel really bad. But the money has been spent – get rid of the thing making you feel bad, learn from it and move on.
I don’t doubt that it’s difficult to find underwear that fits right. I’ve spent many pretty pennies on underwear that I ended up adjusting more times than I could count. It sucks, and it’s an annoying journey, and because of the shape of my bottom I’ve had many a wedgie from really bad underpants. 😆 After a good year searching for underpants that stayed put, I can vouch for the Organic Basics briefs (they are a little expensive but the comfort is worth the cost), and the Lululemon Simply There boyshort has been really awesome too.
I held onto many underpants that I never reached for because they were uncomfortable and I knew they were uncomfortable. Recently I decided I’d had enough and I wanted to free up space for new undergarments, and enjoy better-fitting undergarments. So I tossed them.
We haven’t even talked about bras yet
The cost of bras. A joke. Am I right? Every woman knows that bras cost $50–100 for a pretty good one, and if you ask a man to guess how much a bra costs, most of the time they will be really surprised because it would never occur to them that they could be so expensive. Though, I digress – when I’ve spent more on a bra, it’s been a lot more comfortable than a cheap $20 one from H&M.
The internet would love to tell you women that you should replace your bras every six to twelve months. Are you kidding me? I spend $80 on a bra only to replace it in six months? Hm, wait, so let me think about this… even if I had only two bras and rotated through wearing them, I’d still have worn each bra almost a hundred times in six months… so… maybe the cost per wear ain’t so bad… Alright, so I don’t personally think you should go by how much time has passed, but maybe regularly assess how your bra is fitting and if it’s showing any visible signs of wear and tear. That makes a tonne more sense. And if you wash them carefully, then they will last longer than six months anyway.
If you opt for bralette-style bras and don’t really go for underwire bras, and you also choose bras without lace, then they’re likely to last even longer (lace wears out and loses elasticity easily, and moulded bra cups can lose shape). That’s an excuse to have a few of those in rotation, actually – I personally love the silhouette of a traditional underwire bra, but I’ve taken a liking to padded bralettes and just the generally more comfy stuff. 👙
I just bought a couple of new bras, which thankfully didn’t cost me a pretty penny because I used a gift card I got for my birthday earlier this year. I mean, I’m going to complain about the cost of bras no matter what, so it was kind of nice that I was able to use a gift card to get something essential, but still treat myself to undergarments of high quality. My go-to brand is Calvin Klein; although I hate the fit of almost all their underpants, their bras have fit really well for me. I’ve had some luck with Victoria’s Secret, but I think it can be hit and miss. I’ve also tried The Little Bra Company when I previously had a slimmer frame; some of their bra styles consider your breast shape and whether they are wide-set or close-set, which is great for a perfect fit.
So, I got rid of about ten bras. 😂
Oh shit, please don’t get me started on socks. These little shits are so easy to collect because they come in 3-packs and 5-packs too, and if they’re shitty and make your little toes sweat, you’re going to do the same thing and still reluctantly keep them all. Not because they were expensive, but because they were “only” 3-for-$10 and you figure you’re gonna suck it up and just wear them all.
But you don’t. You still only reach for the ones you like with the hamburger pattern and you wear them over and over because they sure beat bad ankle socks you thought would’ve been great because they were branded. RIP.
Socks are far too easy to collect and I had a great big ugly obsession with patterned socks for a while, only to find that they started clashing with all my skirts because I loved to wear patterned skirts. I’m one of those people who wears socks to bed, so my Totoro socks end up being worn to bed as much as I wish I would wear them out… but I don’t. You have to buy undergarments and socks that go with your lifestyle and the rest of your wardrobe, which leads me to my next point…
Does it go with your current wardrobe and lifestyle?
In thinking about comfortable bras, I’m being pretty selective about the new ones I’m buying and how they fit, and what style they are too. I have started to think about the clothes I own – I have a clothing inventory in a spreadsheet – and what sorts of bras go best with them.
Generally with underpants I like to go for seamless ones, because it reduces lumps and bumps under jeans and tight gym pants, and I wear both of those fairly regularly.
I think it’s good to think about undergarments as part of your wardrobe. It’s useful to think about how they go with your clothes, so that what you’re wearing is comfortable both on your body and underneath your regular clothes too.
Does that stuff even fit?
Another reason to replenish your undergarments regularly is because your body has probably changed over the past year. I work out a lot, but it was still surprising to me that when I bought my new bras recently, I found I’d been wearing the wrong size for a really long time. 🙄 Somehow, I’d gotten used to the knowledge that anything bigger than an A-cup means you have substantial chest, and I thought I was pretty flat and couldn’t possibly be anything bigger than an A-cup, but turns out I was wrong.
So go get yourself some undergarments that fit your current body. 😌
I hope you enjoyed this post – something a bit different but I have really wanted to share more about my minimalist lifestyle on my blog. It’s something I mention but hardly ever write about and I have more posts planned like this. I’m also challenging myself to post three times a week for the rest of August – on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. 🤞 Thank you for reading!
So let me know, do your undergarments need a bit of a declutter? If you have any questions feel free to let me know in the comments too.