7 Things You Never Knew You Needed To Know About Buying Underwear

Buying underwear is one of those things that, for better or for worse, you probably don’t really think about all that much. Like, sure, you’ll hit up those five-for-$25 sales at Victoria’s Secret every now and then, and, if you’re anything like me, you get cringey AF whenever you hear anyone say the word “panty“or  “panties,” but the actual act of buying underwear is really only considered in the actual moment of purchasing. Like, when you’re in the store and see some cute polka-dot boy shorts that you don’t need, necessarily, but definitely want—or when you open up your underwear drawer and discover that they only pairs you have left to wear are the ones with holes and visible elastic poking through the waistband, so your choices are either A) to do laundry or B) just go ahead and buy more.

But here’s the thing: While underwear obviously isn’t a huge, life-altering purchase like buying a car or computer can be, it’s arguably something that’s just as important. Underwear is something you wear every day, after all—well, for the most part—so it definitely warrants some more consideration than you’re probably giving it. Basically, there’s definitely a way to be smart about buying your next pair of undies. Curious? Check out these things you didn’t know you needed to know about buying underwear:

You Need To Replace It More Often Than You Think

While there's no absolute rule for throwing out underwear, chances are good that you're probably hanging onto it for much longer than you should be. Check out your underwear and see what's going on there--is there visible elastic in the waistband? Holes? Weird stains and scents that you can't quite identify? Throw 'em out (or, at the very least, relegate them to period-only underwear). If you're looking for an exact year, if you've had a pair for over five years, just go ahead and pick up a new pair.

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Cuts Are Important

There are a ton of different names that get thrown around when it comes to underwear, but it's important to know the important ones. The important ones to know are:

Briefs: Basically, granny panties. These have full coverage and a high waistband. People tend to sneer at them, but they're kind of making a comeback, and they are undeniably comfy AF.

Hipsters: Not just for girls who wear glasses and plaid and listen to music before it's "cool!" This underwear is called "hipster" because the waistband sits a two inches below the waist on the hips. This pair will also have low cut leg holes and provides full coverage.

Boyshorts: This cut is tailored the same way that men's briefs are, so they have a rectangular shape. The waistband sits below the waist, and the pants have a low cut leg that can sometimes go far down the thigh.

Bikinis: This pair, as the name implies, just looks like bikini bottoms. The waistband sits low on the waist and has high-cut leg holes. It doesn't provide a lot of coverage, but it also carries less of a chance of riding up over your pants waistband. Thong: A thong has the bare minimum amount of coverage and is good to wear if you're wearing something tight and/or sheer. The waistband sits three inches below the natural waist and the sides and back of the underwear are composed of three strips of fabric.

Image source:iStock

It's Best To Buy Online

Once you know the size and cut that you like, try to buy your underwear online--most deals on the web are better than ones you'd find in stores. Aerie regularly has 7-for-$27.50 deals with online-exclusive pairs of underwear, for example, and subscription sites like Adore Me send you underwear and bras month-to-month based on your own tastes.

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Don't Exclusively Buy Thongs

Thongs, if they're doing their job right, tend to be pretty tight. This means that lots of health experts warn against wearing them too much, especially if you work out a lot--if they slide back and forth, , which, in turn, can lead to a UTI and/or bacterial infection. So, just keep in mind your usual activity level if you're about to overhaul your underwear drawer with thongs.

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Do Exclusively Buy Cotton

If you didn't already know, you absolutely should be buying 100% cotton underwear. Why? Cotton helps wick moisture away from the skin, preventing yeast growth, while other materials (spandex, nylon, whatever) encourage it. Other than being uncomfortable--no one wants a vague, unstoppable dampness in their underwear--this can cause anything from yeast and bacterial infections.

Image source:iStock

For Extra Comfort, Go Seamless

So, you knew about the cotton thing. Looking for another way to stay comfy? Get exclusively seamless underwear, aka the kind without elastic waistbands--this helps the underwear from digging into your skin for any reason, which can cause irritation, abrasions, and potentially permanent scars.

Image source:iStock

You Can Buy Specifically For Your Body Type

I'm not really one to advise buying anything based on a specific body "shape" --you should wear what makes you happy, not what other people say works for you. But if you've got some body insecurities or are just looking for something that fits most comfortably for your body type, there are certain cuts that work with that. If yo've got a bigger butt, go with boy shorts, since it'll give you support and full coverage. If you've got a smaller rear, try a "cheeky" pair, which won't weigh you down with excess fabric. Not sure what to do? Bikini cuts are usually universally flattering and comfortable.

Image source:iStock

Were you surprised by any of these tips? Did I forget any good ones? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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