The cost women’s underwear is one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever understand.
There are few things I hate shopping for more than underwear. Styles and sizes are inconsistent from brand to brand and while it is possible to find affordable options, I have never had much luck as far as longevity goes.
Maybe it’s me, but I find the whole experience to be chaotic.
If it were possible to buy one set of underwear and wear them forever, I’d be all about that. Alas, that’s not the way it work, which means, every once in a while, I end up doing what I call an underwear drawer refresh.
I did my most recent on in November 2020. Here’s what that looked like (and how much it cost).
My underwear situation
Adding “refresh my underwear drawer” to my list of semi-regular adulting tasks was motivated 100 per cent by discomfort.
Before my first underwear drawer refresh about five years, I had a lot of underwear. But here’s the thing: condition-wise, many were just OK, while others were straight-up falling apart.
Despite this, I put off replacing my underwear for a long time. Between the cost of women’s underwear and the fact that realistically, very few people see my underwear on a regular basis, I didn’t feel motivated or inspired to take on the task.
Or, at least, I didn’t feel that way until they started reaching the point where they stopped fitting properly. You know what I’m talking about: the waistband stretches out, the elastic starts pulling away and you spend all your time pulling them up.
Reluctantly, I realized it was time to go shopping.
The cost of women’s underwear
It didn’t take long to remember all the reasons I absolutely hate shopping for underwear.
Unlike my husband, who can go into an Old Navy and grab a $25 three-pack of boxers in the same size he would choose at any other store without issue, when it comes to women’s underwear, every brand sizes them differently. It’s entirely possible to be a medium in one brand and an XXL in another. There’s very little consistency.
And then there’s the price. The cost of women’s underwear is the only thing that’s more chaotic than the sizing.
Of course, it is possible to find cheap and affordable women’s underwear. A quick scan on the Walmart website shows it is, in fact, possible to get a six-pack of women’s underwear for about $13. Personally, I have a couple pairs of Joe Fresh underwear in my drawer that cost $6 a piece. That’s not too bad!
However, in my personal experience, every pair of affordable underwear I’ve ever purchased has suffered in the quality department. Unlike my husband’s dirt cheap Old Navy boxers, which seem to last forever, I’m lucky if I can get through a couple months before they start falling apart.
Upgrading my underwear draw
That was the case with the underwear I bought from Joe Fresh. Loved the fit and price but the quality was just OK.
I don’t mind having a few pairs of underwear in my drawer that are just OK. But I knew if I was going to spend the time and money upgrading, I wanted long-lasting, well-fitting items.
Knowing how much sizing varies from store to store, I started my search offline. Our mall isn’t huge, but it does have a few lingerie stores, so I started there.
The experience was underwhelming. Some stores felt too young, while others carried underwear in styles and cuts I didn’t like.
So after exhausting my mall options, I turned to the internet. And that’s when I learned I could still buy my favourite underwear online.
During my first underwear refresh, I purchased several pairs of boyshort style underwear from PINK by Victoria Secret. I bought them when visiting my best friend in Ontario and even though they were a bit pricey, I absolutely loved the style.
Unfortunately, PINK by Victoria Secret announced the closure of several stores in Canada in spring 2020. I assumed that meant I would need to find a new favourite place to buy underwear.
It didn’t occur to me to check online until November 2020.
In the end, I purchased two five-packs of boyshort style underwear for $100.19 after tax. Normally, shipping to Canada is about $15 if your order is under $140, but they had some kind of deal so they shipped free.
I didn’t love shelling out $100.19 for 10 pairs of underwear.
But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the best purchases I made in 2020.
What I learned from upgrading my underwear drawer
Which leads me to the biggest lesson I learned from my 2020 underwear drawer upgrade: for me, spending a little more for quality is worth it.
This lesson surprised me, but I’m not sure why. It’s not as if this was my time arriving at this realization, after all.
I had my first professional bra fitting in 2016 before my wedding. Through that fitting, I learned, like many women, I was wearing the wrong size. Forty-five minutes later, I left the store with a bra that cost more than every bra in my underwear drawer combined.
It also fit better than any bra I have owned. Ever.
There are people who say having a bra in the right size can change your life. I used to think that was dramatic. I don’t anymore. Every bra I’ve purchased since has come from that shop. They’re expensive, but they fit well and, with proper care, they hold up.
While I don’t think I could bring myself to spend that much on a single pair of underwear, the lesson carries. For me, it’s worth it to spend a bit more on underwear that fit well, wash well and make me feel good.
Beyond the financial aspect, I also learned it’s worth it to invest time into caring for the contents of my underwear drawer.
For years, I tossed by bras and underwear into the washer (and the dryer) without a second thought. Now, all my undergarments go into lingerie bags for washing and none of them go in the dryer. Time will tell if this actually makes a difference in terms of longevity, but the early evidence suggests it will.
Could I have refreshed my underwear drawer cheaper? Absolutely. But for me, spending a little more money was the right call.
The underwear I bought fit well and I know they hold up well in the wash. They won’t last forever, but I know I will get more mileage out of them than other options, which will save me money in the long run.
I certainly didn’t think I would be writing a post about the cost of women’s underwear when I launched this site in 2018 but here we are. I try to keep it real here — and sometimes, that involves…talking about underwear.
Which leads to the question: where do you buy your underwear? Do you have a favourite brand or style?
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst
Maria @ Handful of Thoughts says
Spending a little more for quality will save you in the long run because you will have to refresh your underwear drawer less frequently.
Personally I buy Calvin Klein underwear lately and have been very happy with it. As for bras that always feels like a never ending battle. I had a few I liked and then I had a little one and my body morphed. I don’t think I will make a major investment in that category until I’m done have little ones and my body develops some form of “normalcy”.
It took me a LONG time to get there on underwear but I definitely feel the same way. Plus…it’s nice to have underwear that are a little nice haha.
Totally fair point on the bra front! I am forever envious of those who can go to like, La Senza or whatever and pick up something off the rack but alas most places don’t stock like 38DDD. Sigh.
I recently refreshed my underwear drawer (well, it was 2019) and now I’m trying to buy at least 5 new pairs every year to rotate out any old styles that need to be thrown away. It always feels so good to make this investment!
I think that’s probably a good way to approach it, honestly! I’m hoping to do something like that going forward to avoid having to drop a pile of money all at once haha.