I don’t spend a lot of time, outside this blog anyway, thinking about getting older. Yes, this travelator is moving through life’s airport towards that not so remote gate called, ‘old biddy’. But apart from the odd new crease or creak, and that one determined hair that sprouts occasionally behind my knee, I don’t feel as decrepit as my birth certificate might suggest.
In any case, there are so many other reasons for why I might not quite be my Best Self at any time ( usually wine) that when I notice those creaks, creases etc. my age is usually the last thing I blame – except for that hair. That’s all on you, travelator.
But I do have one age-related niggle. It’s total pants. My pants. Over the last few years, without any obvious changes to my size or shape, my underwear is no longer fun to wear.
Is it just me or are we wearing our gussets a tad tighter these days? Maybe it’s a cost-saving thing, shaving off a millimetre or two in the middle? Perhaps younger women’s undercarriages are configured differently nowadays? Or could it be that the effects of banging out three bouncing babies the weight of good-sized Christmas turkeys are finally coming home to…er…roost?
Questions, questions, questions. Yet the last thing I want is to think about is my underwear. It should not even cross my mind from the moment I slip it on to the second I kick it into the laundry bin. But nowadays I seem to spend too many days wrestling it out of my nooks and crannies. This squirmy situation is even worse thanks to my dog, Tilly Mint.
In almost every way except one that dog is a hairy angel. But that one fault is not pretty. She loves knickers, especially used ones. She spreads them around the house whilst making a few alterations, so those briefs are considerably briefer; in fact, open-crotch. It’s like living in an Ann Summers outlet.
As her gusset guzzling activities have torn through my lingerie, it’s driven me to a deep, dark place. Yes, I’ve been forced to poke around in the primal silt of my underwear drawer.
There be monsters: thongs that could perform a colonoscopy; itchy synthetic lace like poison ivy; camel-toe triangles; gussets you could floss your teeth with; the odd nostalgic gift from, shall we say, more romantic times, designed purely for removal. None of them spark joy. Some of them may even spark cystitis.
Yet, every cloud, lemons/lemonade etc… This Mutton is seldom disappointed to have an excuse to look for new things to wear. But shopping for pants is literally the arse end of shopping. You may as well be shopping for haemorrhoid cream.
To lessen the pain, I consulted some Mutton friends for some quick recommendations. It turns out intimates are unsurprisingly personal. No two had the same tastes. Some swear by M&S and live in dread of their favourite style being discontinued. There are high end fans of Bodas and Hanro who don’t mind shelling out £30 plus a pair; some surprisingly sassy thong fans and a few who take a collective approach and share their daughters’ pants.
My own brief for briefs is: comfortable enough so I don’t have to think about them but not hideous. I’m agnostic about cotton, though generally I find it more comfortable, but I hate white underwear. I don’t like a full, high-waisted brief (they make me feel old and pot-bellied) but I don’t like very high cut legs (too Jane Fonda circa 1983). I dread VPL but I usually only wear thongs to the gym. I feel untidy unless I’m in matching – or at the very least closely coordinating – sets but I don’t like the pants that usually accompany them. And I love any underwear in navy, don’t know why. Simple, surely?
Nonetheless, here are some of my personal recommendations. Most of these brands have something for those of us seeking comfort in our crotch (but who don’t want to look like it.) All of them are generous with gussetage and they’re roomy around the back so they don’t ride up. But who knows what I’m missing? Fresh recommendations are very, very welcome. Do send me yours.
UNIQLO HIP HUGGER BRIEFS, SUPIMA COTTON £5.90 BUY HERE
These are my current good basics: cotton with a little bit of stretch so they don’t bag out. This is the most basic model, but you can also get them lace-trimmed, in various dull but basic colours, patterned and in a mid or low rise. They do their job and are unbudgeable for minimal squirmage. These aren’t an exciting buy, and the colours are sometimes very strange, but they are often on multi-buy promotion and so I needn’t keep them under lock and key away from the hairy destroyer.
HANRO SEA ISLAND COTTON, £37 BUY HERE
These are the Bentley of briefs. In the Mutton glory days, I occasionally wore these, but the price is steep even though the quality is excellent. They only come in two colours black and white, so great for minimalists with Marie Kondo tendencies. If you can afford them, they are very comfortable. They ample bummage and a good broad enough gusset. Not all of this Swiss brand’s pants (and they do call them pants, which I like. Who else finds the word “pantie” creepy?) are as expensive but they are all good quality. If you want to invest and don’t have a dog, then you couldn’t do better.
WACOAL SEAMLESS JERSEY BRIEFS £18. BUY HERE
As recommended by Trinny Woodall, these are invisible under clothes and extremely comfortable. They come in a couple of colours – this is toasted beige which is a nice way of saying ‘flesh’ coloured and of course, my favourite black. Wacoal are an American brand and they have many prettier and more photogenic briefs and cuts than this. (Thong lovers especially recommend them). You can buy them in most major department stores and, I see, at Next online.
LINDEX BRAZILIAN LOW BRIEFS, £7.99 BUY HERE
Lindex is essentially a Scandinavian Uniqlo. They have a couple of shops in some of the larger malls here, but you can buy online. I’m fond of these particular pants and mourned their passing when they fell victim to Tilly Mint’s ravages. They come in a range of cuts (high waist, low waist). This is the mid waist version. I like the scalloping as a change from the utterly utilitarian. They also have a nice ribbon-waisted, ‘invisible’ pant which is also very nice to wear at the same price.
MONOPRIX CULOTTE FROU FROU 9.99 Euros
When I was travelling to Paris a great deal I became infatuated with Monoprix generally, and Monoprix underwear specifically. All their underwear works and has that enviably French thing of being pretty and easy to wear. (You never see a French woman pulling her pants out of her bum crack!) These pants were particular favourites (note past tense). They are pretty, comfortable and sometimes they appear in 100% cotton with matching camisoles. Every year they do some kind of spin on this shape: once, memorably in Liberty prints. Although they’re not seamless or invisible, they don’t wriggle around under clothes and they are pretty enough to cheer you right up. Obviously the dog targeted these straight away because I wore them so much and since you can’t buy them online in the UK and since I don’t travel to Paris any more, they are just a dim memory. Sigh.
Don’t forget to tell me about your own favourites frillies…