Does My Underwear Make Me Look Old?

undiesAs I type this, I’m thinking, why? What’s the point of this post, and will anyone want to read it? It falls into several lame categories, such as TMI and Pathetic Navel Gazing. Or, more accurately, Pathetic Butt and Crotch Gazing.

Not to mention that the world has so many hideous problems right now. Every day, we read about more terror, death, and turmoil. So many senseless, horrific attacks on innocent people. Nigeria…Paris…Syria…Australia…the US. How do we process it all? Can we stop it? Are there peaceful solutions? And how do we discuss these barbaric attacks with our children? It’s enough to keep any sane person awake at night.

And yet, I did get some sleep last night, and awoke this morning feeling compelled to write about something lighter. Something that won’t invoke anger or fear. Something simple: women’s underwear. More specifically, my underwear. Feel free to stop reading right now and move on to something more interesting if you prefer. I’ll understand completely.

spanky pantsIf you’re still with me, though, I’ll start with a little history. Growing up in the 70s, I gave little thought to underwear. My mom bought it all for me, and it was sensible, wholesome stuff. The brand and style I recall her buying most often were Carter’s “Spanky Pants.” I’d put on a clean pair every morning, and head out for a day of adventure. I had no idea that Spanky Pants were worn by women of all ages, and a favorite of grandmothers everywhere. If I had known, I’m certain I wouldn’t have cared.

In high school and college, I began wearing more mature clothing and became aware of stylish underwear. And by stylish, I mean bikini. Suddenly, I had no use for those high-waisted bloomers, or even hipsters, which felt cumbersome and also had a tendency to show above the waistband of my jeans. I maintained a preference for cotton fabric—I guess those Spanky Pants made an impression—but that was no problem. Cotton bikinis were quite easily obtained.

The years passed, and, of course, underwear evolved. Thongs happened, along with lacy lingerie, lots of nylon, and new synthetic fabrics. Like most women, I dabbled in different styles, but none were as comfy, economical, and practical as plain old cotton bikinis.

Which isn’t to say that I invested much energy in my underwear purchases. Put another way—no pun intended—undies were never tops on my mind. Usually, I’d pick them up while I was out shopping for something else.

And so, for about thirty years, that method quite literally kept my butt covered. But last summer, in Marshall’s, I stopped into the “intimates” department to buy a few new pairs. But all I could find were nylon, polyester blends, and a few thongs. Not a problem, I decided. I’ll just buy underwear the next time I go shopping. But the next time—at TJ Maxx, I believe—I ran into the same situation. Not a single pair of cotton bikinis! I checked at Costco too, but no. Nothing that fit my criteria.

“What’s going on?” I asked one of my close friends. “Aren’t there any women out there who want comfortable, low-cut, cotton bikinis any more?”

“Just get them online,” she said.

But I don’t like buying underwear online. Pictures can be deceiving, and I’m picky about the cut. So while my existing undies became increasingly worn, I kept an eye out for new ones whenever I was in a store that sold women’s clothing. I even ventured into Victoria’s Secret one day, but although they had plenty of bikinis, none were all (or mostly all) cotton.

And then, it happened. You know how people say you always find what you’re looking for when you’re not looking? About a month ago, I was in the local Walgreen’s, when I walked down an aisle that featured a few clothing items. There were some pantyhose, socks, and…holy cow! Hanes brand, 95% cotton, low cut, bikini underwear.

hanes briefsNow I must admit, I stopped and thought for a moment. Was I really going to buy underwear in a drug store? Yes. Yes I was. They were perfect, and the price was right too. Besides, what was the big deal? Finally, I could throw away my old, threadbare undies and have some new ones for the holidays. I bought six pairs and only looked over my shoulder once to see if anyone I knew was watching.

“Retail sure is changing,” I told my friend the next day. (I’m sure I was seeking her approval.) “Can you believe it? They’ve started selling nice cotton bikini underwear at Walgreen’s.”

My friend nodded, but raised her eyebrows. “So is retail changing, or is it us?” she asked. “Maybe women our age have become the target market for drug store underwear.”

“Oh no,” I said, quite confidently. “I remember about ten years ago, the only underwear they sold in drug stores was the old-fashioned, high-waisted kind. The kind older women wear.”

She nodded. “Exactly.”

“No!” I said, much more emphatically. “These are young woman underwear. I’ll show them to you. They’re exactly like the ones I wore in college!”

“Look,” said my friend. “I’m no expert on retail, OK? But you graduated college in 1986. And everyone knows the big stores cater to women in their twenties and thirties, right? So who knows? Maybe we’ve reached the age where retailers see us as people who go to the drugstore for hemorrhoid cream, reading glasses, and prescriptions, and grab some underwear while we’re there.”

For the record, I wasn’t buying any of that stuff when I made my discovery. I was buying shampoo, OK? And yet, each morning, when I get dressed, I wonder if my underwear and I are moving into “older woman” territory. Am I aging out of the styles carried by major clothing retailers? And although this “issue” is microscopic compared to the real problems in the world, I can’t deny that it makes me a little sad.

On the other hand, I’m pretty psyched to have discovered a new source of undergarments, and plan to keep buying them at Walgreen’s for as long as the store carries them. They’re good quality undies, damn it. So ladies, regardless of your age, if you’ve been frustrated in your search for comfort and style—and yes, I consider them stylish—they’ve got what you’re looking for down at the corner drugstore.

About Mary Rowen

My three published novels, LEAVING THE BEACH (a 2016 IPPY Award winner), LIVING BY EAR, and IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY focus on women figuring out who they are and what they want from life. Music and musicians have a way of finding their way into the stories. I live in the Boston area with my family and pets.
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4 Responses to Does My Underwear Make Me Look Old?

  1. Mindy says:

    Ha! Hilarious! Also, Costco. I’m just sayin’…..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary Rowen says:

    Thanks, Mindy! But you know, I have gotten a few sweaters at Costco that aren’t half bad. And they have good socks…


  3. jan says:

    Enjoyed your “Ode to Underwear”! I wear men’s socks as they are sturdier than women’s. Aside from that I have no undergarment preferences! Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Rowen says:

    Definitely agree on the men’s socks, Jan! I hope you’re doing well!


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