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  • Writer's picturePBMIF


Find PBMIF on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for useful tips and facts in consumer and fashion psychology.

With i-D declaring that frumpy underwear is officially in according to SS23 runway collections, let us delve into the world of sorting our underwear drawers out for 2023, yeah?

Undies, panties, intimates, pants, garments, bloomers, knickers... whatever you call them, you're surely wearing a pair right now? Imagine this: When was the last time you decided to assess and throw out your old underwear? Not sure?

According to TikTok, you should be throwing out your underwear every 6 months. 6 months? I've got underwear in my drawer from 10+ years ago. Now I'm being pressured to purchase underwear every 6 months?! When you're looking for sound information, TikTok is certainly not the place to go. What were times like before TikTok misinformed the masses?

One of my new year's goals is to sort my life out - and within that is sorting out my (dreaded) underwear drawer. The act of organising and sorting out this specific drawer is a process that I tend to ignore for as long as possible. I've been holding on to 30 odd pieces of underwear for a veeeeeery long time now. I have a go-to pile, a period pile, and a lone, forgotten pile that sits at the back of my drawer in their very own clique.

There are mainly five reasons why I keep my (old and tatty) underwear, these include:

  1. I don't know what to do with them;

  2. I keep worn out underwear for specific days of my cycle so that I don't care if they get stained;

  3. It is wise to have back-ups. I saw this meme a while ago that people pack an extra five pair of underwear on holiday in case something unfortunate happens... Although I abide by this rule, I haven't experienced the need for an extra pair;

  4. Buying new and good quality underwear can be expensive! And they're going to get stained at some point as well; And

  5. They still function as they're meant to. So it doesn't make any sense to buy new underwear when it's not necessary to do so.

I'm a big advocate for using my clothing until it's no longer appropriate to wear and/or repair, but I question what benefits it can bring if I update my underwear drawer. My dream underwear drawer (yes), would look like this:

  1. It would make me look and feel good for myself;

  2. It would consist of 14-20 pairs of good quality, comfortable, and reliable underwear that will last me a long time. With my clothes, I've been into less is more lately; And

  3. It would provide me with stress-free periods where I'm not worried about whether or not pads adhere to my underwear, uncomfortableness, or leaks when carrying out my day-to-day business.

After deciding to finally deal with said drawer, I'm going to let you in on the benefits of doing this:

I Feel More Confident In Myself

Lingerie is a tool to help us express how we want to be seen by others (i.e., social identity), and also how we want to feel internally (i.e., satisfaction and comfort) (Jantzen et al., 2006).

Although your underwear is one of those clothing items that are usually not seen by other people, they are in fact seen and felt by you as their wearer. I've recognised that I definitely feel a lot more confident knowing that I'm wearing gorgeous underwear that is comfortable and suits my body. Go ahead, rock those marvellous Marvel underwear during your big presentation if you like them.

Wearing underwear that suits you will make you feel more confident. Underwear that has lost its elasticity loses its purpose because it no longer supports or fits you correctly. Because my underwear now are a better fit, I feel more comfortable in my clothes and no longer worry about panty lines. One thing I cannot stand is underwear that is too tight causing bulges.

One thing to keep in mind is that comfort goes a long way past looks. Underwear serves us for practical reasons mostly... Don't feel pressured to look like someone else or expect to look like someone else because you bought into advertised underwear. Wedgies certainly don't make me feel confident, don't feel cool and are not something you want to be thinking about when you're going about your business. Dress you, for you.

A recent study has shown that women wear underwear to feel 'sexy', 'desired', and 'aroused', especially when in a romantic relationship (Craig & Gray, 2020).

Less Clutter Means More Space

What is this? I can finally close my drawers? Sorting out my underwear drawer has given me more space. There is no more messy, crammed, unfolded pile of underwear looming in the dark of the drawer obstructing me from fully opening them out.

I Feel Less Embarrassment

I get embarrassed hanging my underwear to dry inside/outside because of stains (i.e., blood and discharge) and holes. You'll only understand this when you live with other people. No matter how well you care for and wash your underwear, there will always be stains and holes at some point. That's life and there's nothing to be ashamed about! The reality is, this happens to all of us although we don't necessarily have the opportunity to admit it.

Holes are a sign that you've worn your underwear very well and it's time for you to get a new pair. Say bye, bye. They are no longer serving you purpose (think of wearing a slice of Swiss cheese).

I now feel proud to hang my underwear outside and let them harness the sun's energy to dry (on the odd occasion where the weather is good though).

I've Learned to Appreciate My Clothes More

Knowing that I've bought good quality underwear, I tend to take better care of them. I now fold them neatly and arrange them in neat piles. Some people find putting clothes away to be relaxing. Also, I don't stick them in the dryer anymore where they always tend to shrink. I used to chuck my underwear in their designated drawer and call it a day.

Purchasing clothes has never been easier than it is today with just one click of a button. Unfortunately our clothes today take a long process to get to our doorsteps. We don't necessarily think about or see this process for ourselves. Our underwear usually goes through such a process where it gets manufactured in other countries by underpaid and overworked labourers, gets packaged in plastic, takes a couple of trips in a cargo airplane, gets transported via lorry to a distribution centre or a warehouse, then from there gets distributed to stores or to our homes. When we're done with our clothes, we just chuck them in the bin where they are then once again transported via lorry to landfill and left to cause pollution. And this is just a simplified version of events.

With this, I no longer purchase cheap, poor quality clothing that has no chance of surviving the next 5-10 years. In the literature, it appears that when products are of greater quality, consumers develop greater attachments to them; which means that products aren't disposed of as often (Niinimäkia & Hassi, 2011). Having high levels of clothing sustainability knowledge has an influence on our clothing disposal behaviours (Yan et al., 2021).

Taking the time to appreciate what you have goes a long way and makes you more conscious of how you treat your belongings in the long term.

The Stress of Choosing Which Underwear To Wear Is Gone

One of my least favourite parts of the day is choosing what outfit to wear the next day. After reorganising my underwear drawer, choosing underwear is now a breeze as I don't have to think about whether panty lines will show or if colours will come through. I don't have to think hard about choosing which underwear to wear anymore! Less time is wasted on something that isn't really important.

I Have No Guilt Getting Rid of Them

Because underwear is something seen as so intimate - I didn't know what to do with my unwanted underwear at all. If you're not sure what to do with underwear you're not keen on, there are a handful of things you can do with them which doesn't include just throwing them in the bin. Surprisingly, it has been shown that how involved you are with 'fashion' influences how you deal with your unwanted clothing. It has been shown that those more involved with fashion are more likely to resell, swap, or take back their unwanted clothes with the majority of us either just donating or disposing of them (Weber et al., 2017).

If you have bought underwear and not used them - Consider listing them on a second-hand clothing site (read their terms and conditions before on intimates), donating them to a charity, giving them to a relative or friend (this one can be weird if you view it that way), and using them as materials in arts and crafts. You can also repurpose them to make pet toys, hair accessories, and anti-chafing bands if they are lace.

If your underwear is used, see below, or reuse unsoiled parts of them in arts and crafts (washed of course).

If your underwear is ready to be disposed of, don't just throw them in the bin. Instead, take them to a textiles recycling centre. Textile recycling has come a long way.

If none of these options appeal to you then there's maybe a Facebook Group out there that will kindly accept your underwear (in whatever form).

The Take-Home

When you have the time, sit down and sort out your underwear drawer. Pull out your drawer, rest it on your bed, take all of your undies out. Then one by one, fold your underwear and arrange them nicely. As you go through each piece of underwear you own, keep in mind whether or not it serves you purpose.

Do you have any plans on reorganising your underwear drawer now?

  • Yes! Why not?

  • No!

  • Maybe later, I'll think about it.


Craig, L. K., & Gray, P. B. (2020). Women's use of intimate apparel as subtle sexual signals in committed, heterosexual relationships. PloS one, 15(3).

Jantzen, C., Østergaard, P. & Vieira, C. M. S. (2006). Becoming a ‘woman to the backbone’: Lingerie consumption and the experience of feminine identity. Journal of Consumer Culture, 6(2), 177-202.

Niinimäkia, K. & Hassi, L. (2011). Emerging design strategies in sustainable production and consumption of textiles and clothing. Journal of Cleaner Production, 19(16), 1876-1883.

Weber, S., Lynes, J. and Young, S. B. (2017). Fashion interest as a driver for consumer textile waste management: reuse, recycle or disposal. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 41, 207-215.

Yan, R., Diddi, S., & Bloodhart, B. (2021). Predicting clothing disposal: The moderating roles of clothing sustainability knowledge and self-enhancement values. Cleaner and Responsible Consumption, 3.


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