At the risk of oversharing (you’ve been warned) I’d like to talk about underwear. Namely, the regular kind. Not thongs, not g-strings, and definitely not anything that would be attached to a garter belt—but regular, normal underwear.
A few months back, I had the great misfortune of a post-period yeast infection, as is common for many women at the start of their cycles. I’ve had yeast infections before—quite a few, even—and though they cause usually run-of-the-mill discomfort, this one sidelined me for a few days. Almost immediately, I made my boyfriend run out and buy me all-cotton, regular underwear (formerly known as “granny panties,” as I was forced to describe them to him), and I posted up on the couch with my laptop and tons of water until the pain subsided. After about a week, I was feeling back to normal, and when it was time to get ready for work, I opened up my underwear drawer to grab the same tiny, T-strap thong I’d usually throw on under jeans, and just sort of opted out. I reasoned aloud that maybe an extra week of comfort was a good idea—you know, just in case. That week came and went, and when it was time to throw on a thong again, I just didn’t want to. I’d been telling myself for more than a decade that thongs were comfortable—that I preferred them, even—but after the infection, it became very clear that thongs were not, in fact, my preference.
My newfound clarity was more-or-less validated by what I’d come to see on Instagram: Save for the Kardashian-Jenner clan and its orbiting planets (read: Jordyn Woods), the world had evolved into one with a penchant for regular, covers-the-ass underwear—not unlike the way so many women stopped shaving their armpits for a while there. This, however, was less of an F-U to society, and more of an F-U to fishing my g-string out of my butt twice an hour. (I warned you, oversharing was imminent.) Apparently, the mass return of the bralette brought its more comfortable lower companion with it: Everywhere I looked, there were chic, aspirational photos of beautiful women in underwear that covered their butts, still looking sexy as hell. There was Negative Underwear’s embroidery upsell, most—if not all—of which was promoted with photos of regular underwear, as well as lines like Base Range and Wood Wood making it more mainstream. I can only guess that, in a world where everything is out there—I’ve seen my guy friends scroll past bare asses on Instagram without so much as a stop of the thumb—maybe the idea of covering up is more risqué than showing it all.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that thongs are out, per se: Even though lingerie designer Mary Young says that she hasn’t seen a decline in thong sales—many women still don’t want visible panty lines, she explains—she does recognize the shift in perception of under-things: “I think the big shift is women feeling confident in purchasing what they want rather than feeling pressured to only buy thongs or g-strings,” she told me. “If a woman loves a full bum and high waist style, it used to be categorized as ‘granny panty’ that offers no sex appeal, but today’s woman is empowered by her wants and knows if she’s confidently wearing a high waist full bum underwear, then ultimately, she’s sexy.” Hell yes to that.
And now that I’ve officially convinced you to throw out your thongs (just kidding, only do that if you want to), we come full circle: Ahead 22 pairs of regular underwear that are truly comfortable—and chic—as hell.