Lingerie drawers and kitchen junk drawers have a lot in common. Both are always crammed with items that women are reluctant to throw away. I get the lingering appeal of jar grippers and mushroom cleaners, but why hold on to old push-up bras, sheer beige pantyhose with snags and itty-bitty thongs not worn since 1999? The answer is a combo of nostalgia, buyer’s guilt and “someday” thinking that turns otherwise practical, mature women into lingerie hoarders. Want a fresh start? I asked Cosabella bra fitter Caroline Peaslee for suggestions and added my own fashion editor/personal shopper tips for all.
1. Toss anything no longer relevant
Until recently, I had a leftover stash of premenopause 34B bras (though I’m now clearly a 32C!) and bikini panties that would laugh at my grownup curves. “Women often think since no one sees our underwear, it’s a low priority, but actually what goes under your clothes makes them look better,” explains Peaslee. Exactly. Underpinnings make or break the fit of every item you wear. Start by trying on everything you think is a keeper in a full-length mirror. I promise you’ll cringe and immediately head for the trash and donate bags. On the gotta-go list: waist cinchers and corsets (unless you’re Madonna), floss-like thongs, push-up bras from your cleavage-promoting days, static-loving slips and flimsy bralettes you bought during COVID but never wear … and anything else your body rejects or dislikes.
2. Make feel-good fits and fabrics a priority
Rigid molded cups that feel like cardboard, stiff bras that force larger breasts into shape and big scratchy tags are common complaints. So is underwear that rolls down or rides up in a wedgie and leg-elastics that leave marks. If you’re just about ready to go commando, stop right there and try some new women’s “intimates.” They use high-tech stretchy fabrics such as microfiber and feature updates such as wider flat waistbands on panties and broad under-bust bands on bras, light foam cups that mold to your individual shape and convertible or front-adjustable straps that erase discomfort. Try high-cut briefs with no-bind leg openings such as the Bali Comfort Revolution Seamless Cooling High Cut Panty Dfmshc in Black, In the Navy, Sandshell ($13, jcpenney.com) and hardworking seamless bras that support without bulk, including the wireless Cacique Intimates Comfort Bliss Lightly Lined No-Wire Bra in Deep Lagoon, Black, Deep Taupe or Cafe ($45, lanebryant.com) or the gently wired Bare’s The Absolute Minimizer in Lagoon or Coco ($58, barenecessities.com) with soft molded cups and convertible straps.