vintage-underwear-woman-clipartWhat I want to know is why is it so difficult to buy underwear? It shouldn’t be that complicated, but I put it off as long as possible. I don’t want minuscule flutters of silk and lace held together by a couple of barely-there strings. I want simple, full-coverage cotton underwear, what my mother called “drawers” and my grown daughters–as devoted wearers of the flimsy stuff–call “butt underwear.” A friend of mine calls it “Victoria’s Grandmother’s Secret.” 

I don’t want it decorated with polka dots or stripes or hearts or flowers or days of the week. I want it plain, preferably light beige but I’ll make do with white. One more thing–no spandex. If I were that concerned about a tight tummy, I wouldn’t have eaten that last bowl of Rocky Road. 

A couple of weeks ago I realized I was down to my last few pair of decent drawers. I could delay no longer, so I took myself to the local, big box, has-everything store. My goals were simple: grab the underwear, find the shortest check-out line with the quickest checker, pay, get out, and get home. 

Ha! First I had to solve the labyrinthine configuration of the store. Instead of a straightforward “as the crow flies” plan, the store is laid out in a weird interlocking grid that 90% guarantees its customers must walk past 75% of the store’s inventory to get to the one item they came to buy.  The shareholders must be deliriously happy that the layout turns the entire store into one huge, impulse-buy arena, but for the customers, it’s a big pain in the place I want my underwear to cover! 

Finally, I found the correct aisle, or to be more precise, the correct aisles. There were three of them. I assume there’s a method behind the arrangement of the hanging hooks there, but it escaped me. Fighting the distraction of rainbow colors and a plethora of patterns (really, Hello, Kitty for a grown woman?), I finally located the boring beige I wanted–one pair in a package with its more exciting fuchsia, teal, and crimson cousins. I lowered my expectations to white. 

That’s when another problem arose. Who knew there were so many styles? Bikinis, classic briefs, high-cut briefs, control briefs, hipsters, thongs, boyshorts, and cheekies–all jumbled together without regard to style or size. Mere seconds before the pressure drove me to insanity, mere seconds before I stripped naked and ran screaming from the store, I found what I needed: right style, right size, and almost the right color. I threw the package into my cart, and that’s when I saw another package boasting EIGHT PAIRS FOR THE PRICE OF SIX. Well, how could I refuse a deal like that? 

Only after I’d got home, after I’d torn the package open and washed and dried my brand-new underwear and was folding it did I discover that in my bargain-finding ecstasy I’d exchanged the underwear it took me an hour to find for another package two sizes too small. 

In sheer frustration, I decided to research the history of women’s underwear on the Internet. It turns out that until the end of the eighteenth century, most women wore no underwear at all. Aha! Somewhere in Victoria’s family, there was a prim and proper lady who went commando.

I think I’ll join her.