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Courtesy of Okko, Cuup and Floatley
bhg - 22 Available at Tommy John
bhg - 14 Available at Okko
bhg - 26 Available at Soma
bhg - 31 Available at Cosabella
bhg - 10 Available at Floatley
bhg - 14 Available at The Big Favorite
bhg - 19 Available at Nude Barre
bhg - 24 Available at Cuup
bhg - 36 Available at Skims
bhg - 17 Available at Nordstrom
My underwear buying routine has been the same for almost a decade: pick up about 10 pairs at whichever store is having the best sale at the mall, wear them until they start to deteriorate, throw them away, and repeat. There must be a better way, right? Frankly, my bank account depends on it.
As it turns out, so does the planet. Underwear brand The Big Favorite reports that an estimated 11 million pounds of undergarments are thrown into American landfills daily. The volume isn't the only problem; undergarments shouldn't be thrown away at all. Although you can't exactly add them to your Goodwill pile, you should send them to textile recycling centers to be spun into new yarn. Who knew? Not me, I'm embarrassed to say.
I'm turning my complacency into change. In addition to sending my tired pairs to be recycled instead of trashed (here's a list of organizations that recycle), I grilled my Instagram followers on their favorite long-lasting underwear brands. Then I put each pair to the test, the results of which you're reading here: 10 of the best women's underwear brands and the standout styles I can personally vouch for.
Second Best to Going Commando
Tommy John is known for their focus on fabric, fit, and function, but that's honestly underselling their quality. As soon as I put on their Air Mesh collection—made with lightweight, anti-microbial, and quick-drying mesh—I was sold. No matter which way you move, it feels like you're wearing nothing. In fact, within minutes of putting the first pair on, I forgot I was already wearing them and started pulling another pair up. (For those who like to be matchy-matchy, you should know that their bras are equally dreamy.)
Made for Minimalists
If there's one thing I've learned from this experiment, it's that there is definitely such thing as too many options, which is what Okko is working to combat. Their focus is on designing only the best and most necessary products. While trying their entire assortment, just one thong, and one brief, I fell in love with how they hug you in all the right places, without feeling constricting. Two more things I love? The dark gusset to hide period stains and the free mesh laundry bag that comes with every order.
Whatever you're looking for, vanishing tummy, leakproof, cotton, lacy, Soma has it all, starting at just $5 a pair. They really pay attention to the little details that elevate your experience, like my personal favorite, the amazing stay-in-place silicone found on the leg openings of their vanishing styles. Plus, their bras come in a robust range of sizes and silhouettes, making it a one-stop-shop for almost everyone.
No Visible Panty Lines
I quickly became a thong person after experiencing my first VPL (visible panty line), because I'd never heard of seamless underwear. Cosabella is one of the latest brands producing them, and after trying their new Italian-made Free Cut Micro collection, I feel like these were worth the wait. Simply constructed with the brand's 35 years of fit experience, they stay in place all day long.
So Cozy, It's Crazy
Floatley may just be the undergarment industry's best-kept secret. When I opened up my package from the startup, I couldn't believe how soft they were. I mean truly cozy, thanks to their signature brushed fabric. At $10 a pair, or $25 for three, the price is definitely right. Plus, the matching wire-free bras in the same brushed fabric come in at just $35 each, making for an affordable set with a high-end feel.
Simple and Sustainable
Sometimes, basic is best. That's certainly the case with The Big Favorite and their plastic-free 100% Pima cotton underwear, made with reduced water waste and fair wages. In addition to being good for the world, they're comfortable and breathe well as I walk, sit, bend over, chase my toddler, etc. When you're done, you can send your underwear back to earn credit toward a future purchase—they'll partner with textile recyclers to turn recycled underwear into new yarn—or donate your rewards to a good cause.
13 Shades of Nude
Founded by former professional dancer and actress Erin Carpenter and inspired by her inability to find tights in her skin tone, Nude Barre has filled a space in the market with the widest and most inclusive spectrum of nudes I've ever seen. All three of their styles fit like a glove and move with you throughout the day, just like their matching bralette. It's no wonder Serena Williams is not only a huge fan but also one of their investors.
Sexy, Yet Full Coverage
As much as I love my body, I've never put on a pair of underwear that truly made me feel sexy and empowered. That is, until I tried on The Highwaist in Mesh from Cuup. I was struck by how no design detail was left unconsidered, from the sew-free ultrasonic line bonding to the use of performance mesh. The original Highwaist in Modal also hugs my curves in all the right ways and feels as luxe as it looks. The new performance mesh makes them even more breathable and adds a touch of transparency while still making me feel covered.
Get into Shape(wear)
I've never been much of a shapewear person, but after some urging from a friend to try the Sculpting High Waist Brief from the super-inclusive brand, Skims, I get the hype. It magically sucks you in without redistributing your skin elsewhere. The seamless construction is comfortable enough to wear daily and ensures you can wear them with anything, while the silicone grip keeps rolling to a minimum. And I can guarantee that between the high rise and the full-back, your butt will never look better. Pro tip: The shapewear can run small, so check the size chart and reviews before committing to a size.
The Best Thong, Probably Ever
Sometimes all-lace underwear can be scratchy, but not Hanky Panky's. In fact, they've earned a reputation for having the softest, stretchiest lace out there. Although I've always heard great things about their made-in-the-USA Signature Lace Thong, I had to admit I was skeptical about them only coming in one size. Not only did they fit surprisingly well based on my size, but they're the most comfortable thong I've ever worn.