Is it just me, or is underwear one of those things where you never have the right amount? You either have an exploding underwear drawer, or you don’t have enough, and find yourself doing laundry constantly.
So, is there a solution? Or are we doomed with either too-many or not-enough? Well, I’ve got some good news, ‘cause today I’m gonna answer this most vital of questions—how many pairs of underwear should I have?
We all have busy lives with varying schedules and not always enough time to do laundry. Sometimes this results in women going commando or men freeballing. Since these aren’t necessarily recommended for health reasons (and will actually likely increase the amount of laundry you have to do), it’s important to have a good underwear assortment at the ready. So what is that perfect number of nice, comfy and breathable underwear to stock in your drawers?
To make it easy on ya, I’ve come up with a formula so you know how many pairs are right for you! So, let’s break it down and answer the age old question for ya: how many pairs of underwear should I have?
HOW MANY PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR SHOULD I HAVE: THE FORMULA
Here’s the formula I’ve come up with:
Practicality + types + lifestyle + durability + versatility = 24 pairs for women, 20 pairs for men.
Don’t worry, we’ll analyze this lil’ formula to pieces later on. But first you should know: I’m an underwear hoarder, like, at apocalypse levels. Still, I mostly only wear the same pairs, like my high waisted pairs, boxers from my guy, as well as some period underwear (IYKYK). When I take a look in my man’s drawer, though, I tend to see a stingy eight pairs. He thinks that one pair of underwear for each day, plus one extra for emergencies, is all he could ever need.
The answer to the questions—how many pairs of underwear should a man have, and how many pairs of underwear should a woman own—probably lies somewhere in between apocalypse-ready or absolute-bare-minimum, right? Right! And experts (yes, there are experts, and no, not just me!), agree that you need enough pairs for at least two weeks, for both men and women. This way you don’t have to do laundry too often, you have extras in case of disaster, like your laundry machine breaking.
So, two weeks gives us a base number for underwear—this is your practicality part of the formula!—of 14 pairs, for both men and women.
But, isn’t the ideal number for women 24, and men 20? Yep you smarty pants you! 14 is just the base number for both men and women. Let’s delve into the specifics below.
FABRICS TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR UNDERWEAR
From a practicality standpoint, not only do we need to consider how much underwear to have on hand to avoid doing excess laundry, but we also need to think about the fabric said underwear is made of. When it comes to underwear, fabric is definitely one of the top things to consider. This is where the comfort, breathability, and anti-chafe factor comes in, after all.
But this one is also easy: I always, always recommend natural fabrics, like hemp fabric (and no, when it comes to hemp vs marijuana, they’re not the same thing!) or organic cotton. Always choose organic cotton vs cotton, since it’s better for you and the planet! If you stick with these and other sustainable fabrics, you’ve got a stellar base for your underwear drawer.
STYLES TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR UNDERWEAR
Now, it’s time to think about what styles of underwear you should stock in your drawer. Let’s break it down between women’s and men’s underwear styles.
HOW MANY PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR SHOULD A WOMAN OWN? WOMEN’S STYLES
So we have a base of 14 pairs, in soft, sustainable materials, as we’ve discussed above. These should be your everyday go-tos, in that super comfy style you find yourself reaching for most often. Since there is a huge number of different women’s underwear styles to choose from these days, I’m just gonna stick to the top five most commonly worn types:
- High waisted underwear: The workhorse of underwear that can be worn under nearly anything, and are oh-so-comfortable to boot.
- Hipster panties: Also very versatile, these have a lower rise and give more coverage at the hips.
- Thong underwear: If you wear a lot of tighter outfits and need to avoid VPL, or if you prefer very little coverage and fabric.
- Bikini underwear: If you want a little more cheek without a full-on thong, and a cheekier fit than the hipsters, bikinis are for you.
- Boy shorts: if you prefer a longer length in the leg, and extra coverage, and need to avoid chub rub! Also great under dresses in the summer to avoid accidental flashing.
Feel free to mix up the Big 14 pairs into different styles, if you like—again, just make sure they’re pairs you want to wear everyday and every night! To help you decide which pairs you need, it helps to think about which of the butt shapes describes your hiney the best, in addition to fabric, style, and lifestyle.
Hey, if you ask me, you may want to have one of each of these types of underwear, to have you covered (or uncovered, as it may be), no matter what.
HOW MANY PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR SHOULD A MAN HAVE? MEN’S STYLES
Yep, you read it here first—the minimum amount of underwear a man should own is 14. This may not sound very minimalist, but as mentioned above, it’s great to have a few extra pairs, barring any disasters like a broken washer, a power outage, holey underwear, or even simply forgetting to do laundry (it happens to all of us!).
Plus, from a health standpoint, it’s better to own a few more pairs than just enough to cover one week, so you also avoid rewearing underwear. It’s not good for you, boys!
The most popular style of men’s underwear today is men’s boxer briefs, followed by men’s boxer shorts. As one friend describes his choice for boxer briefs, it’s “support without suffocating, like a good relationship.” Men tend to want less variety when it comes to their underwear drawer, so there aren’t quite as many options out there. Here’s a quick overview of the four most popular underwear styles for dudes:
- Men’s boxers: If you want extra freedom for movement and don’t mind some extra fabric.
- Men’s briefs: For extra support with the least amount of fabric.
- Men’s boxer briefs: If you're looking for the fitted support of briefs with the length of boxers.
- Trunks underwear: Trunks underwear provide a secure fit with more length for increased mobility.
My dudes out there will likely pick one of these types for their base 14 pairs—just remember that fit is uber important. So make sure to check out that underwear size chart before you press go. Men will also want a few speciality kinds depending on their lifestyle. And speaking of lifestyle, that just so happens to be the next part of the formula!
YOUR LIFESTYLE AND UNDERWEAR NEEDS
Let’s start with ladies and lifestyle! The average woman likes to mix basic style underwear in with some more stylish pieces. The basics cover menstruation, their preferred form of activity, travel underwear, and other specific needs, like hobbies and comfort.
So, If you’re a woman who changes underwear after working out or weeding in the garden, you might want to do an entire outfit change, and this could increase the number of how many pairs you’d need. Pro tip: if you wear absorbent, antibacterial underwear that is durable and breathable, you’ll avoid a sweaty vagina!
Mixed with these basics, you should include some stylish and colorful pieces to your underwear drawer that can be worn to work, to a wedding, on a date, or just lounging around the house.
So, for me, considering all that we talked about, this is my ideal underwear drawer formula (once I let go of my hoarding tendencies):
Practicality (+14 high waisted pairs)
Styles (high waisted above, +1 thong, +1 bikini, +1 hipster, +2 boy shorts)
Lifestyle (period underwear +3, occasion pairs +2)
Versatility (can use high waisted for workouts and every day wear, can use boy shorts for pajamas, can use bikini/thong for special occasions, +0)
Durability (all pairs should last a long time, so no need to add extra just-in-case pairs, +0)
Total: 24 pairs
So, my drawer would look like this:
- 14 high waisted
- 1 thong
- 1 bikini
- 1 hipster
- 2 boy shorts
- 5 speciality pairs
Now, for the dudes. If you’re a guy who works out daily, frequently travels, or works two jobs, you may also find yourself changing pairs more than once a day. Many men will want workout underwear that fits their particular activity, perhaps different underwear styles for sleeping, and may want a pair or two of types they don’t usually wear, in case a very specific event/outfit calls for them.
For example, my guy’s ideal underwear drawer formula (after I convinced him he did, in fact, need more than 8 pairs), looks like this:
Practicality (+14 boxer briefs)
Styles (+1 briefs, +1 trunks)
Lifestyle (+2 boxer briefs for workouts, +2 boxers for sleeping)
Versatility (+0, boxer briefs can be worn for nearly any occasion)
Durability (all pairs are made with strong, natural fibers so should last, +0)
Total: 20 pairs
So, his underwear drawer would contain:
- 16 boxer briefs
- 2 boxers
- 1 briefs
- 1 trunks
MORE TIPS FOR A MINIMALIST UNDERWEAR DRAWER
Although we have our formula all figured out now, here are a few more ways to build your simplified underwear drawer.
The best underwear is yes, comfortable and all of that, but also multi-purpose! Like we’ve talked about, versatility is key. Choose types of underwear that can be worn with a variety of outfits and for a variety of situations. Any of the types we’ve discussed so far really should do the trick!
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
This goes back to the fabric and brand of the underwear, but if you invest in good quality underwear, it’ll last longer! Also, if you go for antibacterial underwear, it’ll help keep the underwear from developing any nasties that might impact your health.
To make your underwear last longer and stay nice, you might want to consider hand washing! Here’s a little guide for how to hand wash underwear, so you know, you actually get it clean.
IN CONCLUSION: HOW MANY PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR SHOULD I HAVE?
At the end of the day, having enough underwear is important for daily comfort, ease and protection. With the right formula, you can still feel like you’ve got choices, while not having too many (‘cause choice can be a prison, after all). And if you choose the right kinds of fabrics, you’ll get long-lasting underwear that’s also good for dear Mother Earth.
Here’s a quick recap of all we’ve covered:
Q: How many pairs of underwear should a woman own?
A: 24 pairs is ideal, the very minimum is 14. The 14 covers your basic two weeks (or less, depending on when you do laundry), with the next 10 pairs including specialty underwear for your lifestyle.
Q: How many pairs of underwear should a man have?
A: 20 pairs is best, with the minimal amount of underwear at 14.
Q: How do I figure out how many pairs of underwear I should have?
A: Use my formula! Remember, its:
Practicality + types + lifestyle + versatility + durability = how many pairs you need!
Do you think the number for men or women is reasonable? Or do you think you need more pairs—or less pairs? Which styles would be in your ideal underwear drawer? Keep up the convo below!