Underwear is the first protective layer of material for woman's skin. They can be comfortable, invasive or sometimes a bit too constricting. When it comes to choosing the right panty, there are many key factors to take into consideration.
From bikinis to briefs, there are numerous styles that offer the ultimate covering we need for our daily activities. Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to undergarments, so Shop TODAY reached out to experts to dive into the world of undies and the things to keep in mind when refreshing our intimates drawer.
What is the best material for underwear?
According to underwear expert Caralyn Mirand Koch, undergarments are a very personal, preference-based decision. "What works best for me and leaves me feeling wedgie-free may be different than what feels good to you," says Koch.
Preferably, though, cotton is the best material for its breathability factor. She also recommends lightweight fabrics that don't leave a panty line. "The gusset area should always be cotton for maximum breathability!"
How often should we buy new underwear?
Your purchase patterns depend on how often you're wearing and washing your panties. Ideally, it's good to change them out every year, according to Nikki Chu, underwear expert and founder of Nudies Essentials. One research study suggested that changing your underwear frequently is ideal in preventing genital and urinary infections, though some doctors have debated this notion. To start, though, Chu suggests that changing your underwear every six to nine months may be a good move.
"After 100 systematic hot washes, the fibers in the underwear still harbor bacteria," she adds.
How to wash underwear properly
Koch recommends taking care of your underwear not only for your well-being, but also for longevity. "Avoid any harsh chemicals that can damage the synthetic fibers of the undies," she says. For example, traditional detergents such as Tide and All are designed for spun fibers like cotton. These get the gunk off of the fibers, but not out of the pores.
Instead, she suggests looking "for a surfactant wash. This technology binds to the gunk in the pores and effectively cleans the fibers. Think of it like a Biore strip for your [undergarments]!"
The key fiber in many undergarments is Lycra, a porous fiber. During regular wear, skin oils/debris, lotion and sweat get lodged in the pores of the fabric. Washing your underwear will keep those pores in the Lycra clean, therefore maintaining their elasticity.
Features to look for when shopping for underwear
One thing to look for when shopping for underwear is the material. According to Koch, you want to choose underwear that is made with 100 percent cotton on the gusset area. Whether the rest of the garment is made of polyester or satin material, the lining area of the panty should be always cotton to keep you cool and dry.
Kock also advises choosing undergarments with a soft stretch and choosing the right size. "Rolling is an indicator that you're wearing the wrong size or style," she says. "If it feels too tight and confined, then is better to size up."
Best underwear for women
This is a budget-friendly option when you need to refresh your underwear rotation. The bikini-style panties are lightweight and offer a soft feel that won't dig into your belly thanks to its low-cut fit. This is also a great pair if you're on your period when you need extra coverage, comfort and stretch.
These seamless undies are a great option when you want to stay comfortable throughout the day. The design is made from recycled nylon and features a seamless knit for a smooth fit underneath your clothes. They offer full coverage and a soft-feel touch when you wear them.
The stretchy and lightweight feel of this cotton underwear is a great combination for humid days. According to Aerie reviewers, this style is incredibly comfortable and doesn't fall apart after a few washes. It comes in different prints and is a great everyday option for ultimate function.
Luvlette's underwear is designed to fit like a glove and features a knitting material for pure comfort. It's breathable, lightweight and thick enough to cover everything. Customers rave about how soft they are, so much so that it feels like you're not wearing anything.
This high-waisted underwear is supportive enough without showing off through clothes. The brief design hugs all your curves and promotes comfort without painful elastics. "These are perfect to wear with leggings or high-waisted jeans. I love the high waist because it feels more secure and slimming," said one buyer.
This super smooth panty is made from a seamless cotton fabric that provides stretch and comfort. It'll also mold to your skin (almost as if you're wearing a second invisible layer) and hug your curves without digging into you. According to one customer, the high-rise briefs "are super soft and lightweight - and fit perfectly and are very flattering."
Happy birthday, Tommy John! The brand is offering an exclusive promo code for TODAY readers to celebrate their 15th anniversary, and this panty is particularly perfect for humid days ahead. The cheeky brief is made from a quick-drying air mesh fabric, ideal for traveling and moving around all day. Use the exclusive code TODAY20 for 20% off sitewide (minus final sale items) through April 17.
For more coverage, choose these boyshorts from Parade. The style is ultra-soft, cool to the touch and won't dig in. It features a high-rise fit and stretchy technology that will allow flexibility in all of your activities. This one is created for the woman looking for a cheeky look without the lack of fabric.
This style is super seamless and won't create any extra marks when wearing your pants. "That silicone band on the edge allows the underwear to stay flat on the body," says Koch.
You can dance, jump and run, and you can trust this underwear will stay in place thanks to the stay-put silicone. It comes with a breathable 100 percent cotton gusset lining to retain moisture.
While you'll feel slightly snug in this high-waisted style, it may be one of the most comfortable underwear you'll wear. The design stays put and doesn't slide down while sitting or moving. It features a luxurious construction and a high-cut silhouette that will enhance your curves.
"The comfort is amazing in these high waist modal undies. They sit right at my natural waist preventing from making any unsightly bulges or lines," said one reviewer.
This underwear feels like a second skin due to cloud-soft fabric and smooth edges. This brief has a sleek design perfect for those days you need to cover everything. Aside from its softness, this panty will cover all your edges without feeling naked.
"I've been gaining weight due to perimenopause and these panties are so stretchy in a very good way," shared one customer.
This cheeky brief is designed to prevent digging. Customers love this brief because of how soft and lightweight it is. Also, it has great coverage with a barely-there feel that won't slip or show the seams. One customer called it "cloud underwear" for how comfortable it is.
"I think they are the thinnest material-wise, so it's comfy for sleep too," said Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach.
"I love them because they really feel like you are wearing nothing. They are comfortable and don’t show through pants!" added commerce coordinator Alexa Arent.
With extra coverage and a breathable material, this brief is a must-have in your drawer. This innovative underwear is engineered to last thanks to its 360° adaptable stretch and moisture-wicking properties. It's a panty that will keep you dry and comfortable even during heavy period days.
With a glowing near-perfect five-star average rating, this underwear is the perfect choice to feel feminine and comfortable every day. The panty is made from a biodegradable Tencel micro modal material and is super breathable.
"The design with the lace trim is smart because it prevents any obvious VPL (visible panty line!) from showing through my tighter pants and dresses. These give my go-to thongs a run for their money in terms of versatility and are great for days I want a little more coverage, without being baggy or looking like granny panties," shared market assistant Audrey Ekman.
Journelle's undies are designed to keep you cozy while covering your bottom without discomfort. The bikini is made from organic cotton and has a seamless design and stitches to avoid digging and tugging. With a mid-rise coverage and a classic fit, this is the underwear to keep on the first row of your drawer.
For a sculpting feeling, this brief from Spanx will shape and compress your curves while giving you added support. You get a full booty coverage with the lightweight sensation cotton underwear provides. This panty is breathable and features Lycra FitSense for a fit-hugging look.
Meet the experts
Caralyn Mirand Koch is an undergarment expert with the goal to help her clients find the proper bra and underwear fit. She also runs the Properly Fitting Bra Club on social media.
Nikki Chu is the founder of Nudies Essentials, an underwear brand focused on women who are always on the go and offering multiuse underwear.