I decided to start doing a series called “TMI Tuesdays” after I wrote about Flex (which was not on a Tuesday, but gave me this inspiration). I just felt like there was a lot of information that I, an adult woman, had to learn on the internet and not from my parents, because times were different, certain conversations are awkward, and there are some things my mom just didn’t go through. So hopefully sharing a little bit of my own experiences through this same medium is something that will help, rather than hurt, society.
First up, a relatively fun and low-stress topic: thongs!
I used to hate thongs. I really did. I really hated them. I tried them when I was a teenager, but, my life situation being different back then, bought a pack from Walmart that were too tight, itchy, and just all around uncomfortable. I didn’t try them again until I was–wait for it–23.
“But you’re 23 now, at the time of writing this blog post!” you might say, and hoo boy, you would be correctamundo on that one, as my dad likes to say (I thought he made this up, but it is apparently a real life, possibly offensive line from the really old tv show Happy Days. Oh, dad jokes. Trust me, my dad has all the other dads beat on the dad-ness of his dad jokes.)
ANYWAY POINT BEING I have learned a lot between, uh, 17 and now.
First, why consider a thong at all? Is it, like high heels are for me, something purely impractical that you find you can do without? Sure, that might be true. Your choices are yours, my friend, and maybe you don’t want to put in the small amount of effort–but admittedly, still time, energy, and money–into finding the “right” thong. That said, I would like to extol a few great qualities of good thongs:
- They can make your pants fit and look better.
- The right thong feels super comfortable, like nothing is there.
- Because of 2, they are great for workouts and dance classes.
So how do you find the right thong?
The two most important factors when considering a thong are the fabric and fit. You absolutely need the right size. If, like me, your family shopped at Walmart or similar growing up, you will be surprised, like I was, to learn that most underwear brands and possibly clothing brands in general are a full size or even two sizes smaller. This has something to do with the average American, beauty standards, and the physical body being associated with class and status. Blog post for another time.
Maybe an equally surprising but also useful realization: when trying to find the right size thong, it doesn’t matter if you order online or buy in store, because you can never return underwear anyway. The only thing you can do is measure yourself and read the size chart, but the only thing you can really do is try it on, so set aside a reasonable budget for nicer-underwear-shopping, thongs or no, factoring in a misstep or two. Most of the thongs pictured above, I purchased on Amazon.
This also means, don’t buy them all at once. Buy a couple in a few different sizes from the same brand. My exact process was to buy one–just one–and see if it fit. If it did, great! If not, I tried a different size according to how that one felt. While brands vary slightly, panties are less difficult to size than bras, so my experience (even with my very not-the-American-standard shaped body) has been that finding my size once has transferred reasonably well across brands.
Additionally, once you have found your size, map it to the size chart, not to the number or “M” or whatever, because all the brands use different markers but will still have a somewhat accurate size chart.
Too tight, and the thong will be uncomfortable, failing in (2) and causing you to think all thongs are terrible–but don’t give up yet. Too loose, and the thong will be unable to do (1) or (3), and possibly bunch up, failing in (2) again. Try a few until you figure it out. Wear them around to really get a feel for it–again, you can’t return them anyway /shrug.
I will say, the feeling of wearing a thong can take some getting used to–but if it’s the right size, that should be on the order of hours to days, not days to weeks. It should not feel uncomfortable or make you fidget after at least a few hours. If it does, it’s not the right size–or occasionally, it may be an uncomfortable fabric.
I advise you not to start with lace or something pretty and expensive and difficult for a whole variety of hopefully obvious reasons. The first set of thongs I truly loved were from Everlane. Simple, cotton, breathable, safe–as in, yes, healthy. Full cotton is preferred, at least a cotton gusset is mandatory and almost industry standard, and even with that, you’re not really supposed to sleep in thongs (I have occasionally violated this rule, but it truly might be better to go commando). Starting with a simple, smooth fabric will allow you to get the fit right first, fall in love with thongs as I have, and then you can go wild with the other stuff.
An activewear thong might be something you can try early on too. These are designed with runners and athletes in mind, so I find the fabric particularly comfortable and often seamless, although for sweat-wicking reasons it is rarely cotton.
Does price matter? I’d say no–within reason. I would say I spend anywhere between $8-10 per pair on my underwear. I know, coming from Walmart it sounds like a lot, and even might be pricey compared to a good Victoria’s Secret deal, but those underwear are simply not made for grown women’s bodies–or sometimes just anyone’s bodies…
My adult life has been the process of realizing I’m not a kid with a changing body anymore, and therefore I can invest just a little bit more in the clothing items I own. It’s up to you to assess whether that’s realistic for you right now. But I say price doesn’t matter because a $30 or $50 pair of underwear isn’t going to feel any better, and possibly could be worse, than an $8 undie from Everlane.
You might notice most of the undies above are beige, and that is for a reason. This may not be true for you, but I have some items in my wardrobe that show what’s underneath rather easily, and this is exactly the sort of womenswear situation where a thong can shine. I tend to run a little darker than what commercial America calls “nude”, and for those of you with even darker skin tones, I recommend Pact TrueTone, maybe the Aerie Real Me collection, and on the pricier side, Hanky Panky or Nubian Skin. Supposedly a simple black one will work pretty well too, but I cannot speak from personal experience.
I have a whole bunch of “nude” thongs now, and I wear them all the time. It feels–and looks–like nothing, in the best way. Similar to what Bombas No Show Socks does for my hypebeast-y sneakers, I’ve really enjoyed building a collection of basic undergarments that allow the actual focus of my wardrobe, the clothes, to take center stage.
Thongs aren’t for everyone, and I totally get it–but my early twenties has been a time of true experimentation. Gifted with independence and (mercifully) my own income, however small, I was able to actually try stuff that the wealthier and less-strict-parents-having-kids got to try in high school. There are things I tried that I decided I didn’t like, heeled shoes for example, and there are things I tried that I ultimately loved. I know that’s not accessible for everyone, but if you find yourself in a place where you’d like to try thongs again, as I was, or with a particularly see-through-ish pair of pants, I hope this is a helpful little guide.