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The Underwear Effect

Author: Lauren Coleman

I used to work in the cosmetics industry and became very familiar with the term coined to describe the impact times of financial and political uncertainty had on lipstick sales. ‘The lipstick effect’ observed that in times of unrest cosmetic sales increased. Customers weren’t willing to commit to bigger purchases and instead treated themselves to smaller, more purse-pleasing items to lift their spirits.

I was listening to the radio on Monday and heard market research giant Mintel and other trends companies claiming the lipstick effect is now branching into lingerie. The ‘underwear effect’ is set to take hold over the next few years and sales of undies and other innerwear (sleepwear, lounge wear and hosiery) are expected to rise by over 10%.
Whether or not it’s a response to Brexit, one things for sure, my drawers are definitely full of more leisure wear in the last year or two. I know this is due to the fact I spend more time at home then ever before but I think most of us are looking to be more cosy and cocooned when we’ve got some well earned downtime.

From a hosiery perspective, I was very nearly persuaded to spend £22 on a pair of tights recently. Yes really. I still haven’t ordered the Heist 80 denier tights but I’m hooked on the marketing message that there are tights that exist that ‘don’t dig, sag or itch, but are actually a pleasure to move in.’ £22 though. My husband thought I was crackers when I mentioned it to him. If anyone has them please do let me know if I’m missing out on anything or shall I just stick with my £2.50 Primarni ones?

Back to our smalls and a quick poll with the team suggested we’re buying our underwear based not only on style but on comfort too. When it comes to knickers specifically three brands emerged as our favourites:

  • For inexpensive designs in a range of styles we love a bit of H&M.
  • M&S for their VPL-free range and frequent 3 for 2 offers
  • Calvin Klein for their comfort and multipacks. In Charlotte’s own words they ‘fit SO well, don’t ride up, look “nice” and flattering rather than showing too much bum cheek/looking like a granny pant. Dead comfy. Wash well too.’ What a summary. We all need some CK in our lives.

On the loungewear front I have some grey cashmere joggers I bought from Gap a few years ago and nothing else come close. They haven’t gone baggy at the knee and are so comfy yet shapely too. I haven’t seen anything similar and I’m more than annoyed at myself for not buying several pairs at the time. You know that saying ‘nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy’ for me it’s ‘nothing haunts you like the things you should have bought two of.’

Are you buying more underwear or more affordable luxury items? What are your favourite stores to hit when it comes to knickers and the rest of your smalls? Do you favour comfort over style too?

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44 thoughts on “The Underwear Effect

  1. I’m currently buying triumph amourette bras and big knickers in a variety of colours. So comfy but look pretty. Great for a post c section tummy too!!!

  2. I’ve recently discovered Oysho – a lovely brand with a range from fun, soft essentials through to pretty and racier styles. They have loungewear and active wear too. You can order direct or I think also via ASOS – I’m hooked (m and s will always win on basics) but this is an affordable place to get a pretty underwear fix!

    1. Oh I always forget about them Lizzy. They’re owned by Zara aren’t they? They have gorgeous accessories too.

  3. if anyone needs enabling there is 25% off Heist tights for the next 24 hours or so with the code MOTHERSDAYHE1ST – do need to buy two pairs for the code to be valid 🙂

  4. I am totally bitten by the regret of not buying two of things! Ha! My favourite pair of black jeans are the perfect example!
    For me, it’s got to be Marks and Sparks. I love underwear that I can put on and forget about!

  5. My knicker drawer is a mixture of M&S No VPL and Calvin Klein, definitely my two faves. Never tried H&M undies but I might now. Bras are always Panache, Fanatasie or Freya but being a small band/bigger cup I have less choice than the more common sizes.

    Love the Gap Body range for loungewear but I’m in the market for some Hush or Bright Company pjs next. I’m really loving the Yawn London range but £89 is a bit pricey for nightwear as far as I’m concerned!

    We need to talk about slippers though. I like mine to be really warm and comfy but they need a sole so I can put the bin out in the rain lol. Uggs or Mahabis? Anyone have either of these?

    1. Ugg slippers are amazing!!! I’m not an Ugg wearer normally but for slippers, I am on my second pair and no regrets. Just make sure the ones you are looking at have a rubber sole – only some do.

    2. UGG slippers are incredible! I have had mine for nearly 3 years now and they still look like brand new. Comfortable, warm and hard sole so can be worn out in the garden etc! I do like the look of Mahabis too! X

    3. I’ve got Birkenstock Bostons (the sheepskin lined ones) – spendy but well worth it for an indoor/outdoor slipper!

  6. Last week I learnt not to scrimp on cost when buying undies. I need to replace a few things in my underwear drawer and last week the under wiring came out of my last black t-shirt bra. No problem, I was going shopping at Asda – how bad can a cheap t-shirt bra be just for a week or two before I have enough time to go to M&S?! It is the most uncomfortable bra I have ever worn!!!! I am never cheating on M&S again.

    I treated myself to the most beautiful deep green satin and cream lace set from the Rosie Huntington-Whitley range a while ago. It was a little spendy (I did buy the pants in both styles though) and I feel a million dollars wearing it – although no-one else sees it, I do feel more confident wearing lovely lingerie.

    1. There is nothing more irritating than an uncomfortable bra.
      RHW range at M&S is beautiful. I have a few pieces from there that I picked up in the sale.

  7. I have a couple pairs of the Heist tights and both love and hate them. They look and feel so amazing on–they hold your stomach in a bit and don’t give you that weird indent around your waist that regular tights do. They don’t dig in and generally just feel like yoga pants. They don’t roll and generally stay where you put them.

    HOWEVER! They also snag and ladder very easily, which for the price I was very disappointed by. They don’t last very long. M&S makes something similar, with a nice wide waistband. They’re not quite as comfortable as the Heist tights (waistband is slightly thinner so they dig in a little more) but they’re much cheaper and more durable.

    1. I was hoping someone would report on the snag-ability Elizabeth. That, for me, is a giant red flag. I’m not careful enough to spend 22 quid on tights and not have them snagged within a day.

    2. Oh no Elizabeth! I’m so glad you mentioned this as I was very tempted. Will have a look at M&S now. Thanks.

      1. Sadly I agree with the snag/ladder issue. My first pair didn’t last long. However, I’ve got IBD so can’t have anything tight around my stomach. Heist tights are the only ones I’ve found that I can wear pain free, without sizing up to the point they just fall down. For that I can’t recommend them enough. I’ve also had my subsequent pairs for months and had no problems with laddering. I’m more careful, but do have a toddler and cats sip I’m not that careful. Maybe there was a duff batch…

    3. Sadly I have to agree with the thoughts on Heist tights. They feel amazing to wear but don’t last. So disappointing.

  8. I am definitely in need of an underwear upgrade. I am currently on a mission to find pretty underwear that will work with me through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

    I know everyone raves about M&S underwear and I have owned a few pieces too, but I can’t quite get my head around the fact that my Mother-in-law buys her underwear there too and while we were living with them, at times it was hard to differentiate what was hers and what was mine in the clean washing. I’ve been put off ever since. 😂 Might give CK a go!

    1. Heidi Klum Intimates has some really pretty nursing bras Naomi. They don’t come in my size unfortunately so can’t comment on durability but they do look nice! x

      1. I used Heidi klum nursing bras last year and they were definitely the prettiest nursing bras. They aren’t very supportive though so do be wary of that. I’d also recommend bonds for nursing bras. So so comfy and look cooler than most.

        1. Thanks Tracy and Mel! I am wearing a little Heidi Klum maternity number as we speak (too much info?). I love them! And I got them in the Figleaves sale. Bonus.

          Omg Mel I had a Bonds maternity bra with Ethan and completely forgot about how much I loved it. Also, their babygros were amazing! I might bulk purchase from there soon… Thanks for the reminder!

  9. I have been quite impressed with matalan knickers, I find them really comfy. Particularly the stretchy cotton ones with a band of lace around the leg holes and waistband. They come diagonally across the bum cheeks but still feel pretty covered (can’t remember what this style is called) and are never too tight or too loose. The m&s ones I used to love seemed to change and the little bit of elastic or lace around the edges felt stiff and dug in.

    Along the same lines, does anybody have any recommendations for a tankini? I think they must be considered very uncool because most places don’t do them. I’m not comfortable exposing my belly after children and swimming costumes never fit my freakishly long torso/highlight the stumpiness of my legs. I end up with them digging in at the shoulders and crotch. What I really want is a tankini which is underwired, maybe with a halter neck, which isn’t a hideous pattern and with normal pants on the bottom rather than shorts. Doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it?

    1. A couple of years ago I bought a black and white cossie from Next which is a one piece but in two separate bits joined by a bit of mesh. It’s has super flattering long body bit so you don’t feel mega exposed. I’ve had a look on their site and they have something similar this year too – http://www.next.co.uk/g229218s3

    2. Jade, I’m not sure what you’re cup size is, but if you’re a C or over, I’d really recommend Freya (http://www.freyalingerie.com/swim.aspx#!t=8039,8040,8041&i=530,26) for tankini style swimwear. They have a tankini top for most of their range. I can vouch for the quality, fit and dare I say it, the shape of their swimwear always makes me feel well supported and sexy.

      It’s a little spendy, but I always rather have one or two really nice pieces on holiday than 6 cheap ones I don’t feel comfy in! Also, if you decide on a one piece, Seafolly is amazing for flattering shapes.

      1. I don’t think I’m big enough 😔 More of a b/c now. I may have to try a few as long as the returns policy includes swimwear. I seem to find lots of tankinis in larger cup sizes and maternity ranges. I feel like I must have such a freakish body shape to have such an issue finding something which fits.

        1. After lots of buying and returning I eventually got a nice tankini from M&S last year … I can’t remember if it was wired but it had padded cups (which I definitely need!). This was for our first family holiday away and my challenge was finding high waisted bottoms so my wobbly tummy wasn’t hanging out! I didn’t want a swimsuit because I couldn’t cope with the hassle of stripping off (and inevitable prodding by an almost 2 year old) when I needed the toilet! I had a wee look online and M&S don’t have much swimear in stock yet so maybe it’s a bit early. I had no problem returning any of the swimwear as long as it had that wee sticky bit of plastic on the crotch!

        2. I hope you see this comment Jade because I just ran and had a look at my Freya numbers and I think they must be on the smaller fitting side. I’m usually a DD and my Freya bikinis are a good fit in an E cup. So you might have luck with their Cs.
          Also, online returns policies are usually pretty good. Hope this helps!

    3. Jade have a look at funkita swimming costumes. I was struggling to get a costume to fit my long body and these ones fitted nicely. Proper costume for swimming and true to size.

  10. Your cashmere joggers sound amazing. I treated myself to some just before Christmas but they have indeed gone baggy and saggy, not attractive, although they are SO comfortable. Loungwear is my absolute favourite thing to buy! Can I ask how you’ve been washing your joggers to make them last? X

    1. I should have mentioned they’re a cashmere mix so they weren’t super spendy either.
      I wash them in the machine on a wool cycle and they’re doing fine. Not as good as new but I wear them far too much!

  11. Good God. I don’t put any thought into this at all. M & S black 5 packs of bikini briefs all the way. Order in bulk and get them delivered. I don’t like H & M for anything – I find the quality really poor.

    Bra wise, Bravissimo for me. No other option for swimwear either. M & S measure incorrectly (they “add 4” when its generally accepted that’s not the correct way to measure anymore). You can be small around the ribcage with bigger breasts and M & S just can’t deal with that fact.

    Tights, I buy my black tights from Primark and my 10 denier from M & S. Cheaper 10 denier from Primark have a really nasty sheen on I don’t like, itch and are uncomfortable. Also their nude is still a really unattractive shade of orange. M & S do a pack for about £3.50. I usually order 10 packs of 5 at a time when they are 20% off and they last me for a while. I have to wear sheer tights with suits for work and I probably get through a pack a week (I ladder, putting them on ungracefully whilst trying to wrangle two kids into clothes too and get out the house by 7.15am).

    Basically, I’m the Costco of underwear (innerwear just sounds a bit weird no?)

    1. Yeah I’ve struggled with M&S for bras too and have completely different measurements at Debenhams and M&S.
      Heard excellent things about Bravissimo, and like you one of my friends won’t get her swimwear anywhere else.

  12. I love Bonds underwear, I was so happy when I saw you could get it in John Lewis! (I also really rate the zippy Wondersuits for babies, much easier than poppers.) My style isn’t lacy and I’d definitely go comfort over looks but the Bonds pants are great to look at as well as being seriously comfy. When I stop nursing my baby in the day I’m going to treat myself to new bras and I’ve got my eye on at least one Bonds one!

    I do need to get some more stylish loungewear though as I am living in that at the moment on maternity leave – especially being snowed in this week! I like to have a distinction between my daytime loungewear and my nighttime pyjamas, so need more jogger type things. Will look at Gap!

    Slippers wise, my boyfriend bought me some Bedroom Athletics bootie-type slippers (the name sounds so dodgy doesn’t it?!) when I kept sliding on the kitchen floor and they are really good – not quite as thick a sole as, say, Uggs, but more structured than socks, and really toasty.

    1. Oh hello with the ‘Bedroom Athletics!’
      I got a pair of slippers from White Stuff last year and they are the best slippers I’ve ever owned. So supportive and cosy on the ankle – I realised I’ve nearly fallen down the stairs far too many times in ones that I’ve nearly slipped out of.
      Let me know how you get on at Gap for your leisure wear. Amy also had some lovely joggers from Tesco a while ago.

  13. I have to say for tights I think Charlotte and I are on the same page – Wolfords or Falke really are the bees knees. Yes they are expensive, but they are the only ones I have found that are both supportive and don’t snag or ladder nearly as much as the cheaper brands. I have Wolford Miss W and Falke Support tights (40 denier perhaps?! So long since I bought any so goes to show how long they last!!) as I like the leg and tummy support, no rolling (unless pregnant and trying to squeeze in the wrong size!), no sagging, wash really well in one of those lingerie bag things. Highly recommend.

    As for underwear, I have my M&S basics (bikini brief things in packs of 5, so glamorous :)) but I buy La Perla bras, just the basics as anything else requires a lottery win, but they are a lovely shape for me I find (I’m on the smaller side). I’ve tried CK and all sorts, but the shape is all wrong and I find the wires dig in. Currently in maternity bras though, highly highly recommend the Bravado Seamless things you can get at John Lewis, they are not pretty but they are unbelievably comfortable, and they are totally seamless and give a nice shape I found. Also, because you buy in S/M/L sizes there is no need to buy six sizes as your boobs change shape during feeding.

  14. Yup Wolford tights for me. I’ve got some high denier ones (I think called Velvet something). I have a pair that I have worn/washed most weeks through nearly 2 complete autumn/winter seasons. Still going perfectly strong. I feel I got my monies worth, even though were £25 a pair! X

  15. Try Bonds! They are an Aussie underwear brand but so comfy and very cute styles too – everything from standard pants to fancy lacy ones! The bras are also coined as the next best thing to not wearing a bra and it’s so true!

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