Harper's Bazaar

Sensible or Sexy
Sensible by Amy Laroca

If I were to make a list of things that get me through the darker days, it would have to include over-sauced spaghetti, one very specifically smushy pillow, and a snug little pair of plain cotton low-rise briefs from the Gap.

I'm a great fan of lovely lingerie, and I've got a real collection to prove it. I'm devoted to La Petite Coquette, a spectacular slip of a shop not far from my house where a very nice salesgirl knows my size, my taste, and exactly when to call. I am also the proud owner of the full Roy G. Biv of Hanky Panky low-rise thongs. But no matter how many G-strings, how many cleverly cut boy shorts, and how many complicated lacy bits of business bought as the bottom half of a set, there will forever be a special place in my heart (and my pants) for those dowdy little drawers.

The truth is, they're perfect. When you put them on, they really stay put. They don't chafe or bunch or ride up. They stretch perfectly across the hips, and they rest exactly low enough in back. They come in white and black and a heathery charcoal gray. (There are seasonal variations, which is a level of frump I feel no need to explore. Wearing big cotton underpants is one thing: wearing big cotton underpants printed with little candy canes is another thing entirely.)

I don't wear them all the time. I wear them to the gym—I consider them every bit as essential as a good Enell sports bra—and sometimes to sleep, and sometimes when it's raining and/or my boyfriend has gone out of town. They're terrifically modest under loose summer dresses and perfect for cleaning the house. Sometimes I try to tell myself that there is something sexy in their plainness, something fetching about such modesty. But there isn't. I can accept that. And it doesn't make me love them any less.