And Now, A Post About Underpants
There’s a thing a lot of fashion magazines and bloggers do that I think is swell in theory, but usually stinks in execution. It’s a feature they call “Splurge vs. Save” or “Splurge vs. Steal” and it juxtaposes two similar items at vastly different price points. One is always ridiculously expensive, and the other one is cheap enough to look like a bargain when it’s posing next to the really expensive item, but still costly enough that it usually makes me feel like a hobo for thinking, “Wait–that’s the cheap option? Help me. I’m poor.”
What I’m trying to say is, and I’m sure by now you’ve rightly guessed, is that I always gravitate toward the save option and then keep looking around to see if I can get something pretty similar for about half of that price. There are certainly some things I’m totally willing to invest some pretty good money in (ie: coats, shoes, classic items I know I’ll keep for years), while other things I’m totally cool getting the absolute cheapest option available. Case in point: Underwear, or as I prefer to call them–underpants. But not panties. Never panties. Ew. That word makes my face twist up like I just bit into citrus, and generally falls in the same category as “moist”, “the hubs”, shortening sandwich to sammy and using the word BOOM as a sentence.
So anyway, what was I talking about? Oh right, underpants.
The last time I bought a new pair of underpants was a year ago. We were on our honeymoon, and one gorgeous morning on the beautiful island of Kauai, I woke up to realize that not only did I have some abhorrent plague resembling whooping cough, but I was also completely out of underwear. We headed to the local Wal-Mart, dodging a few chickens in the parking lot, then bought what they had in stock, which wasn’t much. For the record, nothing says sexy time like a deep throaty cough and a pair of extra-large lime green underpants from Hanes Her Way. I’m sure I could have used my honeymoon as an opportunity to splurge on something less perfunctory, but that just isn’t me.
I have not paid over $15 for a pair of underwear since I was 22 years old, and yes–I still have that particular pair. That fact alone should be enough to justify spending a little bit more, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. And so once or twice a year, I go on an underpant spree with the goal of finding as many pairs as I can for as little money as possible. I typically aim to pay less than I would for a cup of coffee. That’s usually an easy thing to do since I live in the magical borough of Queens, where every block has at least one cheapo variety store offering everything from saucepans to discontinued toiletries to undergarments of questionable taste level, fabric and size.
My favorite local lingerie shop in town is called “Fever”. They sell $2 underpants and kicky pajama sets with cartoon animals and lip prints all over them, and there’s so much synthetic fabric in there that one lit match would send the whole joint up in flames. It’s not unusual for me to buy 10-15 pairs of underwear there at one time and watch them slowly disintegrate throughout the year. One time the elastic on my undies broke and the fabric degraded so quickly that I had to tie my underpants in a knot to keep them up from sliding down my hips. Usually the only thing to damage underwear that severely is an atomic wedgie.
Lately my top drawer has been looking a little thin, and I guess I’ve been burning through my cheap underpants at a pretty rapid pace. So I took a walk up to Steinway Street for my annual underpant pilgrimage to my favorite lingerie shop. When I got there, I was met with the greatest disappointment one can feel when they are down to their last three pairs of underpants. The store was gone. GONE! How could this be? Does no one else value cheap underwear in this town? What do they expect me to do? Go to Manhattan to a real department store? Keep tying my underwear in knots? I don’t think so.
So I paced the street looking for a suitable alternative. Gap? No. Victoria’s Secret? Sorry Vin–no. And then…jackpot! I stumbled on a “Conway” store, otherwise known as New York’s #1 Fashion Discount Chain and your School Uniform headquarters. I hurried past the cheap poly-blend sweaters (okay I bought one) and went straight to the back, where any respectable fashion discount chain store keeps their underpants. And there were miles of them. Leopard-print and neon. Boy shorts and bikinis. Four pairs for five dollars.
Love you forever Queens. You give me fever.