If you prefer something lacy, Hanky Panky is a classic underwear brand that remains a favorite of several of the women we talked to. When we asked Barbara Corcoran, the founder of Corcoran Group, about her favorite things, Hanky Panky’s Signature Thong made the list. “Everyone seems to wear these,” she says. “They come in every color, like 30 colors, and it’s like a lace crayon box when you open your drawer.” The thing about them, according to Corcoran, is that “they’re inexpensive and last forever.” She says she doesn’t think she’s ever thrown a pair out, and that the stretch material never gives up, despite the fact that they don’t feel like you’re wearing underwear. “I can’t say I’ve worn just these with a skirt (I need pantyhose), but they’re just great and never, never wrinkle,” Corcoran says. And if you want to stock up, Hanky Panky’s three-packs are a good option. Iva Pawling, co-founder of Richer Poorer, prefers the brand’s low-rise style, of which she has many. “I am equal parts proud and embarrassed that I have only been wearing Hanky Panky underwear for, oh, about 14 years,” she says. “I don’t have to think about them, and they just work.” For something with more coverage, costume designer Leesa Evans told us, “Hanky Panky boy shorts are so soft and comfortable, and never show a panty line.”
The fiber scientists in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab are constantly testing undergarments like bras, pantyhose, shapewear, and swimwear both in the lab and with real consumer testers. The team evaluates things like washability, stretch recovery, fit, comfort, and more to find the ones that will feel great and actually last. We also got medical input on finding the best underwear for your health from Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist in New York and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V.
While usually considered to be a woman's garment, pantyhose can also be worn by men, for example for thermal protection, therapeutic relief or simply as a lifestyle choice. Race horse jockeys may wear pantyhose under their uniform to enable them to glide freely over the legs and waist when the jockey's body moves at a rapid pace. Some fishermen who surf fish from tropical beaches may wear pantyhose for protection from jellyfish whose stingers are triggered by contact with a chemical on bare skin. In the late 1990s, several manufacturers introduced pantyhose styles designed for men to cater to this niche market.
While sales of traditional styles did not recover, the 2000s saw the rise of other specific styles. Fishnet hose, patterns and colors, opaque tights, low-rise pantyhose, footless shapewear, and pantyhose for men (playfully referred to as "mantyhose") all experienced increased sales. In the 2010s, an increasing popularity for form-fitting opaque leggings paired with casual dress (and even some officewear) supplanted the fashion role previously held by pantyhose, although pantyhose remain popular as pair of formalwear.
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If you want to splurge, Harrington recommends a pair of silk tap shorts, like this pair from Harlow & Fox. “Silk is the ultimate lingerie fiber — cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and with a luxurious feel against the skin,” she says. “If you can afford silk, buy silk.” Harrington calls these her favorite elegant silk pair, and “the definition of everyday indulgence.“
There is no shortage of underwear options, either. There is a fit for every need and mood. If you require a thong for an unforgiving skirt, boyshorts for lounging around at home or cheeky panties for your jeans, they are all available. Like bras, panties are sold in solid colors. They are also sold with lace, floral patterns and strappy details. Sometimes a plain pair of panties is best. Other times, you may want to be adventurous, cute or sexy. The good news is that there are panties for all occasions.