Sometimes, you are what you sleep in.
If you asked me to describe my underwear before my breakup, that’s probably what I’d say. Or maybe: functional, informal, kinda-like-a-groutfit.
My panty drawer could have been broken down into two categories (neither being “sex me up”): the breathable underwear I wore to CrossFit and the loungey pair I put on after.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally Team Sexy-Time. I have the mouth of a high libido-ed sailor, and not one but two boxes of sex toys under my bed. Big boxes.
But somehow, neither my job as a sex and wellness writer nor my “extracurriculars” had lent themselves to sophisticated or suggestive skivvies.
And during my last relationship, I took the stand that: ‘If they’re going to get ripped (okay fine, slithered) off, anyway, who cares what they look like?’ My ex never had much to say about my utilitarian choices. He’d never complimented them — he didn’t call them granny panties either (and to be fair, they totally were).
But alas, after the relationship ended, I turned to Marie Kondo for a little comfort and inspiration.
Instead of holding up my belongings and asking, “Does this spark joy?” — I’d ask, “Does this remind me of my ex?” If the answer was yes, I got rid of it.
I packed up the oversized waffles, the hats, the college football T-shirts that reminded me of him and donated them to Housing Works, a nonprofit in New York City that fights HIV and homelessness.
Then, I got to my underwear drawer.
The sad (nay, dramatic) reality was that after close to 18 months of dating, my ex had seen me in — or touched me in — every single pair.
Reflectively, maybe it was a little rash to trash the whole collection (worth noting: most donation places don’t want our used undies), but at the time, I was heartbroken and the last thing I wanted while moping was to be in underwear my ex had seen or touched.
So I did what any newly-heartbroken, empty-panty-drawered gal trying to maintain a career as a writer would do. First, I spent my weekly “for the rainy day” cash on some pieces (that are H-O-T). And then I emailed some PR folks to see if they’d bite and send me fancy garb to try.
Within a week my underthings drawer was a little less grandma-next-door-meets-gym-jock and a little more be-the-snack-you-want-to-eat.
My rags had been replaced by over-the-top bold floral suits from Savage x Fenty (yanno, Rihanna’s line), lacy high-top girl briefs, onesies with tiger-shaped lace, some flimsy pairs, and even some workout-specific briefs and thongs.
I hadn’t necessarily intended to swap my Hanes and Gap (GapKids BTW because it had been that long) with something so sensual.
But I think my purchases reflected a desire to feel that.
Katie Fritts, founder of monthly designer underwear delivery service, Underclub said breakups are the second-most common reason women buy underwear (the first, she says, is getting into a relationship).
“The women who are just getting out of a relationship are getting new underwear for themselves. They’re doing it because it’s something that can make you feel really good. It’s a way of showing yourself love after you’ve lost love.”
Here’s the thing, I thought I’d feel good — but actually I felt powerful
I got myself new underwear as a tiny heart-healing act of self-love, after all. But I hadn’t expected that wearing sexy underwear would actually make me want to get down with my bad self and said boxes of sex toys.
I hadn’t expected them to imbibe me with a kind of #girlpower energy.
But, then I’d slip them on, look in the mirror, and I felt damn good about how I looked. And that feeling? Powerful.
It’s now been six months since my ex and I broke up. And while there’s no new boo seeing my hot diddies, I’m still riding my lingerie high. I get a new pair of underwear (thanks to an Underclub subscription) every month — which is seriously saying something about my priorities as someone with a Manhattan-sized closet.
And in case you were wondering, I even sleep in my sexy garb, too. Because good morning, beautiful!
The bottom line: I tossed the oldies to throw up mad hand-waving emojis at my ex. But their replacement has given me some serious single lady power. Now, turn up some Bey, because this ring-free chick wants to dance around in her underwear.
Today, I’m thinking lace.
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drank, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, benchpressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.