I don’t even have to pull down my pants. If you asked me (not that I imagine anyone would) I could tell you exactly what kind of MeUndies design I am wearing right now.
A few years ago, the first thing I put on every morning would have given me surprisingly little to talk about. They would have been Calvin Klein, they would have been black, or they would have been grey.
MeUndies, on the other hand, have been arriving in my mailbox for so long, and in such variety, that they outnumber my suits, jackets or even my dress shirts.
They are also — ever since COVID-19 cancelled all business and social obligations that would have required more thoughtful wardrobe choices — the dressiest things I’m now wearing every day.
The only monthly fashion-by-mail I want
Founded in 2011 as the first subscription underwear service, MeUndies came into my life about six or seven years ago, as a particularly thoughtful gift from my wife. For a fee, a new pair is mailed out every month. They are never plain but feature a funny, zany or occasionally risque original print.
I probably never would have signed up for them myself. The idea of fashion subscription services has never appealed to me. I don’t necessarily need (or can afford) a box full of new clothes arriving on a four-week cycle.
Having to rely on some third-party curator to choose items I may or may not like, to try them on and then have to return them — none of this felt as appealing as walking into a store. spotting what I wanted and taking it.
Underwear, on the other hand, is usually more of a grudge purchase, necessary but never very fun. As a result, I was more likely to buy something else I didn’t need whenever I picked up new pairs or, worse, failed to pick any up and neared a crisis point.
Beyond making the purchase process easier, though, I’ve recently realized that MeUndies has changed the way I use underwear in ways that would not have been obvious at the outset.
When my MeUndies arrive in their little envelope, for example, my family literally gathers around in a state of curiosity and actual excitement (and this was before lockdown made even the smallest moments meaningful). They all want to know what the print will be, whether it ties into the current season, an upcoming holiday or a even a social cause.
Then there is the deliberation: I rarely put on a pair of MeUndies at random but give them at least a brief, almost but not quite subconscious glance before making my selection. I often try to match my mood, or sometimes satisfy a sense of occasion.
This also means that my underwear goes through a rotation unlike anything else in my closet. I have been known to move a certain pair further down the pile so that I don’t wear it “too early” or too often.
When a pair of underwear reaches its end of life, meanwhile, I’ve felt real regret. I loved wearing a MeUndies pair festooned with surfboards when I went to the beach in the summer, and was so sad to have to throw them out. (Yes, I could another another pair, but I’m not that weird. Yet.)
No one, other than my wife, has any idea of which pair I’m wearing. And though occasionally I may choose one “for” her, most often it’s more idiosyncratic than what.
Most fashion is designed to help us express ourselves, but usually it’s to do so outwardly, to the world. MeUndies, I’ve realized, is the only fashion I use to express myself to myself — something that has become even more pleasurable at a time when there’s no place to go, and one one else to impress.
Success in fashion is also about elevating the merely functional. It turns the act of wearing less of an exercise and more of an experience. MeUndies has meant I’m no longer just covering my ass. Instead, I’m getting to the bottom of what having a sense of style really means.