In Honor of the Non-Traveling Pants

My friends, I have spent the last three days at home. It has been blissful. I’ve run, zumbaed, and committed acts of yoga. The rest of the time, I’ve been sat in my underpants, writing.*

It’s heaven. I have a long standing hatred of pants, and would be without them at all times, if both modesty and the law didn’t require bottoms.

There’s also the issue of chafing, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, my anti-pants stance is not a joke. I say things on twitter about not wearing pants, and everyone’s like, “Hahaha, that crazy Nicole, her and her tweets about pants.” But I am deadly serious people. Deadly.

Like an adder. Deadly.

Indeed, I pretty much knew a recent, budding relationship was going to go nowhere when we had the Pants Talk. My new beau and I walked in to my apartment from a day doing something or other, and I immediately took off my pants. Here’s what ensued:

Him: “Wow, you really don’t like pants.”

Me: “Nope. Hate ’em. You can take your pants off too, if you like.”

Him: “Um, no, that’s okay. I’m more comfortable with pants, during the daytime.”

Me (aloud): “Oh, okay.”


So, yeah, I’m pretty serious about the no pants. But I’m also serious about my underpants.

The great irony of my love of lingerie is that I currently spend half my time dressed for the gym, and the other half wearing whatever I cobbled together for a day spent in a place where Steeler’s jerseys are this season’s black and, I shit you not, people still wear scrunchies. You’ve seen that episode of Sex and the City, right? If you haven’t seen it, here it is. You only need the first minute and fifteen, and keep in mind this was nearly a decade ago, way back in 2003:

So on an everyday basis I don’t feel a pressing need to break out my vintage wear or my best black dresses. Instead, I try to blend in by making sure I match, and that I look at least five years older than my students. In other words, I rarely care what I’m wearing, and yet, underneath I’ve inevitably got on some fly panties.

Because I’m open about my love of the underpants, I’ve recently had a lot of talks with women about lingerie. The thing is, despite it being a major conglomerate that apparently makes bajillions, I know very few adult women who shop at Victoria’s Secret and are actually happy with their purchases. Occasionally there’s the “great” teddy that was worn once but never seen again, but for actual underwear a person can wear, be comfortable in, and still be sexy? Victoria’s Secret is a treasure chest of lies.

Part of the problem is that none of the five-year-olds they employ know what they’re doing. How can you measure my chest when you’re physically incapable of looking at my boobs? The other problem is that even if I were sized correctly, Victoria’s Secret has about five bras I can wear, and they’re inevitably the plain ones, in the back, hidden behind some flouncy A-cup. So I usually spend a visit to Victoria’s Secret saying, “Wow, pretty. Not my size. Wow, pretty. Not my size. Wow, pretty. Not my fucking size…”

This gets frustrating. And the same thing happens at the high end retailers, like La Perla, that I prefer to VS anyway. They’re made for lovely lithesome creatures. Unforttunately, I’m built more on a “Mesopotamian fertility goddess” scale, and even at my thinnest, all of my weight is in my tits and ass. Even now, as I’m finally losing all that thesis weight (it’s like baby weight, but without the lactating), it’s peeling off my arms and waist and calves . . . and sticking like glue to my hips, thighs, butt, and boobs.

So this is what women talk to me about. Women talk about it with me at signings, email me about it, DM me or Facebook message me: where do I get these underpants that I so love?

I usually hear from women who are like me: They’re too big in certain places for certain stores, but not big enough for other stores. We’re in a sort of size limbo: too small in most of our bodies for plus size, but way too plus size in other parts for normal stores. Oftentimes, women resort to just tenting themselves in the larger size, swaddling their little arms and legs and torsos so that something, anything, finally fits over their ass.

And that makes me sad, people.

So first of all, the secret is to find stores that sell a range of sizes. I will never need a size zero, but neither do I need 3XX. But there are a few stores that carry sizes from 14 to Much Larger than 14, and there are also stores that make a habit of catering to those who aren’t built on the fashion industry’s “perfect size 8” proportions.

My favorite place to buy the sorts of things you wear everyday, if your everyday is sexy, is Intimacy. It’s awesome. There’s very little storefront, as they immediately whisk you back to a room where they stare at and prod your boobies, then they only bring you what they have that will fit. It’s amazing! The products aren’t cheap, but they’re beautifully made and they’re gorgeous. So indulge! They’re also made for all sorts of weird sizes. So if you have enormous boobs and a tiny rib cage, or a huge rib cage and tiny boobs, they’ve got you covered.

As for robes, I’ve got to give Soma the big thumbs up. I just bought a gorgeous little robe from them, and I can’t wait to rock it out.

When it comes to fripperies–and who doesn’t love a frippery?–I’ve just ordered a shit ton of stuff from this place. It’s the kind of place I love as they actually have a lot of smaller sizes as well as larger, and a lot of mix and matching, so I can cobble something together that fits everything.

So these are some of the places I buy my underwear. They’ve got what I like: a range of styles and sizes, so that I can put together looks that fit.

Because I think so much of being confident in what we’re wearing is knowing it does, indeed, fit. No one feels good in a caftan, but it’s equally hard to feel confident when one is squeezed into something like a sausage in its casing. So take your measurements, be honest about those measurements, and only keep what actually fits. Never be afraid to go up or down a size, depending on what looks good. So many people are ruled by a number they think they are or should be, but all clothes are sized differently. If you look good in a 12, rock it out–but if you look like you’ve wedged yourself into that dress with a shoehorn, try the 14. No one will see the tag, they’ll just see you.

So feel free to be gorgeous, ladies, even if it’s under our yoga pants. Or to sit by ourselves on a couch all day and write a book. Life is short, and our underwear–like everything we do–should be fun.

*For the entirety of this blog post, I will be using “pants” in the American sense, meaning underpants. But my British readers may feel free to read this entire post with “pants” in the British sense, if it gives them a giggle.

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

16 thoughts on “In Honor of the Non-Traveling Pants”

  1. The "pants" (our teachers taught us to use "trousers", but whatever) are the second thing that comes off when I come home – shoes are first. And usually, the bra isn't that far behind, unless I am wearing a particularily comfortable one. Of course, comfy bras are mainly a thing out of myths and fairy tales, because an E cup needs support and shape, or at least MINE do, and science has yet to create a great looking AND comfy bra.

    And even though in Germany we don't have Victoria's Secret, the underwear shops are the same. It's always "Ooh, lovely, not my size, ooh, lovely, not my size, ooh, lovely, not my size, I want to kill somebody, ooh lovely, not my size, OF COURSE NOT MY SIZE, I want to kill myself .."

    I think it's ironic how those stores market themselves as some sort of repository of all that's feminine, when in truth most women come out feeling bad about themselves.

  2. Carolyn: The worst are jeans. How anyone can lounge in denim is beyond me. Talk about fabric structure! YEESH!

    Alexandra: That's why Intimacy is amazing. They have this massive range, and they make sure things actually fit, and then they teach you how to wear them properly, and next thing you know you never want to take off your bras, ever. 😉 It's like Bra Magic! I'm an E in European sizing too (if that's what you mean), and I seriously would wear my bras to bed if they didn't get in the way of my nighties. 😉

  3. As a woman with a small waste and an ass I could serve drinks off let me say thank you! Your post made me laugh. Thanks for the retail recommendations too!

  4. Sara: I hear ya, sistah. 😉 It's actually saving me money, now, as all my yoga/running pants are a teensy bit too big but my gadonk holds them up. 😉 But seriously, these are some great stores for the oddly shaped. And by odd I mean awesome. 😉

  5. I live opposite a family of Chinese people who are free and easy with their pants. The first thing they do when they get home is strip down to their undies. (I'm not peepeing out the curtains to see this mind you, they also leave their blinds wide open) The thing I love most about them is that, frequently, the whole family will hold hands and dance around the living room. Let your No Pants Freak Flag fly!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the sites!!! Especially Hugs & Curves. Oh boy!

    I used to love Victoria's Secret even though I did have to hunt down the big boobie bras in the very back of the drawer or have someone go a lookin'.

    As for pants wearing, as soon as I get home, I put on my yoga britches, long in the winter and short capri or cropped in the spring/summer. I used to take my bra off, too, but it's where I keep my pedometer and I likes counting my steps.

    So glad you like to share!!

  7. Anita: You totally cracked me up! I kind of want pictures of the dancing, happy, pantsless family. Although when I articulate that out loud it just sounds creepy. :-/

    Vickie: Yoga pants are definitely my default mode in winter, for sure, when even I have to bow to the pants. 😉 And yay! Glad you liked the posts and the suggestions. I know I've gotten a lot of little notes and questions from people who seem quite shy about asking. Luckily, shyness is not a problem for me. 😉

  8. You gave me my laughs for the day. And I love Intimacy. I've got the wide shoulders, big ribs, very flat chest thing going on and they somehow find bras that work. The only things at Vic S that works are their pajama bottoms.

    I don't mind the flat thing, except at mammogram time. When a big Eastern European women (or two) has to push me from behind to squeeze me into the machine. Last time I went, they were trying very hard not to laugh. And not really succeeding.

  9. Yay for no-pants times! For me, that's pretty much whenever I am behind my own front door, unless I have company. Pretty much the same thing with bras. Gotta let those girls breathe and, um, keep the lymph moving there. (No, really, I just read an article on the need to keep lymph moving in the breast tissue, by going braless more and/or massaging them… although I tend to outsource that last bit to the Hubs. … TMI?) My kids, the cats, the dogs and the Hubs (of course) have gotten used to me having a long shirt with bare legs and a peek of panties anytime I'm just hangin' out (pun intended) at home. If it's cold, I have several pair of PJ/lounge pants ready to pull on, and then there are the lap blankies on the couch. So it's not like I'm flashing anyone really. Right?

  10. Shizuka: Isn't Intimacy great! Sorry to hear about the boob-squishing and laughter, though. That's no fun. Although it was very funny how you wrote about it. 😉

    Toni: Yay for lymph-movement! 😉 I will now giggle every time I hear anything lymph-related, thanks to you. 😉

  11. Thanks for the undies tips. Vicky's can definitely be frustrating. I don't hate pants – for me its socks. Even if its about 40 degrees out, I'm thinking…maybe sandals would still be ok. Also, a big agreement with Toni – the girls do need their freedom. 🙂

  12. I forgot to mention, as a Pittsburger, Steelers wear is always in season. I am actually wearing a Steelers tshirt here at work right now. 🙂

  13. Seriously laughed my ass off after reading this. Not only do I have big boobies, and a rather bubbly butt (my uncle used to say I was built like a brick shit house), I am short. So the whole underpants thing is an issue for me also, on the other hand I am a full time student mother of two, and married to a sailor. My underware usually comes from the clearance bin. Would love to get me some underpants that actually fit the way they are supposed to. Thanks for the links.

  14. Thank you so much for doing this post! I HATE Victoria's Secret with a passion! As a 38DD, I am utterly unable to find a bra in there that doesn't make me want to tear my boobs from my chest. As for real clothes, they're always quite difficult for me to find, too, because in addition to being quite big on top, I'm comparatively small (size 6ish) on the bottom. When I find shirts that button up over my chest, they hang around my arms and waist. And don't even get me started on trying to find dresses!

    I think a tailor is just about the only way out for me, when I want to find things that really fit.

    And as a Pittsburgh native, I can relate to your pain. Scrunchies and "Stillers" jerseys. So glad I got out of there!

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