There was a time, long ago, when all you needed in your underwear drawer were clean panties, in case you got into an accident. Then, there were regular undies and “date” undies that were usually cuter, daintier, and would make a lover want to take them off, or at least look at you in them for a while.

Those were fun times, but now it’s time for something different.

The time now is perimenopause, otherwise known as that stage of life that involves the simultaneous loss of hormones and giving a  fuck. It’s that weird limbo where you’re getting Facebook ads for Botox, retirement communities and childcare at the same time.

We’re aging, ladies, and our advanced years are showing in more than our social media feeds. Somewhere between giving life and the change of life, our underwear needs have also evolved.

So, my fine female friends, here is a list of the underwear that you should add to your arsenal in order to make your life easy, fun, and as comfortable as possible.

Pee-Proof Panties

Do you piddle when you sneeze or laugh?  Perhaps your bladder and urethra haven’t been the same since childbirth. Maybe, like me, you still think you have full control over your bodily functions, and you’ve misjudged the time and distance required to get to the bathroom without an accident. No matter why, if you’re over 40, you’ve likely peed your pants at some point. Fortunately, you can buy skivvies that absorb your urethral missteps while still looking “like regular underwear.”  I remember when “like regular underwear” was for kids who urinated in the bed at slumber parties. Now it’s for all of us, who may be dribbling onto our high thread count sheets as we speak. These drawers only work for #1, but I’m sure panties for #2 will be available by the time we need them.

BONUS: Odor protection, so you don’t smell like a bad nursing home during that big work presentation, or on the rare occasions that you get out of your leggings on the weekends.

Period Panties

Younger women are extolling the virtues of period underwear. No, not the stained granny panties we used to save for Aunt Flo’s visit, but those that absorb your blood. The advertisements talk about freedom, and exercise, and not spending all of your money on pads and tampons every month. Plus the environment! But doing handstands isn’t why you might need these absorbent knickers. You need them because you never know when the period is going to show up. Am I getting it this month? Am I finally in menopause? What do you mean I’m getting two periods in 30 days? Hormonal changes mean you never know when you’ll be checking into the Red Roof Inn, so it’s best that your underwear be prepared for the deluge. Like the pee-proof knickers, you can get them in sizes to fit all of your fashion and absorbency needs in case your period shows up, but let’s hope it finally doesn’t.

BONUS: There are period bathing suits now, so you can go on vacation without a bleach stick and an extra sarong.

Perspiration Panties

The flashes. The heat. The sweating. And lady bits that you didn’t realize got sweaty until you left a wet spot on the chair at that fancy restaurant. Is that just me? Anyway, moisture-wicking panties aren’t just for exercise. They’re for every day, for every night, for every occasion in which you might find your undercarriage a little damp, and in need of a swatch of Cool Max in the down below. The technology isn’t new, but your reasons for using it may have expanded beyond the gym. The missed opportunity, of course, is making entire business suits and ballgowns out of this wicking, cooling wonder fabric. Not only would your crotch be dry at all times, but the backs of your knees and the crooks of your elbows would be free from sweat stains. Think of all the napkins you’d save.

BONUS: Less time spent doing sweaty piles of laundry, and anti-microbial, anti-funk technology. Because you’re still a lady.

Perky Panties

Call them boyshorts, call them cheekies, they’re underwear that makes your butt look like you had a lift even if your buttocks sag so low that you have under-butt sweat. Again, is that just me? We all need a boost of self-confidence every once in a while, and these bloomers are designed to show the peek of cheek, even when that peek is more like a lingering gaze. I’m a huge fan, only recently realizing that my butt doesn’t look like J. Lo’s but it still has a few good years left. Wear them to parent-teacher conferences. Wear them to bed. Dance around the room in them like Cameron Diaz, and be sure to get an ass-selfie, because today is the best your heiny is ever going to look in this life. Unless you start doing squats.

Bonus: If your partner is particular to your posterior, you might get some extra action for your efforts, or at least a grope.

Pettipants

When all else fails in the underwear department, and you’re hot, sweaty and saggy, turn to what your grandmother may have called pettipants, or long drawers, or a culotte slip. Basically, a thigh-to-knee length undergarment that covers your rump, banishes dreaded inner thigh chafing and prevents panty lines without wearing a string up your butt. My Nana wore polyester ones, just like a half-slip, and she wore them over her hose, over a panty girdle, over panties. Sometimes modesty is prohibitive. She’d be disappointed to know that I’m at work right now without lipstick, in leggings where one can see my butt, and with no purse in sight. But now that we’re in the 21st century, there are non-binding, seamless, compression-free long underwear that protects your goodies and remains smooth and static-free in a skirt, or a dress, or a muumuu, if that’s where the world is taking you these days. If you ever wear a dress on public transportation, get yourself to Amazon and buy a few pairs right now.

Bonus: You can throw away your SPANX, because everyone lied about how comfortable they are.

Finally…

Please, you should have at least one pair of underwear that makes you feel great. underwear that makes you feel sexy, confident and powerful. The ones that you wear on Date Night. The ones that you wear when you have a big meeting. It doesn’t matter if said fave panties are a set of long johns or a sequined g-string, just as long as you like them and wear them to make your own badass self feel amazing. Buy as many of them as you can, even if they’re expensive and nobody else will see them. Or go commando if that’s your secret sauce. Don’t let me, or Facebook ads, or even your partner tell you what makes you happy. Because the other thing we get at middle age is the wisdom to look around at the world and decide what WE want and what WE like and to give a big middle finger to the rest of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to search the interwebs for crotchless pee panties.

Lynn Lloyd
Tracey Lynn Lloyd tells all kinds of stories in all kinds of places, and they’ll all make you laugh, even if you’re crying. She dreams of being bicoastal but, so far, only her clothing and her relationship have earned that honor. Tracey is usually over-caffeinated and overthinking the last email she sent. You can find her work in Cosmopolitan, Narratively, and wherever women read about life, love and culture. Feel free to pay her in champagne, sushi and deep tissue massage.