So you’ve done your research, made your comparisons, tried some brands out, and now you’ve figured out your new favorite underwear (if you’re still looking for a place to start, check out our previous blog on different types of men’s underwear). You’re ready to start stocking your top drawer with your new colors, fabrics, and lengths of underwear, but you’re not sure how much to buy. You already know how many socks to have, but what about underwear? Have too few sets of underwear - you’ll have to do laundry more often and replace them faster. Have too much underwear - you’ll have spent more than you should and risk overcrowding your drawer.
On average, you should own between 20 and 25 pairs of underwear. The amount of underwear you should have depends on how often you do laundry, your activity level, outfit choices, and personal preference. Having roughly 20 to 25 pairs ensures most people that they will never run out of underwear.
Calculating the Perfect Amount of Underwear to Have
Step 1: How Often Do You Wash Your Underwear?
The first thing to consider when trying to figure out how much underwear you should have on hand is how often you do laundry. Research shows that most people wear their underwear once before they put them in a laundry bin or go straight to cleaning. You need to determine if this is something that you agree with. From our standpoint, we whole-heartedly agree that you should change your underwear daily; not only is it more hygienic to put on fresh underwear daily, but it prolongs the useful life of your underwear as well, as friction from your legs wears down underwear fabric.
However, just knowing how often you replace underwear isn’t enough information. You also need to determine how often you do laundry, and account for extra sets of underwear in your drawer to cover you during your laundry time. This can depend on a number of factors, such as age, profession, proximity to laundry machines, or services available. For example, a college student or a young working professional utilizing a drop-off laundry service will likely be doing laundry less often than a stay-at-home parent.
When taking these considerations together, you can determine a starting point for how much underwear to own. For example, in my case I have a small laundry machine and change out my underwear daily, sometimes even twice a day. Because my machine is small and takes a while, I generally don’t unload my laundry until the day after I start it. Thus, to cover those 2 extra days, I’d start with a minimum of 8 or 9 pairs to begin my underwear collection.
Step 2: Add Underwear for Exercise and Activity
Your level of activity and exercise will impact how much underwear you should own; more active people should have more underwear than less active people. After you do something active, such as working out, running, biking, and sports, you should change out of your sweaty underwear to prevent bad smells and bacteria growth. Thus, you need to account for these extra sets when determining your ideal number.
For the example of my life - I work out in some way 5-6 times a week. Accordingly, I’ll need an additional 5-6 pairs in my collection to account for these mid-day changes.
Step 3: Account for Different Types of Underwear
Everyone has a favorite type of underwear; be they boxers, briefs, boxer briefs, or something else, these personal favorites should comprise the majority of your collection. However, not every type of underwear works with every outfit, so you need to be prepared for different choices depending on how you dress. For example, boxers don’t pair well with tighter pants because they can bunch along the thigh. You can learn more about the differences between boxers and briefs in our blog.
Think about the types of outfits you wear and how often you wear things outside your standard everyday apparel. Think about your dressy clothes, your suits, and what you wear when going out somewhere nice. Then think about how often you wear these and how often you may need a change of type for your social and professional occasions. In general, look to have at least 5 pairs of underwear for each type you need (one for each day of the work week, leaving flexibility for weekends).
Step 4: Add 5 Pairs for Good Measure
Even the most ideal number can’t account for the fact that life happens. Things are going to happen to your underwear; they’ll get excessively dirty, they’ll develop holes unexpectedly, or you may just find them to be unlucky if you’re having a bad day. Thus, we recommend having a surplus of 5 extra pairs to prepare for whatever life throws at you and your underwear.
Quality Impacts How Many Pairs of Underwear You Have
Aside from your behavior, outfit choices, and laundry habits, the quality of your underwear will impact how many pairs you will need. Higher-quality underwear generally means you’ll need less of them, and you’ll replace them less often because you can feel confident that a more premium set of underwear will last longer.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to throw away your underwear after some arbitrary amount of time, say 6 to 9 months. Experts say that you can continue to use underwear if it is mechanically functional. This means that the elastic continues to stretch properly, there are no holes, and the fabric is holding up to its original quality (it isn’t fraying or wearing down). You can maximize the useful lifespan of your underwear by following simple steps; be sure to change your underwear daily, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care, and rotate through your underwear collection regularly.