We Asked a Panty Expert: Are Underwear Subscription Services Worth It?

Panties hand on a clothesline.
graphicphoto/Getty Images

Pizza. First dates. Taxi rides. Mattresses.

It seems there’s no end to the list of things we once sought out in person but now find online.

But what about our most intimate purchases? Domino’s delivery trackers and terrible Tinder dates are one thing. How would you feel about having your underwear shipped directly to your door — on a regular, monthly basis?

Underwear Subscription Boxes: Brilliant or Bogus?

That’s right: Underwear subscription boxes are a thing. A pretty big thing, in fact. There are dozens of options to choose from, ranging in luxury level and price point.

Skivvie Nix, for instance, offers two pairs of panties for $20 per month plus shipping and handling, while MeUndies are $14 a pair with the subscription membership discount. Packages from the haute couture British knicker subscription service, TheEnclosed.com, start at $55 per month. Before shipping.

As the type of girl who gets her panties out of the five-for-$25 rack at Target, $55 for a single pair sounds totally bonkers to me. Heck, $14 is a stretch.

But these companies promise comfort, fit and convenience — an intimate necessity shipped right to your door. No need to hand your soon-to-be skivvies to a complete stranger at checkout.

So, is it worth it?

We Asked a Panty Expert

A smiling woman poses for a portrait on a stoop.
Cora Harrington is founder and editor-in-chief of The Lingerie Addict, the world’s largest blog on the subject. Photo courtesy of Nomi Ellenson

To get to the bottom — no pun intended — of this important question, I chatted with lingerie expert Cora Harrington. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of The Lingerie Addict, the world’s largest blog on the subject.

As the kind of fashion fanatic who left her job to pursue her obsession full time, it’s no surprise that Harrington isn’t necessarily looking for a bargain when it comes to underwear shopping.

“I’m definitely in the ‘$18 for one pair of drawers’ category,” she told me on the phone. “But I also know I’m not the average lingerie buyer.”

Some women's undergarments.
photo courtesy of MeUndies

So while Harrington hasn’t yet tried comfort- and utility-focused MeUndies (though she hears good things), she did give higher-end subscription service TheEnclosed.com a go. They sent her a pair of beautiful, luxury-brand panties at a steep discount from the retail price, simply because they were from last season — which isn’t so much of a concern when it comes to undergarments, even for a choosy fashionista.

With her level of knowledge and expertise, Harrington thought TheEnclosed.com was a great deal despite its relatively hefty price tag. She understands how much value she got for her money.

But no matter where on the skivvie spectrum you prefer your prices, Harrington says deciding whether or not ordering undies online is worthwhile is all about your personal panty goals. Are you looking to populate your underwear drawer with high-quality, day-to-day options, or are you seeking out something for a special occasion?

Subscription boxes in particular, Harrington says, are a great option for women looking to expand their brand awareness or access high-end lingerie for less than retail price. She called out another subscription service she’s tried, Underclub, specifically for its support of independent designers. A service like that could introduce you to a brand that fits just right… which you might never have encountered if you’d stuck to the bargain bin.

An underwear subscription box might also help you update your undies on a regular basis. Automating that process might very well be worth it — which I say as a girl who definitely has threadbare, three-year-old thongs in her collection.

So are Underwear Subscription Services Worth It?

A small pile of women's panties
A sampling of styles available from Underclub. Photo courtesy of Underclub

As far as the wide range of prices are concerned, Harrington says it’s a personal decision. The right price for your panties will depend on how much you think they’re worth — and even the most affordable set is a rip-off if you never wear them.

“If it stays crumpled up in the back of your underwear drawer,” Harrington said, “it doesn’t matter how good the deal was.”

In person, you can get a sense of an item’s quality by feeling the fabric or checking out the stitching. But since you have less ability to assess the product beforehand when purchasing online, Harrington says the most important thing to look for in a subscription service is generous cancellation and return policies. She recounted one miserable experience waiting on hold for over an hour to make a simple return.

Fortunately, many of the most popular underwear subscription services, like MeUndies, make it easy to temporarily freeze or totally ditch your membership. But if a subscription service sounds like too much of a commitment, you’ve got lots of other options.

If you’re looking for high-end undies at not-so-high-end prices, Harrington recommends checking out sample sale sites like Zulily, Gilt, or Rue La La, where you can get your paws on high-end drawers for significantly less than retail prices. You can even find last season’s skivvies for sale on Amazon from time to time.

But no matter how you go about a lingerie purchase, whether online or in person, Harrington suggests you ask yourself the following questions:

Does it make you feel like the best version of yourself? And is it high quality enough that you’ll have it for a while?

If both answers are “yes,” then go ahead and grab ‘em — whether that means rifling through the sale bin or clicking the “add to cart” button.

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a writer whose work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Motley Fool, Roads & Kingdoms and other outlets.