Betty Says: Spending a Fortune on Unmentionables

Why is Underwear So Damned Expensive?

Hi Betty,

Back-to-school shopping really crushed my fall budget, but my favorite running bra also just gave up the ghost. Why does underwear have to be so damned expensive? And is it really worth it?

– Bouncing in Burbank

My favorite, in a lovely blue that I’ve never seen. Photo from, which shows it in much better shape than what’s in my drawer.

I’m with you, Bouncing. I did a really great job of buying nearly all of the Tiny Kitchen Assistant’s back-to-school clothes gradually by raiding multiple Lands End clearance sales over the past year, so we were mostly set for pants, tees and fleece. But then I realized that I still needed to buy the kiddo some new underwear and socks.

One trip to Target for two multi-packs of tiny boxer shorts and three multi-packs of socks later, and I was down $40.

Yes, that’s $40 on underwear and socks alone. And let’s not even talk about the price of adult stuff. A week’s worth of men’s black socks at Target — the cheapest place around — will cost another $45.

And for women? I could blow an entire paycheck on undergarments that no one will ever see. My favorite sports bra, the Moving Comfort Vero, runs $36, although I’ve been lucky and scored them for as little as $22 on sale. And Victoria’s Secret seriously expects me to pay $49.50 for the one everyday bra that actually fits (and not even for the ridiculous one with the rhinestone embellishments, as if I need bedazzled bras).

But what’s worse than spending that much for stuff? Not spending that much. I have a drawer full of cheapie bras that don’t fit properly (hell, I could pack a lunch in the extra room in one of them), but the price was right! They were cheap! Only $14 in some cases! And I look at that drawer, tally up the cost of the Bras I Never Wear and realize that I could have had a proper arsenal of bras that actually fit.

At my retreat in Kingston, a rep from Oiselle asked us what we liked and didn’t like about our sports bras. We all agreed that once we found That Bra, the one that worked for us without chafing, pinching or bouncing, it was worth almost any price. But getting over that price hurdle for a new, unproven bra? That was more of a challenge.

So yes, this stuff costs a fortune, but don’t succumb to the urge to go cheap. Set aside $40 or $50 to buy at least one really good bra that fits you properly. Wash it every day if you have to. That thing will prove itself to be worth its weight in gold.

Ladies: what’s your sports bra of choice? It seems that most of the runners in Kingston were Moving Comfort loyalists.

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