Babci Wears Men’s Underwear

by Sandy L on April 8, 2011

Jockey’s Size 44 to be exact.

We women have long known that there is no such thing as gender neutral pricing policies when it comes to things like dry cleaning and  clothing prices.  As much as I try to buy “classic” clothing, women’s fashion changes so often that I end up spending a small fortune on work clothes.  It’s not like we can go buy a 6 pack of dockers and a handful of golf shirts and viola, we are ready to roll.  There is no such thing as an out of style golf shirt.

On the other hand, the stupid ruffle shirts I bought this season (because nothing seemed to be made without ruffles this year) will probably be out of style before the year’s out.  I bought a sleeveless white on that seemed okay in the store, but then when I tried wearing it with a suit coat, I walked up to my husband, closed one eye and went Argh… He laughed. Yes, I did look like a swashbuckling pirate and/or Seinfeld from the puffy shirt episode.  I immediately took it off and never wore it again.  I resisted buying clothes for a few years but my work clothes were getting shamefully worn and I got desperate. I really should have held out a little longer as a few of the items I bought were not what I’d call “classic” or things that I am particularly in love with.

Why Babci Wears Men’s Underwear

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Babci sews all of her own clothes.  There are a few items that she does not sew. Sweaters, socks, underwear and some of her jackets have been purchased.   When she had her knee surgeries, I went to a plus sized store and got her a few new pairs of underwear. She hated them because they were thin, cold and ripped after just a year or two while she was trying to get them over her self described barrel-like self.    So, I decided she needed a few more pairs and she refused to get more of the same.  Not only were the fancy plus sized underwear about 5x the price of men’s, but the fabric was too thin and synthetic for her liking.   So, who am I to argue and we bought some jockeys for her and she couldn’t be happier.

I bet you think Kate Moss was the trendsetter when she wore those Calvin Klein briefs with Mark Wahlberg in those ads back in the 90’s.  Well, I hate to say it, but Babci was doing it decades before.  I tried getting her a pack of calvin kleins just for fun, but they didn’t fit as well as the jockeys.  So sad.

I’m just as bad

So, while we were at the store I decided I needed a new tank to wear under my clothes.  I’m always cold and I cannot believe how warm an extra tank top makes me feel…Oh, it feels so good.  I grabbed a tank from the ladies department on the way over to men’s underwear.   Wouldn’t you know, that a pack of 5 men’s tanks cost the same as one lady’s tank.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I ditched the lady’s tank like a hot potato in favor of the cheaper man’s alternative.

In fact, back in college 20 years ago, before the days when I could readily find Long sizes for women, I lived in old faded men’s levis from the thrift store and white T-shirts.  Trust me, they looked way better than a pair of women’s acid washed floods. I even went through a phase where I was wearing men’s tweed blazers from the thrift in lieu of jackets. It did look way cuter than it sounds, especially in the 90’s when girls used to wear ties for fun.

I used to laugh at Babci wearing men’s underpants and then I realized I do the same darn thing.   I have men’s long underwear, ski pants, coats, boots, gaiters, you name it.  Some of it has to do with fit, some has to do with what was on sale when I needed it, but generally speaking women get screwed on that stuff and I refuse to play the game.

So, here’s another example of how babci could care less about social convention and does things the ultra frugal way. Now she has 9 pairs of warm and comfy underwear for less than the price of the lady’s plus size counterparts. Heck, even Cameron Diaz wore boys underoos in Charlie’s Angels. This just goes back to Babci’s birthday quote. “If you’re thin and good looking, you can wear rags and still turn heads.”

So what do you think? Is this too extreme or do you think some people can pull it off and still look good?

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

eemusings April 8, 2011 at 3:45 AM

I wear his old rugby shorts running and may try his trackies now it’s getting cold.

but in terms of buying men’s clothing from a shop….never! Not that I wouldn’t, it’s just never occurred to me. Also, I’m really small, so it would probably be hard to even find anything that fits. I can see how this might work well for plain/classic items, though.


Sandy L April 8, 2011 at 4:24 AM

I can see how it wouldn’t work for a petite person. I’m almost 6 feet tall, so a lot of times men’s clothing actually fits me better than women’s because the arms and legs on things are always too short. Thank god for skirts and short sleeve shirts.


Laura @ move to portugal April 8, 2011 at 4:26 AM

It didn’t occur to me either to buy mens underclothes..although next time I need new tanks/vests I’ll be looking……


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Laura – yes. believe it or not, tanks are a recent discovery. Just figured that out last winter and I wonder how I lived without them for so long.


Mel April 8, 2011 at 5:35 AM

I’m with eemusings – I’m small, so men’s clothing just doesn’t work for me. Often the smallest womens’ size is slightly too big! Boys’ clothes, on the other hand… the only problem is *I have hips*, and most 12-year-old boys don’t. Still, nice to know there’s an option for basic things.

On the other hand, somehow my boyfriend’s jumpers and fleecies always seem to be extra warm, so when I’m cold and bumming round home, it’s usually his things I reach for. Plus they fit over my own jumper/fleecy!


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:14 AM

Mel – I have the same issue, my waist is one size smaller than my hips. There are some things that work though. I imagine boys clothes would be even cheaper. Hurray for being petite.


101 Centavos April 8, 2011 at 6:41 AM

Mrs. 101 continuously raids my T-shirt drawer, and when I chide her about it, complains that she can’t find anything like that reasonabl priced to fit her size in the department stores. Now I get it.


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:15 AM

101 – glad to give you the inside scoop. Yes, she’s not lying or lazy. It’s just reality. Women’s clothing is not as well made or reasonably priced for the most part. I think people realize that men use their clothes til they fall apart so a lot of times the t-shirts and things are thicker.


Niki April 8, 2011 at 7:46 AM

It is ridiculous how much more womens clothing is compared to mens, but we buy it anyway. There are some hideous golf shirts though.


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:16 AM

Niki – sometimes I’m forced to wear golf shirts for trade shows and things. God, does it make me look man-ish. I hate them.


Alison April 8, 2011 at 7:51 AM

One of my biggest frustrations is with things like team apparel, beer t-shirts, and flannel in LL Bean–for some reason the women’s design is always less appealing (with the team and beer t-shirts its cause it’s usually a “baby t,” in pink rather than the team colors, and often bedazzled) and LL Bean seems intent on only offering pastels to women, even on rugged flannel shirts!

So for sport/fan apparel I buy boys shirts mostly, beer shirts I buy men’s in small… I’ve been buying men’s a-shirts and basic white undershirts since high school (in fact our entire basketball team preferred those) they don’t even seem to have actual packs of women’s tanks like that. I’ve also gotten the more expensive gear from the kids’ section in the biggest size they offer (fleece and snow pants).

I’ve noticed Hanes seems to at least be picking up on the fact that women are interested in the sturdy and classic nature of the men’s undershirts and briefs, but while they do have more options available now it’s still not the same low price.


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:21 AM

Alison- you’re so right. We were at Bass Pro Shops the other day just for fun on our way down to Plymouth and the lady’s apparel section had pink camo.


Liz April 8, 2011 at 7:52 AM

I like wearing men’s undershirt tank tops, as well. My only problem is that, as petite as I am, my waist is a size small and my *ahem* upper torso is a size medium. Since men’s clothes are built for someone of different proportions, it can be a little tricky picking the size. But since I wear the shirts only when it’s really cold (with stuff on top) or really hot (bumming around the house in summer), I just tell myself it’s extra support.

Buying women’s clothes is such a hassle!


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:23 AM

Liz – ditto on hassle. I really hate shopping for clothes. I don’t get “shopaholics” For me, it’s torture trying to find something that fits well and looks good.


Jacq April 8, 2011 at 8:05 AM

No to anything below the waist since I have this little waist and J Lo butt – which will probably change with menopause. (rats!) Men’s stuff won’t fit the junk in the trunk and stuff like tanks are too long and bunch up around the waist. I wore my dad’s white dress shirts when I was pregnant with my oldest. I think I spent like $20 on maternity clothes (all I could afford anyway) when I was preggo with him. That was 1987-88 so leggings and a big shirt were still in style.

But if Babci can pull it off, more power to her! I might be joining her in a few years.


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Jacq – you are too funny.


Moneycone April 8, 2011 at 8:22 AM

I was smiling at your reference to Seinfeld! If Babci is comfortable, more power to her!


MutantSuperModel April 8, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I can’t really fit into most men’s things– they’re waist sizes are too big for me. I *have* worn men’s undershirts but find the boys’ sizes fit me better. I can’t wear boys’ underwear because my hips and butt are too big for them. I do love some boxers though!


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:26 AM

Mutant – Yeah, I forgot about boxers. THey are my summer substitute for PJ’s, although I had to buy my own because my husband was getting sick of me stealing his.


Money Reasons April 8, 2011 at 6:15 PM

I think the Tanks were a great idea! After all, nobody could tell anyway!

I think women can get away with wearing most men cloths, and underwear… nobody but one’s spouse see that (hopefully, unless they aren’t married of course…). So for Babci or any married woman, why not?

Since you meet clients, I can imagine your wardrobe costs are super high!


Sandy L April 9, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Money Reasons – I have some very well dressed colleagues who spend thousands every year on clothes. I actually don’t spend that much, but I’m no where near the most stylish of the few females in my group. Coach bags are pretty standard thing to use as a laptop case. I just use a standard laptop bag that I got free for my 10 year work anniversary. Most of my male counterparts use it too because they/we had a fundamental issue with spending their own money on a work item. I should spend more on clothes, but I end up wearing my favorite few things over and over again, so I’m not sure it would really make a big difference in my overall appearance. Nothing beats a well fitting pair of black lined suit pants and a comfy blazer. I guess I’m a proponent of having a few well tailored items that look good vs a closet of stuff from the clearance rack. (I succumb occasionally and always regret those purchases, ie pirate shirt. That was a waste of $7 right there)


Len Penzo April 9, 2011 at 12:47 PM

Don’t tell anyone but, for comfort, the Honeybee has lounged around at night in men’s boxer shorts for a long time now. I think she looks great in them. (Or out of them.) 😉

All the best,

Len Penzo dot Com


Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer April 9, 2011 at 2:32 PM

You’ve opened up a whole new world of clothing to me. I’ll have to check out the men’s briefs next time I go underwear shopping.


Linda April 9, 2011 at 3:17 PM

One of my friends wears men’s boxers under skirts in the summer. I guess they’re sort of like old-fashioned bloomers: loose and comfy, and cover a lot more if your skirt accidentally gets blown up in the wind!

I hate clothes shopping, too. I also hate that I have to maintain a separate wardrobe for work. I’d love to wear the same clothes to the office that I wear at home: unadorned t-shirts with yoga pants or a jeans, topped with a sweater in the winter. So comfy and simple!


Greg McFarlane April 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM

“There is no such thing as an out of style golf shirt.”

Perhaps, but there’s no such thing as an “in style” golf shirt either.


Nicole April 9, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Somehow it doesn’t bother me to think about Babci in CK’s.

For a while I was wearing men’s jeans, but I went back to women’s when boot-cut came out because I liked those. I sleep in DH’s discarded t-shirts.


Deidre April 9, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Fabulous post Sandy! I love Levis and frankly have always purchased the men’s sizes – specifically 501’s. A few years ago I tried the ladies…but to no avail. They just were not the same. I’ll stick with my ole standby’s 🙂

Thanks for the great post, made me smile as always!


Amanda L Grossman April 9, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Very interesting!

I like to wear “husband beaters”…aka wife beaters (except when I wear them I even the score a little by calling them husband beaters while giving my husband a slightly evil eye:)).


Molly On Money April 10, 2011 at 9:56 AM

In the 80’s it was totally hip to wear mens clothing. I’d wear my brothers rugby shirts, my dad’s ties & jackets and bought men’s 501 Levi jeans. The pants I use for beekeeping I got from my husband. Other than that I don’t think I wear mens clothing anymore.
I had an old roommate that was tiny. She would buy some clothes in the kids department.


sewingirl April 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I borrowed my hubbys titey-whiteys every time I was pregnant. There is no such thing as comfortable maternity undies, and the price! They were way more soft and comfy than my own, and I was sad when I returned them, but not brave enough to get some for myself. Silly me!


retirebyforty April 10, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Hahaha! 😀
great post. The Mrs. does not wear any men clothing. She loves the women tank and there is no way she would wear my Hanes tanks. She’s pretty small so she would have a hard time fitting into men’s clothes these days. The sizes are all huge.


Sandy @ Journey To Our Home April 10, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Mens clothes!! So much better!
I had an older brother growing up (and an older sister). I much preferred to wear his hand me down clothes. I’ve sense became a little more shapely and do wear women’s pants. But I still miss my old hand-me-down boy jeans.
Also, in college my roommate and I decided to try to boy underwear thing. So much more comfortable and so much cheaper. What woman really likes thongs?
And just on a side note (I wear a tank top under everything!) In college I used to only wear men’s tanks and perhaps a man’s button down shirt over the top. Now I just wear tanks under everything. I have men’s tanks but I also have some great colored women’s tanks that I found on clearance at an unbeatable price (and I love that I can add a little color!)
I love Molly on Money commenting that an old roommate bought clothes from the kids department- but then in my college days if I had to buy girl clothes, I would hit the kids’ department first- cheaper and usually cuter. haha
I don’t have a lot of fashion sense, but now that I’m older I mostly wear women’s clothes- but I definitely don’t refresh every year- I am living on about 5 long sleeved v-neck shirts that I bought about 4 years ago- and 3 sweaters that I rotate over them. I’m going to have to buy some new stuff soon though- A. they are looking old, and B I’m getting a little too big for them unfortunately.


Everyday Tips April 11, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Great post! In reference to Len Penzo, I have often though that men’s boxers look quite comfortable for lounging around.

I wear some of my husband’s t shirts, but that is about it. Again, short, and almost no torso, so things end up being really long on me.

Good for Babci- she knows what she likes!


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