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Opening up a beautifully organized drawer of lingerie each morning can be one of life’s small pleasures. Can be, that is if you take the time to get it to that beautifully organized place, to begin with. If your lingerie drawer is currently the opposite, this can seem like a daunting task, but if you take it step by step (don't worry, we've outlined them below), you'll be in state of tidied bliss in no time, with your bras, bralettes, thongs, hipters, boyshorts and other assorted panties decidedly not in a twist.

Step 1: Out With the Old

Your first job is to take all your underwear and dump it out on the bed. Why? Because before you can organize, you need to do some winnowing. But editing underwear is easy because you have to deal with only two piles: things to keep and things to throw away. No maybes. No maybe-it’ll-come-back-in-fashions. No giveaways. Please.

First cull: Anything you really wouldn’t want to be hit by a truck while wearing. Gray things that used to be white; anything ratty, ripped, stained, or spotted with holes.

With that same I’m-worth-it mentality, take a hard look at what’s left and pitch it if:

  • You haven’t worn it in a year (there must be a reason).
  • The color has faded.
  • The seams are beginning to come undone.
  • The elastic is going—or gone.
  • The underwires have lost their original shape or are poking through the fabric, which happens when a bra has been thrown into the washing machine—sans lingerie bag—too many times.
  • It doesn’t fit properly anymore. Weight fluctuates, especially when you are pregnant.
  • It didn’t fit properly to begin with.
  • It’s uncomfortable—divest yourself of bras that ride up and thongs that dig in.

Step 2: In With the New

Lingerie is a personal matter, and so is the amount of lingerie you choose to own. For the minimalist, a few sets of cotton panties and stretchy camisoles are enough; for the collector, lace-trimmed, leopard-print teddies are just the beginning. But if you want to simplify your life, you need:

(a) enough plain, everyday underwear to get you through the week without having to do laundry; and

(b) the kind of special-occasion lingerie that answers questions like, “What am I supposed to wear under that?” Between what you own and what you’re going to go out and buy, you should have:

  • Seven simple, comfortable bras. For work and weekends, you’ll want seamless ones that look smooth under T-shirts. Get a couple in black and a couple in a shade that blends with your skin.
  • One black strapless bra for formal occasions and one nude racerback bra to wear under tank tops. You might also (depending on your needs) want to invest in a backless bustier to wear under an evening gown and one full-body shaper that combines a bra, a tight-fitting bodice, and control-top panties that extend to the middle of your thighs.
  • For evenings and romantic encounters, look for pretty, lacy push-up bras in a variety of colors, and buy the matching thongs or panties, depending on your preference.
  • The rules for panties are less specific. Some women buy matching bottoms for every bra and refuse to separate sets. But for an edited collection it makes sense to stick with the neutral black and nude formula and buy a variety of interchangeable thongs (to wear with tight trousers), bikini styles (to wear with low-rise jeans or clothes that ride low on your hips), and boy-cut panties (which offer both coverage and freedom from panty lines).

Step 3: Arrange

Once you’ve whittled down your lingerie collection and filled in the gaps, create a storage system that will allow you to see what you have and find things quickly.

If you have an extensive collection of lingerie, you might consider investing in a chest you can devote to it. But if that’s not a possibility, keep in mind this simple secret to organizational success: drawer dividers.

To save time, try keeping your underwear in sets: Fold one cup of a bra into the other, tuck the folded panties inside the cups, and arrange the sets by color. In the morning, simply grab a set; when packing to go out of town, take one set for every day you’ll be away, plus two extras.

A simpler option is to divide your drawer into three or four sections and organize by color. Or you can divide your drawer into two sections and place your bras on one side and your panties on the other. But try to keep your matching sets together, and store them, along with your frillier, more expensive pieces, in a separate place. If the latter is particularly delicate, lay it flat, if you have the room.

Some people even prefer to hang particularly dainty garments. If you are among them, make sure you use the right hangers: some with notches on them so straps won't slide off, others with buffered, cushioned clips that won't damage lace or fabric.

 

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