BrightSide and I often joke about how men have it so easy when it comes to clothes.  There are only about eight basic levels of dress, from tore-up-scrappy to formal wear, whereas women juggle approximately 537 combinations when it comes to fashion choices.

If you want to use the conservative estimate, that is.

I thought I’d factored in all the variables, but recently a thought struck me like lightning out of a clear blue sky: I’d failed to take into account the skivvies.

Based on T-man’s utter horror when we even pass by a lingerie section I’m betting there may be some of you who’ve survived without ever setting foot in this particular area of a store.  To you fine folks I say Kudos! on finding people who will shop for you.  Or embracing going commando.  Whichever.

As for the rest of us…

There’s a tipping moment.  That instant between spotting the lingerie section and stepping into an aisle stuffed end to end to end with choices.  It’s like diving into a pool in March – once your feet leave the board you’re in a spaced out free fall, but you’re sure as hell awake when you hit the water.  Then you’re staring wide eyed at six sections of undies and wondering where on earth to begin.

There’s always an area for granny undies.  Plain cotton panties that are practically bloomers, covering every inch of bottom and your belly button to boot.  These come in an exciting array of white and beige.

Then you’ve got the packaged panty sector.  Rows and rows of panties sold in sets of six to eight, but you have a few options to sort through before you can throw a package in your cart.  The first is, of course, your size, but that choice pales in comparison to the style options.

You have the modern day version of that granny panty, the brief, but this section will at least offer you colors and patterns.  Don’t be deceived into thinking it’s that simple, though: briefs come in control (“over the belly button and skimming the boobs”), classic (“no belly button to be found”), and high cut (“lemme show a little more leg”).  There’s also a hipster, for those who want hip coverage but leg room.  Plus you’ve got bikinis (self explanatory) and boy shorts (aka bootie shorts).

Google tells me there’s something called a tanga, which is two panels of material connected by string at the sides.  (You learn something new every day.)  And then there’s the always popular thong and g-string.  They usually keep their distance from the granny panties.  Can’t imagine why.

So you wrap your brain around every panty configuration under the sun only to turn the corner and find yourself confronted by the material conundrum.  Cotton, combed cotton (huh?), polyester (yes, really), sweat wicking, silky, lacy, satin, microfiber, spandex, and more.  Plus I hear there are leather, wool, and chiffon pairs for sale but I couldn’t swear to it from personal experience.

Keep in mind this is only dealing with the bottom half!  It doesn’t even venture into the contraptions built for our upper goodies.

As for the men’s department, you’ll find two main categories: boxers or briefs.

That’s it.  Two.  Now if I poke around (bwahahahaha!) and do a bit of research they say Jockey offers bikini, string bikini (say what?), midway brief, and thong underwear for men.  The mere thought of three of those makes my eyes burn but hey, you do you.

Ironically, despite the fact that there are only two main choices (and I know which BrightSide wears) I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought underwear for my hubby.

There are differences between brands, variety within a single brand, even quality levels I don’t comprehend.  What exactly makes a “good” pair of boxers?  I’m hardly qualified to speak on the issue considering I don’t have the equipment, and I’ve never had an in depth conversation with BrightSide on the topic.

We’ve settled on a good system, though.  BrightSide knows his own preferences, so he shops for himself.  In exchange, I don’t expect him to navigate the women’s section for me.

After almost 22 years of marriage I’d say it’s a solid arrangement.