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The “No New Underwear” Rule 

Thursday, Nov 10 2005
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Photo by Jon Huck
It’s Monday and 30-year-old Chloe, dressed in a denim miniskirt and Converse All-Stars, is walking around the Silver Lake Reservoir with a girlfriend who has just started a new relationship.

“Whatever you do,” Chloe warns emphatically, “don’t buy new underwear!!”

There are some things about sex and dating that you just won’t get from reading books, and Chloe’s “no new underwear” rule is one of them. Buying yourself new underwear at the beginning of a relationship is the modern girl’s equivalent to saying “I love you” or knitting him a sweater too soon, she insists. It’s an automatic relationship killer.

“When I break it down [it worked with] every boy that I had the long ‘in-love-with’/‘live-with’ thing,” says the pretty San Francisco–born actress. “The ones I went out and bought expensive underwear for — those were the ones that didn’t work out.”

Chloe, who’s presently single and actively dating, generally buys simple black Calvin Kleins or printed cotton panties. But she does own a couple of “fancy sets” of lingerie and says she could “literally” open up her panty drawer at home and tell you which now-defunct relationship she bought them for.

Sounding like a Silver Lake version of Carrie Bradshaw, Chloe insists that if a guy really digs a girl, he won’t care what she’s wearing, or how she’s groomed for that matter.

“We think all this stuff — ‘Oh I’m not cute right now’ — but if they like you, they’re kinda animals,” she says, laughing. “They’ll have sex with you whenever.”

A few hours later and a mile away at a sparsely populated sidewalk café, “Laura,” as she wants to be known here, totally agrees with the no-new-underwear rule. But she didn’t learn the rule through trial and error like Chloe; it’s just something she says she always understood “organically.”

“It’s an expectation and an investment, a financial investment and emotional investment,” says the yoga-toned, 38-year-old actress, sipping from her to-go cup. “I’m not going to go out at buy new underwear for a guy I don’t even know yet. The more work you have to do to get someone’s attention, the less likely you’re gonna have much going on with him.”

While she does have her fair share of “black fancy-shmancy get-ups,” Laura generally prefers “cotton panties in girlie colors (pink, baby blue, light green, whatever),” and says that the other problem with getting new underwear too early into a new sexual relationship is that “it’s pretending to be fancier than you are. You have to be in your own skin — in the [panties] you know and love.”

Laura also thinks that new underwear can jinx new relationships no matter who buys them, the man or the woman. Many years ago, when she was too broke to buy fancy underwear for herself, she was dating a guy who bought her expensive white-beaded French lingerie — a couple of days before she met the other woman he had on the side.

Jen Abercrombie, the owner of Panty Raid, Silver Lake’s source for Cosabella and other high-end lingerie, says she’s never heard of the no-new-underwear rule. But she agrees with Laura that at the beginning of a relationship, you should “just be you” — but “the prettiest you.”

She says a woman probably doesn’t need to go out and buy new stuff right away, but if she does plan on wearing fancy underwear with a boyfriend, she should do it at the beginning, rather than wait too long, because that could “freak a guy out.”

“It’s like the thing that you should wear some skirts at the beginning of the relationship; otherwise, anytime you do later on, the guy will be like, ‘Why are you so dressed up?’

Issak, who works at the café where Laura is seated, thinks it all comes down to our more animalistic instincts.

“That area emits a lot of pheromones,” he says straightening a stack of menus. “That’s probably part of the attraction, why a person is into you in the first place. If you’re wearing new underwear, a guy wouldn’t know the real you. He would know the façade. If you wear new underwear the first time you meet a guy, you’re gonna have to keep buying new underwear every time you see him to get that clean new underwear smell.”

In fact, Issak, who still sleeps with his ex-boyfriend takes the whole thing so seriously he won’t even wear his new underwear out of the house. “Honestly, I wear them in at home first,” he says. “The mind works so weird, you know? The whole desire to get new underwear may change something within you. I think it has to do with the fact that people are ashamed of stains and stuff, but that’s punk rock. I mean, do you want to be with someone who is punk rock and knows how to give good sex or someone who is princess-ballerina with clean underwear? Fuck that!”

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